After six months and 31,000 miles, I am finally back in Minnesota. The final game of the trip is still a few hours away, but I have already unpacked Sam and begun to ease back into a somewhat normal life.
I didn’t have much in the way of possessions before the trip, but the boxes I left in storage greeted me menacingly upon my return. “Open me! Need me!” they screamed. What could those things be? What could I possibly need now that I did not need for half a year?
I am tempted to get rid of it all, but the window to do so is before I open those containers. After I see what’s in them, it will be too late.
On the other hand, I miss using some of the things, like my nice IPS LCD monitor. Clothes, too.
I also had a bunch of clothes in storage, by which I mean I have at least three more pairs of pants and a half dozen shirts. That’s a huge increase from what I had with me on the road. It felt kind of silly, but I was almost overwhelmed with the number of clothing options I had from my recently reacquired wardrobe.
The surprises didn’t stop with my items in storage.
The first thing I did when I got back to Minneapolis — even before I unpacked — was to change Sam’s oil. I like changing oil, not only because it’s really simple, but also because I’m leery of oil-change places.
Unfortunately, I was left with few options other than Jiffy Lube in Greenville, SC when I last had Sam’s oil changed. They charged me an arm and a leg, filled the windshield washer fluid reservoir with water (that then froze in Colorado), and didn’t use the replacement crush washer I had provided for the drain plug. As if that weren’t enough, they left me another surprise: they used the wrong oil filter!
Poor Sam. Those morons at the Jiffy Lube in Greenville used the filter for a 2.5 l Outback, not a 3.6 l Outback like Sam. That’s a considerably smaller filter.
Fortunately, the outer gasket sizes were similar enough that oil didn’t leak all over the place, but I’m concerned about the reduced filtering capacity. The Jiffy Lube receipt itself shows that they used the wrong filter, so you’d better believe that I’ll pursue that if Sam ever develops any oil-related engine maladies.
I amassed a huge collection of other receipts, too.
There was a time when I had grand plans of itemizing every trip expense. Ha. Here’s a coarse breakdown:
- Nights in hotels/B&Bs: 115
- Nights camping in tents: 15
- Nights camping in cars: 1
- Nights in hostels: 8
- Nights surfing couches: 40
- Nights on red-eyes: 2
- Highest hotel cost per night (inc. tax): $120 (Whitehorse, YT)
- Lowest hotel cost per night (inc. tax): $40 (Las Vegas, NV)
- Gallons of gas burned: 1,215
- Highest price paid for gas: CDN$1.459/litre = US$5.70/gal in July 2011 (on the Alaska Highway in the Yukon Territory)
- Lowest price paid for gas: US$2.979/gal in December 2011 (in Houston, TX)
And in aggregate:
- Cost of lodging: $7,900
- Cost of gas: $3,800
- Cost of car maintenance: $1,000
- Cost of food: $1,800
- Other direct trip expenses (e.g., plane tickets, gear): $4,000
- Other fixed costs during trip: $14,000
That doesn’t include the biggest “expense,” opportunity cost. I didn’t work much over those six months I was on the road, so the trip “cost” me half a year’s income.
Overall, was it worth it? Without hesitation, I say: YES.