Friday, May 20, 2011

Saving Money on Vacation: Day 3

Yesterday, I wrote about our excursions through the Smoke Hill Caverns, Dolly Sods and Spruce Knob.  Todd and I decided to make Day 3 of our trip a more relaxing day.  Todd and I are both early birds, so we were up before !  I made up some homemade biscuits with sausage gravy for breakfast.  They were so good!

We stayed around the cabin after breakfast, watched Rocky Balboa on DVD, played with Lana and spent some time in the hot tub.  It was so nice and relaxing.  By , we were ready to roll! No more being lazy!

We drove the 10 minutes “into town” which is named Beverly.  It is an adorable little town with absolutely nothing but old historic buildings. There is also an old cemetery that we went to visit.

I love all things old, and going to the cemetery (started in 1762), I was on a mission to find the oldest person in the cemetery.  We found someone who was born in the early 1700’s! 

Todd and I both agreed that this is most likely the oldest person we’ve ever seen in a cemetery.  I realize that the tombstone had been replaced, but can you imagine what it was like in 1739 when this person was born?

After the cemetery, we went on a walking tour of Beverly.  It was absolutely free! The houses were gorgeous!  Here are pictures of just a couple of them:

That was the last full day in Beverly, WV.  We had a great time on the trip and look forward to going back.  The only money we spent was on the cavern tour ($27) and we went out to eat twice (less than $50 for both meals).

To read about our trip from the beginning, please read:

What do you do to save money on vacations?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Saving Money on Vacation: Day 2 (…continued)

Yesterday, I wrote about the first part of our day on our long weekend getaway.  Day 2 was a 9 hour day, which is why I felt the need to break it up into two posts. 

After our fabulous lunch in the car of homemade hoagies, we decided to do a little traveling.  While on the road, I noticed a sign for cavern tours up the road: we decided to go take a look.  20 minutes later (because “up the road” for us and “up the road” for West Virginians are two completely different things!), we finally got to the cavern!  I went inside to inquire about the next tour, and it was in 15 minutes.  So we bought two tickets.

This cavern tour was the only money we spent on Day 2.  It was a bit pricey, if you ask me, but it was a lot of fun! The price: $27 and change for the two of us.  But look at what we got to see:

Smoke Hole Caverns

Entry into Cavern


The Bat I Pet! (I did! It was so soft!)

Rock that looks like a turtle!

After the cave tour, we decided that we wanted to go see what was called “Dolly Sods.”  Our experience of Dolly Sods is that we drove up a one lane, dirt road all the way up a mountain for about an hour to be highly disappointed.  There was nothing of major significance other than the incredible views of the mountains and me worrying about losing my life off of the steep cliffs!

A bit discouraged, we decided to try one last scenic route to Spruce Knob.  Spruce Knob is the highest point in West Virginia, and though the roads were the same as Dolly Sods’, the destination was spectacular.  The views were awesome, there were people there to talk to, dogs to pet, wildlife frolicking around the rocks and even some information about the highest point in West Virginia.  This is what we saw:

Oh, and did I mention how cold it is at the highest point of West Virginia?  Brrrr.  We rushed back to the car and started on our way back to the cabin.  Within minutes, it started to rain, but we were so thankful that it waited until we were finished doing our sight-seeing for the day!

Tomorrow, I will be writing about our relaxing day at the cabin with a little sight-seeing of the small town, Beverly, WV. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Saving Money on Vacation: Day 2

After settling into our cabin, we decided we wanted to go see what was called Seneca Rocks.  Todd loves rocks and quite frankly, if he’s happy, I’m happy. I’m just along for the ride. 

We drove 45 minutes East to Seneca Rocks, and this is what we experienced:

We wanted to go on a trail a mile and a half up for a better view of the Seneca Rocks, but the trail was closed until August.  So, we wandered around for a little bit until we found the Site’s Homestead.  This is an old cabin from some of the first settlers into the area.  The Site’s Homestead, though pretty rough, was absolutely free to walk through and to read up on the family and way of life. 

Walking through the house made me want to homestead and “live off the land” even more than ever.  I like to imagine what it was like way back when without all of the modern conveniences.  I always say that I’d love follow along with an Amish woman for one day…except for all of the cleaning and work they do! Hubby seems to think I wouldnt make it two hours with an Amish woman...and I'm sure he's right!

After we were done with the Site’s Homestead, we decided to check out the trail that was closed to Seneca Rocks and decided to walk along the creek.  I love these pictures of the creek.

We walked quite a bit down the creek and instead of turning back, Todd decided he’d like to find his way back to the parking lot through the woods.  Let’s just say that I was tripping all over the place, slipping on mossy rocks, and sliding down hills.  I was not a happy camper. Todd turned around, asking me if I was OK.  I informed him that I would not be OK until he found us some asphalt!

We (meaning Todd) found asphalt.  Phew.
We walked back to the car and made a picnic lunch of hoagies with turkey, roast beef, mayo, tomato and onion.  It was even better than it sounds. 

Afterwards, we decided to continue on our exploration around the Monongahela National Forest. 

Tomorrow, I will continue on about the second day of our frugal trip through the Monongahela National Forest. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saving Money on Vacation: Day 1

Todd and I have always said that “money doesn’t buy happiness” and that we don’t need money to have fun.  While we were in Elkins, WV for our 4 day weekend getaway the first weekend of this month, we found out how much fun we could have with very few expenses!

Over the next four days, I will show you how we saved money on our trip.

The first way we saved money on this trip is that we found a location that wasn’t too far from home.  Todd and I love the mountains, so I pulled up a map online and noticed the Monongahela National Forest not too far away.  It was actually 4 hours and 15 minutes away to be exact.  Instead of taking Todd’s vehicle, which averages 28 MPG, we took this cute little thing:

She gets anywhere from 38-45MPG.  On this trip, because we were so loaded, she got 38MPG on average, costing us less than $75 round trip in gasoline.

Next, I went to find lodging.  I am sure there were hotels that we could have stayed at for $80/night with a continental breakfast. Instead, we found this cabin on 46 acres of land:


Family Room

Looking Into Loft

Other Side of Loft


Hot Tub
One selling point of the cabin was that it was pet-friendly!  That alone saved us $20/day in kennel costs.
This was Lana’s first long ride in the car.

Tomorrow, I will show you the activities we did to save money while still enjoying ourselves!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Minimizing our Footprints

Most of my life, I have dreamed of living “off the grid.”  I wanted to live out in the country with a few acres of land, a little cabin, a goat for milk, chickens running around and eating whatever I grew and canned.  At the age of 30, I have come to enjoy marriage and the modern conveniences of our home.  That being said, I would still like to attempt to live “off the grid” in terms of our dependency on fossil fuels.

Our home is situated on an acre of land.  There are no gas lines in our area, so we use propane to heat our home along with a wood burning fireplace.  I do not like how much we are paying each month for the use of electric, nor do I like how much we use. A few years ago, I invested in a meter that plugs into outlets that will tell you how much each appliance or gadget uses in electricity.  It was fun to use, but somehow burnt out. 

I did a personal audit of our electric bill to determine how much electricity we use.  The numbers were surprising.

On average, we use:

  • 38 kwh / day
  • 1,144 kwh / month
  • 13,733 kwh / year

I am not sure how this compares “on average”, but these numbers are astonishing to me.  I would like these numbers to be lower by half over the next couple of years.

We are aware that our home is inefficient and we have many projects planned in the future to help make it more efficient.  They include:

·        Energy-Saving “Conserve” Switches and Power Cords
·        Hang laundry on the line more often
o     I love the retractable laundry line I got for Christmas two years ago: it has two lines so I can hang two loads at the same time!
·        Install more insulation in the attic
·        Heat / Cool only the rooms we are using when we are using them
o     Air conditioning unit is only in our bedroom and is turned on about an hour before bedtime
o     Ceiling fans keep the rest of the house cool
o     Keep the thermostat low and heat only the rooms we are using (we do this a lot with propane logs in the Family Room)
·        Replace windows
o     We have replaced two windows since we moved in
o     We would like to replace a couple of windows every year
·        Replace hot water tank
o     Our home came with a (broken) 80 gallon hot water tank.  Hubby fixed it for less than $50 and we have yet to replace it.
o     Our home has only 1 bathroom: 80 gallon hot water tank is complete over-kill
o     Looking forward to a 30-40 gallon tank and the energy savings!

I have been interested in solar panels since we moved into our home; however, the cost to minimize our electric usage today would be upwards of $20,000.  We bought our house, a foreclosure in desperate need of repair, for $35,000.  I have a hard time justifying $20,000 in solar panels.  My thought process is that if we do the little updates to our home as mentioned above, we can lower the amount of electricity we require to run our home, in turn, lowering our cost for solar panels in the future. 

This blog is linked to the Homestead Barn Hop!  Please come and join us!

Have you done an energy audit on your home?
If so, what do you plan on doing to make it more efficient?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Outdoor Chickens

As of Monday, our chickens are officially outdoor chickens.  I cant tell you the mess they made in the spare bedroom, but we still had many evenings with frost over the last several weeks.

The chickens are turning 11 weeks old this week, and I cant believe how big they are compared to when we brought them home.

Here are a few pictures of the chickens enjoying their coop outside:

Three chickens below and one in her roost!

If you are a chicken expert, can you tell me what breed you think these may be?  Is it a problem if they have ants in their roost or will they just eat them?