Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How to Move with Nothing: Furnishing Your Apartment

Almost a year ago, I moved across the country with almost nothing. No job. No home. One boyfriend. Very few possessions. Within a month, I found a place to live and a job.

Now, I want to document how you can furnish your new place for cheap. You sold your possessions. You just barely got a job and have little leeway money to go out and buy furniture. You don't want to continue sleeping on the floor. You'd like a toaster and chair in the kitchen. What to do?

*The only downside to these options is that, if you can't carry it yourself and you don't have a pick up, you'll have to find a friend to transport the bigger items home.

Secondhand Stores
This may seem obvious, but many times people forget about their options. You're in Walmart or Target buying food and you pass the kitchen wares section. The toaster oven is on sale and you needed one anyway. Might as well get it while you're here.

You have other cheaper options. People donate many types of electronics and kitchen utensils still in good working condition. Some are still even in the box! Just check them over for rust or too much wear and tear. Usually there's some test outlets to plug it in.

The list of secondhand stores goes beyond the usual Salvation Army and Goodwill too so comparison shop. ReStore, a Habitat for Humanity company, has gently used furniture at super low prices. ARC Thrift Stores usually have clothes and furniture. Then, there's all the local small thrift stores that a quick Google search can bring up in your area.

Craigslist Free 
If thrift stores are still too expensive, you'll probably also check out Craigslist furniture. If you look closely, there's also a FREE stuff section where people are literally giving away their possessions.

Before you buy or pick up any items, check to make sure they are sturdy and free of pests. Make sure wood doesn't have rot or signs of termites, cloth furniture is free of bed bugs, and there are no large holes where small rodents or cats could have stowed away.

Give it a sniff test for pesky odors like pet urine, cigarette smoke, or mold and mildew especially if it has been sitting outside for any length of time.

Dumpster Diving
Ew! But, really? In many large apartment complexes you'll find that neighbors will "throw away" good pieces of furniture when they move because it won't fit in their vehicle or it's slightly damaged.

I say "throw away" here because the furniture won't actually be in the dumpsters, but beside them. They'll lean up mattresses, roll out chairs or tables, or set dressers and bookshelves out on the curb at the end of their lease. Even old boxy TVs lounge forlornly in the heat. (If the electronics don't work, usually a YouTube video can tell you how to fix it.)

A quick drive around the complex at the end of the month can set you up with a full living room or at least a place to sit other than the floor. However, I recommend checking your local law on what's trash and what's not.

Dumpster Diving is a grey area in the law so take precaution.

  • Do a dry run and take note of the things you see that you might want.
  • Only take things that are clearly abandoned. Don't go into a dumpster. Usually there's all kinds of precautions and warning signs posted telling you not to get into a dumpster. 
  • If the furniture fits in the car, grab it and put it in. Assess its damage at home in your own parking spot. 
  • Stick to your stomping grounds. Local colleges can have great finds but you don't want to be caught for trespassing.

Whenever you bring a new item home, give it a through wipe down with antibacterial wipes or sprays depending on the material it's made of. Whenever you move again, most of these things can be donated, sold, or left out on the curb for other people. Remember to pay it forward.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Travel on a Budget: How To See the U.S.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park 
It just so happens this is also the 100 year anniversary for the National Parks Service. One of the best ways to tour America is through it's national parks and monuments. From the deserts to the mountains and through the ages of American history, these parks embody America.

Even during the travel to the destinations, you'll get to see the topography of America change, the most powerful cities grow out of the surrounding landscape, and the diversity of people and American accents.

Trail Ridge Road, Estes Park, CO
Throughout this summer, Boyfriend and I have been traveling to different national parks almost every weekend and we've gotten quite good at it.

How do we do that with very little money?

I can tell you to save up, but it's a hard economic climate and saving takes years. Instead, I save what I need for gas and prepare the rest at home.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO
Buy the Annual Pass
While there are some free days you can visit the National Parks, entrance fees for the parks can very wildly. Per vehicle, Antietam National Battlefield is $5 for three days while the cheapest pass for the Grand Canyon is $30 for seven days.

The annual park pass is $80 and it includes access to more than 2,000 recreation areas across five agencies. This means it doesn't just include the national parks and monuments but it also covers sites that charge entry fees for the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Army Corp of Engineers.

The pass can be bought at federal recreation sites or online and it's good for a full year from the date of purchase. So a pass bought September 15, 2016 will be good until September 15, 2017. For more information or to order a pass, visit this USGS site.

Plan Your Route
 Many times when you buy a pass it comes with a map of the national parks and monuments like this one. Calculate how long it will take to get to your destination and then check surrounding areas of interest that you might be able to stop at on the way back.

Living in Colorado, Boyfriend and I are close to some of the major parks. We plot day trips, leaving at six or seven in the morning, and return late in the evening. For weekend trips, we try to hit more than one destination.

Pack Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks
Before your trip, pack all the food and water that you can. If you have a cooler or even a lunchbox and ice pack, use it! The more variety in food you have, the less you'll crave something else. Choose finger foods which won't spoil easy and place them in resealable and accessible containers so you don't have to stop the car every time you want to ear.

I've found these foods work best:
  • Tea and caffine drinks
  • Peeled hard-boiled eggs
  • Peanut butter sandwiches - PB&J, PB and Nutella, PB and bananas
  • Bananas, cut apples, grapes, and orange slices
  • Homemade burritos - chicken, sausage, bacon, cheese, diced onions, green peppers, and really anything you can think of wrapped in a tortilla
  • Trail mix or M&Ms
  • Granola
  • Nuts
  • Jerky
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  • Water and Extra Bottles
Gas Stations 
In a few weeks, I'll have a post on the best apps for travel, which will include iExit and GasBuddy to help find cheap gas prices. Before you use those, fill up at point stations like Safeway, King Soopers, or Sam's Club to save even more on gas.

Be Prepared for Anything
Obviously, I keep insurance information and emergency numbers in the vehicle in case of an accident, but I also keep a credit card with me for unexpected necessities. If my lovely car breaks down, it's covered under my insurance and can go rest in a shop. But, where would I go? If I need to stay overnight somewhere, I have the funds to do that.

I usually also bring an extra blanket or sleeping bag, swimsuits, a towel, and wet wipes or napkins.

In the trunk, I keep a prepacked bag in the backseat with first aid materials in case of emergency. This bag is also light enough to be brought on any day hikes.

First Aid Bag contains:
  • Warm clothes
  • Extra pair of socks
  • Band-aids
  • Athletic Tape
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Anti-itch ointment
  • Painkillers
  • Gauze
  • Extra Birth Control
  • Tweezers
  • Knife
  • Space Blanket
  • Maps - in case of no cell service
Get a Partner/Sleep in the Car
Despite horrible farts and fights to control of the AUX cord, a partner is essential for those long road trips. Besides splitting the cost, this fellow road tripper will keep you awake when you're driving or can take over driving so you can continue through the night. You can sleep in the backseat or even use one of these fun air mattresses while your partner drives their shift.

I love to travel and I have more posts coming out like this so like my Facebook Fanpage for updates!

Monday, August 15, 2016

I Loved the Kane Show. Now I Refuse to Listen.

This post has been a long time coming.

For most of my adult life, I listened to Kane Show. I listened since it first debuted in late 2006, when I went to college in Pennsylvania, when I went to work for a summer in Estes Park, Colorado and when I moved to Hawaii.

But then, something started to feel funny. For a longer breakdown and more links, see the Wikipedia's Kane Show section.

When Sarah and Sammy left, I thought: "Well Sarah seemed kind of like a bitch anyway and she never wanted to share anything personal in her life."

(At this time, I did not think she deserved to keep parts of her life. In fact, I was on Kane's side when he would push her for more information about her sex or dating life because I wanted to know the drama.)

Then Melanie left. I thought: "Well, I never liked her anyway." She was replaced with Rose, who is pretty awesome.

For a time, things seemed to float on pretty well. I was grateful when Kane spoke about his OCD because I have an anxiety disorder and it can be paralyzing.

I loved my radio show. I felt connected.

Then, things started to come to light. At first, everyone on the show stopped mentioning Natasha's name. Then podcasts/snippets featuring her were taken down. I wasn't a die hard Natasha fan and technically she wasn't really part of the show, but I did take note because Kane was supposedly a "family man."

When Kane announced his divorce, it fell in line with the idea of sharing their whole lives on the air. I also understood that relationships end sometimes even though you try hard to make it work.

Still, something started to stink. The women in Kane's life had a habit of leaving.

But it wasn't until Danni left--straight up disappeared--that I was like: "Something has to be going on." Danni and Kane obviously had their differences but it had looked like Danni was in this gig for the long haul. So I did all the research I could, read posts from former employees, listened to old clips, and read all the trashy online articles.

I understand that, because of contract, most parties can't talk about what happened or why people left. But Danni just disappeared. The show acted like one of their "family members" never existed in the first place. When Kane did address her absence, he said he "didn't know" or that she was super busy when clearly she wasn't.

A lot has unraveled since then, including the lies Kane tells to his listeners about why he's not on air. I realized I can no longer trust this man. Once he pretended to be stuck in an elevator when he was really in court for the divorce until the Washington Post called him out on it. Recently, he was arrested for assault on his estranged wife, made bail, and then the charges were dropped.

From pressuring Sarah to talk about her sex life on air to lying about where Danni was to reading his wife's versions of what happened, I started to get another picture of this man. A picture that eerily reminded me of my own father, who has one face for the world and another face seen only by his family.

While I have a lot more I could say on this matter, I'll just summarize it like this:

Kane does not treat the women in his life respectfully. When things do not go his way, Kane (like many men in powerful positions) silences these women using their contracts and taking away the platform on which they could speak out.

I didn't like it. So I stopped listening.