This is my first post in almost two months after I took an unplanned, unannounced sabbatical from blogging recently (did anyone notice?). There was no specific reason for the break, but now I’m back!
Despite the blog being quiet, our lives have been quite the opposite. In the past two months, we attended FinCon, I ran over 50 miles through the desert, we’ve seen a TON of movies for very little cost, plus we’re making progress on many things required for our upcoming Gap Year.
Let’s hit some of the highlights below before this blog returns to it’s regularly scheduled programming.
FinCon 2017 – Dallas Edition
This marks the second FinCon my wife and I have attended and it was a great experience. If you’re not familiar, FinCon is a financial blogging/podcasting/youtubing conference. Basically, if you talk about personal finance on the internet, you can probably learn something by attending.
There were some interesting sessions on FIRE (financial independence/retire early), travel hacking, and monetization that I enjoyed, but one of the best parts was seeing rapper Dee-1 live as he sang a couple of his financial based hits (No Car Note and Sallie Mae Back).
Of course, the best part of FinCon is the other attendees! The FIRE community had a HUGE showing this year, probably 3-4x compared to last year, and I got to meet a lot of people I’ve previously only interacted with on Twitter. It’s always fun putting a face to blogs I read and there were many great conversations shared over many beers.
The current plan is to attend again in 2018 in Orlando, but we don’t want to lock down too much of our route for next year, so we probably won’t buy tickets until it gets closer. Assuming there aren’t any impending hurricanes (the conference is during prime hurricane season!) and we’re in that part of the country, you can probably count on seeing us there.
World’s Toughest Mudder 2017 – 50+ Miles Through the Desert
One of my biggest obsessions this year has been obstacle course racing, and World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) was the finale event and by far the craziest thing I’ve ever attempted.
WTM is a 24-hour race that took place in Las Vegas this year. The goal is to complete a 5-mile loop as many times as possible in the 24 hours, but that 5-mile loop is filled with obstacles, penalty loops, lots of water, and a decent amount of elevation gain for good measure. Highlights of the obstacles include a 35 foot cliff jump into water, electric shock, abseiling down a rock-face, and so much more.
In what might be considered my greatest athletic accomplishment to date, I was able to successfully complete 10 laps of the course for 50 official miles in a time of ~22 hours!
I say “official miles” because every failed obstacle came with a penalty loop (of varying distances) that did not count towards total mileage completed and I certainly took my fair share of them. My GPS watch had me clocked at 34.3 miles before running out of battery when I was completing my 29th official mile, so there’s a good chance I moved my body ~60 miles if you count the penalty loops and navigating to and from my pit area. Not to mention the ~200 obstacles and over 9,000 feet of elevation gain!
The race went fairly smoothly thanks to the help of my pit crew which included my parents, brother, and loving wife, and I’m not sure if I would have made it through the event without them.
Running ~60 miles through the night, while soaking wet, with temperatures in the 40s, and attempting to complete a bunch of obstacles may not sound like a lot of fun, but I can assure you… it’s probably just as awful as you think it would be.
After finishing obstacle course races in the 5k-10 mile range, I’m usually super excited to sign up for my next event, but this one took a lot out of me mentally and physically and I think I’m still recovering weeks later. It certainly didn’t help that I came down with a nasty cold a few days after the event, but that shouldn’t be a big surprise considering how these ultra-marathon type events take a serious toll on one’s immune system.
The jury is still out on if I’ll ever attempt an event like this again, but registration is open for the 2018 version which will take place in Atlanta this year. If you ever want to push your body to it’s absolute limit both mentally and physically, this is probably a good place to start.
MoviePass – Unlimited Theater Movies for $10/month
In not so athletic news, we’ve also attended a lot of movies over the past few months! If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you know that we love going to the movies and have jumped through a lot of hoops to save money on this particular hobby of ours in the past such as attending advance screenings and buying tickets in bulk.
Those methods worked great for a while, but then MoviePass came along with an unbeatable deal of $10 per month which allows us to see up to one movie per day at a large number of theaters. Considering that the current price of a single movie ticket at our local theater is $14.06, we come out ahead if we see at least one movie per month (assuming we would have visited anyway).
The “History” tab in the MoviePass app shows that we’ve attended 14 movies, but I know for a fact it’s missing at least two (Justice League & Murder on the Orient Express) and possibly more that I’ve forgotten. Several of these movies we wouldn’t have paid for normally, but attending the movies has suddenly become one of our cheapest entertainment options! It helps that we rarely (if ever) visit the concession stand on the way to our seats, so our only marginal cost is ~4 miles worth of gas (<50 cents).
I’m extremely skeptical if MoviePass’s business model will work long term, but we’re certainly going to take advantage of it while it lasts. So far, my wife and I have each paid MoviePass $39.80 while each charging over $220 worth of movie tickets to the respective debit cards they provided us. I’m no business expert, but I highly doubt a single person’s movie attending behavior is “worth” $180 to whoever they are trying to sell data to.
We may be an outlier on the higher end of MoviePass usage, but in the world of Silicon Valley startups and venture capital, math and profit isn’t always important so long as more funding keeps rolling into the company! For now we feast and I suggest you do the same if attending the movies is something you enjoy.
More Gap Year Preparation
In other news, our plans for next year are becoming more and more solidified. If you haven’t heard, both my wife and I are quitting our jobs to road trip around the US for a year or more in what we are calling our Gap Year. I’ve previously posted about a few of our pre-trip logistics such as what we’re doing with our current house and all of our stuff, and both of those tasks are well underway.
We met with a property manager that we really liked and are getting the final paperwork squared away to get it listed soon for our early exit next year. In addition to that, Becky has been on fire with selling a lot of the stuff we’re parting with before hitting the road. A combination of Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and OfferUp have allowed us to already sell a couple thousand dollars worth of stuff and we haven’t even gotten to many of the big items yet! Many other items have been donated and there is still plenty of stuff throughout our house, so it’s still a work in progress.
Upcoming tasks include renting out a small storage unit for the stuff we do want to keep (think closet sized), adding a roof rack to our car for a little extra storage space during the trip, getting a new mail forwarding address (probably through Traveling Mailbox), and deciding on what our “income” will be for next year for healthcare purposes.
Becky has already left her job and I plan to give notice in January, so our grand trip should start in early February after a quick stop in Cabo that we booked months ago. We’re once again going to an all-inclusive Hyatt booked entirely with points and this time we’re bringing family along with us! Our last trip to the Hyatt Zilara in Cancun was amazing and we’re hoping to have just as good of time on the other coast of Mexico.
So Many Things!
That wraps up some of the big items in our lives over the past couple months and I’m sure there’s even more that I left out. I don’t expect our lives to slow down very much until we’re able to hit the open road in February of next year. Hopefully we can master the art of “Slow Travel” and relax a bit as we make our way across the country. Regardless of what happens, I’m sure it will be an adventure that we never forget.
As always, feel free to chime in below in the comments! Are you taking advantage of MoviePass as well? Are there any must-see locations in the lower 48 that we should visit during our trip? Anything specific you want me to post about in the near future?