Saturday, May 29, 2010

Campground or Boondocking, why not both? And Money

Dundee MI sunset after a visit to Cabelas (2010) and mountain near Beluga Point, AK where I frequently visited and hiked in AK (2006)
Along the lines of a trailer and van vs just a van is the question of where to park (the universal van dweller question). In my case, boondocking in various places around work when I work back to back double shifts makes sense. I stealth park, use public facilities and basically do an extended camping trip for up to a week at a time. Then on my off days also in a row, hanging out with the cats, family and friends, and also needing to do laundry, catch up on dishes, cooking for the week and shopping for supplies come into play plus recreation time. Right now, family and cats are one project (too hot for the cats in the van and they can't go to work with me), then the laundry mat, and finally recreation and socialization time.

I also go to campgrounds near recreation areas that have laundry facilities, friends, hookups and a town within driving distance. Hence the thought of a trailer, my family could come hang with me and there is still the van and the trailer separately, not having to break camp to go into town, and actually keeping the cats permanently comfortable at the campground with hookups and AC. Its not the cheapest route, but its an all in one stop. Sometimes time is worth money.

So there is value in both. If money is the issue, which it sometimes is, I boondock near work, use public facilities, and visit nearby parks. Same for off days, if money is the issue, I hang with the cats at the rental room property and find local stuff to do while sleeping in the van most of the time enjoying the gorgeous stars and fresh smelling country air.

If there is extra money, we visit campgrounds, do driving trips and boondock out of town especially when the spring and fall temps create gorgeous scenery and comfortable pet temps. However, there is only room in the van for myself and the cats. Its a mini van after all. lol. So hence the long debates on space, trailers and the trade offs. Besides its just plain fun to look at different layouts, its like house dwellers that admire Frank Lloyd Wright (which I do) only in a smaller space. Its not about how much can you fit in an area, but how can you make the space, well: YOU and how many uses you can get from one thing, space, idea.

In the spirit of freedom and minimalism, learning to NOT multi task life but items, changes the value of money. Money holds less importance and instead of always being in the rat race to get more, you learn to live within your means and find an adventure anywhere. Its called an imagination, and its not just for kids. And as such, there are varying amounts of money in the nomadic community on wheels which decides what type of adventure we each embark on for the moment, but one thing is in common, the love of seeing new surroundings, remaining open and finding the positive in each place we visit.

Some will be van dwellers for a weekend, some for work for a week, and some full time. Some choose it and it chooses some, but in the end, its still a part of life and even if for a short time we go back to our native nomadic nature. There is no right or wrong way, its just the ebb and flow of life.

Livin Lite Trailers

In my search of every type of RV on the market, I have drawn a favorite brand in the crowd. We have the Livin Lite line up. is a hybrid trailer that is both a toy hauler, has pop out screened beds (in some) and all the furnishings of an RV (beds, gray water and black water tanks ect). And its light weight.

Next is the trailer which is very awesome. I could envision the toy hauler with a bike, motorcycle and kayak as well as a mobile office. And at a campground on a nice summer night, put the screens up and enjoy a cool breeze. My only concern with awning is my preference for AC and the cats claws.

Then there is the awesome trailer, thats lightweight enough my car could haul it (although the van would) and provide the standing room and shower and parkable home for those times when visiting relatives on extended stay, needing a trailer park or RV park for extended employment reasons or wanting to boondock with the cats with more room. I would love to workamp and I can see it happening in a van as I basically do so but a trailer adds the rental room that I would then own. And at 11 feet its a good size and wouldn't be too hard to haul around, plus the off road package makes it even more attractive. Mainly, lets face it, there are times when its too hot or cold and life still holds us somewhere for whatever reason, and those hook ups are nice.

Friday, May 28, 2010


So lets talk minimalism, its probably been discussed on the net more than what type of gear for when nature calls, but I figured my 2 cents can't hurt either -:) So in Oct 2008 I moved from one house to a smaller house. I had soooo much stuff and couldn't find anything. I was entirely at my wits end with this factor. And when I say wits end, I meant it. I couldn't find my shampoo, keys whatever, those shoes ect. So my strategy, or lack of one, go through everything, take out what I need, put it in either the living room, bathroom, kitchen or bedroom, cats stuff in their room. Everything else stayed in original boxes and was tossed to the backporch. Well, it was all on the back porch to begin with so that still looked cluttered and now between furniture (house is smaller remember) and stuff (things I thought I needed) I was more overwhelmed.

Enter lightbulb moment, in August of 2009, I decided since I was hardly home, the house took to long to clean, and I was stressed out from other personal things, I got a dumpster and took everything from the backporch, what wasn't in the donate pile (straight in the van), went. That was room one. Then I just kept going room by room for an entire week and by the end of that week, I got rid of 90 percent of my furniture, 90 percent of my stuff and could clean my house in a half hour.

I felt so happy like I got rid of junk, if I didn't use it and I didn't have a personal relationship to it (display it prominantly like a few stuffed animals, pictures and what nots) it went bye bye. I think I went from pack rat to realizing things are only baggage holding us from our dreams. Its the best idea to ever be had.

Next came the bills, I got rid of the land line, the internet, never bothered to buy a converter box (protested the government telling me I had to own one), and too this day find a more positive world without the news telling me how I should fear for my life. Don't get me wrong, I love positive news, cheerful people and activities that foster personal and emotional growth, but FOX wasn't doing that.

And finally, I looked around at a house I have and all that space, how few things, the van and what a waste having a house is. It ties a person down either through rent or mortgage, you spend all your time repairing and dumping more money into it and it doesn't go anywhere AND if you lose your job you are truly up a crick without a paddle. I decided to move and before doing so, I went through and got rid of things and could only find one garbage back to get rid of. Everything in the house plus what was in the van (house stuff consumed my sleeping space in the middle) fit in the van in one load minus furniture (2 bookshelves, entertainment stand, 1 endtable and small kitchen table) and it only covered the floor of the van with room to spare. AMAZING. And so here we are, with a bed roll for a bed in house and van, TV only I choose and things where I can find them. Very nice. The furniture isn't here yet and I am fine without it except for the entertainment stand and one bookshelf, more downsizing lol.
I will post pics of the new room setup and van shortly. And staying in 2 rooms in a house is nice. Its smaller, cozier and has internet ect without the hefty bills.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Life is Beautiful and what is normal?

Life is everywhere, its like everything has a soul in one sense or another, even if its our attachment to an object. I can't say life is all a bed of roses but everytime I see my cats glee at my homecoming, a calm lake and a BBQ with all the space in the world, life looks pretty good. Maybe we have all gotten so far from the outdoors that its taking our humanity from us.

Since considering van dwelling a few things have happened: I was a typical couch potato before and now instead of where is the nearest AC, I head for the lake. Instead of going to pick up fast food, I head for a BBQ and aldis. I actually see life for its ups and downs and enjoy those ups and downs. I used to be Bi polar and still am, but I let nature be my medicine, its cheaper, healthier and more gratifying. Happiness is not about looks, money or who likes who, its about how you feel about you.

Money does not buy happiness, yes money makes life easier but it tends to equal laziness. Sometimes the best moments in life are figuring out how to survive: after all inventions are made this way.
Objects are just that, objects. There are things we are attached to but if it keeps us so grounded we refuse to follow our dreams, it isn't worth keeping. Take a picture and move on. Sometimes leaving the ground and letting your mind soar makes those dreams come true or at least a little closer.

Its funny coming from someone that was an only child, a couch potato and a product of conventional schooling that is a fan of inspirational education, keeping that which is useful and living life instead of watching it go by.

Only goes to show, take the past, learn and move on. As Marya Hornbacher says in her book Wasted, "just ... deal." Basically living in a world of I can't is so much more dramatic and feel sorry for self than dealing with life. Things like doing the dishes, laundry, ect actually take on a hugh of excitement when looked at from this perspective. And being a van dweller, these things require more creativity to accomplish.
Thanks for reading, stay well, and go outside.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Travel Trailers

So today it has been REALLY hot again. I didn't want to use the gas, so I hung out and surfed the web today. I am looking for travel trailers under 1800 lbs that my car and van can both haul as I want to stay at the campground by the beach so I don't have to use the gas to get there daily.

So travel trailer or motorized RV? The van is like an RV, I want to keep the van with me, and use it as a daily driver. However, I can't stand in the van or take a real shower and I need something that is easy to haul, not a fortune in gas and will house the cats and dogs when I go on vacation and is climate controlled. It has to look nice as well and stand up to winters in the midwest. I would also like to do some workamping next year. I do like the Winnebago Rialta Class B but the graphics don't lend to stealth and it requires upkeep like a car only more RV expense.

So here are the lightweight trailers on the market:
We have the tumbleweed and tiny house looking trailers, nice but not practical for my situation.
We have the teardrop that requires getting out to do cooking which isn't happening always unless I go with the Tada which isn't a bad option and its on the table. I like the Hi Lo Mojo which solves this problem although I would go all white. The price tag isn't awful either. I do seem attracted to fiberglass.

Then we have the regular travel trailers like the Burro and Casita ect. and the fiberglass egg shapes that I really love.

Then there is the Alto Safari Condo in Canada, I am in love. This has optimum space, toiletries, lightweight, and a great view. And finally the livin lite new aluminum trailers are great.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Swimming for the first this summer

I went to Maumee Bay State Park off of Route 2 in Oregon OH. Gorgeous area, another magnificent day and just breathtaking beauty of the spring here in the great midwest. It was so hot at work, I still did my normal walk, but I thought what a day to swim (so hot). I went to the park, went for a dip in the warm water that was clean and just sooo relaxing.  There was barely anyone there so I enjoyed a BBQ and took a dip. I got a workout too. I am not so good in the dieting area, and have given up on that but the great outdoors is the best thing ever. I hope its nice tomorrow. I also found a truckstop so on my days off this week I can overnight at the stop, eat subway and enjoy the park for a few days and maybe try out running again now that my ankle is feeling better.

Then I came back to the house and took the cats outside. They loved their walk, enjoyed looking at birds and sunning themselves. Of course sun and black cats equals red cats.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Exciting News

Today is a better day. I went to MI for a nice trip with the cats. It is a gorgeous humid day. I finished getting everything moved into the room, and the cats are settling in nicely. The puppy still wants to go upstairs to visit the cats. They are still adjusting to the crazy energy of the puppy. I think once the puppy settles things will get better in the house. Its back out tomorrow for a few days. I did some redecorating this week to the van as well and decided for stealth the sleeping on the floor thing works best and I can still move the bedding out of the way. The slider still doesn't open so its like having a mini cargo van.

Friday, May 21, 2010

staying clean

Well having spent 5 of 7 nights in the van I can say I have had time to experiment with staying clean and found out it is possible to go for a few days on a sponge bath. I tried the no poo thing last week and that actually wasn't bad but I still feel the need to poo on occasion. So to the naysayers its all good. lol

Today is a little better

Well the cell phone still dials but the keypad got a little wet and now the numbers are funky and I can't respond to text messages or check email. Ah well, time for a new phone. I think things are getting better today. I will make it through somehow. Got a full tank of gas, stopped by the house and did laundry and took a shower. So now just visiting family while my clothes dry. Its nice to be good for another 2 weeks. Insurance is paid, van is paid, fuel, food, warmth and cleanliness. It works well. Hopefully I can save up enough from this paycheck to get a new phone and maybe pay off some back of the pile bills. Goal is to get everything in order, all bills paid up before I head out for the open road.
 I worked Wed-Fri (today) and parked out both nights and spent this afternoon doing errands. Of course it was 80 degrees so I couldn't take the cats with me, so they stayed with family. It will be nice to get to see them and spend all weekend with them. I miss the little furrballs.

In other news, I will be going to truck driving school as soon as I get the funding straightened out. I can't wait, it will be a full on career change and get paid to travel the country. I hope to find an employer I can take the 2 girls with me, but if not, we will continue current arrangements until I can save up enough to make it happen. I am so stoked. I love my job but I need a little more to be financially stable.

So all in all, things are looking up. There are some other coals in the fire as well that should make things more cormfortable.

out of gas

Well this week has been eventful. I have run out of gas more often than i care to discuss besides the verge of losing my rental room AND my job. Now thankfully today is payday BUT how I tire of struggling.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Finally a vandweller

Effective May 15 I became a full time van dweller with a 2nd homebase of a family members 2 room upstairs for watching the cats while I am at work, storage, or for those times when I want to sprawl out and be social. So the house is now out of the picture. Thus far we are 3 days into van dwelling and I must say I actually like it, its like being in a cocoon. I used to have the bed on one side and my stuff on the other but its been redone so the bed roll is down the middle, the clothes, linen bins, folding chair and food storage is one one side and the hygiene, potty, cat supplies and duffle bags are on the other. Their litter box is in the passenger seat foot well (converted a plastic blue tub and put a hole in the top). Their carrier with bed is on the passenger seat at night and in the back during the day. My slider door quit working so I counted it as a blessing and look at it as a giant box in the rear. As for the bed in the daytime I fold the roll in half with the pillows on top so its like a couch at the back of the van.

Never before could I say everything is truly in arms reach. I get off of work, change clothes and wash up, drive to my night spot, settle in for the night, get up and go to a peaceful park, go to the bathroom and change, take a walk, come back, change and wash up (shower), Then I pull out my cooking supplies and make some eggs and TX toast over the grill. Eat and clean up. Then either read a book on a nice day or stay parked and open the tailgate, walk the cats, take a nap or do whatever, and be free. Its simply nice to have everything in arms reach and no utility bills. Planning on getting a fantastic fan installed soon and a spare battery but so far so good.

 I have been part time doing this now for a while but now its actually a van home and a 2nd place thats storage and an address. No longer do I have to report "home" to visit the cats, pay a petsitter, or do laundry, cut the grass, be home for some repair this or that, or dump my income into a house that is far from work and hardly seen. Now I simply know the cats have a babysitter when I am not in, my bills are no more than a storage unit and I have somewhere to go if it gets to cold and a stable place to get mail. On my days off, I can explore the area (with money I didn't have before), take the cats (whether permitting) and most everything I own (except for a few furniture items) is in the van. 

I am still working on new places to park, still debating over a bed frame (being lower to the ground is more stealthy even though I have curtains in the back) I haven't figured out how to put curtains to divide the front from the back and not draw attention. And I love the flexibility of rolling up my bed, grabbing a duffle (always packed) and the cat carrier should the van need a tow. I can also if needed take my things out or stack most in the front passenger seat and directly behind if I need to haul something or add a seating arrangement. 

There has been some debate over getting a travel trailer which was the plan until I got a room rental. But either way with a fantastic fan and a source of portable power, we should be able to hit the open road and boondock with just the van. I feel a travel trailer wouldn't be stealthy so we would need a campground, an additional storage trailer would also draw attention and since I like to stay in one place a few months to get to know the area, I would rather live with less and call it a day. And while I am saving up money to travel I am in the process of getting a CDL class A, selling off the furniture items and finishing the van remodel.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I finally got a chance to take everything out of the van and clean the interior. We have decided to co raise the puppy because Tippy has grown attached to Tiny (dads dog). I am also placing one of my cats with a friend so that leaves me with 2 cats which is much more manageable.