Life is a Detour

It’s been a crazy ride since March 2017, eight months of non-stop changes.  Here are my thoughts on the whole experience.  

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When I started this blog, I committed myself to being honest concerning the experiences we endured during this camper life journey. The good, the bad, and the indifferent. It’s been a crazy ride since March 2017, eight months of non-stop changes. Here are my thoughts on the whole experience.

Confined Spaces and Cabin Fever.

Cabin in WinterEven the hardiest people of sound mind will find it difficult to create enough entertainment to keep yourself busy. There is only so much reading, crafting and internet activities to keep the mind active. There will be days when you will question yourself, “What am I accomplishing here”. Not to say the solitude is bad, but it will run its course over time. Human beings are social by nature. Look out for extended periods of time when you are feeling blue or indifferent. These could be precursors for mental health issues in the future.

The O’ Mighty Dollar.

As frugal as we may be, there will always be a need for cash. Finding enough income dollar-726881_960_720to buy food, clothing, medicines, or fix breakdowns is inevitable. The majority of the population is depended on the Capitalist way of living, no matter what your personal political beliefs are. We need service providers and stores to make it month to month. In order to make the camping lifestyle a success, there must be some form of residual income to depend on. Be it retirement, pensions, social security and the likes. Don’t think you will make a dependable income from the mass amounts of people out there wanting your services. Yes, you will make a little, but a little won’t cut it. It takes much more than you think.

What about all those successful YouTubers you’ve been watching? They all have their own story to tell. If you pay attention, many of them have residual income; are they receiving a disability check, food stamps, other forms of benefits? How do you know? You don’t. Many I have watched have not given up their homes. They have stability, or they circle back to their familiar stomping grounds, aka hometown.  They are not going it alone. Enough about that.

Creature Comforts of Home.

Pink_and_black_bathroomHere is where we get down and dirty. Are you willing to forgo your daily bathing routine? Yes, I have heard, “I have a shower and water hook up”. What happens when you can’t find suitable utilities, aka campgrounds? Don’t kid yourself, it will happen. Do you know how many gallons of water it takes to bathe in a bucket, not a shower? I do… five gallons if you have short hair. Add a couple of gallons for long hair. It takes a half a cup of water to brush your teeth. How about using the toilet?  Have you ever pooped in a bucket? You say, “WHAT”! Yes, a five-gallon bucket with a Lug-a-loo.  What if I have to pee? Well, ladies…an empty gallon jug and a plastic funnel works just fine. Guess you never thought you would stand up to pee. Now you can. Disposal is always an issue. One word of advice, don’t go digging around in trash cans and dumpsters. Ask any truck driver, they can teach you a lot. Enough said on this subject.

Food Preparation and Choices.

We have a decent size refrigerator in our motor home. It holds approximately a weeks worth of food for two people. With that said, it does not leave enough space for cold soft drinks and the top shelf is used for a large block of ice to keep everything from spoiling. That doesn’t leave room for fresh veggies. Meal planning has changed 3345850330_f85ba44d10_bdramatically, more canned very thing. Not that it is bad, but it does get mundane after a while. Not to mention trying to get the nutrition that is needed to keep one healthy. How many ways can you cook hot dogs, eggs, canned veggies till it doesn’t appeal to you any longer? I long for my kitchen gadgets.

Moving, Moving, and More Moving.

The four M’s. Is this really realistic? Sounds great in theory, but every story has an end. For us, the end is no more moving. I may have told you all before that my husband and I drove an expedite truck across country for five-plus years. We were paid to move freight long distances. We saw almost all lower 48 states multiple times. Lived in a 96-inch sleeper, slept at truck stops and rest areas alike. 100_1097I’ve showered and laundered our clothes in so many small towns across North America it would make your head spin. I have enjoyed fine dining and greasy spoons from Laredo, Texas to Minot, ND. So our need to see the country has been fulfilled, our adventurous streak has run its course. This Camper Life was just another extension of that lifestyle that needed to be explored, and we did it. One more check mark off the bucket list.

Recommendations:

So you still want to give this uncertain lifestyle a chance? I’m not here to convince you otherwise. We did it, we survived. Who am I to tell someone, “You’re crazy” for trying. If there is a burning desire for you to get out there and experience an adventure then do it. Just know what you’re in for and plan accordingly. You may find yourself right back where you started from.

For us, we are putting roots down again. Our curiosity has been quenched and our longing for permanency has taken over. We’re on a new path, new career, and a new start. I wish all of you the best of luck in your adventures and God Speed.

Laura at San Refael Reef, Az

*In the near future, this blog will be incorporated into my personal blog, Dotty’s World. I will continue to write about new experiences mixed with my interests, events, and hobbies. I hope you will enjoy reading my discoveries because there is always something to be said.*

 

 

 

This Life in a Camper

No matter how much strategizing life has a way of doing its own thing.  This summer has proven that to be true.

The Best Laid Plans Goes Astray…

No matter how much strategizing life has a way of doing its own thing.  This summer has proven that to be true.  I would like to get real here for a moment or two.  Sharing our setbacks and changes in plans.

Here is the truth, we are getting older.  At fifty life is much slower and (not to be a downer) less exciting.  The things that used to excite and move our emotions just don’t do it for us anymore.  Every morning takes a little more effort to motivate.  Life is not anew, it’s that same old hat. old_age_quote_3 I now understand how elderly people become crotchety, the grumpy old man syndrome.  I feel it peeking its head out every now and again.

Reality set in when we realize there is no way of getting around some type of permanency.

A stable place to call home.  Whether it be a campground, small piece of land, even BLM land (semi-permanent).  It’s still quasi-permanent.  Even nomadic people had a migration pattern.  So do we.  Knowing we needed a steady income in the near future, we had to back up and punt.  We are not pensioners, collect social security or independently wealthy.  There has to be some form of income at some point. Here is where the problem lies.  How to put down roots as cheaply as possible, remain somewhat mobile and reduce expenditures in today’s economy.

I frequently read on Facebook group posts (full-time camping threads) questions concerning making a living.  How does one do it, traveling the country and making money?  I won’t say it’s impossible, however, if you’re a prideful person I will say you will have a tough go at it.  Changing jobs frequently is stressful, wondering if you are going to work today or tomorrow is stressful.  thumb_stress_reductionDo you have enough money for the limited bills you do have, is stressful.  Our age doesn’t provide us with the flexibility to constantly change our situation on a whim.  We are on a two to three-year cycle.  Not bad for our age.

So we have stayed put for the past couple of months taking care of multiple doctor visits (old age got us again).  Battling out the aches and pains (where did that come from?) and learning what we can and can not do.  Our YouTube site has been stagnant due to lack of content. Permanency doesn’t provide for interesting videos.  Neither does waiting on doctor visits and surgery.  Life is rather boring that way.  It does allow for reflection on what is to come.  Now we are back to the permanency thing.  A ‘Catch 22’ or a full circle quagmire.  We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

quagmire-word-nerd

Limitations of income don’t allow for rent payments or mortgage (not that we want them).  Moving to an area that allows full-time camping removes us from the labor force. So now what?  What is good for the goose may not be good for the gander.  This goose doesn’t want what comes along with brick and mortar housing.  We like our simplistic life with all its navigational problems.  This is most likely the most challenging change we have made yet.  As the seasons change maybe we will have an epiphany that will set us on the right course.  Until then more waiting and more reflection on this life in a camper.

 

Oscar Wilde     “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde

Guide to Successful Boondocking

This is our top 10 boondocking tip for the inexpirenced boondocker. This guide helped us have a safe and enjoyable stay where ever we parked.

10 Boondocking Tips for the Inexperienced Boondocker

This is our top 10 boondocking tips we recommend for the inexperienced boondocker,  We used these tips on our 2600 mile journey this past Spring, on our road-trip to Georgia and back to Michigan.  Not once were we asked to leave our parking spot.

Here is our list:

1:     Ask permission – Just don’t assume it is legal for you t to park in any public parking lot.  Ask the management of the anchor store if they would allow you to park overnight.  Many times they will agree and direct you to the best area in the parking lot to park.

2:     Don’t lie about why you are there – Be honest about your need to park.  We were never told no, even when it was posted “no overnight camping”.  We were just honest about it.

3:     Never set up camp in the parking lot – We have seen campers take advantage of the kindness of store manager and their parking rules.  Don’t pull out your grills and chairs as you would if you were at a campsite.  It’s rude and just plain tacky.

Rude

4:     Never overstay your welcome – One or two days stay at best.  You don’t want to attract attention to yourself and ruin other traveler’s chances to boondock at the same location.  Share the love.

5:      Spend a little money  – Even if it just a gallon of water or a bag of ice.  Patron the store will make the manager more willing to let you stay longer.  It’s also being considerate of the situation.

pitch in trash image

6:     Keep it clean – Pick up your trash and clean up your surrounding.  It’s very sad to see full trash bag and tons of litter surrounding the parking lots.  Be a good guest and pick up after yourself.  It will make management happy too.

7:     Be quiet – This is not a time to have a party.  Keep your noise level down, again don’t attract attention, it’s rude and you may get a visit from the police.

8:     Vehicle Presentation – You don’t have to have a new camper to be overlooked while boondocking.  Keep your rig clean and in good working order.  It draws less suspicion.

Traveler, Motor Home, Travel Journal, Bonndocking

9:     Consideration parking habits – Plan your parking on the outskirts of the parking lot.  Don’t park up front and take up multiple spaces.  You’ll only make management and customers angry.  Be considerate of the space your rig will use.

10:    No major repairs while parking – Many stores have a policy that states no repairing of vehicles in parking lot. If you have major repairs in the future, plan accordingly and drive your rig where you can repair it or have it repaired without harassment.

Live by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have done to you” (Luke 6:31) and you should have no problems boondocking on your travels.  You can also save money on the way too.

Challenges of Boondocking

These are real concerns that will put a crimp in your travels…

Travel Obstacles While on the Road

When you read about boondocking you’ll frequently hear how wonderful life is living free on the road.  Well, I am here to tell you not every day is peaches-n-cream.  There are plenty of obstacles you’ll face and many changes you will make.  This post is about a few of those challenges we have faced along our 2600 mile journey.

Over the course of two months on the road, I’ve watched many YouTube videos, read many posts and blogs concerning the RV lifestyle.  The majority of information that I have found leads me to believe that the RV life is an all carefree style with limited stress.  I’m here to tell you life, in general, is stressful.  It doesn’t matter if you live in a house or on the road, problems will arise and have to be dealt with.

The first big issue we faced while being on the road was high-speed internet access.

4G-internet-phone-serviceNow if you are working from your laptop as your main source of income you will be hard-pressed to find a steady fast connection.  Yes, you can give it your best shot at the local McDonald’s or Starbucks, but driving your rig to find these locations will get tiresome.  Depending on how big your rig is you may not be able to find parking close enough to connect for long.  There also will be days when you won’t be able to connect at all. We use Verizon with a Jetpack and still have trouble with a steady signal.  Verizon has dead spots too.  This is just food for thought for those planning on an online income.  You may want to rethink your plan.

energy-139366_960_720

Power usage is another biggie to think about.  Are you the kind of person who can’t live without your t.v. shows or video games?  I can tell you even if you have batteries and solar panels the power generated will be limited.  The power that’s  been stored during your travels would be better used to power a refrigerator, an air conditioner, fans or keeping your cell phone charged.  There will be a lot of quiet time.  Can you handle the quite? “Silence is golden” as the saying goes only to those who enjoy it.

Storm+warning

Weather conditions are a must to keep track of during your travels, rainstorms, high winds and hot temperatures.  These conditions can all be a day breaker for the boondocker.  Keep a daily check on your local weather channel to make sure you are not in harm’s way.  Hot temperatures are the most of my worries living in an RV.  See this post on how we deal with the heat. Spending for a full hookup campsite for power can take a toll on your finances if you are on a limited income.

bathing with a bucket (500x629)

Lastly, get used to limiting your bathing time.  There will be days when you will not bathe.  I know you have probably heard of full-timers that purchase time at a gym to use their shower facilities.  Once again, driving around in a big RV in a heavily populated area to find your shower access will get old.  It’s also expensive, remember you have to pay per person.  You would be better off locating a truck stop and share the shower stall if you’re traveling as a couple.  We’ve used a bucket with water or baby wipes to wash down if a shower wasn’t available.  Change your clothes regularly and don’t forget the deodorant. This will stretch the bathing considerably.

These four issues are not often discussed or are sugar-coated in the camping, boondocking world.  They are real concerns that will put a crimp in your travels if you’re not prepared to deal with them.  Think it through, be realistic, prepare and enjoy the ride.

Southern Hospitality

It all started last week with a simple post from Facebook.

It all started last week with a simple post from Facebook.  In the most unlikely way, a post came over offering us a place to park for a few days.  It caught us both by surprise, we didn’t know what to think or say, “Was this for real?”  Being skeptical, we decided to think on it for a day or two.

The weather was getting hotter and we really needed to find shade.  Maybe it was time to learn a little trust and accept the offer.  We didn’t have to travel far when we were greeted by  (we will call her Gail) a small, cheery-eyed woman with a warm smile and cherry cheeks. She directed us to her backyard to park ‘Dotty’, and there it was… shade, wonderful large oak trees with the charming hanging Spanish Moss.  The perfect place to keep us cool on those hot days.

We spent the first few days getting acquainted.  A lot of question was asked and answered, one being how were we going to finance ourselves? Our plan was to take on odd jobs, (according to our skill sets) and possibly work camping.  “What are those skillsets, you might ask?”  We have a few at our age, my husband, Bill, is a carpenter by trade and an all-around handyman.  Myself, I have a nack for cleaning, organizing and yard work.  Those are my specialities.  Gail was carefully listening to our story and quickly asked if we would like to extend our stay and help her with home repairs and clean up duty.  This was shock number two, we weren’t expecting that question.  She showed us around the house pointing out various needed repairs, back door casing, hanging new drywall, lawn work, etc.  We decided quickly we would like to help her out knowing she wasn’t able to do the work herself.  Labor fee was briefly discussed, however we hadn’t thought about a price, we decided to ask for donations for work completed.  We felt that was fair.  We now were well on our way to our first job with a reference…priceless.

As the days progressed and the work was getting finished a funny thing happened.  We were building a new friendship.  In the evenings we would all relaxed on her wonderful screened in back porch having drinks, meeting neighbors and just having a good ol’time talking about camping and life.  Gail went out of her way to be a gracious host.  She even cooked dinners for us and of course we joined her, she a great cook!  Our few days turned into a week.  We knew we would have to leave soon, we had another committment coming up.

This week was a complete success.  I had heard stories of the kindness of strangers, but have never experienced it.  This boondocking adventure has made us realize there are good people out there.  Gail has shown us there is kind and thoughtful people in this world, people who do care.  She is one of those people we will never forget and hope to see again in the future.  We are forever grateful to have met her and can call her our friend.

A Weekend of Visits, Boondocking and Repairs.

Time to play catch up in the world of blogging.  We’ve been busy the past couple of day, bust’n butt getting Dotty ready for our first boondocking experience.  We also made a mad dash to say goodbye to friends and family over the weekend.  Friday was laundry and shower day while we still had water access.  Writing our list and checking it twice making sure we didn’t leave anything behind and thanking Bob for putting up with us over the past couple of weeks.

So heading out early Saturday morning, traveling north, to Madison Heights, Mi. for a goodbye breakfast with dear long-term friends, the Wagner’s, and their brood.  Jeff is another good friend who has always helped in times of need.  He was the first person to offer help when this journey started.  We appreciate all you’ve done and offered to us over the years.  Keep that steel polished and well oiled, Jeff, and hugs to you and yours.

Heading back to home base it was dinner with, Mom.  It’s been years since Bill and I have had contact with his Mother.  It sure was nice to spend a couple of hours catching up on life and having a wonderful steak dinner.  We love you and promise to be in contact more often even if we are miles away.

First night boondocking wasn’t as restful as we would have hoped it to be.  We pick a less traveled parking lot with a Dollar Tree store (we needed more plastic containers).  I spent an hour playing, stakeout, looking out the windows watching the police patrol the strip mall.  I thought to myself, “How long will it be before we get a knock on the door?”  Not interested, we never got that knock.  The next morning we woke up to McDonald’s coffee, not a McDonald’s fan, but  I never knew I could appreciate McDonald’s, however,  I will say they have damn good coffee.

Next day, Sunday, more family visits, my son Ray, who I will miss dearly and Bill’s brother, Dougie.  Dougie’s visit was exceptionally nice and entertaining.  Bill’s sister, Marge, and niece, Kristin also dropped by.  We enjoyed all their company and were glad we were able to see them before we left for the road.

The evening was spent with Pops and his wife, Wanda.  We went to dinner at a local diner and had a very pleasant visit while giving the waitress a hard time.  Don’t worry, she got a fat tip for putting up with us, cha-ching.

Another night of boondocking, this time at the ol’trusty Wal-Mart parking lot.  Low and behold, there’s a Tim Horton’s next store.  Gotta look out for those coffee spots since we’re without shore power.  I don’t think Wal-Mart would appreciate us building a campfire to heat water in their parking lot.  It would draw a lot of attention.

Well, in between all the visiting, we managed to get someone to look at Dotty’s suspension. She is ass end heavy and needs new shocks and a rear seal replacement. We went to a local RV repair shop under the recommendations of a national RV chain store.  Now here is some cool advice for those looking for repairs on your campers/vans.  Make connections with a good honest mechanic, ask around, get advice, this relationship is priceless.  We received the estimate for repairs at $1600.00.  Ummm…not gonna happen.  So, what to do, what to do?  Our first thought was to call our long-time diesel mechanic to ask for advice.  Happens… that they are willing to do the work and can get us in tomorrow.  Whoohoo!!

One more night boondocking in amongst the semi-trucks, buses and dump trucks, lol.  Don’t think anyone will find us after being locked in the yard at the repair shop.  Parts already delivered, repairs start yearly in the morning.  Should have a good night sleep tonight.  Keeping our fingers crossed.  Eight o’clock comes early, looking for freshly brewed coffee with the staff at DRS.

Best Friends Make Everything Better

We made it up the highway around fifteen miles to our next destination, to best friend Bob’s house…

After the home sold we made a mad dash to load up our belonging into the motorhome and be on our way.  Our first stop wasn’t far.  Packed to the gills, camper squatting like an s.o.b., we made it up the highway around fifteen miles to our next destination, to best friend Bob’s house.  Bob has been a close friend of my husband for years, way back to the high school days.  The carefree days of immense trouble making.  Like I said, a really close friend.

Bob offered his driveway for us to park Dotty and get our bearings straight.  We needed time to adjust to the new accommodations, check out all thing mechanical and throw more stuff way.

First on the list was shore power.  It works like a champ.  We plan to purchase a small microwave to use when power is available.  Our hope is to install a couple of solar panels to use on such occasion when we are boondocking.  Next issue is the classic refrigerator.  It’s in great shape but doesn’t run and if it did it would be a power-hungry whore.  Think we will be removing it and purchasing a 12 volt to put in its place.  We’ll also have more space for dry good storage above it.  There is plenty of projects to keep us busy for the next couple of weeks.  The more we assimilate to camper living the more we will be ready to head out down the highway when the time comes.

And as always, thank you, Bob, for letting us intrude in your living space.  We will always be grateful for your help.