The Great Camper Hunt

It was another cold and rainy day in Southern Michigan, pressed for time and home sold, we needed to find a motor home quickly.   Hours and weeks were spent looking on-line looking across the state for the perfect, or nearly perfect, camper.  With a few dollars in our pocket the pick’ns were slim.  There were plenty to motor homes to choose from if you wanted to take out a mortgage and drive a bus around the country.  That wasn’t our idea of downsizing.  We needed something dependable and cheap.  No leaks, mold and a solid motor, something we could work on and repair without breaking the bank.

We left early in the morning and headed about two hours north in the cold windy rain to view our first potential option.  The GPS took us down wet, pothole filled roads to look at the first possibility.  We found this gem on Craigslist, pictures looked good, description gave us hope…until.

Pulling into the rutted driveway we  knew this was a no go, a rust bucket from hell.  A lot of front end rust and crooked camper shell gave it away.  We knew this one had a lot a problems.  We didn’t need to drive it, though we did, to know it should have been in the junk yard.  We politely declined the sale and went on our merry way.

Rather disappointed, we started our way back home, then the light bulb came on!  Call it a coincidence, however  I don’t believe in coincidences, pulling into a local grocery store, my husband checked Craigslist one last time.  Sha-zam…there she was, a half an hour away.  This was a must see.  A quick phone call and off we went to check another possibility.

I have to say the drive was better, paved roads and all.  First impression was very hopeful.  This motor home was taken care of.  No rust to be seen, no sagging, brand new tires, refurbished motor and only 45,000 miles.  She was clean.  We spent approximately an hour or so with the owner, going over the many details of this 1975 Cruise Air.  He was obviously proud of the renovations he had done.  The inside was “sweet”.  All wood cabinet, reupholstered benches and cab interior.  The only damage we could find was minor roof leaks that had been repaired.  We needed a test drive.

Down the street, around the block and a smile on his face, I knew we had just bought a motor home.  This vehicle would be just what was needed to get us down the road.  A little more time spent with the owner talking about what was repaired, replaced and needed work, money was exchanged and title in hand, she was on her maiden voyage back home.

Forty to fifty mile an hour winds didn’t make for easy driving.  It was a test, her first test, and she did great.  Suspension needs work and carburetor needs tweaking but all in all it went very well.  We made it home with no incidents and very pleased with our purchase.  I hope she serves us well during our travels, we shall see.

Saying Goodbye to Big Jane

I remember many evening discussions with my husband contemplating selling our 1996 Ford 250 4×4.  Did we really need her?  She was a beast of a truck, 7.5 liter 460 engine.  Need I say terrible gas mileage but could pull a house down.  She could haul anything.  We bought her when we were living in Northern Michigan, out in the sticks.  Hauling wood was a necessity, two cords of wood at a time, no problem.  Collecting water at the local spring, no issues. Plowing through snow in four-wheel drive, easy squeasy.  I loved her.  She was my truck. She was dependable and safe, just a gas hog.

After deciding to go back on the road in camper style, I knew we couldn’t keep her.  Oh, she could pull the biggest camper we could afford, but she would run us broke keeping her in fuel.   We had to look for a motor home that would do the job.

When we decided to put her up for sale, we really didn’t try  very hard, a couple of adds here and there on Facebook was about it.  We never even put a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window.  She sold none the less.

I don’t believe in coincidences, I have always believed events happen for a reason.  Selling of Big Jane was one of those events.  The day she was sold, my husband and I decided to try to sell an antique dresser at a local dealer.  The dresser sold and the delivery man can and picked it up.  He was a nice, young fella who wanted to know our story so we told him the plan.  Big Jane came up in the conversation and “Bingo” he had a friend who he knew would be interested in the truck.  Later that evening he came back with his friend and sealed the deal.  Not much effort on our part, just honest conversation and a positive outlook on our plan.

It was hard seeing her being driven away  but I knew she was in good hands. A new owner who had great plans for her.  Thanks Tony for the sale and hope you have many good years and memories  from our, “Big Jane”.

Finding Your Zen

Have you ever been so involved in a hobby that the day just zips by?  Before you know it the whole day is gone.  Those are my Zen moments.  The ones I loved and didn’t realize I had until today.

I knit as a hobby, hats, socks, sweaters. I learned as a young teen from a nice lady across the street.  I made a few things but never really picked it back up until a few years ago.  (remember I’m over fifty now)  I guess the appreciation of the craft didn’t hit me until I ran out of yarn.  I noticed, silly me, that I was getting excited waiting for the mail person to deliver my soft, silky and slightly wooly hanks of yarn. Itching to get those needles back in my hands.  Knitting produces those moments when your fingers are busy but the mind is clear.  Tensions of life are minimal, I am at peace. I am at one with my yarn.  That is what I call Zen.

What are your Zen moments?   I would love to know.

How to Downsize from a House to a Camper,Family and Friends Give a Way…Part Two.

This past week was a busy one.  Our home is quickly being emptied.  Items we wanted to sell were posted on local Craigslist and Facebook groups.  Most items sold but we still have a fish stand that needs to go.  I also had the idea to peddle my goods at a few local antique shops/resell shops.  This worked well, as we had pictures on the phone that helped seal the deal.  We also were able to sell the Ford pickup, “Big Jane”, to a friend of the young fellow that picked up the furniture that we sold.  It was networking at it’s finest.

We contacted friends and family who we knew may want various items.  We wanted to give a good home to items we have collected over the past two years.  Oh, and did we collect stuff. We also discussed leaving items that may be useful to the new owners of this home.  A young couple with a baby.  They were grateful for what ever we donated, furniture, tools, etc.

It’s looking like we are getting closer to our goal.  Rather scary but exhilarating at the same time.  Next step, closing on the house, locating a Motor Home and can’t forget selling the Sterling.  We have also secured a place to lay our heads and park the camper as we work on it.  It’s great to have such giving friends.  You all are so much appreciated, words can not describe.

How to Down size from a house to Camper, Part One

How often do we really take a good look at the “stuff” we’ve accumulated in our homes? Most of us probably go day-to-day ignoring the stuff in our homes.  Over filled cabinets, drawers and closets.  Not until we are faced with down sizing are we really aware of what we own and collected over the years.

Wandering through the house, I wonder what am I going to do with all this stuff?  A better description would be, “Where did all this crap come from?”.   In my last post, I described my husband and I as over the road truck drivers.  Living in an 8×8 sleeper, we seriously down sized and rented a storage unit for the items we couldn’t live without.  Not this time, there will be no added expense of paid storage.  We had better leave our emotions out of it and dump, sell or donate what we can.

It was hard at first, staring at the walls, furniture, nick naks, I knew they had to go.  We started slowly, very slowly.  My first step was clothing.  It seemed emotionally the easiest to handle. We bought a big box of yard trash bags and went to work.  Most of the clothes were in good shape, needless to say, if I didn’t wear and wash it at least once a week, it was donated.  Same goes with shoes, purses, belts and don’t forget all the numerous winter garb stashed in the front closet.

We agreed to clean and weed out something, a room or a closet, every day.  Small steps made it easier to let stuff go. If we couldn’t weed the rooms we took trips to the local donation center or the dump.  After a few of these trips it became easier.  The weight on my heart and shoulders lightened.  I could see progress.  I didn’t need all this stuff.  By the way, “where did all this crap come from?”  We now have a chance to live lightly, more freely without filling our lives with stuff that really in the end doesn’t make us happier, only more cluttered in mind and spirit.

I wont kid you and tell you this process was hunky dory and I had some grand epiphany. Each time we touched an item it took a lot of  consideration and retrospection.  The family items were the worst.  But when it comes down to it, the kids really don’t want this “crap” you saved from their school years.  It’s just more stuff to take up space in their lives.

At this point on our time line, we are still weeding rooms and taking trips to the dump.  I do know this though, every time I look up any item online or handle some new shiny toy in a retail store, my question will be, “will this end up in someone’s donation bin or laying in a buried heap in a land fill?” The answer will most likely be,” yes”.

A New Journey After Fifty

This blog will document the events of this journey, good or bad.

Here we sit, stunned and confused.  No work…not again.  No freight to transport, no money to be made.  This is not the first time work has dried up for this couple.  It happened about seven years ago during the housing crises.  It was a time for change then and once again, time for change now.  We drove as OTR “Over the Road” truck drivers in the expedite trucking world.  Over the road for five years delivering “just in time” freight.  All kinds of freight.  You name it, we hauled it.

It was a sort of a precursor for what we are to embark on this go around.  Life on the road.  This time will be different.  We wont be sharing an 8×8 sleeper.  Not that it was all that bad.  Although cramped, it had all the comforts of a small camper a refrigerator, microwave, TV and can’t forget the Xbox.  We’ve done this before.  This time we’ll gain regular sleep and an eating schedule on our terms.  This time it will be a camper’s life on our schedule.

After three weeks of fighting off anxiety and mild depression we came out of our stupor like a waking giant.  It was time to make a plan.  How did we wish to live.  It was our choice this time.  What was our dreams and ideas the last time this happened.  We muddled with the idea of Workampers before.  Before the job offer of OTR trucking.  How would we make it work, what would be our income?  It took many, many hours of online research to make the decision a reality.  We could do this.

So here we are, selling our home, pick up, the straight truck and anything that we can.  There are many people who have given us courage and well wishes.  Even those that wished they could do the same.

This blog will document the events of this journey, good or bad.  All truth and nothing but the truth.  There are many other fellow travelers who only tell the happy end of the story.  We are real people with real encounters.  We will tell it like it is.  Hope you will join us, cheer us on and leave us constructive comments as we “do this one more time”.