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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Must Have Things For New Vanners or RVers

This is simply some things I've found very useful in my van/travel trailer combo.

First of all HEAT.

First choice for heat is a Mr. Buddy heater. I have one hooked up to an adapter hose to a twenty pound tank of propane.

COOKING
First choice for me is a Coleman dual fuel stove. It can be run on Coleman fuel or on regular gasoline. It has two burners and is easily used once you learn how to prime it and light it.

My second choice is alcohol stove. It's easy to make an alcohol stove. I start with a small can (I used a can that held canned chicken.) I put tissue in it, a mix of 70% and 90% rubbing alcohol, and on it a gas stove pot stand. The alcohol stove is easily set up and used for quick cooking.

CHARGING CELLPHONE AND LAPTOPS

I use the 12v lighter socket in my van to charge laptops and my cellphone. I run my van 15 minutes a day to charge up my starter battery. I have two sockets available in my van. I also carry a triple tap socket adapter that changes one plug into three. 

I have a universal carcharger adapter for laptops. Just select voltage and appropriate tip. I believe I paid $7.50 for it on eBay.

Another must have (in my opinion) is a rechargeable smartphone charger with flashlight. They currently sell on eBay for anywhere from $5 to $25 depending on size. 

LIGHT

I use crochet cotton to make wicks. I re-wick candles, or I make oil candle by putting Crisco oil in jar, making a wickholder out of a piece of hanger, and adding a wick. 

I do keep LED handheld flashlights on hand but I hate dealing with batteries.

These are a few of what I consider essential items.

feel free to donate using the PayPal button on top of the blog.

 


Monday, November 17, 2014

Brrrr Winter Is Here

It's winter time again in Michigan. The entire city looks like a Christmas card. That brings it's own challenges in keeping warm.

My travel trailer still need the propane lines looked at by a professional prior to using the on-board system. I found an open line under the oven.

So I'm using alternative methods to stay warm. The first is using the propane tank inside hooked up to a propane tabletop grill. I keep a brick on it to help retain and radiate the heat.

Method number two is my trusty alcohol stove. It's a small tuna can with rubbing alcohol in it. Light and enjoy heat and light. I take some safety precautions. I got out my square roaster pan, put a layer of bricks in it. The alcohol stove sits on the bricks. I use bricks beside it and along the back. They retain the heat and make it safer.

My third method is an oil candle. Using one of the chicken cans, I bent a hanger wire into a spiral for a wick stand. The wick is braided cotton crochet thread normally used for doilies.

Yet another method of heat and light is Crisco. Add a wick stand and a wick, light and enjoy.

I've hung heavy blankets over the front windows to cut the drafts off.  Later this week, I'll get out the heavy plastic and do the front windows.

Remember CO2 sinks to the floor, so any vent has to be low. Any open flame uses up oxygen. If flame become low, it's time to ventilated. I turn off the heat sources at night while sleeping.

Keep boxes of baking soda on hand to extinguish fire. Smothering is also a good method of putting a fire out.

The donate button at the top of the blog can be used by anyone with a debit out credit card. Any amounts will be used for propane and heating supplies.

Be safe and stay warm.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New Candles From Old

You buy candles and then half way through they no longer want to burn.

I've learned how to make wicks and re-wick the candles. It makes me feel green by not throwing useful materials away and it saves me money.

You need some crochet cotton, a good knife, and some patience.

I start by cutting six pieces of cotton all the same length. Then I braid the pieces together.

Then I dip my wick into melted wax and let it dry so it's a bit stiffer.

Next, i heat my knife slightly and make a cut in the center of the candle down to the bottom.

I push the wick down into the candle. Light and enjoy.

I also will shave bits of wax into a small jelly jar. After adding a wick, i have a no cost candle made out of bits and pieces of old candles.

Another method I use is to tie a wick to a pencil across a jelly jar. I pour melted wax into the jar and let harden. You can add crayons...broken, parts, or whole for a decorative aspect.  Trim wick, light, enjoy.

You may donate using the PayPal link at the top of the blog. Any donations are used to defray expenses of my travel trailer, or to buy materials used.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cold Weather Coming

It's that time of year again and still I find myself in the frozen north.

Both my dad's health and mine necessitate me staying in Michigan at this time.

One of my YouTube videos had over 100 views. I'm so amazed at that.

I'll be moving into an apt for a period of time while I renovate the travel trailer.

Tonight is going to be a comfortable high 40s but by Wednesday temperatures will drop to the 20s.

My primary source of heat was my coleman dual fuel stove. An auxiliary burner has burned out and the stove is no longer safe to use. I'll be relying on my alcohol stove and candle/brick heaters.

I'm out of propane and no income until the first week of December.

My pups are back with me after a week long stay with family due to unheated van. Animal control gave me a couple of hours to make arrangements for them due to new laws. But the travel trailer makes a big difference.

The travel trailer is pretty comfy the propane lines in it will need to be double checked and an open line under the sink t-ed off prior to using the on-board propane system.

Please donate if you can. Bottle of rubbing alcohol for stove is $2. Lamp oil for lantern is $5. Propane tank filled is $20. Alcohol lasts one day for cooking/heat, lamp oil lasts 5 days, propane tank is two weeks of cooking fuel/heat.

Monday, October 20, 2014

It's been a rough month

Normally I try to focus on the positive but it's been a rough couple of months.

In July I almost died from a spider bite. This month my van needed a repair that broke me.

I have a quarter tank of gas, no money, little food on hand. I owe $80 on my trailer storage. Because i live on a fixed income, I have no savings.

It would be nice if those who can donate a few dollars, please use the paypal link above.

Hopefully next month will be better.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Random Musings.

Every once in a while, I run across a viewpoint that makes me think about my life and my values.

I am not questioning who I am and what makes me happy, I just periodically look at who I am as a person.

So I am sharing some of who I am.

This is not an excuse, a defense, nor a desire to change anyone to my way of thinking. I celebrate individual thinking and I hope everyone does what is right for them.




Conformity for the sake of conformity just feels so wrong to me. I don't believe in rebelling for it's own sake. I really don't even view myself as a rebel. I am on a journey of enjoying my life and living according to my values.





Trash left in woods by someone.

I am passionate about nature and abhor the trash and plastic left behind by a few thoughtless people. I am an activist in the way I photograph the beauty of nature as well as the trash left behind by thoughtless people.




I don't like to see children or dogs treated badly. Many cannot speak up for themselves or when they do, people don't listen.


I have found in traveling, that people are basically people no matter where they live and what language they speak. People in other countries still want better for their children, they have the same wants, needs, and desires as do the people where i grew up.

I love to get away from people entirely sometimes and enjoy nature quietly. I am starting to develop an interest in identifying and learning more plants.

While I enjoy nature and the forest, I also sometimes like the city. I just don't like to be in it for long.

The more I travel and the more I camp, the more I find that I like my life. I can always change things anytime I don't like the way they are. Sometimes it takes longer than other times, but it is possible to change almost anything in my life.

I do not have the need to have everyone like me. I think I am like almost anyone, it is nice to be liked, but at the end of the day, I have to look at my actions and decide how well I lived up to the me I would like to be, and what needs changing or not.

I find that as I get older, especially after my recent bout with the spider and the hospital, it is important to me to live my life fully. There are no guarantees in life. I guess for me, values are more important than popularity.

There are many things in society today that make me just shake my head. I recognise that it is not up to me to change the world or to change others. It is up to me how much importance I give opinions. Some I value, some are just noise in the background. It really depends on the person and my perception of them.

I do know one thing, I will not pretend to be someone other than who I am to gain approval from anyone.

At the end of the day, my dogs like me and I like me most days. That's a good thing.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Not Only Has It Rained, It's Been Pouring

Rain is more than just the physical amount of water. The rain I am currently referring to is the deluge of repairs that have happened all at once.





First the van I tow my vintage travel trailer with got stuck with the shift lever not working...at a gas pump while towing the Amerigo. A knight in a dirty work uniform arrived in a tow truck. He disassembled my steering column and did everything he could to get the shifter unstuck. No Success at all. After telling me it was the shifter cable, I asked him to disconnect the cable from the thingamajiggie that it attaches to and to show me where it was. I had a previous vehicle that was on it's last legs and when the shifter cable went, i simply shifted it by hand under the hood.

Three gruesome rainy days of having to get under the van and shift it by hand to start the vehicle and then move forward were not a lot of fun. and they were rainy days.

The good news was that it wasn't the shifter cable, it was merely the brake safety switch. That repair and the gas to get to the mechanic were under $100.

At the mechanic's shop, my travel trailer tire went flat. I carry a small cigarette lighter socket powered compressor. It comes in very handy since I like to camp all by myself in the woods. The tire was aired up and it had a leaky valve stem. I barely made it back to my parking spot 30 miles away.

The darn tire went dead flat. To make matters even worse, I was tired, hot, and dusty when I pulled in so instead of backing in, I just pulled in forward.

The compressor cord wasn't long enough to reach the tire.

It has been a comedy of errors or what not to do when parking.

I had to move a vehicle and work around a big tree right next to me on one side of the van and a stand of cedar trees with a fence on the other side. It took lots of moving back and forth and getting out to look to get the van out from in front of the trailer.

The tire was still flat, flatter than a pancake with no baking powder in it.

 A big thunderstorm was coming in, and the vent cover to the top vent in the trailer was missing from the previous owner. The makeshift temporary cover on it blew off on the highway. Oh and I am a very petite woman without a lot of physical strength since I live with Multiple Sclerosis. Where there is a will ( and the thought of how much repair would be needed if the torrential rain got in the trailer), I thought quickly.

Like any person who has a camper or tent, I have a heavy duty tarp, a very useful item. Simple solution, throw a tarp over the back part of the trailer. Simple solution if you are not a really short woman, have no ladder, and no way to get on top of the trailer safely. I threw a heavy rope over the trailer. It took three tries. I tied the rope through the corner ring on the tarp. I almost wish someone had had the smartphone handy and videoed the comedy of errors.  The tarp is heavy, very very heavy. It took a lot to pull the tarp over the trailer. I used a second rope to secure the back of the tarp.

I had checked the weather forecast and it was for severe thunderstorms with gusts of wind and the possibility of damaging hail. As you can see the trend of my day, I am sure you will laugh at what happened next. A strong gust of wind caught the tarp before I could secure it and lifted it almost all the way off the trailer. I muttered a few choice words and got it back on top of the trailer, tied it to the tongue in front and the frame in back.

The next day brought even more fun (not really). The turn signals and hazard flashers in the van stopped working. I was finally able to get the relay switch and install it. It doesn't work. As I went to go to the store last night, my headlights wouldn't work. I used the brights, went just to the store and back.

I now have a extension for the lighter socket power plug. That was actually not a very expensive thing. It was about $12 at the auto parts store.

Tomorrow I will deal with inflating the tire. Today was just too much running around to try to resolve things. I am going to take each one of the fuses out, check it, and replace any blown fuses.

I have scheduled an appointment with my trusty mechanic to do the brakes next weekend.

I won't be doing a lot of traveling this month. Gas on top of these repairs is just not happening.
Used vehicles and Vintage Trailers always need some repairs. Just not usually all in the same month.

I am hoping to get the propane tank this month and finally use my stove/oven and light my Humphrey's light. I can manage without the running water until next month.

So.... I am curled up in YEP, another rainy night, in my trailer. I am very tired and I will probably sleep like a baby. Since the tarp held well in the thunderstorm and gusting winds last night, I am not worried about the gentle rain tonight.

Off to bed I go, aren't you glad you didn't have my day?

At the top of the blog is a donate button through PayPal. You don't need a paypal account, any regular credit or debit card will work. Please Please Please, put what ever amount you can help with to defray the costs of all these darn repairs.

Keep your dreams alive, and hang in during the tough times. My worst day in my travel trailer has still been better than many days in a apartment.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Rain, Rain, And More Rain

I sit in my trailer in yet another day of pouring rains. This is a good time to do some work in the trailer and van.

I started at the front of the trailer and I am working my way to the back. I left out of my last parking spot very quickly and I didn't have time to stow things the way I normally do. I also need to do some spring cleaning after being in the trailer all winter.

Mona and Bear are in their preferred serious napping positions and places, curled up on the front seat of the trailer snuggled in the sleeping bags.

I have cleaned off the stove top and cleaned out the oven. I am planned on testing and lighting the propane so that I would have a working inside stove for the first time since I purchased the trailer. The refrigerator that was originally in the trailer stopped working (as many propane/electric ones do after time), and it was replaced with a small dorm sized electric fridge. I was concerned that the propane line was capped off correctly. After a conversation with the older gentleman who owned the trailer (just previous to the person I bought it from), I am now comfortable that it was correctly capped off.

As usual, life tends to throw me some curve balls and often plans are a good idea, but the time frame just doesn't seem to go the way I plan it. However, I am making progress toward getting all systems working on the trailer.

Propane lines are a very serious issue in trailers and a propane leak can explode the entire unit if not correctly dealt with. Propane is heavier than air, so any time you have a suspected propane leak, shut off all propane, open doors and windows, and air the vehicle out for about two hours.

I wintered in this trailer, and as harsh as the winter was, I was unwilling to risk a propane leak. Before I turn on the propane and light the pilot lights on the stove, I will go through and check every propane appliance and make sure all units have the propane turned off to them. Later today or tomorrow, I anticipate having the stove and oven lit for the first time since I have owned the trailer.

i am "work camping" in a sense. I did 4 hours labor today to pay for my spot of parking with electric hookup. i cleaned house and took out 6 bags of trash, did kitchen and dishes in spite of the person's sink not draining at all and no running hot water. So.... I heated up big pots of boiling hot water, poured them in very big bowls with dish soap and started washing dishes. a large soup pot was the rinsing sink. All dishes rinsed and put in the pretty clean kitchen. The floor still needs mopped, the counters need another wipe down, but it is so much better than when I walked into it.

Now to heat up a couple of pots of hot water, enjoy a good shower and wash my hair. Add some clean clothes and I will be ready to relax, make a sandwich, and watch some Netflix.

I have just set up an appointment on the first with a reputable mechanic. I will get as much as I can afford to get fixed on the tow vehicle. There is a donate button on top of this blog. Please feel free to put as little or as much as you can to help me fix my tow vehicle and keep my dream alive of traveling and writing.

In July, I hope to be able to resume taking breathtaking photos of nature to add to my blogs.

See you around on the next blog. May your dreams stay alive.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

It Has Been Some Time Since I Was Able to Blog.

It's been a while since I was able to blog. I had an online stalker and I had to shut down everything while that situation was resolved.

************The Trailer*******************************


The trailer is no longer up north in Michigan. I had to refugee out due to heavy flooding on the Muskegon River. I was able to park it in Grand Rapids in a driveway but that situation has deteriorated and I need to move it out of here.

Ducky, the trailer, is going to undergo not only renovations but she is going to get a new paint job and interior decoration scheme. I am going to be redoing her in Native American themed items. My dad has already given me some dream-catchers, and I have many items of Native American stuff on hand already.

Now, to figure out Ducky's new name since it will no longer be Duck Dynasty Glam.

************Books******************

 Owen's Daughter by Jo-Ann Mapson

see http://www.joannmapson.com/books.html for more details
purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Owens-Daughter-Novel-Jo-Ann-Mapson/dp/1620401479reviews: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20889468-owen-s-daughter 


My books : Joann Mapson Collection
Fabulous author Joann Mapson

Jo-Ann Mapson's facebook profile,

who has a new book out "Owen's Daughter" 

I was so touched. Jo-Ann regularly purchases her books when she sees them in second hand stores and donates them to women in prisons and halfway houses. She is very passionate about literacy and does this in a very quiet manner. She is also one of the nicest people I have ever met online.
Not only does she write amazingly good books, but she is a real down to earth nice person. I'd like to see people not only buy her books, but maybe send the money for an extra one for Joann to give away. You have no idea how much the generous gift of her books sent to me uplifted me on a grey winter day.
I'd love to see people buy an extra book of hers for her to give away. I've been trying to read but have been really busy. I like what I have read of her books so far. I highly recommend them.


*******trailer renovations and repairs********************

the trailer is in need of parts for the water system, the propane tanks and regulator needs replaced due to age and corrosion, and the electrical needs to be completely gone over. It's a work in progress and any donations would be gratefully accepted.

I should be back blogging regularly now so look forward to seeing you in  my blogs.

Coming soon:
I have now figured out how to add people to the email list to email the blog out. please drop me a message if you would like me to add you to the email list. please be patient as i am new at this.





Sunday, March 2, 2014

Warm & Toasty in Winter While Camping

I just realized it is Sunday and my blog was due out on Friday. I've been busy surviving a deadly cold winter weather lifestyle. It is very empowering. It also takes life down to the simplest and most important issues.

I chose to go to a campground with RV hookups for the first month while I get the trailer in order. I also have electric and free wifi here available.

It has been very cold and snowy, and getting the trailer set up for the first time under these conditions hasn't been all that easy. The weather promptly dipped into serious weather advisories and it was a dangerous thing for a few days. Ducky (short for Duck Dynasty Glam) is still a mess as I sort and organize things in it. This is our maiden voyage into adventure.

Just getting the trailer backed in required that they plow me a spot first, and then I had the sense to utilise a former truck driver and ask him to back it in since the spot and road were tight with high snow banks. He slightly scratched the trailer on the van during a jack-knife, but I have no problem with that. I asked him to do me a favor and it would be terrible to repay the favor by complaining about a bit of scratched paint.

I would recommend carrying weatherstripping for anyone in a trailer or van. I put a layer of weatherstripping all around the door, it had none, and it also had at least 1/4 inch gap that i could see daylight through. It made a difference of 20 degrees in the trailer in less than two hours.
I'm not using the propane on the trailer until a warmer day. I need to be able to air out the trailer if there is a propane leak. So I have the portable propane grill set up on the stove top. It is better to check out all systems prior to leaving with the trailer, but I didn't have that option since my living situation was deteriorating as I went.
I'm finally warm after installing some weather stripping for around the door and buying an extra electric heater. It takes two heaters to keep the trailer comfortable. A word of warning to those who don't know travel trailers, it takes a full day for them to heat up after getting this cold.  Running two heaters, I ran another cord to the hookup box and put one heater on the second cord. I have already found out how to flip breakers and turn the power back on. Not only do you have to flip the one on the pole, but there is one in the outside compartment of the trailer,
I would recommend layers of clothes, a warm hat, boot socks, and some sleeveless vests for anyone winter camping.
It was so bitterly cold, that by leaving lights on in my van, the battery was quickly dead. They call this battery killing weather. I went to the local hardware store to get a one amp battery charger. The one amp charger is about the size of two thick paperback books, so it is small, portable, and easily carried in the trailer. I also had to purchase another extension cord, giving me a total of three of them now. At $26 for a battery charger, it was a good deal, much less than calling a tow truck to jump me would have been.

I carry a 400 watt inverter in the van, a small compressor that hooks up to my battery for pumping up low tires, and now the one amp battery charger. I will be getting the crank weather radio. I also have a pair of battery operated walkie talkies for any parking or other times needed. i have used them when following someone down the highway.

My trailer runs on 110 plug so I didn't have to go buy a fancy RV cord, just a heavy duty 50' extension cord. It is fun figuring out why the wall lights don"t work but the small Christmas lights do. There are two lights with the small RV bulbs in it.
So far, it looks like I have one plug unit with four plugs available.

I covered the windows with all the heavy blankets I had on hand to avoid heat loss. I had a solar windshield protector for the van that fit over one of the windows.

The dogs have quickly adapted to living in an 18 foot trailer and they love it. They also like frolicking in the snow and running around. There are no people here so i am able to run them off leash. The come to the call "who wants cookies". They wrap up in a fleece blanket on the bed and they are taking lots of naps.
I've had a really bad abscessed tooth and the nearest hospital is over 20 miles away. So I packed it in table salt, and take ordinary aspirin. The swelling is going down, it is still painful, but not near as bad as it was. Rinsing with warm salt water also helps. You need to be able to handle small emergencies and medical things when traveling. I carry a good stock of aspirin, anti-diarrhea tablets, benadryl, peroxide, and rubbing alcohol on hand.
I also carry cat litter and road salt in the van at all times. The locals up here use wood ash from a wood stove to get them out of stuck situation. The best method is not to drive when not absolutely necessary under bad road conditions.
The other person complained about being bored. I wish I had time to be bored. Two small dogs require time and attention. Cooking meals while trying to still find everything takes some effort. Short walks with the dogs marveling at how beautiful the snow and trees are is another thing I do to pass the time.Since I have free wifi available here, I can also watch Netflix or Hulu Plus at anytime, or chat with friends online.
Well, it's off to take the photos for this blog as soon as camera charges up. I should have next weeks blog up on Friday as scheduled.
Thanks for stopping by. Coffee is always on.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Truly Winter Wonderland Country- I'll be full time camping in it.

In 13 days I will hit the road to live in my travel trailer full time. I am getting so excited.

I'll be in Michigan, but I will be snug as a bug in my travel trailer. I plan on spending one month at a Michigan RV park. They have winter rates and allow winter camping. For those who don't know, this means no running water. Water would freeze in the hose. Also, it means that i won't be putting any water or sewage down the trailers grey or black water tanks. There are outhouses available.

Taking a bath is like taking a step back in time. I'll heat up a pot of water on the propane stove. I'll then pour it into a basin with some cold water. A long hot soak in the tub is not exactly in the cards. After a nice wash up, I'll slip into my floor length heavy men's terry cloth robe, a pair of house slippers completes the afterbath ensemble.

Cooking isn't much different in my travel trailer than in a house. I'll be hooked up to electric, so I'll have the fridge, just like in a house only smaller. I have a 3 burner stove, a small oven, and a microwave. I plan on lots of soups and stews. In winter, I like food that sticks to my ribs. I enjoy baking, so some nice fresh cornbread, or some homemade yeast bread goes great with stews and soups.

I no longer own a television. With the advent of all the online content, I am sure I won't miss it at all. I do have Netflix and Hulu plus subscriptions. I have also got a large library of videos on my laptop that I haven't yet seen.

I enjoy photography. I'll be taking lots of winter shots. I also write. I have two children's books to edit, and four more in the series to write before I am ready to have them published. I do all the parts of the books myself, both the writing and the illustrations.



It's truly a beautiful Winter Wonderland and there are many beautiful sights that I'd like to share.
The pictures in this post came from my last Michigan winter camping trip.


I'll be enjoying some well deserved quiet and solitude. March in Michigan can be very pretty, almost like a fairy wonderland. I'd like to capture some of that in photos.  These photos are from the last winter camping I did in Michigan.


Feel free to use the donate button at the top of the blog to help with my travel expenses. A gallon of gas moves the van/trailer 10 miles down the road, $20 fills a tank of propane.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Keeping As Comfortable As Possible Driving And Winter Camping In A Michigan Winter.

Today I got a call to go jump a friend's car battery. We've had a lot of snow and cold weather.

So I went out to my van, fired it up, and went to back out of the driveway. Smack into a snow bank. Now I'm stuck for a minute, I carry salt and cat litter in the cargo van. I put a handful of salt in front and back of each of the rear drive wheels. In less than five minutes I was able to power out of the unplowed road in front of the house.

That got me to thinking, what precautions do i take to keep my vehicle running and me safe in cold weather.

Right now, the van heat isn't working. I have checked the level of antifreeze in the van. No problems there. I'm thinking it's probably a thermostat, but it's hard to get that fixed in this weather without waiting for hours.

I carry salt and cat litter routinely. Getting stuck (even when you have an 8 cylinder gas hog with lots of power) is no joke in the deadly weather conditions right now. A woman froze to death in her own driveway just last week.

I also carry extra fleece vests in the van, some candles, and some dehydrated food. I try to keep a jar of peanut butter and some crackers on hand. Chocolate is also good for helping keep warm.

I keep a couple of blankets in the van as well. One blanket is a fleece, the other is a small quilt. I also carry snow gloves, extra fleece gloves, and an extra hat. If i am stuck, I layer up with the extra warm items I keep in an old purse. I usually have a sleeping bag or two in the van. I have two small dogs, so I make sure i carry dog food, dog treats, and extra blankets for them. I've also stuck them down in a sleeping bag with me to keep them warm.

I make sure I keep my gas as full as possible. If the gas level is low, there is the potential for something to freeze and when the engine starts up, it can cause me to have to replace the motor.

It's also good to carry extra hoses and belts if possible. You'd be surprised how many times I've had to have a hose or belt replaced along side the road or in a parking lot.

Generally, i keep some wrenches, a Phillip's screwdriver, a straight screwdriver, adjustable pliers, and a pair of needle nose pliers. I also carry a tow strap. I can be pulled out of the snowy drifts or pull someone who is stuck.

I have a 1970 Amerigo travel trailer. It's a bit different wintering in a travel trailer. I don't do any running water nor do I put anything down the drains or black water tanks. There is a reason for this, I don't want to have to repair any tanks or plumbing lines. An RV is a vehicle as opposed to a house when it comes to winter care.

Most people tend to see it as a house with running water and such. But, leave a bottle of water in your vehicle and see how fast it can freeze. Now imagine frozen black water in the tank. When you go to move the RV, the frozen hunk will roll round in the tank and you are looking at  a tank brittle from the cold breaking all over. This is both expensive to repair and a environmental hazard.

This doesn't mean I don't stay warm or take baths. I use a timeless method for getting and staying clean. Heat water on top of the stove, put in a basin with some cold water. Grab a nice washcloth and my favorite body shampoo. Liquid soaps or body shampoo rinses much better. Hair can be washed over a large pot. We've all done that one as kids I think. Add a heavy men's floor length terrycloth robe and it's warm luxury.

Please take care during the snowy  times. It can and does kill people.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Getting Ready To Travel Again- What Steps Need To Be Done

I've been in a bricks and sticks house helping out here in Michigan since October. The city of Saginaw has started giving me a hard time about my travel trailer, so it's Bug Out time. This blog is about the bug-out process, what I needed to do, and what the associated costs were to do so.

After the initial stages of panic and OMG, then the planning and doing set in

For me, the important thing was to sort out what had to be done versus what I'd like to have done. Breaking it down to only what tasks were absolutely necessary was the first thing I did.

The travel trailer needs registered and plated, I have all necessary documents and the money to do that. The permanent plate for the trailer has gone up to $200. It was $100, but $200 is still reasonable considering once it is registered and plated, it is then good for the rest of the time that I own it.

In order to take the trailer down the road, I need to put a hitch on my van. Hitches are specific to the vehicle. I've learned a few things about hitches. I went with a class III hitch. I was told to always go up a level from what I might need. The travel trailer weighs 3200 pounds empty (this is a typical weight for travel trailers under 26 feet long according to the ones I have owned.)

I called a national chain to have a hitch put on and when I got the quote, I almost fell over from shock. I decided to look into buying a hitch and then paying someone to install it.  I found a Curt Class 3 hitch for $118 and the Curt wiring connector was $29.  Considering the quote I had gotten was $450 for an installed hitch and wiring, I was very happy. I have a friend here locally who can install the hitch for a minimal charge.


I was able to make arrangements with another friend who is kind enough to allow me to park the trailer for a couple of weeks to allow the weather to break and a check to come in so that I can safely have enough money to fill a propane tank and put some groceries in the trailer. I'll also have to put as much gas as I can in the van.

So, within a week, I have arranged a hitch for my van so I can tow my trailer, the license plate and registration for the trailer, and a place to take it off the property for a few weeks so that I can get the money needed to take it a short ways down the road.

The van has a 35 gallon tank, it gets 12 city and 16 highway, when not towing, I am planning on 10 mpg when towing my loaded 1970 Amerigo travel trailer. The vintage travel trailer is 18 feet long and is a single axle hard side hybrid trailer. It will need a sway bar package to take it any farther than a hour or two away.

It's winter in Michigan and it has been a hard winter. So because March will still have some serious weather issues, I will be going to a RV park that has minimal services and winter camping. I believe the cost for a site is still $200  a month and the website informs me that there is a charge for electric based on how much I use.

I've winter camped in Michigan before, so I can do it safely. In April, the weather will still be chilly but it should be safe enough road wise to get into a good boondocking spot. Boondocking is also known as dry camping. It means I'll not have electric, running water, or any other "civilized comforts."


My trailer has a propane heater, a propane Humphrey's light, and I will be very comfortable. I'll carry plenty of food, many paperback books, and I will enjoy camping, photographing nature, and enjoying the solitude.

I will also be doing some writing now that I've gotten a lot of things out of my way. I have two children's books to edit and illustrate. I'd also like to try my hand at a novel. It's a bit ambitious, but I'd like to give it a shot.

I don't recommend winter camping or towing a trailer during that time without some experience. I've done this before, so I know I'll be toasty warm, comfortable, and enjoy it.

Anyone wishing to help financially can use the donate button at the top of the blog. It is a PayPal link to my account and you may donate any amount small or large to help with the expenses.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel (it's not a freight train)

I've been staying with a friend, helping him care for an older lady with severe dementia. That means I do dishes, cooking, laundry, and in general some housework chores. This helps her to remain in her own home with no expense to her or to the community.

We settled on 2 hours a day in exchange for a place to stay in the winter.

Recently, we have had a lot of harassment from city hall and law enforcement. It seems that someone feels that the house and property should look perfect in spite of the reduced circumstances the owner has due to her ill health.

My Vintage Travel Trailer in the driveway
My van has gotten ticketed.

My travel trailer, which is innocently parked in the driveway, has received unwanted attention. Some people do not see the charm of a restored vintage collectible travel trailer. I have a 1970 Amerigo trailer that is 18" long. It is in very nice condition and has almost all the original interior items, including a Humphrey's propane lamp. The Amerigo was known for it's rare hard sided fold out beds, a forerunner of all the slide outs now popular.

We've also had several visits from animal control. I can understand people thinking a chihuahua is a dangerous guard dog- not really.
Bear is a two pound chihuahua/yorkie


Mona is an older chihuahua. She is six pounds.
So, I am about to embark again on my preferred lifestyle. I prefer to travel, camp in my travel trailer, and enjoy nature. I write and I sell things on eBay. but mainly, I enjoy a low stress lifestyle that seems to benefit my MS.

I am in Michigan, so my plans are weather dependant. I am now getting so excited to be traveling again. I have some places that I am thinking of traveling to see, some online friends I am hoping to get to sit down and enjoy a pot of coffee with them, and just life in general that I want to live.



So, there will be more frequent blog posts, many  more photos, and life in general to write about.

Soon, so soon, I will be traveling again.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Want Solar In Your RV?

Like any other person who owns a travel trailer or an RV, the subject of Solar Power comes up frequently and I try to make sense of it.

I have finally found someone who not only understands it, but will make the shopping list and install it all on my trailer customised to my needs and want.

Do you want to run all sorts of appliances and the comforts of home? He can do that. Or are you a minimalist like me who just needs to charge a few devices and maybe run a light an hour or two. Maybe you winter camp in the north and have higher power needs, or you just want to be comfortable and not tethered to the RV parks. He is able to assess your needs and tailor a solar package that is just right for you and your lifestyle.

Steve Spence of  http://www.green-trust.org/products/ has ebooks for sale on almost anything you may need for off the grid comfort. He can also purchase and install a complete working solar system that is easily maintained even by someone like me. I am not a major power guru and sometimes my understanding of electricity is not the greatest.

A solar install is a two day process. The price of an install also includes a hook up for the two days. Power, water, sewage, so that you don't need to drop your rig off, you can be in comfort in your own RV or trailer while the install is being done by a professional.

You may contact Steve directly at https://www.facebook.com/GreenTrust?fref=ts or email him at sspence@green-trust.org

He's a heck of a nice guy and I often compare him to Nicola Tesla. He's that smart.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mobile Living On A Budget.... The Queen Of The Deals

I like to travel and live in a 18' Amerigo Travel Trailer I just bought. It's a 1970 Amerigo with a hard sided fold out bed. My Amerigo cost $600, the tow vehicle is a 1998 Ford e250 with a V8. The tow vehicle cost me $900. It is an extended body van so it offers loads of storage.

Since I am on a limited income, I have to make good choices regarding my expenses.

I have a smartphone I purchased used on eBay. It was $25 for 2 smartphones including shipping. They work fine. I use one and have a second one as a back up.

My cell phone service is from Straight Talk Wireless. $45 a month unlimited calls, text, web.
http://www.straighttalk.com

My internet is with Millenicom.
http://millenicom.com/plans/#hotspot-plan
there is a one time set up fee of $49.99 and a device charge of $99

I bought a gps device used at a flea market for $25. After the initial purchase price, the gps service is no charge. I also found a TomTom frozen behind a Wendy's in NJ. after thawing out, it works just fine. So I have a gps and a backup gps device.

I found a non working canon camera at flea market. I also bought a few other non working electronics. The Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS was easily fixed by adding a battery from another non working Canon camera. My cost for my digital camera was $10.

To be compliant with many states laws, I have a Motorola BlueTooth handsfree device so I can call for directions or any other reason. 

Another device I consider essential is an Eton Fr360 Solarlink radio. It is radio that includes weather, am, fm, and has a led flashlight, usb charger. It is charged by either turning a crank or solar.
http://camping.about.com/od/campinggearreviews/gr/etonfr360.htm

I also purchased a 12 volt compressor to inflate tires. It was $10 at Family Dollar. I've had a flat tire at a dispersed campground once before. A friend had the 12 volt compressor that allowed me to inflate the tire so I could get to a local tire shop and purchase a tire.

A camping stove or a propane grill is a very useful item. Not only do I cook on a propane grill, but I can also put two bricks on it to retain heat and curl up next to it in a camp chair.Alcohol stoves and rocket stoves are also handy items and there are many designs on youtube to show you how to make them. Alcohol stoves and rocket stoves should be used outside.

A "luxury" item is a solar shower that I purchased for $12. Solar Showers are similar to the old hot water bottle. You fill it with water and lay it in the sun. When it is warm, you put it up above your head, and it has a clamp to release or stop the water. I suggest wetting down with it, using your soap and shampoo, and then releasing the clamp again so you can rinse. A  shower is both a way to get clean and it does feel like a luxury. Yes, you can get clean with wet wipes or a washcloth and water or rubbing alcohol or witch hazel. But, the shower is a good thing.

Heavy duty tarps, lots of bungee cords, and several lengths of clothesline (cotton) make up part of my gear.

While this is not a complete or comprehensive list, the items on this blog will be generally useful to most.

You do not have to be rich to enjoy RVs or camping. You also do not have to do without some conveniences. 

The change in my lifestyle seems to make my MS less bothersome. The lower stress, slower paced life is good for me.