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 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 or email him at

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.

My internet is with Millenicom.
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.

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.