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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Interesting Morning

Wow...what a start to a day.

I woke up and the day got wacky from the start.

First, turned on the buddy heater. The propane ran out within 5 minutes...okay change bottle and do-over.

Next knocked buddy heater over. I'm glad to tell you the safety built into it works fine. Picked up heater...and coffee water. Set it back up, turned out back on, set coffee on to boil...again.

Turned on my phone. It was clogged with all the stickers downloaded because some people don't take proper precautions with their phones. Luckily I'm tech support...really with degree and all. Phone fixed after over an hour.

I almost lost all photos of my dog Romeo who recently died. I'll go in to Starbucks, fire up the laptop, connect my 1 TB external drive and save them to it. I've already sync'd my photos to the cloud (belt and suspenders method. Redundancy is standard in file management.

Coffee in hand while dealing with this morning. Now, I'll get dressed and schlep all my computer stuff inside.

Life still happens in a van...it's just easier to deal with.

Good coffee to you
See ya down the road

Lou

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Just Lou

You gotta love some of  the new to Vandwelling. They join every van group and every forum. They comment...telling you all they know from youtube videos and the latest cool blogger. They'll post lots of youtube video links so you can see how hard they have studied so they can jump right in as an expert. It's annoying to see the same video links out there time and time again.
There's nothing wrong with being new or enthusiastic. It's ok to just sit back and listen. Don't show us how good you are at researching online...just ask us questions.
I'm not one of the cool, trendy bloggers. I'm a wrinkled old lady who has always loved non traditional lifestyles. When I'm enclosed in 4 walls in a traditional house or apt, I feel suffocated. My home has wheels. It has windows all the way around. There is no yard to maintain...just be considerate of mother earth and leave no trace.
I'm a very experienced vandweller and there are many of us out here. You probably parked near one of us and never really noticed us.
There's no trendy stickers on my van. No VanLife, group names, forums, or even my Instagram.
In this age of constant free advertising and branding...nope..none of that. I'm not even sure I've tried to be a brand...I'm just Lou.
Good Coffee To You
See ya down the road

Lou
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Monday, December 25, 2017

Good Morning...December 25th

Good Morning. Coffee in hand. I'm in a Wal-Mart parking lot that is almost totally deserted. Traffic seems very light on the roads today.

Wal-Mart closes Christmas Eve early and isn't open on Christmas. There are 5 vans/vehicles and 2 semi trucks. Normally by now, I'd have pulled out of the lot to somewhere else and made my coffee.

I woke up to a nice 39 degrees. As usual I've parked facing somewhat east. Passive solar heat is warming up the van.

After a quick warm-up and heating water for my instant coffee, I turned the buddy heater down to pilot. I have a window open a little for safety. Any time you have any open flame, you must have ventilation. If you feel a slight headache coming on and a bit flu like...open that window. That's carbon monoxide poisoning starting.

While the rest of the world runs around with frantic celebrations and stress, I'm enjoying almost total peace and quiet 

I've plenty of food on hand, and was handed a new scarf and gloves yesterday. They match my wool car coat.

People think that down south or in the desert that you don't need a coat...lol lol lol lol. It was 39 degrees this morning, actually warmer than the last couple of mornings.

I'm quite comfortable this morning. I'm originally from Michigan. I learned young about dressing in layers. I put on a tank shirt, with a t shirt over it (long sleeved), then a regular shirt, then a good heavy sweater. I wear warm socks under leggings, and a jeans skirt (very long) over that. I've a knitted hat on my head, no scarf needed since the sweater has a neck to fold over.

I'm still in my house slippers (thank you Andrea) but I'll grab my soft fleece boots ($3 last year at flea market).

It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining. No sense driving around since almost nothing will be open.

Good Coffee To You

See ya down the road


Lou

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Holiday In A Van

First of all, I'm Native American traditional non-Christian...or as my grandmother often said..."her little heathen." That means I don't celebrate any of the secularized religious holidays. No Christmas, Easter, St Valentine's Day. Don't even suggest Columbus Day or Thanksgiving. I sit back, smile, and let others enjoy whatever holiday they wish to celebrate. It's no shock since I don't celebrate the Jewish holidays or the Muslim holidays or the African based ones either. I will wish you a happy winter solstice.

This morning, I pulled out of my parking spot at Wal-Mart to a nearby almost empty parking lot. I turned on my heater and made coffee.

Now I'm answering emails and questions, writing this blog.

The van is still a mess after removing the center seats and the auxiliary battery being wired in. Today, After lunch, I'll pull in where there is free wifi, pick one part of the van to sort and organize and Try to get it done.

Then, I'll relax with free wifi and binge watch some videos. Maybe I'll charge my laptop up and do some IT work to it

Good Coffee To You

See ya down the road


Lou

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Vandwelling Myths

This morning I want address a few myths that are related to Vandwelling.

There is no place that you can go park completely free as long as you like...unless you've bought land with no restrictions for off grid. (See Hannelore Inman at Landishome.com for help with that).

You cannot just find a piece of public land in the desert or the national forests and squat on that. It leads to a large ticket, and it damages the earth. It takes 25 years for the land and plants to come back after being driven on. Humans (and their trash) change the balance in the ecosystem.

And when you have groups of humans, the damage is exponential. This is one of many reasons that "The Rainbow Famiily" is harassed by law enforcement. It's an ecological nightmare. Public lands belong to all of us. We all need to learn to be good at taking care of the land.

If you must travel together, keep the group small, only 3-4 vehicles.

I also advise getting an acre of undeveloped land. You don't have to go live on it or build on it. Taxes are usually minimal on undeveloped land.

Having your own land will do several things for you

Owning land changes your perspective about other's lands and property.

You become a taxpayer as opposed to homeless. You're no longer regarded by police or rangers as homeless. It gives you a legal permanent address. You can always go stay on your land for a short (or long) period. You can host a small gathering.

There's actually a town in the South that's settled by no-one but travelers. This is not a new or revolutionary idea.

Another myth
You can't just urinate, defecate, or not pick up your dogs poop just because you're out in the desert.

You need to learn how to handle human waste. Piling your poop up like a manure pile from horses or cattle is not safe and unsanitary. There is actually science behind composting humanure. While you don't need fancy expensive equipment, you do need to learn how to safely compost.

In the not so distant past, diseases abounded related to human waste. Typhoid, cholera were rampant, as recently as 75 years ago.

Human waste (urine, feces) always always always at least 200 feet from any water sources or washes.

In urban environment, I look for a porta potty or a vault toilet. I can empty the urine bottle directly into it.  In urban environment, for feces (poop), use a plastic coffee can with Lid. Keep urine and poop separate. Poop in can. Put any paper and tissue in it. Put Lid on. No smell. Empty daily.

Composting humanure takes one year before it's safe for the environment. You have to learn the composition and methods of safely composting.

Another issue trash and food garbage. Let's face it, humans are very wasteful. Packaging, cans, broken stuff. First of all separate your trash, paper, plastic, cans, glass.

Recycle and reuse when you can. All of the " canisters in my van or travel trailer are recycled containers. Glass jars, coffee jars, plastic salad containers, reused #10 cans.

Did you know you can stop at any scrap yard. Separate aluminum, cans, glass, plastic. They'll not only take it, but give you a couple of dollars. Empty cat litter 30 pound containers make great recycling bins.

Don't throw your food scraps out for the animals. It changes their habits, attracts bears, raccoons, and other animals. It sometimes results in the animal becoming a pest and getting shot.

Wild animals are wild. Use a long lens to get that perfect photo. DON'T TAKE SELFIES WITH THAT ADORABLE ANIMAL. Nothing says I'm a city idiot like a selfie with a wild animal.

Tread lightly on the earth. Pull into that trashed camp and while you are there...restore it to pristine condition. You'll be welcome back so many places.

No matter what it looks like when you get there, when you leave, leave it in a condition that you'd be proud to have someone see.

I've had to do emergency repairs in the woods. Put a good tarp under your vehicle. When you are done, fold it carefully, keeping al fluids and dirt inside.

Those houseplants...many areas depend on agriculture for their economy
Houseplants or wood can bring in pests that will destroy the ecological balance. The gypsy moth is one such example.

If you're gong to live free of normal conventions, take the time to educate yourself on how to tread lightly on the earth. Any blm ranger, forest ranger, or local university agricultural extension office will be happy to point you in the direction of the knowledge you need. Learn to be a responsible part of the world and nature.

Update

I called blm in New Mexico. In New Mexico if you overstay the14 days (in a 28 day period) it is a $100 citation and you must move immediately.

Good Coffee To You

See ya down the road


Lou

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Vanlog 20181219.925

Good morning. My daily routine is starting to get back in order.

It's important in VanLife to have a routine at times. It anchors you in the moment, gives a continuity to your day. 0 l l

I stayed in bed a bit later today. It was 32 degrees this morning...in southern New Mexico.

Since I'm in the city, I park at Wal-Mart or Cracker Barrel at night, pull into a park or a big shopping mall parking lot daytime.

I'm at the park. I've taken my trash out and made coffee. The buddy heater is on for a few minutes to take the chill out of the van. Wow. 5 minutes of the buddy heater and the van is toasty warm. I'm parked facing east to take advantage of passive solar and to use my small solar panels to charge things. I'll roll some cigarettes, make my bed, and empty my potty in a bit.

I've the whole van to rearrange after having the center seats removed. It's almost like starting over. Several things have new spaces. My 2hp generator is on the floor behind the front passenger seat. It has a small custom built table over it to protect the top. The auxiliary house battery is wired into the starter battery with just a cut off switch (manual).

As usual, I've a foot propped up on the dash and my phone/tablet holder on the steering wheel. The phone is charging off my platinum choice solar phone charger.

There is another dweller here. He's only been in town a couple of days. It's easy to spot another vandweller even though vehicle looks normal to others. It's a Ford, universal conversion van. It looks almost exactly like my old Ford e150 conversion van. 


It's time to get my day started


Good Coffee To You

See ya down the road

Lou

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A gallon of gas $2.50

A refill of 20# propane $15

A 1lb propane canister $4


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Monday, December 18, 2017

The Holiday Blahs

It's that time of year again when many of us fall victim to the holiday blahs. It's easy to get caught up in all the holiday stuff and it's at this time my chosen lifestyle contrasts most with a more traditional lifestyle.

Mourning the loss of my dogs, first LilBear being run over right in front of me last year as i was leaving Las Cruces.

Then Mona a couple of months ago. Mona and i had such a long history and she loved traveling. After bear died, it was just me and Mona...like it had been several years ago. Her first Road Trip was a bit over 5 years ago when she was pregnant with 5 little pups. She loved traveling from the start. She was mature when i got her and was probably about 12-18 years old when she died. It was nice seeing a Chihuahua with a nasty untrusting nature become my loved soft happy Mona.

Romeo came into my life as a foster. A homeless girl treated him as an accessory or a toy. I didn't want another dog. But he pulled out all his cute tricks to tell me he needed a home with love and dignity. Watching him change and relax and being allowed to be a dog rather than a cute purse accessory was so cool. And i waited to get him his shots since he was only 3 pounds and i had no knowledge or records of when he had had any. He was put to sleep last month...he had distemper. It took a while for the grief to hit.

Then just as the grief and loss hit...so did the holidays. Grief and loss is hard at any time, but while everyone is celebrating holidays and so cheerful...it seems even worse.

I don't celebrate Christmas...or any other religion based holiday. But I also respect others beliefs and wishes to celebrate. It's hard right now to be around others.

At this time of year, everyone is decorating, buying gifts, planning parties, spending time with family. There's nothing wrong with that. But this is the time of year we seem to lose prospective about how much we gain choosing to travel and be free.

Frankly if i lived back home by family, on social security, i could afford to live in a place surrounded by mentally ill, drunks, and drug addicts. I wouldn't have been able to buy land on payments, travel, or do a lot.

Even being sick with the flu for a couple of weeks was much easier in my van. Almost everything I needed was right within reach.

When the rainy weather brings pain and stiffness, life in my van is so much easier. Pull into somewhere with free wifi, make a cup of coffee or pour myself an ice cold Pepsi and binge out on Netflix.

So...go away holiday blahs...
I'll opt out of the hustle and bustle.

I'll be right here, cozy in my van...just people watching, binge watching videos, or reading one of the thousands of books on my old school kindle.

Good Coffee To You

See ya down the road
Lou

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Holidays and Vandwelling

To the rest of the United States, it's Thanksgiving. It's just another Thursday to me. Several places are offering a free turkey dinner.

Many people suffer from depression or emotions on holidays. A couple of years ago I sat down and thought about this.

Quite a few of the secular holidays are based in the Christian religion. Valentine's day...actually a day to celebrate St. Valentine. Easter, a religious day along with good Friday and Mardi Gras. In fact, except for Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, and  Independence Day, I think all the holidays we celebrate are Christian based. Even Halloween is based on a religious holiday...hallowed eve, the evening before All Saints Day.

I'm not anti Christian, anymore than I'm anti Jewish or anti any religious group. So, since I don't make a big deal about celebrating the Jewish holidays (I'm not Jewish) why should I feel the need to celebrate the Christian ones?

Why do I feel a need to celebrate Christmas any more than the other religious holidays at that time of year. That makes no sense to me.

Once I did some research and looked at the reason these holidays came into existence, I stopped feeling deprived, lonely, or left out. I decided for me that I'd enjoy relaxing and letting others celebrate their holidays any way they wished. I even wish them happy turkey day or Merry Christmas.

I enjoy just having a quiet day to myself while the rest of the world is preoccupied with their holidays and celebrations. Most people don't even notice I'm not celebrating the day.

I'll enjoy a turkey dinner today. Why not. I enjoy the foods traditionally associated with Autumn. I love sweet potatoes any time of the year. Pumpkin is another favorite. I'm not much on cranberry sauce anytime of the year...unless I'm using it to bake into a meat or enjoying a muffin.

The rest of the day will be spent pretty much as normal. A little cleaning, a lot of rest (I'm still recovering from a nasty  coldŷ flu), some reading, watching some videos. And I need to sort out laundry, getting it ready for a laundromat trip. I really hate doing laundry but it has to be done.

Today, as every day, enjoy family, the weather, your fur family, and friends.

Good Coffee To You

See ya down the road
Lou

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sick While Full-Time In A Van

You wake up fuzzy headed and not feeling good. Every bone aches and you've got a headache. You think about coffee and your stomach goes round and round. You've got a common flu.

A flu in an apt or house isn't fun. It's actually a little easier in a van.

First...find a parking spot you can sit at for a couple of days. Two important features will be a place with a flush toilet and a trash dumpster.

You'll want a good sleeping bag and a nice big fleece or micro fiber blanket. Put the zipper of the sleeping bag in top center...you avoid drafts on your side that way. The big microfiber blanket..will be a good serapé.   I also tent myself in the micro fiber blanket at night, over the sleeping bag, making sure to leave an air tunnel for fresh air.

A small bathroom waste basket or a plastic coffee can with lid will be handy for nausea. A squirt of any cheap dishsoap and water will easily keep it clean.

Get a case of bottled water. It's much easier than gallons or the big Reliance 7 gal water container.

This is when you'll especially appreciate ramen noodles and augason freeze dried foods. And a 12v water heating element. Soup and more soup. Light and often. I am eating half a cup to a cup of soup and waiting a half hour to an hour before eating more.

If you are congested (either head or chest congestion) put lots of dehydrated onions in your soup. For a cough, use either a can of pineapple (Drink the syrup and eat the pineapple) or a teaspoon of raw honey with quarter teaspoon of cinnamon. There is a 2T limit of cinnamon a day. I get real cinnamon bark organic at a local flea market. Using a small grater or the old method of mortar and pestle. You can find the small mortar and pestle in many shops. If you get the Mexican stone style, you'll need to season it by grinding corn in it.

Plain old generic aspirin will easily manage fever and aches. Use as directed. 2-325mg tablets up to 4 times a day for no more than 1 week. Aspirin truly is a miracle drug and often underestimated. The active ingredient in aspirin is found in white willow bark tea.

You will be a bit grouchy and cranky. It's best to avoid human interaction in person and online.

Unless you're unable to keep fluids and some food down, there's no reason to rush to the doctor or emergency room. A flu is a serious illness but as long as you follow good care fur it, It generally resolves in a week to ten days.

A 24 hour bug is not the flu. It's generally mild did poisoning (bad food or dirty utensils, dishes). The two most often causes of this are onions or improperly rinsed dishes. It's much safer to use a spray bottle of vinegar and water to clean dishes than the traditional dish soap method.

Good Coffee To You

See ya down the road
Lou

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Cold Weather...In The Desert Southwest

When you're in southern New Mexico you don't automatically think of cold weather. It was 35 degrees this morning.

I'm originally from Michigan. I've vandweller in sub zero temperatures safely two winters in a row. It's not my favorite thing to do, but I am one of the experts on winter weather Vandwelling while not hooked up to any power sources.

In the morning, move van so that you're either parked facing due east or due South, or any spot in that range. Passive solar heat (the sun) will quickly have the van warm enough to crack windows for comfort.

Dressing for the weather (remember I'm a woman and my experience reflects that)...I love layers. Tank shirt, t shirt, then a sweatshirt or sweater or long sleeved shirt. Flannel shirts rank high on my list. Warm socks, leggings, a skirt over that. Fingerless gloves and stocking hats are definitely part of my wardrope. And I really love those $1 stretch gloves. As the day warms, I peel layers off.

It's now time to open my back door and get my soft boots that smush into a little spot. Warm head, hands, and feet mean I stay warm.

Sheets are nice...in a house or a fancy rv. I prefer a fleece or micro fiber plush blanket...inside my sleeping bag (which I actually zip up in cold weather). A small $3 fleece blanket lightly covers my face to warm the air I breathe.

Yes, I have a buddy heater. I've actually stored it away in my travel trailer that's currently in a safe paid storage lot.

I go to bed early and get up when Sun is up. I'm retired so generally I can choose my own hours. No clocks or watch necessary most days.

Learning how to adjust and adapt to life rather than forcing life and climate to adapt to me.

Good Coffee To You


See ya down the road
Lou


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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Cool Weather And Soup Kitchens

Happy Saturday. I had planned to already be at the flea market. My back decided that was not a possibility.

Coffee in hand already. It's a very brisk 59 degrees and I'm parked in the shade.

I may just hook up my long triple tap 12 v outlet to the auxiliary (house) battery and snuggle up in my blankets. Or I could just bring my red fleece blanket up front and fold it like a shawl. I may do that since I've nice hot coffee up here and I'm charging my phone.

Today is sack lunch at the local soup kitchen. Since I'm moving like an arthritic turtle, getting an already to eat lunch with snacks is very attractive.

Soup kitchens serve more than just the homeless. They also are there for the very poor, the elderly, and the disabled. There is also the aspect of socialization that often occurs in the above mentioned groups of society.

I live with MS. By going to a soup kitchen, I get a balanced meal that usually includes vegetables, salads, and fruit. Eating a good diet means less medical issues from the MS. It also exposes me to different foods that I might not normally buy. There are several foods that are now part of my life because I tried them first at a soup kitchen.

I'm on social security disability. My income is under $800 a month. By budgeting that carefully and with a little help from friendswhen needed, I manage to live carefully but also to travel sometimes, slowly and in stages.

I love exploring new places and cultures. I'm not so much for all the tourist spots. I thrive on getting to know areas of the country so different from my native Michigan. People, scenery, customs, and foods fascinate me. I've learned ru appreciate the beauty of the southwest desert. There are endless vistas to explore, intriguing plant life and animals to memorialize in digital photos. It enriches my eyes.

Today's high temperature is supposed to be 65. I've been in the desert southwest long enough. You'll see me all bundled up, stocking hat and wool sweater under my hoodie.

Good Coffee To You

See ya down the road
Lou

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Flea Markets

Good morning. I've got my Coffee in hand.

Today is Friday. I do flea marketing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

This is one of the smaller markets. It's only $5 to set up outside for a 10x10 spot on the asphalt.

I'm no longer physically able to set tables up by myself, so I've got a friend coming to market with me. Today is his second ever time as a vendor at market. I've been doing flea markets as a vendor at least ten years in many different states. 

I've got a Clark's original flea market guide and another thick book that list many of the flea markets all over the United States. I've often used that to decide where I go next. It's always a crab shoot trying out a new market.

I'm drinking my coffee, waiting for him to load his couple odd boxes of stuff. He's bringing his easy up canopy.

My tables store on top of my van. There are also two chairs and a large shade umbrella up there.

It generally takes less than a half hour to have all tables down and set up. Within 45 minutes of arriving, all my jewelry is set up to sell.

It's a nippy 51 degrees right now. Weather will be sunny and reasonable for the market.

Good Coffee To You


See ya down the road
Lou


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Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Joy Of Solitude

I love my solitude, my time alone in the van.

For example, my morning cup of coffee, I'm all by myself. It's a time to gently enter my day.

I love instant coffee. I can exactly measure the coffee, instant creamer, flavored liquid creamer, and sugar.

Today it's in my travel cup that a friend gave me two Christmases ago, a pink Silver Buffalo cup.

I've been parked at a friend's apartment all week after doing the flea market Sunday. Today is Thursday, I'll do the market Friday, Saturday, Sunday. So, today is clean off the dash, get outfits ready for the weekend, and put the van in transport to market mode.

As I savor my morning java, I reflect on my next couple of days, sorting out the important tasks from those that can wait.

And of course, it's when I write my blog entry for the day. I never know what I'll write about that day until I start.

Morning is a time of reflection, processing, and planning. It's my time for me. My friend's two big dogs come out. The greet me, accept their morning pets and greeting, then go off to do their morning constitutional and back in the apartment for their morning bones and naps in the recliner.

Today, I went up to Harry's apt. Harry is retired military and a recent widower of two years. He's sweet and kind of lost without his wife of 32 years. I like a good real life love story.

I love having several hours a day all to myself and all night with no disturbances. I'm adjusting to being a no-dog-van. I miss having a dog but I'm also enjoying the solitude. Some me time.

Good Coffee To You

See ya down the road
Lou

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Vanlog 20181115.0841

You'd think being down in the desert Southwest, it's warm, and usually it is. However, desert nights and mornings can be cool, even downright chilly. Your body adjusts to the heat and you get cold easier.

In Michigan, I would have considered mid 50 degrees to be a warm, balmy morning. In southern New Mexico, it's definitely a brisk, chilly morning.

I could just turn on the buddy heater or a stove. My buddy heater is in my travel trailer over the summer, and I'm in the midst of a total van rearrange.

Normally I'd park in the sun facing east. I'm parked at a friend's for the month and the van is in total shade most of the day. So much for passive solar heat.

So, this morning I got a bit creative. I'm wearing my rainbow colored stocking hat. Over that is a nice synthetic hoodie, a bit big. I like them that way.

I took my nice red microfiber plush double bed blanket and folded it in half. I threw it over my head and wrapped myself up in it as if it was a shawl.

I've hot coffee in my hands in a clean spaghetti jar. I wrap my hands around the coffee, savoring its warmth, taste, and aroma.

I've already rolled cigarettes for the day, and I'm enjoying streaming an old show White Collar on Netflix.

It's a perfect morning. Shortly, I'll continue the van clean & purge. Right now, it's a day on the edge of possibilities and all is right with the world.

I've today and tomorrow to work on the van, then Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I'll do the flea market with a friend to help.


Good Coffee To You

See ya down the road
Lou


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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cold Mornings, Doghouses, And Coffee Protocol

Vans have a doghouse. The doghouse has a compartment...the equivalent of a car's glove box.

Just above the compartment are drink holders. Don't use the drink holders...it's a trap...lol

This morning, before coffee, I needed to look for something in the compartment.   Oh no. The bottom had coffee and tobacco that had hardened to a solid, glue like state. I stuck a  straight pin about half an inch into my thumb. Oh the agony.  The compartment is empty, some vinegar water on a paper towel soaking the bottom to clean it out.

Now for my coffee. OMG I've actually done something productive before coffee (petting and greeting my friend's huge dogs doesn't count)

It's 46 degrees this morning, I have not had my coffee yet, a friend is brewing a pot. People have spoken and expected a response from me...pre-coffee and cold. And I'm in the city....arggghhh

Ok, the world is safe. I was just handed a glass jar of coffee...just the way I like it.

Glass jars are awesome coffee cups. They allow you to wrap your cold hands around the coffee. There are things we all do on a cold morning with our coffee...we wrap our hands around it. It's too hot to drink so we raise it near our mouth and inhale the aroma. We look at the sun and the horizon, assessing our day. We listen to the normal morning noises, birds, dogs, and the usual.

All our senses seem to wake up with that streaming cup of coffee in the morning. I'm going to go sit inside in a warm recliner with dogs trying to share it and enjoy my coffee.

Good Coffee To You


See ya down the road
Lou

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Monday, November 13, 2017

The Age Of Instant Experts

We've all seen them...the person online who jumps in...

You have people who will give links...to any subject in the world...based on their limited internet research.

What happened to people sharing their own experience? What happened to the old ways...one person showing another how they do something, or boys learning to fix lawnmowers, tractors, cars, vans? Where skills were passed down from one person to the next.

I was five years old when my grandmother had me standing on a chair, with a dishtowel tucked around me for an apron, and a wooden spoon, stirring home made from scratch banana pudding.

I was allowed to help in the kitchen and each step in its own time. I got to snap beans, get peas out of pods. Next I was allowed to use a vegetable peeler, then a paring knife.

I eagerly waited being allowed to do more or being trusted with another part of cooking a meal. It was a major step being trusted with the meat for a meal, and finally being trusted to cook Sunday dinners.

It was about skills and gradually increasing them. It doesn't matter now If I cook inside a kitchen in a house, the kitchen in my travel trailer, over a campfire, or a campstove. I can make a full dinner on a fire outside as easily as in a fully equipped house kitchen. I can control the cooking temperature on a open fire.

I was not allowed to be an instant expert...I was nurtured and taught, each step building on the other. That has stood me well in life. I approach each new thing I learn in the same manner. I learn the basics, then increase and hone my skills.

My grandmother taught me that anything worth doing was worth taking the time to learn to do well.

In this age of "instant experts" I think I'll continue using my grandmother's method. Learn things step by step, in order, each skill  builds on the previously learned one.

See ya down the road
Lou

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Perfect Rainy Day

I woke up to a cloudy, chilly, drizzling day.

It's prefect for my purposes. I'm cleaning/sorting/purging excess stuff from my van.

My routine is starting to change with no dog in my van.

I'm in town so I pulled out of Wal-Mart to a nearby shopping center with large parking lot. I'm wearing my fleece robe over my leggings. A warm hat feels good today. I'm wearing the wrist warmers Andrea gave me.

I made hot water for my coffee with my RoadPro element heater. Some pumpkin spice latte French twists are a perfect pastry for this morning.

I'm making progress on the van. Little by little I'm cleaning it. Baby steps. I've got the driver's pocket and passenger pocket sorted out. I've mentally divided the van into segments. I'm getting one segment at a time done.

My van takes a bit more organization because not only is it my home, but it also carries my sales stuff for flea market and my jewelry making/repair supplies. Each group of items needs it's own space.

So many people are pointing out dogs in need of rescue to me. Please stop. My van has to be fully cleaned and sanitized. The Vet thought Romeo may have had distemper. There is no cure, no treatment. It's highly contagious. If I were to get a dog right now (and I am no where near ready to do that) putting it in my van could be a death sentence for that dog.

I'm going to relax and enjoy my coffee & pastry

See you down the road
Lou

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Van log 20171107

It's time for me to fully clean out the van and do some modifications.

My van was a doggie icu for over a week. I've never really had the time to get this set like I wanted. Now I can focus on me and my van.

Once I've cleaned up the spilled food and water from the dog being ill, the next step is to wash all clothes and blankets.

I'll take the time to sort through and evaluate all clothes and bedding. Purge time. All clean useable items will be donated to the local rescue mission.

I'll reset all my jewelry for sale and my jewelry making supplies. Since it's cool now and I probably won't use my cooler, it can hold jewelry making items.

I'll find some help to take the two center seats out.

The four drawer wooden dresser unit has been scaled down. It now comes only up to the seat back.

I've got vision of my finished van in my head. There's not that much to do.

Now with no dogs, my entire routine has changed. I'll get my new routine established and move on with my life.

As gas permits, I'm going to do some short trips to get back into the swing of things. The trip to El Paso actually felt good in spite of the purpose.

I'm rambling a bit, but I'm sure most understand.

See ya down the road
Lou

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Monday, November 6, 2017

New Skills, Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone

There's been bunches of change in my life lately. Mona dying, Romeo being ill and then I had to make the tough call to have him put to sleep.

For the first time in longer than I can remember, there is no dog in my van or in my life. Apparently this is time for me to focus on me and my van. Challenge accepted.

The van is a total mess, so it's time to clean, sort, purge, and get ready to travel again. I've been in one area way too long.

I've already started moving things around  the dresser in the rear has been cut down and rebuilt. It takes up much less room with the same amount of storage.

I've learned to do the urban boondocking style. That's something I never thought I'd be comfortable doing. It's good to step out of my comfort zone and learn new things.

I have no idea what the future holds, but I know it involves new places, new things, new experiences. The short road trip to El Paso felt right and comfortable.

For all my friends that are so worried, don't be. I'm sad but I'm ok. It's time for Lou to be Lou again.

So I'll see you down the road
Lou
In her gasoline powered tipi

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Boondocking,

We all love finding those free campsites. Thanks Jenn of freecampsites.net

Recently on her Facebook group of the same name, there was a photo posted and a discussion on trashed campsites.

We've all been there. You pull into pristine woods or a beautiful lake or breathtaking Vista of the scenic desert southwest. And what do we see...some jerk has left trash, cigarette butts, dirty diapers, shell casings, burnt stuff in a fire pit, or has in general left human's mark on mother nature.

Immediately we hear...there ought to be a law...there is.
Someone should publicly shame them by posting photos of them, their campsite, and make them pay...hmmm sounds like the stocks of the 1600s and dunce caps and all that mob mentality thing 

There should be damage deposits on mother nature...hmmm good way to force economic segregation. People like me wouldn't be able to afford it.

Who am I, I'm the old woman who comes in to boondock after them. As usual, grab trash bag, gloves, pick up stuff. Burn what can be burned...if safe. Find a dumpster, usually in town. Funny, word gets around a local area when you're seen cleaning up public land quietly. Never had anyone complain about me using their dumpster.

As a smoker, I strip my cigarettes butts and put them in the trash bag...not the fire pit. Usually I stick a can outside with a little sand or dirt in it as an ashtray.

I've even sometimes made some money cleaning up. Some areas charge a deposit on bottles and cans. Food cans, clean out, remove label, smash flat. Sell for scrap at any recycler. Aluminum scraps a little better. So even if the state doesn't charge deposit on cans and bottles, you can recycle it. You don't get rich, but you can generally recoup the amount you spent on bags, gas, and sometimes enjoy a meal.

I clean up public lands when I stay there. As a member of the public, I'm cleaning up my own land. This public lands belong to all of us.

So, instead of blaming, shaming, trying to pass laws restricting things...just grab a pair of gloves, a trash bag or two, and beautify the land by removing signs of human's trash. Oh...and scoop that poop on your dogs too.

See ya down the road
Lou

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

No Time Clock

Last night was cold. It got down to 50 degrees. I've been down south so long my blood has thinned.

I was warm snuggled up in my blankets. Time to get out the chemical heater that Mark gave me. You add some water, put it in it's canvas case, wrap it up in a towel and put it in the bed.

Romeo snuggled in the blankets with me. Little dogs put out heat!

Woke up at about 11 am. Still brisk at 68 degrees. Grabbed leftover thick sliced turkey, diced some up for Romeo, got a few hunks for me. Some deserts and pastries will go nicely with it. Time to heat water and make coffee.

It's so nice and cold at night that I don't even have to put food in a cooler on ice.

No time clocks, no need to be up at a certain hour, I still get the same 24 hours in a day.

There are things I should do today but really it's a perfect day to just enjoy the fall weather...in the desert.

Tips to be warm
-Park facing due east, passive solar heat will warm the van.
-wear a hat and warm socks.
-leggings are nice and warm. They can be worn under a skirt or pants.
-Fingerless gloves...love them
-layers...dress in layers

See you down the road
Lou

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Throwback To Simpler Times?

Someone once said to me...this isn't a hundred years ago...be more modern.

Ok, let's take a look at the difference in skill sets 100 years ago and now.

Then
-we had skilled craftsman
-things were made to last
-you saved up to buy things...giving you time to figure out if you really wanted it or needed it. Fewer impulse purchases.
-people pitched in to help each other out. Shared resources.
-family meals were a thing, backyards barbeques instead of big parties
-family time listening to stories on the radio
-things made from scratch
-people repaired stuff rather than throwing it out and buying new.

Now
-emphasis on whatyou can buy
-emphasis on instant gratification
-consumerist economy
-less time spent with others...rush...rush...rush
-microwave and instant meals

I Dunno...I think I'm a throw back. I'm good with that.

See ya on the road
Lou

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Monday, October 23, 2017

It's Really Important To Know Some Basic Van Repairs

There is absolutely nothing like the helpless feeling when your van won't open or won't run. I've been there a few times.

I know how to do many basic repairs. I carry tools and a Chilton Manual. I also carry a battery charger, jumper cables, tow strap, a good jack, and a big container designed for draining fluids.

Anyone who owns any vehicle should know a few basic things...checking fluids, opening hood,hinge jumpstart a battery, and how to change a tire. You need basic equipment to do this. Even if you're not physically able to change a tire, you really need to know how to do it.

You need to know how your hood latch mechanism works. They get bent or stuck. I just had a mechanic spot this on mine and he hammered and bent it until it was straight and true again. Now if we could only fix the back corner that's causing my rear doors hinge to be off kilter, life would be awesome (my clean clothes accessible only through rear door right now, that will change quickly).

Last night a tired man was driving the biggest uhaul truck general public can rent. Not wanting my van hit yet again, I got out and guided him to a safe parking spot. People get in over their heads with vehicles and take off and drive them with inadequate knowledge. Common problem.

A friend just had her water pump replaced. She was like a little girl at Christmas being able to actually look at her engine as it was being repaired, asking lots of questions and taking photos for later reference. We forgot to charge up the ac but she'll actually be able to do that for herself because she was up under there learning what was where and some simple repairs.

I used to be one of those helpless women. There was always a guy around to fix things or take care of minor stuff. Now I'm that Badass woman who can do most simple repairs.

Get a manual. Get some basic tools. Learn how to do some simple repairs yourself. Know how to check all the fluids and how to jump a battery.

You can do this

See you down the road
Lou

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Rain, Thunder, Flash Floods, Safety

Last night was a typical New Mexico rainstorm.
Thunder, lightening, strong winds and hard rain.

There are a few things you should know about safety in storms.

First of all...Stay parked and inside your vehicle. Don't try to drive through it and don't drive through water. It's not just the risk of flash floods.

I had someone throw water all up over my hood and roof. Shorted out my battery and my alternator.

Costs ...
Alternator $55 at junkyard
Oem alternator wiring $10
Battery $50
My time and labor...yeah

Turn off any inverters and house battery system.

Don't have anything out and touching ground. Bring in any steps.

Look to see that your windshield is in no danger from blowing tree branches.

Once you have battened down the hatches, all windows and doors closed, nothing open to let rain in, relax. Read a book. Stream videos. Go to bed. Listen to the rain beating on the roof.

See ya down the road
Lou

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Why Not Head South?

The most annoying thing when I was up in Michigan through two winters in a van is everyone said go south for the winter as the solution to every problem.

I had just bought an extended body cargo van and then I bought a vintage 18 ft Amerigo travel trailer.

Traveling South meant about 200 gallons of gas.  There would have been no benefit to me of traveling slowly. It wouldhave still been very cold.

I had winter gear and a buddy heater. I had covered all the windows with heavy quilts. The second year I wasn't hooked up to electric. I managed pretty well to stay comfy and cozy.

Not all vandwellers are retired. Some stay local for work, some because they have family members that are very ill. My father's health can be very precarious and having just lost my mother I wanted to spend time near him.

If a van is insulated, you have appropriate clothes for the weather, and some skills for making a warm sleeping nest, the frozen north can actually be very beautiful in the winter.

I'm seeing a trend in everyone saying do this, buy this, and go to the desert southwest. That's so what Vandwelling isn't about.

Vandwelling is about being an individual, not rebelling and conforming in your rebellion. It's about being free to decide what lifestyle you want and living it.

I know of a person who is actually basing his living on winter camping in Colorado. Not my first choice but I celebrate his spirit in following his dream. That is what Vandwelling is all about.

So...if you're new to Vandwelling...choose your own dream...Not someone else's. Me, I'm hanging in New Mexico. The beauty of the land, the delicious local foods, the friendliness and warm generous hearts of the locals combined with being able to choose urban Vandwelling or boondocking in nature all within a couple hours journey works for me. Have the courage to figure what works for you

See you down the road
Lou

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

For The Want Of Changing A Thermostat

Today I'm watching one friend do a lot of work on another friend's van.

All because of a thermostat. A Thermostat is about a $20 part. It's not particularly difficult to learn to change.

What happens if your thermostat is stuck closed?

You over heat your engine. That can cause water pump to crack and water pump gaskets to fail.

That causes antifreeze to leak out. A bubble can form in the system not allowing you to add enough antifreeze.

If engine runs long enough without proper coolant...you're looking at cracked/warped heads. Heads and head gasket must be done in a shop. They have to check for cracks and warped. This can not be done with a visual inspection.

We're lucky. My friend is looking at a water pump, thermostat, and a bad airconditioning belt. They're off to the parts store to get the needed parts.

So the next time some one says maybe you should replace your thermostat...do it. Sometimes it's a cheap easy fix compared to what happens if thermostat fails.

See you down the road
Lou

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

There Are Many Ways To Vandwell

There are so many different ways to van dwell.

You have what I call a van tourist...they have a list of places and things they just must go see. They like to travel, travel, travel.

There's the person who travels for work...like expediting.

There's the person who stays in one place, moving around that city or town. Often they stay in an area for work or for family. Some also have to stay in one area for medical attention.

Then there's the person who has a circuit, three or four places, they travel a little but usually because of weather.

Still another group of vandwellers park in a driveway or backyard of family or friends.

Some are full time vandwellers, some take a few trips, and some dwell part time in a van.

It's impossible to lump all into a category and there is no one size fits all type of vandweller.

Everyone has their own preferences. And that preference can change at any time.

See you down the road
Lou

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Living As A Nomad Changes You

Not only has my life changed, but me and my values have really changed due to living in a van.

I've lived in one vehicle or another for a couple of decades. I did take some breaks and live in an apartment, usually with someone else. Thelast time I had my own apartment (other than a couple of months this last year) was in 1999. Wow, that's 18 years ago. Time flies.

I've lived in a two room tent in the woods, a 26 foot travel trailer, a 30 foot class A motorhome, a 18 foot vintage travel trailer, a Pontiac sunfire, an extended body cargo van, a minivan, and currently a conversion van. My favorites were the cargo van and my current conversion van.

Each one of my homes on wheels has had their advantages and disadvantages.

Why do I prefer my van? Mobility...it's easy to move, easy to drive, I can park almost anywhere without drawing attention.

This van has wing windows and all the rear windows open at the bottom allowing fresh air and circulation.

I really need to remove the twocenter seats. I've added a tall 4 drawer dresser in the rear, a cabinet with shelves, an old hassack with interior storage and a top that can double as a table, and a small 3 drawer wicker cabinet. Wow, that's a lot.

I don't need any built in items. I'm happy with my portable stove. Water jugs suit me just fine, easy to fill and easy to use.

I did end up adding a board to the front of the shelves. I'm still cleaning up from the last shelf spill.

Several years ago, my definition of my van would have included built in shower, toilet, running water, regular electricity. It doesn't now.

I like using mainly 12v power. Jugs are easier to fill than using a freshwater tank. I've become much less wasteful of water and electricity.

My life is actually much simpler with fewer modern conveniences. That leaves more time for the things I really enjoy.

Even my cooking has changed. A big meal usually means hauling out my 6 quart pressure cooker. It night involve a whole hour preparing a meal. Usually though, it means about 15-20 minutes when I do decide to cook.

I've learned to dehydrate things naturally. I'm in the desert. It is really easy to dehydrate food. It retains its nutrients and flavor when you dehydrate.

I've rambled on long enough this morning. I'll revisit this topic another time.

See you down the road
Lou

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Let's Talk About Overnight Parking at Walmart

Wal-Mart has been kind in many places to offer free overnight parking. Not camping not boondocking, bit overnight parking.

Some of the worst offenders can be those in high dollar RVs.

You've seen them....
Stabalizer jacks down, several slide outs open, awning down, having cocktails in lawnchairs beside their rigs, and BBQ'ing.

Whiskey Foxtrot Delta? Seriously?

First of all, it is walmart, not a campground.

Second, the stabilizer jacks damage the asphalt.

A parking lot is actually private property, you're a guest.

No one wants to hear your generator run for hours.

It's also not a place to dump your gray water tanks. Gray water actually stinks to high heaven. I've watched the Wal-Mart in Colorado Springs near the Air Force Academy having to pressure wash the entire parking lot every night. I don't care how much you spend in the store, it doesn't justify nasty behavior practices.

So let's talk about how to park at Wal-Mart as a courteous guest.

Generally there will be an area to park far away from the doors. Usually it's over by the garden center.

Don't sit there like you're in a camp ground. All items stay inside your van. Don't pull out your chairs and grill. If you want to grill, go to a public park before you pull into Wal-Mart.

Put your windshield cover up. Pull your curtains.

Arrive late, leave early. Don't pull into a Wal-Mart to overnight before 5 pm and definitely leave early morning.

Don't leave any trash behind. As a matter of fact, if there's trash, I pick it up. Don't leave trash in shopping carts. Put your shopping cart away in the cart return.

Don't empty any liquids out at Wal-Mart. Plain clean water fine, but anything else, No.

This shouldn't have to be said, but I've seen it done...don't get out at night and pee next to your van.

I've seen two Wal-Mart's stop allowing overnight parking. It's a private parking Lot open to the public for limited purposes. Be polite, respectful, and grateful. Do shop in the store, even if it's only a pop.

Oh and park in between the lines.

See ya down the road
Lou

Dare To Be An Original

I was sitting here racking my brain for something I wanted to write about today.

As usual, I'm watching videos and playing on Facebook (instead of the billion things I really should do) when a meme pops up...in a world of Kardashians, be an Elvira.

That sums me up quickly. My grandmother said I was so stubborn that if I were water, I'd flow uphill. Really, I still don't see anything wrong with that.

I don't like a cookie cutter world where we all conform, or when being a non conformist that we all rebel in the same manner.

What's wrong with coloring outside the lines? Hmm let's ask Picasso.

We all know I've thrown away the suburban dream (nightmare) and prefer to be a little heathen traveling in my van.

There are so many YouTube channels that will tell you how to gut your van and turn it into a secretive RV. That's so not me. It's fine if it's you. It is your home, make it anyway you want.

But here is something to consider. What you want now, what your fantasy van home looks like....after a while in the van, You change. Your wants and needs and preferences may change.

I'd really suggest doing very little to the van until you've lived in it for six months to a year. You'll then know just what is important to you. What that deal breaker luxury you just can't live without.

You may think you want to do urban stealth and find out that boondocking in the desert or in a national forest makes your heart beat faster and your soul to sing.

You may plan on boondocking and find out you're not cut out for the isolation and quiet.

Give yourself a change to try several different things and several different ways. Find out what YOU really want.

All I'm really planning on doing to my conversion van is remove the two center seats. I'll move a few things in the van around a little. But that's what I like. It's my home.

See you down the road
Lou

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Modern Ways or Old School Methods

I must confess that other than a few easily powered devices, most of my lifestyle is based on old ways.

There's nothing wrong with modern ways, but the old ways leave less of a carbon footprint.

All of my devices can be powered or charged using a maximum of two 10 watt solar panels, my 3 small smartphone solar chargers, and the power socket in my van. I have 2 inverters, a 100 watt, and a 400 watt, but rarely even use my 100 watt. 

I recently bought a 2hp generator. I paid $35 for it used. Yes, I tested it before buying.
I bought things that run on solar or battery.
I make hot water for coffee using a 12v element heater. 

I have a buddy heater but I stored it in my travel trailer. Heat in the morning is passive solar...I park facing east and remove the Reflectix windshield cover. Within half an hour the van is nice and toasy warm. 

Cooling is just as easy. I have a usb fan that works on solar or plugged into my lighter socket. Open the rear windows of the van, pull the shades, and park in the shade of a tree or building. I park facing away from the sun. 

I still haven't removed any seats. This van is new to me, bought in March of this year. I do plan to remove the two center seats. Other than that...no real build or modifications needed. I have a tall 4 drawer dresser in the rear and a two shelf unit behind the driver's seat. My house battery sits on the passenger front floor.

It's still a work in progress, but it's also very livable.
It's perfectly fine to do a major build. It is also perfectly acceptable to not do a major build. After all, this is my home.

See you down the road
Lou

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Van Dweller? Nomad? Vehicle Dweller?

There are many popular terms for the way I live.
At first I embraced vandweller. But I've come to the conclusion there's no real accurate term currently in use.

Most people seem to connect vandweller with traveling...what I call a van tourist.

Nomad seems a little more accurate.

I don't travel massive long distances anymore. I've actually been in this one town for over a year. I tend to do what native American nomadic tribes did many many years ago. I've got a few places that I mainly rotate around.

People seem to understand the difference between a nomad and a vagrant or homeless person. I'm definitely not homeless. I own a van, a vintage 18 ft travel trailer, and I am buying a little over one acre in northeastern Arizona.

Vagrants have no purpose. I most definitely have a purpose and my days are too filled to leave time for trouble.

I make and sell good jewelry, affordable but not cheap goods. It is both my job and my hobby.

I write. To be a writer is to have this itch deep inside that must be scratched. I use words to create word pictures. The nicest thing someone said to me on the phone just yesterday is that she often feels as if she was right there next to me. Those words warmed my heart.

I have a little dog named Romeo. Romeo has the cutest Mohawk and expressions. He is fast becoming the face of a rescued dog. His photos just make others want to cuddle him. Romeo was owned by a homeless street woman. So being a nomad is a big step up for him.

Being a vandweller is now becoming trendy and mainstream. There are endless YouTube blogs and many people vie to be "the face" of Vandwelling. I know many old time vandwellers that don't have YouTube nor can you pigeonhole them into a category. They are true originals.

So if you find yourself at a campfire with a few of us old time style dwellers...sit, listen, learn. Usually we're more than happy to show you some tips and tricks.

And should there be a natural disaster where I am...ill be easy to find...I'll be the little old woman with coffee pot on the fire, pressure cooker and soup pot out. I'll be able to charge your phone... Try to show up with your own cup, bowl, and utensils. Or I will show you how to make and use a pair of chopsticks. Fingers and a pocket knife always work.

So...the next time you see someone and think they are incredibly poor...they may simply have different values.

I'm rich in all the ways that really matter. Today I have a roof over my head (my van), it has a bed to sleep in. I've always got something to eat.

See ya down the road
Lou

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Update On Van Repairs

It's been a hell of a month for van repairs.
The radiator was replaced. Hint...when replacing radiator, check all hoses, replace all clamps with new ones. ($200)

The coolant overflow reservoir was replaced. I've no idea why previous owner merely hot glued it on the seam. It's a $15 part and easily replaced.

The rear lights (tail, backup, brake, and turn signal) all blew. The body damage allowed water to creep into the lens. Body work has been done (related to the lens holes) and both lights now fit where they belong. I had an extra new passenger rear tail light lens. It's now on the vehicle. I've no explanation for why previous owner used liquid nails to glue in tail light bulbs. It made for fun changing them.

The rear bumper, passenger side, has been straightened out and no longer curls up under the body. (Old school method, tow strap, another vehicle, and really big hammers.)

The rear doors now close and open as they should. Pipe insulation was added to the top of the rear doors preventing any leaks. (Door frame buckles straightened out by really big hammers.)

The side small window (top part) has been replaced. Now I'll need to get tint and shade it to match the others. ($26 so far)

The van is much closer to show room condition. More cosmetic repairs to continue.

I'll update progress with photos as it takes place.

See ya down the road
Lou

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