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

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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'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 it. Sometimes it's a cheap easy fix compared to what happens if thermostat fails.

See you down the road

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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?'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

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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

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 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

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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 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

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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

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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

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Van Life

Everyone loves a good fantasy or adventure story.

Now that Vans have hit mainstream, everyone is chasing that fantasy of margaritas on a beach and sunsets.

It's not all fantasies. Van Life is chock full of realities.

It's mechanical repairs, body repairs, being somewhat compliant with parking laws, insurance, hot days finding shade, cold mornings pitting pups and making coffee.

It's a good life but it's still not all the Instagram fantasy.

Those beach photos...sand in the van, salt water messing up the paint, wind flinging sand like sand blasting the van in a paint shop.

You have to be both a free spirit and one hell of a tough cookie or van life will beat you down.

Me, i still love it after all these years.

See ya down the road

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

New Dog In My Van

I'm back to the 2PupCrew. I was at a soup kitchen and a girl walked up with a cute little dog trying to find it a home.
Actually I've seen 4 dogs given away in two days.
Since i now have two, I could only home one.
Meet Romeo the rescued dog. He's fit into my van like he was meant to be here. He's a little dog with a big personality.
Romeo is approximately 5 years old. He appears to be a wire haired terrier/Chihuahua mix. He's sweet as can be, house trained, but like any little dog, we've already had a couple of accidents

Started this blog entry a little while back. Updates: Mona died in my arms, more than likely of old age. She was buried native style. 

It feels funny only having one dog and there have been a few rough spots, but we're now a family unit.
Rest in Peace Mona. Forever loved. I kept my promise, I was your home until the day you died.

Musings And Thoughts From My Van

I see so many rushing...
-get the van perfect
-power, Lots of power

So many people that turn vans into tiny tiny houses. There's nothing wrong with having all the conveniences. There's also nothing wrong with "roughing it".

I like simple. Real simple. Throwback style.
We've had several really bad hurricanes hit my friends in various places. I'm so glad that I wasn't there.

But, the recent headlines from Florida and Puerto Rico really got my to thinking.
Between old school skills and being optional when it comes to modern life...I'd manage ok if a major disaster hit and the infrastructure went down for a bit.

I've got a small generator and some batteries. I know how to clean water with materials at hand.  I carry several natural fire starters and a grate or two. A couple cast iron skillets, my pressure cooker, and a stock pot. I dehydrate foods and store in jars. I already have bags of rice and freeze dried foods.
I've also got over 1000 books in my old school kindle. No internet required. My external hard drive is approximately 1TB of movies and shows.

So, if I found myself in a no power no services situation...I'd be reasonably comfortable. I think I'd just start running an old skills school and pass on the ways...the ways people lived before running water, inside bathrooms, and unlimited electric.

So...the next time you see an oldtimer who doesn't have thousands if watts of solar and all the bells and whistles...maybe they are not as backward as you think

See ya down the road
Lou and the 1 pup crew

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Ehrenberg AZ

In the past I've camped at Ehrenberg (I-10, exit 1, Arizona).

It has a beauty and is generally quiet. People park away from each other, allowing privacy and solitude to enjoy the beauty of the desert.

And it is all that...until the rtr crowds invade and set up with dogs running loose, some having quads or motorcycles tearing up the desert, trash from van builds and repairs, and generally busyness.

I love going to Ehrenberg, but I've learned to check when the rtr crowd is there and find somewhere else away from the herd mentality.

I don't care for others unleashed dogs pissing on my stuff. And I really don't care for the herd mentality. I actually enjoy peace, quiet, and solitude.

I love being able to sit in a chair outside, enjoy coffee and a sunrise or a Sunset.

One of the reasons I enjoy the desert or a national forest is that I love nature. I'm not afraid of solitude or being alone with myself. I pretty much know my virtues and my flaws

I've got a few other off the beaten path desert hideaways.  I generally only park legally. I actually own land, so I'm not homeless.

I love leaving no trace. When I pull out...I haven't rearranged the desert to suit cute rock border nor my name spelled out in rocis.

It's funny...often Canadians come down for the entire winter. They'll set up camp, and when they leave...they leave nothing behind. They come down, enjoy the weather, and go back home. Some of them have been the absolute nicest neighbors.

But in soon as you mention Vandwelling...out come my YouTube, join this event, and all the peopleing stuff.

Yes I have a YouTube. Absolutely no idea if people watch it. I just use it to share how to original videos. Watch it if you like...or don't. Google doesn't send me $, no ad revenue off it, no paetron account. It's not a series of me me me...just a few short how to videos.

Yes I finally got an Instagram...and it's not commercial either. I just share photos...of my dog, of nature, weather, plants, and other things I find interesting.

I've discovered I really don't like crowds...not at all and not for a short time. I'm fine with a small group, but I didn't get into this to trade the busyness of city life for being busy and distracted so I don't have time to think group Rebellion.

I'm truthfully a non conformist. And that means I don't rebel in lockstep with others. I actually carve my own path out.

These are just my own ramblings out loud.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Update on hit and run

Thursday a week ago i was driving and was rear ended by a hit and run driver.

There's substantial damage to my van.

I just received a phone call from las cruces police who were really on the ball.

The registered owner of the vehicle was in jail at time of the accident. The insurance was lapsed/cancelled.

The investigation proceeds. I'm basically screwed.

Updates and Thoughts

It's been some time since I've had time to update blogs.

Today I've been thinking about some of the common terms in use and our lifestyle as vandwellers.

What we do isn't new or revolutionary. A lot of the ways i live in my van go back only two generations ago.

My family had outhouse, running water is reasonably new, and electricity in house not that old either. Someone made a comment online and it reminds me that many people...Amish and Mennonite...still don't use electric in the house.

In recent old days, people had a stand with a pitcher and a bowl on it for cleanliness. They still do. You'd wash up in privacy of your room. Saturday the big tub would be put in the kitchen, it was filled by hand, and emptied into the garden or flowers. Waste not want not.

So...why when converting a van do you need running water, showers, hard wired electric.

We overthink things making our van into a pale imitation of a house.

Why not look back and learn simpler less consumerism ways?

What really are needs...what are wants? I enjoy a few simple decadent luxuries. The majority of my very simple, freeing me from things and allowing me to focus on friends and people and nature and of course my dog.

I don't need a large kitchen, with running water and many appliances to cook good meals. I've turned out a fancy Sunday dinner in a sand covered desert near the Mexican border. No running water, no electric, just me and my propane stove. I've cooked same type of meal in the pouring rain in Michigan in the Manistee National Forest.

I don't own a tv. I do enjoy shows via streaming video and saved on my 1T external hard drive.

I'm not homeless making do. I'm truly a nomad, living as many peoples have for countless untold years. My war pony is gasoline driven. My tipi has wheels. But it's the same as generations back where people roamed within an area living much more gently on Mother Earth.

Many pay lip service to this life style or half step their way though it. I raise my pot of coffee made the Old way in a stove top percolator on an open fire to those who truly understand and live this life.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A typical day as a vandweller

I'm in a town for at least another month or two while I deal with medical/dental issues.'s a day in my life.

Parked last night in a quiet cul-de-sac. It's legal here to sleep in your vehicles.

Woke up to a nice sunny morning. Of course Mona has to potty immediately...Then where's her breakfast. Dog Pottied, Fed, fresh water and then she's off for her morning nap.

I put the backpacking Coleman stove out beside the van, heated water, made coffee, washed the few dishes.

The stainless steel cup was easily cleaned, a wet paper towel and a tablespoon of baking soda. Swipe, wipe, and hang it on its hook.

My two small phone solar chargers are busy charging auxiliary phone battery chargers. They are both propped up inside the van on/near the steering wheel so no looking like a homeless person.

I'm enjoying my morning coffee in a glass mug instead of the travel cup. Breakfast will be muesli cakes with peanut butter and jam.

Hair is brushed and in a pony tail.

The passenger side faces a canal and a cemetery so I'm able to open side barn doors for fresh air and a breeze.

Two vehicles have used the cul-de-sac to turn around, I smile and lightly wave

One blog published, another about to be, and then just a product review or two and it's relaxation time.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Just Musing On A Cloudy Windy Day

i have to laugh. I'm not that unusual or unique.

There are quite a few of us who grew up during the sixties and the seventies. We were very much influenced by the rebellion & protests of the sixties. We watched the fight for civil rights unfold before our very eyes.

We loved words like antidisestablishmentarism.

We watched the moon landing on TV. We saw people changing the world, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, The American Indian Movement.

We smoked cigarettes in the bathroom at school. Most of us went on, got jobs, became the establishment.

Let us hear one of our songs from the seventies and all the memories come flooding back. It was a time of hope & change, George Carlin and Cheech & Chong. It was a good time to grow up.

Now, I feel as if I've gone full circle. I'm an environmentally conscious person living and traveling in my van. My youthful dreams are now my reality.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Let's Talk Vandwelling

When you say vandwelling, most people get really crazy ideas about your lifestyle.

I have MS. Living in a van makes me self sufficient and I'm able to do everything I need to do to take care of myself.

I generally travel at the pace of an arthritic turtle. Rarely do I do long trips. I meander here and there. Sometimes I'll actually visit what most consider a tourist attraction.

Usually I prefer to boondock on public lands such as national forest or BLM land. I've stayed in New Mexico state parks, both with and without hookups.

I have an older Chevy Mark III conversion van. A conversion van has a rear seat that makes into a bed..a camper van has a stove, sink, and a bed. Cargo vans are usually empty inside and have no insulation.

I use an Ozark Trails two burner propane stove for cooking. I also own a Coleman dual fuel 2 burner stove. That uses either Coleman fuel or unleaded gasoline.

Yes, I have a potty in the van. I can recommend a lugable loo toilet.

I have pretty much the same things you'd have in a tiny studio apartment.

Having an apt quickly wore me out. It was too much keeping up with cleaning. Smaller space means better organization and less cleaning.

My Chihuahua Mona also prefers a van to an apt. She can see all around her, enjoys traveling, and right now she's gone back to the bedroom to take a nap.

The lower stress life makes it easier to manage my MS resulting in lower medical costs. Yes I have Medicare but that doesn't mean I need to spend lots of times at the doctor or hospital. Actually the Dr at the last emergency room visit was pleased to know that I planned to go out to my van and go to bed. He released me rather than keep me in the ER for observation. We simply informed security I'd be spending the night in my van. Security walked me out and helped me in the door. I locked the van and went to bed.

I'm the girl who when I leave the spot I was parked in is absolutely clear.

I have a blog devoted to teaching those new to the van life how to be respectful responsible travelers.

I absolutely respect other's property rights. I own land myself. Yes, I'm low income. I get a minimum social security disability check. My vehicle is always legal, plated, registered, insured. I pay pretty much all my bills online or through automatic deduction.

So the next time you see someone sleeping in their vehicle, not all of us are homeless, drink, or do drugs. I rarely drink and don't even like taking aspirin.

I love watching videos, reading books (both paperback and on my kindle). I make and sell jewelry. I enjoy watching nature.

I'm not homeless, I'm houseless by choice.

Leaving No Trace

There is a lot of news coverage over the closing of the protest camps. Let's remember that along with natives there were many non native protesters also.

As a responsible vandweller who has also winter camped, I've a few observations based on my own personal experience.

They were in dangerous cold winter conditions. Not everyone was experienced in dangerous cold. Not everyone was used to environmentally friendly leave no trace.

Leaving any animal behind was unconscionable.

I've cleaned up forest sites after regular "experienced" campers. They leave more than they think they do.

Before we blame the people at standing rock, let's remember the flood of non native non experienced in extreme weather conditions.

And let's remember this is about safe clean water. Something that benefits all.

We've turned into a consumerism throwaway society that no longer knows how to treat mother earth with respect. The things we do today will affect generations.

When you leave an area, go over it before you pull out.

Did you rake over your campfire area removing all burned trash.

Did you leave bits of plastic or paper behind.

Did you pick up all cans, bits of metal (bottle caps, ring pull tabs)

I carry a folding rake with me and kitchen sized trash bags. I have a couple of empty cat litter containers that I use as closed trash cans.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Great Van Search

I had found the perfect van. We agreed on a price. I just had to wait until last Wednesday to pay for it and pick it up.

Wednesday came. I was nervous and excited. He pulled up and I was really happy...until he told me his room had fallen through and he couldn't sell it.

Thus starts the great van hunt and scrambling. I live and travel in my van full time. My current van sits unable to move due to blown motor.

So...I started looking on craigslist. LOL.
The dodge ram van had a small engine, transmission leak, oil leak, and stunk of cat piss. It was $1000 for van known to be problematic on transmissions and no power.

Next up was a Chevy van with no posted price. It was a 1992 so off we went to go look. Busted up trim, white smoke puffing out of the exhaust. Nope...that's water pump, blown head gasket.

So far two vans and neither even made it to test drive.

Beautiful Ford 4x4 pickup. I haven't seen it since the owner is working hour and a half away. Apparently he's not real motivated to sell it.

So..I finally got to test drive an astro. Drove nice but when looking underneath it...water leak. And it was water not antifreeze. And rusty where it had been dripping for some time.

Today's hopeful entrant is a 2000 Chevy 20 Mark III conversion. I swear if it runs drives and stops, needs nothing more than a's coming away with me.

Sacrilege...this Ford tough girl has been looking at any van that runs.

I'll update you all when there's more news.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Update on Van Down

For about the same price as parts only, on Wednesday I pick up my new to me van.

New van is 1986 one ton hightop van with Onan. generator,refrigerator, running water, low mileage, 351 Cleveland engine. $1500. Dependable.

It's actually going to be the same price or cheaper than replacing engine in my conversion van.

To all those who helped, I'll be repaying the loans one or two people a month and the pay it forward money as much as i can as fast as i can. I'm very grateful and humbled by all you wonderful people.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Musings and Thoughts While Van Down

Good morning. Coffee in hand, Mona sitting outside in back yard that is privacy fenced it. It faces east.
I'd like to thank the neighbors, who are nice but I can hear any door slam, for reminding me I don't do sticks n bricks well.

Water gets turned on today. I've got distilled water fire washing things and spring water for drinking/cooking

Water heating on stove to wash dishes.

Pot of rice is almost done, I'm thinking pinto beans, split peas, green peppers, and assorted veggies on hand.

The van interior is about halfway organized the way I want it. It's actually coming together perfectly. It took me less than 3 minutes to locate what I wanted when I went to the van to get dried food goods for cooking,

I spent time on craigslist van looking. In AZ, one on same condition as mine, approx same interior, and with not running motor...$3000-.
For now, I'm going with a used junkyard motor as soon as I get definitive price. In the future, I'm going to put a Reman engine in for my peace of mind. The rest of the van is a 90 on a scale of 100- this is the one for me. After looking at another dwellers build, I think I'll eventually put a built in desk where my current one sits, and cabinet shelves behind bed that open front and rear. I'll remove the front passenger seat and build storage with Mona's Chihuahua Command Central.

I've $198 dollars toward my engine. I can put $300 from my disability check with it. That still leaves me short of my engine. if you can help. Put engine and either loan or gift in the message line.

It will take me a while to repay the loans but that's just life when you're on short income. I do know how to cut expenses to the bone when I'm in debt.

Enjoy my musings and ramblings

Monday, January 23, 2017

For those wishing to help with my engine

I talked to the people at got engines dot com.

Unfortunately, they are not willing to take small payments as they said.

If you view this blog on computer or
On smart phone/tablet open in chrome, select the three dots on top right, you'll have a menu drop down. Select view desktop site.

Once you're viewing this as a desktop site, then you'll see a donate button top of the blog. This allows you to use any standard debit card out credit card to help. You choose the amount.

Donations handled securely through PayPal, I have no access to any of your information other than your name and the amount. Thanks for helping.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

My van needs a new engine

As many know, my van broke down on I-10 in New Mexico as I was headed for Quartzsite and Yuma.
I had it towed back to Las Cruces
It needs more than we first thought. It needs engine replaced.
I've found a used engine at it is 77,000 original miles, 5.4L V8, and it's the OEM motor for this van. Price $1896 free shipping. Warrentee 3 year 36,000
My total income is minimum social security disability. I have MS. I've refunded unused PayPal $ and have a balance of $6.38 in my PayPal. I have no bank accounts.
We know I do a lot for the van community, much of it quietly in private.
I'm not asking for a free van. I'm asking for some help. The $1896 covers price of motor only. I've got some local help free to pull old engine and put new one in, including loans of engine hoist and such.
If you can help, my PayPal link is or you can call Joe at got donate directly. When engine is paid for, they will ship.
I'm parked in a safe place, Mona, me and my van. No risk of towing or impound
Stephanie Lou Burgess

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Goodbye Lil Bear

My lil bear was run over Wednesday.
He and Mona escaped. Mona was retrieved safely, but Bear was run over on I-10 mm 112 New Mexico.

I feel his absence keenly as does Mona. As I write this, yet again I can barely see through tears.

I've got lots of pictures and videos of him.  I kept only his bed, his blankies, and his very favorite sweater. His collar frayed and fell off, so I have that and his tag.

He was born on my bed, the last puppy born, and the runt of the litter. For only being 3 pounds, he had a big personality.

Mona and I miss him a lot.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Chihuahua Command Central

I travel with my senior rescue dog Mona (Deer Head Chihuahua) and her son Bear (chi/yorkie mix).

They snuggle in bed with me but they do have their own beds. 

There's also a blanket and bed on passenger front seat, known affectionately as Chihuahua Command Central. Next to the front seat is my 48 qt cooler. It's topped with blankets. It effectively doubled the size of CCC (Chihuahua Command Central.)

I plan on removing front passenger seat in the future and building custom traveling Chihuahua Command Central for my cute road dogs.

In CCC, they have a viewing area of 180°. This allows them to be master of all they survey. Because of the size, it also allows comfortable sleeping for two, the ability to watch for me returning to the van (are there treats in the bag, c'mon let me sniff and inspect), and to adequately watch for dogs, cats, squirrels, and other things of grave importance for a travelling dog.

Tomorrow we start another road trip. They're actually very good travelers.

I'll put an audiobook on and away we go. Westward Ho!

I'll be doing meets n greets with old friends and new.

See you on the road.

Those wishing to contribute dog treats...use the following link

Monday, January 2, 2017

Day 1 Return To Fulltiming In My Van

I really love living in my van fulltime.

The van now has a nickname... It's my gasoline powered tipi.

Yesterday I finished moving out of the temporary apt. In spite of rain, I got most of the moved stuff out of van and into travel trailer in storage.

I was able to throw sleeping bag on bed in back of the van and stretch out. Mind you, I had to curl around da pups. My two small dogs are confirmed bed hogs and pillow thieves.

The front passenger seat is Chihuahua Command Central. It's very handy with 180 degree views for watching birds, squirrels, people, and of course barking at much bigger dogs.

Chihuahua command central has expanded. I found a 48 qt igloo cooler at Walmart for $16. It fits perfect sideways between front seats. I added a blanket over it. They love stretching out on it next to momma.

I cruised about 3 minutes and picked a good legal overnight parking spot. Had reflectix up on windshield and front windows covered in about 2 minutes. The spot even had free open WiFi.

I was overtired so it took me a little to fall asleep.

I prefer instant coffee...just what l like.  Today I drove over to Starbucks, got cup of hot water, and went back out to my van.

I had put all my coffee necessities in the cooler. So it was fairly easy to make my coffee.

Fresh water, food, and a morning walk for da pups, hot coffee and a perfectly ripened banana for me. I have several pkgs of loaf bread and a fruitcake onboard for my morning coffee.

Now I'm parked facing east, the van is comfortably heated by passive solar.

Time to read, relax, enjoy videos.

See you down the road.