Sunday, May 30, 2010

Progress! Seats and floor are in!

Sadly, this is actually not the blog that tells you the project is completely finished and all is perfect...I just wanted to give a bit of a progress report and a little preview of what things look like now. The floor and seats are in as you can see, but I do have to put all the trim, seat belts, outer armrests etc back in still. The picture does not do a great job with the color, the seats are a bit darker in person. Since we are really making such a dramatic change in the overall scheme of things, there are still many little future projects that will continue to make things more coordinated.

This was how the new floor looked on the workbench right before I installed it. A paper template was made to get the correct shape.

I am planning to be done to a point where we can get back on the road this week. Many blogs with details of these projects and the rest of the pictures are coming quick!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The "B" Perspective


As our cork floor and seat installation projects extend a few days further, I thought I could maybe share a few thoughts on the "Class B" perspective. I always forget that not everyone sees things the way we do and that the hows and whys are maybe not so obvious. The spectrum of comments and questions we get is interesting and shows how diverse mobile dwellers can be. Questions from "How can you live in such a small space?" to "Why do you need all that?" which of course are based on views relative to situational preference and perfectly understandable.

To understand our perspectives, it helps to know our "Grand Plan". Heidi and I love traveling, immersing ourself in new areas to learn the history and culture as well as experiencing the beauty that our country has to offer. We want to keep living this way from here on and have no desire to stop and settle in any one place. Since neither of us has any significant financial resources, our mobile lifestyle has to be sustainable with little work. The comfort factor is very important to us as well since Taj is our home and we have both have enough experience to be aware of our preference.

Class B vans are typically amazing examples of engineering and design. They really have an ideal balance of storage space, living space and creature comforts to make our lifestyle extremely enjoyable. Taj who is our 1997 Roadtrek at 17 feet in length and under 8 foot tall, is surprisingly roomy inside yet still has most all the features of a larger RV.

Hanging out in our B is a bit like being in a well-appointed efficiency apartment. In the evening with the curtains drawn, it is private and comfortable. Heidi can often be found in the back watching a movie and knitting or maybe browsing the web while I am in front quietly playing guitar and most likely enjoying some hot tea. During the day if we choose to be inside, chances are you will find me making jewelry or reading while Heidi exercises or cooks lunch/dinner or ??? Taking showers, cooking, washing dishes, all the things you might do in a house, apartment or class A motorhome, we do quite comfortably in our little VanHome.

Driving a B is a joy compared to larger rigs I have owned in the past. In the wind, Taj is rock steady with one hand on the wheel. She climbs mountain passes easily and navigates tight parking lots with minimal effort. Parking on street or in regular parking spaces is no trouble at all. Fuel mileage is reasonable with 15 to 17 MPG average. The 35 gallon fuel tank is good for over 500 miles though we usually don't let it go below a quarter tank.

With Taj we have a lot of flexibility in where we stay. We fit in just fine at RV parks yet have enough stealth to hide in plain sight when convenient and enough resources on board (Electric/Water/LP/Food storage/Waste tanks) to boondock in comfort for at least a week without moving.

We hope our perspectives help others to understand our choices and maybe help with decisions they may be facing. There are so many great ways to live a mobile lifestyle, this is just the one that "turns our wheels" ;)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Connecting...

For people that are new to the world of VanTramping, one of the concerns might be loneliness on the road or how to meet people and friends. I have heard and read many folks express these fears and I thought it might be helpful to describe how we can connect with other VanTramps/Vandwellers.

One of the first things people often realize once they get out there is just how many people are actually living this way. It doesn't take long to develop your "Van Eyes", your ability to spot VanHomes and their owners. It isn't always clear if they are fulltimers or vacationing, but there are often many clues that will sway the guess one way or the other. So, for the sake of this post on connecting, lets say we have identified a fellow VanTramp and are feeling like we wouldn't mind some company.

This is the point where we have to slow down and just observe for a minute. Without being annoying, be seen, but don't impose. Not everyone wants to be connected with and it can be hard to tell who is who. We suggest and prefer to err on the side of privacy. If they notice you and make eye contact, a smile and a wave may tell you all you need to know. Of course, if they avoid eye contact, don't proceed any further. A VanTramp that is working and parking/living in one area and relying on stealth to keep it possible likely will not want the attention. If you do connect with another VanTramp, keep safety in mind at all times.

The easier way to find and learn about other VanTramps/VanDwellers is of course online. A little browsing and digging utilizing your favorite search engine and you will stumble across groups and forums and blogs filled with people that have similar feelings that you once maybe felt were yours alone. The key here is to talk and reach out a bit. Be safe and take precautions just like you would in person, take your time and don't divulge too much too fast. VanTramps and Vandwellers like to have meetups as do RVers and others in the mobile lifestyle. Heidi and I have met quite a few Vandwellers now and have always grown from the experience.

If you have read our earlier posts, you probably know Heidi and I also met online first on the Vandwellers Yahoo Group. We weren't looking for it, but it happened and we couldn't be happier!

The overall concept of this post I want to get across is that, ironically, what seems like it could be a very quiet life of solitude (and certainly can be if you prefer that) is actually filled with opportunity for friendship and human connection. It is very easy to find a good balance as a VanTramp!