Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Improved boondocking page.

Just a quick post to announce a few small improvements to the "Free Boondocking/Resources" page in my menu above.  It originally only contained info on locations that we have used personally and could vouch for. It still is based on that concept, but now also includes places we have found free dump stations, potable water, spots to legally deposit trash, and good sources to fill the LP tank as needed.  We will also list any free shower facilities we see and WiFi Hotspots. Other than the showers and WiFi, if it is listed, we have used them and found them decent. Taj's shower is excellent and we have Verizon 3G so those the showers and WiFi are just by observation.

The pic above really has no particular relevance to this post, but I like it :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Perspective on AC...

Right now as we are in Florida, I have learned that I really hate AC... I am sure that makes no sense to most folks, but then, I don't really think like most people anyway :)  Seriously though, before we arrived here, I was completely set on pulling the air conditioner out of Taj and using that space for something else. Now I am even more certain of it thanks to my friend Captain, who can be a bit of a drama queen and said some things that, after some thought, only firmed up my position on the AC dilemma. 

My original thoughts behind getting rid of the air conditioner were based on a couple basic concepts. First and most importantly, Heidi and I don't want to be in a location that requires it. That is why we love that our home has wheels! We can drive away from such places!

Then of course there is the need for more power to run it. Battery banks and inverters just don't work well for AC. Taj is pretty small at 17' and hauling even a small generator that would only exist to support an air conditioner just doesn't work for us.

We could plug in to shore power of course, but that isn't the way we like to live either. We prefer to be out away from cords if we can.  Pulling the AC out of Taj would also give us more storage space for other things we would use more. So really, it seemed like a pretty easy decision.

Then came Florida...

Now, the muggy heat has us hiding inside with AC being the only thing to make life tolerable. Yep, it's coming out for sure now! I refuse to be trapped inside a van, unable to leave and enjoy the outdoors without dropping from heat stroke! Back to my drama queen friend's logic(Captain). This is a direct quote.

"You seem imprisoned by your closed mindset, you have to be ready to go where the mission takes you." 

It is in pink since I think it suits him :)  So let me consider his argument for a minute. He thinks I will be less "imprisoned" by sitting inside a van, unable to leave? I don't consider that an option...

Heidi and I can be quite comfortable in some pretty hot climates with just our fan and good venting. This is the first time we have ever truly needed the AC. From now on, we will time things better or just enjoy one of the many other beautiful parts of our country that isn't bent on cooking us!

Ruby Beach, on the Washington Coast, is the perfect example of a nice, cool beautiful spot!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Coffee Solution!

Anyone that knows me well, would expect I am referring to something like the above as the solution to fill our coffee needs, but not this time. I think that little machine is pretty sexy, no doubt, but the solution to which I am referring, is far less complicated and provides an amazing cup of jo with minimal effort.

A little history is in order before I go on. Heidi and I could argue that coffee, for us, is a medical necessity. Like many, our mornings pre-coffee are scary at best, filled with lots of confusion and mumbling. I am pretty much incapable of speech without my fix, uttering only grunts while pointing to Conrad, (my coffee mug). 

We have tried many methods to satisfy our need while on the road. The French Press, while nice, was a hassle to clean up and store. It also had a few parts that wore out and needed replacements that were not easy to locate. 

We tried using the old campfire style perkolator on the cooktop. Same issue, a pain to clean up after, 

We also attempted using the coffee singles (like tea bags) but never found any that we cared for. 

A drip style coffee maker just uses more electric and has the same cleanup issues as well as requiring more space to store so that never made the list.

One solution that worked out well, was to stop by one of the many convenience stores and fill a thermos or two with coffee for the afternoon and next morning. Still a reasonable method, but a little more money and sometimes the coffee just isn't that good. 

The final answer came by way of my brilliant 
mother :) After being pleased with her experience, Mom recommended we try Taster's Choice Gourmet Roast. This is instant coffee that is amazing!

What we have found works really well is to fill our Thermos with hot water the night before so there is no delay in that first morning cup! Throughout the rest of the day, great coffee is easily had by either  microwave or stove-top and there are no grounds to throw out and clean up after. It truly is an excellent solution for the Vantramp! 

We have never been fans of instant coffee until now.  Pretty sure this is love!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Meeting up with fellow vantramps/travelers along the way.

Heidi and I have always enjoyed meeting up with other travelers along the way! Some have been chance meetings with like-minded folks, but most have been with friends we know from our involvement in various groups, blogs, and forums online.  

The cute little rig above was our friend in Port Angeles, Gary's last live in. He has now upsized to a full sized Chevy Van, but we were so impressed with "Baby" and his talents for making such a small place comfortable.  "Small space", perspectives are a funny thing :) 

I mentioned Gary first since he had a home base in the same town as my Dad's place is located. The picture above was taken at Freshwater Bay a mile from Dad's driveway. We really miss that area! Before and after Gary, we had/have met many of our online friends on the road or at a gathering here and there. I can't recommend this type of meetup enough! There is always something to learn, always great memories to share, and always wonderful friendships made.  

Many of our online friends are still in planning stages as well. One such friend, and quite a character, is known as Cap, or Captain Van Dweller to be specific. We are on our last day of a visit with him at his place in here in Kentucky and have had a wonderful time getting to know him better! He is a bit camera shy however so trying to post a picture of him here is a futile effort at best! 

It is always interesting to see how a person is in real life that you have only conversed with online. We have been surprised to find that over and over, people are very similar to how we guessed they would be.  Even the super secretive ones like Cap, who does of course have a real name but prefers his privacy and we respect that.

Be careful of course, take any precautions that make sense, but if you get the chance to share a campfire or meal with a fellow traveler, go for it! You may find another life long friend!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Taj's New Curtains

Taj originally had a lovely pink and purple flowered patterned curtain set. While I am sure there are lots of RT folks who love their's, we weren't exactly fond of them... They also didn't really fit with the mods we had in mind at the time.  This project is one that we completed quite a while ago while still in Washington. The Fabric is a microsuede from JoAnnes fabrics that we had backed with an off white lining. They completely block the light from either escaping or entering.

The glide tape was ordered from Camping World online and the velcro and snaps were bought locally. We are really happy with the way the curtains came out and have to say a big "Thank You" to Joyce who did an incredible job sewing them up.

The total cost for anyone interested in tackling this job themselves, was about $175. All of the material was bought at 50% off on sales at JoAnnes. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The adventures of the masked hippie!


Just when you thought there was no one who would take a stand and ride those great green Sinclair dinosaurs...

Enter the masked hippie!!! 

(I don't recommend this as a way to achieve "stealth" if that is one of your concerns)

Who was that masked hippie anyway?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vantramp get-togther with Kris (bittermoon)

Late one dark and stormy night, as the thunder crashed and the lightning lit up the night sky while...Never mind, it was early and the weather was perfect...I was going for dramatic effect there.  

While traveling from Minnesota to the St Charles area in Missouri, Heidi and I had the great fortune to meet up with our great Vantramp friend, Kris.

Like Heidi and I, Kris managed to duck out of the picture above, leaving only her new vanhome, "Glorie B", in the shot.  Glorie B is a 94 Roadtrek 190 and in excellent shape. Kris did very well with her shopping! 

We spent the evening talking and having a great time, learning about each other, comparing vanhomes, and really just enjoying a very relaxed visit. Kris is really an amazingly sweet person! She dropped everything she had planned for the day and drove all the way from Omaha Nebraska to meet up with us in Mt Pleasant Iowa. It really meant a lot to us! We are now missing her already! We can't wait to meet with her again, maybe in the Southwest for a much longer visit!

I haven't mentioned it on the blog in the past, but Heidi and I travel with 4 very interesting sock monkeys. They are sort of a Vantramp mascot and have many other stuffed simian friends out there on the road in other vanhomes. I am bringing it up now as it seems Kris also travels with a sock monkey and let us help her name the tiny little guy!

Meet Herman Darius! He is seen here sitting on Tiberius's lap who is sitting on his big brother, Bocephus's, lap.  Tiberius is quite happy that he is no longer the smallest monkey we know!

Kris is really quite an artist! She has created many beautiful pieces of jewelry that she has blogged about here: Bittermoon Designs  I know that she plans a new blog for her travels in her vanhome. I will update this blog post with that address when she starts it up :) 

 I had trouble getting a decent picture of the above bead/pendant she left us with, but I wanted to show it anyway. It is truly very beautiful in person! We really need a better camera! 

We have been implementing one of our other VanTramp friends, Charlene's, idea to exchange beads with fellow Vantramps/Vandwellers. It is a great idea and one that we encourage others to do as well. It is a great way to be reminded of those meetups and the fun that was shared!

Thanks again Kris! We wish you many happy, safe miles and can't wait to see you again!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Great new resource...Vansteaders!

MMMMM fresh veggies! Okay, some of them anyway are quite wonderful! My sweet and very talented wife now has another blog of her own that is focused on how Vantramps and Vandwellers(okay, anyone mobile really) can also enjoy the benefits of having a homestead/farm without giving up their mobility and the freedoms that go with it.  She cleverly coined the term Vansteaders to describe her blog and the ideas behind it.

Now, this may seem like yet more shameless promotion on my part, (not that I ever would do such a thing LOL!) but it isn't. This new vansteaders blog is entirely Heidi's doing and all from her creative mind. She will still be just as much part of our blog here as always. Even if you are like me and don't think chickens really belong in a van, go check her site out, I believe you will find plenty of useful information to take in :)

This BTW, is Taj's worst nightmare!