Saturday, February 19, 2011

Missed Mod, LED Dash Illumination

Wow that is a horrible picture! Sorry about that :( It really doesn't give a very good idea at how well this mod worked out. In reality, that eerie glow doesn't show up to the human eye. The numbers and letters are illuminated perfectly with a bright but very pleasant blue color and the overall appearance is much improved IMHO.

I titled this as a "missed mod" because it was actually done last year but the lousy picture made me hesitant to post it. I thought I could get a better one with a higher quality camera, now I know better, I need a better photographer! Good thing I don't have to make a living on my mad camera skillz.... 

The bulbs were purchased from Super Bright LEDs. There are several options to replace the original #194 bulbs (shown on the right above), on the left, you can see the 4 LED version I opted for. I ordered 12, all blue which was enough to replace all the original bulbs. If I had to do it over, I would have ordered a few green and red to match the turn signal arrows and various warning lamps. Now it is all very blue!

This was the start of an ongoing project to replace all of the lighting (wherever possible) with LED's both in and outside of Taj.  The more entertaining part will be the custom fixtures for the main living area. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Canadian Invasion! :)

Heidi, myself, and VanDad had the pleasure of finally meeting and visiting with Sandy, who is a part-time Vandweller from Canada and an all around great guy! He stopped by on his way back home from the Quartzsite Az get-together.
This first-time meeting was actually supposed to take place on last year's return trip but a pretty serious rear end collision prevented it. Luckily, Sandy was okay and, with a bit of work, was able to rebuild the van above back to road worthy status.  

I always enjoy seeing how others go about setting up their vans for mobile living. Sandy is a great craftsman and very resourceful. His van is an excellent example of using doner rigs to provide reasonably priced parts for the build. Even the high top was sourced from a parts van, reconditioned and then installed. It was all very well done!

Last night was particularly enjoyable as our great friend, and fellow VanTramp, Gary stopped by for a few hours as well. It is always a great time with Gary around!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Comfort through Confidence!

Heidi and I have always considered comfort in this lifestyle to be high on our priority list.  We feel that living a more simple life in a smaller space doesn't mean we have to sacrifice quality of life.  Comfort, however, does not only come from suitable or even plush accommodations, rather there are many sources.

A discussion about drivers/vehicle licenses prompted this topic. My viewpoint in that discussion being that having all related licenses and insurance tied to the same state and preferably the same address, would mean less explanation in the event of a traffic stop. Having your bases covered in these areas and others, makes it easier to relax while driving, offering a bit more peace of mind in my experience. Anything that causes uneasy feelings or prevents relaxation, interferes with comfort to some degree. Vehicle maintenance can really influence confidence!

Knowing that you are okay on finances, food, fuel, water etc, also increases confidence and in that, comfort. Now the scenarios that come to my mind are those times when things go unexpectedly wrong. What then? How do you increase your confidence when times can be so uncertain? Easy answer, by being better prepared for those times.

Our blogger friend, Sonja at, recently made a very detailed post on "bug-out-bags and survival kits" that is well worth reading. Lets face it, things happen otherwise band-aids and fire-extinguishers would be unnecessary. A mechanical problem while remote boondocking could easily put any of us in a survival situation. There are endless scenarios of how it could happen and why being prepared is wise.

To go a step further even, what if you find yourself alone with only the clothes on your back? While it is even more unlikely, it is still possible. In that case, knowledge of very primitive skills would improve your circumstances and perhaps even save your life. By primitive skills, I am referring to the ability to make cordage from plant fiber or bark, make a cutting edge from broken stone, start a fire, find water and ensure it is safe to drink, identify food that can be gathered or hunted/caught, construct a protective shelter, navigate to safety, and signal for help.

Everyone of course has to determine the things that will give them peace of mind as they continue the journey. If you haven't put much thought into it, I encourage you to. As with everything else, I believe finding the right balance is key.