Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Setting a New Course, Mateys!

Camped near the Bonneville Salt Flats to watch some land speed record attempts. They were there for a week, I stayed for about 2 and a half months, to see other events too.

Camped near the Bonneville Salt Flats to watch some land speed record attempts. They were there for a week, I stayed for about two and a half months, to see other events too. This was last year, and this is what the Defiant does best.

When it comes to RVs, or living mobile, I think one of the reasons that I harp so insistently on figuring out what you want to be doing in what kinds of places ahead of time is because that level of self-awareness is not all that easy when the span of those activities or kinds of places begin to go Jekyll/Hyde on you. RV rigs each come with inherent things that they do well, and things that they don’t. Thanks to the Internet, such limitations can be perceived ahead of time – mostly, anyway. My time to mull things over and reflect was very limited, as was my camping experience. But, I knew I’d rather be living out there than renting a room someplace. It’s kinda like life, I suppose. You do the best you can with what you’ve got, and start doing course corrections when you find that it’s necessary. Having gotten some full-timing experience under my belt since 2012, it appears to be that time now.

As a vehicle to actually live in, with no home or secret rented storage space(s) somewhere to keep overflow in, the travel trailer USS Defiant did and still does work very well. At 26 feet, it just plain works wherever it is, in any weather short of temperature extremes or very high winds. It is a home which can be moved from place to place, which is what I had envisioned. I enjoy getting out to quiet, solitary areas, but have no particular interest in having to battle flies and bees while I’m attempting to cook every meal, having my meal choices depend on what the weather is like, huddling bored inside a cold, dark box or tarp to escape bad weather, moving because of biting gnats, or cleansing my digestive system behind a bush, day or night. “Camping” or “outdoor living” is refreshing for me – for a day or two.

As a permanent lifestyle, that’s not for me. I’m just not an outdoorsy person. I like going outside when it’s nice, just to be outside for awhile. Go see things, feel the sun’s warmth on a cool day, bike around, walk around. I like staying inside when it’s not nice, or when I’ve had enough of the sun, wind, cold or heat, or when I have something to get done. When push comes to shove, I’d rather live inside and have that be more amenable than outside, rather than living outside because the inside is comparatively unpleasant. For me, the escape hatch leads inside, rather than outside. A lot of folks seem to be oriented the other way ’round, loving to be outdoors all day and coming in only to sleep. I think that’s a neat thing, adventurous, but it’s just not me.

I count myself as most fortunate in having the freedom to make choices. We tend to think of “RVers” as the folks touring in copper-colored luxury motorhomes as big as Greyhound buses, big travel trailers and fifth-wheels with roomy slide-outs, and those nice smaller motorhomes that look like badly-overloaded vans with glandular problems. As far as I can tell, that’s the main bulk of RVers. Whether they are out for a couple of weeks or many months of the year, their RV is an add-on to their permanent home somewhere. They are in the midst of what is marketed as “The RV Lifestyle”.

At the other end of the RV spectrum can be found a sizable number of people who, if they were not fortunate enough to possess an RV, would be considered homeless. When I say “RV”, I’m including all vehicles that people live in, whether mass produced or improvised – except passenger cars. This is a sizable segment mainly because of financial issues that make conventional living impossibly unaffordable. Chronic health problems, medical bills, bankruptcy, bureaucratic failings or chicanery within the insurance industry, the business shift from career jobs to minimum wage part-time jobs having no benefits, failing health due to age, age discrimination and any other form of artificial unemployability such as trying to return to the market after raising children, or any other income-reducing scenario of which there is no shortage these days. This may not be the most accurate description, but it’s what I’m perceiving so far for those people who have fallen through the cracks of the American Dream. Get sick enough to lose your job and insurance, and you’d be surprised how quickly the whole thing can fold up.

Shunned as undesirables by the the RV Lifestyle crowd both in the wild and in commercial campgrounds, it is also an extension of the Grapes of Wrath story in an increasing number of real towns, where becoming homeless for any reason or circumstance can effectively rate as a chargeable criminal offense, such as falling asleep in your car. Instead of you getting beat up by the marauding locals, your vehicle can be towed and impounded with stiff per-day charges. The bulk of this spectrum of RVers are so limited in income (like Social Security or Disability) that no other lifestyle choices exist. In many cases but certainly not all, they are one transmission rebuild away from living on the street. Once on foot, you are liable for loitering and vagrancy charges. For this reason, those who are not location-dependent for income avoid urban areas and move with the seasons to avoid freezing or baking. In the middle of nowhere, the hassle factor is much lower.

It is not eliminated, however. I have thrice observed “not welcome here” behavior from RVers themselves when a rig very unlike their own showed up. Two involved small home-converted rigs arriving on public land already populated by manufactured big boys. It wasn’t three minutes before the newcomer was greeted and asked about whether he had the required state permit, something that I’ve never seen or heard about being checked or enforced, ever. In the other instance, a neighbor in an LTVA area didn’t like the looks of a van and small travel trailer about 200+ yards away, and wasted no time in phoning in the local camp host to see if it could be made to move on technical grounds. The third was yours truly being asked by one of a group of clustered vanners to move a half mile or more away. They were behind a hill, hoping for lazy Ranger time limit enforcement, and felt that the Defiant, shallower in on that same trail branch, would potentially lure the Ranger into view. No way to hide the Defiant! I had not unhitched yet, so I moved.

Mind you, there is no shortage of people, young and old, who choose and prefer to be wandering panhandlers, beggars or grifters, though they are a rarity in RVs. Some RVers are of course aging hippies, old-school hipsters, nonconformists, or people who have problems with authority. RVs containing more current “creatives” are no surprise – such as artists, musicians, writers, and the like. To me, that makes plenty of sense. Similarly, some forms of construction pros go from job site to job site, traveling with family. What is surprising, however, is that in regard to the general spectrum of older low-income RVers, the overwhelming number have come from both the blue and white collar solid middle class. They never expected or planned to be here, but corporations, Wall Street, and the financial industry are what they are, so they are literally making the best of their situations and enjoying what they can of it. More surprisingly, there are young RVers who live on the road by full choice, preferring to enjoy each day of a life with no guarantees, rather than plugging away at a conventional life with the hopes of eventual old-age retirement as the reward. It’s not incessant fun and games, but the goal is to make each day the reward. Some are full-time, while others have home bases, and they commonly work at website or database maintenance, or wildlife/nature photography for submission to publications. You can probably name more.

Why I bother to mention all this is that RVing is subject to the same laws of human behavior that all lifestyles are. That is, we tend to validate whatever choices we make, even when it is not particularly justified. That is actually a good thing in my book, because it motivates us to look for the good and discount the bad – something that helps throughout life. As was pointed out to me once by an astute camper, sometimes there is a choice of one, and when an upgrade in accommodations is simply not possible, it pays to develop some appreciation for what you do have and can afford. Doing so will bring much more contentment in the long run. Thus you will find blogs touting the virtues of living close to Nature, or perhaps of learning to enjoy the simple pleasures of everyday tasks. Other blogs may ramp this up to learning and recording the positive emotional and physical benefits (along with the challenges) of simplicity or minimalism. Still others will build one specific approach to RVing as a quasi-religion, assigning the values of good and evil to conformance or deviation from it. That latter one tends to tout nonconformity as the required norm, where failing to conform to a specific new standard of nonconformity represents an epic moral failing. There is humor in that.

For all of my talk on this blog, I’m simply a lifelong suburbanite determined to explore the vagaries of a way of living that is supremely different than the one I’m used to. Like everyone else, I look for the various positive aspects and talk them up. I think it’s called “self-validation”. Having a long history of avoiding the unfamiliar and minimizing personal risk, it’s a bit of a jump to try to get the hang of living in a manner which is entirely foreign to me. In its own quiet way, it’s exciting! On the plus side, experience has shown me that there are no truly safe choices when it comes to big decisions, but merely conventional or popular decisions that may not always work out as assumed. Fortunately, many bloggers and even readers of this blog are way, way ahead of me in taking on change as a positive thing, which makes adapting to living outside of my own norm much more easily approached. It’s a big world out there, where one size does not always fit all.

And speaking of not always fitting, once I got the Defiant out on the asphalt, I began to notice things. As time went on, I noticed some things more and others less. I began to find out that, once in this new environment, I began to develop preferences about it. They were preferences that I had not been aware of, because I had not been exposed to some choices and options before. The lesson for me was that you can only do so much with book learnin’. It takes you far, but only so far. Sometimes you just have to jump in and flail. I think this is why most RVers will go through several rigs and permutations of rigs until they find the one that really does it for them. (The other reason is that needs change with time and health.) I had set my mind that the Defiant would have to be it, because well, like a lot of other folks, I’m not exactly being hounded by financial counselors. These things cost money!

The things I noticed were not related to some livability issue. The Defiant is equipped to boondock indefinitely, depending upon its tow vehicle to resupply it every two or three weeks with fresh water, and removing its tank waste to a dump station. Apart from occasionally going for propane refills or groceries in the tow vehicle (or on the e-bike and its trailer), the only thing that can force decamping is reaching the policy stay limit set for any given area, reaching uncomfortable seasonal temperatures, or a device or appliance breakdown that cannot be addressed in the field.

Me being me, I of course noticed that noisy campsites were not relaxing for me, nor were campsites with a high sociability factor. I’ll explain that by saying that a few campsites thrive with people who love to get out there and mix, meet and make new friends, and spend time enjoying each other’s company. I think that’s fabulous. However, I’m hardwired in such a way that social interaction is highly stressful for me, because that brain space normally assigned to the ability to correctly pick up on and interpret the most basic physical and verbal social queues is actually occupied instead by the ability to stare off into space and think about things that are not relevant to much of anything. The space that is normally dedicated to coherent speech and thinking on one’s feet houses grainy videotapes of the old TV show Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Think of being thrown into a house party in rural 18th century Japan, where you’ve suddenly appeared just as insults seem to be thrown, and people are taking sides. Further, they also seem to take silence as some kind of insult, your mouth is full of marbles, and you do not speak a word of Japanese. Aw-w-w-kward…

How this applies to the Defiant is that its long rear overhang and miserable ground clearance work against getting me clear of both of these types of campsites, where noise and social interaction seem to be more vital to existence than scenery. I’ve had to forgo more campsites that range from stunning vista to cozy little hidey-holes than I can shake a stick at. It hurts to pass them by. It’s like a pang of regret. “Ohhh, look at that one!” I’ve used the Mighty Furd’s four-wheel drive to scramble up some moderately nasty, rocky climbs, only to discover a small but flat plateau overlooking miles of cacti and distant mountains, or semi-forested, silent solitude. I wanted to stay there. Talk about getting back to nature! These are places hardly anyone sees, let alone stays in. My very first year out, I explored a high-clearance trail in the KOFA preserve south of Quartzsite, Arizona, to find a magnificent raised flat, snuggled into the very base of a steep mountain. It was late in the day, and the thought of returning to the sandy acres of RVs in the LTVA was not real appealing to me.

The Ford F-250 is certainly no narrow, short-wheelbase Jeep, but it can take on some fairly unfriendly conditions, and with a load. Having been a car buff and a product designer, I still get a kinky thrill from watching motive machinery do what it’s designed to do, and sometimes what it isn’t designed to do. (Ever watched a riding lawnmower race?) Idling the Ford pickup over challenging ground is to me like watching the battle of the compromises made in its design to accomplish radically different and sometimes opposing tasks. Carry a very heavy load! Don’t sag or flex! Huge dip here! Stay flexible or we’ll lift a wheel and lose traction! The same virtues that keep it rock-solid on the road also slam your head against the side glass when idling over slightly uneven rocks. Like a conflicted child who can multitask, the F-250 4×4 and its kin are built to do it all, which is not the same as doing it all well. That’s not possible this side of affordable, so you are forced to begin leaning this way and that on compromises, with your customers’ most frequent and most important tasks in mind.

And speaking of conflicted, another basic issue that reared up with the Defiant has been its steering similarly to the Queen Mary. Last year was particularly disappointing during the voyage from the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah to Parker, Arizona. A couple of times, I saw turnoff signs for new-to-me things that sounded worth stopping and checking out. In the quarter mile it takes to slow to sub-warp speed, I was always the equivalent of a day late and a dollar short. State highways out west are lonely and featureless stretches of two lane. There is little more than a shoulder half a lane wide at best, and the nearest place to turn around that will handle the Defiant always proves to be 5-10 miles further on. Executive decision: pass. Part of the problem is that even those few tourist-oriented places I know about ahead of time can only accommodate cars and up to Class B & C motorhomes, the van-based ones. Cracker Barrel Restaurants often have dedicated diagonal slots that can accommodate the big 40-foot buses and motorhomes. With the Evelo perched tidily in front in its carrier, my entire rig is now 55 feet long. That’s enough to chop off aisle and drives. A full-size Class A also has a tighter turning circle than I do. I won’t even mention my attempt to trace a length of Historic Route 66. It was scary. Or what it’s like to maneuver it through downtown Columbus, Ohio or Denver, Colorado. Animal tranquilizers would possibly help.

Part of that executive decision is based on schedule, too. With the Defiant, rare is the chance to be able to just luck into a boondocking site on a whim. All overnights need to be planned ahead of time, with each stopping point scoped out on Google Maps, along with finding any comments about slope or noise. Serendipity is a concept never actually seen. If a stop seems questionable in any way, having a Plan B alternate is advisable. Sometimes, stops or campgrounds are full, at least to the degree that the spots that can accommodate the Defiant are already taken. Any surprise attraction, however genuinely interesting, can play havoc with The Schedule. If you’re used to camping on a whimsey (which is a wonderful thing), it can be difficult to get how it is that the Defiant could not do the same thing. In practice, having tried it now and then, that is an inappropriate approach. The result is generally fatigue, a long day into sunset, lots of extra miles at 10 MPG, some time wasted trying to jam 5 pounds into a 3-pound bag, and an interrupted, rotten night’s sleep. Stick to route, stick to schedule.

In being so good at staying planted, the Defiant makes for an awkward sightseeing device. Some national parks and monuments lack the space to park it. While on the road, it depends solely on its small coach batteries, the massive side-mounted solar array and battery pack not being practical or safe to deploy. One overnight can be accomplished, or two at best. Then the next prearranged leg of the trip needs to be begun to recharge the coach batteries. For a tour of more than five days or so, a workable dump station needs to have been located – the main frame is already bent from a previous owner traveling with full waste tanks.

That’s the core issue of the Defiant, and what made me begin to have second thoughts about me proud beauty. It’s a fairly big boulevard trailer, modified and with enough added systems to keep her stationary and in service for a very long time. But that’s all it’s really good at. To improve but not eliminate its core issues, it needs a new weight distributing hitch, new taller straight axles with new leaf springs and more responsive brakes, welded on structure underneath to brace up the frame, a replacement door to get rid of the sagging original, added bracing in the frame area underneath the doorway, and a practical solution to an amazingly persistent roof leak. Kept as a boondocking device, it needs its water pump to have its own independent circuit from the coach batteries, a heavier-gauge wire run to its sole interior 12V outlet, and a true big-ass RV dump valve grafted onto the Tankmin water/waste tank system. The front office battery pack adds too much weight to the hitch, and must be moved rearward and rewired into the living area. Not much can be done about moving my library of books and references rearward to take more hitch weight off. Throwing all of this at a well-used 1994 TT should give pause for thought. It did for me. That, and the thing about it still not being able to go where I found myself wanting to go – badly.

Mind you, all of the above applies to the Defiant, not newer TTs, which range from good to impressive ground clearance, lesser tongue weights, good manners, larger water and waste tanks, more robust wiring, and so on. If you’re reading into this post that my complains are generic to all travel trailers, it’s because you don’t like them yourself. I do. A dislike is okay, but to base it on a two decades old, hard-used example is erroneous. They can pose problems in maneuvering, and can suck more gas than a smaller rig, but they generally work pretty well.

Once you strip off the boondocking add-ons, the Defiant is still at its core what it was originally designed to be: a full-hookup pavement camper intended for weekend visits while it sits in a seasonal slot of a commercial campground close to home. It can travel for extended weekend vacations somewhere, if you bring along some water jugs to refill its 20-gallon tank. Use water like at home, and one person can burn through 20 gallons in three days.

Whether from age deterioration, design limitations or loading, the Defiant is not particularly happy on the road, going places. It’s even less so on trails, where it’s easy to box in with raised shoulders resulting from grader maintenance, or ruts made by water erosion. Structurally, neither its past owners nor weather have been kind to it. Though the Defiant is no entity that you can lay your hands on to see what’s going on inside, kind of like The Horse Whisperer, I can take in its original design intent and my mods to it, its physical condition and, as a result, gauge its most probable physical future. What is it the very best at, and under what conditions? What would slow down its Midwest-inspired deterioration, or at least help make it not matter? Is it worth it?

I’ve done quite a bit of research and soul-searching this year, as I decided to find out whether the Defiant needs to be replaced with a smaller, higher, lighter version, or supplemented with something else, or what. Or, just keep going with it, and accept that being more of a tourist and camping in breathtaking solitude is just something that I will have to live without. There are rather strict financial limitations as to what I can do, anyway. Many of the obvious “best” or “easiest” answers are not possible.

What I’ve done is to break this process into several stages:

  • First, what does the Defiant “want”?
  • Second, what type of rig fully accomplishes everything that the Defiant cannot?
  • Third, is there a rig (an affordable rig) which does it all and, if not, what approach is presenting itself?
  • Does the possible solution appear realistic?

I won’t post separately on each of these, but merely break the string of decisions in half and omit a huge amount of tedious exploration and detail work. You’re welcome. End game on this one: the Defiant does too good a job at providing a true living space to get rid of. I like spending months in it at a time. But, I do want to play the tourista, explore, trace parts of old Route 66 and US 30 (the Lincoln Highway), be able to camp in an improvised way, make unplanned stops, and camp in those areas that draw me. When push comes to shove, how badly do I want these things? I’m cheap, and my resources are pretty limited. I ain’t getting’ any younger, and even the basics of what the future might evolve into become too much of a guessing game. What is “safe”? What is most important? What is most needed? And how is the welfare of others (whom I care about) potentially affected by my decisions? How comfortable (or desperate) am I to sacrifice one thing to get another? On my own, I tend to play multiple strings of “what if” scenarios in order to come to the most adult-like, mature and reasonable decision, at least partially addressing as many possible results as can be managed. That’s wearing, and rarely seems to anticipate how things actually wind out. I think it has something to do with being human. “If I had known then…” I have long since come to think that I’d prefer to retain the inability to anticipate everything, and leave out that wear-and-tear part of trying to think through all possibilities. Jesus said something like, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for today has enough problems of its own.” That’s pretty good advice. It’s not a call to be thoughtless or careless, but does seem to wave off playing “what if” to exhaustion, don’t you think?

So decision one, simplified, was to let the Defiant revert to doing what it does best, and put it in an environment where it can do that for the longest possible time. The physical location may change as new things come to light, but its environmental needs for a longer service life don’t change. As such, it will need to bask in the glow of a relatively rainless and low humidity location where hard freezing temperatures are very unlikely. As much as possible, it will not need to be moved again. I will be supplementing it with its functional antimatter opposite.  That will in turn physically require the Defiant to give up its long-term boondocking capabilities, most notably the rather handy Tankmin water/waste system. Solar power, with hefting its heavy panels overhead, will also thankfully go away. That’s an age thing, since I won’t be able to wave those panels around forever.

The Defiant will be semi-permanently planted in Wellton, Arizona, which is about 20 miles east of the Foothills section of Greater Metropolitan Yuma. Like most of Arizona, Yuma is kind of a scruffy, sprawling, improvised town, but it’s perfectly usable for my purposes. There’s a commercial park there offering unusually wide spaces, and at rates which I can afford for the foreseeable future. After the foreseeable runs out, I’ll deal with things as they come. Thus I will be there from November through early March, leaving the Defiant there to take off and tour in its alternate-reality opposite for the next 7 or so months. Then I’ll return the next November to discover what has melted or been destroyed in Yuma’s brutal summer heat. Sound like fun? You bet.

So, just for completeness, all four of my beloved 18V-nominal residential 195-watt solar panels will be looking for local homes there. FYI, these require an MPPT controller to deal with them, as only that type can convert the higher voltage into additional charging amps. Just so you electro-heads are not confused, nominal ratings are not the same as the maximum voltages that panels actually produce. A 12V RV panel will often charge at 18 volts, and under no load can pop up to 22V or so. These 18V Evergreens can range up to 33 volts no load, which can make short work of your common PWM charge controller if it is not sophisticated enough to protect itself and shut down. Just saying.

The not-quite-as-beloved Tankmin will reside either in someone else’s truck bed, or in a local landfill if a victim cannot be found. The latter would be a shame, since the Tankmin is the best road-going solution I’ve found to greatly expanding water and waste capacity by 70 gallons each. The usual conversion of round 55-gallon drums is great for local service, but plays havoc with safety, weight distribution and handling during cross-country travel. Small so-called blueboy towable tanks aren’t travel-oriented either. The landfill approach is especially a shame because the Tankmin’s one weakness has finally been addressed but not yet implemented. That’s occasional clogging of its upsized drain hose, which requires a skillful rodding out at the dump station. This can provide some excitement when the hose finally clears. Early in the year I managed to locate and acquire an assembly of fittings to replace the offending drain parts, which includes a genu-wine 3″ remote cable-operated RV valve and slip-on 3″ hose. Despite the waste tank’s relatively small port, this new setup simply cannot fail to drain properly. The cautions: the empty Tankmin weighs 100 pounds, so it can’t be shipped. Any user also has to have a standard-width (full-size) bed with the start of the wheelwells at least 22″ back from the forward lip of the bed. Said user also has to be willing to drill four bolt holes in his bed to secure it, as well as use a common wood hole saw to drill something like a 3″ hole for the waste drain assembly to pass through. It can be smaller, but the location accuracy becomes all the more important. I found drilling these holes in a pristine truck bed to produce some angst.

A 12V macerator that’s slipped onto the Defiant’s waste tank drain is used to fill the Tankmin’s waste tank, and that has to find a home too. I’ll probably post a note on the Winterhaven LTVA bulletin board for this stuff. I have no idea what the prices should/will be because I’ll be trying to find homes rather than get every last buck. They’re all the same age: 3 years. The panels started life at $225 or so, the Tankmin at about $650, and the macerator at about $225, I think. Now…well…”used” and “depreciation” are the key words. The only reason I’m including these components in this post is not to foist them off on any of you, but to avoid posting in November that I got rid of something, only to get a comment that somebody here would have wanted it and been willing to swing by to inspect and carry it off. Did you ever hear, “Well, I sure wish you had told me!!” ?

Part two, the alternate-reality remainder of the solution, has already been set in irretrievable motion earlier this week. I’ll post about that little mini-fiasco in a separate story. Since the Defiant does its one thing well, I found that I would rather take a tack that answers my perverse lust to get way the hell out there, than to settle for a single rig that addresses neither edge of the spectrum very well. Until they invent an affordable RV that offers spectacular space, comfort and convenience, along with the ability to climb like a mountain goat and maneuver in tight quarters with a small footprint, this is how I’ll roll. Just be glad that you’re not afflicted with the same perceived ying-yang needs.

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33 thoughts on “Setting a New Course, Mateys!

  1. Great post. Can’t wait to see part deux.

    • Me too, my friend! Thanks, Matt. Won’t be hide nor hair of it for a couple months! 😉 Thankfully, the post about it will be up before too awful long. I plan to move locations in a few days, and between the perpetual sorting through stuff and writing very slowly, it won’t be tomorrow, either.

  2. Wow…..pretty huge chance.

    I often find the big toyhauler a big pain and it does restrict my desire to wonder about.

    My first year as a snowbird was with a 1980 Buro…….it offered great ease and freedom for wondering.

    I have seen a handful of guys using enclosed utility trailers……..if I was a solo traveler I would go that route with solar panels and batteries on tow vehicle and trailer. Tow vehicle could do on short or quick trips and both could be tethered for larger capasity.

    I would modify the trailer so a fold up sidecover would hide a big window.

    I’d have a real comfortable couch and t.v.

    Folding tables and camp stoves would work inside or outside the trailer and tow vehicle would be my bedroom and storage.

    I’d have room for my Hobie kayak and e-bike in trailer for traveling.

    Good luck with phaseII

    • Sure gets ya thinkin’, doesn’t it? I have seen some pretty clever and appealing little converted cargo trailers. Now that I think about it, the very best in the homey sense of the word were owned by women. You can’t beat that nesting instinct. After all, what do guys know about making a place seem cozy and inviting? Seriously. A modified concession trailer was my original Plan A. (Those have big swing-out awning panels over various types of windows.) I chickened out due to the expense, and then time caved in. Part of the enjoyment of do-it-yourself RVing is mulling over how it could be made even better. Your typical manufactured TT is not very accommodating to alterations, for obvious reasons.

  3. James Brown on said:

    Good luck with it all. It’ll be interesting to hear what the travel mobile will be. I’ve burnt as many brain cells, probably, trying to figure out what the right compromise is for the next travel mobile for our needs is. We’re fifth wheelers and have decided to stay with that, although I’ve considered everything from pop ups to Class As while settling on the smallest possible fifth wheel we both agree can do what we think we have to have. We settled on a 23′ fifth wheel that weights right at half of our old rig, with less windage to boot. My old Dodge truck, 140,000 miles and still kicking, certainly deserves a break. It did fine duty hauling our rig, right at to slightly over max capacity, through 18,000 miles of towing from Florida to Alaska and all points between. I’m not getting any younger either and my finances, well, let’s just say they aren’t pretty. My tow milage has gone from an average of 10 over the trip to 13 for the short stint bringing the new rig home. I figure I can squeak 14 mpg or so, which certainly helps matters. It is amazing, and refreshing, how much nicer it is towing something at half capacity rather than at 105% of capacity.

    So it is interesting to hear of your thought processes as I’ve been going through the same the last year of so of shopping. After too long a hiatus from travel I’m hoping for an extended road trip in our lighter, simpler, cheaper, shorter, more off road capable rig this summer. I will miss the superb solar system of the old rig but I’m going with a Honda (or Yamaha) generator this time around. Much as I liked solar the Honda is simpler and can be sold separately from the rig when it’s time to change again.

    • Kind of a brain-rattler when you consider all the possibilities, isn’t it? You know James, I have seen a few of the older, smaller fifth-wheels, and they just seem to make so much sense, really using their space efficiently for their more maneuverable size. Makes the concept work, which is why I’m left guessing as to exactly why they aren’t offered any more. Maybe they just lost the cost comparison battle to TTs because of the more involved frames, so they scaled up to sizes that bumper-pull TTs just can’t do because of tongue weights getting crazy. I take it as noteworthy that although I only occasionally see early, small 5ths, the owners all love them, and I’ve only ever seen one for sale, at an RV parts and service place in Quartzsite. It seemed to be listing to one side, and the price seemed a little too good.

      Both brands of generator have superb reputations, so pick your poison and consider investing in some aircraft cable!

  4. That’s it. A Class B for me it is. Ive been debating about this for a long time but you settled it for sure!

    Camilla

    >

    • Ha! I must be quite the salesman, since I rarely even mention Class B or Class C motorhomes, Camilla! Gosh, I’m good! 😉 Whatever you get for a B, may I suggest veering away from models that have an obnoxiously long rear overhang – unless your intention is to keep your locations very tame. I’ve seen a couple that compete with the Defiant for “incapability”, and that back end can encroach another lane on a really tight turn. I think B/C motorhomes are so popular because they balance a lot of needs very nicely.

  5. I’m in an older class A. It’s my full time home.

  6. Best wishes with the next chapter of nomadic life!

    I’m settling in to the minivan. I spent a lot of time dreaming about different vehicle options — bigger van, class B, truck and travel trailer, current minivan and pop-up — and realized I’m happy with what I’m in, it runs well, the MPG is affordable, I like the stealth, I can’t honestly afford anything else, and, well, it just feels like home to me in a way no apartment I’ve ever lived in has felt. I belong to it as much as it belongs to me. Maybe some day I will change what I’m doing, but right now it’s right as it is.

    So I’ve made plans: in a few weeks I’m going down to West Virginia where a friend is going to help me build a “loft bed” for the Escape Pod. Something just about at the bottoms of the windows with enough room above to slide in at night and enough room below to clear my rather tall cooler and stash all my camping gear, clothes, hygiene stuff, food. When I moved in, I loved the hammock hang and I’m still so grateful. It got me through the last four months in comfort and style. But I don’t like what happens when it rains. I don’t like setting the hammock up in the open in Walmart parking lots. I don’t like the way the hammock is starting to tear at the door gasket of the back hatch. It’s time for a platform bed I can just slip right into.

    My friend with the tools, lumber, and construction know-how is pretty excited about the project. We’re talking about hinged hatches and all sorts of nifty. I’m pretty excited, too. It will really make the space mine at the next level. It’s both utilitarian and a symbol of how I’m embracing my new life.

    Not to “hijack” your post or anything, but I’m excited and I was feeling some connection as we are both shifting and re-ordering what we’re doing. (Though you’re operating on a much larger scale than I am.)

    Oh, and those signs you can’t slow down in time to explore? I can’t either and I’m only working with 15 feet of minivan. They really don’t give enough warning on those things! The real difference is that I can turn around and go back with almost zero hassle. 🙂

    Oh, yeah, my five-year-old friend, Maxine, showed me what I *should* be traveling in. It seems slightly (oh, so slightly) on topic here, so I have to ask if this is your next rig:

    • By golly, Maxine is close. All I will lack is the tracks, pretty much. I tend to think that if whatever you have is doing it for you, stick with it. It costs less, and you avoid trading drawbacks or problems. To me, a change is warranted if its drawbacks can’t be improved, and produce a level of dissatisfaction that kind of eats at you. I wish you all the best on that loft bed! I became aware of articles on improvised hammock setups, being pushed as the end-all, be-all cheap comfort solution. All pros and no cons, which is a red flag. But a look at the photos made me wonder just how many weeks or months these folks expected their door/window gaskets to survive the abuse. And the assumption is that everyone is camping out in the desert. I am soooo glad that you will have the opportunity to build out the inside of your minivan to use its limited space better. They can be a real challenge, but it has been done. The cleverness factor tends to be much higher than on more spacious rigs that simply pack in more gizmos. I can understand why you’d be excited, makin’ it work for you! And your friend sees it as an exercise in creativity, I’m sure, to the point where if you changed you mind, it would be a real disappointment.

  7. Halloos to everyone here, your replies to Doug are almost as educational as his post. Yep, yep, sheesh, ohhh, it’s hard to know what to get. As Doug knows, I’m shooting for 1 to 2 years before I can quit my job and hit the road permanently. Finances are petite. I think my best bet will be a short bed truck and a small (16′ max) travel trailer. Should everything go to hell I know I can survive in anything, but I’m hoping for a smidgen of comfort in my roadhome. Like, a toilet. I can live without it, but I’d really rather have it.

    BUT. I might go with a class B or C. Has to be small cuz I gotta be able to follow that dirt road to that level spot on top of the rise. I wonder, has anyone had a class B towing a SMALL cargo trailer? I have some stuff…which, again, I can live without, but would rather have it with me. Some is essential, like my looms and yarns and art stuff and dog pen and screen house and….

    On another note, I was disappointed to hear about the RVers being so god damned judgmental about how one’s rig looks, to the point where they asked people to move away from them ON PUBLIC LANDS. How dare they treat our Doug that way. Not okay, but I do realize this can happen. And now I have to confess that I have (faint) hopes of getting something at least marginally presentable so the kind folks out there won’t think I’m icky or something. Damn them and their giant shiny things.

    Doug, it warms my heart to hear tell of your feelings about socializing, I’m like that myself. Someday I hope to meet you; we can park 200 yards apart and have a coffee once in a great while. I find your thoughts on people’s economic challenges and their choices on how to live most interesting. And aging, oh lordy. (Turning 60 in a few days.)

    I was shocked to hear that full tanks could damage a trailer. So much to learn.

    Your post kept me on the edge of my seat!! Can’t wait for Part Two. I’m kinda liking your solution, never thought of it that way before. A winter base in AZ makes perfect sense, and then you can go hog-wild in the hinterlands the rest of the year. Woohoo!

    • Thank you, Dawn. I think 80% of this blog’s readers are a mix of newbies and vicarious lurkers who may find it to be an occasional reminder that “living well” means different things to different people. It surely is not easy living a “conventional life”, and I’m a bit of an escapee. I find the revelations of new RVers to be the most helpful, since once you have many years under your belt, you don’t even think to mention things that you assume everyone knows. They forget about the showstoppers and haggle over where to buy the cheapest this or that. For that reason, reader comments and questions here have added value and interest, I think. The downside is also inexperience at the same time, though I do know one vanner who tows a fair-sized cargo trailer, using it for storage and a nice little workbench. I would chuckle at your tongue-in-cheek version of essentials, but she has to be hauling 100-200 pounds of rocks, albeit really interesting ones that she shapes and polishes up. Maybe she’ll check in. I’ve seen small cars towed by Class Bs, so anything goes. Just don’t plan on backing up, if you can avoid it.

      Don’t sweat the human condition. At least the guy who asked me to move away was motivated by fear of discovery, rather than the disdain that we tend to have for those unlike or less fortunate than ourselves. It’s the way we are. It just hurts to watch, is all. With my current rig, I can stay in any commercial park I like at a daily rate, but in some I will not be allowed to pay a much lower monthly rate should I decide to stay longer. They do not want the visual stigma of old, run-down trailers jeopardizing the expectations of the type of customers they are pursuing. Campground reviews bristle with social comments that RVers living the lifestyle will downgrade parks that have “permanents” (people who live there because its all they can afford) in them. There’s a “those types of people shouldn’t be allowed in here” outlook that is sometimes as startling in its starkness as it is devoid of empathy. For example, there is no such thing as boondocking in Illinois, Section 8 housing has very long waiting lists, and I’m stumped as to where RVers think low-income citizens should reside. A large heap of RVers are veterans disabled in service, and an RV is often the most appealing living option by far. Where should they go, if it is not among us? Getting off the soapbox now…

      Dawn, I would point at you and call you really old, except that I’m a vibrant 65. Okay, not really vibrant. More tempered. Perhaps a stick in the mud most times. Okay, truth be told, I’m an old fud. If you stick labels on it, I sometimes think starting an Aspergers RV Social Club would be in order. Everyone could gather in one area, parking between 0.5 and 1.0 miles apart, begin exchanging emails, and wave happily when passing on supply trips into town.:-) Happy almost birthday, by the way!

      • Linda Sand on said:

        I like the “Aspergers RV Social Club” idea. I’d need to park much closer than that since I can’t walk 1/2 mile but I’m quiet and I promise to not come outside much. Bob Well’s group is something like that in they park a fair distance apart but he goes for a walk with his dog twice a day and you are welcome to walk with them. When I took my daughter to meet them we pulled into camp but stayed inside until Bob came out and headed our way. Eventually others wandered out and my daughter got invited to see inside some of their rigs. Made her day.

        • Good point, Linda, and perhaps that’s the beauty of it: it’s self-regulating. If you can’t hobble very far over the rough gravel, you park an eighth-mile or less from your nearest neighbor, and you’re still a good twenty minute-plus walk away – at your speed. If you can see them making faces at you, you’re too close. Only trouble with the distance standard is that if a coffee clatch were announced one day for nine AM, club members on the outskirts might have to start out by six or seven to get there on time, and I’d be constantly suggesting that everyone buy an Evelo e-bike, using my web page links of course. 😉

          I’ve been to Bob’s camps twice, visiting, and both times, someone was complaining that the rigs were parked too close together. This ARVSC thing might just take off!

      • Thanks for the b-day wishes! On “acceptable looking” RVs: Funny, now that I think of it, I may be a bit of a reverse snob in that I get depressed/cranky when I see camping spots full of huge new RVs. Weird, because I’d love to have a beautiful new rig, just not a big one. It just feels like, I don’t know, like an exclusive club full of people who are sometimes too much like each other. What ever happened to vive la difference? If we were all the same, we’d get bored pretty quick. Or at least I would. However, I do know from my year on the road that there are fine and interesting people among this group…so I mustn’t worry so.

        • Oh, I know what part of my annoyance is about: them’s rich folk, and the rich are (some of them) different from the hoi polloi. “Hoi Polloi”, now there’s a fine name for my rig!

          • Keep that name at the top of the list!

            My ex once did field work for a guy who owned land that eventually became most of a large and busy town. He became not just wealthy or rich, but filthy rich. Her assessment: “You’d never know it.” Drove around in nothing but a Chevy Malibu. Dressed presentably, but no different from your average office worker of the day. No acres of unused toys. No attitude, just a common Joe. I contrast that with people (any people) who treat wait staff like dirt. In my past line of work (vintage car photography), I’ve dealt with some pretty freakin’ wealthy folks, and they run the gamut. Open, honest and feeling blessed, to condescending, toffee-nosed cheats. Naturally, that range of traits is common to the entire financial scale, up and down. It just becomes more memorable the higher up you go, as their behavior is one indicator of how they accrued that wealth, I think.

        • Well, there is that feeling of planting yourself among a group of people who are dressed in semi-formal attire, and there you are in jeans and a T-shirt that got stained during lunch. There is something about being surrounded by folks with rigs that cost as much as a house, though how they managed to get there varies wildly. In the back of my mind flashes the thought, “Oh my, what are they going to think of me?” The reminder eventually dawns on me that I would not really fit in even if I had the hardware and unpacked the legacy clothing. As you say, I have found that this strata includes many fine and interesting people, many of whom are facing life issues just like anyone else, and perhaps are just as financially stretched as anyone else in trying to deal with it. And, not all consider surface smalltalk to be the purpose of conversation. Still, as far as personal reward goes, there is little better than finding your own individual style and living among people who have found theirs (not including those who purposely compose their appearance so as to be offensive to others in some way. That’s a statement, not a style.) It’s pretty interesting, compared to people who are careful to dress so that they will fit in, or meet the expectations of others with whom they wish to have relationships. Yet not everyone in a polo shirt and slacks is trying to fit in – it can genuinely be their personal style. When I get 10% of this kind of thing figured out, I’ll let you know. 😉

          • Doug, you better write a book on this subject quick before I steal your stuff (kidding about the theft part). I’m looking into ebook publishing on Kindle & other platforms–it seems there are real possibilities there for creating passive income. (“Passive Income,” what I great name for a rig!!!! 🙂

            If I win the lottery, I will snap up a tiny cabin on a big, quiet lot in South Lake Tahoe, my home town. A cozy home base would be the perfect addition to the nomadic lifestyle. (Note on living in Tahoe: I meet quite a lot of people who sigh wistfully and say they wish they could live here. I tell them they can. They say they could never afford it. I laugh and inform them that I’ve lived here since 1967, and my income is usually classified as being “below poverty level.”)

            But I digress. You wrote, ““Oh my, what are they going to think of me?” The reminder eventually dawns on me that I would not really fit in even if I had the hardware and unpacked the legacy clothing.” Great point, Doug.

            “…there is little better than finding your own individual style and living among people who have found theirs…” You have a way of taking a thought and drilling down through its layers to reveal such interesting nuances.

            “…those who purposely compose their appearance so as to be offensive to others in some way. That’s a statement, not a style.” Okay now, you’re making me feel weak-minded for not having figured this out on my own. The distinction you make between “style” and “statement,” in this particular context, illuminates the heart of the matter. Lots to think about here.

            So, I don’t mean to sound like an enthusiast, hahaha, god forbid. You ARE good, though. 🙂

            • Oh, I plagiarize stuff all the time Dawn. In fact, I’d probably prefer to buy your e-book first just to copy and paste the improved wording and clarity into my own. 😉 The name “Passive Income” would be nice, though I’d be tempted to use “Passive-Aggressive Income” just to make it confusing. And I’m stumped on the South Lake Tahoe thing. Does that include having to live under a tarp with a Zippo lighter part of the year? How is that possible? My only solution involves a gun and gas station, and I don’t think the resulting “free housing” would be all that enjoyable. A technical success, but not a good one.

              First thing that comes to mind for finding individual style is living in a college town, or in an art community. There’s pretense, there’s exploration, and there’s overdoing it, but it eventually settles out. If you find interesting nuances in what I write, I have to admit that it’s accidental. I’ve been a few laps around the track, but I’m just blathering on what I think I’ve observed. I feel deeply rewarded at the thought of having buffaloed someone out there somewhere! 🙂 Thanks!

  8. Reading about your “sociability” reminded me so much of my dad, and pretty much myself, too. There are a lot of people out there like us. I’m looking forward to reading about what you’ve decided.

    I’m following the same path. After 4+ years living on the road in my 24′ Class C, which I love – it’s perfect for me – I want something more settled. I’d definitely keep the motor home since I’m such a gypsy. I’d still be able to head off when I want, then return “home” for a while. But I’ve been researching for the last year – what else can I do? A park model? Some places have pretty inexpensive ones for sale. That’s a real commitment, though, and even “cheap” ones mean a cash purchase. Or purchase a used 5th wheel or trailer to place in a year round RV park that has a good annual rent? Sign up for one of the RV spots at an Escapees park on an annual basis? Then I could be settled in one spot, and come and go in the RV as I please. It’s almost like there are too many choices, but my budget is also small, so whatever I decide will impact how much $$ I have left for the month. A hard decision. Anyway, I’m excited to see what you decide. 🙂

    • Thanks, Barbara. Maybe some of us never fully get out of Kid Mode, where you spend most of the day outside, and return home only to eat and re-energize, or get bandaged back up. Maybe watch Soupy Sales on TV. Then the itch to get back out there. Explore. Home. Explore. Home.

      I checked out a few park models in Wickenburg, AZ last Spring while I was there. Mobile home was $6-7K, rent with utilities averaged $550/mo. I could do it – if I was willing to give up the expense of the drive to Illinois to see family, and boondocking, obviously. Fuel expenses of hauling the Defiant and keeping it fully functional while still paying for the space. Not ready to plant any time I can envision – I’d just like a home base of sorts for a “time out”, like you.

      The so-called seasonal RV slot is less costly, though even in year-round parks, you need to check the occupancy limits. Some have two rates to cover weekend only, or full access. I’ve looked hard at the Escapees in Texas and a couple other states. That would make a decent full-time end of the road spot if health kicked in. Might even be possible to give up driving/vehicle there. However, I have not yet found any other rates than monthly, which are okay, but take their toll on an annual basis. If you have, let me know! Like their other parks, it is a good home base – if you take your rig with you when you go. Their $25 RV storage is short-term only, so you’d need to drag it to a local storage lot if you wanted to tour in something more nimble, like your C. It becomes pricey if you want to operate out of two vehicles over the span of a year. Funny how a low budget helps simplify the options and make choices easier!

  9. Linda Sand on said:

    I can hardly wait to see what your travel mobile is going to be! This is SO exciting!

    • And to think I was going to jam it all into one spectacularly massive post! About the time I sensed that I’d have to start offering monetary rewards for people who slogged their way through it all, I stopped. I’m glad there are so many people who enjoy anticipation, you included, Linda!

  10. It is an interesting dilemma and the very one I’ve struggled with since beginning to ponder this lifestyle: spacious enough space to be comfortable, but with the versatility to roam and access hard to reach areas, be spontaneous, and nimble all at the same time.

    I’ve been looking into fulltime RV’g going on 3 years now. Starting with reading forums, then onto the endless variety of blogs by fulltimers. Then do what I do best: think about it over, and over, and over again. I’ve gone through the full range of vehicles, thinking first a full van conversion would suit me best. Then onto Class C’s, A’s, and trailers. I have a motorcycle, so that has to fit into the equation. For the longest time, I settled on a 5th wheel toyhauler, but was never really comfortable with something that size (30′ or better was the minimum for me).

    Like you, I want to be able to get away from it all, and while that seems plausible in the southwest deserts in the winter, summer boondocking seems to be a bit trickier. Which is why your post is so relevant to me. I’m currently deciding on a truck camper, and pull a 25′ or so cargo trailer. I fantasize it will provide immediate mobility while allowing me to learn and convert the front half of it into living quarters. Once completed I can stash the trailer when I want and use the camper to get away to some remote boondocking otherwise not possible with the trailer.

    Whether this option bears itself out is yet to be seen. Perhaps in 6 months, another solution will seem better.

    Been following your blog for awhile. Good reading, though it does test my 5 minute attention span. 🙂

    • It should test your attention span, Jim. These are more novels than blog posts! But it did apparently sucker you in to slogging your way through the whole thing, which is notable. It is allowed to call it quits and catch the rest later, after you’ve recovered. 😉 Thanks for commenting! Seems to me, you’re shaping a workable solution for yourself, but you already know that. You’re correct that the trailer would begin to chop into just how remote you want to get. In my case, the long-wheelbase Ford pickup is its own worst enemy in tight quarters, and a cargo trailer of any size would complicate getting turned around even more, whenever backing up is needed. If there are times that you can do without, so much the better. I’m of the opinion that the longer you can hold off from pulling the trigger on buying, the better. Those infernal revelations, new insights and discoveries do keep flopping out on you! You’ll know when you’re ready to commit to one direction, when all the great benefits of something that isn’t your current plan just doesn’t have a strong enough pull to cause you to veer off The Plan. Products do get better and gain new features too, but at some point, the research does need to stop and action be taken. It’s like that old saying, “If you hold off for the perfect time to do something, you will find that it never arrives.” I guess the trick is to find that balance point. If you do have a time period that you can’t act until, then keep digging!

  11. On living in Tahoe on the cheap: I have usually had amazing luck in finding affordable places to live. it can be very tricky, because I have certain requirements: location has to be pleasant (no crowded ugly neighborhoods); pets must be allowed (a real tough one as that cuts out most rentals); there must be enough light (no dungeons); preferably, no roommates.

    I lived with my parents until I was 17, then lived with roomies and friends here and there, with the occasional house all to myself. One of the best of these was a wonderful spacious cabin with a bedroom and a huge loft, fireplace, big lot. It was $400/month. (This was the late 70s.)

    I lived in a tiny cabin on a huge double lot for 20 years. Rent: $450 including utilities. Owned by an elderly out-of-town couple who were happy to have a renter who never made demands of any sort. When the husband died, the heirs put it on the market, and I then spent a year in an RV, mostly in California, moving around, sightseeing. (My boss let me work half time remotely, so I had a little income.)

    Had no luck finding a place when I got back, so I moved into a large home in a beautiful neighborhood (lots of unbuilt lots, forested, 3 minutes from streams and trails.) Again, $450 including utilities. Roommate was gone much of the time…but it still wore on me not to have my own space.

    Then, about 3 years ago, the house across the street sold; the new owners live out of town and rarely come to Tahoe. I rented the large studio above the garage. It’s like living in a treehouse: Windows on all four walls, balconies front and back, and it’s on a slope so the rear drop-off is about 3 stories. Bliss!! I love this place. $500 plus utilities.

    Yep, I’ve been lucky. As much as I love Tahoe, the itch to roam has become overpowering. I can stay here OR travel. As a renter, nothing is certain. What if the owners’ adult kids decide they want to live in the studio? What if they sell? I want to travel, and I want control over my living situation. For me, having a rig will be like owning my own home. I can’t wait.

    • Thanks so much for the description, Dawn. Two things are striking to me, the first being that $400 in the 70s was comparatively stiff – mine stayed between $200-$300, but then again, one was a basement apartment and the other was nice, but overlooked cornfields. The Dreamy Factor was comparatively stilted.

      The second is your last paragraph mentioning that when push comes to shove at these rates, you have the choice of either renting or traveling, which is so. My own income prevents me the privilege and honor of paying Federal income taxes, and at that level, it’s an either/or choice when it comes to residence. Some would advise staying put in nirvana, but it’s true that you can only continue to rent at the whim of the property owner and their own plans. Then something else that’s affordable may turn up, or it may not. The mobile “home of your very own” is always affordable and available, at least when you are careful about where you choose to stay, whether commercial park or boondocking (free or low-cost). Generally, planting all year in an affordable RV park is cheaper than an apartment. From there, any touring is so rig and style-dependent that costs can be all over the map.

      The seldom-mentioned caveat is that travel does eventually “use up” any powered vehicle to the point where repairs become no longer financially workable, and at these income levels and below, some diligent monthly provision must be made for future repairs, rebuilds and replacement. I long ago read Consumer Report’s findings that it is more economical to keep repairing and rebuilding a single vehicle, the only stopping point being dictated by mystery problems with the electrical harness. Today, this becomes more debatable when the complexities of computerized controls and emissions systems are factored in, but the core logic is still there.

      If income is only enough to live hand to mouth on the road, the whole lifestyle becomes much like the uncertain rental situation: due to end at some point in time. I don’t mention this to scare budding limited-income full-timers, but merely to caution that living mobile does have its own realities, same as anything else. It is so often painted as the ultimate solution to the hard challenges of low income that its few but vital limitations are never even mentioned in the crusade to gain converts. A few have found out the hard way that these omissions can be showstoppers.

      At very low income levels, it is an excellent stopgap that works very well, at least until the first or second major mechanical crisis. A higher income affords choices that allow an additional range of travel. Basically, if one drives 20,000 or more miles per year, some diligence is needed to keep kicking enough bucks into savings to cover the next inevitable mechanical crisis. Any mechanical device is just that, and is not immortal. The goal is to provision yourself to be able to handle whatever issue may eventually crop up. Given a marginal income, this often means deliberately shutting off the siren of marketing that urges us to “be good to yourself”, or “get the [whatever] that you deserve”, or splurge on frequent restaurant meals that are more expensive than what you can prepare for yourself. My own mental makeup is such that it is easier to live with these semi-Spartan limitations than it is to dread the next big repair in the shop, wondering how on earth I’m going to pay the invoice. I may or may not make it, but at least I will hopefully not be kicking myself for frittering away money on impulse buys or nonessentials. No one can anticipate everything, especially in health or mechanicals, nor can every eventuality be covered, whether poor or wealthy. I guess the core principle I’m promoting for myself is: “Enjoy each day to the fullest, but do it smart. Hard times may come and go, or come and stay, but there’s little point in naively rushing them in.”

      As for you Dawn, I think you’ll be just fine once you decide to put hardware to that travel craving! Since you’re not having to reprogram yourself away from a more luxurious lifestyle, you already have the outlook and self-discipline you need to shift to a fearless, enjoyable life on the road. I very much suspect that I will benefit by looking your way when a smart approach to a dilemma is needed, no joke!

  12. You have a 4 X 4 pickup that you say can go anywhere. Buy a used “quality” camper like a Lance and lose the “need” for the separate office space. You will revel in the ability to park in a “normal” parking place while in town, I’ve lived in a camper for 2 1/2 years (after 19 years in a 2400 sq ft house) and made the adjustment relatively pain-free. If you need, tow a 6 ft trailer although that’d cut into your mobility a lot. People ask me how I could live IN such a tiny space, I correct them and say I live OUT of my tiny space.

    • Well, it can go a lot of places, JM. On “adventure” trails that are rated Easy, Moderate, or Difficult, that long wheelbase, width, weight, and standard ground clearance relegate the Mighty Furd to Easy. But well off the beaten camping path, it’s plenty good enough. Congrats on your transition, which is impressive! I think I could stay in a truck camper for months at a time (one can make do with anything, if necessary), but nonstop for years on end, not so much. It’s just a personal limitation. I’d miss my interests and hobbies, so as long as an option exists to accomodate them, I prefer to do so. As I mention in my post, I am more at ease living IN, as you say.

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