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PONDERINGS

Now folks…….this is NOT meant to be instruction for everyone. It is only ‘MY TAKE’ and what ‘I’ve’ discovered , through the hard knocks sent my way.

So you are maybe stressed out with the ole 9-5, maybe close to retirement age, and haven’t lived as fully as you’ve wanted, or just fed up with paying ‘The man’ to live in a place, not own it, and have nothing left for working like a dog. Many reasons……we are each unique, special , and deserve to be HAPPY.

TEST THE WATERS

Some advice I wish I had taken in the beginning, is to go ahead and do some short stays in my current vehicle, whatever it may be…to test the waters. When I started out, I was just going to jump in both feet first. And I thought I needed the most perfectly outfitted mini rig possible. Boy was I way off!

If you are stressed out and want to take a stab at the freedom of the road, why not take baby steps. Anyone can sleep, even in their car at a truck stop, or any camp grounds that allows tent camping. While I was very comfy sleeping in my mini van in 24 hour shopping centers, a small car might stress me a bit there. It depends on your comfort level.

All you really need to take for an overnight, is a change of clothes and baggie of toiletries…maybe a lunch box cooler, if not eating out. A couple pillows and cozy throw….you are set for testing the waters. Be sure to research fun goings on. Don’t wait….go attend them….NOW. No need to wait for the perfect Van/RV…just Do IT!

STEP 2……
Ok so you’ve kept your job, saved and minimized, watched every utube vid on van conversions, and you are now mentally an expert at converting any kind of vehicle to your version of Rv Freedom. You have even figured out how to make a living on the road! You are READY to buy your Van or RV. So many choices…Ugh!

Hey…if you can afford a brand spank’in new 4 wheel drive, super cargo van…white for stealth of course,that is my first pick. Build it out exactly how you want. With this you’ll make mincemeat of those rutted roads…bla..bla..bla.

Oh….you’re just a sweet lil old lady and not going the rutted route, and can’t afford new….you need cheap, easy on gas, and don’t need a double bed. Ok…..you are a mini van camper….just like me! Get the best one you can afford and expect repairs. Have enough money to do any repair or replace the whole vehicle, before you start out. Boy did I learn that the hard way!

STEP 3….OUTFITTING
OMG……don’t buy anything till you absolutely can’t stand living without it! Then think on it a week, before buying. I know I wouldn’t buy a big cooler again, that guzzled ice. Shoot…..I ate bananas, nuts, fruit mostly and Mc Donalds dollar menu. In short….who wants to cook in a mini van? Ugh..not me. And boy did all that cook kitchen stuff take up a lotta room!

A good comfy sleeping space is crucial. 4-8″ of solid foam mattress is what most end up liking. I used a 6″ nice fold up chair/foam/twin bed, and it was great. Build a simple wood frame or use milk crates. I took lots of pillows covered in nice shams, so it looked good too. Like a couch or a bed.

I used plastic sterlite before, but this time it will be milk crates. But I am on a mission to do the next build almost for free. I have time, so will search out free postings for some or most of what is needed, just cause it’s a pet project. Of course…some folks use old wood furniture pieces. I’m on a milk crate binge, sooooooo!

STEP 4 …..EXPENSES
GAS and Repairs………..These will be your greatest expenses. The longer you stay in one place, the less gas costs. Repairs can eat you up. You really do have to be prepared for those.

Washing…..Cheap gym membership, baby wipes, and sponge baths at restrooms………….not hard to be clean.

FOOD…..You probably won’t be baking cookies and cakes too much, but of course you can if you want! I noticed that a lot of us have gone to one main meal a day, with healthy snacks…hmmmm. Not too expensive and now we are walking a lot more….wow…..did I just go down a size in clothes! WooHoo!

HEALTH….That is what it always was for you. Same meds….be sure to prepare if traveling.

Electronics……Not even getting into THAT can of worms. Some need iphones and satelite . Others….a trac phone and library for internet. Geeks def. need their solar panels and battery banks. I was really happy to hook up at Mc D’s for some face book time. I DO LUB MOVIES…but when on the road….not so much…hang out chatting with peeps and beach and fire pit time more. When at the home stick n bricks….MOVIES and netflix every day. For me, a portable battery pack, charged as I drive is good to run a fan on me at night to be comfy.

Loneliness…..You may think mobile life will be a bowl of cherries. It CAN get lonely out there. How do you fill up all your free time now? It really pays to research via internet and travel centers to find all these neato places to Go..See..Do…at. Honestly…a Van is an ok place to sleep and store your minimal STUFF, but to live out of like a house…not so much. Some do…more power to em. Us Minivanners…..harder to turn it into a mini house full time, with all the comforts of home. I don’t know….to each his own.

Well friends…don’t bash me too hard. If I helped one person figure some things out…..YAYYYY!

Next blog will be outlining my plans for the new camper van build out.

Minnievanjoy

Hi folks………

As you all know, I was having issues trying to live with all my earthly possessions in the mini van, as well as not enjoying the adventure all on my lonesome. Soooo…life adjustment once more….take one step backward.

I found a position being a live-in housekeeper, for a disabled Vet. I am free to travel one week a month, if I so choose. This will allow me to take only what items I need on the trips, and therefore the mini van will be much more comfortable. It’s a better way for me to start out. I can still make plans with people, and go visit my friends and family…..yet have storage space, and comfort of the stick n brick life…..complete with Tvs, rocker, and all my craft projects.

I’m having fun decorating my ‘space’ soft and romantic this time round….roses/wicker/lace. There is a nice big porch here…more of a veranda, as well as a backyard deck, so plenty of room to enjoy. The person I am helping out has No decorations, or inclination for that sort of thing, and has given me permission to decorate, as I please.  This place is very much like the mobile home rehab projects I took on , in the past. Fortunate for me, the landlord here is being wonderful to the home as well as his tenant, in repairing and replacing broken items. In fact, he is the one that found me to help out. We need more people like that in this world.

I am now located in Palm Harbor , Florida…..a smallish town located off Hwy 19, next to tarpon Springs….known for the Greek Sponge Dock Community. I am finding the small towns around here to be fun to explore, and there are a few beaches, as well as Marinas close by. Famous Pier 60 in Clearwater, is only 20-30 min. down the road. I already know the Clearwater area well from living there a year, so day trips with girl friends are fun.

I went yesterday with my pally Dove to check out downtown Dunedin, and spent my spending money for the month in two shops…buying wicker.  Will do pics of the projects, as time goes on. Yes..I know…more furniture to tie me down in one place, but I feel this will be a long term position. Hope so anyway.

I want to take this time to profusely thank my pally Linda, for letting me be a dreaded ‘Indian Giver’, and giving me back a beloved old powder blue rocker, I had given her 6 moths ago, when I moved to Melbourne….as well as a much needed pasta pot and lots of jean material to allow me to make a nice rag rug for my room. No stopping there, she informed me of a recycling swap shop I didn’t know about in Pinellas County, where one can get free paint and other things. This is a godsend, as we all know how expensive it can be to constantly be buying paint for this and that project……   I am trying to decorate here….for free, except for my labor, as it is not my home, and I can’t make a large investment money wise.

Health is good and spirits are up….though I do look forward to the next road trip…maybe in Nov.  Always up to meet travelers on my groups for little meet n greets in the surrounding areas.

Joy

When I left Dove’s house I thought I had everything set up perfect.

Sadly………….no…didn’t end up that way. It did nothing but rain for my first few days on the road, and I spent a lot of time in McD’s and Panera trying to not catch a chill and to use their wifi. I left with 6 large tubs, a cooler and a multitude of smaller bags and backpacks, as well as the metal detector.

Even though I had it all strapped together, it all slid…scrunching my little bed, and the front passenger seat ended up overflowing with bags, falling all over. It was a fine mess in short order!

By Wed. I was very frustrated, and ended up spending the day with my pally Gina. I did laundry, and we chatted about options. I decided to look for work of some sort, so I can have a little spot to call home in a stick n brick place, and not try to live in the van 24/7/365. I think it will be better that way, as it’s too hard for me to give up everything, and not enough room to store camping gear and live comfortably in it with all my clothes and so forth.

I made the trip back to Dove’s today and moved my bed to the lengthways position , instead of sideways. Then there is one row of tubs along one side. 4 tubs , a 12v cooler I discovered today, and two bags for my clothing. I stored 2 more tubs and misc other things, as well as am leaving the metal detector behind, until I find a car top carrier. I am also leaving behind the camping table, for now, as will be doing only urban living for awhile. I am also leaving my crafts tub behind for now. Maybe I’ll just keep one size crochet hook , for the road, and save the wire wrapping tools and so forth for when I am at my future stick n brick location.

On the trip home, I stopped at a store in Kissimmee and ran into a dear older lady I used to work with at Wal-Mart. That was nice. I ran across a purse, sitting on a chair, that looked full, so slightly peeked in and then promptly took it up to the desk. in a few min, a lady was looking around and I let her know the purse was up front. Her family was so thankful. I was just so glad to help.

After that, I felt rewarded for my kind gesture, by finding a 12v cooler, at a reasonable price.of $20, at a police organization thrift store. I thought I had found this great twin bed that was adjustable to any height, but it was college extra long size, and just didn’t fit. I could have stored my tubs underneath and had a twin bed instead of my flod out foam chair. The chair is comfy though. it should be even more so, since I moved it lengthwise.

I got out the new butane burner, and WOW…it works slicker than snot……I LUB IT!  I also found a vented round pan to hopefully cook my little taco shell pizzas on, and found a lid to cover the top, so the heat would be held in better. I’ll take pics later.

I’m tired, but feel like I learned some lessons and am moving forward.

 

Hi Gang!

I woke up at 4am, and headed to the Gym for my first session and a nice hot shower. Now I’ve only had to ‘rough it’ one day, so will win no badges for courage on that front….but my adventure is not about suffering…it’s about getting out there more and enjoying life, before I become worm food for my strawberry patch ..[That is where I always told my kids I wanted my ashes spread. Shoot I don’t even have a strawberry patch anymore, and No I won’t haunt anyone like I threatened , if that feat doesn’t happen. ]

BTW……I used my membership for all it was worth today. I tanned……I walked a treadmill…..I used the massage chair……and I took not one , but TWO showers. One before to wake up and after to enjoy, get clean, and pretend I was actually in a fancy spa. I went in at 4;30 and came out at 6:30, so you know I totally enjoyed myself, as the exercise part was only 20 min., before I said ‘Uncle’.

Only sporadic showers expected today, so maybe I’ll get more work done on the organization project.

I actually slept off and on last night, The little fan did a great job of keeping me cool and helping to get rid of the damp rainy feel the Van had. I discovered the van has all kinds of little lights, all you have to do is tap on them to turn them on……so no need for a fancy light set up. i misplaced my handy dandy helmet light, so used them last night when I had to fumble around for something.

A gent across the way is needing a chat partner, so will sign off for now……Laters!

Later…………….

Wow….I actually got flirted with by a nice ex marine gentleman this am. And I only worked out for 2o min……………boy…That got fast results!….Only kidding!  No date made, as I think he thought i was ‘travelin, and not staying in the neighborhood………………maybe I let him think that…I DO self sabotage myself …never learned the art of dating…..too late to care anymore.

I AM NOW BEACHSIDE………At my Sweet Spot location. I had to stop and grab lunch and just revel in the fact that I am finally here…………..at the Beach.

I WILL START TAKING SOME PICS SOON………………………..Gotta share this with everyone…so long as this place doesn’t get stampeded with people…all will be well. Maybe i better keep the exact location a secret…or else the Canadians will come down and ruin it for us.

Time to explore!

 

There is nothing like failure to get one to redirect their efforts, and Git er Done…………..

I could see things were going  to heck fast with the van being over crowded and under comforted…[is that a word…probably not]

I got a good start on de cluttering today, even though it poured rain all day.

[1] took back the big cooler and instantly created 2 x 3 ” of space……………biggie.

[2] I researched Planet Fitness and opted to go with them, as there is one 3 miles from the beach, and this one, byu my movie theater in this town.but they are all over the nation, as well. At $20 a month for the nationwide plan….reasonable for showers and Oh yeah….FITNESS!  Also will be god recreation…tanning beds, as well.  I was going to go tonight, but picked the wrong time…6 pm…will go later or wait till morning. I do want to get walking on the treadmills, and we’ll see about the rest. I bought new socks, tanks, and workout Capri to get started.  Will be sleeping in those clothes, and hitting the gym in the am’s for sure.

[3] I was so pissed at the curtains, how they hung so limp and wouldn’t stay together, that I tried cafe rods…and guess what…those strung through the clothes hanging hooks already on the van….actually work.

Still too much stuff, but couldn’t do much with all the rain. Tomorrow is another day.

I actually had a couple short naps, as I was soooo tired. I doubt I’ll have any trouble sleeping tonight……it’s 7:30 and I am zonked. Kinda jonesing on no movies, as they take too long for using the free wifi in the cafes. Once I get the van organized, and a wifi booster, I should be able to watch my netfix in the Van……should be able to even use the magic jack, once I get organized.

Note: I have straight …straight…hair, but it is all frizzy from all this rain….What’s Up with THAT?

Haven’t made kit to the beach yet, but if the rain indeed lets’s up…will head that way!

 

I left the stick n  brick security of my friend’s home today , amidst hurricane  Issac heading to the edge of Fl. I was on the West coast, and am now on the east coast of Fl….Palm Bay to be exact. Where to go…what to do with one’s TIME….without the crutch of a TV set to lean on???????

OK….it’s going to be an adjustment…..one that I asked for….but an adjustment all the same. My first evening….I am looking for a wifi spot. Little wind and rain going on…I am looking for a safe haven. Tropical storms in the weather prediction.

The Panera bread I knew of closed a min. before I got there. Lucky for me , there is a nice 24/7 Mc D’s next door, and for an 80 cent senior coffee, I am dry and ‘connected’ getting my puter fix.

There is a Wal Mart a block down the road, so either place seems like a candidate for a sleeping spot tonight…..qualifying with 24/7 bathrooms…lighted lots…a feeling of security.

It’s 9:30 and the Church crowd is here. Driving all day has tired me out, so think I will call it a day, and update this in the am…to report on my first night ‘s sleep in the Van….a momentous thing in my book.

Will the Old lady make it?  I hope so, after all my efforts…………..

So far………….So Good……………….

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It’s early morning. I got 2 hours sleep….from 10:30 – 12midnight. Went shopping at Wal Mart a bit then tried to sleep, but couldn’t…..it wasn’t terribly unpleasant, just ‘new’….and messy. it was raining cats and dogs when it was time for me to set the van up for sleeping….so had to make do and throw things around. It looks like a vandal hit the place!

I kept thinking how useless some of the things i HAD to Have,are….at least in the city. I am going to lighten the load today, so I can get a better nights sleep.

What are those things you ask????????????????????????

Of all things…[1] my good sized 5 day cooler. I have one can of whipped cream and two bottles of water in it. I honestly can get by fine with my small lunch box cooler.  I can take that back.

[2] The luggable loo is a toughie. In town I will sleep at 24 hour places, so don’t really need it…but in woods, I’m sure it will be needed, so will have to find a spot for it……

[3] The swamp cooler I slaved over…worked fine, but it is getting cooler now, so can get by fine with the fan…..might buy a second fan.

I’m sure more things will come to mind, that I can eliminate.

I hope to go beach side today and check out health clubs.

This week I packed up 8 tubs+, and drove the 155 miles to Clearwater, Fl. The trip was nice….van drove like a dream. I stopped for lunch and to browse Camping World, in Kissimmee.   was surprised to see their lot full of rvs for sale. The inside of the store obviously catered to high end rvers and not the tent or general Joe Shmo camper. I did see a $29 chair I liked with a little canopy…though. That’s the last thing on my shopping list…so will wait on that purchase.

I have visited every store , where ever I go and all are out of the luggable loo seat top. I had to order it on ebay. I am hanging out here in Clearwater, waiting on a few items I ordered, for the Road, and visiting friends.

I worked all morning, weeding my friend’s garden, to show appreciation for the nice guest room I am using. I am having a r.ea.l.l.y. FUN TIME, trying to figure out window coverings. I made some hot pink ones out of poster board, but I doubt they will last long. Then I tried attaching curtain clips onto cheap car window shades from a dollar store. They hung down too far. They will work, if I make them into curtains with a top hem, but sooooo ugly. I was trying to figure out simple, take them on and off easy way to do it, as i want to see to drive, and didn’t want to keep them up. I may give up on that idea, as it’s too much of a pain in the butinsky to bother with that every day, climbing over tubs.

I like to stay UP….but the darn engine check light came on. I have checked all fluids, and it is running great. No owners manual came with….so I went online and read all about a 2 year newer model one, as they want $30 for a manual for mine. 2004 model and newer it’s free online……I love Chrysler!  The I saw that many other owners go nuts with all the engine check light thingy going off for stupid reasons all the time. It seems if you don’t put your gas cap on tight…the light goes on. Now I figure this is what happened, and while I fixed that issue, I don’t know if I have to take the negative battery cable off for a minute to reset it or if it does it by its self. The light is still on, and I can’t figure it out. Guess I’ll be reading that online manual again and try to figure out how to do the scenario you have to do to get codes to show up, as a read out.

Also….the drivers back door stayed locked for 2 days…then suddenly unlocked yesterday….then this am stayed locked again…and this afternoon unlocked. I figured it was on child lock, but when I did get the door open, couldn’t find the switch on the door….so guess it’s different on this model. This door also locks up if gas cap is loose or gas door is open….so maybe that was my issue. I also read that sometimes one wire will go bad, and once replaced, all is WELL.

I guess you can tell I have had a NO Power Anything vehicle for years. Power is great, but I really think they should give you to option of turning it all off and using hand crank windows and so forth. I am now thinking a Plain Jane cargo Van might have been a better choice. Next time ………….

The receipts are piling up…will do a cost break down soon, on start up cost essentials.

I LOVE MY VAN…….I LOVE MY VAN…..I LOVE MY VAN…….I LOVE MY VAN