Off of the Grid

Posts tagged “fulltiming with kids

Living Life in the rig…

Sorry for the lack of recent posts. Life has been full and we have been busy. The original plan was to stay in Monterey through January, and be there to help my mom recover from knee surgery. We would continue to work on the RV as we could. An unknown neighbor complained about the RV in front of my mom’s house, so we had to move. We ended up going out to the Laguna Seca racetrack campground. It was a wonderful place to stay. Nice restrooms, beautiful views, and we got to see race cars practicing on the track! They didn’t fully charge us for the first two weeks we were there (the extra car and the dogs I think.) so we thought the pricing was much better than it actually was. Good news, when we paid for the next week, they didn’t try and charge us the difference for the two weeks before. Bad news is – instead of $35 a day, it went to $50. ACK! When you are living on unemployement, that $50 a night is painful. We could not afford to stay and pay half of our incoming funds to paying for a campsite. We couldn’t work on the RV there even if we had the funds to do so.

Daniel worked out a gig in Tucson where he would be able to work on a project in exchange for a parking spot for Winnie. It’s a super exciting idea for a truly beautiful person so I am hoping Daniel is able to bring this concept to life. Off we went, Tucson bound! Finally!

Winnie is doing really good on the road. We encountered some fierce headwinds headed East and she handled very well but sucked up the fuel. Something to keep in mind for future travel. We drove into Tucson New Year’s Day. We could have made it the night before but with all the New Year celebrations going on, we didn’t want to be on the road. We hung out at Quartzsite for the evening. Quartzsite is pretty famous for RVers. They have events there, people boondock there, and as it’s name implies it’s a great place to find some great deals on amazing rocks and minerals. We go through every couple years or so and this tiny town is just a big RV hangout.

It’s good to be back in Tucson. It’s a bit overwhelming because we felt an urgency to try and find a permanent location to park. Plus – just trying to get our lives started. Daniel had been speaking to recruiters in CA and was anxious to start interviewing for potential positions here. I was anxious to get in contact with the local homeschool groups and get back into schooling with Xan after the holidays. There was a question of travel for me as my sisters and I tried to work out how to best support our mom for her surgery. I was going and then I wasn’t and then I was and then I wasn’t and then Xan and I were going to drive out and then we weren’t and then we were and finally we weren’t. For a while I didn’t know if I was coming or going! It was crazy! Mom is doing great though and she is going to be staying in the hospital a bit longer than normal so she can do the PT there. When she is released at the end of the month, she will be OK to go home alone.

Daniel made some awesome stairs to get in and out of the rig. Much better than the step ladder we were using. We want to paint them in festive colors and have a bit of fun with them. That’s been added to our ‘To-Do’ list. Xander and I have gotten back to work and are having fun learning about early Arizona history. He is working on a report to send to gramma complete with a map of the original fort. We are learning about the desert and the animals who live here and hope to make it out to the Desert Museum soon. I keep looking for discount days but haven’t found one yet. We are slowly getting back in touch with our old Tucson friends recognizing that now that we are back, we don’t have to try and squeeze everyone into a weekend visit.

Our work on the RV has been put on hold as we focus on life. Daniel is working on the project for our host, sending out applications, speaking to recruiters, and working hard to find work. Tucson employers seem to really take their time which is super frustrating.ย  Once we get things back to normal, we will start working on the rig again. As it is, we are loving the additional space. The higher cab-over makes sleeping amazing! The space is so expansive. I love our cathedral ceiling in the living area and am holding the dream of what it will look like when we are done. Priorities will be getting the wiring and plumbing done and getting an air conditioner installed. The heat out here is no joke. We have great shade where we are parked now but come Spring, we will bake without an A/C. And yes, I meant Spring.

That’s our news for now. I have added some favorite pics of our drive. I haven’t yet driven out to the desert to get some neat desert shots yet but will soon. Enjoy!

 

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On the road again

Well, we have done it again. Even though Winnie is not yet comfortably habitable, we have taken off to try and find nicer (ie. warmer) climates in which to do some more work. LOL – I still have to shake my head over my we will be done in a month! We also hope to hang out with family for the holidays. This brings us to Monterey, Ca where my mom and sister live. Unlike our usual journey’s, we didn’t do a lot of playing on the trip down. We decided to head to the coast since we wanted to avoid any snow driving in Winnie if we could possibly avoid it. Weather forecasts were showing snow levels dropping over the Siskiyous so that reinforced our decision. Coast it was! We did have some fun. We stopped by the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, OR which is the location of the Spruce Goose. We managed to hit it just right on our way to the coast and got to spend a nice hour there before they closed. The Spruce Goose is HUGE and AMAZING! I highly recommend you check it out if you are in the area. They also have a space museum and a theater which we didn’t have time to see but for $5.00 per ticket, it didn’t break the budget and we felt it was well worth it.

I am happy to say that Winnie is driving really, really well. She is super spry and zooms right along. There doesn’t seem to be a problem with wind resistance due to our increased cab-over. We experienced side winds as well as front-on while driving and she did really well. I think her gas mileage has gotten worse but that could also be because Daniel had her cranked up to 70mph all the time. We will have to take her out on a more sedate journey where we travel our usual 60mph and see. The tag axle is pretty funny. We still don’t have enough weight in the rig to make these touch the ground all the time. Seeing them spin while we drive is funny.

We have been in Monterey now for about a week. We have been parked in front of my mother’s house where we parked for a few weeks before without a problem. Since my mother’s house is also undergoing some construction, there isn’t space for us to sleep inside, so we have been camping out in the rig. I can officially say the cab-over is AWESOME! There is so much space up there! I can stretch and my arms or legs don’t touch the roof. For some reason having all the additional space overhead makes things seem somehow wider. Even though we didn’t change Winnie’s width at all, I feel like we have another foot there as well. It’s amazing! We don’t have any ceiling, front or back wall insulation up yet so it’s cold. We make a big nest bed in the cab-over with every blanket we own and then snuggle down for sleep. It’s kind of like camping … but in a big hollow wooden box.ย  LOL!

We need to get more windows installed. Right now, there are only windows on the front of the rig. It looks like a mobile MRI truck instead of an RV. I joked with Daniel that we will be getting stopped by every border patrol car from here to AZ if we don’t get some stripes or paint on it soon. Right now, it looks like a great vehicle in which to smuggle some illegal aliens. LOL! But in all seriousness – we do need to do something with all that white. I keep thinking local graffiti artist is going to see all that blank canvas and just go to town. While I am not sure I would have a huge problem with that, I would like to have some say in what is being painted on the white. I think I am going to just buy some RV stripes for now from Amazon and put them on. Something to break-up the pristine arctic white.

Interesting developments; When we broke down the rig, we removed the RVIA sticker. OOPS! Without this sticker, we have been refused entry into State run RV parks. We now no longer have this sticker/seal thing and have to figure out how to get one. <Head-Desk> Keep tuned in to see how that goes. I am not going to bother with it until all our interior work is complete. There isn’t a reason to do this before then since I am sure many of the items which would potentially cause us to fail the inspection are things that will be taken care of as we finish the details.

Also fun in-an-ironic-killmenow-kind-of-way is the news that Daniel was laid-off. He is not one to sit on his hands but this is something we weren’t anticipating in any way. I can’t complain about his company laying him off. They just didn’t have enough work for the number of employees. The owner of the company treated Daniel very well and was a delight to work for. No complaints. We are just sorry it didn’t last. As I said, Daniel doesn’t sit around when he receives news like this and he is already waiting for an offer for a full-time position. Xander and I are going to hang out in the RV for several months this time while Daniel goes and gets everything setup. No longer running across the country – we are going sit tight, and wait until all the wrinkles get worked out as always happens with a new job. Then, once things have settled down a bit, Xan, the puppies and I will head out. Should make for a much more stable move than what we have typically done before. It means however, that much of the finishing work on the interior of the RV will fall to me alone. Intimidating. Do-able but intimidating. Daniel will focus on the wiring, plumbing and finishing the interior of the ceiling and walls. Then, I will get to work on the rest. If we can get some of the cupboards and cabinets up before he goes that would be huge but I am not counting on it.

The Adventure Continues!


Excited/Exhausted – not sure which…

Sorry for not posting more sooner. We have been working hard on the rig. We keep thinking the tasks will take an afternoon, and then we discover that we were only able to get maybe a quarter done of what we thought we would. It’s been somewhat disheartening. We are so excited to be buttoning her up, and for it to be taking this long is painful. We are all antsy. We have all been frustrated. I had been working on the topline, standing on top of ladders to get the trim completely caulked. I hadn’t gotten to the underside of the cab-over yet because on inspection, it looked like no water was getting in there. Water looked like it was beading on the trim. Imagine our panic when we saw a wet spot on the interior bottom right of the cab-over! All hands on deck and we finished up the caulking job. A space heater was setup and placed in the cab-over by that corner to dry it out for about 24 hours. Every appears to be OK now but talk about freaking out! We did not just go through this summer to have water damage the second we are putting her together!

Daniel and Greg installed four windows. These have been placed more or less in their original locations – a bit higher than they used to be but that’s about it. Two high narrow windows will be installed in the bathroom when we get that built out, and one in Daniel’s office.

We have a temporary door on the back of the rig right now – it makes it easier to get things in and out vrs coming through the narrow RV door that is installed.

The bookcases are in and the rest of our stuff we are putting all over the floor. With no cabinets, closets or other storage built yet, it all is in bins, and our clothes in duffles. It will be nice when we can actually start putting things away!

Here are some recent pictures! Enjoy!


Walls are up! Working on the roof.

Hi All –

We have been busy and I have just been lax about updating the site. Seem like we have been running-running-running to get this thing boxed up so we can drive out of here. We had our first snow this past week which put about 3″ on the ground. The temperature plummeted to a mere 15 at one point. Daniel was outside working and the screws were literally breaking. Obviously he had to stop for a while till it warmed up again.

We discovered that there are challenges to building a straight wall when the RV is actually not quite straight. That was exciting. All is good but we ended up having to give the rig a chiropractic adjustment to get the walls on the chassis. Friends from a local homeschool community came and helped us lift the 31′ long walls and put them on the rig. While we were waiting for everyone to get there, I had the kids build a wall section with some of our scrap materials. Every kid had to cut their luan wood, glue the wood to the insulation, and then install the skin. I also handed out a bunch of sharpies and had them decorate the sub-floor with drawings, games, song lyrics – whatever they wanted as long as it was positive and kind. One kid actually wrote out the entire phrase that we all know so well from Mary Poppins. I am not even going to try and spell it – LOL! Love it!

We ordered our new door from Dyers RV – turns out they have the same door as Camping World at the same price but don’t have us pay for shipping. SWEET! Camping World wanted $144 in shipping! Dyers and Camping World had the door with window and screen for about $200 less than all other competitors though. The shipping from Dyers was super fast – 3 to 5 business days. The first door arrived damaged so we had to refuse delivery but they were super prompt about the replacement door. It arrived just fine earlier this week.

We want to have a bit more flexibility with the roof and what it supports so keeping weight in mind, we added an aluminum brace every two feet connecting wall-to-wall. Then we used 1/2″ wood instead of the luan so the roof would be a bit more substantial. We aren’t going to store anything up there, but it sure is nice to know we can stand up there and not fall through if we want. Plus – the braces going across the top make the rig more stable.

I know you all really just want to see the pictures so here ya go!


Yup, I cried like a girl. TWICE!

What a week! When last we left our intrepid builders, we were busy assemblingย  a wall. Well, SUCCESS! We did it. We finished it off on Saturday. Our intention was to flip the wall over and start construction of the next wall on-top, thus providing the pressure needed to create a nice bond between filon and luan. Ya – no. The wall is 31′ long made of insulation, luan, and filon. Shouldn’t be too heavy right? It’s heavy. We needed to move the wall – I can’t even remember why and it was just the three of us. Our friend Greg, Daniel and I.

Usually I am the crazy strong one of the group, but after a day of inhaling glue fumes, I got sick on Thursday and could not stop throwing-up. I was out for a full 24-hours. I guess that took more out of me than I thought. On Friday, Daniel tried getting more luan glued down and went out and bought me a respirator to wear like the one he wears. Xan stays outside while we’ve been gluing. Saturday Greg, Daniel and I all went out and finished the wall and moved it. I can’t even remember why. Only that we moved it, and then I sat down and cried like a girl. It was heavy. I have zero upper body strength. I generally lift with my legs and core. This wall requires good grip strength and arms which I don’t have. With more people it wouldn’t have been a big deal but with just the three of us – ouch.

Today, we got the second wall completely done. We got in pretty early and worked until 8:00pm. And yes, we had to lift the wall again. This time to get it on-top of the other wall to weight it down. After a day of working, I just had nothing. I could hold it for maybe a few seconds in my hands and then just felt it slipping. I would have to yell, “Down!” Poor Daniel and Greg! Finally we got some cardboard under one side and Greg lifted on the other and he pushed the darn thing into place. I think he is actually superman in hiding. Daniel and I rushed to help but, it was mostly Greg who got it in place. We went through cases of glue, layers of insulation and wood. We’ve all spent the day on our knees applying glue and then pressing down the layers but we did it. And ya, the second time we moved the wall – I cried like a girl. I think perhaps this building thing and all the challenges we have overcome are perhaps getting to me. That and I probably am not 100% from being sick.

I am so excited that we got these done. Snow is on the forecast and we have to close this rig up! Daniel is going to put the exterior back wall and ceiling up but we are not going to build them out like we did the walls. It will be a shell basically to what it should be, just to get the rig closed. We can finish both from inside the rig once it’s sealed.

The next step is to actually lift the walls onto the rig. I have made some amazing friends here in Eastern Wa and I put out the call for help as soon as we finished the second wall. These awesome families will be meeting us as the build site to help us get these walls installed. YAY! WOW! That is so cool! Since we all are homeschoolers, I am putting together a little construction activity for them with some of our scrap. They can construct a mini RV wall. ๐Ÿ™‚ Should be fun and the glue that we will use is the low ROV stuff, not the glue that made me sick. It’ll be a fun lesson AND we will have the help we so desperately need.

Here are some of the latest pictures. We haven’t trimmed the new wall yet, so you won’t see the correct shape but you get the idea. It’s a wall. It’ll look like its neighbor. ๐Ÿ™‚

And the final moment! Caught on video:

Unrolling the Filon


The Wind is our Nemesis

We have been blessed over the Summer here in Eastern Washington with beautiful sunny weather. There was a record number of days of no rain. Bad for the crops – perfect for rebuilding the rig. Except we had record fires this year as well which meant even though the weather was perfect, we couldn’t breathe. At one point Spokane’s air-quality was worse than Shang Hai. The winds blew smoke from Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and even here in WA into the area. My heart goes out to those who lost their lives, and their homes to these fires. I can’t imagine. Another effect was that we couldn’t work outside and lost a month. A month of hot sunny weather.

Today there is a high wind advisory. Gusts up to 55mph. Daniel and I were outside tying down a tarp over Winnie when the winds started. To our horror, the carport tarp structure we have been storing Winnie under literally lifted into the air. I grabbed a corner post and held on for dear life while Daniel rushed around cutting the ties to the tarp. Poles were becoming disconnected and the tarp was acting like a big sail. If we didn’t want 10′ poles flying through the air, we needed the tarp off quickly. Daniel risked life and limb climbing on ladders to cut away the tarp from the roof of the pole carport. As I watched, visions of the structure flying away, poles going everywhere played in my head, followed closely by visions of Daniel flying off the ladder which was on the rig – plummeting 15′ to his doom (bouncing off sharp metal and wood on his way down.). We got the tarp off and wrapped up. When we had a moment to look around, we found Winnie’s aluminum frame we had on hanging precariously on/off on one side. If we had the walls up with that wind, they would have been ripped off.

We got a wake-up call today.ย  Now I don’t know what we are going to do. The weather might be coming in faster than we can build the box.


It’s all about the floor…

Hi All –

We have been busy. Friday was spent getting materials. As much as we could with the time and money we had. It meant a morning confirming our reservation at the storage unit place and paying for it. It meant picking up the roofing kit that we purchased from a local RV shop. NOTE TO SELF – NEVER go back there. They blithely overcharged Daniel by $163.00. I rushed to the parts counter and demanded the refund. I am sure steam was coming out of my ears I was so mad. After a small amount of, “Oh, that’s right.” the refund was issued. How many other customers do they do that to who just write it off as tax or something?

Back to the rebuild. What did we get?

  • Aluminum rec tube for the RV frame. Remember, the extension was never added by the welders so we need to extend the aluminum frame.
  • Angle tubing for the exterior
  • 1″ dense Styrofoam for the floor x 6
  • 23/32″ plywood tongue-n-groove x 6
  • foam glue x 12
  • contact cement x 2
  • 3/4″ Styrofoam that goes inside the frame – no idea how much we got
  • 1/2″ Styrofoam that goes outside the frame x 14
  • 31 sheets of luan
  • Rubber roofing kit with all the glue and tools needed. I can’t remember what it is called.

Our goal this weekend is to get the floor down and both side walls. We have to build out the aluminum frame before we can do the walls so we hope to take care of that early tomorrow am. We laid the floor today. We now have a lovely solid floor and I learned how to use a caulk gun. Daniel was a hoot. He was rolling around on the floor – presumably to make sure everything was firmly pressed and level but I think mostly to just have a bit of fun. During the construction, it was like a crazy trust experiment at times as I was holding plywood steady while Greg cut with the electric saw coming towards me. Daniel was smart, he took the side Greg was cutting away from.

We have been panicking a bit this past two weeks. Okay, this past month. We have anxiously been watching the temperatures go down. There has been frost every morning for the past week and Mt. Spokane officially got snow a day ago. This is a very, very bad thing. If it gets too cold, the contact cement won’t bond the luan to the filon and we’re screwed. Working outside is no longer an option. I have called RV shops, warehouses, commercial rental agencies, storage facilities and garages in the area. No-one had any space for us to work on the rig indoors. We had to adjust our building plan. A wonderful woman I recently met has a large pole building. I called her and pretty much begged. LOL! She and her family are letting us use part of their building to construct the walls where we can keep the temps above freezing while they cure. They are literally saving us. This whole project almost came to a screeching halt. While our friends have teased us about being welcome here for Christmas, they (understandably) really don’t want us here. We have already been here about two months longer than originally planned.ย We are obviously keeping the glue inside where it is warm. We will have space heaters running when we are building to keep the walls warm so they can properly cure. Then we will mount the walls in there entirety onto the rig. Filon, Luan, Styrofoam, Frame, Styrofoam, and final Luan will all get bonded together. Once properly cured, we will lift it up onto the chassis and screw it in. So exciting!

We dropped off the filon and Styrofoam at the build site and came back to work on the floor.

Enough talk! Here are some pictures of our recent work.

Because we are no longer going to be able to build out the way we were expecting, those folded aluminum sides are going away. We picked up extra blades for the saw so we can cut those off.

That’s all our news for now. I should have more pictures tomorrow after we get the walls going.