Off of the Grid

Posts tagged “RV living

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.  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!



Deconstruction almost complete

We have the walls completely off. We disassembled the cab-over yesterday and got all the rotted wood out and exposed the frame. Now we are working on the roof. Yesterday Daniel spent time on the ladder trying to get the roof off from the center out. Sounds weird until you remember that we had a piece of filon tacked up there to patch a leak. So, instead of trying to pull the roof off from one of the sides, we just went to the place in the center where we had already ripped and cut the worst parts of the damage out. Daniel just pulled off that filon strip and got to work on the rest of the roof. Xander and I spent some time picking up the small pieces of insulation off the ground. Our friends are being so incredibly awesome to let us work here, I am certainly not going to pollute their property! We have enough debris for another dump run so we will get that done today or tomorrow. Then we will remove the floor, and check the aluminum sheet on the bottom of the bed and replace the wood that we see that is rotted down there. Bit worried we will have to replace that sheet since aluminum is pricey!

You have to keep a sense of humor in all this, so Daniel has been having some fun with Gimp and editing our progress photos. Check ’em out!

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Here are in-progress photos of the rig, the frame and where are at with this project.

Here are our ‘To-Do’ tasks for the day:

  1. Go talk to more service shops about the frame and our ideas. We don’t think we will need to do any additional extending to the frame with out 3′ addition based on our discovery of the ‘C’ bracket extension already there but we want to ask as many shops as we can before building.
  2. Start calling welding shops and metal supply shops
  3. Do the drafting to get the placement of the changes to the frame we need, and finalize the floor plan with the measurements.
  4. Get to dump (maybe – if we have time)
  5. Remove more of roof this evening and get that back section that is hanging removed.

There ya go! We will keep you posted. Would love to hear your comments – other than ‘You’re Crazy!’ – we already know that. LOL!

Austin Bound!

Hi All, when last we visited, Daniel, Xan and I were frantically trying to get out of Kansas and away from the storms. We made it successfully into Texas and had stopped in exhaustion at a rest stop off the side of the road. We woke-up refreshed only to find out that we had stopped at what is most probably the most disgusting rest stop in the entire state of Texas. There was more garbage than earth visible and looked like we had parked next to a landfill. ACK! We also discovered that we had a low front tire in the rig. The Adventures-Never-Stop when you live in a moving house!

I have become very ‘Zen’ about life when such things happen. Turns out we are always OK; help is just around the corner. Sure enough, we discovered we were only 4 miles away from Canadian, Texas. It was Memorial Day Weekend and I was concerned that everything would be closed, but kept the faith that the Universe always provides. It might challenge you as it does so, but it always provides.

We rapidly discovered that the town of Canadian cut their air pressure lines for some reason a couple years ago. There is not an air hose in the entire town unless it is in a tire or an automotive shop. Weird! Every little town has its idiosyncrasies though and you just have to roll with them. Since it was Sunday of Memorial Weekend, everything was of course – closed. Having exhausted our ability to find a place where we could put air in our tire, we decided to get some breakfast and call roadside assistance when we were done. We were starving and quickly found a place to eat. Close to the entrance of town, Canadian Restaurant was selected. A nice place, right on 2nd, locally owned and operated. They were kind enough to serve us a nice home-cooked breakfast even though they were switching over to lunch. After a delicious breakfast, I was talking to the owner while we were cashing out. I explained what happened and what we were looking for. She said, “Well, let me call my brother-in-law. He has a shop here, he should be able to help you.” Sure enough, he met us at his shop which was only a block away (visible from Canadian Restaurant). Canadian Auto Repair is the name of his business. I could have sworn I got a business card but for the life of me, I can’t find it and can’t remember this wonderful gentleman’s name. Suffice it to say, he was our hero for interrupting his holiday, opening up his shop and filling our tire so we could get on the road. See?! The universe always provides.  🙂 And if you are ever in Canadian, Texas, swing by and have a meal at Canadian Restaurant. Need your vehicle worked on? Call Canadian Auto Repair and let them know we said “Hi!”.

The rest of our drive down to Austin was thankfully event free.


Beautiful weather and smooth driving.

We ended up getting to Austin pretty late. That just seems to be the way we roll. We discovered the RV park where we had reservations only had 2 toilets/showers for 164 slots and we were about as far away from the restrooms as you could possibly be. Obviously that was not going to work so we spent our first night in the Austin area camped out at the closest rest stop with all the semi’s. There was a nice breeze blowing, so even though we didn’t have power, we had a nice night of sleep.

The next day we explored our options for staying a week. We ended up staying at the KOA Leander campground. It was just the treat we needed. They put us close to the restrooms, there was a sea-water pool and hot-tub, nice laundry rooms, restrooms, playground, outdoor meeting area, fire pit and a great dog run! We drove up, parked and relaxed. We got to visit with our adult kids, visit our niece and her family, and best of all – got to steal our granddaughter for several days!

I didn’t get a picture of Meg (our daughter) but did of Sean.


96bdfdd4-2064-49e2-927c-96d7dd3be5e4  Love the wild curly hair. LOL!

Turns out that tire that was low back in Canadian, needed to be replaced after all. Two new tires later (thank you Meghan!) we were on the road, this time headed to Tulsa, OK so I could attend the Usborne Books & More convention. Did I mention I am a rep? I LOVE BOOKS!  More about that on our Tulsa, OK post.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Well, we are not going to be able to get everything done that we want right now but on hindsight, that is actually a good thing. We are ripping this thing apart in a few months and would be undoing almost EVERYTHING we do here. We are rethinking what needs to be done in the remaining 5 days we have before we move in.

A friend and I installed the new floor and we painted using some old paint. Turns out its a cheery yellow that works really well with the rich faux wood flooring we installed. Wasn’t planned, but I’ll take it! 🙂

Daniel installed some new wall boards over where the shower was and the old … not sure what to call it. It’s where the refrigerator used to be. There was that goopy insulation stuff on the walls. Once I had finished walls, I put the kids to work! <Insert sound of whip cracking here> We did that whole Tom Sawyer thing and it worked for about an hour. LOL! The paint turned out nice and then we did the flooring using Allure vinyl flooring. Easy to install, easy to maintain and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Next step is to make the bookcase, a closet and a toilet enclosure. Everything else will wait until we are in WA doing the major repair/remodel. 🙂


We are excited to be moving into the RV soon! Let the adventure continue! 🙂

Security Blanket

Someone recently asked me if we would sell Winnie.

I had a moment of panic. “Get RID of Winnie?!?” I think my world actually stopped rotating for just a moment. In that space, I suddenly realized how much of a security blanket our RV has become for us. Even though Winnie is a bit big to drag over our shoulder, I’m not sure that Daniel and I wouldn’t go that far to keep her with us.

The conversation in question was with a homeless person who was selling found items at a street sale. Our son had decided that was the moment that he must take a nap in the camper top of our Eurovan so we were there for a bit. We had shared that we had experienced some hardship and if it weren’t for the RV, we’d have been in shelters or living under overpasses. Most likely, our family would not have survived intact.

In 2012, my husband and I inexplicably found ourselves without income. Not just broke but absolutely nothing coming in. Since social services look at the previous years income, we didn’t qualify for any help. Daniel kept looking for work and I started looking at getting anything. But we couldn’t pay our rent. It became a daily question of where were we going to park the rig? It wasn’t a question of could I find a job, but rather, how was I going to get there? We had dear friends who were offering to let us park the RV on their property for free but they didn’t have power or water and they were a good half hour outside of the city limits. No buses. And we didn’t have anything but the RV to drive. How would I get to work? The daily question of whether we were going or not became an almost scheduled argument. The need vrs the practical. We would scrape up enough to ensure that our son never went without a meal, and then our animals but Daniel and I couldn’t say the same about us. You know, when you don’t eat for a while, you get some pretty major headaches. No wonder homeless people tend to be grouchy. Job sources in Tucson were telling Daniel that they wanted him, but “not right now.” We were out of time. Daniel contacted possible employers in Austin, TX who were very interested in him a year before and let them know he was available. They indicated they absolutely still wanted him and to come on out. What a bad idea that was.

We headed out to Austin with the last of our funds. Monies we had scraped together by selling whatever we could. Before we hit the AZ border, we had to replace two tires on the rig. We made it into Texas and found that our belts were seizing. We fixed that and discovered a bit further that our glow plug actuator had failed. I think Winnie was trying to tell us something. In stops and starts, we limped into Austin and made it to the WalMart parking lot just off the highway. Daniel had found some short term contract work that he could do from home which meant he was shlepping off with his laptop to the nearest site of free internet to do his work. It wasn’t a lot but it kept us going for a bit. Unfortunately/fortunately for us, he is very, very good at what he does so the work was completed for the project in short order. But it was income and we were desperate for anything. Turns out Austin is very expensive to try and RV camp in. We couldn’t find an RV park for under $55.00 per night and that was more than we could reasonably spend. Couple that with the fact that there was a music festival going on and all the parks were full. We were stuck. We had to get someplace where Daniel could get cleaned up and ready for his interview. Our generator was out of fuel. We’d been without power for long enough that our refrigerator was dead and useless, our water tank was empty and our black and grey water tanks full. We had to find someplace to dump, and at least load up on water. We found a state park to stay at, and paid the precious money for one night, the night before the interview. We all bathed, and enjoyed the creature comforts only power can bring and got ready for the next day. We got Daniel to the interview, and he was in there for 10 minutes. No joke. Apparently they were a bit miffed at him from the year before when he called and said he had found work in Tucson so we would not be coming to Austin after all. They stated they would like him to take all the non-standard stuff they didn’t want to waste their full time programmers on, but they didn’t have anything for him now. All the other leads in Austin seemed more interested in our story of the journey out there, than in any real offers. We had wasted the last of our funds, and all of our hopes on nothing. We had been assured, “Yes, absolutely we want you right now!” only to find smoke and mirrors.

We went back to the parking lot at WalMart. We sold what was precious to us and which had lasted through all our other purges. My harp. Daniel’s bass. And any recording/music equipment the pawn shop would take. Any remaining jewelry I had of any value, any tools – whatever we could sell, we did. It earned us a measly $700.00. We could stay in Austin at the WalMart for maybe two weeks with that, or could journey back to Tucson where at least we would have a place to go, and community to help us out until we got back on our feet. It was a no brainer. We headed back to Tucson.

It took us 8 days to get to Austin, and 3 to get back to Tucson. Our RV Park manager had heard we’d hit some seriously rough patches on our journey and so saved our spot. Another tenant had left with their slot paid up through the month so the RV Park Manager let us stay in the slot that was paid. We wouldn’t have to worry about the rent for a month. When we drove into Tucson not sure where to go at 9pm at night, we were able to come home to the place we had been for over a year. Arriving back, the job offers that were pending suddenly became available and Daniel had viable work for the first time in 5 months or more. We came home to Tucson, and Tucson welcomed us back with open arms and hearts. I can’t say that I have experienced that anywhere else.

I remember when we were on the road, looking at the people camped out under the overpasses of the highways and realized, without Winnie, that was us. Two very highly capable, educated, talented professionals were 1-step away from sleeping under a bridge. I have never been so humbled in my life. I didn’t believe it before – but so many of us in this economy are living one paycheck at a time and that’s all it took. That one paycheck no longer coming in. Nothing saved. Nothing to fall back on. It truly can happen to anyone. I remember sitting there, looking at my husband and my son in front of me laughing, and being so thankful to Winnie. We had a roof over our head. We were together. We had a home. Running or not, we at least had our home.

So, get rid of Winnie? Naw, I can’t see that happening. We are doing better now, hard lessons learned. But Winnie will always be that security blanket. Come what may, we have a home. A home that we built with our own two hands. A place that has sheltered us in heat and cold, in rain and wind. A place where we have loved, and fought, and laughed, and discovered. She might be a bit big for a security blanket, but there ya go. What can I say. 🙂

Sacred Space in 21′

After living in our small space for 6 months now, personal space has become something sacred. Because you really don’t have any. There’s the living space, the galley, the WC (which really is a closet), and the baby’s room. I suppose I could crawl into the cab-over and pull a blanket over my head, but that really wouldn’t be the same. So what have I done? I’ve done what thousands of other RVers have done before me. I’ve made a small space outside my rig.

In our RV park, we don’t have a patio, and our slot is one of the small ones. It’s the drawback to being in a small park. The other day I’d had enough. We drove the rig to the local Home Depot and I bought 15 x 2’square terra cotta bricks. We got back and I had my husband park as close to the side wall as he could and I went to town! Initially I had envisioned a perfectly flat ‘patio’ but discovered that 15 bricks would not a full sized patio make. LOL – I spaced them about 2″ apart with the local gravel in between the stones. I staggered them in three rows. My little makeshift patio looks pretty cool!

While I was at Home Depot, I also picked up 3 happy red geraniums, 3 cheery iceland poppies, and 1 freesia plant. The coup de grace was a turquoise woven metal chair I picked up at Target. The flowers are currently spaced around the patio but I intend to get some big pots and plant them in about 3 planters. It’s my space. MINE! Every time I open my front door now, I see my flowers and my pretty patio. I can sit in my chair and just veg enjoying the sunshine, or can close my eyes and enjoy the smell of my flowers. LOL! I used to laugh when I looked at other RVers who would haul around big plants, full patio sets, wind socks, lights, and all manner of outdoor decor. Now I understand – it’s someones personal get away space. I’m not laughing anymore. I’m right there with’em!

This may seem like a silly thing, but when your life existence is condensed down into such tight spaces, you need someplace to call your own. Any corner will do. My husband seems to be rolling with it better, but then he has his own dedicated, no-one-can-mess-with-this-space at work. My patio isn’t permanent – when we leave, I’ll pick it up, pack it in and off we’ll go. But now where ever we end up, I can at least re-create my sacred space.

Musings & Thoughts on 1-1-2012

Happy New Year!

1-1-2012I know 2012 is supposed to be full of doom and gloom according to some, but I can’t help feeling that instead, it will just be a time of change.  As long as we roll with it, we should be fine.

I just finished watching the movie ‘The Long, Long Trailer’ with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz again – the first time since the purchase and move-in of our own trailer or ‘rig’ as Desi says.  The movie is as amusing as it is horrifying and most people watch spell bound at Lucy’s silliness and Desi’s ineptness.  But when you live in a rig, the movie takes on a whole new meaning.

You start thinking things like, “Ya right you want to hold onto all those canned items till next year.  Just wait till you’ve been tripping over them, moving them around and having them generally get in your way for a few months!”  Or, “Seriously?  Ya didn’t go two feet down that forest road and realize that was a bad idea??!?”  Or even,”What were you thinking?  You’ve felt the trailer move when it was blocked and parked.  What made you think you’d be able to stand, let alone cook while it was moving?!”

RV life is about sacrifice for the greater gain.  It’s about realizing both your limitations and your abilities.  It’s about compromise, trust and a one of a kind sense of adventure that makes it all worth while.

The basic premise of Lucy and Desi is great.  He travels, why not take the family and the home with them.  LOL – perhaps a smaller rig would have been a better start but then the movie wouldn’t have been as funny.  🙂

This life isn’t for everyone.  Some people really need their space.  But on the flip side, for those who can make it work – what a ride!  So 2012, bring it on!  Daniel and I have proven we can adapt, and we can compromise.  We can sacrifice, and we can build – individually, together, and as a family.  We are courageous, creative and determined and we will succeed through adversity and prosper.  We’re in it for the big adventure.

Welcome 2012!  May the spirit of the Awen flow freely and may everyone Walk in Beauty.  A-ho