Palm Trees in southern Florida

Monday, July 25, 2016

Part 2 of What happened to Rob

Recap... The winter in Florida didn’t get past Van Horn Texas on I-10.
After 3 nights in a gas station parking lot, the last part of $500 in van parts THAT month spent (at the Napa parts store) I headed back to Washington state.

The van swap went well, I sold the oil burner (I used caps in the ad to say it used a gallon of oil every 300 miles and still had people ask me if it burned oil), got my act mostly together and hit the road.

The swap... I built a bed as wide as a cot & tall enough to store a milk crate under it. I left one of the middle rear stow-n-go seats in the van so I'd have a place to sit. I built a plywood stand to go where the front passenger seat That was for cooking.  

The 100w solar panel is on the roof (almost hidden), the two 122 amp hr 12v walmart batteries are in the hole where the rear stow-n-go seat would be if it was sill in the van.  A couple of LED lights are wired in, a few 12v outlets and a fuse panel is right next to the Tracer solar mppt controller. It works. FWIW it's hard to spend a rainy day inside as it's just small.

100w solar panel hidden in plain sight

I ended up moving the cooking to the rear with the hatch up and a piece of plywood for a kitchen counter that sits on the bed. When I can find another front passenger seat I plan to put it back where it belongs.

I went north, did some visiting and followed US 101 from where it ends (at I-5 in Olympia, WA). Around the Olympic peninsula then south towards Oregon.

There is a lot of country to see out that way.  I spent a night at a NP campground right next to the cliff listening to the waves, music to sleep by in my world! As a plus I have an America The Beautiful (over 62) pass so the camp was half price.

On a side note, I REALLY like dispersed camping, it's free if nothing else. I can deal with 1/2 price too.

This trip needed a new goal, Florida this winter was just not going to happen but I needed to put some location in my GPS.  Zanoni Missouri was my new goal for the GPS. 

Down the coast to Venice, then hang a left to visit an old internet friend (20+ years) I'd never met in person. Gene GeRue in southern Missouri. 

The SE Vandweller Get together

Then it was off to the Southeast Vandweller get together at the Raccoon creek wildlife management area in northern Alabama... Via Memphis Tennessee and a Dyer's deep fried cheeseburger on Beale St.

View from the front

Sitting around the fire

I had a goal & places to put in the GPS. A van I could live out of, with working AC, cruse control & getting over 20mpg. 

I was set!

The Tennessee River next to the GTG
I did  meet another couple of people at the SE GTG that I had known on the internet for years & years.
I have to admit that it's different knowing someone for over 20 years and having never met in person. Lot's talk over the years & it was someone I knew. Then I get to meet them in person, an old friend I'm seeing for the first time.

Monday, July 18, 2016

What Happened to Rob? Or downsizing part 1

The Calif coast, south of San Fran

My last blog was months ago... I get to this point and it’s like I was in school again... 
I feel guilty even.  Ah..the dog ate my computer?  
What to do?  Just deal with it is the best!   
To make life interesting I moved to a new computer, a W10 tablet & the photo situation is iffy at this point. If I'm not able to put photos up, well that's a fine excuse not to post a blog! In this reality pictures will have to come later.

The old Ford E250

The T&C at the coast, a bit smaller

Back to the blog.  Reality struck and the blogging suffered. Do I just ignore the last 4 months?

 I thought I about that and I realized that "both" the people who follow me <g> deserved an  expatiation of some sort.
So in the immortal words of more Chief Petty Officers in the Coast Guard than I can count before they told a story, "trust me, this is a no shitter!" Here is my story.

The winter was spent in the desert ‘around’ Quartzsite Arizona & down by Yuma. A nice time. I left to spend the rest of the winter (well that’s what I told myself) in Florida.

There were stops on the way.. Tombstone, Bisbee (the Whitewater bird area from was a great place by it self), Columbus NM (Poncho Villa SP), The Kitt Peak National Observatory, The Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson to name a few. 

All of them recommend.

My van was an 1987 Ford E250 powered by a diesel 6.9 that burned a gallon of oil every 300 miles. It was comfortable but it had to go... I waited too long. 

The bed in the Ford

The bed in the T&C

Before I left the Q area both the truck batteries crapped out and was not even able to jump start it. It took $300 to fix that from the auto parts store across the street from the grocery store I was stuck in. 
Next my muffler fell off, that sucker was loud... That was another $135 in Tucson. Then I took off! 
Down I-10, heading for the rest area just past Van Horn Texas... My head lights were funny... They were dim... I had an electrical problem! I got behind a semi and followed along all the way (25+ miles or so) to the next exit which was Van Horn Tx... I forgot to turn the headlights off, they sucked ALL my juice. As I coasted down the off ramp my diesel engine died, seems that tiny bit of power needed to keep the fuel cutoff solenoid open was not there anymore. I coasted to first gas station in town (A Chevron), rolled into a spot and there I sat. That was Sat nite, the only parts store in town was not open until Monday, they didn’t have my alternator but ordered it. I put in to Tues. My solar panel did recharge the batteries over the 3 days waiting..

Flowers along the cliff by Plaskett creek campground
While I waited I texted with friends. My friend in WA had just bought a new jeep and was going to sell his ‘05 Town & Country with lot’s of miles on craigslist as the dealer didn’t want it. I wanted it... We cut a deal, when the Ford van started I set out towards Washington... Florida would just have to wait.

A not leisurely trip back to WA, & the vehicle swap and HUGE downsize begins. I probably spent a week doing that...

More to follow ... in around a week I'm hoping!