Friday, December 15, 2006

tread lightly

One can move towards living more green in a small trailer. We definitely leave a smaller overall footprint on the environment than most. Think of how much energy and water is used in houses, condominiums, or apartments compared to that of an RV. Rigs also consume significantly less energy for heating and cooling. Space constraints limit the number of electricity-using gadgets. Hopefully, one would also choose to do with a minimum of these, anyway. RV heads flush with minimal water. And then there are Navy showers to further conserve water.

Granted fuel consumption is a factor, but remember total mileage is far less than commuters, let alone what trucks and planes consume. My yearly loop only racks up about 6,000 miles.

Possibly the best way to reduce our impact on the environment is to consume fewer resources. RVers can take shorter trips and stay longer at each camping spot, thus saving fuel and reducing emissions. Keep the tow vehicle tuned up, replace the fuel and air filters, lube the wheel bearing, inflate tires properly, make sure brakes are not dragging, get rid of excess pounds (unneeded items, water, gray, and black tanks), etc, to get the best gas mileage (and drive 55). Also keep up on RV maintenance so the rig lasts longer.

Go solar for clean energy. Mount a permanent panel on the roof and have another portable one for when parked in the shade. Convert to long-lasting compact fluorescent lights or LED’s, turn off unnecessary lights, and nix those decorative patio lights. Install switches in DC lines so electronic gear is not drawing continuous juice.

Just parking in the shade in hot weather and out in the sun in cold weather will save quite a bit of energy. The patio awning will also help keep that side of the trailer and the refrigerator cooler. Window awnings are also helpful.

If you have a pilot ignition water heater, keeping it set to ‘Pilot’ rather than ‘On’ will save quite a bit of propane. The water is, surprisingly, generally more than hot enough. If you have a direct spark water heater, at least turn it off at night. Converting to an on-demand tankless water heater is also an alternative.

Unless it is below freezing, the furnace or catalytic heater can also be turned off at night. It’s more energy efficient to use a good sleeping bag or throw on an extra blanket. Small fiberglass trailers heat back up in just a few minutes.

Install a water filter instead of buying bottled water. Landfills are overflowing with all those plastic bottles. Recycle what you can, while shopping bring your own bags instead of using the store’s plastic ones, exchange books rather than buy them, bicycle instead of take the car if going less than a couple of miles, and just get into a reducing/conserving mindset.

There are all kinds of sites where one can get more ideas on leaning towards green. If one is interested in figuring out one’s carbon footprint, check out:

Merely cutting down on consumerism helps a great deal. Resist the urge to buy. Once one learns how to do it, it becomes second nature.

There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man
than the way in which they can build
and yet leave a landscape as it was before.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

choosing a rig

(I came back to this entry in November 2012 and rewrote some of it based on what I’ve learned over the years living this lifestyle.)

One thing that holds some back is the initial cost. Go small. If you enjoy the outdoors, most of the time you will be outside—so why the big rig? You are not going to be in it all that much. A 17’ or 19’ trailer is plenty for a single person and 22-24’ will be comfortable for a couple. For camping, bigger is NOT better. And when you are in the rig, you’ll generally just be sitting down in your favorite spot. And surely you do not need a big rig so that you can haul more STUFF?!

Most start off with a rig way bigger than they need. If contemplating a large rig, be aware of all the complicated systems on board. There is more potential for problems and higher maintenance costs. It just seems there will be more time spent working on the rig or having the work done in a shop—fix this, fix that (while spending money). If you truly enjoy being out in Nature, the big rigs are pretty restrictive. No way are you going to get one down the narrow dirt roads and under low hanging tree branches, let alone double tracks getting to secluded spots. The smaller rigs open up vast areas for camping, exploring, and solitude. The various systems are fewer and less complicated leaving one with more time to be outside. Get away from the need to tinker with the rig as much as possible.

But you also do not want to buy a rig too small. Two people in a 17’ trailer is not going to work. For vacations or merely out on-the-road for a couple of months, it could be fun and people make it work. But for full-timing, forget it (in my most humble opinion). People do it, though, for one reason or another. I wonder how many finally bag full-timing or move to a slightly larger rig. I’ve seen a few small rigs that two people were living in—the trailers were pretty much stuffed (probably overloaded); two had a piddly, little table; the tow vehicles were jammed with bins and bags; three of the tow vehicles had roof racks; and two even had a cargo carrier hanging on a receiver on the back of the trailer. BUT, they all had a TV! Crammed and overloaded. Good grief. I need some elbowroom, not much, but definitely some. And a decent table (that is always up). Different strokes.

BUY USED. A new RV looses 40% of its value in 3-5 years so one’s payments do not even keep up with depreciation. A BIG waste of money. There’s nothing wrong with a three to five year old RV and you will be saving thousands or tens of thousands that can then be used for actual living. Besides, one can get into this lifestyle years sooner if you go ‘used’ rather than ‘new.’ Remember that many do not use their RV all that much, maybe 60 days a year—a two or three week vacation and weekends, especially after the first or second year when the novelty of a new RV wears off. So a 5 year old rig might not have all that much wear and tear. Another reason for buying secondhand is it can be hard to predict what you're really going to want until you're actually living on the road. The first year or so is a learning experience, so you might be enjoying the lifestyle but realize that you want a different type of rig: a class ‘B’ or ‘C’, or a different size trailer. My trailer and tow vehicle only cost me $11,000. Not much of an investment at all for getting into a new lifestyle. Remember, one of the best ways to save money is not to spend it. And if you find out that this lifestyle is not what you had anticipated, much less of your money will be tied up and much less of it will be lost when you bag it. An expensive first RV can easily become an expensive, and discouraging, first mistake.

If you will be using the RV year round, be sure to get a 4-season unit or at least one with good insulation. The small fiberglass trailers with just a little foam stuck behind the wall and ceiling covering are 3-season units. They work okay, however, if you hook up to electricity during the winter months. I’ve been staying in state parks in the winter and hook up to power for 2 or 3 months and dry camp the rest of the time. With power, I run a small ceramic heater. There are a number of ways to dry camp somewhat comfortably in a poorly insulated unit during cold weather without constantly running the furnace. You just don’t want to go into your first winter at the bottom of the learning curve. I only spent $7,000 on my trailer so I was not expecting all that much but if you are going to spend two or three times that amount, be sure to get a well insulated unit with some type of thermal windows

I’m not a big fan of sliding windows, especially on trailers that do not have rain gutters over the windows to keep rain from coming in. If it’s hot and starts to rain, you have to close the windows unless you have window awnings. Not good. I prefer windows that tip out from the bottom for venting and shedding rain. Unfortunately sliding windows are the norm. If one has an electric hookup, it’ll be less of a problem but for campers off the grid, it can get toasty inside the rig. Be sure to install a 12V fan for times like this and hope the rain doesn’t last too long. I like to have my windows open so my next trailer will have windows I can keep open when it’s raining.
If you get a small rig, look for one with large windows. That’s one thing I really like about the Casita. If I am working at the back table, I sit on a stool facing aft and there is more window area to the sides and in front of me than wall area. It’s almost like working outside. Something I can’t generally do during the winter months. So, keep windows in mind while looking for a rig. I see rigs way bigger than mine and they have smaller windows. Unreal. If you will primarily be RVing you won’t want large windows since you will be staying in RV, state, national parks and the like. Looking out your windows will only give you views of RVs. The windows will have day/night shades for a hazy look of the outside. If you will primarily be disperse camping with no one around and views of wildlife and stellar scenery—go for big windows. I know, this probably negates a 4-season rig. But a well-insulated rig might be enough. I wonder if they have double-pane RV windows in large sizes.
Some stay away from aluminum wall studs, saying that the metal transfers cold in from the outside, as opposed to wood studs. I can’t see it as being that big a factor but I don’t have any education in this area so it’s just my opinion. I like the lightness of aluminum and think the metal construction would hold up better than wood over the years, as well as over thousands of miles of dirt roads. Again, this is merely my most humble opinion. (^_^)

I don’t regret starting off with a used 17’ Casita. But I’ve learned quite a bit having lived this lifestyle for a few years. If I knew then what I know now, I would have chosen a more practical trailer. Possibly an 18’ aluminum framed trailer with a slant front. I don’t particularly like the standard interior layout with a built in bed under the slanted front but I could live with it (or possibly make some changes to it). A key feature that a rig like this would have is insulation. I had insulation in my first two rigs and I surely do miss it in the Casita. I would have to research small, well-made trailers and check out manufacturer ratings before making a final choice. I’d also look mostly at northern manufacturers since they tend to make better-insulated rigs. Tom, someone who checks out my blog from time to time, emailed me that Artic Fox are 4-season trailers worth looking into. Thanks Tom. I looked at the Northwood site and the trailers sure seem to be well constructed for 4-season use. They discontinued their 19’ model, however, and presently their smallest model is 22’. Guano, a bit too long for me, but we’ll see. I read an article on a business site and learned that Northwood also owns Outdoors RV Manufacturing. Outdoors RV has some awesome rigs, including two 18 footers, the Back Country 18F and the Creek Side 18CK. If I were going for a 22–24 footer, I’d be in heaven!

Standard trailers are a foot wider than the fiberglass trailers so they feel much roomier inside (well, that’s a dumb statement since they ARE roomier). The 22’ (8’6”) Arctic Fox is 22” wider than the Casita (6’8”). This might compensate for the smaller window-to-wall ratio. These trailers also have a good deal more ground clearance than the small fiberglass trailers even when a fiberglass one is ordered with the extra clearance option (which is generally only about an inch or two [like why bother]). I’d like my next trailer to have leaf springs mounted over the axle and an off-road chassis. My Casita is proving to be too restrictive for my lifestyle. The roads I prefer are not maintained so ground clearance is much more of an issue to me than to most.
I’ve been on unimproved roads that I just could not get up with my trailer’s low ground clearance. I could have gotten up these same roads with a longer trailer that had decent ground clearance. Then I’ve been on narrow, twisty, rutty roads that there is no way I could have gotten up them with a longer trailer. Sometimes it’s ground clearance and sometimes length of trailer is the limiting factor. Other times it’s overhead clearance. More often than not (in my experience), one can get further in with say a 20-24’ trailer if it’s leaf springs are mounted over the axles. Then again, this is for my lifestyle. For most, hardly any of this would be an issue. Hey—just toss a coin.

I also like the Bambi by Airstream because I’ve always thought Airstreams had panache (I like having a rig that’s ‘different’). But even a 10 year old Bambi is still around $18,000. I’d seriously consider getting one if they were not riveted. A riveted trailer is not the best for primitive roads (although it’s easy replacing broken rivets). Besides rivets, I would not want another trailer with carpeting on the floor, let alone on the walls and ceiling. Good grief, what a dumb idea, and not just because I do not like vacuuming walls and ceiling. I also have no use for an A/C. I don’t do campgrounds in hot weather. I disperse camp and set up in the shade at altitude. If you do primitive campgrounds, remember you will have to run a generator for your A/C and you can get some scowls from campers who had been enjoying the quiet.
I also don’t want a slide-out. Sometimes I’m dry camping when temps go down into the teens and single digits. Slide-outs are not all that well insulated with a potential for leaks around the seals. RVers spend a lot of time in their rigs so they want slide-outs. If you’re primarily a camper, think twice.

I remember when I was getting into this lifestyle and was weighing the pros and cons of different rigs. It had to be somewhat small to get down dirt roads and under overhanging branches. The getting under overhanging branches kind of nixed getting a truck camper. They are too high (and a popup was not an option for a year-round camper). I would also have trouble living with the tiny windows. Some pull a vehicle behind a class C but I did not want two engines and two transmissions to deal with. Sometimes I stay at a camping spot for 2, 3 or 4 weeks. During that time I might have to make a run for supplies. With a small trailer, I can leave camp set up. With a class B or B+, I’d have to secure the inside of the rig for the road. If I had a class B, I would probably have a rugged, high-clearance 6’x6’ flatbed trailer built and sitting on LT tires. This would be for water jugs, a mountain bike, ladder, table, cat cage, and one or two large tubs with miscellaneous stuff. I would leave this trailer chained to a tree whenever I had to make a town run (probably).

For some, another option is a toy hauler, but not for hauling an ATV. Consider using the space for whatever you are into: music studio, jewelry or craft bench, woodworking, or storage for bulky, light-weight interests such as remote control planes.

It seems more people are going back to choosing trailers over 5th wheels; mostly campers but even RVers are moving that way. Trailers might not be as popular as 5th wheels but many who have a pickup don’t want to give up the back of the truck just to haul an RV. Trailers are also 2 to 3' lower than 5th wheels so there’s more overhead clearance if you are going camping in the woods. Trailers track just fine with a weight distribution or sway bar. With only a 17’ trailer, I’ve never experienced a situation when I wished I had one (even one night when I had to do a mega swerve around a black cow in the road!). Then again I redistribute the inside load before hitting the road. If I had a 22’ trailer, I would consider getting a weight distribution bar. Unlike towing a 5th wheel, one has a choice of tow vehicles for a trailer: a van, SUV, or pickup. This is good. I’ve had a 5th wheel and two trailers. I’m a trailer person. Well, that is, unless a god bestows an EarthRoamer on me.
If you think you will be getting into hard-wall-camping, be aware the most fifth-wheels, with the exception of toy haulers, are not designed for off-pavement use.

Light-weight trailers, remember, these are just my thoughts based on experience with living the life. I would imagine light-weight trailers being a fine choice if one was merely using them for vacationing and maybe a month or two road trip from time to time.
I do not believe one would be a smart choice for a full-timer or one planning to do quite a bit of dirt road driving. First off, many such trailers have too small of a carrying capacity, some under 500 pounds. Stop and think. In that 4-500 pounds goes: two full propane tanks; whatever water you are carrying; two heavy 6V batteries; solar panels; spare tire; food and staples; miscellaneous supplies; seasonal clothing, bedding, towels, etc.; and numerous items that add up in pounds. No way, is a trailer with so little carrying capacity, capable of being a full-time rig. I mean, I live simply, don’t even have a TV, no way would I want to live with what a light-weight trailer requires. Granted, people frequently overload their trailer and there is no problem that they can see. If one does dirt roads, the chassis and framing is going to be flexing. Not good, metal can fatigue and crack. Also, many l-w trailers are not constructed for walking on the roof. One would have to carry two pieces of plywood or something to place on the roof so you can move around to check/repair calking and whatnot.
Granted, a substantial tow vehicle can carry quite a lot. Be sure to also check the total weight the vehicle can tow. If it is close to what you will be towing—get a more powerful vehicle. Otherwise you will be a moving road hazard. Bucking a stiff headwind in the open desert or driving up a mountain road will be slow. Be sure your flashers work.
Light weight trailers do not get my backing for full-timing or hard-wall camping.

Do not blow off the idea of a trailer just because you have never backed one up and think it will be too difficult. I’m not a fan of the ‘can’t do, give up’ mindset. An hour’s practice in a parking lot with the lines and two small soccer cones will have you feeling like you’re hot sh*t. Instead of soccer cones, one can cut 2 or 3 tennis balls in half with a hack saw and use the bright half-spheres as markers. Maybe you can even have the previous owner tow the trailer to a parking lot for you and give you a quick lesson. I’m sure there are all kinds of information on the web for backing a trailer. Probably even some videos on youtube. While practicing, be aware of how much you turn the steering wheel relates to how sharp the trailer turns. Some people find it easier to place one hand at the 6 o’clock position on the steering wheel when backing a trailer. Then you move your hand in the direction you want the trailer to go, rather than opposite. Whatever one is most comfortable with (If you’ve had a sailboat with a tiller, you’re good to go). One hour in the parking lot—and the confidence will be there. Also, don’t let the idea of setting-up and hitching the trailer put you off. Once you’ve been through it a couple times, you’ll be an ace. I could email you the steps but I’m sure this is also covered on various web sites. Always chock the wheels before unhitching and be sure the block under the hitch jack is lying level. If you get into camping off-the-grid, you will rarely come across a level spot so these two things are even more important.

For those who don’t want to deal with the occasional hassle of a trailer but still want to hit the unimproved roads, there’s a 4-wheel drive Ford class B van but it’s a popup which I wouldn’t want for a year-round rig. Chinook and Tiger make 4-wheel drive campers. There are probably other 4-wheel drive rigs out there.

One might want to look into versatile recreation vehicles (VRVs). They are a bit different, but for some, they might be the best choice.

Be sure to get a rig with an awning or have one installed. Get a manual one rather than electric if you will primarily be camping. Not just for shade but it helps keep the rig cool, keeps sun from heating up the back of the fridge, and offers a stellar spot to sit outside if it’s warm but drizzly. Be sure the awning seals tight against the trailer. Some awnings (like on a Casita) are attached to the trailer in only 3 spots and the awning is supported ½” from the side of the trailer. If you are sitting outside under the awning and it is raining heavier than a drizzle, you will probably get sprayed by rainwater coming down through the gap. An awning long enough to shelter the door and a window is best. If you are out in the open, roll up the awning if you will be away from the rig for a few hours in case a high wind comes up. Also, I’ve read about RVers driving down the road and a catch or spring at the leading edge of the awning breaks, the wind catches the end of the sprung awning and pulls it nearly off the rig. Not good. Whenever I break camp, I tie a length of webbing around the forward end of the awning and it’s bracket just in case something like this happens. The old Boy Scout thing.
I rarely extend the awning completely. Generally it’s just out enough to insert the middle support rod, especially if it’s windy and sometimes it’s extended less than a yard. If it’s windy have one supporting end-rod out less than the other so the awning is at an angle. This seems to let the wind flow over the awning with less flapping of the material. If the ground is good holding soil, I’ll stake (tent pegs) the support arms vertical instead of using the brackets on the trailer wall. Mine are only riveted on and so far I’ve had to replace three of the rivets.

The tow vehicle is just as important as the trailer. Keep in mind that full-timers who tow small trailers generally do not do so with a pickup. Pickups are somewhat impractical for this type of full-timing if one is out of shape. Most have a van or an SUV since, day-to-day, it is so much easier to get to your gear. Remember half your secured stuff will be in the tow vehicle. Sure there are some who tow with a pickup but most of them had one to start with and just chose to stay with it. Even many of these people eventually switch to something other than a pickup. I wouldn’t mind having a pickup but then again I would look at climbing in and out of the back as exercise. Most others in their 60’s wouldn’t look at it this way. If you go with a pickup, be sure to get one with a crew cab so you’ll have plenty of room for gear that can easily be locked up. For power, go with at least a 5.7L V8, especially if you will be in mountains from time to time or open desert and plains with stiff headwinds. Full-timers haul a few hundred pounds more weight than vacationers. Climbing mountain roads with the 6 cylinder I started with could drop my speed down to 25-30 mph at times. Not exactly safe if there is traffic, no passing lanes, and no shoulder to pull off onto. I also do not enjoy watching the temperature gauge climb close to the red. If I’m out in the open and fighting headwinds, sometimes my maximum speed is only 40-45 mph. I generally only cruise along at 50-55 but I don’t like it when I have no power in reserve. Most of the time I liked my ’91 Jeep Cherokee but there were definitely times when I felt more power would have been way safer. I eventually moved up to an 8 cylinder. If I were strictly a vacationer, I would have stuck with the 6. I suggest getting a ¾ ton tow vehicle if you will be full-timing even if you are only pulling a 17 or 18’ trailer. You might, at some point, move up to a 20–22 footer or if you are a couple, you’ll probably want a 22-24 footer right off.
As to gas mileage, if one goes the standard, boilerplate route of racking up thousands of asphalt miles each year and seeing the standard sights, gas mileage will be a factor for you. Being a camper, I couldn’t care less about gas mileage since a good deal of my traveling is between the roads—hiking boots, trail running shoes, and mountain bike tires. I generally put less than 6,000 miles a year on my tow vehicle.

If one is gong to pretty much stick to national forest campgrounds and state and national parks, a 2-wheel drive vehicle will work fine since you will be on graded and maintained roads. If you plan on getting out to secluded off-the-grid spots, snag a sturdy, high-clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle to get you down the backcountry dirt and sand roads. Why get a small rig if you are not going to take it where big rigs can’t go? And that brings up another reason to buy used. If you are into camping, rather than RVing, you will be going down rough roads, double tracks, and across streams. The trailer can take a beating. If you have a new rig, you might be into babying it, which will really limit your access to some of the best isolated spots.
Also, if you plan to be out in the spaces in-between, consider getting tires with a bit more aggressive tread for the tow vehicle, maybe something like BF Goodrich Rugged Trail LT tires.

After one has lived the lifestyle for a year or so, he/she will probably have a pretty good idea if one wants to stay with it and what kind of rig would work best for the lifestyle. Then, if one cannot find a used rig of a specific brand and model, I can see buying a new one. An active couple can easily live comfortably in a 22 or 24 footer. I’d seriously suggest looking into the concept of ‘simple living.’ There are a number of informative sites on the web. The concept covers all aspects of life; it’s not merely about living in a small cabin out in the woods and growing your food. The more I practice it, the more I seem to have. I’m healthy and time rich.

Be sure to have emergency road service coverage. If you pull a trailer, make sure the tow truck will take both your tow vehicle and trailer to a garage and not leave your trailer sitting there alongside the road. I’ve had good luck with the Good Sam roadside assistance plan. Except for the annual fee, I did not pay a dime the three times I’ve had the Jeep and trailer towed to a shop.
I generally make it a point to not travel the asphalt on weekends. If one needs roadside assistance, businesses tend to be very busy on Saturdays and are frequently closed on Sundays. So if you are towed on a Saturday morning, it could be Monday or Tuesday until the shop can start to work on your rig. Not too bad if there is a spot where they will let you stay in your trailer but I’m not a fan of sleeping in a parking lot.

If you get an older rig and the finish is looking kind of drab, buffing compound can bring back a good deal of the luster. Look for the gray buffing compound rather than the red. If the finish is not too bad, polishing compound should be enough. Two things to remember when using these abrasives: do less than one square foot at a time and wipe it off immediately. The work is being done as you rub them on so use some umph. These compounds do not work like waxes. If you let them dry, you’ll have streaks and you will have to do that area over again. Apply with a back-and-forth motion rather than circular and use more compound than you would think, maybe a tablespoon for each small section (the stuff is real cheap). It’s a chore so I break it down so it takes me a week to do my small trailer. Use microfiber cloths to take the compound off. Wax the trailer twice a year to protect the surface.

(February 2013 addendum – On the following pages, I wrote about researching for my next trailer, which I picked up in May of 2013, read:
the December 2012 entry, “back to NM, time for a new trailer, and pdf stories”
January 2013 “defroster, trailer saga, Bordeaux, story for tomorrow and not gonna settle for less”
February 2013, “my first goat, record snow fall, new tunes, bottle cutter, decided, think different, and a thanks”
May 2013 “one trailer, two trailers, one trailer”
February 2014 “new people, 40’, life/wintering in the 17K, boomerangs, and PLBs”)
May 2015 “the norm, a note for my wife, two years with the Nash 17K, and the window”

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?
Satchel Paige


Sunday, October 1, 2006

packing for the road

In a small camper, like a boat, one has the pleasure of arranging everything one needs to enjoy life. Some thought needs to be given on how you are going to carry/organize all this stuff. Remember, this site is geared to the full-timer who needs to bring along way more than the vacationer or one who will only be out for a season.
If you have a tow vehicle and a small trailer like the Casita, consider having a custom rack fabricated for the top of your tow vehicle for bulky, light stuff.
Out of season clothing is stored in the tow vehicle. Seasonal clothing is in the trailer.
Measured what space there is in the back of the SUV with the seat folded down, go to Wal-Mart, purchase a few tubs, and stack them in the back of the tow vehicle.
Pack light, get rid of your nice glass jars, measuring cup, etc. and go plastic. I know, no panache, but lightweight.

Try to choose items that can be used for multiple purposes.
There are some good hiding places in your vehicle and trailer for important papers, your backup hard drive, extra handgun, and whatever. Choose a couple places that require a tool to access them.

I know, I know, it looks pretty disorganized—but what do you want from a vagabond. The first photo shows the custom rack with my bike, portable holding tank, 2 of my 6 Reliance jugs, a 1-gal gas jug, and a jug of cat litter. The second photo shows my ladder, dipping bars, folding table, 5-gal laundry bucket with a hose, and a sun shower heating up as I drive. The last photo shows you the reason I had extra heavy springs installed on the Cherokee.

Then there is moving day; the day you pack up and drive to the next place you are going to set up.

Inside – Be sure windows and roof vents are closed. Clear off table and counters. Take down anything that you have hanging on the wall that would be swinging back and forth, scoring the wall. A large Landsend or LL Bean canvas tote bag can be handy. Put all the miscellaneous items into it and place it on the floor. Try to keep stuff you are moving for travel, one the floor and over the axle. If you have too much weight on your hitch, move some of the weight aft of the axle. Not too much, however, too much weight aft of the axle can make the trailer more prone to swaying. Remember what to do if your trailer ever starts to sway from the wrong distribution of weight, taking a curve too fast, doing an evasive maneuver, or whatever. Reach down and move the electric brake controller slide. Applying the trailer brakes without touching those of the tow vehicle will straighten it out. The problem with doing this, however, is remembering to do it while your brain is screaming, HOLY SH*T!
Make sure the items in the fridge are ready for travel. Move items around so there is not much room for shifting. You don’t want to realize you did not wedge in the pitcher of orange juice as you are driving across a section of washboard. Wish I could say this never happened to me. Switch the fridge to DC if you have the option. I am most assuredly NOT a fan of keeping the propane turned on while on the road. If you are in an accident and a line or connection breaks, Can you say, ‘screwed?’ Besides, it’s not as if the inside of the fridge is going to warm up all that much during the drive. If you think it might (never happened to me), fill an empty ½ milk jug ¾ full of water, freeze it, and put it down in the fridge on moving day (or keep another one in the freezer).
Make sure all drawers are securely closed. Look into overhead cabinets to be sure to remove any heavy items that might shift and push open the door. Same goes for the medicine cabinet. I had one with a weak latch, so the first moving day did not go as well as it could have.
Wash fruit you will be eating during the move and fill one or two water bottles. Gather any devices you want to charge during the drive. My iPod nano filled with podcasts is priceless for the drive. I don’t like driving.

Outside – I don’t like moving days so I pack up outside stuff the evening before a move and roll in the awning.
A day or two before a moving day: check oil, coolant, windshield wash, trans, brake, and battery levels. Clean windshield. Check lug nuts and bolts on hitch for tightness. Check tire pressures, including the two spares.
I also back up the Cherokee to within a couple of inches of the A-frame and attach the chains and brake release cable. Anything to make moving days start off smoothly.
Latch the stove hood vent.
Be sure you have at least a few gallons of water with you in case of emergencies or something comes up preventing you from acquiring water at the end of the day.
Turn off propane tank valves.

Even when you get down to the absolute minimum, you will find out over the first few months that you have packed WAY too much. During my first year I found myself stopping at thrift shops along the way and dropping things off or giving stuff to other campers and once to a homeless person. After you have everything packed be sure to go through all your cabinets and tubs both in the trailer and in your tow vehicle a few times in the first couple of weeks. You will be getting rid of SO much stuff when downsizing that you will forget exactly what you have kept and packed, as well as, wondering where the heck you put a particular item. That can be a whole lot of fun. Keep in mind that what you do not have saves weight, space, cost, and will never need service.

If you are going to spend most of your time with hookups and have a lot of people around, full-timing is really no big deal—somewhat like living in a tiny studio apartment. Downsizing definitely takes some planning but it’s nowhere near as overwhelming as some seem to think. Most of us can think of times in our life that were much more stressful and chaotic than downsizing from a house to a small trailer. After you start full-timing in a small RV, you might find that it was all easier than you had anticipated. Not surprising since one is simplifying one’s life in a big way. Remember to stay amused. Without a sense of humor, forget it. And doing it in a tiny RV will definitely add more spice and adventure into your life. Hit the secondary roads and follow the roads less traveled. It can be a hoot.

There is no better opportunity to receive more
than to be thankful for what you already have.
James E Rohn


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

simple travel—between the roads

Going back to ‘simple living’ has readjusted my focus on many aspects of life—travel, for one.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tzu

Rediscovering nature can be a good way to get past possession addiction. Backpacking or canoe camping shows us how little we actually need. Traveling in a Class B van or small trailer is not far behind.

Some find the ‘places to visit’ are places to avoid. If tour busses are disgorging hundreds of people a day somewhere—some of us will be nowhere around. It’s not our kind of wilderness/outdoor experience. Or riding around in a shuttle bus? Nope. One sees so little from the asphalt and sidewalks. The Outdoors is beautiful. The effort to get out in it is well worth it. Those sitting on their butts being pulled along by an engine are never going to understand.

One hears about people who go off and drive thousands of miles on interstates during a vacation ‘seeing the sights’. What does one really see? What does one learn? Many knock off various National Parks along the way, stopping for a few hours or a day or two at each one. National Parks are absolutely fabulous and deserve a week or a month—‘traveling’ a different trail each day. One might want to think about hitting only one National Park per trip and truly experience it.

Driving down the two-lane blacktop is part of the trip. Try going along at 50-55 and taking in what you’re driving through. It’s not just the destinations. Taking the interstates or driving down the secondary roads too fast detracts for ‘seeing’ what's along the way. While stopping for gas on these secondary roads, ask where the locals go for breakfast or lunch. By going to these establishments for a meal, one can get a feel for the area and learn of some local places and trails to check out. Outdoor gear and bicycle shops are possibly the best places to pick up info on local trails. To me, the ‘secondary’ roads are ‘primary roads’. This is the way to get from one camping spot to the next. These take you through the small towns and present much more of the true nature of this country. The backcountry roads start to tune one back to some basics and simpler aspects of life.

Some ‘travel’ the dirt roads, old logging roads, double tracks, and single tracks. There's a lot that can be seen in a relatively small area if one gets off the asphalt. A few camp in one spot for a week or a month and mountain bike and hike the local trails to see what is ‘overlooked’ from the roads. Many of these places do not even have trails so one just takes off cross-country to explore. One will rarely catch these travelers on the interstates or in the national parks. The best photographs of nature are not taken from the side of the road but rather up in the mountains or out in the canyons, meadows, and deserts. These people travel/explore a locale and might then drive a hundred miles and travel/explore another locale. They don't do much traveling in the conventional sense but they definitely see a whole lot more. They scale down their vacations and do their traveling in their hiking boots. There’s a wonderful satisfaction from physical exercise and contact with the outdoors, followed with a meal around a small, feedpan campfire.

Taking one's time ‘traveling’ only a few hundred miles over a few weeks or a month might be more relaxing and enjoyable than one of those mega-mile travel vacations. The grandiose, like the Tetons, can be awesome but coming across a stream up in a mountain meadow that you hiked up to can be just as inspiring. Might be worth a try sometime. If one stays at primitive or small campgrounds, you might meet others who are doing something similar but this has not been my experience.

Some campers look for camping spots along various forest service roads. I come across them from time to time as I drive along. This is good. It keeps them away from some of the choice spots. I look for the spur roads—they are unmarked or have a letter after the number. These roads don’t get as much use since larger rigs can have problems getting down them. This is a good thing. The roads are older and generally partially overgrown—double-tracks. Sometimes there will even be an older road off the lettered one, for example: FR191 > FR191B > FR191B1. These are frequently where I find the most secluded places to camp. Traveling with a small fiberglass trailer sure seems to fit in nice with the simple way.

I have no interest in traveling the asphalt. I want to travel between the roads. I want to see what’s over the hill, along the creek, up the canyon, along the ridge. Traveling to hike through fabulous scenery can feed one mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. One can recharge. It can open a window into one’s self that you might not know exists until it is experienced. And observing wildlife in their natural habitat can be quite an experience. You might even find yourself smiling more than you ever have before. Life is simple and good.

Learn how to walk while out in Nature. One does not want to just bang down the trail, looking at the ground and daydreaming. Make like another animal and become part of the system. Stop and listen from time to time and scent the wind. Make it a habit and you’ll experience much more of the Outdoors. Walk with your head up, just dropping your eyes from time to time to check out your footing, keep your chin up. Walking this way greatly expands your field of vision and you will not only see much more of the area you are walking through but much more wildlife as well. Why bother going out in nature if one is only going to look down at the ground while hiking along? Might as well stay home and use a stair-stepper while watching the Discovery Channel. Walking upright with your hips tucked under your shoulders and keeping the chin up also keeps the airways open. If you start getting short of breath—check you posture. You want to make it easy and you want to see all you can.

This type of travel can be quite accessible and affordable. One can experience living in nature's splendor for long periods of time with all the comforts of home—like a turtle with his home on his back.

Finding this lifestyle enjoyable seems somewhat strange to me in that I have never really been into travel, nor am I really into it now. I did, however, really enjoy bicycling through Europe for nine weeks with a girlfriend back in '79. But doing it like this, with no set route, things to see, places to go, miles to rack up—it's probably more ‘roaming’ than ‘traveling’. Granted, I live on wheels—but I do it so I can live out in Nature. I definitely cannot relate to those who live on wheels for the standard reasons.

Some of us are not big on living in the normal scheme of things.

“Solitude in the wild forces me to call on inner resources.” Anne LaBastille in Woodswoman

One of the joys of travel
is visiting new towns and meeting new people.
G. Khan

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Friday, August 25, 2006

more on simple living
a dream and cutting down possessions

For decades I thought that when I got close to retirement I would get a few acres of land maybe an hour out of town with a small low-upkeep house; drill a well, set up solar panels, dig a garden, plant fruit trees, and acquire some livestock. A few years ago I started thinking that this would be a lot of work—daily chores, upkeep, always taking care of something that needed doing and it could be a real ball-and-chain if I wanted to go off for a month or so now and then. By simplifying my wants and getting a small trailer, living out on public lands, I have the quiet and solitude, wildlife, stellar views and time. This has proved to be most fulfilling. I only do basic upkeep and rarely do I do little projects. I’d rather go for a hike. Being able to follow the geese, I can also live mostly outside the year round. Living on a small homestead would definitely be rewarding but there is the time factor. At this point in my life I want as much time to do whatever I want whenever I want. Remember that I look at life as an hourglass with a limited amount of sand—and it only runs one way.
At some point I might get a few acres out in the sticks and spend half the year there living in whatever rig I presently have. I’ll roll in with my small low-upkeep house and solar panel and after a few months, roll out to follow the geese. We’ll see.

How many things are there which I do not want.

As to possessions, we sure do seem to accumulate a lot of stuff as we go through life. Getting rid of this excess can be tough. We get attached to our possessions and almost bond to some of them, creating an emotional battle when we consider giving them up. We have memories and emotions associated with possessions. We spent money on the items, which meant we missed other opportunities to spend that money. We fear we might have an occasion to use the clothes in the future, or might lose 30 lbs. and fit the clothes in the future. We fear an uncertain future, when we might need the possessions because we won’t have the money to buy more. But stop and think for a minute. We’re talking about the past and the future here. Focus on the present, without the need for all these possessions. If we get stuck in the past, we are missing the opportunities of the present. Get out on some adventures and build new memories. And fears of an uncertain future can also be nixed if we focus on the present. The future hasn’t arrived yet—the present has. We have no idea what the future will bring so worrying about it is a waste of time. Deal with it when you get there. Instead, focus on living now, in the present. And when you do that, you realize you don’t need most of these possessions. All you need is to make the most of this moment, right now. Sure, it might feel good to have a lot, to have that feeling of ‘plenty’ but if instead we focus on quality, and not quantity, we can get an even better pleasure. Having a few good things is so much better than having a lot of things. Enjoying small pleasures, now, is better than the feeling that possessions give us. Just be sure you make good use of all this free time you’ll be acquiring. So focus on the present, and let the past and future fade away. And in doing so, we can banish our emotional ties to possessions—let them go—now. I know it’s not easy, having gone through it, but it can be done. When I started (and continue) to simplify my life and greatly reduced my possessions, I had no idea of how good it would feel to have so little. What I do have—is a vast amount of time. And I’m using it to do what I want.

The true way to gain much, is never to desire to gain too much. He is not rich that possesses much, but he that coves no more; and he is not poor that enjoys little, but he that wants too much.
Francis Beau

One incentive to start weeding out the excess is to think about the costs of owning all that stuff: cleaning, maintaining, repairing, replacing, working to pay for it and insure it, reducing the time we have to spend doing things we want to do, and on-and-on. Once one decides to trim down the excess in their life, you have the joy of getting it all out the door: posting items up on ebay and craigslist, listing them in classifieds, setting up yard sales, dealing with buyers, taking items to a thrift shop or friends and relatives—a real fun time. NOT!
To recycle items, you might want to set up a table out front with a sign saying ‘free stuff-please take me home.’ Whenever you come up with items that aren’t worth much or you can’t find a home for, put them out on the table and you can be sure they will be scoffed up. You also might want to chain the table to a tree. If this would not be acceptable in your neighborhood, just set up the free table while having your yard sales.
I don’t know, but most people seem to need ideas on how to reduce their possessions. They ask others how they did it or read a book about it. I can’t quite grasp this. Just do it. You have way too much stuff. Get rid of it. Whether it’s furniture, clothes, books, knick-knacks, kitchenware, tools, fat, whatever. Take the initiative and get started. Do it all over the next couple months. It’s your life; you don’t need someone to hold your hand for something as inconsequential as this. It’s just ‘things.’ You have no idea of how good it feels to get down to just basic stuff. It might sound hokey, but there is a true sense of liberation and release. And you’ll have SO much extra time to do the things you most enjoy.

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful
or believe to be beautiful.
William Morris

Books were tough for me to get rid of. If it helps, I’ve never regretted getting rid of any particular book. I’ve kept some and can go to the library if I want to reread one that I passed on or pick up an inexpensive used copy, which I can later pass on to a friend or exchange with another camper. Tools for my silverwork were another big problem. Whatever your material weakness is, find ways to purge them and the less important items in your clutter. Either focus on a class of items or tackle a drawer, box, shelf, or cabinet—nothing bigger than a closet—forget tackling a whole room at one time. When tackling a room, I found myself holding onto way too much so I had to waste time reweeding. Or set small blocks of time aside for cutting down, 15 minutes or so, and be merciless. Look at and assess every object in your house. Keep picking at the task with regular mini-purges so you don’t get overwhelmed. Otherwise you will not get rid of all the excess. It can become very discouraging. Think of this cutting down as a gift to yourself instead of a chore—it’s an unburdening. Again, it might sound hokey, but you’ll experience a sense of freedom, a lightness when you are done. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t gone through this myself. But one has to be open enough to feel it. If the status-quo ring is firmly embedded in your nose—you are not going to get it. Just buy a big RV and bring it all with you—including a full size kitchen sink.

Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words
in the English language,
and yet one that we are culturally cut off from
understanding and enjoying.
The consumption society has made us feel
that happiness lies in having things,
and has failed to teach us the happiness
of not having things.
Elise Boulding

One aspect that one has to deal with when cutting down is the ‘waste of money’. Many hold onto stuff because they feel it would be a waste of good money if they got rid of it. They bought these items with hard-earned money, and they don’t want that money to go to waste, so they’ve been holding onto them. Sound familiar? It’s a burden that keeps one from freeing yourself of these unneeded possessions—it forces you to keep the space they occupy, to maintain these possessions, to constantly see them every day even if you don’t want them, to walk around them or trip over them or live in a cramped, cluttered space. This is a burden, paying penance for your initial wasted expenditure of cash. But—the waste was when you bought it, not when you get rid of it. You bought something you didn’t really need— and the real waste would be to ignore this and not learn from it.

Another thought is to rent a 5x10 storage locker for a year and fill it with stuff you are not quite sure of. Go off on a loop for a year and when you get back, you should have a pretty good idea of exactly what you need to keep. Also get a good size safe deposit box. Fill it with small valuable or memorable stuff you want to hold onto but would rather not have in your trailer. I’m not talkin’ a lot of papers here—but other kinds of stuff.

Keep on simplifying. Stop buying things that aren’t necessary, stop browsing in stores and online, and stop looking through catalogs. Why cut-down if you keep adding? Cut down on what you feel you need to keep track of and work towards fewer needs. Get out of debt and set up automatic bill paying. Stop worrying about goals and keeping track of them and the steps required along the way. Make exercise a habit so you don’t even have to plan for it. Think about cutting back on following the news. It’s all just as much an attitude as a lifestyle. Do things meaningful to you and develop a mindset of contentedness.

You’ll find far fewer distractions in your day–to-day life. This can lead to one aspect that many are not comfortable with—you start to face yourself. It’s a given, with all this free time, to do some reflection. You can’t go through life mindlessly any more, hiding from life busying yourself with all sorts of useless things. You are going to look at yourself and you might not like everything you see. You’ll come out stronger and at peace with your life once you work through it. But it’s not overly pleasant. This might be one of those times when it is better to be delusional—then you’ll just think everything is okay with yourself and that you could not possibly be a better person.

Scale down and spend your time in new experiences—rather than with your possessions.
No matter the skewed perception in the media today, downsizing and living simply is a stellar way to live.

A little humor from Jim B, George Carlin talks about ‘stuff.’

Make time for what is important to you by eliminating the unnecessary.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

simple living in 95 sq ft

Simplicity is making our way through life with just enough baggage. Life can be pretty easy if we don’t complicate it by striving towards excess. Greater simplicity frees time, energy, and attention for personal growth and other satisfying activities. It’s like renewing one's appreciation of life.

You have succeeded in life
when all you really want is only what you really need.
Vernon Howard

We need little when we are directly in touch with life. It is when we remove ourselves from direct and wholehearted participation in life that emptiness and boredom can creep in. Getting rid of things that one does not need is participating in a symbolic act of releasing everything one does not need in one's life. One can have a hard time reducing one’s needs if one does not have something more fulfilling inside—life is lived from within.

Besides the noble art of getting things done,
there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
Lin Yutang

I’ve scaled down from houses to large apartments to a fifth wheel (my Jayco on the left), to presently, this 17’ Casita travel trailer that is pulled with a Jeep Cherokee. At each reduction, I thought it was not possible to do with any less to live comfortably. I have always been wrong in this.

The sculptor produces the beautiful statue
by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed—
it is a process of elimination.
Elbert Hubbard

Simplicity is how one actually lives. I spend most of my time camping in secluded spots out in national forests or on BLM and state lands. My ‘yard’ is always changing. Living in a small trailer enables me to get down all kinds of narrow dirt roads for some absolutely stellar camping spots. And the small size is not restrictive if one is of the mindset that he does not so much live in the camper as just outside of it. But then, one needs to follow the geese—or you are going to freeze or roast your butt off.
To live successfully anywhere outside the mainstream it helps to have an unconventional spirit coupled with down-to-earth practicality and the ability to balance these.
Simple living entails quieting the mind. Tune into what one is presently doing, not thinking about what else needs to get done, what friends you need to touch base with, what to add to the town-run list, or whatever. Solitude helps. It’s easy if one is living with only pets but it’s important to find time for it when living with another. Solitude in and of itself is cleansing to the soul.

We tend to ‘run on automatic’, acting in habitual and preprogrammed ways along with the habitual and preprogrammed ways of perceiving and responding. It can be difficult to tune into this since we live in an almost constant state of mental distraction. First we need to develop an awareness—a waking up—and then we can see the practical relevance of living more consciously. It can feel like letting go—letting go of old ideas and old ways of doing things. Letting go of old ways of thinking enables us to see things in new ways. One needs to learn how to enjoy the simple things and to appreciate what you already have. It takes time but as one becomes more conscious of it, you’ll find more contentment and less need to be entertained.

To find the universal elements enough;
to find the air and the water exhilarating;
to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter...
to be thrilled by the stars at night;
to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring—
these are some of the rewards of the simple life.
John Burroughs

Being too wrapped up in our things and busyness leads us away from ourselves and our experience in the moment. We can learn to live more in tune with the earth, which, in itself, opens up a new world if we are not already into the Outdoors. Living simply is also more conducive to personal and spiritual growth. Like the old Eastern saying, ‘Simplicity reveals the master’. Penetrating behind our continuous stream of thought is stressed by every major consciousness tradition in the world: Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, Sufi, Zen, etc. We can begin a process of learning a natural quietness of mind and openness of heart. Something that I would like to develop but probably won’t attain in this life. If I come to believe in reincarnation—I can then shoot for two out of three.

Abraham Yehoshua Heschel said, ‘There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord.’ Sounds good.

live simply, be healthy and fit, and live the life you love


Sunday, July 30, 2006

table of contents


  • July—table of contents
  • August—simple living in 95 sq ft
    August—more on simple living—dreams and cutting down on possessions
  • September—simple travel—between the roads
  • October—packing for the road
  • November—choosing a rig
  • December—tread lightly


  • January—one foot in the grave - get back in shape and experience the Outdoors
  • March—lake powell
  • June—home sweet home - summer job in Kanab, UT and the Kaibab Plateau
  • September—seasonal work - ideas and resources
    September—use of time
  • November—heading south—Moab, UT and down rt.191 to southern AZ and Anne LaBastille


  • January—southern new mexico state parks—full moon, mug, and bowl walks, don’t act your age, and meeting other campers
    January—let others know - lettering for the outside of your rig
  • February—the lifestyle—what it’s like to live like this & security
    February—odds and ends for off-the-grid vagabonds living in small rigs
  • March—heading north—weekday asphalt, second mesa on the Hopi reservation and BLM
  • April—not quite limbo - short stay in Heber, UT while teaching a class
  • June—campground host
  • July—life in south willow canyon, UT—rattlesnakes, pack goats, didgeridoo, prayer flags, connect-the-campers, and Rizzlo
  • August—evicted - evacuated for a couple weeks due to a forest fire and Rizzlo is found
  • September—chompin’ to hit the road - big eyes at night, homemade trailer, onyx and turkeys
  • October—campground manager position - what such a job entails
    October—maybe it’s time to roll - installing solar panel
    October—heading south to new mexico and ‘my canyonlands – the adventurous life of Kent Frost’
  • November—heron lake state park, canaries, snagging, and custom doormats
    November—fulltiming in RV parks
  • December—villanueva state park and meeting new people
    December—conchas lake state park
    December—ute lake state park


  • January—santa rosa state park
    January—sumner lake state park, pet deer, a racoon, and the wolf moon
  • February—oasis state park, clovis points, LEDs, and the snow moon
    February—bottomless lakes state park
    February—brantley lake state park, cold butt, the back way, in-town bicycling, living desert, not into travel
  • March—year of the ox, a new trans, and the worm moon
  • April—back to city of rocks state park, historic district, and wait wait
    April—RVwest magazine article - following a free spirit
    April—back to bisbee, nixing the A/C, and the pink moon
    April—ravens, one life less for onyx, and bikes
  • May—meandering north up NM rt.181with a little blue bird, too many mice, san francisco mountains, rough roads, almost lost the starter, and the flower moon
  • June—living alfresco and the strawberry moon
  • July—one last time in south willow—the german, housesitting, mudslide, seals, an ungrateful Rizzlo, and the buck moon
  • August—evicted once again—yungas road, feed pan, take your last breath, pulse, the book thief, cretin with a horse, and the sturgeon moon
    August—onyx thwarted, skiers cabin, where am i
  • September—rock climbers, EDELAC, rotor rooter, raccoons, more seals, the cabin comes down, and the harvest moon
  • October—meadow and onyx, horses, deer, turkeys, ‘a walk in the woods’, ruth’s with pam, hiking with cathy, du pre books by peter bowen, and the hunter's moon
    October—out of here
  • November—moab, documentaries, deck plate, dipping bars, uncertainty, and the beaver moon
    November—canyon rims area, bored?!, rockland, cowpie fires, and a new bed
  • December—navajo lake, heron, water heater flush, day-to-day variances, three ravens, onyx and the shower bag, LaMontanita co-op, villanueva, thanksgiving, and the cold moon
    December—santa rosa, oasis, bottomless, more déjà vu, and five great lessons


  • January—seasonal friends, teardrop, winter solstice, christmas with the cows, and oliver lee hike
  • February—back to bisbee II
    February—granite gap
    February—out and about south of silver city and onyx in hyperdrive
  • March—big burro mountains
    March—easy to be active at city of rocks
  • April—cold weather dry camping in small fiberglass trailers
    April—jacks peak, caches, salida, grapes, wanderlust, and retirement
  • May—5 felines, snow, desperation, and feet
    May—trippin’ and fallin’, solitude, sacaton, sailplane, and expenses
    May—change of plans, creek coffee and wine, codgerspace, and sirius
  • June—camping spots heading north, breakdown, and seeing the house
    June—learning to fly
  • July—house sitting in cañones valley
  • August—don't sit on your ticket
  • September—little beaver pow-wow, paige bridges art, this and that, and cherishing each day
    September—learning to fly—part two—starting to get past the crashing
  • October—chama to moab
  • November—designs by owen
    November—tucked away in the mountains with felines and birds
  • December—campgrounds


  • January—tally, between the roads, radio classics, what to write, and the bricklayer
  • February—flats, shoot the pilot, cold spell, a 20 year old Cherokee, and how to wash the cat
  • March—back to bisbee III—mucho eating, stoned and stuffed,
    independent ladies, honk and holler, no F150, mating and peanuts, and if
  • April—the new turning radius, M&M out of the cage, cookes peak, rattles, and christian or thief
  • May—aging and disuse
  • June—short segment north through NM and what a woman finds attractive in a man
    June—diana’s sixty minutes sixty years challenge
  • July—bone marrow transplant, stairwell saga and newly weds
    July—one pot meals, virtual choir, wingin’ it, the winds, way too many porker carts, an evil god, and shootin’ the boss
  • August—moose in the window, doa, carefree children, turkeys in the night, not my realm, and dear cats and dogs
  • September—more moose, might as well be dead, a dead sony, mesa's bear, another challenge, and children’s books
  • October—art deco, on the rim, flaming cow sh*t, check the water, nasty body fluids, it's a hard life, extended time off the grid, and games for when you are older
  • November—small world, coyotes, running of the bulls, IZ, salmon run, an empty park, fresh cup, and George Washington and the axe
  • December—disaronno, blue cover, eton, notebook, a fisherman, sandbags, and chicken little


  • January—solstice and silver jewelry of the southwest Indians
  • February—an old man and the norm
  • March—podcasts, grave robbers, the rhino, and wash hikes
  • April—back to Bisbee IV, spending, all on wheels, food from plants, old fogies’ pass, recycling ravens, and more time in the burros
  • May—night life, wimpin’ out a bit, email, dragging my feet, cushion covers, flash backs, too old, and ravens (again)
  • June—last two rattlers, eclipse, single burner, javelina, blocked panel, back out where I feel best
  • July—one less life for Meadow, physical travel, meth, two-niner, and cutting down
  • August—first 6 weeks in the white mtns, up close bobcat, road closures & the chinese, and semester at sea
  • September—last 3 weeks in the Whites, plinking, more mud, logger, and felines
    September—bear at the door, 2 postings, bow drill, 3-week stints off the grid, the Kaibab, living for single-tracks, and mushrooms
  • October—back in the dirt for M&M, mail call, little chuckles, thrilling but nuts, scootin’ mesa, water containers, john’s eclipse, triple 18
    October—canyon rims, trees for M&M, and macraven
  • November—sweat lodge, a mistake, a second shelter, cryptobiotic soil, and 2nd spot in the canyon rims area
  • December—back to NM, time for a new trailer, up to Oregon? and pdf stories


  • January—defroster, trailer saga, Bordeaux, story for tomorrow and not gonna settle for less
  • February—my first goat, record snow fall, bottle cutter, new tunes, decided, think different, and a thanks
  • March—lookin’ good, maybe in a tree, LOL, and SHAFF
  • April—salida in ’14, winter parks, outdoorsy, coffee with a tang, mother earth, blog to com, and bounding
  • May—one trailer, two trailers, one trailer
  • June—feel it, la grande, thunder rv, bobolink, options, sun, snow! and tweaked for us
  • July—this and that and my 2nd goat
  • August—$1000 town run for groceries, option error, a flock of chicks, one cowpie and a lookout
  • September—my first chicks, apprehension and a little help
  • October—back in Utah, mutant fungus, room with a view, and mega box
  • November—solo trailer and last RV, but…
  • December—third goat, stranded solstice, recreation vehicles, and loser


  • January—pretty much does it for electric hookups, rigs,
    staying warm and the first of 12 olios
  • February—new people, 40’, life/wintering in the 17K, boomerangs, and PLBs
  • March—park model, rick’s ’66, 4 miles an hour, and a kindle
  • April—learning curves, Evangeline, and shadows
  • May—this and that, stuck in the parks, manzano state park and anchor dates
  • June—stay cool, online drawback, and back to the life
  • July—3-week hard-wall camping stints off-the-grid and music
  • August—more on the July page, at the water’s edge, hard-wall camping, floor vents and housework exercise, salads, sawdust, and close encounters (predators)
  • September—14,000’, how long can a short move take! parallel universe, woodpecker II, hiking, potential full-timers, and a bud room
  • October—back in Utah, freedom for M&M, tires, night sky, 4th camera, conversation, and artwork
  • November—wuss, soaring, stickers, under the sun and moon, and Susan’s photos with captions
  • December—Buddha, felis catus and cervidae, first nuke, two sides of dull, spaces in-between, printers, car talk, and a singing nun


  • January—kickass classical, never stand still, 5 goats, lesson for the teacher, kayaks, and bet I can put on more clothing than you
  • February—65, dead people, peaches and peas, wonder, body armor, and stepping stones
  • March—shillelagh, hikers, photo contest, and 52 days
  • April—back to Bisbee V, my first flock of ducks, cosmic catnip, RVwest, and hiking a gulch
  • May—the norm, a note for my wife, two years with the Nash 17K, and the window
  • June—couldn't-do-without and heading south
  • July—sixth goat, time to re-watch, from pad to basket, back in the woods, orienteering, something it is not, what are the chances, big ball, and lost to posterity
  • August—down and dirty in the sagebrush, skip it, up another 900’, germs, and charades
  • September—Nash trailers, two lifestyles, spur roads, options, and a shadow
  • October—paperbacks, opening cans, heifer, once more around the world, the note, a mystery solved, and futility
  • November—stocking up, vertigo, butt huntin’, and too early for 34 degrees
  • December—bags of what?! slippin’ n’ slidin’, you hear something? mini-book, and two photos


  • January—seventh goat, kn, Goliath, Uros, and the return of Cleo
  • February—room without a view, back to Bisbee VI, Scorpion II, license @ 66, mulled wine, and music and the ostrich
  • March—let me out, rat poot, roadrunners, half-mast, and too small to fight
  • April—2nd flock, 3rd cat, pretty much a bust,
    designated driver, sudoku, and it’s just starting
  • May—leak fix leak, 2-week limit, and horses
  • June—meadow’s recovery, eighth goat, mega-fires and idiots, fireplace, and it was a dark and stormy night
  • July—early morning wakeup call, frogs,rattlesnakes and cowpies,and in a barrel
  • August—this and that
  • September—here's a little story (my most read page)
  • October—the graft
  • November—back with Meadow and Mesa
  • December—back on the vac


  • January—not quite enough
  • February—kindle and almost time to head south
  • March—now, maybe it has been enough
  • April—once more, into the breech
  • May—tumbleweed and a success
  • June—back in the woods
  • July—some medical tweaks and air pistols
  • August—one year, finally back to sixty for sixty, armed to hike, and another ramble
  • September—timberon
  • October—timberon II
  • November—21 miles, 38 degrees, 28% and another bobcat
  • December—liberty, not so much and can gas


  • January—NM wildflowers, not yet ashes, slow dance, and heart and soul
  • February—next time, windshield, and pleasure in a good novel
  • March—good emotions, lost jacks, fog fence, and last time in Utah for awhile
  • April—ode to joy, flat spots, 1954, and back in Timberon
  • May—brewing, a curtain, laser and eye drops, and willie and lobo
  • June—bird quiz, stoned, rehab, deer, and patience/wisdom
  • July—montezuma, two months, and me
  • August—lizard, goat herder, and missed
  • September—wilson, belly butting, neuter, and a checklist
  • October—poppycock, park from above, and hope
  • November—back in the parks, cargo trailers, and stimulating the brain
  • December—e-MTB and milk paint

  • 2019

    • January—groovy yurts, the arrow and the green book
    • February—cold weather hummingbirds and wine bottles
    • March—meerkat, leaf springs, quick link and snow
    • April—CH751, being-dead, ice, uu,
      and cinderblock
    • May—lsweethearts of rhythm, hitching a ride, and nubs
    • June—it’s a wonderful life, Weed, coral reef
      and OH NO
    • July—a few short bits and thoughts on a move
    • August—eye catcher, last of coral, first and boink
    • September—upset, 20 gauge, and smartest & dumbest
    • October—new panels, a comeback, books & music, ford and paw prints
    • November—karma, people, the boot and radiator & exhaust
    • December—winkler, smokey and the solstice


    • January —a grain of salt
    • February—sportpet, driver safety, do the math and ESPP
    • March— back to the lifestyle and intermittent fasting
    • April— bondic, PCO and incentive
    • May— grateful, mice, new solar, sandisk and the roof
    • June—summer spot, brella and playbook
    • July—tire table, masks and voodoo

    I tend to go back from time to time and add to past entries. Sometimes it’s new paragraphs on something else I thought of and sometimes it’s changes to what I originally wrote. I might have changed the way I look at something or how I do something. Sometimes it’s more info on a particular area where I camp. Whatever, things change and so does this text.

    This is my fourth RV and my 2013 upgrade—a Northwood Nash 17K.

    They say you can make a wish when the moon paints the waves.
    If you don’t tell, it will come true.

    RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

    RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’