Overcoming life’s obstacles! Perk 9

In the article “Winning With Solar” I told you about the Solar System I had installed and tested best I could in the driveway of my vacation home. Before I set out into the wild unknowns of my work. 

I was excited to go back to Hermiston Oregon. It was one of the best boondocking experiences in my life. At Sand Staion you could park for free on the banks of the Colombia River Gorge. It had Bathrooms and picknic tables. 

There was a bit of Squatting going on. It looked like there was a potential problem starting to arise. I, on the other hand, didn’t mind it. I would bring beer back from work. I made friends with the locals and I knew for certain my things were safe. 

So with great excitement I got my Motorcycle ready to ride. 

I loaded it on the trailer. I filled the fridge with food and was ready to camp on the river. I was going to commute on my bike. There were a lot of dirt roads to explore after work if I had the Time. It sounded like I would. We were scheduled to work 2-11hr days and 5-10hr days. 

The drive out wasn’t bad. It took me about 9 hrs. I pushed 80mph the entire way. I left a little late so I arrived with only enough time to catch a bit of a nap before work started. I found out the first day that they changed our schedule to 6-12hr days. It was a long one. 

We were finally released. I had about an hour of daylight left. I hurried to the truck stop and got some propane. I was finally off to the camp site. It was getting pretty dark by the time I arrived to find out it was closed. Later I talked to the Park Rangers and found out it had been changed to a group only reservation site. My guess, the squatting got unmanageable. 

I drove over the river into Washington and parked on a ridge overlooking the river and Hermiston. It was beautiful.

I sleep there and drove the whole rig back to work the next morning. This wasn’t going to be the trip I expected it to be. The next day I spent all my spare time trying to find a good boondocking spot. All my resources came up empty. So I left the bike on the trailer in the parking lot at the work site. I dug into my old school car camping urban style knowledge. I spent the rest of my time sleeping at that truck stop. And driving two miles back and forth to work. LAME! 

It was comfortable though and the Utah Jazz were in the first round of the playoffs. I had court side tickets to every game right on my phone. The screen is kinda small though. I watched as the Jazz struggled. I cooked and cleaned staying warm while it was cold outside. My furnace ran quit a bit and it rained a lot. It was a good test on the Solar set up. On my way to Oregon I stopped and traded my battery in for a new one. But even new it was a little undersized at 55amp hrs to last through every night. There was two that killed the battery. The panel seemed to charge it through the day with out a problem. Even in the rain. 

On the last day I was informed that we would be right back in Hermiston on our next work cycle. So when I was finally released I hooked the trailer back up. That truck stop was kind enough to let me leave my entire rig in their back lot. I off loaded the bike bought some water and rode home. It worked out well. I got to ride after all. It was a long 560 mile 50 degree ride. My smile was frozen on. 

Point is keep at what your doing. Life will never be what you expect but it will always entertain you. 

Perk 9: in a van you will have every thing you need to overcome all life’s obstacles. 

New friends in many places. 

     With all of the traveling I do and all the trouble I deal with finding places to park. I decided to try out a website I have been watching for the last three months called Boondockers Welcome

     It’s based on the premise that RV owners host other RV owners at no expense. The registration costs $25 a year if you don’t host and $20 a year if you do. Once your signed up you have the opportunity to message, via the site, over 800 hosts throughout the world. Mainly in the United States. 

     Hosts describe what they have available. Parking, size, power, water, sewer, wifi, etc.. they also leave a bit of info so you can see what kind of people they may be. Picture are also available for most host places. 

     A bio is also required for guests so the host can get a feel if they are willing to entertain. 

     Then it’s all about the reviews. Hosts and guest get to build a reputation. The better the host the better discount they can earn for future years membership. The better the guest the more likely you will find a host. 

     I was a bit Leary because I don’t get to choose where I’m going. So I watched the map for a few months to see if it would even work for me. This week I decided that $25 could be spent in worse ways, so I took the plunge. 

     I Contacted the nearest host to my work site, 14 miles away. She ended up being an elderly lady that has a bit of property and a lot of life lived to share. It took about 24 hrs for her to respond and I had a place to park including power and water. To my surprise after arrival I was also offered WIFI at no expense. That wasn’t in the bio. 

        If it doesn’t work out the rest of the year, I’m sure this week will be worth the entire $25 fee alone. Thank you Boondockers Welcome and thank you to my knew friend Lois. 

Perk 8 status

          A lot of life is hardships. People die, get hurt, become impaired. These are in my opinion some of the hardest points in life. We as People have added another hardship that seems to be fading finally. STATUS!!! For centuries this world has put such an importance on who a person is. Meaning what there last name is or where they came from or who raised them or what they own. The world has focused on things in a way that makes little sense. It is true that the people around us define who we become as much as the things we experience. But it is us as individuals that perceive life’s lessons and that perception is what builds us. I like to think that many countries are leaving the STATUS factor in history. I am still trying to experience this world farther and haven’t spent enough time abroad to know. What I am witnessing here in the States is that we have stumbled again on a movement trying to destroy STATUS. Along the way we have fought this battle. We created Unions so that any person would be treated fairly in the work place. Now those are being dismantled. The hippies of the ’60s tried to argue that “Love is the answer.” I think we have learned that is the case but tend to love what we know without accepting what we don’t know. A great King lead a movement that changed the views of the world about race. We have fought for women’s rights. Leading the world in these notions that all people are created equal. There have been so many great accomplishments that we have undertaken yet we still have this strange desire to have STATUS. To be that person that is admired by everyone. To be the one that all think is the best. We work consistently to gather material belongings. To prove that we have more, or did something better, or know a better system. Meaning we must be better. Fighting for a life that isn’t fulfilling while we abandon the parts of Life we say we are living for. I have found a new reality that has been around for decades but is now starting to find mainstream movement. MINIMALISM!!! It’s grabbing hold. We are starting to see worth in not having, but experiencing. Not being bogged down so we are free to move and see this world. The Tiny house movement and RV living, my favorite the Vanlife, allow people freedoms that we haven’t had while being bogged down with the American dream. No longer do we want white picket fences. No longer do we want a plot to grow old on. No longer do we want to own others and the world. We have become a society that wants to wander and see and create and experience what life has to offer. We have info at our fingertips literally. We have the ability to find whatever, wherever and have it anywhere. So life has changed and with it another discrimination has a chance to fade away. People that don’t understand see the new Hippies as a confused people. How can they want less. How can they want to be homeless or live in such a small way. Where do they keep the important things much less the day to day necessities. The truth is with less everything becomes less. There are fewer necessities, fewer responsibilities leading to less stress and a greater experience. With less I’m finding more chances for experience. More ability to give my children life instead of things. I live both lives currently. While I struggle to hold onto the dream I am living out of a van. I leave my family in my home bogged down with STATUS while I travel for work and my life becomes entirely simple. Don’t misunderstand me. It’s not easy just simple. Suddenly what I need is clear. It’s not confused as much with what I want. In fact what I used to want I no longer do. To the point I hope my children aren’t plagued with the desire of STATUS. Instead I want them to have more, live more, help more, and become a better part of this society. By having less. I hope they become the example of a better world. STATUS FREE 
PERK 8 

In a van STATUS is lost and life becomes reality. 

Is living in a van worth it?

As all my readers know I own two homes. 1: My sprinter van. It’s an older class b motorhome. 2: My vacation home that my family lives in. It’s tucked into the Utah mountains. You may think this is backwards but in fact I live in the van more then my house. So I refer to my van as my permanent residence. I’m on a kick lately blogging about the Perks of living in a van. 1-6 have been posted. If you are curious go check it out. I’m about to rave about #7… COST!!! Besides the bottom line. Which is simple. Homes across the United States cost well into $200,000. If you want a nice home in a good suburban area with space, a yard, parking and good schools your looking well into the $3-400,000 range. Ok schools might be a stretch for this topic but really good schools mean great neighborhoods. A new top of the line amazing trouble free van. Equipped to handle life is $150,000. I bought a used one. Like most people buy homes. For $27,000. Find a home for that price. I get to choose my neighborhood daily. If I don’t like it tomorrow I move. Let’s face it home loans are for 30 years. Come on folks most marriages don’t last that long anymore. You think your neighbor you’ve never met is a 30 year match. Ok let’s move on to maintenance. Let’s suppose you bought a condo downtown. Your commute is on foot. Your cost is at that $150,000 mark. We will forget the cost of monthly dues. We will call them security, warm and fuzzy, someone else’s problem dues. This year I have repaired my furnace, my entire kitchen from an ice damn, my A/C, sprinklers, planted plants, installed gravel, replaced a water heater. I’m looking at a new roof in the next couple years. In my van I replaced break pads, fuel filters, air filter, battery’s. It’s ten years old. It’s the same age as my house. My furnace is fine. I do need another water heater. Not because this one failed but because it sucks. Ok now compare… I know your smart. It doesn’t. I am in California in a parking lot brake pads are worn to nothing. I’m thinking I am putting money in this again. Then I remember it’s the cheap house. My kid just broke a window. My brake pads $25. My window will be hundreds. I know your are saying a roof on a condo is part of the dues, yes but the water heater isn’t nor is the furnace, A/C or broken window. Now you say where is your yard and space. Well $80 and I got a National Parks pass. Is your yard as big as the Grand Canyon or as cool as Mount Rushmore or as pretty as Zion. If you’re trying to say well I have to stick around for my job. Well do you get the weekends off? Because you don’t have a lawn to mow any more. Go find bliss. I advise anyone thinking about this. If it’s even remotely doable, DO IT!!!Perk 7: cost!!!!!!!

Off again

Hello again. I’ve had some time off of work. Mandatory vacation. I had to use up my vacation time or it would be scheduled for me. I chose fall break because my kids had more time out of school and for the first time in years I was home for Halloween. It was amazing! This has been one of the best falls I’ve enjoyed in years. The colors have been incredible. The weather has been warm for the most part. There have been a few storms. Just enough to remind me that winter is coming. I love the winter so it’s putting a smile on my face. My vacation home sits just into the Utah mountains in a low valley. We get enough snow to play but nothing like the skier infested peaks that surround us. Of course I call it my vacation home because it is where I spend my days away from work. I live in my van while at work. This makes me a “Vandweller” for just over half the year. I consider it full time since I spend more time in the van then my conventional home. As the days fly by and my time at home with my family dwindles to a crisp end. I find myself antsy. I have no desire in going back to work. Don’t get me wrong I love my job but it is a job none the less. I love my home as well but I am a gypse soul. I desire travel, adventure, exploration. I need to see the world around me and being cooped up for days gets me feeling restless. I’m excited to get back in my van and spread my wings. I can’t wait until I retire and get to chose where I take myself. I hope my wife joins me for more adventures at that point. Now she stays at home and takes care of my life while I’m away. I couldn’t do this without her and I appreciate how understanding she is. So tomorrow I will climb back into my tiny home and drive away again. Sacramento California is the destination this time. I hope to see some family that live in the surrounding area but with the long hours I work probably not. I’m so close to so many amazing places while in Sacramento but will not have the time to visit. It’s such a tease. That is why I can’t wait to retire. If I get the chance to find some fun. I will make sure I update my blog and let you all know. Enjoy life friends and keep living or you will start dying. 

Van life perk 4

Living in a van creates opportunities. Sometimes it’s just the mindset that is created by living a nomadic existence. Today I found my self in the small town of Dixon California. It was alive and thriving until I-80 was born. Sound familiar? Since the town of Vacaville has grown and has now incorporated Dixon. At first glance a person might see a depressed life. A dying community. But a gypse like myself sees a deeper picture. My mind fills with questions. Why are these people still here? What is the driving force here? If you look close you see new homes. A small Mexican restaurant. Has it always been here or did they come to this land looking for a Better life? Why did they choose this small farming community on the outskirts of such a thriving city of Sacramento California. It was time to dig deeper. So I walked into the little restaurant named Chepo’s Tamales. I don’t like tamales. It’s the cornmeal I think. I’m not a fan of corn bread either. I’m guessing that tamales aren’t the only thing on their menu. I was right even though the menu is very small. Tamale, burrito, quesadilla or an enchilada. The lady explains that it’s just her. She has no chef. So her menus is simple and she makes it all fresh and by hand each day. Jackpot! I ordered a chicken burrito. It was fantastic. I also learned the history of Dixon and Vacaville that was explained earlier. I found out that she is from Mexico. Her and her husband are the hard working people that keep the place alive 7 days a week. They were blessed with a mural donated to them by a professor at the local University, UC Davis. She was a sweat lady and made my ordinary day extraordinary. 
Perk 4 culture is everywhere and a van will help you immerse yourself amongst it. 

Van life perk 3

If you have read my other stories you know that I live in my van about 20 days a month. Some more, some less. Lately I have been leaving my van all alone in Northern California while a couple of co-workers give me a ride to and from my “vacation home” where my family lives. It saves quite a bit of money on gas and maintenance for sure but takes a major part of “Vandwelling” out of the equation. Sure my room is mine and comfortable while I’m on the road. It’s mobile so I can still choose to have or not have neighbors. But the adventure of the drive and what can be seen on the way has been eliminated recently. I usually try to find a new route. A new place to stop and watch the sun rise while I wake up. A new view of something or somewhere I have never seen before. In a van any old parking spot can do but I’m always looking for that EPIC spot I’ve never seen before. National Parks are always a good bet. Sometimes it’s the same spot and one of Gods creatures walk by or stop to play. That can be even better. I’m excited to be home in my van again. Although I do miss the adventure part of my van life, I will be missing my family more. I think one more round trip without my “View Finder” (the name I gave my van) next week will be tough but worth the chance to make my family’s life amazing. Fall has sprung and I am missing the colors. Luckily my wife is beautiful enough to make up for everything I miss. As soon as I get my eyes on her again.
Perk 3. In a van adventure can happen at the drop of a hat when life becomes to mundane.

Mason’s big adventure! Day 3

We woke to a moody morning. The rain was lingering. Short shots of sprinkles. We could see our breath as we made breakfast. Everything that could be packed the night before was. Today we were bidding farewell to Flathead Lake. We had more adventure to find. We quickly ate, cleaned up, buttoned up tight. This was the first morning that we’ve had to put the tent trailer back into travel mode since the pulleys had been replaced from a Yuba Lake Fiasco earlier in the year. Although I have full faith in Aaron I was a bit Leary still. All for not though because it came down as it should and in great time. We were pulling out earlier then expected. This was a short shot. We decided that a trip through Glacier National Park on the famous “Going To The Sun Road” was perfect. We never did see the sun. The clouds stayed with us that entire day. As we left we remembered a few items that had been forgotten. We remembered a Walmart as we came into Flathead. So with a quick detour we restocked. Bought ice and filled the fuel for good measure. Every one was a lot more mellow today. We had settled in and were coasting on what was already a great time. The views were awesome. As we entered the park they became incredible!

Waterfalls right off the bat. We were attacking them with selfies and almost lost Mason. He was making his adventure wild already. We didn’t want to just drive through the parks. Even though they were just part of a drive to the Museum. We knew that we had a chance to experience something others dream of. So we wanted to take advantage of as much as possible. We found the perfect trail. It was called “Trail of the Cedars“.IMG_0307 It is a .8 mile loop with minimal elevation change. We found a parking spot. I think the rainy day gave us a break on the amount of people in the park. It was very busy still though. We pulled out the awning and BBQ and grilled some hamburgers. I grabbed a handful of garbage bags and started making rain ponchos for all. The food again was delicious. Something about being on vacation makes everything taste better. We cleaned up. Set the BBQ between rigs to cool down closed the awning and on to the trail we went. INCREDIBLE! Most of it was a boardwalk.

Very easy to hike. Waterfalls and rivers. Some spots were designed to hike around a bit. We played in rivers and crawled under a tree that was balancing over the river bank edge. Half of the root system exposed by corrosion creating a root cave.

These trees were massive and old.

The green foliage was thick and the wild flowers were beautiful. After many pics and every smile from ear to ear we climbed back in the rigs and continued through the park. Stopping every chance we could for more pictures. At one point the road climbed extremely high into the clouds. The visibility was poor. The speed was 10-25 mph. The curves were sharp and the grade was very steep. The road became very narrow with few turnouts. My wife Amber lost her mind. She took her seatbelt off and opened the sliding door to the van and hung out the door over the cliff edge to snap pic after pic all the while both my boys were screaming at her to put her seatbelt back on.

I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. Amber generally has to close her eyes on roads like this scared to bits. Today though she had gone mad. My oldest wanted to puke and my youngest couldn’t believe his eyes. We got through the worst part and started down the other side.

We stopped at the visitor center for souvenirs. Rolled into our camp ground at St. Mary’s with enough time to set up and cook in the light but had to walk to the showers at night. We went to sleep early. The next day we were headed to Canada. Banff and Jasper national parks. We had to get through both in one day. After glacier I wasn’t so sure it was possible.

Please feel free to fallow my blog and Instagram @roadtovanlife. This adventure isn’t even half over and many more adventure to talk about. I might even tell you about the Yuba fiasco one day. Leave comments and come back for more. Thank you for your time. I hope you are enjoying our story.

Masons big adventure! Day 2

imageWe woke that next morning ready to play in the lake. We had brought snorkel gear and all were ready to swim. We open our eyes, windows and doors to find… RAIN! It was cold, cloudy and not what our dreams consisted of.image We opened the awning and broke out the propane fire ring that we had thrown into the mix while packing.img_3840 I started some music. a Pandora radio station I love called a beautiful morning. We started building breakfast. imageEven though the world around us was gloomy our spirits were high. It was still gorgeous all around and it was a Side of the lake we had never seen in any of the pictures we saw while researchingimage. My wife Amber has dreamed of snorkeling in this lake for years. So after we ate and cleaned up breakfast she dove in anyway. Everyone followed. To our surprise it wasn’t that cold. The air around was chilly but the water was warm. We swam for a while and laughed like children again while the kids acted like fish. If you haven’t been swimming in the rain recently, do. It was amazing and my soul is better for it. We all dried of and started lunch. Just relaxing the rest of the day while the kids threw rocks into the lake.

We had been so busy the last months with life that we were exhausted. We knew our trip ahead wasn’t going to let up either. So we designed today to rest and play. The rain was a blessing because it forced us to just be and see. The next morning was an early start so after dinner we cleaned up packed all that we could and got ready to move on. imageOur next stop was Glacier National Park. Over the sun road and a night in Saint Mary’s campground on the east side of the Park. We all decided a trip back to Flathead was a must but the time we had was not a bust. Stay tuned. A string of National Parks in two country’s start in the morning.image

Mason’s big adventure. Day 1

I had arrived home from Weed CA not even 24 hours earlier. We had spent the last day rearranging the van to accommodate my family of four. My wife, two boys, Kyan(15), Tristen(9) and I. I also took on food, mostly dry goods and the cold stuff that we didn’t want to get wet from ice. We filled the 27 gallon fresh water tank and had enough food for 10 people for 8 days. Aaron had spent the last week prepping his trailer/truck to accommodate six. Two adults, two Teens, Katie(15), Austin(17), two boys, Aden(10) and of course Mason(8). This is Mason’s adventure after all. We put a table, BBQ, propane, three food coolers, one of which had frozen goods, (My wife and Shanna had spent the last few days prepping meals and freezing them) all under the trailer in the bed of the truck.
I guess I should tell you about Aaron’s rig. The roads we traveled don’t allow for a long rig. They are to windy and steep. The places we camped were filled with bears, wolves, mountain lions and all other wildlife. The camp spots were to short for a trailer. So after a while of engineering Aaron’s brilliant mind decided to buy a cheap pop up tent trailer and modify the frame, cut the tung, remove the axle and on top of his Dodge Mega Cab 2500 it went. Worked slick. We had plenty of room for the food and cookware to be enclosed in the bed under the trailer. He had created a huge Bear box. Aaron bought a hitch basket so we put a large cooler full of drinks and two 5 gallon water jugs on it. Easy access and the food stayed locked up and full of ice. We had no idea what to expect on our trip. We scheduled a lot of miles in between stops and a lot of things to see on the way. We had no idea about our camp sites. Never been to any of these places before. We didn’t even know what kind of food or supplies would be available on our route. I am an avid traveler. By myself I prefer to wing it. Find the local fair. But with ten people
6 of them being children
depending on us we were taking no chances. We were ready to dry camp for 8 days plus. I swear you could see the sides of both rigs bulging. At 7:00 am the neighbor came over and took a pic of us all in front of our rigs and we were off.
Flathead lake was our first destination. 592 miles, it was the largest jump on our trip. The kids were excited and couldn’t sit still. I turned the front passenger seat around to face the table. I put Aden, Mason and my son Tristen at the table and gave them Uno and War to play while I drove. They also had iPads and iPhones. They were having a blast. We designed a stop for lunch in Blackfoot Idaho. Of course not just any stop. It had to be great so we picked the Idaho Potato Museum. It did not disappoint. For the price it was fantastic. The boys ran, the teens stretched and got to release some sarcastic remarks. Everyone saw the largest Pringles chip in the world and we got a photo with the largest potato. My wife and Shanna made sandwiches and we were off. This time my wife took the wheel while I rode with Aaron, Shanna, Austin, Katie and my son Kyan in the truck. It was a great chance to see my van and watch how it handled. We had to stop and get fuel. Both rigs were thirsty after pushing 80mph loaded as heavy as they were. After we all stretched, used the restroom and filled our cubby holes with snacks, I took the wheel and finished the ride with my wife and boys in the van with me. We pulled into Finley Point State Park at Flathead Lake Montana. It was the closest camp sites I had ever seen. The spots were a parking lot space. And some beach behind. They were tight. I backed in for great views from the beds. And Aaron pulled in straight to line our doors up. We hugged the lines and gave our selves enough room for my awning and we Broke out the the stove and began to cook dinner. The kids threw rocks into the lake and we watched the sun set. Great night, great drive, great food and great company. We started out right and we were finally on vacation.