Life in the back of a truck (part 4)

April 9th, 2009

This is part of an ongoing series on what it’s like to live in a truck camper fulltime. You may read other articles here:

  1. Part One – The fulltime lifestyle
  2. Part Two – Why a truck camper?
  3. Part Three – Weights & Dealing with them
  4. Part Four – Boondocking resource conservation

Gordon recently posed a question over at the Truck Camper Magazine blog that seemed like a great idea for the next part of our Life in the back of a truck series. He’s curious just how long his readers can boondock and what tricks they use to manage it. I got a bit long winded, but here’s my response.

The resources we have to work with are:

  • 46 gallons of fresh water
  • ~300 amp hours of battery in 2 Trojan T-1275 12V batteries
  • 60 pounds of propane in 2 30# tanks
  • A Honda eu2000i generator
  • ~4.5 gallons of gasoline plus whatever is in the scooter and generator (up to around 2 gallons if both are full)

Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Still, we manage to do fairly well when we find a place we want to stay for a while. It takes a little effort to conserve resources, but we manage to live quite comfortably for up to a two week stretch without running out of anything or breaking out a military desert survival handbook. Just how do we make these resources last and what sacrifices does it take, you ask? Well, read on to get a taste of the Hitek Homeless lifestyle!

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A Railroad Tycoon’s RV

February 21st, 2009

Jay Gould's Exquisite Railway Car

What do you get when you combine one of Jenn’s favorite games (Railroad Tycoon) and the RV lifestyle? You get a railroad car fitted out for fulltiming! That’s just what we found as we were passing through Jefferson, Texas a couple of weeks ago. The Garden Club has acquired the personal car of Jay Gould, a railroad tycoon, and restored it to something close to it’s original splendor.

The car had four staterooms for passengers, two of which were adjoining with a bathroom, including tub and shower between them. The others all had their own plumbing, even if a bit primitive by modern standards. There was a couch as well as a pullman bed in each of the staterooms. The car would be able to take on water at the same water depots that the train used. We didn’t ask, but I assume the black and gray water would have been simply dumped along the tracks as soon as it was generated.

There were two rooms devoted to cooking with a pass through between them. Based on the layout, I would assume that the car originally had bunks for two servants, but only one of the kitchen cars still had a pullman berth at the ceiling. The icebox had something I think we could all use today, a glass door. How often have you opened the fridge and stared at what was there while deciding what you wanted?

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Home Improvement

October 1st, 2008

I posted back in April about our table upgrade that has saved my sanity, but I figure it’s time to cover a few more minor modifications that have improved our enjoyment of the camper. Also, we’re about to be engaged slinging fried chicken for a couple of weeks and we’ll probably be rather quiet in the blogosphere.

I’ve really got to say I’m still very happy with our choice of camper and options. We’ve looked at quite a few both before and after we made a decision and I still haven’t seen one (yeah, I know Paul will tell me to look at his Snowriver) that I would be happier with for fulltiming.

Added shelving to main closet

We had a couple of things customized on the camper that have made life a lot easier. One was getting a wet bath instead of a dry bath. For starters, it’s very easy to clean a wet bath. The only thing you really sacrifice is having a dry place to store towels and toilet paper. It’s also a good idea to buy a squeegie to swamp out the bathroom after your shower. But what we got in return for a dry bath is a wardrobe that’s two and a half feet deep, three full length drawers and a shoe cabinet.

After we quit work, I found I didn’t need hanging clothes anymore and built a cubbyhole system inside the wardrobe. Now, I have four shelves for clothes, a liquor cabinet and a handy place to store our bows which we previously had to squeeze behind the backseat of the truck. Rene has been asking me, for months now, where we hide the booze and I finally have a good answer. With some wiggling, I can get roughly eighteen liters of booze in the liquor cabinet. Just right for a couple of unemployed, homeless folks, right?
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Laid up lay about

July 13th, 2008

I’m on day three of being temporarily crippled. Seems I managed to give the knee with the least amount of cartilage left a viscous twist a couple of days back. Over the course of twelve hours, it went from mildly annoying to three times the size of it’s twin. Needless to say, I’ve spent the last two and a half days laying on the bed chewing through books at the rate of about five hundred pages a day.

Day one was pretty rough as I had not yet figured out the delicacies of reaching the bathroom on one leg. Thankfully, the bed is only about ten feet from the bathroom with plenty of things to lean on along the way. The catch is that there are a couple of steps at both the bed and the bathroom to negotiate. After handling these obstacles poorly for a day, I finally got the hang of it and can now handle the gymnastics like an old pro.

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Two People, Two Cats, Two Hundred Square Feet

April 11th, 2008

So how do you fit two people and two cats in a truck camper long term? The classic answer is to stack the people on top of each other in a corner and strap them down, then let the cats fight over the remaining 194 square feet. Since we’re not having any of that, the cats are having to learn to deal with it. Somehow, they’ve convinced me to let them use one of my drawers as a ‘princess seat’ in between the times I actively need to get clothes from them.

For those of you that haven’t met our local anarchic overlords, the gray tabby is simply ‘The Cat’ as she was here first and hasn’t bothered to tell us what she prefers to be called, although she has no such compunctions against telling us when its time to be fed. The Siamese is Hunter. I was all for calling her ‘The Other Cat’, but Jenn overruled me and now we have a Siamese cat that thinks she is people because she has a name.

What you can’t see in these oh-so -cute pictures of napping cats is the constant turf war that goes on. Sure, it’s peaceful now, but there’s nothing more entertaining than watching these kids both jump in the drawer, get on their hind legs, lay their ears back and bat each other about the head and neck. OK, maybe we’re just lacking for entertainment, but it’s still pretty interesting.

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