Lay back and groove…

May 11th, 2009

…on a rainy day.

I guess we’re starting to see the ‘real’ Washington weather. Our first week in the state was pretty dry, but the past week has been rather damp or perhaps moist. In fact, you could say it has been downright soggy.

Last Sunday, we headed towards Mt. Rainier National Park from the north side. The park is still closed, but there is a lot of forestry land around the park which allows dispersed camping. We spotted at least one exceptionally nice boondocking spot on the main road into the park, but as it was a fairly well traveled road, any and all turnouts were occupied. Near the park entrance, we crossed a rather long one lane bridge across the Carbon River.

Immediately, the road turned to gravel and around the first bend, the road was constricted by a fallen tree and a couple of large boulders on the opposite side. This particular section of road was more mud, boulders and tree roots than gravel. We had around 18 inches of clearance between the jacks and the obstacles. Not too bad, but the angle of attack required getting rather close to the edge of the road. Normally, this wouldn’t be a large concern, but we’d already seen the edge of a couple roads washed away that morning.

With Jenn’s help in the form of ambiguous hand signals (does anyone know what two crooked fingers forming a ‘U’ means?), we managed to get through the constriction without any new dings or scratches. Not too far up the road, we found a somewhat obscured pullout that would be our home for the next week.

I think we had one sunny day, on Monday, followed by four rainy ones. We then figured we might as well stick around through the weekend since Washingtonians seem to enjoy camping and grabbed all the good spots on the weekends. Anyway, it seemed like a good idea to let that hairy bit of road dry out some as there was a drainage culvert right above it.

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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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Winchester RV Repair

November 13th, 2008

Spice rack built by Winchester RV Repair

A couple of months back, we posted about three guys that got laid off from the Northwood of Virginia factory and have gone into the repair business. Well, we still needed a few things fixed because of problems with our appliance vendors and had a few days left on our warranty, so we figured it would be a good time to visit Bruce, Jerry and Roger again. I’m happy to say they had about a half dozen RVs in for repairs – primarily insurance claims and warranty work. Fortunately for us, everything they had sitting was because they were waiting for parts to arrive, so they had some time to work on our fan and air conditioner without having to wait.

We’ve been working on their website for a few days and instead of trying to figure out how much to charge a start-up that we really want to see succeed, we talked them into doing some customization on the camper. You’ve seen my oh-so-humble efforts on the liquor cabinet, so let’s just say I was thrilled to see what they made of my request to add a spice rack. And here I was about ready to buy some wire and plastic contraption from Wal-Mart!

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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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Free At Last! Free At Last!

May 1st, 2008

After far too much time spent planning, preparing and waiting, we are finally on the road!

We spent a few hectic days cleaning out the remains of our storage unit and some work on the truck. Friday afternoon, our Bodiak front end receiver came in along with a receiver mounted cargo carrier. Unfortunately, the cargo carrier stuck out an absurd amount from the front of the truck… roughly 14 inches past the receiver before the basket portion even began! With some fiddling, I found that we could use the holes drilled for people that wanted it to stick out even further (I have no idea why) to reverse the basket so that it would mount over the raised portion of the carrier support. This still left about a foot of useless steel sticking forth, which I was tempted to use as a battering ram. Instead, I waited until the welding supply shops opened on Monday (I blame Murphy for using all my gas on Thursday) and cut it down to a manageable size. See? Everyone really needs an oxy-acetylene torch in their rig!

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