Life in the back of a truck (part 1)

November 20th, 2008

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

So, you want to live in the back of a truck… First off, you should probably face the fact that you’re a bit of an odd duck. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about some of the things that you’ll encounter along the way to making this grandiose fantasy a reality.

Where are you from?
You’re going to hear this question a lot as you travel around. It’s simply a polite thing to ask strangers that “aren’t from around here”. There are a few schools of thought as to how one should answer this question. You can tell people where you left “real life” from if you are in a hurry and don’t want to explain how you come to be living in that truck over yonder. If you’re dealing with a business or government agency, it’s usually simplest to give the address of your mail forwarding service or the address on your driver’s license.

The next two options are a pretty good way to strike up a conversation, so use them carefully as you may end up trying to explain yourself to a posse in the wrong town. You can simply tell the truth and explain that you’re traveling. This can lead to all sorts of interesting questions such as “are ya’ll circus folk/gypsies/carnies/hippies/destitute?”. I wouldn’t recommend telling the cashier at a local business this, but it goes over well at campgrounds. Events that bring a lot diverse folks together are also a good bet. You’ll have to explain yourself a lot more, but as you’re there to meet people anyway, it gives you an interesting topic to talk about. A lot of people are curious about the fulltime RV lifestyle and have lots of questions. The final answer to “where are you from?” is to say “I grew up in…”. This is a polite way of making smalltalk without committing yourself to answering a lot of personal questions from complete strangers.

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America the Beautiful

November 9th, 2008

America the Beautiful Annual PassI know a lot of fulltimers swear by various camping club memberships to keep their camping costs down throughout the year, but at Hitek Homeless, our focus is on avoiding camping fees altogether. That being said, sometimes it is just more practical to stay in an established campground overnight and some sort of discount card sure would be nice.

Recently, we stopped over in a national forest and it was getting too late to be out looking for a campsite in the dark. The fees posted for this campsite were $5/day. You can’t beat that with a stick, right? Wrong! For the first time, I noticed that our America the Beautiful pass would allow us to camp for HALF PRICE somewhere.

Now, I happen to think this interagency pass is an excellent deal for folks that want to check out the national parks as they travel, so we picked one up while visiting the Wright Brothers memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC. At the time, we joked about buying an $80 pass to avoid paying an $8 entrance fee. But, you’ve got to remember that the interagency pass takes an all you can eat approach to entrance fees. It will get you and up to three other people into just about every federal area where they charge an entrance fee for free. This includes national parks, monuments and historic sites, forestry service, bureau of land management, bureau of reclamation and fish and wildlife sites as well as federal recreation lands.

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Dear Brent,

November 7th, 2008

On 2008/10/25 at 12:11 PM, Brent wrote:

Hey guys,

Currently working my way through your all your postings. My wife and I are in the “can we really do this” stage of making the same change that you two have. Very much enjoying reading through your process.

Much like you two, we both work in technology and are somewhat dependent on the Internet. Add to that, the need for research / blogging / and potentially some work while traveling and connectivity gets to be one of our important decisions. So I’m curious, how are you feeling about the cell network decision versus satellite? Working out as you had planned?

Brent

Well, Brent, I’d have to say I don’t like any of the choices available. I’m pretty happy with the performance of EVDO, but I’m extremely upset with Sprint changing the contract midstream so that it no longer remotely resembles the class of service that we originally purchased. I have already ranted about this particular event once, so I’ll try and stay on subject…

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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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Building a bat gate

September 24th, 2008

Well, we’ve got more than a bar of Internet tonight, so I figure it’s time we got caught up on some blogging.

Horn Hollow Cave

After we spent a couple of weekends at the Great Saltpetre Preserve caving with some great people from the area, we headed towards Boone, NC to start our next stint as carnies. However, we got sidetracked leaving Kentucky as Jenn noticed Carter Caves State Park was just a few miles out of the way. As this is where Crawl-a-thon is held in January, we decided it would be worth a quick stop over and looksee.

We got up bright and early and explored Laurel and Horn Hollow caves. Both are rather short trips, that have been ‘prepared’ for tourists, but they are still unlit, self-led trips. Horn Hollow has a beautiful entrance, but is otherwise not much to look at from inside. Laurel was quite a pretty little cave and we were able to get off-trail and explore the upper passage as well as climb a small waterfall that most non-cavers would have never seen.

Roy and Jerry. The gate is now complete.

Once we got to the camper, covered in cave mud, and I got stripped down to my high performance underwear, a couple of guys walked up, and rather than running away, they wanted to chat, which marked them as cavers and not afraid of dirty, half-dressed hippies in a parking lot. This was our introduction to Roy and Jerry. They were in the area building a bat gate, which is designed to let bats in, but keep people out during bat hibernation season. Since we were the only muddy folks around with a bat sticker on our vehicle, they assumed we’d be good suckers, err… candidates, to volunteer to help out.

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