road trip to the russian wilderness

for the last five days, my partner and i spent our time in northern california in the russian wilderness. it’s a picturesque and not very crowded part of california. the company was great, the views were spectacular, the food was delicious and the air was intoxicating. we could have spent a month out there (and i plan to in the future) but we had to come back two days short of a week. we saw some beautiful wildflowers, skinny dipped in lakes at 8000′, and hiked along some of the rugged pacific crest trail.

i’ve spent the last six plus years working for different plant nurseries and just recently took a break. i find it ironic that during our busiest time of the year, the wildflowers were always in full bloom. we weren’t allowed to take vacation during this season. i always had some resentment about that. i would remember how much fun i would have taking native plant trips with my professor stew winchester. we would explore the corners of california and study every plant we came across. i felt so much joy getting connected with plants outside of the plastic containers at the nursery. sure, i’ve been creating my own gardens and landscaping yards but it’s not the same as getting out into the wild and creating an intimate relationship with them on their terms, being free from customers and having no containers to water. this trip was nothing short of incredible and it mind sound cliche, but it refreshed my whole mind, body and spirit. these are the trips i will remember for a lifetime and it’s part of why i’m enjoying living as a gypsy.

life is good…

here are some pictures from the trip…

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coffee shops, a gypsy’s best friend

espresso coffee shops amongst other things are a great place to sit down, relax, catch up on emails and complete work while on the road. of course, there are places like starbucks but i prefer the hole in the wall shops. the places that have only one location where the owner isn’t far from the espresso machine. think about it, wifi nowadays can cost you around $80 a month. let’s not include a cell phone plan but you could use google voice and cut out your cell phone bill as well. so,  let’s say you were to get coffee every day and your drink cost $3 (i’m not one for fancy drinks, i’m usually getting espresso or coffee with the occasional latte). you go every day for a month. 30×3=$90. only ten bucks more and you’ve got coffee and high speed interenet. and you probably won’t be buying coffee everyday either. sometimes i’ll  go to a location and get the wifi password and then the next time park, make my own coffee in the camper and use the interenet. so here’s to all those coffee shops around the world provided caffeine for the masses along with a chill workplace and an awesome place to people watch and see the locals.

optimism, anxiety, and living on the road

IMG_0530 put it out to the universe and you shall receive. maybe not exactly the way you planned, but it will happen. it’s been a while since i last posted and things have changed quite a bit in my life. i’m no longer living in the camper shell, i have a new camper. i have a partner that i’m very excited about and i’m no longer being held down by a stationary job. i’ll be the first to say that happy people used to annoy me, i couldn’t understand how someone could be happy all the time (or it seemed like it). i set out to examine habits in my life and how they affected my happiness. i quit habits that were not life serving and gave more energy to the habits that were life serving. life serving for me, means that it provides happiness or contributes to happiness in some form (i.e. a job that provides the money for you to travel). as mentioned in my blog posts earlier such as ‘not buying anything for a month‘ and ‘reducing my possessions‘ were ways i could tackle some of the habits that weren’t life serving. i found out what gave me the most anxiety and tackled those problems, that was alcohol, weed, and tobacco. i examined my communication habits not only with others but also the self-talk. i incorporated non violent communication into my life and i can highly recommend marshall rosenberg’s non violent communication book. this may be something i cover in a later post because there is a lot to talk about. so, ever since this mentality shift, good things have happened. some right away and some have taken time. i’m still adjusting to my new lifestyle and i do have the occasional anxiety breakdown but i’m in a much better place to make decisions and tackle obstacles that arise.

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about the camper and how it fell into my hands…

the camper is a cabover that sits on top of my 2004 dodge dakota. i called on memorial day about a camper that was for sale on craigslist. after speaking with the gentlemen for a few minutes, he be became upset with how many questions i was asking and started to use foul language. i explained that i was driving a long way and wanted to make sure it would be a good fit (there was a lack of pictures, only one of the outside). i said thank you for your time and hung up the phone. i received a text shortly after from his wife stating that her husband loses patience and he’s not out to make a profit. i responded by saying ‘i understand, i’ll be living in it and wanted to make sure it would be the right fit, good luck with selling the trailer”. a couple minutes later i received another text saying he would let me have it for free. so, i jumped in my truck and traveled three plus hours to the central valley in 100 degree heat to pick it up. the guy ended up being friendly and helped me maneuver the camper into the back of my truck. it all worked out and i’m very grateful for his kindness!

 

IMG_0327let the work begin….

my mom and i spent two days refinishing and sprucing it up before i had to spend my first night in it. cleaning was a big chore, it required a lot of elbow grease, goof off, and soft scrub (which cleaned the grease, smoke stained wall paper to new). i also had to set up my solar system, replace levers, refinish wood, remove a lot of rust from the stove, replace screws on the inside and outside, and i’m continuing to complete work like replacing lights, painting, and installing a new bed. to me, having a nice sleeping area is key to having success on the road. so, i splurged and bought a custom mattress that’s being shipped as i write this post.

IMG_0457living, finding parking spots, ramblings..
i’ve been living part time out of the camper for a couple weeks now.  i’ve camped out at a few places such as friend’s houses, schools i’ve attended, and the occasional state/regional park. one thing that i’ve realized and has upset me is the outlawing of sleeping in your car, to me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. isn’t it better than sleeping under a bridge? does the government expect people to all live in a house and pay ridiculous bills? i’m hoping to create a community where we can share car sleeping friendly cities, parking lots, and camp sites. i see a lot of people living on the road but no overarching community that helps each other thrive on the road.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetspace issues…what’s next?
i’m being very cautious with the extra space. just because i have the space doesn’t mean i need to fill it. i also have to keep in mind that my partner will be joining me at some point. i want to keep it to basic essentials. i think naturally, most people living on the road are minimalists out of necessity. otherwise, you won’t find anything, everything will be constantly cluttered and you will become frustrated. with that said, i’m constantly making lists of what will improve my living arrangements. i find this very helpful because at times, i think i will remember my thought but i usually forget in a few hours. stay tuned, i will be continuing to post on my travels. tell me what you would like to see more of! pictures? recipes? instructions? products? tips?

converting my truck into the ultimate camper (cont.)

This post is a continuation of converting my truck into the ultimate camper.

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To not adjust your original plan when building a camper or in life is foolish. Life takes unexpected turns for better or for worse. The only constant is change and if you’re not adjusting, well, you may be falling behind or not living to your full potential. The same can be said when building a liveaboard space. It takes fine-tuning to make the most efficient camper for your lifestyle. It’s not just a one time build, it requires modifications to best suit your current needs. Over the past two months since the start of converting the back of my truck into the ultimate camper, I’ve added and made modifications to the original design.  I will go over what modifications I have done to the original design, give you reasons as to why I made those decisions and explain some of the trouble shooting I went through for each step.

 

Additions and modifications to the original design:

  • Solar panel
  • Deep cycle battery storage
  • 300W Inverter
  • 12v Led light
  • Rubber maid containers for under the lower section
  • Three tiered container on the side of the bed
  • Made the bed wider
  • Cut the bottom rail off from the lower section (as shown in picture below)

 

Solar Panel

  • Take pressure off the car battery.
  • Use less gas to run the engine while charging items.
  • Power when there is no access to electricity.
  • Being off the grid is bad ass.

I attached this by drilling into the aluminum frame and using u-bolts that directly attached to the roof rack.  It’s pretty secure and I used rubber washers to allow for some flex. I drilled holes directly into the cab just big enough to allow the wires to slide through. I plan to silicone the holes but it’s dry season here and I see no immediate need.

Deep cycle battery storage (100AH)

  • To store the electricity from the solar panel for later use.

In between the solar panel and the battery is a charge controller that makes sure the battery is not overcharge. The battery is positioned near the front of the bed. My reasoning being that I didn’t need constant access and anything that heavy, I try to position towards the front for better driving control.

300W Inverter

  • To run AC items that isn’t on DC current.
  • This inverter is enough to power small appliances like laptop, camera, cell phone charger and juicer.

The 300w inverter I wired directly to the battery.

 

12v Led light

  • Uses very little electricity. It’s installed at the end of the bed to light up the tailgate for cooking duties and other miscellaneous activities.

This was installed using 12g size wire directly to the battery. It’s positioned towards the back. It’s 12v so it can be directly wired to the battery.

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Rubber maid containers for under the lower section

  •  Mainly for food storage (nuts, dried fruit, coffee)

Food is going to be difficult, it gets hot in the back so having it in a place that stays cool is key.

Three tiered container on the side of the bed

  • Items that I use frequently (Some clothes, bathroom stuff, some electronics)

This is great because it allows me easy access to clothes I use frequently and it also doubles as a nightstand.

 

Made the bed wider

  • Now can sleep two.

I added an extension to the original bed that can be taken out with two screws.

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Cut the bottom rail off from the lower section

  • Didn’t sacrifice structure and allowed for bigger containers and items to slide in.

converting my truck into the ultimate camper

Behind my macbook, late at nights, I’ve viewed countless photos of cars, trucks, and vans converted into homes on wheels. I may be abnormal but I think in everyone of us, there is an urge to be free and have the ability to travel. I enjoy being a homebody with the rest of them but I’ve been wanting to travel more. I never had that year of backpacking in Europe after college or high school. I’m at a time in my life where I’m looking for inspiration on the road. Places and experiences to write about and tell my grandkids someday. So, what’s the best of both worlds? A traveling home!

Some campers are just weekend homes while others live full-time in their traveling abodes.  I’ve made efforts in the past couple years to reduce possessions and be less tied down to my belongings.  There is something special about being able to get up and travel whenever you feel the urge. Historically, most humans were hunter and gatherers, they had to relocate to where the food was. Now, food has come to us but that urge to travel has not subsided in me. My brother and I are taking steps to convert my truck into the ultimate camper. We’ve both researched different blueprints and styles with functionality and weight in mind. Here are a few pictures from day one. Please comment or ask me any questions about the process.

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Materials: (I will be updating this section soon with specifics)

  • 2X3 (~10)
  • 2×2 (4)
  • four hinges
  • 3″ screws (2lb)
  • 1 7/8″ screws (1lb)
  • 1/2″ plywood (two sheets)

Cost: ~$135 Thoughts on materials:

  • we were debating on 3/4 inch but with extensive framing,we found the 1/2 had no bend and was substantially lighter.

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Converting my truck in the ultimate camper (cont.)

I spent this morning carpeting the camper. It didn’t take very long. I used some carpet I had from a previous room so the cost was nothing. I’m thinking in the future I will want to install marine or outdoor carpet because it is mold and mildew resistant and can be washed out. The regular carpet is way more comfy than the marine style but sleeping pads or egg crate foam will be used no matter what. Tip: When cutting carpet, I’ve found that wood glue will hold the stitching together and fray less.

Next up is solar panel installation, mini desk and back rest… stay tuned…