Just another average sunset in paradise!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Okay, I had spaghetti loaded with Italian sausage and bell peppers for lunch.  It was a leftover meal - waste not want not!  Dinner time came and went without a decision of what I should eat.  About 8:00 p.m. I still couldn't decide so I had a container of Yoplait yogurt and called it a night.

Me and My Dog had a post the other day about how often the RV blogging community mentions food.  I had been thinking about the same thing for a couple of weeks and that started me wondering  "Why is food mentioned so often?".  Is it more important as we grow older (Most of the bloggers I follow are 60+.) or are there fewer other occurrences in our lives now that transcend the importance of food?

As I pondered this question I thought back, way back, to my earliest memories of food.  The first thing that came to mind was my mother's fried chicken. It was always served with mashed potatoes, an incredible pan gravy (one that I have never been able to duplicate), corn, and either rolls or biscuits.  When the chicken and rolls were finished, I remember breaking up a slice of Wonder bread, covering it with gravy and savoring every bite.  Mom also cooked great chicken fried steak, Salisbury steak, meatloaf, tacos and many other memorable meals.

I can also vividly remember the bologna and cheese sandwiches (the Miracle Whip goes on both pieces of bread; the mustard only gets applied to one side and that side must be the side that touches the cheese) and the tuna sandwiches. The tuna was mixed with Miracle Whip, piled onto white bread and then a topping of Del Monte ketchup was added.  I even remember that in those days I could tell the difference between Del Monte and Heinz!

After my childhood years the food memories seem to fade for the next 40 or so years while I devoted my time to taking on the world and striving for success.  Sure, there are memories of some wonderful meals (and some disasters) but the memories are few and far between.

I know I ate two or three meals each day during those years but the memories are not the same.  I have come to the conclusion that while the food was probably just as good, I allowed other influences to take precedence in my memory bank and overshadow the food.

If you think about it air, water and food are the only things necessary for life.  From today forward I will strive to give food the recognition it deserves!

Monday, March 28, 2011

All you have to do is start

Who hasn't contemplated old habits they could break and new habits they should start.  I do it all the time.  Today I was thinking about what I should have for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The thoughts of starting to eat healthier weighed heavily on my mind so I decided that it would be a bowl of cereal with a banana for breakfast; a spinach salad for lunch; and a chicken stir fry for dinner with broccoli, carrots, bell peppers and onions. It was easy to pick my menu because I really enjoy all three meals.

I had great resolve as I headed to the kitchen.  I took out the cereal box and opened the fridge to get the milk.  It was then that I noticed I had a container of homemade chili that I needed to use soon and a block of cheddar cheese that probably didn't have much shelf life remaining.  Not wanting to be wasteful I changed the breakfast menu to a 3 egg chili-cheese omelet and a couple of slices of rye toast slathered in butter.

Adjusted menu should be a banana for lunch and the spinach salad for dinner.  We'll see!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The great dishwasher experiment

Most of the houses I have lived in since the 70s have had a dishwasher but I really never used them.  My thought was that in the time it took to rinse all the dishes and load the dishwasher, I could have completed the total project.   Last week a Cascade commercial caught my eye.  The commercial showed dirty dishes being loaded into the dishwasher and coming out sparking clean.

For four days I placed unrinsed dishes in the dishwasher.  The residue on the dishes included the remnants of eggs over easy, macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings, a chili-cheese omelet, a breakfast cinnamon roll and a pastrami with swiss sandwich.  (Reviewing the menu, it's not surprising I need to lose 10 lbs.)  All of the flatware used for these meals and a couple of milk glasses completed the test sample.

After adding the recommended amount of Cascade, I selected the most powerful setting: Heavy Wash and added the High Temp Scour option, hit the start button and anxiously awaited the sparkling dishes.  I also selected the "Air Dry" option anticipating that the dishes might not be as clean as the ones in the commercial and not wanting to bake the residue on even tighter.

OMG!  With the exception of one fork, everything was spotless!  The eggs over easy residue had been there for four days in a Pyrex pie baking dish (less spillage that way) and it came out as clean as I have ever washed it.  My next experiment will be a regular wash.  Wow, 40+ years of ignoring dishwashers and now I may discover the error of my ways 4 months prior to living full time in Dod.  As usual, my timing is impeccable!

I guess you are never too old to learn but I wonder what else I may have missed!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The shakedown trip comes to an end

When we first arrived at Idyllwild County Park, we spent a lot of time talking with Jim, the resident camp host.  He and his wife live in their huge Class A 8 months a year and then head down the hill to another Riverside County Park when the snow arrives.  I asked him who took care of the park during his absence and he told me the county was looking for a replacement.  Something to consider for the future!

While we were setting up camp, Jim arrived with a golf cart load of free firewood.  Are all camp hosts this nice?  We also enjoyed talking with the park rangers.  DJ and I were enjoying the trip so much that it was easy to add the two extra days to our trip (Friday and Saturday nights).  Up through Friday we had the 202 acre park almost to ourselves.  The very few other mid-week campers were so quiet, their presence was easy to overlook.

By Saturday, the park had filled almost to capacity.  Dozens of children laughing and enjoying the great outdoors with their friends and families.  I was reminded of family camping trips from years gone by.   While I preferred the quiet serenity of the previous few days more, even with all of the activity on the weekend, being there sure beat the alternative of remaining at home.  The food tasted just as good and the campfire was just as warm!

We almost became tourists!  We sampled the fare at a couple of local eateries and DJ even got me into a couple of the local souvenir-type shops!

If you ever find yourself in Idyllwild, I highly recommend the Red Kettle Cafe for breakfast!

Dod ran great all the way home.  Of course it was downhill most of the way!  We took the long way home so we could stop by and drop off a birthday present for DJ's daughter.  Remember how I felt about the side trip when this journey began?   What a difference a week makes!

Monday, March 21, 2011

All things considered, a very good "shakedown" trip

We moved to the county park and found a great campsite!  Getting Dod setup for the second time in three days was incredibly easy.  We now had a great heater and a refrigerator that cooled so well that at the highest setting it became a freezer.  I am so happy that I took a chance on Dod.

We used the oven to bake biscuits for breakfast and reheat barbecued chicken for lunch.  Even when the morning outside temp was 40 degrees, Dod's propane heater had the interior up to 70 in just a few minutes.  Another reason to I like Dod's size.

In planning for this trip, I brought along what I thought would be enough food.  I had several entrĂ©es that were pre-cooked and frozen and what I considered more than enough groceries for breakfasts and lunches.  This proved to be a very good thing as the prices in the local grocery store were shocking: $3.50 for a dozen eggs; $5.00 for a loaf of bread; $40.00 for a liter of scotch.  Luckily we did not need any of these items but did pay over three dollars for a half gallon of milk.  The butcher in the market was a different story!  We bought 6 breakfast sausages and two very large pork chops for less than $10.00.

While we were in the village we went to the church thrift sale.  Didn't really need anything but couldn't pass up the bargains: Paperback books - $.025 Hardcovers - $.050 Trivial Pursuit game - $1.00  Long sleeved Polo dress shirt and a Reyn Spooner sport shirt - $1.00 each!

This was Thursday and our last scheduled night.  We decided to extend the trip through Sunday!  Tomorrow the story of the weekend and camp hosts . . .

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Still shy at 65

The walk from the campfire to Dod's door was only 20' but it seemed to take forever.  We hadn't discussed sleeping arrangements and I wasn't comfortable bringing it up.  If she wanted separate, I would be stuck in the cab over so my preference was together.  As I stepped into Dod with the lantern she asked "What are the sleeping arrangements?"  I told her that it was up to her but that if she chose together, she could count on me to be a perfect gentleman.  She said, "I'd rather sleep together."

I was a gentleman and she was a lady.  That didn't preclude a little hugging and kissing.  We got along so much better than I had anticipated!  After a great night's sleep, we awoke to a very cold Dod and both dressed warmly before heading out for breakfast.  DJ volunteered to cook and I started checking Dod's appliances.  The propane stove worked right away and heater worked great once I located the thermostat.  The refrigerator took a bit longer as the inside ignition does not work.  Not a big problem to open the door and light it from the outside.

Bacon, eggs, toast and coffee in a pine forest; I think I like this lifestyle.  I did a quick clean up after breakfast and we went down to the showers (hand in hand) and never short of conversation.

Back at camp we jumped into Dod projects.  DJ asked me if I was going to replace the carpet in the cab area and when I said yes, she asked me if I could remove the old carpet right away (remember the pet odor). Fifteen minutes later the carpet was gone and she grabbed the cleaning supplies and began giving every surface in the cab a thorough cleaning.  So happy she came along!

I filled Dod's water tank and tested the systems.  Everything worked but with a few tiny leaks here and there. My guess is that the previous owner did not do the best job of winterizing and since Dod was stored above 6000' for several years a few small leaks are better than a lot of large ones.  The water heater was another story.  Heated the water great and the outlets delivered the hot water well but the leaks on the hot water heater were  too large to ignore.  We will get by with heating water on the stove for the rest of this trip.

This would be our last night at this campsite so we decided to drive over to the county park to see what it was like.  It was beautiful!  They have 96 sites and about 90 were available for the time period we wanted.  If I hadn't paid for two nights in advance at the state park, we would have moved right away.

I used "West Coast RV Camping" to choose an Idyllwild campground.  I chose the state park over the county park based on the Scenic Rating.  The book gave the state park an 8 and the county park a 6.  I think they got the ratings reversed at the county park easily has much better scenery and is more secluded.

Back at camp, DJ made lunch: ham and cheese sandwiches with chips and baked beans.  She only used one slice (thin) of ham and one slice of cheese.  When she asked me how they were, I said they were good but could use more meat and cheese.  She said  "Oh good!  My son complains when I use more than one slice because of the expense."  Small point but it's nice to be compatible.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Too funny!

Today, right in the middle of writing my post for tomorrow, DJ called!  We quickly caught up on what each of us had done during the past two months since we last talked and then she said "Let's go camping".  I replied, "Two friends camping together right,  but no romance."  Her answer was "You said that not me!"

Life is good, life is funny.  I like my life when it's good-n-funny!

Picking a campsite, setting up camp and . . .

I doubt if anyone out there has not gone through a period of stress while driving a vehicle with concerns about reliability.  "Will we make it to our destination?  Where can I pull over on this mountain road if something does go wrong?  Why did I take this trip with her?"  I'll admit that last question probably does not come up that often!

When we pulled in and parked at the ranger station, it was like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders.  I don't think I mentioned it earlier but this trip took place during the third week of September last year.  We arrived on Tuesday with plans to leave Saturday morning.  California state parks have an advance reservation system.  While the park only had two occupied sites that Monday morning,  most of the sites (and all of the really good ones) were already reserved beginning Thursday night.  Would we relocate on Thursday or would we just have to go home early?

Equipped with a campground map, we made two complete walk-throughs  of the camp discussing the pros and cons.  We settled on site #19 based on proximity to rest rooms and water, level site to park and distance from the highway.  The ranger told us that #19 was reserved beginning Wednesday night so I paid for only two nights which turned out to be a really good thing!

We pulled into #19 which was a super-easy, head in parking space and almost level.  One 2 x 6 under each rear wheel and we were level enough!  We proceeded to set up our campsite.  Neither one of us had ever set up a camp for an RV.  We actually worked quite well together!  Within an hour we had the camp site arranged to our liking.

Since we had skipped lunch we decided on an early dinner of hamburgers, potato chips and baked beans.  Even though Dod is fully self-contained, I had not tested out any of the appliances.  I did, however, bring a portable propane BBQ, two single burner butane cook tops, a 32 qt. ice chest, a propane lantern for outside, and a battery powered LED lantern for inside.  I had forgotten how much fun it is to cook outside and how much better the food tastes!

Dinner and a first glass of wine completed, DJ volunteered to do the clean up while I lit the campfire.  I didn't remember campfires being that hard to get going.  After further consideration, I think the problem was that the firewood we bought from the ranger did not include kindling, the pieces were two large to start easily with just bundled up newspapers and park rules prohibit gathering of kindling, pine needles and pine cones.  Note to self: bring a hatchet next time!

Dishes done and the fire finally going well, we moved the camp chairs next to the fire pit and settled in for cocktails and conversation.  It was a perfectly clear night with an abundance of stars visible between the tree tops that surrounded our camp site.  We took advantage of the relaxed atmosphere to catch up with what had been happening in the almost 2 years since we had last seen each other.  Three hours (and a few glasses of wine) later it was time to turn in.

I had hoped to get a little further in today's post but my word count is already above 500 and is seriously challenging my attention span.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The saga continues ....

Once we reached the freeway, Dod was amazing - cruising along at 55 mph (not my normal highway speed, but this is a shake down trip) with more than enough power to pass the occasional big rig on grades.  When we reached Hemet I missed the driveway for the siding store twice and was so happy to be driving an RV that could easily make u-turns!  DJ seemed happy too but I don't know if it was because of the u-turns or because I had missed the driveway twice.

When we pulled in to the store, we were greeted by the owner who quickly identified the siding pattern, measured the area and gave me a quote of $40. plus tax for a credit card purchase or $35. tax included for cash.  I just love dealing with owners.  I had expected that they would take a large sheet of matching siding and cut a piece to size.  Instead, they took a perfectly flat piece of siding that matched Dod's original color and put  it through a huge rolling machine.  When it exited the machine it was a perfect match to the existing siding.

I couldn't resist asking the owner what he would have charged for the repairs.  He said $600. to $800.  I know his repairs would have been superior to mine but with the price difference, mine are just fine.

On to Idyllwild.  The "Palms to Pines" highway climbs up the mountains from an elevation of about 1500' to more than 6000' in just 16 miles.  What a test for Dod!  Most of the climb was uneventful but at times when I gave Dod too much gas on particularly steep grades, his poor old motor began to cough as though it was not getting enough gas.  By manually down-shifting to second gear and taking it slower, we made the summit with no major concerns!  Not much opportunity for conversation on a road with sharp, blind turns while driving an RV with coughing problems.  The weather was also terrible!  There was a dense fog which made driving even more nerve-wracking and chilly (remember the odor - the windows still have to be down!).

Just as we turned toward Idyllwild at the junction of highways 74 and 243, the fog lifted and the temperature went up at least 20 degrees.  A very good sign!  We pulled into Idyllwild State Park in just under three hours after departure with a traveling distance of almost exactly 100 miles.

Tomorrow:  Picking a camp site, setting up camp and sleeping arrangements!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Shakedown" trip progresses!

Back to the story.  We checked our calendars and agreed on a departure date about two and a half weeks into the future.  DJ (I noticed I did not give the lady a name in my first post) had family commitments and I had to finish applying bottom and hull paint on my boat; get it back in the water; and take it from Redondo Beach to Long Beach (about 30 miles).  As the time passed we talked very little but exchanged several emails.  In one email I suggested that we should go out to dinner before the trip so she could be sure she wanted to go through with it.  Her response was " Oh no you don't; you want to go to dinner so you can be sure.  I'm sure already!"

Time flew by and the departure date arrived.  Miraculously, her new home was just over a mile from my house.  She was living with her son and his family as a live-in babysitter while she began a new career in real estate.  I made the 5 minute trip; pulled up in front of her driveway; the garage door opened and there she was!    A quick hug hello and we were loading her luggage into Dod.  As I loaded one bag, she told me to be careful that the wine was in that bag.  Things are getting better by the minute.

One block into the trip we had to go back for a comforter she had forgotten.  Okay, I forget things too.  After the second start we had gone less than a mile when she asked me to pull over.  She didn't like the odor (cat urine) that seemed to be coming out of the air vents.  Now I am getting a little concerned.  I don't like the smell of cat urine either but I swear, I didn't even notice it.  I closed the vents opened the windows and we were off again.  About 3 miles later she asked:  "Are you sure you're going the right way?  The 405 freeway is that way (pointing to the right)."  I was really concerned then.  We were only a few miles and minutes into a 250 mile round trip and 6 days and 5 nights together.  I had made this trip 20 times or more and believe me I knew where I was going.  I very nicely explained the route we would be taking.

It turns out that she knew of a second route that would take us right by her daughter's house in Irvine.  She was right if you think that 10 miles each way from our route is going "right by" her daughter's house.  Another problem with her route was that it would increase the round trip by 60 miles, require using two toll roads and climbing over a 3,000 foot summit.

We were headed to Idyllwild, CA with a quick stop in Hemet to purchase a piece of siding to finish the repairs to Dod's cab over.  I don't want to be picky but the driveway of the only company west of the Mississippi that still stocks this particular siding was actually on the highway used in my route.  Okay, maybe I did want to be picky.

This post is taking much longer than I had planned!  More tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A doubly, foolhardy "shake down" trip

In late December 2008 I met a very nice lady and  we had  conversation that went something like this:  Her, "Are you married?" Me, "No."  Her, "Do you have a girlfriend?"  Me, "No." Her, "Would you like to do something together sometime?"  Me, "Okay."    Wow, I am such a great conversationalist!

In my defense, during previous conversations, some with multi-word sentences, I had already learned much of her life story and she mine.  One important thing that I learned was that she was leaving Southern California is less than two weeks to move cross country to Maryland!  How safe is that?  We had one dinner date and even wound up having burgers and beer (a going away dinner) on New Year's Eve.  Both dates were okay and the New Year's one even ended with a tiny, tiny, tiny New Year's Eve kiss!  She moved a few days later.

Fast forward to Spring, 2010.  She located me on Facebook, emailed a few times and then we progressed to phone conversations.  She had returned to So Cal and made it clear that she wanted to explore the expansion of our friendship.  I really didn't.  During her absence I met another nice lady and we jumped (too quickly) into a full time relationship.  It was full time but temporary.  Within 3 months we decided that what we really needed was friendship and not really romance.

Being single at my age indicates a certain lack of success in relationships and that describes perfectly what my situation was.  I explained this to her each time we talked and her response was always something like: "I don't want a relationship either, just a friend to hang out with."  It was hard to argue with her logic, so I agreed to a couple of casual dates, that due to unavoidable circumstances (some engineered by me), we never kept.

A few more conversations and she wore me down.  I needed a new plan so I came up with a date that I was sure she would refuse.  I told her about Dod; that I was planning a five day, shake down trip to the local mountains; and finally, that she was welcome to join me.  You may have guessed her response: "Okay, sure, that sounds like fun!  When do we leave?"    Foiled again!

I have to leave my computer now and start my daily project so the story continues tomorrow.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Major damage fixed and now some minor stuff

Dod's size saves money!  I figured that after sitting for 5 years Dod could use an oil change.  I drove over to the local quick lube place where I get my SUV's oil changed.  I was able to drive Dod right onto one of the normal oil change stations.  I asked how much and the guy quoted me $49.95 because Dod is a motor home.  I explained that Dod was more like a Dodge van than a motor home and told him I would "pass" at $50.  Business must have been slow because we were able to agree on $29.95 (same as the SUV charge).

Next, I took Dod to a glass shop to get a new windshield installed.   Dod came through again; since this was merely a replacement of a van windshield, it only cost $150. including the install.  I was thinking it would be much more!

After the installation of a few lens covers, two side mirrors and a rear view mirror and I will be ready for the "shakedown" trip. Apparently the little old schoolteacher who last drove Dod had some depth perception problems.

Does anyone out there know of a good glue to attach the rear view mirror to the windshield?  I purchased two of the "peel and stick" mounts but neither one stayed in place for more than a couple of days.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dod gets repaired

I started writing this post Friday but being a news junkey, I got caught up in the disaster in Japan.  I am amazed at the low death toll with the devastation shown on tv.

Back to Dod's repairs.  I wrote two paragraphs describing how I removed the damaged siding and straightened out the cab over section.  I couldn't re-read my post and make much sense of it so I will not expose volunteer readers to that type of torture.  Suffice it to say that 8 hours of work and about $100. of supplies took care of the damage.  A picture may be worth a thousand words but I failed to take any "before" pictures.  Here are a couple of during and after pix.

Above is with window reinstalled and wood painted.
Below is the 1" thick marine plywood that replaced the damaged area.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Love at first sight?

I found Dod on craigslist.org.  Since he was almost 100 miles from my home I made two phone calls before traveling for an inspection.  The seller continually apologized for the rough condition of his RV but nothing he said would deter me!

When I first saw Dod there were some concerns:  the cab over section had been pushed in about 6" by a low tree branch; the windshield was cracked; one tire was flat; the battery was dead (really dead); the spark plug wires had been chewed by mice; the carpet was filthy; there was an odor reminiscent of a tom cat; and in general, a rough looking RV.

Dod was residing near Lake Arrowhead, CA which is a long way from the suburban areas of Southern California.  Good for me, as no one else had come to see all the possibilities.  The seller was a very good negotiator: for me!  After an hour long discussion, the price had dropped by 75% and the seller had agreed to install new plug wires and take Dod to be smogged at his expense.  I guess you could say he did not want a prospective buyer to slip away.

Two days later, I received the news that Dod had passed the smog test so my friends drove me up to Lake Arrowhead.  I put in a new battery, started the engine and drove Dod for the first time.  That first drive was almost 100 miles with the first 30 or so downhill.  I took it very slowly downhill in second gear just to make sure the brakes were okay.  Once on the freeway, I kept up with the flow of traffic at a speed I estimated to be 60 mph.  Speedometer was not working!  Dod ran great all the way home with no overheating, no missing, no more rattles than I would have expected even from a newer RV; and other than the odor, an enjoyable drive.

Just how small is Dod?  Here is a picture of Dod hiding behind my GMC Yukon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Disposable Vehicles

For those of you thinking that I am a risk taker and foolhardy for choosing to make this journey in a 1979 RV, you are right on both counts!  Now please consider the concept of "disposable vehicles".

I have a history of buying older used cars for transportation.  In 2007 I purchased a 1991 Jeep Cherokee with 205,000 miles on it for $450.  The tires were good, it had four-wheel drive, a radio and it was cute!  During the two years I owned it, the only necessary repair was the replacement of a valve cover gasket.  I took it to the desert, the mountains, the beach and anywhere I wanted and I never worried about it breaking down.  Even if the engine blew up I would only be out a small amount of money.  I sold the Jeep for $900. to buy a larger SUV (of course it was cheap and had over 200,000 miles).

In 1982 I bought a highly used Coleman tent trailer for $800., hooked it up to my Jeep CJ-7 and headed off for Cabo San Lucas with two friends of mine.  The first night we camped at a RV park just outside Ensenada and had a great time.  The second day didn't go as well.  About 30 miles south of Ensenada I looked in the side-view  mirror and noticed the wheel was at least 18" outside the wheel well and being held on (just barely) by the axle.  A friend stayed with the trailer and I took the parts back to Ensenada to look for replacements.  None were to be found.  I had roughly 10 days for the trip so when I got back to the trailer I decided that I wasn't going to let an $800. trailer spoil my vacation.  We transferred everything that would fit from the trailer to the Jeep.  As we continued south, I waved goodbye to it and wished it well in its new life (most likely as a condo in someone's backyard)!  We had a great trip!

While I look forward to many enjoyable miles with Dod I am also cognizant of the fact that he is old and may not make it (I wonder if he thinks the same about me).  Even if the worst comes to pass, I will go on and not dwell on the "what ifs" and "if onlys" in life.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

As I began the search for an RV, in the back of my mind I had a goal of finding an ordinary (or or even less than ordinary) looking Class C with a great motor and fully functioning accessories.  My reasoning behind this was that since my planned travels would take me to remote locations in Mexico, I would prefer not to attract attention by driving a newer, shiny rig.

Another reason for an older rig is definitely budget and the fact that this is more or less an experiment.  Friends advised me to rent an RV and live in it for a couple of weeks before making my final decision.  After checking rental rates and comparing them to the prices of RVs for sale, I realized that I could buy an old RV for roughly the same amount as it would cost for a two week rental!  A standard Class C RV currently rents for $693. per week and  $0.32 per mile.  At 50 miles per day, a two week rental would be over $1600.

With Dod, I have the permanent use of an RV and my total investment to date is less than $1200.  Also, with the repairs and improvements I have made, Dod is now probably worth  more than what I have invested.  I am content with Dod!  Who knows what I might think about Dod if I had rented a 2010 RV for two weeks and gotten spoiled.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The world is my salon!

After comparing the floor plans on Class C motor homes I discovered that the only differences between a 20' and 26' model were the salon and extra storage.  Do I really need a sofa or lounge chairs?  Not  really!

My Salon!

When I traveled in my Jeep CJ7 there was no sofa and I never once gave it a thought.  Two beach chairs and a small table became my living space.  The one time it rained we were content to lie down in the back of the Jeep, read and enjoy the view.  If the rain had lasted longer, we would have just closed up the Jeep and headed into town for a night in a motel.

Do I really need the storage?  Doesn't everyone?  I plan to increase the storage in my Class C by converting the overhead bunk to a storage/entertainment center.  I got the idea from Tioga George!  George's Cabinet Story

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Is a 20' RV large enough?

In 1987 I outfitted my 1981 Jeep CJ-7 for a trip from California to Cabo San Lucas.  I cut a piece of plywood that would extend the length of the rear storage area to accommodate a twin mattress.  I had a canvas cover made to protect the area from the raised cargo area window to the extended sleeping area.  Now I can sleep in comfort! I purchased a propane stove, a large ice chest, a propane lantern and designed and built a porta-potti. My porta-potti was nothing more than an upturned apple crate with a hole in the bottom.  Include a shovel and you are ready to go (in more ways than one).

During the trip, my wife and I spent more than half the nights in motels but the times we spent dry camping were my most memorable!  After reaching La Paz, we took several off-road excursions.  On one trip north of the city we were in the desert and saw a single lane road (almost just a trail) leading toward the beach that would not be accessible in any vehicle without 4-wheel drive.  It rose steeply up a hillside.  Being foolhardy, we chose that road.  When we reached the summit, we saw a beautiful  bay with turquoise water and a brilliant white sand beach.  One side of the bay had mangrove trees which indicated there was fresh water available.

We were able to walk out more than a quarter mile into the warm waters of the bay before the water reached our heads.  There was absolute silence both day and night.  The stars at night were so vibrant and plentiful that the Milky Way was as visible there as it is in any "candy isle" in a supermarket!

"What does a man need - really need?"  Sterling Hayden, 1963

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Class A, B or C?

Class A:  After searching for over a month, the shortest Class A I was able to locate was 22'.  Class A eliminated.

Class B:  During the same search period, all of the Class Bs I found fit the length requirement (no surprise there) but they fell short (literally) in one dimension I hadn't considered.  I am 6'1" in height and none of the Class As I looked at allowed me to stand straight up!  Class B eliminated.

Class C:  I feel just like Goldilocks!  Class C is just right:  available at 20' or less with plenty of headroom.  Although there are few Class Cs around that fit my length requirement,  I was able to locate a few for sale within 200 miles of my home in Southern California.

Now the only really important criteria remaining were amenities and condition.  More on that tomorrow!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why do I need the smallest RV?

Parking restrictions played a big roll in my decision.    As I was planning to purchase my RV 6-8 months prior to my departure for Mexico, I wanted the RV at my home and not miles away in a storage lot.  Parking at my residence allows easy access to power supply and tools.  Local regulations on street parking for RVs limit the maximum length to 20'.

Fuel economy was my second consideration.  With a budget of $600. per month, the difference between 6 mpg and 10 mpg is substantial.  This difference has been further amplified with the recent skyrocketing of gas prices.

Mexican roads heavily influenced my decision.  I follow several blogs about RV travel in Mexico.  It is commonplace for bloggers to post about the limited access to small towns and villages; the circumnavigation of large cities due to traffic concerns; the difficulties faced when passing road construction sites and detours; and parking of large vehicles in general.  Most blogs also post stories about going to town using buses, taxis or getting rides from friends in order to go into town.  I want to go when I am ready and a shorter RV will facilitate this.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Search Begins

When I decided that my trip to Mexico would be by motorhome and not by boat I started looking for the perfect RV for me.   While making my decision I kept a quote from Sterling Hayden's book "Wanderer" in mind:

"What does a man need - really need?  A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in - and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment."

I find it interesting that he wrote "six feet to lie down in" when he stood 6'5"!  Those of you under the age of 65 can click on the following url http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sterling_Hayden to learn more about this maverick/actor/author/adventurer.    In another section of his book, he professed the belief that a voyage (in my case a journey) was better appreciated if it made you stretch your assets to their fullest.  While I can afford to spend much more per month than my budget of $600., setting a low budget amount will, hopefully, force me to take the time to stop and smell the cactus.

Traveling solo in Mexico, what do I need - really need?  I need the smallest, self-contained RV I can find.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I thoroughly enjoyed my many boat excursions.  While "on the hook" at various anchorages at Santa Catalina Island, I took the time to evaluate the benefits and detriments of living on a sailboat.  The benefits are numerous: the view of the shore from the sea; the quiet and inexpensive (wind is free) mode of travel; the lack of traffic; sailing through a pod of dolphins and watching the occasional breeching whale; and, access to remote locations not reachable by land.

The detriments are also numerous: confinement to a space of less than 200 square feet for days at a time; travel time up to twenty times longer than if by vehicle; where to find groceries and other necessities; and, the lack of  daily human interface.

As I looked back on my many automobile trips to Mexico I realized that my most memorable times involved the small villages I visited and the people I met.  To experience similar adventures by boat would require docking at a major city, renting a car and traveling many miles.  To experience the wonders of the ocean, all I will need is my inflatable dinghy and outboard motor.

My final decision is to travel by motorhome!