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Hence…travels with Einstein

Hence…travels with Einstein

The beginning

When I was around ten or eleven, my dad bought a truck with a little home-made camper on top of it. The truck looked more like a car…all sleek and slim. The camper was made with plywood and painted green. The roof was canvas. It looked sort of, kind of, maybe…like this.

That is so not really right, but I like it anyways. The little area over the truck cab was so small that I couldn’t make myself share the space with my sister. I slept in a lawn chair outside. My parents slept on the table…lowered down to the level of the bench seats. There was no bathroom. The kitchen consisted of a tiny counter with a propane camp stove and an ugly gray water cooler.

Camper – Meh! Camping – Awesome!

I did NOT like camping in it on those rare occasions that we went to Atwood State Park in Ohio. I loved being there. I just didn’t like having to sleep and spend time with three other people in THERE. Outside the camper, my parents left me to my own. I explored the woods and spent a lot of time looking at the other campers. There were no Winnebagos that I can recall. Mostly there were tents, truck campers, little vintage trailers, and some old school buses converted into campers.

That was the moment…there at Atwood State Park. It was seeing those little RVs. To me they were little homes and I wanted one of my own. I wanted to see what they looked like inside.

First Glimpse at my Introversion

When our own camper was at home, it sat out under a tree, balanced on four stilts that cranked down to allow the truck to pull out from under it. Dad left the little camper sitting there on its thin legs. I was allowed to go inside whenever I wanted. I felt like this was some sort of right-of-passage. I was at last old enough to do something by myself. The little camper was not hooked to electricity, so it was always a bit dark inside. I didn’t care. I went out and sat on the bench seat and just thought. I imagined myself living in there and being on my own. I locked the door and it was thrilling to just be allowed to lock a door. Privacy. My first privacy. My first solitude. And I liked it. I didn’t need it all the time. A few minutes at a time was enough to give me the energy to go back out and be around others. I just loved getting that time to myself, even though I didn’t really have anything to do out there. Mostly it was just sitting in the dim light, smelling the odd wooden structure and the plastic covered seats; taking time to just be.

That was how it started; my being an introvert and finding a way to do that and not to feel like I was weird. I was just me. I discovered how much I savored quiet moments, the listening to things…really concentrating on things around me

It was good.

Art Journal – Houses

Art Journal – Houses

The previous page of my art journal took me back to those days when I fell in love with designing “home”. It’s the page where I decided to try my hand at drawing things from memory. It brings them to life and gives me a chance to share them with others. Much to my delight I found out that others have done the same thing…drawing houses on the ground with autumn leaves. Wow!

Leaf Houses

Houses Drawn on the Sidewalk

After the leaves were burned I had to find another way to make houses…because my heart was on fire with this new pass time.

Too Cold to Draw Outside – Draw Inside!

I could draw them on any surface, but I found a large sketchbook was best. I used a pen to draw the layout and features I wanted. Then I colored everything in with colored pencils. As I went along I added more and more detail to my drawings. I designed houses in caves, tree-houses, buses, apartments…anything I could think of.

It was fun to add wood floors, stone floors, patterns on furniture, little details of things on dressers, desks, and kitchen counters.

Lately I’ve gotten it in my head to add walls. That was good for my brain, I think. I liked figuring out how to cut holes for windows, how to color the inside and outside to make it look as real as possible. I wanted to be able to peek inside and see what it looked like; pretending that I could see the family inside, living and loving one another and making the most of their time together.

3-D Structure – An art class project with the kids

For my part in the project, I drew the RV. First I drew it in my journal and then made it with white foam core board. This was the final art project I did with the kids in Honolulu.

I wanted them to do this design project so they would, on their own, discover why perspective and scale are so important. I wanted them to learn to think in three dimensions and to see how everything relates to everything else.

However we only had a week to complete the project. It was the first one where they didn’t put it aside after class and not come back to it until the next lesson. This time they took the little houses with them to spots around the house and each one worked throughout the week. I was so proud.

My own, shown below, was done quite hastily. I didn’t measure out the furniture. It was more like the other drawings from memory…very spontaneous/ I didn’t have time to color the interior or exterior of the walls. I just went with trying to depict that the walls existed and divided up the space into little rooms.

It was a fun project. I didn’t do a very good job, but it was still satisfying and left me wanting to make more. It reminded me of the 3-D dollhouse my younger sister had all those years ago.

Page One and Two

Page One and Two

I come back to the topic of designing houses in pages further along. Here I was just figuring out what I wanted this little art journal to be about. I have never been good at or liked to do art from my imagination. I prefer to have something real to look at. But as I got into the journal, I began to draw little sketches from memory and found it so satisfying that it has changed how I look at art altogether.

The nickname of Ren came about a number of years ago. I have a dream to write a children’s book about a little girl named Aubrey Claire who is a modern day Renaissance Girl. I am also one who has tried many things and so I named my character in an online role playing game…Ren. Short for Renaissance. It has stuck and to this day, throughout the US, on my travels, I am Ren.

New Art Journal Cover

New Art Journal Cover

The Printer

I don’t think I talk about the cover in any of the pages. I wanted to have a printer with me in the RV. From time to time I needed to print out documents, but I also wanted a printer that would print out high quality prints that I could sell. I’d had a Canon Pixma Pro printer for years back in my studio at the cabin and I loved the quality. It printed with pigments rather than ink jet. The ink doesn’t smear when it gets wet. It’s also archival quality. Even better, the quality of the printouts is superior. The printer in the image above is the Canon Pixma Pro-100. It prints on paper as large as 13×19. I can print on almost any medium. I can run archival quality watercolor paper through it if I choose. I’ve often printed on the highest quality bristol board, made by Stonehenge.

The RV – 2018 Winnebago Vista LX35

This is a class A motorhome. It’s thirty-five feet long. It was purchased January 5th, 2018. It has a bath and a half. The half bath is right in the middle and is accessible even when the slide-outs are in. I can’t tell you how convenient that was when I was on the road. The rear bathroom is blocked off by the bed, which is on a slide-out. The RV has a washer/dryer combo which is fantastic. I loved having it. There is plenty of storage through the interior of the RV, as well in as in the “basement area” underneath. The living area has an electric fireplace that actually kept the entire RV very comfortable in even the coldest weather. There are lots of posts about the Winnebago if you’d like to look back to them.

Einstein

Einstein is a ten year old Golden Retriever. He was my best friend and traveling companion. He was not able to go with me to Hawaii. It was a very difficult decision to make. He was a great dog and pack member, but he did not like our days on the road. he often became physically ill for days while on the road. I found a new home for him and he has been doing super well. I’m told he adjusted immediately and is loving life with the other Golden Retrievers and the children. That makes me feel better. I still miss him and you’ll see him throughout my blog. I’d love it if you’d read the interview with Einstein…in the menu at the top of the screen.

I have the printer…still

I bought it while in Oklahoma. When it was delivered, it weighed fifty pounds. Once out of the box, it still weighed in at thirty-five pounds. On travel days, it sat in the passenger seat with a seatbelt. It rode with me my house-sitting job in New Jersey. For $165 I shipped it in the US Mail to Honolulu, Hawaii in March. When I left Honolulu and returned to the mainland, it costs $400 to take on the plane. Why you ask? Why would I pay so much to keep it with me?

Because I’ve never had a printer that can compare and it will earn its costs by helping me to sell my art.

New Art Journal

New Art Journal

This art journal is on a spiral book made in Beaverton, Oregon. Its called Bee Paper and is considered Marker Paper. I like the super smooth texture of the pages. I like to use colored pencil, watercolor pencil, permanent markers, and watercolors. I had to leave the watercolor pencils in Hawaii and my colored pencils are in storage. I do have the watercolor set I used however.

And here are the pens I prefer to use. All of my ink pens are permanent so that I can use them with watercolors. I like rather fine points as my art journals are rather small. That way I can take them with me in my backpack.

How do I spend my time?

How do I spend my time?

I admit that I can have whole days where I don’t have any chores to do. However, living in a small space loses its appeal when it becomes cluttered up. I try not to buy things, but sometimes I do find things I can’t live without. When I see things I want, I have to ask myself if there’s anything in the RV I can live without so that I can replace it with this new thing. The answer is usually yes. The stuff I thought I couldn’t live without when I first started this have not all turned out to be a good fit for this life. This month is one of those times when I go through my stuff and see what can be given away or donated. There are things that I have bought and indeed used, but the need for it has passed.

My RV isn’t brimming over with stuff. I just don’t want to get carried away with buying things. I like it simple.

Because I have a dog and that dog likes routine, there is a bit of routine in my life. Einstein does let me sleep in. He tries whining a bit when he thinks I should get up, but I’m a pretty sound sleeper, so it doesn’t always work. He isn’t whimpering because he wants out desperately. He just wants me to get up. So. Eventually I acknowledge his request and we have a bonding time. He wiggles and wags and I pet and talk to him in my happiest voice. Mostly. I get dressed and he always has to come over and sniff what I pick out to wear, as if he needs to give it his approval.

I make my bed. I have to do this because the extra pillows (I need them for nap time!) are laying on the seat at the table. Once the bed is made, I put a mug full of water into my little Keurig machine and press the button so it makes a cup of coffee for me. Next I give Einstein his thyroid medicine and get out his leash for a walk. He loves this part.

Glen Ayr Resort and Campground, Washington

After a nice walk, its back inside. Einstein knows our RV and no matter where we are, when we get close to it, he goes right to the door and puts his front paws up on the bottom step. When I open the door, he has to duck his head. Every time. Back inside, he gets a drink. So I have to make sure I put fresh water in his bowl, because I KNOW he’s going to get a drink after his walk. Predictable!!!

The RV now smells like freshly brewed coffee…I love THAT part. My cup of coffee is ready for consumption. I make sure the table is cleaned up a bit. It may have the laptop on it or some art supplies. I put a scoop of food into Einstein’s dish and then I eat. He seems to be happiest if we eat at the same time. I don’t always accommodate his preferences, but life together is a give and take, right?

Since the table is also my art studio, just sitting there to eat a bowl of cereal gets my creative juices going and pretty soon I’m munching and sketching. I check my phone, because during the night I sometimes (often) wake up with ideas for drawings. I put them into the NOTES app on my phone. The drawing of the RV pulling the printer behind it was a wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night idea. However, the dog on top of the printer…that was actually a daytime idea.

I don’t do dishes after every meal. Sometimes I could. Sometimes I can’t. So I usually just go somewhere in the middle and just do them when the left side sink is full. If I’m dry-camping (no hookups, so no water, electric, or septic) I try not to make many dirty dishes. If I do have hookups and its an travel day, I wash things right away, because I leave after breakfast. If I am staying somewhere for a while, I let it go until the little basin is full.

Wow! I just noticed most of my washed dishes are COFFEE MUGS!

If I have any chores, it works best if I do them in the morning (or whenever I get up). I might have to sweep the floor. If I didn’t have Einstein, I probably would rarely have to sweep. He sheds year round. Once every other week, when I’m stationary somewhere, I have to empty my grey tank (water from the dishwater/shower/washing machine) and black tank (you know…the toilet! Yikes!). Right now I’m in Robert’s driveway and he has 50 amp electric, water, and septic for me. Its wonderful. I let my tanks get to 2/3 full and then empty them both. I empty the black tank first and then the grey. The water from the grey tank flows up into the black water tank and helps wash it out. Then I close them both up again.

From time to time I have to sharpen pencils. I use a lot of watercolor pencils, oil based colored pencils, and wax based colored pencils. I like them to be very sharp, so the point gets down into the pores of the paper. So I use my Homepod, telling it “Hey, Siri, play some pop music” so I can sharpen pencils to music. And sometimes I just like to dance around the RV. If I’m a little down, it lifts me up. If I’m happy, it makes me happier and I burn some calories.

Every once in a while I look through my belongings to see if I can give anything away or donate it. If I haven’t used something ever or in a long time…it goes to a new home somewhere.

I have no yard work. I keep my bathrooms clean and tidy, but that doesn’t take much time at all. I love to tuck little pieces of art, postcards, artistic business cards, or photos into the edges of my mirror. Surprisingly, they stay put when I’m bumping along on the highway.

I’d say that I spend most of my time doing what I want. I take naps, bake something, cook meals, go for walks, take Einstein to a dog park, go to a store where I can buy art supplies, and I spend a LOT of time doing art. I like to draw things on paper and then take them into my iPad and do more art with them in the Procreate app, using my Apple Pencil. I’ve written about that in an earlier post.

To earn money, I draw things and sell them. In the past, I owned a film company and made documentaries, commercials and videos for corporations. I also filmed and edited a plethora of weddings. I have been an artist for most of my life. Doing the film work seemed to be a great way to combine all the other types of creative things I enjoy doing. I call myself a Digital Nomad now. I do whatever I can do from this little table in my RV.

I have never ever been so happy and so productive. I have learned, at last to live in the moment.

Getting Ready to GO!

Getting Ready to GO!

Today is Monday. I leave here (Oasis RV Resort in Las Vegas) Wednesday. That’s day after tomorrow! I didn’t sleep well last night. Woke up a lot and then couldn’t go back to sleep after getting a sales call at 5:49 am. Lots on my mind. I’ve been here just over six weeks and have become settled in and comfortable. There are people here that I’ve gotten to know. Its kind of hard to leave. Its less stressful to stay in one place. Gas costs drop to nothing when you stay put. Electric, water, and septic are taken for granted while here. The area becomes familiar. I had read that if you live in an RV you should stay put for a month at least at each destination…for the most part.

Moving on becomes hard. Last week I started preparing. I got Einstein groomed. He sheds a lot and that makes the RV a mess. Dog hair works its way under everything and into everything so before hitting the road I want to do some extra cleaning. Warm weather is on its way. There have been hints of it in the past couple of weeks.

One of my biggest concerns is Einstein’s safety when I have to be away from the RV. What if the electricity at the campground goes out, even for a moment. If I’m running the air conditioning it will turn off and then not come back on when power returns. I’ve never experienced a power outage when the air conditioner is on, but I’ve heard that its return doesn’t guarantee the return of air conditioning. I have heard others in the campgrounds tell me of times when power has gone out, so I know it happens. I ordered and received something from Nimble called an RV Pet Safety monitor. It contacts me, via an app, when the RV’s temperature is too cold or too hot. I have it all charged and ready to go. I just can’t log into the app. It says my username is invalid. I contacted Nimble and they are supposed to send me a new username and password. It’s been thirty minutes and nothing has shown up. Still waiting.

Talked with Nimble on the phone again (when you put in a help ticket, they call you right away. That’s kind of nice.

Oooooo! It works now! Awesome! It says that the temperature in the RV is 71.19 degrees F. I’m so happy to have peace of mind now

I’m low on propane. I can have some delivered to me here at the campground. I’ll ask about it in a bit. I can also pick some up when I leave. I have an appointment for 8 am Wednesday morning to have two vent covers installed over my vents so that I can have the vents open while driving or during rain. I’ll have that done at Camping World. They have propane, so if its too expensive to have it delivered here by the campground, I’ll get it at Camping World.

Tomorrow is my last full day here. I’ll need to check the air in the tires and get them up where they should be. I ran the engine this morning and its all good. I’ll empty my grey and black tanks Wednesday morning. I’ll move the Jeep up to the front parking area of the campground in case it takes longer than expected at Camping World. Checkout is 11:00 at the campground. I’ll park the Jeep up front and when I come back with the RV, I’ll park out on the road outside the campground, walk back to get the Jeep and drive it out and hook it up. The campground spaces are pretty jammed together and the roads are narrow, so that makes sense anyways.

Until yesterday I was a little down about having to move on. Then I realized that I was actually kind of excited and ready to go. It means seeing more places I’ve never seen. I’m heading to Sacramento from here. I’ll go beyond it, towards northern California to have lunch with a friend. We’ll meet in Chico for Mongolian barbeque. That will be new for me. I was going to go to a campground west of Sacramento and drive the Jeep to Chico. I’m considering taking the RV up to Chico to a campground there for the night so Einstein is left alone for less time. Back down by Sacramento, I’ll spend some time visiting with my friend Rita. I’m looking forward to that. So I’m excited about further adventures.

As the day to leave gets closer I am getting the interior of the RV ready. I’m stowing things that can’t be left out during the drive. By the time I leave, it will all be stowed and that will one less thing to do. This morning I went out and organized my underneath (basement) storage compartments. I got rid of some mangled cardbox and found a dog-tie-out I can give away. I’ll see if my neighbor here could use it. Otherwise the compartments underneath are ready. I was surprised by how light their contents was. The interior hasn’t really changed much. Still have the same cloth bins of art supplies. I did buy a couple of towels for when Robert was here.

Even though next winter seems pretty far off, I have to think about where I’ll stay then. I love Las Vegas and I have friends here. I felt it was too cold. It wasn’t really below freezing very often, but if I’m going to live in an RV and have the ability to stay away from the cold, I think I’d like to stay further south. So I’m going to start looking for availability now so I can make a reservation.

I’d like to get the RV weighed. I’m afraid to do it though. If it turns out its too heavy, it would be no easy task to thin down. I’d need to go through the interior contents and get rid of some things. That would be painful, because everything that is in here is precious to me and was gleaned from the contents of my entire life. I know that I would NOT get rid of any art supplies. Clothes and shoes would have to go first. Food would go first. I have two 20 lb propane tanks and I have stowed them into the back of the Jeep. I have eight 1-gallon jugs of spring water for Einstein. Those are also now stored in the back of the Jeep.

What I LOVE about Full Time RV Life

What I LOVE about Full Time RV Life

I’ve been full time for about eighteen months now and I’d have to say that the “love” part of the title is a new aspect of this life.  I think its been happening a little at a time, but just in the last couple of days did it dawn on me that, yes, I love this life.

The BEST of ME!  The people I meet and the friends and family that I visit see me at my best.  Because I have my own house with me (bed, favorite foods, hobby supplies, etc.) I am so happy.  I have my own bathroom (two actually, though I don’t really use the small half bath) so all my own shampoos and gels and mousse…its all there.  For night time, I have my eye drops and saline nasal spray, breathe-rite strips, water…all I need in case I wake in the night.  I don’t have to pack and unpack anything.  It’s always there; just like at home.  I’m always well rested, because if I’m not I can go into my little house and take a nap.  I’m never bored.  I have all my favorite things to do right there with me.  I’m an introvert, so when I need me-time, I just go out to my place for as long as I want or need.

The BEST of EVERYONE ELSE!  When I feel like meeting people, all I have to do is step outside my RV.  I can take Einstein to the dog park or for a walk.  I meet a lot of people that way.  I meet them at the laundry room and the game night at the clubhouse.  I get to at least say hi and how are you when I go to the grocery or pet store.  I always get to know the people next to me in RV parks.  For instance, right now, the folks beside me are very creative.  She does amazing lettering on canvas.  He does stained glass.  When my windows are open, I can hear them laugh and talk about what they’re working on there at the table outside.  Sometimes passers-by stop and talk with them.  They’re full time in their RV and they love it.  She’s a cancer survivor and he’s retired from UPS.  They are so happy to be alive and to have the chance to travel and explore the country.  I have friends in the area and we get together to go sightseeing, have dinner, do art.  When I’m tired I can just head home and get some quiet time to myself.  My life feels more in my control than it ever has before.  Back at the cabin, it was much more difficult to encounter new people as the cabin is quite isolated.  It was a bed and breakfast so it was also harder to get time to myself.

A NEW FRONT YARD as often as I like!  When I lived in one place my front door always opened out to the same view.  Now it WAS a nice view of forest and long winding driveway.  During my life I have moved a lot.  I get restless quickly.  Now I can stay in one place for a while…be it a field, the desert, a driveway, or a campground.  When I feel restless I can just move on.  I can stay near a big city, a small town, or wilderness.  If I want to do some boondocking, I stock up on food, water, and propane on the way and I can stay anywhere comfortably for two weeks.  If I want comfort from cable TV, electric, water hook-up and septic hook-up, I go to a campground.

CAMPGROUND CULTURE!  I’m at an RV resort on the south side of Las Vegas right now.  I’ve been here for about five weeks.  I have a little over a week left.  I will miss it.  I’ve met a lot of other full time RVers.  Most live there at the resort so they all know each other.  They all have interesting stories to tell.  When I’m sitting at my dinette table, I face the road and I can see people walking their dogs (so many little white dogs!), stopping to talk together, stopping in front of an RV to ask the owner, who is also outside, questions about their “rig” or the stuff they’re towing or doing.  With my windows open I can’t really hear the conversation, but I hear the murmur of the different people and its comforting.  Everywhere else I have lived, people don’t come outside.  They stay indoors.  At the resort, people treat the outdoors like another room of their RV.  Its an silent guideline that if their chair is facing away from the street, they are not really looking for conversation from passers-by.  If their chair faces the street…come on over!  Kids ride bikes.  On warm evenings, RVers and friends gather outside around a contained fire, sharing conversation and sipping livations.  There aren’t a LOT of children at this campground, but there are some.  I enjoy hearing their laughter as they play together.  Today at the dog park, there was a little boy and he wanted me to know all about his dog.  He said Golden Retrivers are his FAVORITE dog.  Mine is a Golden.  His little mixed breed dog (Rusty) was just eight months old he told me.  All of this awesome culture makes my life feel large and full.  I love it.

THE FLAVOR OF AMERICA.  In Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck wanted to travel the country to see if it was the same as the America he’d written about.  It was 1960.  He was quite famous.  He wanted to travel anomimously without attention.  He seemed disappointed with the America he met in that trip.  It was becoming “vanilla”; becoming blended.  No longer were its spaces unique from one another.  People were changing.  Culture was changing.  By the end of his journey he may have been sad and was glad to, at last, be home.  He began his travels with great gusto and preparation; great expectation.  In the end he just wanted to be done.  My travels have been quite different from Mr. Steinbecks.  I knew already that America’s states and towns had become blended families.  They lost their distinctiveness way back when interstate highways gathered them all together and peppered the exits with chains like MacDonalds and others, seen all across the country.  You can travel anywhere and get the comfort food of your favorite restaurant or grocery store.  You can gas up at your favorite stations.  I was glad of that.  In my childhood, family vacations were flavored by places to eat that were few and far betwee or unknown.  My childish heart wanted to eat where I knew exactly what I was getting.  

So my travels have introduced me to the very thing that John Steinbeck couldn’t find.  I’ve discovered uniqueness across the country.  In Ohio, when I got out of my quad cab dually and walked towards the Giant Eagle grocery store, a young man collecting shopping carts several aisles away called out, waving, “Welcome to Giant Eagle!”  That made me happy.  I wasn’t used to such cheerfulness and “I love my job!”ness.  My waitress at the local Pizza Hut in that same area engaged me in conversation off and on throughout my buffet pizza meal.  I was used to waiters and waitresses who only made conversation at the very end of my meal, perhaps to ensure a better tip.

In Indiana (Elkhart) I found every store I visited (whether I purchased something or not), every restaurant…all the folks were genuinely friendly.  It did my heart good.  In Montana, at a very tiny campground (like 8 spaces) the campground host with his long gray-gold “Wild Bill” curls made me feel welcome and safe.  The man sitting at the picnic table with his little white dog (campsite next to mine) made me feel welcome as well.

I have encountered some who seemed to hate their jobs and hate strangers or tourists.  I’ve met those who were simply courteous and professional.  Overall, I’ve found warm welcomes.  I’ve seen similarities between all the places, but also uniqueness.  Quincy, California has a Subway restaurant, but no other chains and no department stores or car dealerships.  On Halloween the whole town dressed up.  Shop owners wore costumes and played the part.  Bob Ross (costume) greeted everyone at the little children’s clothing and toy shop.  Crossing guards wore tutu’s.  The Chamber of Commerce had a table set up in the park to give out candy.  The library had a plant sale going on.  I loved it.  Sweet Lorraine’s had the world’s best bread pudding.  

The campground in Eugene, Oregon was owned by a landscape artists and boasted lush green lawns, cute round metal tables and chairs at each campsite, a vegetable garden, a dog grooming station set amongst the trees…a great and beautiful place.

Everywhere I went I found a nationally shared personality and a uniqueness.  I thought maybe John Steinbeck would have loved it.

FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT!  Wherever I go, I usually find a couple of favorite places to eat and shop.  Right now I’m at Blaze Pizza.  Its not far from the RV resort and its a favorite of a lot of people.  There is a line to the door and almost every table is taken.  There are families here and everyone is talking and laughing and consuming delicious stone-fired pizzas.

MEETING OTHER RVers…It warms my heart to meet others who live in their RVs.  They are a whole different people than those who live in houses or even take vacations in RVs.  It warms my heart to see RVs where the owners love it and have their routines and division of duties, their new life with the companionship of one another and shared enjoyment of the life.  The couple in the 5th wheel next to me are friendly and comfortable with their new life.  Enjoy sitting outside at a table working on their crafts.  He does stained glass nightlights and she does canvases with beautifully painted quotes that inspire.  Three spaces over, Sharon is a retired special ed school teacher who is, at this moment, out driving her RV for a driving lesson.  She gave me two outdoor chairs so that I can sit outside in the fresh air on these blue-sky-warm afternoons.  Back in Forest City, Iowa another solo woman RVer shared dinner with me one evening and we talked about our travels and how we overcame the problems that happened from time to time.  She gave me an iron (I love cotton shirts and they are always so wrinkled after being washed) and a small caddy to hold my shampoo and body wash.  In Alberta, Canada I gave my host Sue a purple storage container (she LOVES purple) and I gave Archie my Krispy Kreme Donuts mug.  Just before I left they gave me a bottle of my favorite hand lotion.  I do small pen and ink drawings and have given a few of those away.  It feels right and good sometimes to give something away.  In the desert near Quartzsite, Arizona I sat around a campfire each evening with other women RVers.  We shared stories and laughed together.  Debbie had a little tiny camp shovel and was in charge of stiring the coals and moving the sticks of wood around to keep them burning.  There was something comforting in those shared evenings.

BONUS FEATURES of the campground I’m at NOW!  They have a really nice booklet they give you at check-in.  It has a map of the campground and of the city.  It includes ads for services specific to RVers.  In two days I’m having my RV washed and waxed by a company called Red Rock RV Washers.  They have trucks right there at the campground.  They bring their own water.  They hand-wax the RV.  I don’t normally splurge on such a luxury, but a wash and wax prolongs the life of the RV.  I had the little Airstream I traveled with last year washed by them and it looked so fantastic afterwards that it just lifted my spirits and made the little trailer happy, too.  The resort also has vendors that do all sorts of repairs, including engine repair.  There is pretty much nothing that can’t be done.  Not many resorts have that kind of service.

Until I came here, I had two dogs.  We were together for the last eighteen months.  Einstein and Emma.  Emma has been a good companion while we were together in the RV, but if I left, she barked so much that once (in Eugene, Oregon) I got a call from the office about it.  If someone walked by with a dog, she barked a lot.  If I had to go anywhere, I couldn’t leave the windows open on a warm day because of her barking.  She was extremely difficult to walk.  Campgrounds have SO many dogs and Emma doesn’t like any of them.  She would scream out her barks and twist and try to get out of her harness (she did once – scared me pretty badly).  So about ten days ago I found out about a no-kill shelter and I took her there.  I felt like a louse.  I think you can imagine how I felt.  I knew I had to do it though.  It took me a few days to get over it.  Each day I felt a bit better and knew that I’d done the right thing.  Since she’s been gone, Einstein has been better behaved.  He can be left in the RV with the windows open and doesn’t bark.  He walks and doesn’t go crazy over other dogs.  He can be taken to the dog park and gets along well with everyone.  The RV is cleaner.  Its not as crowded.  The food (Einstein has to eat a special, expensive food) lasts longer.  People aren’t afraid to come into the RV.  I have to admit its been great and is probably a lot of the reason why I love RV life more now.  I think Einstein is happier, too.  Emma really tried to bully him into submission.  When I leave here next week, I’ll truly be leaving Emma behind.  She was going to be put into a foster home until she was adopted.  I know she’ll be much happier in a real house. So there you have it.

Wintering in an RV

Wintering in an RV

While visiting friends in central Alberta, Canada I found myself in snow and freezing temperatures as early as August.  I discovered things I could do to keep myself warm and my RV safe from damage.

The water pipes are beneath the floor, as are the heating ducts for the propane furnace.  My RV also has an electric fireplace, which keeps the interior very comfortable.  However, I found that using propane keeps the floor warmer and the pipes more protected.  I actually prefer propane heating, as it doesn’t dry the air like electric heat does.

My propane tank is built into the underside of my RV so I can’t just disconnect it and take it to be refilled.  I have to drive the entire RV to the propane refill station.  Recently I was able to purchase an “Extend-a-Stay” connector for my propane tank which allows me to connect an external propane tank AND a gas grill.  The connector was simple to install.

At first I purchased a 20 pound tank from Camping World.  I liked it because it had a gauge so I always knew how much propane was left in the tank.  My intention was to take that small tank to Lowes and simply exchange it, but I decided I didn’t want to trade away my tank with its gauge, so I bought a second tank from Lowes.  When I’m in a pinch I can easily exchange that one for a full tank.  When I have more time, I can take the nicer tank with the gauge to a propane refill station.  I like having the two extra tanks.  I’m never out of propane.  When I’m on the road, I put each tank in a plastic bin to keep it from rolling around and I store those in the back of my Jeep.

I recommend you use an allen wrench to tighten the hose to the tank. Otherwise it doesn’t seat right.

For the times when I use the electric fireplace, I have purchased a Honeywell cool mist humidifier for my main living area.  It has really helped prevent sinus infections, which are common for me in the winter.  It takes up some valuable counter space, because when I put it on the floor, the dogs knocked it over.  Water everywhere.  I have to admit that between the humidifier and the fireplace my RV is very comfortable and it’s a joy being in here.

On extra cold days or nights, there are more measures I can take to keep things free from damage.  I suppose it could be unnecessary, but the peace of mind is worth it.  I sleep better. 

  1. I take my small Broan heater and place in it my wet-bay.  My black water and fresh water tanks are visible in the top of the wet-bay.  If I put heater on the floor of the wet-bay and plug it into an extension cord that I brought up through the hole for the hose, it works great.  It like to sit it on a silicone hot pad from my galley because it keeps the heater from moving. The hole in my wet-bay has a sliding cover so that less cold air gets into the bay.  You can also buy a “blanket/pad” that attaches to the tank itself.  Since I can only see the underside of my tanks, I would have to find a way to fasten the heated pad to the bottom of each tank.  Perhaps Velcro would work.  Each pad runs up to about $130 for the largest size.  I decided to use my Broan heater this year and see how that works.
  • 2. The next step I took was to purchase a Freeze-Ban water hose.  It’s a heated water hose that has a power cord at one end and a temperature sensor at the other end.  I make sure that the temperature sensor cord is on the end attached to the spicket.  It turns on the heat if the temperature outside goes below 45 degrees I believe.  I use a long extension cord with three outlets on the end.  I have the Broan plugged into one outlet and I plug in the hose power to one of the other two outlets.  So now the opening in the basement floor has the heated hose and an extension cord.  The final thing going through that opening is my septic hose.  I keep it connected to the RV and in very cold weather, I keep the grey tank valve open so that there is no water in my grey tank and thus no danger to freezing.  I DO NOT keep my black tank valve open.  I never ever ever do that and don’t recommend anyone else do it.  You don’t want liquids draining out, but solids sitting in the tank, hardening into cement.
  • 3. The last step I take in very cold temperatures is to pour a bit of RV anti-freeze into my sink traps.  There is usually a small amount of water sitting in there.  A bit of anti-freeze ensures that it won’t freeze and damage the sink trap.  I pour perhaps a half a jug into the toilet to keep the black tank from freezing.  Again, this may be overkill, but I don’t mind taking the extra precautions to protect my “home”.

I haven’t done it yet, but someone gave me a great idea.  You are probably familiar with the “noodle” that you use in a swimming pool.  I was told to buy one of those and cut it so that it can slip just under the slide-out inside your RV.  My slide-out sits an inch or two off the floor.  When the slide-out is out, quite a bit of cold air comes into my RV from the edges.  I’m going to see if I can cut the noodle so that it fits into that space to see if it will prevent that cold air from entering the RV.

I’ve seen others use a silver insulation wrap on windows in their RV.  I’ve read that it isn’t real helpful.  I think mostly the silver-ness of it would reflect sun and maybe keep the RV cooler in summer.  I’m not against trying it though.

I was in freezing night temperatures off and on from August of 2018 to mid-January 2019 and all my precautions seem to have done the trick.  I’m now newly arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I did spend two weeks in the Arizona desert, boondocking on BLM land during the big Quartzsite RV show until this past Sunday.

I can’t say that, knowing all this, I plan to spend winters in below freezing places.  It just wasn’t possible for me to escape it until now.  I will definitely try my hardest to stay where its warm in the winter from now on.  I found out that it costs $180 to stay on BLM land for six months.  I am hoping to do just that.  I like knowing that I can winter camp if I need to.  I also know that if I were to buy another RV, I’d be looking for one that gives me the best chance of keeping my rig safe and sound in freezing temperatures.  Until that time, I think I’ll just call myself a “snow-bird”.

Happy Trails.

For more about wintering in an RV…and staying comfortable, here are a couple of videos I found helpful (both by Bob Wells):

Staying warm on the road, part 1

Staying warm on the road, part 2