Off Grid Lifestyle & Innovations
I'm traveling full-time in a 20' innovative, (relatively) minimalist custom innovative campervan.
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Eco, off grid, minimalism technology and lifestyle
Innovations, problem solving, customization, DIY | Innovative Campervan Main Features
Safety and security
Northern California as of 11/2020
I lost my service dog of 15 years and am having a very hard time finding a qualified replacement.
What I Need Help With
Finding a mid-size young dog or puppy to train as service dog (must pass temperament tests).
Overnight parking: Fairly level, clean (minimal mud, sand and loose dirt), fairly quiet. I do not need any hookups, just a parking spot.
Willing to pay $15/day for high roof shop for about three months to build out new campervan.
What's in the boxes on the back and how are they mounted? See details on my storage page
Am I willing to meet strangers? Yes, but not to eat or drink out because I do not trust cooks regarding cleanliness and ingredients even if they claim to offer healthy options. Also tipping is a bad idea. I only eat food I buy from a grocery store and prepare myself or from a trusted friend, so a picnic is preferred. No smoking, heavy drinking or controlled substances. I try to restrict myself to like-minded people who are well educated and thus share the same concerns about environmental issues. If you are like a hyper "valley girl" who like speaks SoCal or with a hyper masculine vocal fry tic, I would not be a match even for a friend and recommend you join Toastmasters.
Why do I post my personal life on the Internet? Isn't that dangerous? See my privacy statement here
Are you safe living on the streets?
Why don't I travel overseas? I want to, but there are too many significant cons: Shipping van: High cost, risk of van and personal property theft and/or damage, shipping takes 10 days one way, customs and border inspections and interviews are likely to be extreme hassles, very limited availability of VA healthcare, language barriers, high fuel costs. Here is what I do as a more practical alternative: Tour cultural museums and watch travel videos. I've already been to Belgium, Germany, Mexico, Canada (vastly) and Alaska.
Where are my favorite places? Sedona, Arizona, Westminster, Colorado, Yellowstone National Park.
How is driving a diesel powered van eco friendly? See explanation here
What engine and MPG? Mercedes Benz 6 cylinder turbo diesel - 17 to 23 MPG; have a very heavy load around 8,000 lbs.
What does Eco Neato mean? It simply sends the message that being eco/green is neat.
Is my van stealthy? My van looks extremely unusual and gets a lot of attention. This was not my intention. Everything on the outside has a utilitarian purpose and is not placed there to get attention, especially since I prefer to be stealthy; however I obviously prefer purpose over stealth. Nonetheless, many would consider the utility items stealthy because the vehicle looks like it has a utility purpose (research, utility work, etc.).
Will I go crazy in small space? No. By far most van dwellers and even couples who live in smaller vans are very happy. I installed many windows for good views of nature - much better than most offices. My van is tall enough to allow me, 6'4", to stand. I am outside quite a lot walking, etc. The things that drive me crazy are not so much related to space, but rather dumb things other people do in public and cheap made in China products, especially electronics and how difficult it is to find enough USB ports as well as keeping USB port connections from going bad. At first I blame China, but realize we are the enemy by fueling the demand for cheapest price vs. quality. We can and should make our own electronics better, but not cheaper.
Do I get bored? No. What do I do for entertainment and with my free time? I go to dog parks and interact with others and their dogs since losing mine. I spend a lot of time watching science, etc. videos online. It takes a lot of time to maintain and keep the van clean inside and out.
Will I get another pet? I'm trying to get one. ADI service dogs take years to obtain.
Do I get lonely? Yes, especially since losing my service dog; only interested in rare like minded, smart and clean friends. As a Gen-X, I was an extreme "latchkey" kid who was left at home and at school alone and unsupervised with minimal nurturing most of my childhood.
How Do I Entertain / Keep Guests Comfortable?
A night guest could sleep across the front seats with a pad in the middle. All front windows can be covered well. There is a privacy curtain separating livings spaces. Or set up a tent, etc.
Swivel bucket seat. Small tables. Outdoor chairs, one that rocks. High quality hammock.
Unlimited internet WiFi with cellular signal booster, outside charge ports for USB and 110V.
Hydraulic sit-stand desk, 24" TV with side vision and even a printer.
Commercial free music, front and rear bluetooth high quality speakers.
Two long range radios for communication where no cellular.
Deep tissue powered kneading massager and rolling wood foot massager.
Comfortable diesel heat and solar powered air conditioning; many fans and vents. HEPA air filter.
Throw toys to play catch anywhere. Dog to pet, but too old to play with.
Healthy treats and meals. Lots of refrigerator room. Filtered drinking water. Induction stove.
Safety: 24/7 outside surveillance recording. Self-defense weapon options.
The interior is beautifully decorated for a relaxing feel. There are many high-mount privacy windows.
What do I eat and cook? Mostly raw health food: I heat or cook veggies, etc. lightly in olive. I eat a lot of organic apples. I eat nuts. I pick wild food when available and practical (usually in Washington and Oregon). I take many supplements. I distrust the food industry, especially restaurants.
Where do I shower or use the toilet? I shower mainly at Anytime Fitness (preferred), campgrounds and few other places. I have a flushing and dry chemical toilet option in my van. I have an outside shower for use when in forest / BLM land a longer time (extremely rare).
How much stuff do I own or travel with? I donated most to thrift stores and relatives. Everything I own fits in this 20.5' long van! I do now have a storage unit and hate them. I'm a true minimalist.
What are my monthly costs?: Ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on campgrounds, maintenance, etc. I do not itemize or keep close track of my budget. I simply buy what I want and need.
Can I afford a House? Yes. I choose this lifestyle until I find the right house at the right price. I don't want to buy during record high prices.
Where do I want to live / buy a house?: Unknown. Significant pros & cons everywhere. Requirements: Safe, quiet, shaded walking trail.
Would I Consider Buying a Larger RV? No because I plan to buy a house by age 56 and want to use this class B as every day commute and for travel.
What if No Sun for Solar? Even when rainy or cloudy there is usually sometime during the day my batteries charge via solar, but on rare days of extreme rain, shade or clouds where I run out, I seek an EV charging station or 110V outlet to charge. I'd rather do that every rare once in a while than lug around and deal with a generator like I used to.
Am I a Full Time Nomad? Yes; I live in the campervan full time. I avoid hotels / B-Bs due to cost, germs, bed bugs, filth, smells, noise, break-ins / staff thefts, hidden cameras! and reservation inconveniences.
Why Spend so Much Time in California? California has a lot of problems: Expensive, crowded, crime, fires, drought, floods, earthquakes, etc. I am there a lot because of the ocean beaches, amenities, warmer and drier winters, diverse culture and tourist attractions. It's conveniently straight south from my summer hang-outs of Oregon and Washington. I can hang around the most expensive and beautiful areas cheap. There are filthy and evil people everywhere. There is no perfect place for me.
Where do I camp?: About 95% stealth urban camping to achieve "glamping" (glamorous camping) as much as possible. I try to avoid noise and dirt. It's very rare I camp in a typical private campground anymore (I used to a lot) or RV park due to extreme costs, tight sites and rules. I made a large effort to shop for one or more campsites to buy, but the HOA fees and restrictions are deal killers. The type of place I choose to hang out has most of these:
Anytime Fitness (for workout and showers) and Planet Fitness (for workout and massages)
Mild climate (at the time I'm there) and free J1772 EV charging station if cloudy (if minimal solar charging); usually in the winter
Excellent stealth overnight parking spots
Excellent day use park (quiet, level parking, green, shaded trail)
Amenities such as Trader Joes, Grocery Bargain Outlet, VA hospital, Mercedes Sprinter service, etc.
Where all have I traveled in the USA?: All states including Alaska, but not yet Hawaii; Foreign: Belgium, Germany, Canada, Mexico
Where are my favorite places? Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Benson Sculpture Garden, Colorado, Sedona, Arizona, Mount Rainier, Washington, Olympic National Park, Washington, Hunter Springs Park, Florida
How long have I lived on the road full time? Since July, 2015 when I was tired of living in an overpriced extended stay hotel in Austin, Texas with my service dog Tippy II. Tippy was OK with it, but I wasn't.
General Personal Info
What I'm looking forward to the most: What we will learn a year or so after the James Webb telescope is launched around 2021.
How I contribute to society: Self-guided non-profit environmental advocacy; Diverse educational media productions; innovations such as a vehicle brake patent, solar powered air conditioner, EV charging, etc.
My business experience: Extremely diverse, but short lived due to traumas. About 30 jobs.
Adverse records: None. I am of exceptional honesty and integrity. I have passed extensive background checks in the Army, etc.
Formal education: B.A. in Communication, 1995 - Univ. of Arkansas | Paralegal Cert., 1998 | Web Design and e-commerce, 2014 - Peninsula College, Port Angeles, Washington.
Status: Single, always straight, clean-cut, never married, no children. Never formally engaged.
Where I'm originally rrom: Born in Findlay, Ohio, raised in Texarkana, Texas / Ashdown, Arkansas area until 18.
Age: Born in early 1969
Religion: Agnostic (not atheist). Non-denominational. Spiritual.
Bum / Beach Bum (derogatory)
Nomad / Nomadic / Digital Nomad
OTR (on the road)
Prepper (bug-out vehicle)
Retired / Retiree
Rubber Tramp (rubber tires)
Snowbird (usually synonymous with retired)
Survivalist (bug-out vehicle)
Van Dweller / Vehicle Dweller (derogatory)
Wanderer / Wanderlust
Wheeled Wonder (derogatory)
Bug-out Vehicle (prepper / survivalist)
Camper / Camper Trailer (Fifth Wheel, Bumper Pull / Pull Behind, Pop-up, Toy hauler)
Camper Van / Sleeper Van
Class A, B, C or E RV or Motorhome
Compact Class C (similar to Class B+)
Fast House (humor)
Home on Wheels / House on Wheels (rarely used)
Motorhome (see Vehicular Home)
Off Grid Van / Vehicle / Trailer (rarely used)
Rig (just about anything)
RV (Class A, B+, B & C, Slide in, Travel Trailer)
May be certified by RVIA, NRVIA, QAI
Wrongly implies recreation use only - See VH "Vehicular Home"
Skoolie (converted school bus)
Stealth CamperVan / Vehicle
Supervan (rarely used)
Travel Van / Travel Trailer
Truck camper / slide-in
Vehicle Dwelling / Van Dwelling
Vehicular Home / House "VH"
Recommend as a better alternative to "RV"
Wheeled Home / Wheeled House
Boondocking (free and rural)
Camping (set out lawn chair, etc.)
Driveway Surfing (friends)
Lot Docking / Surfing (Walmart, etc.)
Overnight Parking (no slide-out, grill, etc.)
Sleeping in Vehicle
Stealth Camping / overnight parking