The 'Why?'

To find out what this journey is about, start with the beginning, the 'Intro' post.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Up Next for Van Halen

Been driving her a bit this last week and have decided on a few things.

First off, the A/C leak is going to need to be hunted down and fixed.  Will be looking for someone to do that very thing this week.  There's no way to even contemplate going much anywhere in this heat, the inside temps in that pretty uninsulated rig is just too much for this wimpy white girl.  Since the compressor works and ran cold for a while, I know the compressor is fine, the Freon just leaks out.  Shouldn't be too terribly expensive to fix.  I hope, anyways.

Second off, the Van drives fine even with the idle issue.  Drives pretty darn good actually.  And she's even been pretty good about not dying when I put her into gear.  Heck, it's nearly a non-issue.  I can drive her, as-is.  Might get to where I'm good with my left foot for the brake and my right foot on the gas, if I feel it's needed.  So, just gonna drive her like that. :)  Hey, 'her' is almost 20 years old.. she's allowed some quirks!!  :D

And lastly, the tranny issue pretty much isn't there at all now.  There has been no more leakage or slippage.  The fluid is still a wee bit over full, and has been since the next morning after the Arkansas major leak in the mountains.  So know what?  I'm just gonna drive her.  I won't put her through the same heat and stress like was put on her in Arkansas.  There, done. 

That's all for the mechanical issues.   After the A/C is fixed I'll take her on a trip or two not too far to see how she fairs.  Parents live about an hour away, that'd be a good start.  The kid lives about 3 hours away, that's another good little trip. 

I have been contemplating, though, tweaking the inside a bit.  It's never ending, I suppose.  Just feel like the space isn't being utilized it's best.  The desk, for example, while great in theory, isn't really getting much use and it almost a waste of space.  I have considered removing the desk and keeping the two deep double plastic bins against that wall in it's place. 

My jumper pack had a problem last time I used it, now the 12 volt plug-in isn't working.  I use the heck out of my 12 volt fan at night, so this concerns me some.  I will probably upgrade to the bigger jumper pack, which will have 2 12 volt plugs, and 2 DC plugs, and more juice.  Then again, that thing is bigger and heavier.  Either this or get some external battery packs that I can hook up to a small solar panel on the dash to charge up and a few USB fans.  I have one small jumper pack with the USB plug-in and have tried just using that small USB fan.  It works and didn't consume a ton of juice, it just didn't move the amount of air as the Roadpro 12 volt fan did. 

Rethinking the potty thing.  Current one sure takes up the space and is rarely used.  Might go with something more compact and storable.  I know I'm a weirdo, but I like knowing I have my own option should the need arise.  Plus.. have you seen some of those bathrooms out there?  Eek!! 

Still so much to consider...  which is the FUN of it!!!  :)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Today I Say Goodbye

Today I am letting go of 'Fannie Mae', the RV.

I've had her for a year now.  Have had some fun adventures in her for sure.  Down to south Texas for my big 25th high school reunion and all the adventures that ensued with that trip (they were not all bad!!). 

(Fannie Mae being towed to get a new transmission)

The trip to southern Oklahoma and a fun 3 day weekend. 

(Chevy and Hotrod all pooped out after too much fun at the lake)

The trip across Oklahoma to get my daughter's new baby, Cookie.

(Cookie bear :) )

The time I took off and hung out at a KOA campground bout 30 minutes away just to chill.   The time my daughter and I went and stayed at a nearby casino, just cause.  The Thanksgiving we had at the lake an hour away.  The times I took her to my parents place and stayed in their yard, just cause.  And all the multitude of times I'd just go hang out in her, just cause.  She was my quiet little haven.  Place where I could think and write and read and cook and escape and just watch a movie, whatever I felt like that day.  She has been my own little safe getaway cottage that just happened to have wheels under her. 

I will surely miss her.  But I know she will be very happy with her new owners, Buck and Sheri.  May you have many wonderful memories in her!!  :)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Van, Car and Minivan Thoughts

Have had this internal debate going on inside my brain and not sure what is the proper course.

Van Halen is going to need yet more work.  The A/C is still leaking out.  The tranny was doing that thing in Arkansas with the mountains and heat, but hasn't had a problem since.  The idling seems to be acting weird when I put it into gear, and feeling like it wants to die when putting it in reverse.  Have been told that is not related to the tranny issue so that might be issue three.  Argh.  Do I just keep pouring money into the thing?  It also gets 15 mpg on the road.  Drove her yesterday and gave her a bath and vacuuming.  She's all set up and ready.

Could drive and camp out in my little car.  But gees it would be tight.  Don't think I could sit up without bending my head, that tight.  Doable, and gets about 34 mpg, just really cramped and add to the fact I can't get into the back unless I exit the vehicle and get in through the back passenger doors.  Sorta kills stealth should I need it.  Forget trying to cook in there, as well. 

So I have these two vehicles now for different purposes.  Van Halen for road tripping and camping.  Little Vibe for daily driver that's good on gas.  Two vehicles, two sets of insurance, two yearly tags, two vehicles to keep up on maintenance, tires, and repairs. 

So then I wondered, should I just sell the two to get something that is in the middle, a minivan?  Would serve dual purpose, my road tripper/camper and daily driver.  One vehicle to tag, insure, maintain and repair. 

A minivan would be more cramped than Van Halen, less cramped than the Vibe.  A minivan would get be getting about 25 mpg on the highway, better than the Van, not as good as the Vibe.

This would be a non-issue if Van Halen had no problems, you understand.  But dang, don't want to spend more in repairs than I initially bought her for.  So anyways, my brain won't shut up about this, so thought I'd put this out there and hopefully the answers will reveal itself.  Cheers!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My Unofficial 'Job'

I occasionally help out at my sister's RV dealership by cleaning trade-in 5th wheels.  It's not steady or anything, but it does put a few bucks in my pocket and it helps them out.

Man, those things are nice!!  Compared to being inside my Van Halen, it's like a palace!  :)  So much space!   Most of their business caters to retiree's looking to downsize and start snowbirding.  (Snowbirding: going south in the winter and north in the summer, chasing better weather).  With your accommodations on wheels, that is totally possible!!  Some people sell their home and most of their stuff and go full-timing and some keep a home base and take off when it suits them.  Such freedom!  :D

My sister and her hubby have a pretty successful business, I'm very proud of them!  They started with just a few used RV's about 10 years ago and have built up a business themselves to being one of the top sellers of the DRV brand in the nation.  Internationally, even.

So here's a huge shout out to my family who started their own business on THEIR terms and are doing great and still loving it!!  Way to go!!

Monday, July 13, 2015

I Miss My Van

Okay, I will admit it..  I miss driving the girl. ;)

Van Halen is parked under the shade trees and stares at me every time I go outside.  It's like she is asking, with her Ford front face, 'When are we going again?'.  Sure wish I knew.

The sale of the RV is supposed to be finalized sometime this week.  You better believe I will be then getting her into a mechanic to figure out the issues with the transmission. 

Have kind of gone over and over in my head what I will do should they say the tranny is shot.  Do I chuck it all and start over?  Take a chance on something else?  My conclusion was, no.  I've driven Van Halen over 3,000 miles since I got her this past January.  And three different states.  She's not left me walking.   She's not let me down so I won't let her down.  And I know the things wrong, where as a different one is a new can of worms, if you will.

There is this thing called 'sunk cost'.  I've already spent 'x' amount on the purchase price, title, and conversion.  Have knowledge of what's already been done mechanically to the engine.  I can not get that cost back.  I know what is needed, tranny work.  So will go forward from here.  And will have either a repaired tranny or a different one that I can trust.

So, next question is:  Once I get her rolling again..   Where to next?  :)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Purging Stuff

Yesterday was yet another bout of purging stuff.

I have done this quite a few times in the past few years.  And it seems I still have too much crap.  I bet I can find another couple big trash bags full of stuff to donate to our local Meals on Wheels today if I wanted. 

Yesterday I weeded out my closet of stuff I just don't wear.  It's looking pretty bare now, but really, what's left is stuff I will actually wear.  Not things that might be tight now and if I lost a few pounds would fit again.  Not that pair of shoes for that one occasion I usually avoid going to anyways.  Not the bike panniers I've held on to for the past two years thinking I might actually utilize them (which I haven't, not once).  Not the plug in fan which someone might actually need, of which I still have two and could have gotten rid of another if I can remember where I put it.  Even went through the two bathroom drawers to weed out more stuff, yet didn't seem to get rid of much in them, to my dismay.

Stuff just seems to creep up on ya.  Like..  WHY was I holding on to this one huge suitcase?  It was John's, and the last time he used it was in 2005 when we went on a cruise.  Sure, it was nice to have at the time.. but that was 10 years ago.  Do you know how many times I have moved in 10 years??   Six times.  And it had to make that move and find a new place to store every time.  Got rid of a smaller one, as well.  Have one smaller suitcase left.  If I ever need it and can't fit everything in that one smaller suitcase, I think I have bigger problems than having a suitcase too small.  So two suitcases got the boot yesterday, as well. 

Like I mentioned, I have moved six times in the past 10 years.  That's quite a bit.  And I am not afraid to get rid of things when I move, believe me.  Usually fill up a dumpster or two of just accumulated crap, and also donate a ton of things every time.  Yet...  that stuff..    it slowly invades your life yet again.  I'm not moving or anything right now, maybe I'm just now embracing the minimalism thinking, who knows. 

I realize I have done the same thing in my campers I've had over the years, as well.  It's true.  Every camper I have had has had it's own set of extra everything.  Van Halen is my seventh in 14 years.  I like to keep my campers pretty much ready to go, always have.  I got that from my 'maw maw'. :)   But even in those, it seems that crap just starts accumulating.  When I was getting the big RV ready to put up for sale and had to unload all the stuff I actually completely filled up the entire back of my lil car, and my lil car can hold a crap ton of stuff, see? :

(Imagine it with the other seat folded down flat)

Gees!!   I guess the good and bad part of that was I had already owned most of the stuff that went into Van Halen to outfit her so I can live out of her while on my travels.  But dang, feel like I need to weed out the van now, too. 

Guess I'm stuck, now, on debating whether it is better to feel like you are packed and ready for almost anything, or paring everything down to essentials only.  Like, everything could be packed into a backpack besides the bed.  Would sure free up some room in there, that's for sure, haha.  But...  but...    lol

On a side note, after the Arkansas trip, I haven't replaced the plastic bin that sat behind the passenger seat.  That was where the cooler was.  Now that the cooler is out and that place is opened up it doesn't feel near as crowded in there.  However, have been reading some more on ideas and have thought of something.  If I bought a decent sized cooler, it could serve multi purpose.  For one, it could be seating.  For two, if it was large enough, could serve as a base for a shower.  For three, I could put a much smaller cooler inside and that would keep things cold longer, being double insulated.  For four, could also store other items inside when not in shower mode, like towels, curtain, bathroom stuff.  It's a thought, anyways.

Big RV should be sold this next weekend and then it will be time to look for someone to work on the tranny.  After that, Van Halen is ready for her next adventure.   Cheers!!

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Arkansas Trip

Well, I survived it, lol.

Took off Saturday morning, June 27th, and was on the road about 8am.  Tim and Nathan were riding their motorcycles and I was following in the van.  The weather website showed high temps for the day to be in the mid 80's and a light breeze for the drive.  Of course, beings as Van Halen has just gotten some work done, I took my time and kept an eye on the heat gauge and was aware of any weird noise or smell.  The temperature gauge stayed steady and kept the motor cooled, all was well on that part.

We did have to stop quite often as Nathan's cycle could only go about 90 miles per small tank of gas.  It was okay, there was no rush, and the doggies got to pee on a lot of trees this way, haha.

Got to Arkansas about 2pm, and we were staying at friend's of Tim's, who would be riding their motorcycles the next day.  Mike and Debbie were some very cool people I had the pleasure of meeting, very welcoming.  Their beautiful home was a few miles from their town.  It sat back off the road and had tons of beautiful trees:


Hotrod loved it, haha.  So many trees to pee on!!  *woof!*

The evening was nice, we hung out in their backyard by the pool and got to soak in the aroma of beercan chicken on the grill.  Food was awesome that night.  Our hosts pretty much turned over the top floor, and slept very well.  Surprising, as I usually don't sleep well in strange beds.

The next morning we were off. 

The plan was to drive the Mt. Magazine Scenic Bypass, all four of them on their motorcycles, me following in Van Halen.  I took some pics of them going down the road, forgive my dirty windshield, I took these while driving, haha:


I will admit, the drive was a bit hairy.  I had a few concerns over the step inclines and hairpin turns while descending, but was assured all was okay with Van Halen and just give 'er hell while driving up the mountain.  So I did. ;)

Drove a few cities over from Mt. Magazine and had lunch.  The doggies did really good for all they went through, being stuck in Van Halen with me, haha.  Here is a few pics of them:

Hotrod riding shotgun, haha.   And:

Chevy, on the floor behind the seats, pissed off cause she got ejected from riding shotgun from Hotrod.  :)   They both did really, really good.

After lunch we split ways with Mike and Debbie, I hope I thanked them enough for their hospitality.  Both really cool people.  They headed back their way to their home, we went south towards Mena, Arkansas to traverse the Tahemina National Scenic Byway.  I still had to do the HulaJohn planting, and decided that the top of the mountain at Queen Wilhelmina State Park would be a pretty place.  It was still in Arkansas state, the Oklahoma boarder not that far away. 

This neat looking place was there, mountains in the background, trees all around.  Notice Chevy next to that short pillar that is a water fountain?  That's where I planted the HulaJohn:

After this there was a bit of engine trouble.  I suppose Van Halen's transmission didn't much care for all the extra load on it in the heat and I guess the exertion caused a seal to bust, she was bleeding pretty bad.  Had a quart of tranny fluid, and she leaked right back out.  Grabbed a pic of the scenery though. ;) 

Decided to try to limp her back down the mountain and try to find a town.  Did get a mile or two before I felt the tranny slipping and pulled off the road.  It was leaking pretty bad at this point and not even showing fluid on the stick.  So, me and the doggies decided to chill where we were at and the dudes took off to find a town for more tranny fluid.

Imagine if you will, a spot off the side of the road with tall trees all around you, it's quiet and peaceful, you have the windows rolled down, the side door open, the back doors open, there's a gentle breeze.  You plug up your 12v fan, make sure doggies have plenty of water, and then proceed to chill at the back on the bed and read a book.  For all the worry going on in my head, that little bit of respite was heaven!!

Well, anyway, it didn't end up terrible.  The motor cooled down enough by the time the dudes got back I guess the tranny decided to be nice to me.  The next town, Heavener, Oklahoma, was about 20 miles away, all downhill for the most part.  Decided to keep fluid in it, keep checking it, take it easy and just get her there.  It barely leaked after that.  Found a flea bag motel that allowed doggies, and slept on hard beds. 

The next day the plan was to take it slow, keep checking, leave out early to avoid the bulk of the hot weather, and just try to get it within tow range of some place that could handle it.  But actually, didn't have nary a problem with the tranny, other than it kept dying on me when I put it in reverse.  The fluid stayed good the next 315 miles, even though the temps got up in mid 90's.  Didn't slip anymore, either.  There will have to be a repair done on the seal and such, and find out why it dies in reverse, but am hoping it's not going to be a replacement, just repair.  We shall see.  But Van Halen got me home, by gosh!  :D   Tim and Nathan were suffering the heat pretty bad by the time we got back to our town, and that many days on end with lots of ride time they were both pretty well beat.

Three days, Arkansas, DONE!   

*note to self:  next time, think twice about big mountains in late June heat*