As I am writing this Judy and I are back in Cottonwood, Az and our road trip is over. After we had been at Moab for two weeks, we were undecided whether we would continue the trip or go home, so we flipped a coin and the coin said to keep going. The next day we left for Zion but my sprained knee became sore from driving, so we decided to quit the trip to reduce the number of miles we drove. We both had a wonderful time and I want to wrap it up with a summary and some of the lessons I learned on the trip:
A ROAD TRIP DOESN’T HAVE TO BE TERRIBLY EXPENSIVE.
I am too lazy to keep accurate records of a road trip like this, but fortunately Judy loves to do it. So she kept records of her fuel mileage and all her spending on the trip. Her 2007 Chevy Express van with 5.3 liter V8 averaged an astounding 18.16 MPG over 1324 miles! Her total cost of fuel was $278. She buys premium fuel because by experimenting she believes it gives her another one MPG which more than offsets the higher cost.
Her essential daily spending for the 25 day trip was $473. By that I mean money you have to spend and not optional spending or fixed monthly expenses.
This table is of money that she didn’t have to spend but were things she was wanting or needing. October is the end of the season in Moab and we found quite a few end-of-season sales she couldn’t pass up. She picked up some outdoor gear she was needing at great prices. She also got a stunningly beautiful tattoo to celebrate the experience.
I NEED TO BE ON THE ROAD MORE!
It’s startling how easy it is to fall into a routine and before you realize it you’re in a rut and your life is boring. That’ just where I found myself so I knew I needed to get out and hit the road. I am so glad I did! It just feels so “right” to be on the road and free to roam as I please again! This trip reminded me how much I love it and I don’t ever want to forget it again. All my plans are written in Jello but I am almost certain I will spend all next summer on the road to and from Alaska and after that I will do at least one road trip every year.
LIVING IN A LOW-TOP VAN WAS OKAY.
While I have lived the mobile life for nearly 12 years, I’ve never lived in a low-top van. I lived in a 6×7 camper for 2 years (and it was smaller than this extended van) so I knew I could easily live in the small space, but I honestly didn’t know how my back, neck and knees would respond to being hunched over or walking on my knees all the time. Fortunately, it wasn’t a problem at all. I still prefer a high-top, and I wouldn’t want to live in a low-top year-around, but for short-term trips a low-top was no problem. I’ll be fine in it for 6 months to Alaska and back.
TOO MUCH STUFF IN A VAN MAKES YOU MISERABLE!
I preach this constantly and so of course I ended up with way too much in my van and it was making me miserable! File this under “Do as I say, not as I do!” Living in the cargo trailer and using the van for storage allows me to have a lot more stuff (I admit that I’m weak) and I filled it up! When I realized I was doing it I went on a mission to get rid of a bunch of it and it has come down quite a bit, but I left too much in the van for this trip. It took a while but I eventually found a place for everything and got everything in its place. When I do this again in the future I will be ruthless and only take bare-bone essentials.
ORGANIZATION IS CRITICAL!
If you are going to have too much stuff, you must have lots of organization and I had none. I had an open unused space available so I went to Wal-Mart and found a plastic, four drawer unit ($60) that fit right in it. Getting it was one of the best things I’ve done for living in a van! I now recommend it to everyone as one of your first purchases! It’s a little hard to find at Wal-Mart because it is not with the housewares, it’s back in the hardware section. They are built heavier to be used in garages and not in the kitchen or bedroom. But, not only are they much stronger I think they are more attractive than plastic drawers made for housewares. To mount it I used a ratchet trap that went to the shelf units that came with the van. They are industrial shelves and mounted extremely well so I have no question the plastic shelves are secure.
Some people like all their stuff hidden in drawers and cabinets; I’m not one of them! I’m so lazy that the things I use every day I want within easy reach. I’m a big fan of peg-board; I think it should be in every vandwellers home! I just happened to have a sheet of it and some scraps of plywood with me, so I cut it down to fit on the end of the 4-drawer unit and mounted some bins on it. Viola! Instant cheap and easy organization!
I NEED TO GET A LOCKER IN THE REAR AXLE.
I will never be a hard-core 4-Wheeler, but when I’m heading down a little dirt road in the desert I don’t want to be scared of, or turned back by a sandy wash I have to get across. All the other RVs and campers turned back because of it so if I can cross, I can be all alone. I like being alone! After talking to my good friend Forrest, I’m convinced all I need to do is get a Detroit locker in my rear axle. So that is on my agenda for some time this year.