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Old 12-31-2011, 02:13 AM   #1
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Default Full-timing in the van - Meg

Quote:
Originally Posted by MegA
Update: I have acquired a bed.

After I got back from the thrift shop I was taking some stuff outside and found 2 twin-size frames, mattresses, and box springs in the "donation" area. They had belonged to one of my neighbors, Ruth, who is also moving. One of her helpers carried the frame to the van for me and after moving it around a bit I discovered it would just fit between the driver's seat and the wheel well. It's low but still high enough to fit over the heater thingies on that side.

I really don't like used mattresses, you never know what you're getting, but I know Ruth and knew it would have been well cared-for and bug-free (which she verified when I ran into her later). So I moved first the box spring and then the mattress into the van. The box spring went in fine but the mattress is a bit off; I don't know if it's just a bit too big or if it's the curve of the driver's seat or something else, but I had to shift it back a bit so it's not sitting exactly on top of the box spring. It doesn't feel quite stable that way so I'm thinking of removing it tomorrow and replacing it with either the futon mattress or the memory-foam mattress topper.

But it's nice to have a sleeping area off the floor, and what's more, there's a lot more available room in the rest of van this way. So far - it looks good.

One other thing, that doesn't really have anything to do with the bed but is still cool - As of this morning I still hadn't gotten an ice chest (aka refrigerator). When I was at the thrift shop I looked for one but couldn't find any; camping supplies are few and far between this time of year. But as I was walking out of that area a man passed me carrying one that looked like just the size I wanted. I wasn't sure if he was a customer or an employee but I thought he had come from the back area so I kind of followed him to see what he was going to do with it. I lost sight of him in the crowded aisle but then I found the ice chest just sitting on a shelf so I grabbed it. It needs to be cleaned but for $12 it was a good deal, and one less thing to have to buy.

I'm moving out of this apartment and into the van tomorrow so I'm not sure how much online time I'll have for a while. But I'll post updates when I can.

Meg
Take care, be safe. Keep us posted when you get organized. Happy New Year!
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Old 01-01-2012, 09:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Update: I am posting this from the van (on battery power) sitting in a park across the street from where I used to live. Last night was a very late night because of apartment cleaning - didn't get to bed until sometime after 3. The low yesterday was supposed to be around 22 so I prepared with lots of layers and hoped that since the sun would be up in about 4 hours it wouldn't be so bad. It was.

I could get warm under all the covers but they didn't stay put because of the way the bed was set up, and I don't think there's anything different I could have done there. And the air was really cold. *Really* cold. It was the most miserable night I can remember spending in a long time - possibly ever.

I should mention that I bought a catalytic heater, but because it was used and it was dark and I was *really* tired I didn't want to mess with it last night. But this van is so full of stuff that I'm not sure I would have had a safe place to put it anyway.

After the sun came up and I walked to a nearby coffee shop just to warm up (and spend $5) I decided I didn't want to spend another night in the van. I had some clothes to donate to a local homeless shelter so I asked them and got 3 possibilities. But these shelters all have rules; some have mandatory classes, some can't handle special diets (like mine with no meat and only whole grains; I have sugar issues), and most importantly, there's the safety issue with this van full of stuff parked in a not-very-safe neighborhood.

I'm hoping to be able to reach one friend who might be willing to let me stay with her for a while but if that doesn't come through I see 2 options:
1) shelter
2) Wal-Mart parking lot in the hope someone can "babysit" me with the heater operation (which is still an expensive thing if you use it every day but at least would get me through for a while)

And meanwhile the van has started leaking antifreeze... Wonderful. At this point I am seriously thinking of putting everything in storage, getting the first job I can find, and getting rid of this van as soon as I can.

So right now I am feeling really pretty stupid, mostly for waiting so long to do this; if I hadn't been so indecisive I could have been able to afford something better (like an actual RV) and more reliable. But I wanted to mention it here in case anyone is (or might be) in a similar situation. Maybe someone can benefit from my experience. I said to one of my neighbors last night, "Some day I'll look back on this and laugh." But not just yet.

It's just past 2 here; 2 hours until the sun goes down, and I don't look forward to the darkness.

Meg

P.S. I'm not sure how much online time I'll have for a while so I've changed my email here to my cell phone #. PMs of support (or even just "yes, you're stupid, get over it" ) would be appreciated. I feel rather isolated right now.
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Old 01-02-2012, 12:34 AM   #3
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Meg,
Don't give it up!. Put the key in the ignition and drive somewhere warm!!!
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Old 01-02-2012, 12:39 AM   #4
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Hmmmm, not so good, so far? That seems normal when you're making such a big lifestyle change in such
a short span of time. I could say "hang in, it will get better" but I could be mistaken.
Seems there are choices available to you, and getting rid of the van might seem like the easy way to go,
but it might be jumping the gun a bit.
You need to figure out two things as quickly as possible. How to safely use the catalytic heater, and get
the antifreeze leak resolved. That will allow you to 1) head towards warmer climes and 2)keep warm at your
stops along the way.
There's no point in giving up just yet, but that has to be your choice. If you could get to someplace where
basic living isn't interrupted by trying to warm up, or cool down, it will give you more time to do the jewelery
thing, which was the original reason for moving into your van in the first place, wasn't it?
So, get the heater working (safely) and then figure where you're headed. I'd assume south? I-25 will get you
to Santa Fe, then Albuquerque, then hopefully to some place (Quartzsite, AZ maybe?) where you can reorganize
and do something with your intended business project. btw, Quartzsite is currently 75F and clear. it is also a
place that has some jewelery conventions at various times during the year. And there are some LTVA long term
visitor areas that have relatively inexpensive camping. Might be worth a drive? You could also do I-70 to I-15
south to US95 south straight into Quartzsite. The grades are steeper on that route, than on I-25 south to I-40
west, so it might depend on what shape your van is in when you decide where you're going.
I-25 to I-40 is probably easier on engines and drivetrains.
Use Starbucks for wifi and coffee. One is free, one isn't.
McDonalds has free wifi too. Panera Bread too I believe. Some libraries might have wifi, but that one isn't for sure,
and some rest areas along the interstates sometimes have it too, but make sure your AV and firewall are solid.

Don't know if this is helping or not, but I hope it does.
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Old 01-02-2012, 02:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Update from Meg:

Quote:
Update: I'm at Wal-Mart, full-time RVer here got heater working So I got brave & used camp stove for dinner! Things are looking up.
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Old 01-02-2012, 03:29 AM   #6
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

So she's managed to complete the first part of my diabolical plan?
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Old 01-02-2012, 01:06 PM   #7
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Not sure Mike. Last message from Meg noted:
Quote:
Laptop battery is dead
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Old 01-02-2012, 01:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

I suggested she get the heater working, fix the antifreeze leak, and head south.
Phase one complete.
I've sort of lost track of where she is with electricity. Did she get a coach battery and inverter
figured out yet?
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Old 01-02-2012, 02:35 PM   #9
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

No inverter yet.
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Old 01-02-2012, 02:47 PM   #10
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

In that case, I would suggest she find a Starbucks, and get the laptop plugged in to recharge it.
Next she'll need to get a reloadable loyalty card. Load it with $10, and register it at Starbucks.com.
That way, she can "dawdle" in Starbucks long enough to recharge her laptop, until she can get a coach
battery/inverter combo. If she buys a coffee using a registered card, the refills are (usually) free for
that visit, no matter how long she wants to sit there and charge. It's a simple, inexpensive, way to
recharge her laptop, short term. You buy a coffee, the wifi and 110V AC is included.
I would recommend a GR27 AGM, and the Peak 1200W inverter. Pricey (probably around $300 if both
are on sale), but should do the trick short term. It might be worth a trip to an RV place and bite the
bullet and get the battery install done professionally. The Peak inverter is intuitive, for the most part
and since here battery will be inside the van, connecting it with the included cables should be relatively
easy, even for someone with limited electrical knowledge (like me).
If those things aren't doable, then I'm not sure what to suggest, or where to go from there.
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Old 01-04-2012, 08:18 PM   #11
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

I sent Meg a message to find out how she is doing. Tough start really, the van wasn't ready.
Sleeping bags keeps us warm in the van when cold. I'd pick that over blankets.
We all really do depend on power. Phones, laptops, etc. all have to be charged often.
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Old 01-04-2012, 09:58 PM   #12
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

You all are talking about me behind my back.

I don't have a lot of time for updates but I just sent marko an email (didn't think to check forum until now). I think I may have more internet access in future so will update when I can. In the meantime, thanks for all the suggestions. I'll do my best to keep in touch.

Meg
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Old 01-05-2012, 12:13 AM   #13
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Quote:
Originally Posted by MegA
You all are talking about me behind my back.

I don't have a lot of time for updates but I just sent marko an email (didn't think to check forum until now). I think I may have more internet access in future so will update when I can. In the meantime, thanks for all the suggestions. I'll do my best to keep in touch.

Meg
Why, yes, we are!!!
Here's hoping it will all start to coalesce soon, and you'll be able to start getting the basics in place.
Do you have this forum set up to notify you when someone replies or updates a thread on here?
Maybe markopolo could tweak your id so it sends you an email when we add stuff to your threads?
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Old 01-05-2012, 10:26 PM   #14
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Default Fulltiming in the van - Meg

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
Do you have this forum set up to notify you when someone replies or updates a thread on here?
Maybe markopolo could tweak your id so it sends you an email when we add stuff to your threads?
Actually, I did try setting it up that way with my cell phone's address but the messages were too long - the phone cuts them off at somewhere around 140 characters - so it's really not working well. But all it would do anyway is say something had been updated, I'd still have to get online to check, and that's limited unless I'm here at The Gathering Place - 2 hours or so on the battery. Posting from here seems the best course of action, at least until I can get something better. (I know - when am I going to get an inverter? After I buy a sleeping bag, and propane, and more propane, and *more* propane... that little heater is a hungry beast.)

Boondocking in winter, yeah, that's the way to go...

Meg

P.S. I guess this thread has mutated. I'm thinking of starting a blog about this; I'll let everyone know if I do that.
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Old 01-06-2012, 12:56 AM   #15
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Mutated would be one way to define it now.
At least you'll know when someone has added something here. We understand your access is days only, so
I doubt anyone would leave you anything that couldn't wait until morning.
WM Campgrounds are nice places generally. We use them quite often ourselves.
What's the situation with your van as far as driving anywhere? Could it do 1000 miles to southwest Arizona,
and warmer temps? Or is the antifreeze leak a show stopper? Short trips only?
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Old 01-06-2012, 02:19 PM   #16
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Update from Meg:
Quote:
Took your advice, bought a sleeping bag- I was tired of covers falling off & this weekend's supposed to be colder- low 15F Sat nite
15F is -9C That is very cold.
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Old 01-06-2012, 09:19 PM   #17
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Marko, thanks for moving this to a new thread; I'm seeing some posts here I missed before.

To update - the day shelter I've been hanging out at got me a voucher for a motel room for the next 3 nights, so I don't have to deal with the 15F and snow flurries expected tomorrow night. I'm looking forward to it. I've also applied (online, this morning) for a job at the National Western Stock Show, which starts tomorrow and runs for two weeks. Not sure if I'll hear back from them; they might be wondering what someone with a SD address is doing applying for a job in Denver. But I'm also planning to apply at the Wal-Mart that's been so graciously hosting my van for the last 5 days; it seems like a decent store and I do have retail experience. If I can get a job here In Denver I will probably try to move back into a "sticks & bricks," at least for a while. If not, I suppose I'll call in "family help," if I can get it. That would involve a move back to Philadelphia, which I don't really want to do; I've been in Denver more than 30 years and would rather settle on the other coast. But I would like to see my family soon. That was actually the first trip I was going to make in the van.

Speaking of the van - when I took it to Grease Monkey to get the oil changed back in December they found a rear main seal leak and a transmission leak. The coolant leak is something I discovered last Sunday when I first drove it after moving out, and it seems sporadic. I'm familiar with these - my last car had one and I knew to just monitor the level and fill periodically - but the other leaks had me really worried; I don't even know what a "rear main seal" is. My Wal-Mart "neighbor," who is also a part-time mechanic (when he's got a place to work - *not* in W-M's parking lot), said the seal was about engine oil and it was just a matter of checking the oil and transmission fluid levels and keeping them filled. He also said he actually drove something (a truck, maybe, he's a former trucker) across the country with the rear seal out. I'm not that brave, though, mainly because I don't have the skills he has, and if I'm going to be stranded I'd rather it was someplace I knew - like here. He had offered to show me how to check the fluid levels but I haven't seen him much the last few days; I think he is working, which is good - he's on a very limited income.

So now that y'all have more info about the van, if you have any suggestions I'd welcome them. It just doesn't seem like a good time to be driving it long-distance, and I don't have the money to fix it - and honestly, I'm not sure I want to. Full-timing may be a great lifestyle, but not this way.

That's it for this update. Thank you all for your support and suggestions; I'll do my best to keep in touch.

Meg
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:38 PM   #18
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Update: I have an inverter.

It's 750 watts and I got it at a local truck stop that my Wal-Mart "neighbor" Paul took me to yesterday; they have slightly better prices than anyone else. We connected it this morning - seemed fairly simple - and I used it to just charge the laptop's battery, which took slightly more than an hour. I'm too nervous to use the computer plugged in with the inverter on so I'm just using it on battery power now. But it's nice to have something like this in the van. I'm even using it on the work table I set up, and have been able to plug in the mouse for the first time in more than a week. Such luxury... I wish I could have afforded one powerful enough for a microwave - hot water would be really nice right about now - but it wasn't possible.

I've picked up a cold so I'm not feeling too good; I stayed close to "home" yesterday and will today, but will probably go out tomorrow because the temp is supposed to drop and I'd rather be somewhere warmer, it saves propane. I've found that the nights are the hardest here, partly because of the cold and partly because I don't have really good lighting (I'm using battery-powered LED tent lights right now). I think if I could find a job that would keep me out 'til about midnight that would be ideal. I'm not going to do any applying until I can talk reasonably well and not cough much, though. Winter colds

Meg
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:15 PM   #19
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Just one quick question, does the inverter have a low battery indicator/shutoff, or at least an audible alarm?
So that you know when it's time to stop using it, or run the engine and recharge everything 12V?
Wouldn't a couple of high amp output solar panels and a charge controller to help recharge your
batteries, be a nice addition to your ever increasing knowledge and equipment curve? It's on my
wish list, maybe next summer.
Good to hear things are looking up a bit at a time.
Too bad about the sniffles.
Tea/lemon/honey?
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:44 AM   #20
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Yes, it has a low battery indicator and an audible alarm, and (I think) an automatic shutoff as well. I wish I could have gotten one with a digital readout, I would have been able to monitor it more closely, but - no.

Solar panels would be lovely but honestly - not in this rig. I'm still planning to get rid of it as soon as possible. That's part of the reason I held off on the inverter, but realizing I can't always get to the day shelter and there are precious few free plug-in sites (where I don't have to buy something in order to sit there) I kept looking at the ones at Home Depot. Then when Paul found this one I decided to act. But I sure hope I don't have to make any more big purchases.

I really wish I could manage tea; it would help my sore throat. But the only way I have to boil water is with the camp stove and the thing is too big to leave up all the time and a pain to set up and take down. It works fine but the design is just not good; it will definitely not be getting high marks from me once I get around to reviewing it on Wal-Mart's site.

At this point I'd love to find something simple that I could just put in a cup of water to boil it. That would help a lot, and really open up my meal options besides. I'm thinking of those things you used to be able to get that ran on 120v; is there something like that I could use for the van? or would it be too power-hungry for my small battery? (I'd settle for a 12v something but I haven't been able to find one of those 12v connectors.)

I'm also looking for lighting suggestions (cheap, of course). The best ones I have now are really bright, but not for long, and I'm going through batteries quickly. It's hard to get any work done - and hard to stay positive - when the interior lighting is so dim.

The Colorado sun *is* getting stronger; today the outside temp was in the mid-50s but it was almost hot in here. But the sun is still setting so early that it gets cold quickly. This kind of lifestyle really keeps you in touch with the weather.

Meg
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