Monday, July 7, 2014

The Transition Is Well On Its Way

For those of you coming over from the Stealth Van Dweller, this is the start of my new life. For those just signing on, I started this journey building a one man camper of sorts from a retired Chevy Express van back about 5 or 6 years ago. Throughout the process I documented my progress with various articles and pictures. Sadly much of that material is about to disappear. Yahoo, in their infinite idiocy, had determined that portion of their offering is not longer profitable and will be disabling access by the end of this month.

The timing is ironic because it is this month that I start my new life as a full time RVer in my upgraded dwelling. Hardly stealthy any longer, I am a bit at a lose as to what to call my rolling home, but with input from you and others, hopefully something worthwhile will stick.

More recently I used a 2013 Dodge Caravan as my solo traveling dwelling. More minimalistic, but then newer, it provide a secure and economical way to see the country. In the past year it has traveled about 19,000 miles reaching from coast to almost coast as I spent time during my first year of retirement visiting friends and relatives. Taking in some, unseen to that point, sights along the way.

Getting a solid +30 MPG on the open highway, economy made this a great way to clock up a lot of miles without going bankrupt.

This was a simple setup that was completely stealth. With the windows blacked out with panels, it looked like a normal Mom's soccer van no matter where you parked at night.

All this while I was still living in a sticks and bricks home, only traveling when the whim hit me. Now life has taken on a whole new direction. The sale of my cabin is set to close by the beginning of next month. From that point forward, home is my 1993 Pace Arrow Turbo Diesel motorhome.

Yes it's older, but it is very solid. No slideouts, and no wear and tear on major mechanical systems that affect the integrity...If you note I am not a fan of slideouts, you would be correct. Inevitably as they age they become a maintenance headache and very likely a source of water infiltration.

Everything I own is tucked away in this 37' highway cruiser. It's been a summer of drastic downsizing. If I haven't used it in 6 months, I got rid of it. All the trappings of maintaining a country home, gone at pennies on the dollar. Having done this a number of times, the physiological adjustment that many would find hard, was nonexistent for me. It was nothing more than a good house cleaning. I always did like a simpler lifestyle.

Of course, at 10 MPG, this doesn't make for an economical around town grocery getter. I had to add a couple things more to my entourage. There is my spare tire. A Yamaha scooter that can be used around campsites, and for short distance errands. My primary toad will be a 2012 Jeep Wrangler.

The Jeep was a compromise between economy and fun. Yes, it gets over 20 MPG on the open road, but more importantly it will allow me to explore off road most anywhere I could dream up of going. Arizona ghost towns, Colorado mine sites, and Minnesota Northwoods. This thing is the pack mule of the automotive world.

Over the past few weeks I've been scrambling to get things all ready for the road. I installed a towbar on the Jeep, and rigged extra lights on a cargo rack on the back.
A simple rack was made to carry the scooter on the back of the motorhome, and now I can travel with everything very easily.

The premise of this blog will be to dis-spell the Wall Street notion that a person needs to have $1 million in the bank to have a fun and full-filling retirement. I manage just fine on an annual income of around $25,000 with very little in the way of cash reserves.

If you want to travel and do it in comfort, even on a modest budget, it is entirely doable. Just get off  your butt and do it.


  1. "The Jeep is a compromise..." What was the compromise...and if you didn't have to compromise, which vehicle would you have chosen and why? What were your considerations? I love the idea of adding the scooter for transportation. Better than a bicycle? m*a*g

  2. m*a*g, The compromise was that it only gets a little over 20 mpg when the van got over 30 mpg. The Jeep is definitely more fun and more versatile though so it wasn't much of a compromise. The Jeep was definitely the best choice!

  3. How did you decide on the Pace Arrow? I'm also looking into an older diesel, but worry about some maintenance horror stories I've heard. I read an interesting case being made for gas engine, much cheaper labor costs, and right now gas is cheaper than diesel. Have you written about acquiring the Arrow, I new to your blog so uninformed as to the history.

  4. PJames, It was an easy choice when I found it at my local RV Dealer. This specific year and model is the beginning of the American Tradition brand which is considered a luxury level coach. The commercial grade running gear is expected to run 300,000 miles easily.. mine had 73,000 miles on it. Just broken in. No slide outs, I would not consider a model with slideouts because they leak and weaken the main structure.And of course the price was right. The fact that I was a heavy equipment mechanic for 25 yrs helped a lot too.