The Beautiful Life

“Expedition Happiness” Watch on Netflix. Or don’t.

Sometimes when I read blogs or watch documentaries all I can think is “How do these hipsters make it look so easy?”

I don’t know what kind of world these people live in, they are always young, always attractive, frequently childless, and always seem to have an endless stream of money. They seem more like fictional characters than real people. You have to wonder what they do for a living, are they ever stressed? Do they get bored? Do they fight? Where is the ugly in their life?

Sure, sometimes the bus breaks down, the visa gets denied, or the cake in the oven falls. But these people always seem to handle it with a smile. Or at the very least they look gorgeous while crying.

Well, that ain’t my life.

I get sick. Nothing productive happens for days at a stretch. My kids make giant messes, animals get into my trash, my trailer sometimes smells like something died in it.

People thrive on positive. We love comedy and run from tragedy. We live vicariously through these adventurers and beautiful hipsters. We don’t like our conventional lives, so we read about theirs and forget our problems for a bit.

But who’s to say your conventional life is ugly? Who’s to say you aren’t living a beautiful life, even if it isn’t quite the adventure these people seem to have? Life is a gift, even with its warts and wrinkles. Life is beautiful even with the sickness and the smells.

You don’t have to read blogs or watch fru-fru documentaries (both of which I do. Too much.) to enjoy a beautiful life. All you have to do is start enjoying yours.

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RV Necessities, Or: Trailer Indespensables

First, You need a truck and trailer…

Every once in awhile I decide to make this blog useful to other people. I turn from my usual rants about life and try to provide practical advice. Seeing as I have spent the past three summers in a 27 foot travel trailer, I think I can safely give some advice on a few of the necessities of trailer living.

Here are a few things I absolutely recommend:

Seriously, where do they come from?

A shop vac. Maybe it is just my kids, but our floor seems to be constantly covered in crumbs. Sweeping doesn’t cut it folks, and a dust buster? Ha! Go, buy a $30 one gallon shop vac at Wally World, you’ll thank me.

This hole is smaller than it appears

A funnel. Our first summer was spent boondocking on the Kaibab National Forest. This meant all our water had to be brought in via five gallon water bladder and dumped in manually into our freshwater tank. It took us well over a month to figure out we needed a funnel to get that water into that tiny hole. Don’t buy those fancy special hose looking ones at Camping World, just get a simple collapsable one from the auto parts store.

A diffuser. I won’t harp on essential oils here, but if you want to have a fresh smelling rv I highly recommend you get a diffuser and a few of your favorite scents. Pro tip: Get some lavender and knock out the kids.

Did I say a couple oils? Mwahahaha!

Multi-plugs. Unless you’re living in some new fancy rv, you probably don’t have enough outlets to charge all your devices. Way back in 2005, phone batteries lasted millions of hours apparently. Or maybe they just think you don’t need your tablet while camping. Well, I’m not recreating. So, to charge all my stuff (and the kids) I got some power strips.

Sleeping mask. Even with aluminum blinds (that can slice and dice through any fingers) our trailer is still blindingly bright at 6 am. This is not ideal and the best way we have found to circumvent this is a sleeping mask. Not only will it keep you from ride awakenings, it’s super fashionable.

Bins of various sizes. Trailer space is fairly limited, and what little storage they give you tends to be impractically designed. Basically they give you large spaces with no shelves. Instead of shoving everything loose into these cavernous cavities, I recommend getting plastic tubs and bins to keep your items organized. It’s quicker and easier than trying to build shelves. And less weighty.

That little cutting board that fits perfectly over your sink. I do not know if these come standard in all rvs, but that little cutting board makes a huge difference when you only have 3 square feet of counter space.

Cell booster. Now, this one doesn’t work as well as it ought. Our service where we are is pretty limited depending on the wind. But if you are somewhere that actually has a weak signal a booster is usually enough to push it into usefulness. Be sure you are getting an actual booster though, and not just something which takes a signal from one area to another.

I’m sure I will think of some more as the months go by, but for now I’ll leave you with those. Feel free to comment with anything you’ve found to be particularly useful in your rv.

Tight Spaces

A trip to get internet…

When you live in a tiny space, you tend to know well your living partners.

Every cough, every fart, every bump into the wall. Every single time they go to the bathroom (where is that WD-40?). You hear all the quarrels, all the laughs, all the times they play a little too rough with the cat.

There is a certain level of intimacy that you simply don’t get in a sticks and bricks house. There are no rooms to lock yourself up in, nowhere for the kids to hide. You go outside for alone time, or you kick them out. Or you simply hide in the van. Or you get over it and accept that these are in fact your children and you will never escape them. Much of the time though, someone’s going outside.

You get creative in the marital department. It’s really not much different from when we were co-sleeping with toddlers and newborns. We have curtains and did I mention that van? We even have a tent if we need a “night out”.

Tight knit spaces seem to make for tight knit families, at least at the ages they are at. We’ll see how it goes in later years…

Not That Sacramento

We made it!!

Not much of an exciting last day. The roof stayed on, after I applied nine more strips to it.

Overkill? I think not.

There honestly isn’t much to say except that it is great to be back in familiar territory, even if I’m in a new position…

Tomorrow (today I suppose) is unpacking and repacking day. Let’s see if we forgot anything 🙂

Texas. Just Texas

Houston

Texas is huge. Too huge. If Texas wasn’t so huge we’d be in New Mexico by now.

I kid. But only slightly. Seriously, why is this state so large?

Day four began with an exorbitant expense. Roof repair tape is not cheap at the only open place in town (no one buys rvs on weekends?).

I patched the roof, got the horde rounded up and fed, cleaned up some of the accumulated trash out of the vehicles, and hit the road around noon.

The roof patch worked for about… 20 miles. Thanks to the blazing hot sun the goo of the tape just kinda melted and the tape began to slide. So much for having a “wide temperature range”. Grr.

I added a few more layers of tape and we proceeded with caution.

Then the license plate began to slip. I swear, everything melts in Texas! Now our plate is tied to the ladder of the trailer with a zip tie and a couple of pieces of clothesline. We look classy.

Texas is not only huge, it’s also humid. And with no ac, it is a sweaty drive. I hung out in a gas station just to soak up the air. A sunset and the cooling of the air it brings has never been more welcome.

Also Houston. Lol no, it’s not THAT big.

We made it to Junction, a town with no phone service. That might be the only notable thing about Junction. The roof needed a bit more rubber cement and a push on the tape. I think it will hold up. I hope.

It’s day five. Lord willing, this is the last day of driving. By tonight our smelly, dirty, bloodshot-eyed, little wagon train should be in New Mexico!

And So It Happens

If there is one state I will be a total tourist in it’s Louisiana.

Across the Mississippi

As soon as we hit the border and I get my Community Coffee at the welcome center, the Zydeco comes on and I immediately begin my search for boudin.

I have roots there. Both my parents were raised there, and on my mom’s side several generations populated the state and gave it it’s Cajun culture. I spent many weeks there in my youth soaking up the heat and humidity.

So yeah, I may have a bit of a bias.

But not all of yesterday was blissful. Not even boudin can fix what happened just before Houston.

I noticed a small bit of plywood layer float down from the sky. I knew immediately what it was. The roof repair had failed and the roof was peeling back in the 60 mph winds. I pulled my wife over and after some frantic discussion we limped along the interstate for three more miles to the next exit.

A new layer of tape was added for temporary measure but the rubber cement would take too long to cure to allow us to drive much further. As much as I make fun of Texas for having service roads, I was very thankful for them last night!

We limped along for 30 miles to the Flying J and called it a night. Hopefully the rv parts place nearby will have a ton of roofing tape. We’re going to need it!

Some Friends and Some Work

I tried for bigger piles..

We made it to Mississippi… I mentioned yesterday that we might not get far, I was correct.

We met up with some friends and spent our day playing with a chainsaw, fires, children, and chihuahuas. Two of these things are not like the others.

I made a friend

We weren’t really planning to work, but when someone has a giant tree cut down in their yard, and you have a chainsaw you have been itching to play with… You get the picture.

I made seats

2030 rolls around and the question comes up “hey, weren’t we going to leave?” “Yeah, I guess we should…” Followed by another 30 minutes of child wrangling, route picking, and cat crate loading.

At 2100 we were finally on the road and headed to the first of three stops. It wasn’t supposed to be three, but when you are relying on truck stops for sleeping space you sometimes end up with a dud. The third time was a charm and after some yelling about water “I’m firsty!!” from the three year old, we managed to get some rest.

I almost forgot how nice it is to drag your home along with you. I actually longed to go to bed last night. It wasn’t just because I was weaving a bit on the road from exhaustion either. People think we are crazy to cram seven people in a 27 foot travel trailer. Maybe we are, but it is home to us. And strangely, it’s more home than our brick house.

Perhaps I will give you a tour when we settle in for the season….