Friday, July 18, 2014

The Final Post

Yes, the title pretty much tells it all. The new site Poor Man's RV Life is now on line and active. All further posts will be made on the new site and the Stealth Van Dweller will be left as it is.

On the upside, I have been able to down load all text that I feared would be lost when Yahoo closes the doors on Yahoo Voices the end of this month. That said, I have text from 600 articles to pick through with no titles to  guide me. Replacing what content is lost will be a painstakingly slow process.

For some time, unfortunately, you may find links to the expected article to be non-functioning. That said, I thank all who have followed along, and I hope you can continue as I branch off into a new way of life living on the road with a modest budget.

Thank you everyone!
Curtis Carper

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Times, They Are A Changing

All good things must come to an end, and it looks like the Stealth Van Dweller is shortly doomed. I received an email from Yahoo yesterday stating they are doing away with their Yahoo Voices network. Though I haven't published anything there for quite some time, this does dramatically affect the material posted on The Stealth Van Dweller.

During the early years, all the material I wrote documenting the construction of the original Stealth Van was published through Associated Content, which was bought out by Yahoo. The buyout, in my mind, was a hostile act as the whole premise of publishing content from free lance writers digressed to being a waste of time in short order.

By the end of the month, all older material I have linked to this website will vanish from view. Basically crippling any attempts to learn from my experiences.

Is this all a bad thing? No... For those who have been following along during recent times, it is apparent I have moved away from life on the road living in a van, either large or small. My current method of travel is a 37' Pace Arrow motorhome that by van standards is a luxury mansion in the way of space and amenities.

Shortly I will be starting a new blog about my travels as I go full time living in my motorhome. I'm hoping to experience many new adventures, see lots of new territory, and meet lots of interesting people along the way.

The spirit of the Stealth Van Dweller lives on, I still must exist and travel on a modest budget and the new website will bring out a whole new line of information aimed at helping those on a fixed or low income enjoy life on the road.

Once I have the website on line, I will provide a link between the two sites so you can transition to the new and improved site but still have access to what will remain of this website.

Thank you all for traveling along with me, I hope you find the new website interesting and informative.

The Stealth Van Dweller
Curtis Carper

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Adjusting To My New Life

Sometimes, when you figure your life needs some major shaking up, things don't always go the way you thought when you first set out to make changes in the direction you are headed. Nothing in life is a given, there will be adjustments, alterations, new goals, pretty much everything can just fall apart and you need to regroup and start again.

Funny thing is, being retired and single, I'm finding that making those adjustments and rethinking my plan a little is probably what I needed to do in the first place.

I've never been very fond of myself.Spending the time to figure out who I am, and what I need to be happy, is something I have needed to do for many years. I think I have just started that voyage, and to be honest I have no idea where it will take me.

The past two nights I've been parked on the far side of the local Walmart in Superior WI. I really haven't left my own back yard, as this is only about 20 miles away from where I was born and raised. None the less, there is significance to this first stop over in my new life.

I will be closing on the sale of my cabin early in Aug. From that point on, I will be homeless in the sticks and bricks measure of life.  Everything I own, my bed, my kitchen, the whole shebang is enclosed or attached to this 37' motorhome. By the standards of many who read my blog, this is pretty high class digs. Having lived the life before, I would agree.

The only real difference this time around is I have no set agenda. I hope to be in Arizona for the annual gathering of the snowbirds in Quartzsite. Beyond that, I will be most interested in following blue skies and mild temperatures, and what ever whim strikes me each morning.

This morning I have the beautiful blue sky I enjoy the most with cool but mild temps. courtesy of Lake Superior which is but a mile beyond this open grassy view.

I'm sitting in the Menard's parking lot, with the Superior airport across the highway. Every 15 min. or so another small plane takes to the air.

It's a quiet simple restful morning, I have no need to hurry off anywhere. I have no pressing errands to run. The hum of my generator is the only noise I hear, and I can envision a set of solar panels in my future to relieve me from that din.

Max has settled into his new life being very content to be with me, and do what ever I choose. Bob Wells, if you read this you will understand the bond. I'm sure you miss Homer very much.

Yes my plan has been modified. But now I will live each day for what it brings me. Most importantly I will try to figure out who I am, and what matters most to me. Then I will learn to accept what tomorrow brings. All part of living the life of a nomad.
  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fixing A Wiring Mess...Now I Have Radio! YAY!!

Well I knew I couldn't get the dash radio to work, and the 12vdc power points were dead.  It was time to go into the dash and put the old multimeter to work.

I lifted the top of the dash off, and was greeted with an unbelievable rats nest of wire, and for the most part no juice anywhere that it should be.

The best and easiest choice was to install a solenoid control fuse panel and move all the extra electronic add on items to a good source of protected power.

Who knows what the previous owner was thinking, but there were big wires spliced to small wires, with clips slipped under fuses.  All that stuff had to go.

I hooked the solenoid directly to the battery with a 40 amp circuit breaker protecting the 10 gauge supply wire.  That fed the fuse panel and each item now has it's own fuse.   Now I can easily narrow down any electrical problems, and more importantly the Sony CD/FM/AM radio in the dashboard is no longer a mystery.  

I've actually got tunes, and I can plug my GPS into the 12vdc power point and avoid getting lost.  Of course getting lost can be a lot of fun too!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Pace Is Ready To Leave It's Cage

All winter it's been buried in snow.  Spring has finally sprung, but the overburden of pine bows has still held my motorhome captive in the yard. This weekend it was time to breakout the chain saw and carve a path out of the yard and down the 700 ft' driveway to freedom on the open road.

The temps were perfect, not too hot, and plenty of sunshine.  Under that portable pile of brush behind my ATV is a well loaded trailer.  Once the driveway was widened, all the waste was hauled to the back side of the property, and piled to dry into next years kindling.

                             

The best way to start a bonfire is with  dried brush loaded with lots of crispy pine needles.

Speaking of bonfires, the warm sunshine was all that was needed to bring out the need for a little pine smoke to make the morning perfect.  The cushions and umbrella came out, as did the two dogs, and everyone enjoyed the snap crackle of a fire while we sat around and took life easy.

Shortly I thought about opening the awning on the motorhome to let moisture from the winter snow dry.


Snow came last fall before I was able to check it out, now I know everything is ready to use and the fabric is in like new condition.  This is the first rig I've owned with awnings on all windows.  That feature will be appreciated when I head for the desert this fall.

I took the plastic tarps off the wheels, so now the motorhome looks pretty much ready to roll.  I still have one good sized project to take care of.  The original owner installed or had installed an
assortment of fancy pants electronic entertainment devices,  none of which do I plan on using.  The quality of the wiring done leaves much to be desired, and simple things like the 12 vdc power points don't work.  There is no power to the AM/FM radio, and who know what else doesn't work.

I plan on installing my own fuse panel for accessories, and do away with the sloppy wiring that is now my biggest concern under the dash.

My most important job this weekend was pruning the trees.  I surprised myself by getting more done,
and still enjoying the first BBQ of the season.  Nothing fancy, but the taste of charcoal told me there will be more enjoyable days this summer now that we have finally seen the last of the snow.  Keeping my fingers crossed on that one!




Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Cabin Remodel Is Done!

The past two weeks had me busting my tail to get the cabin finished and more presentable for prospective buyers.  Yes, it needed finishing to appeal to the feminine side of a couple looking for a secluded getaway.  Having a deer camp is fine, but when you're in this price range you need to get the Mrs. behind you to get the OK to buy.

Last week I remodeled the bathroom.  Nothing expensive or over the top, just enough that the lady of the house will be comfortable taking a shower.  The shower is an inexpensive model, and over time had yellowed to the most sickly looking shade.  Cleaning it was pretty ineffective, so the only option was to resurface it.

Using spray paint specifically designed for plastic, a good coat brought back the original white and sparkly clean look that all women seem to require.  The cloth shower curtain took a spin the the washer with some bleach returning it to a decent shade of
white as well.

The next step was to paint the room, I chose a bright Spring Green, hoping to bring some light into what was a dismal looking room due to the dark wood paneling.  It took two coats, but now the room shines and actually smells fresher as well.

The last step was the flooring.   Before it was concrete with a couple scraps of vinyl strategically placed so you could stand on something decent coming out of the shower.  Now it's one piece vinyl wall to wall. Again a light color to bring light into the space.

It's still not a fancy retreat, but at least it's clean, neat and very functional.

Next was the kitchen. It looked terrible with the water heater stacked on top of the water pressure tank, taking up space in the corner of the room. Also bare concrete there were a couple rugs but for the most part it looked terribly unfinished.

Now there is new vinyl flooring wall to wall and a closet has been erected to enclose the mechanical's of the house.  Again, not expensive, not difficult, but now the new bottom cabinets that were installed 2 years ago look much better with the rest of the room made to look equally as nice.  The upper cabinets still leave something to be desired, but the new owners can pick up the ball and run with it from this point.

I've done my part, there now is a functional kitchen with appliances where once there was an empty shell of a  room.

The last step for now is the second bedroom. For the past 2 years I've used it as a tool and material storage room.  With a bare concrete floor, it hardly passed as a bedroom.  Now it's properly stage, complete with a bed and recliner and new wall to wall carpet, even inside the closet.

Now the Realtor has something he can sell, and  hopefully it will go sooner rather than later.

Combined with the living room and master bedroom remodeling that was done over a year ago, now the whole house is pretty much done.  The last step will
be to lay the final bit of ceramic tile flooring in the entryway.  That last step should happen next week if my knees and back have recouped from this round of labor.    

It's been a big project, ripping out all the old and damaged material, right down to the studs in most rooms.

Now it's all built back up, and ready to sell.  Then next winter I'm headed to warmer climates.. I've had more than enough of Minnesota winters, I want to be a snowbird again.

So anybody out there interested in a  private getaway, located on 5 acres of very secluded pine forest that is further secluded being surrounded by thousands of acres of county forest, now's the time to act.

It's listed with a Realtor and is located in NW Wisconsin.

Plenty of lakes in the area, and it's just around the corner from the St. Croix river.

If hunting, fishing, canoeing, or boating is your thing this is just as convenient as lake property with only a fraction of the cost and taxes.  Also if you're into snowmobiling or ATVing, there is access right from the property. Head out the back door and the whole county is your's to explore.

Plus, this is the year my strawberries really produce. Planted two years ago, there will be a bumper crop of beautiful red deliciousness in the next couple months.

One last note...I'm selling it furnished, so you don't need to spend a lot on furnishings when you move in.  Just build a nice fire in the fire pit, pop a hot dog on a stick, and kick back and enjoy!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Living Room Remodel Gets Completed!

It was big, awkward, and possibly too large for the space. Today we made a special trip to the cabin to bring the electric fireplace I bought months ago for the motorhome. I knew it would physically fit in the space, but I had real concerns it would overpower the small living room area and look out of place.

I had struggled to get it into our city home by myself. It was boxed and half again larger than it really was, but knowing I would be sitting on it until Spring before I could install it, I needed to verify it functioned properly. All the while I was grunting to get it up the front stairs and in the front door, visions of an even harder struggle with the much smaller entrance to the motorhome flashed through my mind.

When it was all said and done, my concerns were unwarranted. Having a second set of arms, and no packing material, made all the difference. We easily maneuvered back out of the house, laying the fireplace flat in the back of the Dodge Caravan.  It took only a couple minutes to just as simply get it in the motorhome, and secured into it's permanent spot along the passenger side wall.

Held to the wall with a couple small metal L brackets, the only hookup required was to plug it into the wall receptacle located right next to it.

Switch on, imitation flames flickering, and immediately the warmth of the heater started to take the chill off the unheated mobile residence.

Sitting down on the sofa, feet on the coffee table, it was easy to see my concern about the size of the fake brick structure was unfounded.  I wanted it to make a statement, to be the prime focal point of the room, and that is exactly what it has become.

Now I have a freshly carpeted, cozy quarters that will have me traveling in relaxing comfort.  Get ready deep south, next winter I will be knocking on your door! This was $199 on seasonal closeout well spent!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Classing Up The Motorhome Entryway

The carpeting throughout my 20 year old Pace Arrow looked terrible. Bleached by the sun to a pasty washed out almost white, the original pinkish mauve was not only out of style, it was just plain tired looking.

What looks worse than bad carpet?  Entryway stairs covered with the same sad material. Now beat to death from all those years of people going in and out.  Whoever came up with the notion of covering stairs into an RV with carpeting needed to have their head examined.

The idea of recovering the stairs in the same manner when I replaced the carpeting just didn't make sense to me. In no time the first impression of people coming in would be brought back to the fact that this rig is 20 yrs old.  Time to do something different.

Now understand, in my mind different doesn't have to mean expensive. Likely I did this mini-makeover for less money than if I had just slapped on some new carpet and called it good.

First step is to cut some pieces of 1/4" Luan plywood and line the stair well.  Luan plywood is the cheapest material at the home center and guess what..it has one side that makes a pretty presentable grain surface for finer work. A couple sticks of unfinished mahogany trim makes the whole project look almost fancy.

A couple rubber step treads cut to fit, and a coat of polyurethane, and Wow! That entryway looks down right snazzy now!

Granted the project went fast for me, using an air powered brad nail gun and a table saw, but no matter you can do the same thing with a hammer and nail and possible a skill saw. I fastened the rubber treads with good old contact cement. That stuff will stick things forever!

For sure, it makes a statement now, and wasn't a big deal to pull off. Personally I think it adds a touch of class to the whole rig!



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Is Almost Here...Time To Get The Morothome Ready!

Finally the snow is melting! The temps are good for working outside, and the snowbanks have receded around the motorhome!  The past two days have had me working hard on prepping for the summer season.  Last fall after buying my land yacht I was only able to drive it to storage, cover it with a tarp, and say goodnight to it as winter immediately buried it in snow. Spring is shortly here and I'm real anxious to get this thing on the road and enjoy traveling in comfort.

First item on my to do list was re-installing the start batteries. Sitting in the dealers lot the two AGM Yellow Top Gel Cell batteries had been allowed to discharge to a state where I feared they may not come back. Luckily, by applying a slow charge for an extended period of time, they came right back up to full potential.

I cleaned all the terminals and connections and hooked them back up.  I have a battery maintainer solar panel on the roof and not only cleaned it for better operation, but tested it with a volt meter to make sure it was indeed charging all 6 of my batteries.

That done, I hit the starter button and was pleasantly surprised at how easy and fast the motor caught. In no time I had both the drive motor and the diesel generator purring away for the first time since last Oct. Yay..Big Time!

Next it was inside for the big project of the day. Replacing the 20 yr old dirty and faded carpeting with new chocolate colored carpeting. I won't say it was a snap, as it took a full day to take out the seats, remove the old carpet, cut the new to fit, and install with a fair amount of grunting and swearing in the process.

I had to unbolt and remove the front seats and partially disassemble the sofa. The center console had to be unbolted too.

I spent a couple hours pulling staples out of the floor, and used that small remaining piece of old carpet under the steering wheel as a pattern to precut the new carpet before I installed it,  it was a long hard day's work but there was plenty of satisfaction that I took the time to do it right.

Was it worth the effort?  You tell me...I love the fresh new look!

Now to get that pink swivel recliner out of there, paint the walls a light spring green, and bring in the electric fireplace that will be going on that nice empty passenger wall.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Understanding The 1%ers

Life is all about finding what makes you happy. What drives you, where your priorities lie. For me, especially now that I'm retired, chasing that dream of contentment is much higher on my to do list.  A recent blog entry, from one of the more philosophical gentlemen I met last fall at the Grand Canyon, enlightened me about the life and motivation of those seemingly so far below the poverty line, it's amazing some of them survive at all.

Back in the 50's and 60's, after a news report labeled them, the bad boys of the motorcycle world adopted the label of 1%ers.  99% of all motorcycle riders being decent upstanding citizens, only the remaining 1% could be considered outlaws.

It's from that perspective that I look at society as a whole.  We have 1%ers all around us, many of whom are very interesting people.

My friend wrote of talking with a number of people living in tents and lean too's near Yuma AZ. Tucked between some bushes with makeshift enclosures created from sticks and twigs, these bare bones minimalists for the most part are content with their lives. They are choosing this lifestyle over anything more complex.

One in particular flying out from the east every winter to enjoy the mild temperatures and solitude. Having more substantial means, he prefers to leave civilization behind during the hard months out east. Yet others existing on very meager means still managing to pass their time reading such authors as John Updick.  Some bicycling into town to work jobs, others just choosing to live without accepting societies handouts and religions charity.

I also have some good friends on the east coast that are 1%ers. It's the opposite end of the scale, they earn well over $250.000 a year.  According to national figures, only 1.2% of the population have household incomes over $250,000 annually.

These friends have a definite disconnect from the opposite end of the scale, or for that matter most of the other 98% of the population. I say this with no malice, because all of these friends are very generous with their time and lifestyle. When in their circle, they are very open, giving, and welcoming.

The disconnect comes in to play because they simply can't relate to the day to day financial concerns the vast majority of the population carries with them every day.  The best way to qualify this is they put as much thought into spending $1,000 as I do to spending $100.

Knowing there are many others that take my comparison to the opposite extreme, thinking long and hard about expending $10 to my opulent $100, only makes me question my priorities even more.

I shop at Walmart...I stay in Walmart parking lots when I travel...Do I say this like an alcoholic admitting to his addiction? No, I say it because Walmart allows me to live closer to the life I choose.  I like to travel, I like to live simply, I like to make the most of what assets I have.

Walmart's lower prices, especially with their store brands, allow me to buy what I need to get by, and still leave me the ability to enjoy life beyond just existing, or enduring it.  That makes a pretty decent statement for society. We all like to enjoy something special now and then.

Most living in the bottom 1% of the population rely on Walmart to survive. Without modestly priced goods their basic needs couldn't be obtained without charity. Walmart provides a way for them to maintain their independence, their lifestyle, their dignity.

One of my friends in the other 1% group has commented to me that he/she doesn't shop at Walmart because "Those people just give me the creeps". Hence the huge disconnect between the two so dramatically different groups of people.

Wealth and social position have no bearing on the worth of a person. Every one of us has an opinion, ideals, and desires. Everyone of us is capable of showing compassion, and caring. What makes the Wall Street yuppy in the Brooks Brother's suit any better than the old guy in blue jeans, pocket tee shirt, and suspenders.

At the beginning of this article I thought I was floating somewhere in the middle. Not belonging to either of the two 1% groups, but somewhere in the middle. Maybe that's not true. Because I can seamlessly blend into either group I will take my place in a third group.  The 1% of the population that holds no bias toward any other small group of non-conformists.

We all need to be more understanding, more accepting of those around us. We all have the right to freedom and the right to live life the way we choose, as long as we don't infringe on the same rights of others. Every one of us has worth. You may have to dig for it in some, but if you take the time to do so you may be surprised at how much happier you will become for the effort.


















Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sebastian Inlet State Park. It Was A beautiful Day!

About 30 miles south, down hwy A1A, is Sebastian Inlet State Park. Just far enough down the road to get away from the busy city of Melbourne, this scenic little park really is what Florida is all about.

We took a day, and enjoyed the slower paced ride down the barrier island. The sky was clear blue, the temperature about 70. It was the perfect day to spend quality time with a special friend.

Once you leave the hurry hurry of everyday life behind, you can enjoy quiet conversation, beautiful scenery, and just connect with what Florida really
has to offer.  This truly is paradise!

It's been many years since I've been to Florida. Stationed in Jacksonville during my Coast Guard days, I attended Aviation Electrician school at the Naval Base.  Then in about 1987 it was the Disney experience that brought me back again.  Neither times did I  really get to know Florida, this trip opened my eyes.

Life along the ocean is peaceful.  The blue/green of the water brilliant and warm. This is a place where you can be alone as a couple and not even notice
that others are around you. It was a great way to just walk, talk, and feel the warmth of the sun giving the top of my near bald head a bright red glow.  You do have to be careful, the sun will sneak up on you.

While some surfed on wake boards, and others toted coolers and fishing gear down the pier, we just kicked back. Taking seats at a picnic table, my friend caught the attention of a gentleman walking unknowingly dragging a long scrap of fishing line caught on his heel.

We talked a while about the lost fishing tackle and
the danger it poses for birds and other wildlife in the area.  It all seemed so comfortable and natural, complete strangers chatting away like they were old friends.  That's how it is when you're in paradise, everyone is your friend, and it's all about enjoying the day.

We stayed for a couple hours, exploring the small fishing museum on one side of the highway than walking in the sand of the wide warm beach.

This time I managed to keep my pants dry, a good thing as we enjoyed a lunch of very good burgers
and fries at the onsite restaurant.

Built to resemble a beach house, the building contained both a gift shop and eatery to satisfy both your belly and the need to bring something back with you as a reminder.

As we walked out on the pier, some were walking back after a morning of fishing.

One older man was all dressed in a Carhartt jacket with knit cap on his head.  That's a clear sign of the difference between locals and snowbirds.
Local's think anything below +80 is cold and when it drops into the 60's it's absolutely frigid.

I know I was very comfortable in short sleeves, but this guy needed winter wear just to be outside.

For me, just the memory of this time in Florida will stick with me forever. I can understand why the locals call this place Paradise.  It truly is a great way to live.

Rest assured, I will be coming back soon!





Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Satellite Beach In Melbourne Florida

What's Florida without the beaches! Even before we went out to lunch, the first place my friend wanted me to see was the ocean. Off we went to Satellite Beach, a small ocean front community with, you guessed it, a wonderful open beach.

The most amazing feature of the great expanse of sand was that it was practically deserted! We spent a couple hours watching the waves roll into shore, walking down the water line in our bare feet, and just enjoying the mild temperatures.

An older gentleman was standing on the walkway
and my friend struck up a conversation with him about his camo styled suspenders. The plain blue suspenders I was wearing when I arrived just didn't measure up to her style requirements. Note the more acceptable Hawaiian shirt I was wearing instead.

Naturally her attempt to have me pose by the water was a complete ploy. While I mindlessly smiled for the camera, the incoming waves just got closer and closer.

In a matter of minutes, while she snapped away, it finally happened. Just as she had planned, the water
finally came in far enough to soak me half way to my knees.

No matter, I survived. We enjoyed our walk, and our time together telling old stories about family and friends from 40 years ago.

I collected a few sea shells, got a bit of a sunburn, and spent the day pretending to be a local instead of a snowbird.

The difference between the two is easy to spot. Snowbirds wear shorts and light weight shirts. The
locals actually wear their Carhartt's on days when it's in the mid 60's.

We dusted off the sand, put on our shoes, and headed back to the  house to change wet pants.Then it was off to  lunch at Grills Riverside.


Lunch At Grills Riverside Tiki Bar On Florida"s Space Coast


The Florida lifestyle for many seems to omit most home cooking from their daily activities. It's easy to see why with the huge proliferation of quality eateries ranging from hot dogs to fresh seafood or the best in quality steaks.

We started our week with lunch at Grills Riverside Tiki Bar. Arriving early for our noon meal, we avoided the usual crowd.  Securing a quiet table in the back corner, it was a great way to look out over the water and get a first taste of Florida cuisine.

We ordered the grilled Mahi-mahi fish sandwich.
combined with a tall glass of iced tea, it was both tasty and filling.

Mahi-mahi picks up the flavor of grilling very well and the freshness left no fish taste to take away from the perfect seasoning.

It was the perfect setting for two life long friends to reacquaint after many decades living there lives apart.

For this northerner, the weather was perfect.  For locals, they complained of the cold.  I know I was
very  comfortable and really enjoyed the meal, the company, and the setting.

After we ate, a stroll out on the pier gave us a great view of our surroundings and a chance to see some of the local birds and other sites.

The water along the Space Coast of Florida is a beautiful blue/green teal.  Very pristine, there is no pollution or debris.  Just clear water you can see through to the sandy floor.

For my first day in Florida this was the perfect start
to a wonderful week of enjoying everything the Space Coast has to offer.

Nothing can compare to enjoying the company of a special friend, an excellent meal, all while being in paradise.

I could really get used to this life!






Monday, January 20, 2014

Friends…New And Old!

Some would think a winter trip to Florida requires no more reason than to escape the grip of winter. True,
nothing beats a couple weeks south, when all is frozen and desolate back home.  Granted the timing seemed ideal to enjoy relief from the -20 below that was plaguing Northern Minnesota a few weeks back, but there was another reason to make the journey.

This trip was also intended for reuniting, and meeting, some long time friends,.  Some of which go back 40 years, one in particular that goes back 49 years. All the way to our early teenage years, when I became the somewhat adopted son that blended in so well with her family.


I’ve spent the past week enjoying the gracious hospitality of a special lady that I was very close to way back in the 60’s.   As teenagers we spent hours rowing around the lake at her family cabin, just talking.  Her quick wit, and sarcastic manner had us throwing jabs at each other whenever we were together.

In time she married, I married, we went our separate ways. A few years later her brother died, and I lost all contact with the family.  A few years ago she contacted me to see if I was interested in doing lunch.  We did, exchanging business cards, and off we went.  Back to our lives in opposite ends of the country. I emailed her a month later, but no response.

Recently I found her on Facebook.  It took modern technology for us to finally rekindle our friendship, and catch up on the past 4 plus decades.

These are special bonds between people. The ability to drop out of their lives for years at a time, yet when you come together you become closer than you ever were. Today we are from two different planets, our lives so dramatically different. No matter, we are still the best and closest of friends who can sit for hours and share memories and experiences.  Where life has taken us, what our hopes and dreams for the future are.

During the week I was able to spend time with her sister as well.  Stories of her brother, and our escapades as we grew from boys to men flowed late into the night.

This evening I will be meeting another friend, one whom I’ve yet to see in person.  Six years we’ve been writers for the same blog, The Fun Times Guide.  Me about RV’s and him about Coins and Weather.

Tomorrow a stop in Northern Florida to reunite with the brother of my old Coast Guard roommate.  We all used to ride dirt bikes in the mountains of Virginia back in the 70’s.

Then the Stealth Van gets pointed north again, it’s time to return home to more months of winter.  At least I took a break from the cold this winter.  Enjoying the warmth of the sun in Florida, and the warmth of some very dear friends.

Yes, this has been a grand trip.  It’s all about friends, both old and new!








Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stealth Van Dweller's Headed For The Space Coast!

That's it, I've had enough!  It's time for the Stealth Van to again blast off for new terrain!  The year isn't even over, but the winter blahs are already here.  Up to my ears in snow, bundled up like an Eskimo just to go get the mail, I surrender!  I'm headed south!

If Mary was able to retire, we would have been gone months ago. For me, using the excuse to reunite with a life long friend and shake hands with others I've known only through the internet, it just feels like NOW is a good time to travel!

Instead of shoveling endless drifts of snow, it will be long walks on a deserted beach.  The uniform of the day, shorts, Hawaiian shirt, and good old flip-flops on my feet.  I think they have a law down there requiring everyone to wear flip-flops.  For sure there will be nary a snowshoe to be found for thousands of miles.

Yes, I have been carrying snow shoes in my Jeep all winter.  The unusually heavy snows have required it to gain access to my cabin.  It's saying something when you can't make the 1/4 mile trip from the road with a Jeep.
Now the bed is re-installed in the van, and I'm packing for warmer climates.  Funny, it will take more clothes than normal for this voyage.  Leaving in weather that requires parkas and winter boots, it will be at least a two day drive before I can switch to shorts.

To assure adequate warmth until I get there, I have a sub-zero sleeping bag, and a 12 volt electric blanket. The Stealth Van has 2 house battery's providing enough capacity to run the electric blanket all night long if I need it.

January's forecast indicates warmer than usual temps. across the country.  I read that to mean the snow belt will end further north.  I hope so, there will be no love lost getting out of the Great White North.

I can wish it would all be gone when I return, but alas this is only a 2 week reprieve.  There will still be plenty of winter left to enjoy.....NOT!

Give me a few more years, then it will be adios to snowy winters for good.

For this year, I'm thankful for an economical way to get the heck out of dodge.  At +30 mpg, the Stealth Van will make the voyage comfortable, and most importantly CHEAP!

By the middle of January, I'll be down in paradise, working on my tan.  Hemingway was inspired by the South Seas surroundings of the Florida Keys. Who knows, maybe there's a classic novel locked up inside me too.

The only way to find out is to go where the trade winds are warm and the palm trees sway in  the breeze.

I'm really going to hate coming back to reality!