(Formally "Plan V: A Van Dwelling Blog", when I lived in a 1978 Dodge Xplorer 228 Class B motorhome van)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Staying in Seattle for a while

The RV park I wanted to move into back in March finally got an opening, so I have decided to stay in Seattle for a while instead of hitting the road... for now anyway. Who knows how I'll feel next spring.

I had to pay a deposit for the park plus a $45 background check (ugh) plus a $200 refundable deposit. So I'm gonna be here a little while for sure. I opted for the month to month "lease" instead of the 1-year lease so I won't feel so tied down here.

I also ended up having to rent a uhaul pickup from the storage place where I had the van parked. After 5 months of being parked on a slope (engine side high), the carburetor was bone dry, and probably had an empty fuel line all the way back to the gas tank. I had to go buy a 5 gallon gas can (to be sure I had enough fuel in case some had evaporated) and also prime the carburetor a few times by pouring gasoline directly into it from a plastic cup then cranking the engine until I got it running.

The fuel pump on these beasts is mechanical, so when the engine is turning over or running, the fuel pump is running. By pouring gas into the carb directly and giving it enough fuel to run for a few seconds, it put a bit less strain on the starter.

Once I got it running, it did just fine. I drove it from Tacoma up here to Seattle about 30 miles and parked it. So yeah, I'm now back to living in it full time.


I'm kind of just rambling on now... you can stop reading now if you want since it's just thinking out loud about possible things I might do. heh

My ultimate plan was to live up in the Seattle area in a few years but as you all know, plans seldom work out exactly as planned. I ended up taking up WA state residency and having to register my van here, so yeah.. I "live" here now.

It has crossed my mind that I should forget anymore LONG cross country trips in this ol' van. The engine is so aged with no proof of what has ever been done to it as far as repairs or maintenance. It lightly burns oil which is a sign something, somewhere in the valves is wrong. Frankly, I fear it could have a major failure (valves are my biggest fear obviously) and leave me having to pay thousands of dollars for repairs and being stranded without anywhere to live.

If it's stuck at a garage being repaired for several days, assuming I could even afford the repair (if it would even be worth doing!) I wouldn't be able to stay in it during the time it's at the shop.

The power steering pump screams bloody murder (loud screeching) when it's cold and sometimes other times when the steering is turned to the max in one direction. Low on fluid? It shouldn't be since I had a few gearbox put on last year. The new gearbox install should have required fluid being added.... I think?

Maybe I'm just being paranoid but... I don't know. I'd hate to be in the middle of Kansas with a blown engine and having to spent my savings to patch it up so I can try to get back to Washington.

I am mulling over the idea of just staying put and buying an old 3cyl automatic transmission Geo Metro. For the cost of repairing this beast (or even DRIVING it.. with it's 10mpg hwy) I can buy a Geo Metro with 31 city/35 hwy and drive 3.5x further on the same gas. I could take a month long trip around the country in it for a fraction of the cost of driving the van.

Just to put it into perspective: I was considering hitting the road in September and going back out to Arkansas to visit and pick up my other stuff. Using the following estimated formula, this is what it would cost to drive the van round trip:

4500 (round trip miles) divided by 9mpg (assuming 90% hwy, 10% city) = 500 gallons of gas (!!!!!!)
500 gallons X $3.75 (average price) = $1,875 round trip gas cost

See what I mean? Now let's to that again with a Geo Metro:

4500 (round trip miles) divided by 34mpg (assuming 90% hwy, 10% city) = 133 gallons of gas
133 gallons X $3.75 (average price) = $498.75 round trip gas cost

Less than 1/3. Driving the van would cost $1376.25 more than driving a Geo Metro. You can BUY a Geo Metro for 1376.25 at times if you find a good deal! So it's come down to this: Do I want to sink money into gasoline and have little to show for it than memories and photos... or do I want to just set down roots here, buy a high mileage used car and simply do my part time traveling in that instead?

I do hate the fact that I spent 2 years working on this motorhome and only 5 months on the road. I actually tried posting an ad on Craigslist for the van to see if anyone would respond interested in my price of $6.000, but some jackass keeps flagging my ad. It's either that or the CL spam control system is automatically flagging it due to the LONG description I was placing in it.

It has also crossed my mind to buy a big travel trailer (later on) and put it in this spot and sell the van, or at least store it elsewhere for as cheap as I can find.

But this is all just thinking out loud. I'm less than 24 hours moved into this RV park so I have plenty of time to think things over. It's going to be at least 5 years before any low income public housing comes up. When that does, the van will go back into storage since I probably won't be able to park it at the apartments. At which point, I'd be glad to have a Geo Metro for daily driving.

As much as I loved full timing on the road, it can be chore. Plus my fear of major engine failure makes me hesitant to drive it another 10,000 miles without some form of backup plan for a place to live should something go wrong. It makes me think a small travel trailer and the pickup I had would have been a better way to go since everything wouldn't be tied up in the vehicle itself... but that's long past now. I have what I have so I am just going to try to get the most enjoyment out of it for now and decide what to do long term later on.


  1. Man this rambling sounds a lot like the rambling I do.. same lines of thought on what to do.

    1. Yeah, it's so easy to get caught up in 'what ifs'. I'm happy enough where I am right now or I'd be on the road instead of in an RV park.

      Sure, a 20 year old car could have problems too, as much as this 36 year old van could, but... at least it's super easy to work on. Geo Metros are almost like the (classic) VW Beetle if of the early 1990's. The 3 cylinder engines are really small and simplistic.

      If I wanted to drive a stick, those 3cyl 5 speed Metros get around 50mpg hwy. But I'll be happy with 35-40 depending how hard I am on the throttle.

    2. Hm, let me clarify what I meant in case it's confusing:

      The Metro is like a early 1990's version of the classic Beetle. (There were no US Beetles in the early 90's)

      I wish comments could be edited but they can't - only deleted.

  2. Now that your in an aot why not take the money saved and have the motor rebuilt? Thats what I would do. Theres lots of cheap / capable mechanics on CL that would do the engine swap plus I bet theyed let you store it on their property cheap.
    Im gonna get my motor rebuilt too. Jasper Crate already done of course.

  3. Oopps, I mean now that your in an apt.

  4. There is nothing wrong with the engine per say aside from light burning of oil. It always starts runs and drives fine. They are bulletproof engines really.

  5. Also, I did buy a Geo Metro car. It's a great daily driver despite high miles. It still gets 30 city/35mpg hwy.

    Having just moved into an apt from the van, I have had to spent a little for furniture and I still need a bed. I am sleeping on a 4" memory foam mattress topper (that I used in the van) on the floor with a sleeping bag and blanket under it for extra padding.

    Paying $50/mo storage on the van stinks but I'm in no hurry to get rid of it. I was paying $83/mo storage before so I'm paying a lot less now, at least.