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

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

So long, ol' pal

The van was sold to a young lady on December 3, 2015. I took a big loss vs what I had in it, but it was time to move on from it. It had become a liability and was expensive to operate as a daily driver, even with the low insurance vs a car.

Within a few days of selling it, I flew to the Dallas-Forth Worth area and bought a 2003 Pontiac Vibe with (then) 143k miles. It is a GM-built Toyota Matrix, basically. It passed Washington emissions testing fine and it's now my daily driver.

It gets a good 30+ hwy MPG and is GREAT for road trips/sleeping in. It's an early "CUV", more commonly known as a "crossover". It's equipped with a 1.8L Corolla engine and a 4 speed automatic transmission. They also made AWD versions in both A/T and M/T but I got a regular FWD. The GM "Vibe" came equipped with a factory roof rack, unlike the Toyota's Matrix which looks more like a compact hatchback than an SUV, which is how GM styled the Vibe more.

I had the transmission serviced within 250 miles of purchasing it simply for routine maintenance since I had no idea if it had ever been done. It has already given me over 3,000 miles of trouble free driving since I took the long route home by way of New Mexico, Arizona and California; as to avoid Colorado and Utah in the dead of winter.

I will keep this blog up since it's a wealth of info for Xplorer 228 owners, as well as an archive of my past travels. I am still debating if I will continue posting photos of trips here on this blog, or if I will create a new one and simply link it from here. Either way, this blog will remain online.

Here are a couple of photos.. one of the car and one from Tombstone, AZ on December 12, 2015. I decided to stop by there for a third time since I was passing through so close again through Benson and I really dig old west places like that.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Van coming out of hibernation (sort of)

After being parked for a year and only being started and idled twice for short times, the van will soon be on the streets again.

A few days ago, I sold the Geo Metro I bought a year ago. This came about as a result of buying a 1988 Honda Elite 250 scooter last month. The scooter costs a fraction to register, insure, operate (60+mpg) and maintain compared to a car. I found myself almost never driving the car anymore, even before I bought the scooter. I was paying $55 a month insurance on the car and only driving it 2 or 3 times a week, generally less than 10 miles round trip a day. Sometimes more but it was rare.

I made attempts to sell the van, or trade it for something like a Subaru Outback or small SUV but people are flakes and it never came about, despite several offers. The people changed their minds or simply stopped responding entirely. Then I decided I'd rather take the money loss on the car than on the van. Over the last year, I have paid right about $1,000 simply to keep ownership of the van. $50/mo storage ($600/yr), plus insurance and tabs ($95).

Between the car insurance and van's storage, I am shredding off just over $100 a month in costs. I will have to drive the van more which will use a lot more gas but if I drive it once a week, it won't be that bad. I have a high MPG scooter to offset it, as well as the bus system which is pretty good.

I will be street/curb parking it near my apartment. The city code states you can park a car, RV, boat trailer, and so on, unmoved for up to 7 days without being ticketed. ("Extended parking", they call it.) After 7 days, then they can ticket you. If it was a 32ft Class A, then I'd probably have problems; but a 19ft Class B? As long as I follow parking laws (not too close to other cars, not too close to corners, and so on) then the police should leave it alone. If they don't, I will fight the ticket in court.

They mainly seem care about people actively living in them, not so much about people simply parking them. They are super strict on even having an RV parked on your own property. You have to get a city permit to have someone sleeping in it. I will be leaving the curtains open so the cops can see in and know that no one is living inside. The registered address will come back to an apartment nearby too, so it should be fine. I have seen Class B and Cs around the city parked in various places being moved often, especially around where I live. It might be "homeless" people full timing in their vans in the city so they have it harder, they would get harassed before I would.

I need to see why the engine has always idled rough when cold and seems to be running rich until it warms up. Warmed up. it smooths out and idles smoothly and strongly. However, that rich running cold engine is wasting fuel and lowering the MPG.

I will be more likely to take the van out camping again on trips without having it put away in storage. It's been tarped over to prevent leaks. (See pic below). Having $100 a month more to save or play with, I will be in a better position to take trips in it.

I will need to see about getting the leaking windows at the bed area fixed sometime. Until then, I guess I'll get some cheap bath towels and put them under the windows to collect the water so it doesn't pool on the floor at the fresh water tank and rust it out more than it already has. At least it can't hurt the inside of the wall, being fiberglass.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Dodge City, KS

Sorry for the long delay. Here are the photos I took in Dodge City, KS on May 18, 2015.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Back from the trip since May 30

Sorry for the delay in any blog postings about my trip. I've been fairly busy since I got back and it's just one of those things that's easy to put off.

My poor ol' car toughed out the trip despite a blown head gasket (consuming oil and coolant, but not mixing) and a badly broken inner wheel bearing on the driver's rear side. The bearing has been replaced along with a rear brake job by yours truly this past weekend. The car does decently despite the engine condition for city run-abouts. In fact it did decently at highway speeds, all things considered! I just had to stop every 100-200 miles to top off the oil and coolant.

I decided to skip Yellowstone since the car was in such poor condition. Maybe next year. I was just crossing my fingers that I got the car back home. But I did, so all is well!

I didn't do a great deal of sight seeing, even though I wish I could have. Soon I will be posting the two sight seeing bits I did in Ellensburg, WA and Dodge City, KS.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Road trip lauch day tomorrow!

How exciting! I am finally hitting the road again.. even if it's only for 3 weeks. As previously mentioned, I will be taking my car this 4,500 mile trip. I have packed as minimally as possible since I want to haul back some extra stuff I left stored in Arkansas.

I have been making as much ice as I can including freezing plastic bowls of water and using a water jug with the top cut off to make a big block of ice. I only wish I had thought of the block ice idea a few days ago so I could have made several. I may be able to make one more based on the required freeze time. The next block, I may put a few cubes in it to help it along. This should save me from having to buy ice for a couple of days to starting out.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Recycling the best cooler for temporary use

Next month I will be taking about a 3 week road trip in my car out to Arkansas (from Washington) and back.

One thing that has nagged at me has been what to do for food/drink on the cheap. Since it's only a 3 week trip, and so much money is going to gas already, I didn't want to invest in a new cooler.

Eventually I'd like to get a Yeti cooler from REI, but it's $250. Even with the current 20% off promotion, it's $200 plus tax for the "Roadie 20". The "Tundra 30" is $300 and might be the size I'd prefer. Maybe next year I can get one.

Anyhow, I ended up finding a used Omaha Steaks mailer cooler for $2 from a thrift store. Being careful with it, it should last me the entire trip. Even if it doesn't, I left a cheap, large, rolling cooler out in Arkansas at a family member's house.

Since it's going to be May in the south, I might end up using two coolers for the 5-7 days I am there. Chipped ice can be had very cheap from "Twice the ice" vending machines. Even if the Omaha foam one only lasts a week to get out there, I'll have a plastic one for free to bring back. However, I think the foam one should work nicely the entire trip if handled carefully enough. I'll probably bring the plastic one back with me anyway.

As you can see, it's just about as thick as the Yeti coolers so I think it may perform just about as well. The inside dimensions are 20x13x12. Plenty large enough for dry ice, chipped ice and food/drinks for one person. (In fact it might be overkill...)

I have a Coleman thermoelectric cooler I got down in Quartzsite back in 2013 that is about the same exterior dimensions, in terms of how much space it'll take up in the car, but you have to be careful with the melted ice due to the electric motor. I can't run it 24 hours a day either, so it's really not very useful. I may as well go with the Omaha cooler and not have to plug it in. It has much thicker insulation so no thermoelectric cooling is needed really.

I will probably get a small bit of dry ice for the bottom then put a bag of "party" (chipped) ice on top of that for drinks/extra layer, then put my food/drinks on top. I'm hoping it'll last at least 3 days at a time. It might last longer, being such a thick cooler, but we'll see.

I also got an igloo thermos cooler thing with a spout on top, so I can fill it with ice and use it for drinks/water without having to constantly open the cooler. The cost of drinks is what can eat you alive traveling, not so much the cost of food.