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Old 06-30-2009, 08:58 PM   #61
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This is a good site where people have modified vehicles for this purpose.

How To Convert A Van

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Sweet.
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Hammocks
Old 06-30-2009, 09:54 PM   #62
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Hammocks

Realizing that I've already posted once, I'd like to chime in again with a note about hammocks. I routinely carry one (Trek-Light) on my maxi-scooter (Burgman 650), & I make good use of it for that mid-day siesta, when it's hot, I'm tired and saddle-sore.

Please note that hammock users do NOT have to sleep on their backs. The trick is to rest on the diagonal, which lets one rest & sleep as flat as they want.

The other alternative (which I don't have right now) is the Hennessy Hammock, which is bug-proof and will shelter a person in severe weather, including tropical downpours.

You don't always need two trees. Your vehicle and a stout upright post will do. I expect to stand up a 5' collapsible pole on the back of my Burgman's trike conversion (when done), sling the hammock to that pole, and run the line on the other end of the hammock to a post, pole, or other upright thing and then down to a root, concrete barrier or picnic table(or even to a stout nail driven into the asphalt of a parking lot -- pound it all the way in, just before you leave).

I've even figured a way to hang the hammock where there are no trees at all. However, you do have to find a 6'+ high chain-link fence. I've tried this, and, at near 300 lbs. weight & 6' 8" tall, hung successfully off said fence. No fence was damaged for this demonstration.
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Old 07-01-2009, 03:46 AM   #63
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Sweet.
Except the part about using cat litter as bathroom for yourself. My cat will get pissed that I'm stealing her cat litter.

Some of the 5th wheels look pretty darn comfy, and they are not that expensive used. If you're sure that life on the road full time is something in the cards, you can always plan early and replace your car with a used diesel pickup truck when your car dies.

From reading the RV-dreams.com's FAQ section, I can see the appeal of living closer to mountain biking and hiking, and I like the fact that they are playing on cheap golf courses but with people they like as opposed to playing on expensive courses with people they tolerate. It's all about the trade offs between style and substance, and I'd take substance any day because I have had $1 coffees and a $2 scones with riding buddies after a hell of a ride and found that infinitely more fulfilling than an expensive lobster dinner with co-workers with whom every conversation is a walk around land mines, and I certainly appreciate the fact that they sleep a lot better. If nothing else, this last point is worth its weight in gold. I, however, still believe that they could have waited just a few more years to get their net worth up where they can draw 4% to cover 100% of their living expenses and use the work camp income for major purchases and the occasional splurge.

OK, end of thread jack!
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:56 AM   #64
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I have often wondered about the little modest but well-kept-up non-chain motels - - you know, The Evergreen Motel, The Forest Inn, Sunset Motel, or The BobbyJo Motel, by the side of minor highways across the country.

Of course some look like "no-name motels" with hourly rates, but others look like they might be normal motels that are pretty cheap compared with Day's Inn. They seldom seem to have many customers. I have no idea what they are really like, since I have never slept at one.
From my limited experience, they're not good enough for most people. Small rooms, vinyl floor in bathroom, well-worn furniture, might not-- hold on now-- have cable, much less WiFi. Sort of like my house. They also sometimes are not all that much cheaper, as the mortgage was paid off decades ago, and the owners don't feel like busting their butts cleaning your toilet for $5 profit.

The more modern ones by roadsides-- the far-off-brand struggling entrepreneur style-- had an uncanny tendency to be owned by Indian immigrants. It was kinda weird walking into a 1960s vintage motel in the middle of nowhere in Iowa and be greeted by Mr. Patel stepping away from his fragrant curry dinner in back.

The off-brand motels on the outskirts of larger cities had a tendency to be welfare motels. Entire families packed into a room. Grim. And that was in good times.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:49 AM   #65
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From my limited experience, they're not good enough for most people. Small rooms, vinyl floor in bathroom, well-worn furniture, might not-- hold on now-- have cable, much less WiFi. Sort of like my house. They also sometimes are not all that much cheaper, as the mortgage was paid off decades ago, and the owners don't feel like busting their butts cleaning your toilet for $5 profit.

The more modern ones by roadsides-- the far-off-brand struggling entrepreneur style-- had an uncanny tendency to be owned by Indian immigrants. It was kinda weird walking into a 1960s vintage motel in the middle of nowhere in Iowa and be greeted by Mr. Patel stepping away from his fragrant curry dinner in back.

The off-brand motels on the outskirts of larger cities had a tendency to be welfare motels. Entire families packed into a room. Grim. And that was in good times.
Interesting! Thanks for the glimpse into these motels, which had always inspired my curiousity. And yes, I would be floored to find one of them run by an Indian immigrant on the backroads of middle America.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:58 AM   #66
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I think the OP of this thread may have already hit the road in his used beat up van!
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Old 07-01-2009, 01:46 PM   #67
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My uncle did what you are talking about a few years back and
really enjoyed it. He would stop at the fancier truck stops
which have nice facilities for the "hygenic basics" (showers etc..)
along the way. They are very interested in getting the truckers repeat
business so they make seem to make an effort at providing good service..


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I absolutely foam at the mouth thinking of getting on a ElderBus and riding with 60 fossils like myself. I want to drive cross country in a van (basic van not RV) and put an Aerobed, some blankets and pillows and a cooler with stuff to consume. Just go. No jocular host or convivial seatmate. I want to eat at White's in Salem, OR, not Denney's on I-90, Denney's on I-80, Denney's on I-74, get the picture.

Has anyone ever done anything similar and are there enough rest stops with showers, facilities, etc to allow for hygienic basics? Or is it destined to be a Day's Inn fest.

I really long for the freedom and rhythm of the highway as it rolls on by, city lights and rolling thru the backwoods.

Am I dreaming of somthing impossible?
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:55 PM   #68
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Hammocks are great on a trip -- perfect for napping or reading. Here are some of my hammock solutions when camping:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 03Hammock.jpg (130.0 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg 09Campsite.jpg (121.9 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg CampDead03.jpg (110.2 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg 08Campsite.jpg (128.6 KB, 0 views)
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:49 PM   #69
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Interesting! Thanks for the glimpse into these motels, which had always inspired my curiousity. And yes, I would be floored to find one of them run by an Indian immigrant on the backroads of middle America.
W2R - you can imagine my surprise when my riding buddies and I pulled into a quaint little motel in Alpine, TX being managed by a family from somewhere near Pakistan (my best guess). Google Alpine. It doesn't get any more backroads than that. I often wonder how they ended up there.
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:48 PM   #70
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From my limited experience, they're not good enough for most people. Small rooms, vinyl floor in bathroom, well-worn furniture, might not-- hold on now-- have cable, much less WiFi. Sort of like my house. They also sometimes are not all that much cheaper, as the mortgage was paid off decades ago, and the owners don't feel like busting their butts cleaning your toilet for $5 profit.

The more modern ones by roadsides-- the far-off-brand struggling entrepreneur style-- had an uncanny tendency to be owned by Indian immigrants. It was kinda weird walking into a 1960s vintage motel in the middle of nowhere in Iowa and be greeted by Mr. Patel stepping away from his fragrant curry dinner in back.

The off-brand motels on the outskirts of larger cities had a tendency to be welfare motels. Entire families packed into a room. Grim. And that was in good times.
I reluctantly have to agree. I used to use these "off brand" hotels a lot in my younger years when I didn't notice the filth, but now that I'm older and more concerned about catching whatever bug the last visitor had, I tend to stay away. It's not uncommon to find messes that could easily have been cleaned up but just weren't. I guess these kind of places are where I learned my habit of asking to see the room first, and doing a thorough inspection.

It's sad to say, but I do prefer the chain motels, because the franchisees have to meet certain standards set by the head office. The no name places get their business from customers driving by that they'll never see again, so there's no incentive to make the actual experience good. Their facades are often much better kept than the rooms. And because they're usually small, decaying construction, and near the road, noise can be an issue. But I'm a cheapskate, and I've been known to bring my own sheets, earplugs, and lamisil foot cream, and sleep in places like this when I'm on my own and there's no Walmart nearby :-)
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:02 PM   #71
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The worst hotel I've stayed in was a Days Inn . It was so dirty . Luckily it was dark and we could not see the filth until the next morning . Stained sheets , used condom on the floor , etc., etc.
I love boutique hotels or B&B's . I've always had good experiences and they are usually unique much better than the sameness of chain hotels.
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:28 PM   #72
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Holiday Inn in Jamaica, NY. Across the street from the airport. D-U-M-P.
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:08 PM   #73
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Jamaica was the hood. Don't know about it now.
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'Over there...'
Old 07-02-2009, 09:33 PM   #74
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'Over there...'

I think that I'm forgetting to mention that, long ago and far away, I was one of the *very few* who got to spend a whole year on nature walks through the jungle. Our survival rate was abysmally low, and we lived in the dirt and mud and ate cold canned food.
I married within 6 mos of returning and getting out of the Boy Scouts. (Still married!). We were walking towards our place on Perry St. in the West Village when said wife turned to me and said, "Have you ever been camping?".
After 20 seconds of my (draftee) Platoon Sgt. glare, she blushed and said 'sorry! I love you.". Nothing for me to do but kiss her, and she never spoke of camping again. Although there was a 1970 VW Camper bus involved in our lives for a short time a few years later. It had been in a bad accident and I fixed it, which should tell the whole story.
I hereby declare myself excused from the 'Roughing it' thread...

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Old 07-03-2009, 11:15 AM   #75
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You're excused, Bill.
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Old 07-03-2009, 07:53 PM   #76
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We have never done a road trip lasting more than 2 weeks in the US. We have never "roughed" it either. We love to travel, but like a certain minimum level of creature comforts. The idea of an extended trip lasting a few months is intriguing however. But what does one expect to do and see on such trips?

Never having an RV, I read with interest the link provided above by Tomcat, on people who convert small vehicles for full-time living. I have seen some small travel trailers, but how do these people get by with even less? Now, even if one can afford a Class A, does its size limit what one can do? Of course, that depends on what one wants to do. So, if I get an RV, what would be my traveling style? Would my wife go along with my crazy ideas, not that I have come up with any yet?

Last year, following a link provided by Martha in a thread about motorhomes, I read with interest the blog of Andy Baird ( Travels with Andy) who retired early and lived full-time in a Lazy Daze, a 22-ft Class C. After a year and a half, he had to upgrade to a 26.5-ft to have more room. Andy's RVs are luxurious compared to the van conversions shown in the link that Tomcat provided. These people are really roughing it. While I read most of their stories, the one I found most interesting was by a man called Randy, who converted a cargo trailer of 80 sq.ft. He likes its "cloaking" feature that allows him to boondock or park innocuously in places that an RV would stand out and get chased away. I then followed the lead to his blog (Mobile Kodgers).

This is an interesting man, a poet who claims he has been living full-time on wheels for the last 20 years. What I found irresistible in his blog were the descriptions of his encounters with other interesting people on his trek, and his impulsive need to hear their "stories". While driving, if he sees some peculiar hobos by the side of the road, he would stop, loitering nearby and slowly approaches them to make conversation to get the "story". Though I occasionally wonder about a certain person happenstance, I would not know how to approach someone. Perhaps I am not curious enough.

That got me thinking. Back to my original question earlier in this post, when one takes to the road, is it just to see and experience nature? This Randy shows as much or even more curiosity to other codgers and interesting characters he chances to meet in his path. On several occasions, he engaged in religious discussions with some Amish, a preacher, some Mormons, and spent some time with an obscure cult.

I also found his writing style engaging. If I try to take a similar travel path, will I be able see the interesting persons and things that Randy sees through his eyes, without these being pointed out to me? More likely, will I find the experience worth the travail? Or is it better that I live precariously through other people's blogs?
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Old 07-04-2009, 10:45 AM   #77
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That got me thinking. Back to my original question earlier in this post, when one takes to the road, is it just to see and experience nature? This Randy shows as much or even more curiosity to other codgers and interesting characters he chances to meet in his path.
Some personal thoughts on this very subject follow. Frankly, I am trying to decide if there is a better way to plan my own personal travels since I came to the following revelation about my own travels fairly recently.

In years past, I traveled quite a bit for my own personal pleasure. My purpose for these trips was generally to see and do things (diving in the Caribbean, climbing volcanoes in the jungle, actually seeing castles and Stonehenge, etc.). But, most of my fondest memories from these trips involve the people that I met along the way: Thanksgiving dinner with a very nice couple in Costa Rica, bar hopping until daybreak with a bunch of bartenders and waitresses in Edinburgh, drinking the night away with a bunch of Aussies travelers in a small beach bar on the Mexican coast, etc.

Now that I am traveling much more for business than pleasure, the same still applies: Recently bar hopping and closing down all of the legal (2:00 AM mandatory closing time) bars in San Francisco with a group of crazy locals, Brits and Indians comes immediately to mind.

(Off topic: I do not think that I am quite as much of an alcoholic as this post might lead you to believe.)
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Old 07-04-2009, 03:55 PM   #78
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Having spent a few years of my younger life hitch hiking around N America i thought people with cars,vans,Rv's were living in the lap of luxury and to actually be able to afford a motel every night? that aint roughing it by any stretch of the imagination.I ultimately saw the light and kept on trucking in a Ford Econoline,then i met my wife got a steady job had the kids and kept looking to the west,,if i get into that travelling lifestyle again its going to be roughing it in a class C
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Old 07-04-2009, 03:58 PM   #79
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Ten years ago I had a similar revelation that the high-points of many trips were: eating. That is, eating at interesting restaurants. Now, however, we eat less, and don't like to spend a lot at restaurants, so the focus has shifted to doing things (like surfing, biking), and cooking our own fun food at campsites.
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Old 07-04-2009, 11:45 PM   #80
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Now that I am traveling much more for business than pleasure, the same still applies: Recently bar hopping and closing down all of the legal (2:00 AM mandatory closing time) bars in San Francisco with a group of crazy locals, Brits and Indians comes immediately to mind.
2AM is way past my bed time. I have never drunk with strangers. Most of my travels were with my wife, so I always have company. We like to walk around, seeing how people live in different places. In order to linger and to engage local people, one would need a lot of time. And it takes a certain personality to travel like Randy the Codger.

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... then i met my wife got a steady job had the kids and kept looking to the west,,if i get into that travelling lifestyle again its going to be roughing it in a class C
Living in the west, I long to travel to the east. I have been to Maine a couple of times, but want to see more. Having been to Montreal a couple of times, first in 1983 then in 2003, I want to travel down the St Lawrence River, perhaps not on the northern bank but down the southern bank to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. A big RV does not allow excursion, so I would need to tow a small car. Gasoline cost may be prohibitive here, particularly as I would drive from AZ.

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Ten years ago I had a similar revelation that the high-points of many trips were: eating. That is, eating at interesting restaurants. Now, however, we eat less, and don't like to spend a lot at restaurants, so the focus has shifted to doing things (like surfing, biking), and cooking our own fun food at campsites.
I would have a small class C or a class B. Gas mileage is much higher than a car, but saves the hassle on setting up the tent every night (call me a sissy, but I have slept in a tent 3 times in my life, and only once of those was by choice). Taking the back roads and stumbling into serendipitous encounters like Randy the Codger does sound like fun, and a big RV may hamper your access. On the other hand, suitable equipment is only part of the question. I may not have the temperament to take the same adventures as he does, even if I find his exploits most interesting. Though an introvert, I like to stay closer to culture and see people more than the wilderness. And being an introvert, perhaps that's why I like to travel to cities or towns; one can observe without engaging his subjects. And if I stay in town, having an RV cost me more than staying in hotels. Argh, I just talk myself out of having one, again.
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