My life and travels in bullet points

RV

Eugene, Or and Vashon, Wa

Juggling at Saturday Market

At Sweet Creek

His first time to the beach

on the ferry

the needle\

Veg kit installation

bounce

 

Oregon Highlights:

  • Juggling at the Eugene Saturday market
  • Great hikes
  • Hanging with Clark the Veggie Guru
  • Bear’s first trip to the ocean

Washington Highlights

  • LIFE is Good unschooling conference
  • Ferry to Vashon island
  • Destroying the fifth wheel bumper getting off the ferry
  • Hanging with the ever so awesome Swiss Army Wife and her family
  • Playing tourist in Seattle
  • Veggin TJ’s and Heather’s RV

Fun with Friends

I just want to say sorry to all of my readers for neglecting this blog so long. There is just so many interesting things to see and do. We have been staying in Keatchie, Louisiana (about 40 minutes outside of Shreveport) for the past 3 weeks visiting one of my good friends and helping him with some things. We also got to jam on the djembe which was so fun. His dad, whom was one of my bosses from Vegas, lives right down the street from him. He was gracious enough to let us stay on his beautiful land with full hookups for the RV.

Drummers

The first weekend we were there we went to Mudbug Madness, which is a crawfish eating festival in downtown Shreveport. I have to say after having crawfish for the first time they were very yummy. Z was grossed out by the way they looked and didn’t have any. But he did take advantage of all the cool things to do there. He went in a “euro ball,” which is ball you get in and fill up with air and can run on top of water. He looked like a hamster in one of those balls. ;) He also had the chance to try out one of those bungee jumping trampolines.

Mudbugs

Crawling Bobble

Bungee Bouncing

We just decided to leave Louisiana Friday and head back to Texas to meet up with some of our good friends that have just decided to buy an RV and embrace the RV lifestyle. We stayed at Martin Creek Lake State Park. It was a great park.

The only thing that weirded me out was swimming with the power plant in the background, and how warm the water was. Sara and Chris told us that the power plant uses the lake water to cool down the plant. And wouldn’t you know it when I got out of the water I had a fricken third arm! :D

I helped Chris and Sara do a little remodeling to their RV and help acquaint Chris with his new home and all of the cool gadgets that come with it. I can’t wait to meet up with Chris and his family again.

Closet Recon

I’ll try to blog more frequently for ya’ll. Peace!!


Central Texas

I have been super busy lately and haven’t had any time to post anything. We have been here in Texas for almost a week and I am loving every minute of it. I didn’t realize how beautiful it is here in Texas. The park we are staying at is close to a river with a dock going out to it. I can’t wait to go fishing soon.

Long Walk

I finally figured out what the fuel leak on Benny was its the injector line, the metal bushing that seals the line on the engine is cracked so I ordered a new one. I also ordered a bike rack for the spare tire to hold the bikes. So I have more room in the trailer to get another 55 gallon drum for veg. I changed the fuel pump on Benny because He was sputtering when I switched him to diesel, so hopefully that will help out. I also changed the oil on Benny yesterday because it was due to be changed. And guess what I noticed yet another leak. It looks like the small injector line that jump between each injector is loose and needs to be plugged. So I figure I’ll fix that when the injector line gets here. Then hopefully Benny will be up to par.

Other than that I have been relaxing and enjoying the nice weather here. Me and Matt went into town Tuesday to get some veg at a Chinese buffet that I got permission from in hopes of getting about 110 gallons to top us both off. but only got about 15 gallons. So we hunted around a little and found a place with great oil, and about 350 gallons worth. Score!!! :) When we got back to camp Matt had 2 55 gallon drums and one wasn’t being used so he was kind enough to give me one. Thanks Matt!! Now I have close to 150 gallons of veg which calculates into about 450 dollars worth of free fuel.


Carlsbad Caverns

We made it to Carlsbad, New Mexico, on Monday after going thru Roswell, New Mexico. I wasn’t too impressed with Roswell. But anyways, we are staying at the Carlsbad RV park which is about 45 min away from the caverns. Our first stop in town was the RV store which is right next to the RV park; how convenient is that? I picked up some stuff we needed and looked for a drain valve for the fresh water tank that has a slow leak, but they didn’t have it. I’ll probably have to order it when I get to Texas. Tara and Z got settled into the park while I changed the veg filter on Benny and hooked up the power and water. Man, it is hot here, which leads me to my next problem: I turned on the a/c and it worked great, until I turned it off an hour later. Then later on that night I flipped it back on to circulate the air in the RV and the blower motor didn’t move. I didn’t want to deal with it then so I told myself I would deal with it tomorrow and went swimming with Z at the indoor pool.

swimming

We woke up early Tuesday to get a jump on all the people going to the caverns.

Look at me, I’m a park ranger. :)

justin the ranger

This place is amazing. There are so many beautiful rock formations, and stalagmites. The cavern is 750 feet under ground, and a constant 56 degrees. During the summer months they have a couple million bats that use the cave as a home and at dusk¬† they leave to feast on insects. I think that would be a cool sight to see. Z was excited because he got to pee 750 feet underground. The pics don’t do this place justice. It is something you have to see in person. It is by far the most interesting and beautiful place we have gone.

soda straws

big room lookout

big room tour

Here is a link to some more photos.

When we made it back to the park I decided to look at the a/c. I took the shroud off and oiled the motor. Five minutes (after I had given up) later it started to work on its own. SWEET!!! Thank the Lord. I didn’t want to shell out money for a new unit. The rest of the night was spent making dinner and playing ping pong with Z in the game room. Today I’m going to go and hunt for veg cause we are running low. And that will give Tara some time to get some of her massage CEUs done online.


Veg Conversion

What a exciting post I get to tell you about! Where do I begin? Matt from the Happy Janssens came into town, along with his family, to do the veggie conversion on Benny.

We started by getting the dimensions for the fuel tank and discussed where we wanted to mount it. We found a great spot to fit a 36 gallon tank; the only bummer was I had to move the electrical box for the generator plugin. We started by making a bracket to mount the veg pump and misc solenoids. After mounting all of them on the bracket we then mounted the bracket inside the engine compartment. Then Matt worked on mounting the fuel gauge, pressure gauge and veg switch on the dash. We then routed all the different hoses to everything, and back to the fuel tank.

And there you go: Benny runs on veg now! I don’t want to go into depth on the install for proprietary reasons. But Clark from Green Eye Auto asked Matt and I if we would be interested in going around the U.S. doing veg installs for him. How awesome is that? I have to get in touch with Clark soon. He wants me to travel up to Eugene, OR and work on a couple of installs for him, so I can get acquainted with all the different parts and vehicles I will be working on. I am so excited about this, and hope it pans out. :)

Matt, thanks a lot for everything. You’re awesome.


24 Hours Isn’t Enough Time In A Day

It’s really hard to update my blog as often as I’d like to with so much going on.

Just an overview of what’s been going on the past couple of weeks:

I finished the trailer: added all the tie down points, wheel chock (holds the motorcycle wheel) and new tires. I found a 55 gallon drum on Craigslist for $25; it smells like fruit punch, even full of veggie oil. Matt and I installed the filters on the wall of the trailer; they filter the oil from the drum before it goes into the RV. Tara found some old “storage bags” that were originally made for car trunks. I hung those and they work great for holding filters and misc odds and ends. Matt and I also hung the bicycles in the trailer but I’m hoping to find a spare tire bike rike to go on the back of the RV so I don’t smack my head on the bikes getting in and out of the trailer. Here’s a half way finished photo:

I’ve made 3-4 trips to the storage unit (we got a 5×10 unit to store important keepsakes and few other items, like our dining room table, my homebrewing equipment, etc) and spent days upon days packing, getting ready for the estate sale. The estate sale went really well, minus the bunghole that stole our router. Now we just have a couple things left to sell on Craigslist and some boxes of smaller stuff to donate.

I also found an awesome home for my dog, Bear. My mom is an animal lover so I know he will be well cared for (and spoiled rotten!). By now I’m sure he already has his first leather recliner. Thanks, Mom! ;)

I had a big get-together with all my work buddies to finish off the last of the homebrew. Out of everyone that came, only one person was still employed. I had fun conversating with everybody. I’m really going to miss their friendships. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep in touch.

Most of my time was still spent working on Benny and the veggie oil conversion with Matt Janssen. But that’s a post unto itself. I’ll try to write out the details and post photos within the next week.

Same-ies

Greasers

Not only is Matt a talented mechanic, he’s such a cool and inspirational person to be around. He enjoys a lot of the same things I do and we have a lot in common. I can’t wait to travel and run into them again.

This week I’m taking care of a couple odds and ends before we head out of town, including a day wasted at the DMV turning in the truck plates (it’s going to be parked at my dad’s house), filtering more oil, and some small errands.

I’m hoping to be ready to go and on the road by Wednesday or Thursday, so I can finally relax and breath.


Trailer

Benny can only haul 2000 pounds which means I can’t tow my truck. So I found an enclosed trailer on Craigslist. Its 6×10 and should be perfect for our traveling endeavors. I got it for pretty cheap, but its in need of a little work: a new vent hatch, new tire, new interior lights, anchoring points to strap stuff down, and most importantly, a motorcycle chock so I can bring my motorcycle with us. It has a ramp in the back, and a door on the side. I’m hoping I can get everything in there without exceeding the weight limit.

I’m bringing my motorcycle just in case we break down, and need to get to the nearest town, and just for fun. ;)

I started by putting the vent on today. I removed all the 2×4′s from the previous owner. Tomorrow¬† I am going to get started on putting the wheel chock in, and all the eye bolts for anchoring stuff down. I also found a 55 gallon drum today that I plan on mounting in the trailer, for storing additional veg oil for the RV.


Benny let me down

We set out this morning to go to Death Valley, to let Benny spread his wings and see what he can do. Every thing was going good??? And then from under the dashboard a puff of smoke came, and then the engine died, the turn signals didn’t work, the radio didn’t work. Fuck this is how you repay me after all the work I’ve put into you. So we coasted to a safe spot and pulled over. I thought hmmm I bet its a fuse or a relay or maybe even a wire that grounded out. So I checked all the fuses and wires and everything seemed to be ok. So I called my Dad to see if he can come and help me figure it out. We tried to see if the engine would turn over by using a screwdriver to hit the + and the – on the solenoid but nothing happened. At this point I am at a loss, and don’t know what to do. So I called a tow company to come and pick Benny up. I guess I’ll find out more tomorrow when I talk to the mechanic. Hopefully its something simple. I would post pics but Benny doesn’t deserve any fame today he let me down. Thanks Dad for all your help. And thanks Elizabeth for the number to the tow truck.


Solar Panel Installation!!

Yessssss! Tuesday this week we finally received our solar panels in the mail (I’m so excited).

yes!

I got my kit from Alter Systems. It includes:

  • 2- 80 watt Sharp solar panels
  • 8 mounting brackets
  • 30ft of #10 wire
  • 2- 6ft #10 wires
  • 2 wire connectors
  • Morning Star charge controller
  • 600 watt Samlex inverter

So I figured I would get a jump on the install first thing Wednesday morning.I had to run to the Depot and Checker for some odds and ends not included in the kit (30ft of #6 wire, misc wire ends, 30ft of split flex tubing, electrical box, 100amp inline fuse, and grommets.)

misc peices

I hooked the wires and connectors to the solar panels, and put the mounting brackets on them.

attaching wires to panels

I mounted the panels on the roof of the RV in a location where they wouldn’t be shaded by the air conditioner or any other vents. I also mounted an electrical box to put the connections in to protect them from the elements. Any place I pierced a hole in the roof ( screwing down panels and drilling holes) I sealed them with Dicor sealant.

solar panels!

electrical box with connectors

Then drilled a 1/2 inch hole directly above an existing support tube, and fed the wires from the panels to the charge controller, which I mounted under the sink, that way it would be close to the batteries and easily accessible but out of the way.

1/2 inch hole in roof to feed wires into

support tubing holding wires

charge controller

I took some of the #6 wire and ran that from the charge controller to the batteries. BAM!! Now we have free energy. :)

battery bank - 2 for engine, 2 for solar array

Now for the fun part: hooking up the inverter. I mounted the inverter in an outside compartment on the RV and drilled a 2in hole into the compartment to feed the wires from the batteries to the inverter. If you can see to the right of the inverter on a block of wood I mounted the blue 100amp inline fuse. And the black wire plugged into the left of the inverter is the shore power cord, which runs to the a/c breaker panel inside.

inverter with inline 100amp fuse

The only thing left to do is get a breaker, and mount it above the other two, which will be the on/off switch for the RV’s automatic battery charger. The reason for the breaker is so that the inverter doesn’t charge the batteries when the panels are charging them (not good). Now I have to wait till Monday to see if one of the RV stores have the breaker, because the depot doesn’t carry 30 year old breakers.

ac breaker panel

Oh and thanks Dad for coming over and giving me a hand. :)


Hello

I’ll tell you a little bit about my self. My name is Justin. I am 28 years of age, born in LaCrosse WI, and raised in Las Vegas NV. Husband to a wonderful, quirky, beautiful wife, Tara (aka TheOrganicSister) and father to a brilliant, self-educated, sensitive son named Zeb.

I love all things that go vroom, homebrewing, simple living, gardening, sustainable living, being with my family.

And long walks in the park. ;)

I’m blogging to keep a journal of our journey that we’re about to take.

Our family’s plan is to travel around the U.S. full-time, hopefully finding work on the road and eventually a new home and homestead. We have friends in NM with an organic farm that we hope to intern on, two of my old bosses have a business in Louisiana that I hope to work for, an uncle in Wisconsin that may have work and friends and family around the country that we plan to visit.

In September, we purchased an old beat-up 1982 Winnebago Brave, 22ft with a Chevy 6.2L diesel engine. [Insert manly grunt here.] Every since we purchased it, I’ve been working on it everyday after work, including painting the interior, building cabinets, installing wood flooring and shower and wall panelling, new power steering and fuel pumps, new tires, changing brake fluid, resealing the roof, resealing the windows, new black water tank (man, how fun that was), new countertops and tabletop, a new gas cap where a sock previously was, new shocks, numerous engines leaks, and new batteries.

Benny the Brave needs stencilling
Look, there’s the sock!

I’ve really enjoyed every minute of it. It’s become my second love.

Still on the To Do list for the RV: Install solar panels (ordered last week), straight veggie oil conversion (that hopefully I can partake in the installation of), and a few details Tara has to finish up inside. I also need to find a trailer for tools and my motorcycle (because I can’t go anywhere without my motorcycle), because the RV will not tow my truck.

Since I got laid off two weeks ago, I’m rushing to get everything done in hopes to get out of Vegas as soon as possible.

Tara has a Flickr set of more photos here. She won’t update it until all her work is done. :P