Go With What You Have….

As mentioned in a previous post I’m thinking of making a large circular tour of the eastern U.S. this summer. Sort of a land version of boating’s “Great Loop.” I’ve joined a half dozen Facebook Groups about van living and camping and I’ve devoured much of the films and forum posts on Cheap RV Living. Despite my friend and neighbor’s ill feelings towards Chrysler products and lots of other bad mouthing of Dodge vehicles, lots of it warranted I’m sure, there are also tons of others who are loyal fans of same. I wrote to a friend who owns a delivery company that uses vans and asked his opinion of Dodge vans. He said he was driving one currently and loves it. I posed the question on the Facebook groups and got overwhelming thumbs up for the Dodge Grand Caravan as a minivan camper and it’s listed online as one of the top 10 minivans for camping. Some people are living in them full time, too, which I suspect is what I’ll eventually be doing.

The other day I went and looked at a Kia Sedona, one of the three of the top 10 I wanted to check out. Didn’t like it a whole lot.

Today I drove down to nearby Sanford, FL and looked at a 2006 Chrysler Town and Country with only 80,000 miles on the clock. LOVED IT! It was clean inside and out and underneath. the only fault I saw was when I lifted the hood and found the positive anode of the battery covered with corrosion. Looked just like this:

There are several things that could cause this…an old battery that has been overcharged. Electrolyte leakage. Overfilled with water. Or it could simply be an old battery past its time. Most likely NOT a big deal and easily fixed.

I have enough money in the bank that I could have bought it right then and still had money left in the bank to go on the trip. But something just wouldn’t let me do it. Cheapskate at heart, I guess.

On the way back home I got to thinking of the time when I was still wearing a suit and tie to work and dreaming about cruising around on a small boat. I’d bought the book “Sensible Cruising: The Thoreau Approach: A Philosophic and Practical Approach to Cruising” by Don Casey and Lew Hackler. I’ve always remembered their answer to the question: “What’s the best boat to go cruising on?” They said: “The one you have!” The book is long out of print but is available used from places like: http://Sensible Cruising: The Thoreau Approach : A Philosophic and Practical Approach to Cruising Don Casey, Lew Hackler

So, as I’m driving back to the swamp (in case you missed it I live on a small sailboat moored on a canal off the Saint Johns River in DeBary, Florida, 3 miles from the nearest paved road) I’m thinking about whether or not I need a new van to make this journey around the states. I HAVE a vehicle. Before I went out this morning I looked up the Blue Book value and if I was lucky I could get, maybe, 750 MAX in trade in, but most likely not more than $500. That’s okay. I got it for FREE, so whatever I get in trade would be like “found” money. I don’t need a van for a place to live. I HAVE a place to live…my boat. And it will be here when I get back, ready to move into. What it boils down to is I should use what I have. If it makes the whole 4,000 mile circuit I’m a winner with a bunch of money still in the bank. If I have a serious breakdown then I’ve got the money to buy something wherever I happen to be.

One of the big problems with the Montero is storage space. There is no roof rails so I can’t mount a box topside. But it does have a trailer hitch set up. So I went up to the local Harbor Freight and found I can get a carrier for between $49 and 90 bucks depending on whether I want steel or aluminum. Then I’d need to buy a box to carry a few things. Like a chair, a tent, a place to keep my cook stove and 11 lb. tank, etc. I can lie down in the back of the Montero…JUST, but I can. Tomorrow I’ll take the old air mattress out and blow it up and see what that looks like. I slept on an air mattress for a couple of years here on the boat and didn’t have a problem with it. Well, four of them got leaks, but they’re less than a dozen dollars at Wally World.

I think I can put a camping package together with everything I need to do the trip for less than a grand which would leave $4K untouched that I was going to use for buying a minivan. I can buy one of those when I return to DeBary.

Q: What’s the best vehicle to go on an adventure with?

A: The one you have.

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