Monthly Archives: June 2021

All’s Well That Ends Well…

If you’ve been reading along you know that the delivery of the Rubbermaid cargo bin I ordered from Amazon has been a colossal cluster coitus with the USPS handling things. I now believe that if you want to be a driver for FedEx (another recent bad experience) or the postal service you’re required to take an intelligence test. If you fail, you’re hired.

It was scheduled to be delivered last Thursday. In fact, at 9 a.m. it was at a postal facility in Orange City that was only 3.5 miles away from the delivery address. But it didn’t make it to my mail drop and 9.5 hours later, according to the USPS package tracking app, it was in Stuart, FL which is about 175 miles away from the delivery address. From there it went to Orlando and Orlando shipped it off to Jacksonville. It languished there for a bit before being trekked off to a place called Lady Lake.

On Sunday, the 13th of June, Amazon offered me the option of getting a refund. I did because there was no telling how many more places the bin might visit. I got a message from Amazon saying that the refund was being processed and would be in my account in about 5 working days. 

Monday, I went to the local Lowes and purchased a Commander 40 gallon bin…

See the source image

It’s not as sturdy as the Rubbermaid. I’ve seen a smaller version of the Rubbermaid chest which is well constructed and that’s why I wanted it. But I figured this will do. Then, as I was driving near the maildrop on the way back to the swamp I stopped in. And THERE IT WAS! Well, I ordered it, I want it, and I put it in the back of the SUV. No sense trying to send it back via USPS, who knows WHAT would happen to it? I then spent two hours on line trying to get in touch with someone at Amazon to see how we can rectify the situation. Of course it isn’t easy and I’ll just blame, for now, the extremely ugly weather situation as being responsible for the poor internet connection. There’s thunder and lightning all around.

See the source image

Finally got through to a, believe it or not, competent customer service rep, and I got the bin paid for. I know there are lots of people who wouldn’t have done that and just said they made a huge “score.” But I’m not like that. Shame on me, huh?

So now I have to go back to Lowes and return that bin I just bought. Like with Home Depot I’ll have it reimbursed to me as store credit that I can use anywhere in the country. I don’t like to go out in traffic until rush hour’s over. Hopefully the rain will have stopped by then. This is the third day in a row or liquid sunshine but we’ve needed it here, deep in the swamp/

I thought the bin might be a bit oversized reading the description on Amazon and looking at the dimensions listed on the carrier itself. Ya just never know how accurate those things are, but there’s room to spare. I put the carrier in the hitch and as you can see it’s not so big that it obscures the license plate which could cause me to get pulled over. And it’s far enough from the back of the SUV that it doesn’t interfere with opening the tailgate. It’s all going to work out just fine.

I have a locking hitch pin to keep the carrier from being removed by bad guys, and the bin itself can be locked. I have ratchet tie-downs to keep the bin from bouncing and sliding around. I also have a Yeti lock set up that I used when I had my Yeti living in the cockpit of my boat.

I’m going to buy a substantial eye bolt, drill a hole in the bin and then run the cable through that and under the lower rails of the carrier. None of those precautions are going to stop really dedicated thieves but we all know locks are just intended to keep the good guys out anyways.

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Some Assembly Required

The biggest constraint with living/traveling/camping in an SUV is where do you keep everything you need/want? You can take minimalism only so far. I met a guy back in ’92 on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala who was an extremist like that. He was a pretty famous multi-hull designer. You know catamarans and trimarans. They attribute a lot of their speed to keeping weight low. To that end Peter kept his interiors bare. He used bean bag furniture to reduce weight. He was so dedicated to keeping everything light that used to remove the covers of his paperback books.  He even cut his toothbrush handles down to stubs! Keeping weight down in an SUV isn’t that extreme but the more payload in the vehicle the more fuel it takes to lug it around. And volume of gear is important.

My bed frame is 14″ off the deck in most places and another 4″ to that in the forward part of the bed. So there’s plenty of room to stuff stuff under there. That’s where the tent will live, for one. Clothes, food stuffs and the like will also fit in containers beneath the bed. But there are other things that need additional storage space…like the 11 lb. propane tank for one. 

There are several ways of gaining extra storage space. One is to drag along a small trailer. I’m not going to do that. Trailers restrict where you can go to park overnight or longer. The next alternative is a rooftop carrier. We’ve all seen them. 

Some of them can cost over $1,500! Price and the fact that my Mitsubishi doesn’t have roof rails on which to mount such a thing save me from going that route. There are some real downsides to these things, too. They can restrict where you can go because of the added height. You’d hit certain drive-thru signs in many cases and have problems with multi-storied parking garages. People who have them admit they do have “drag” through the air which has a negative effect on gas mileage. In some cases rather significant, and with petrol prices on the rise this summer that certainly has to be considered.

Since the Mitsubishi has a trailer hitch I decided to get a hitch-mounted cargo carrier. I bought a MaxxHaul 49″ x 22.5″ Hitch Mount Aluminum Cargo Carrier With High Side Rails. I went with aluminum for the no-rust feature. I saw similar, and less expensive at Harbor Freight, but the one they had at the store nearby was just a floor model and I would have to have one delivered. Looking at YouTube vids the assembly of those is a piece of cake.

This thing, on the other hand, should have said “Some Assembly Required.” It didn’t, but I got up and at ’em before it started to get hot here deep in the swamp off the Saint Johns River in DeBary, central Florida.

This thing came in a ton of parts.

Putting it together was really simple. Overall it took me about an hour to put the frame together.

A few more nuts and bolts secured the frame to the tongue and this is how it looks attached to the SUV…

These kinds of carriers don’t have any air drag to mess with mileage.

Tomorrow, Monday, I’ll go to Lowes to buy a bin to fit in the carrier. The one I ordered from Amazon

was handed over to morons at the USPS and after days and days of them screwing around I just cancelled the order and asked for a refund. Amazon customer service said I’ll have it in about three days.

It has been a total cluster coitus since the end of the week. It was delivered to the post office in Orange City. That facility is 3.6 miles from my shipping address. They didn’t get there before 5 p.m. when the maildrop closes for the day but instead of returning it to Orange City they sent it to effin’ Stuart! Over 160 miles away! Well, next it went to Orlando and, again the driver didn’t get there while the store was open so they sent this box to effin’ Jacksonville! Next it went to Lady Lake and who the hell knows where it is now? Oh, well. I can get something similar to this at Lowes and for about a third the price, too.

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This Could Work

I was just looking back over the past couple of days worth of posts about my no-build SUV camper buildout and an idea hit me as I was looking at this picture…

bed made

My original idea was to put the bed frame over the wheel hump on the passenger side. Well, former passenger side since I took the passenger seat out the other day. The bed frame takes up the entire space in the back of the vehicle with the forward end butted up against the seat back. I’ve had to move the driver’s seat one click forward to obtain the space needed. It’s a bit close to the steering wheel but shouldn’t be to terrible for a few hundred miles until I can get to my nephew’s place in western North Carolina. As you can see in the picture the curvature of the tailgate opening won’t allow the frame to be moved to the starboard wall (salty talk makes my winkie tingle…) So there it sits. I’m able to close the tailgate without any problem. Also, the middle leg on the outboard side sticks right down in the middle of the well arc. So that keeps the frame from being moved, too.

I contacted my nephew by email and asked if he had welding equipment. I was thinking if I cut two inches off the side rails between the slats it would give me enough room so the frame doesn’t rub up against the back of the seat. THEN, looking at the picture above I’m thinking why not cut out one entire section between the slats and rewelding there? It would reduce the length by about five inches. It makes the frame shorter than the mattress, but if that overhang is at what will be the foot of the bed it shouldn’t be noticeable when I’m sleeping. Shortening it that much would also bring those aft legs inside the curvature of the tailgate opening.

Then, I could cut the outboard middle leg down enough so it sits on the top of the wheel hump and the whole unit can move over nearly a foot and a half! That will create a nice open area between the seat back, the door, and the wheel hump. More easily accessible stowage space becomes instantly available.


The cargo are is 55″ wide. The bed is 38 inches wide so the way things are now there’s only about 8″ clearance outboard of either edge of the frame. Moving it over against the starboard side creates nearly a foot and a half of clearance on the port side.

It would be nice if I could move it over to the driver’s side, but the hump is totally different. If it could sit comfortably over on that side, with the passenger seat gone it would open up a HUGE space on the starboard side of the SUV. It wouldn’t be a problem to flip the frame end-for-end and see which side works best. I have a feeling it will be the passenger side though. We’ll see.

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More Progress…And Morons Running America.

Up and at ’em before it gets oppressively hot here in the swamp off the Saint Johns River in DeBary, FL.

Start off with the good news. I was able to remove the passenger seat in the Mitsubishi Montero Sport SUV. The new bed, as shown in the previous post, takes up most of the interior of the vehicle behind the seats to the tailgate. It left no room to put the 12-volt fridge I have. And I’m NOT going on a multi-month expedition without it!

Removing the back seat was easy. THIS was a challenge. The seat is on a tracks so it can be moved forwards and backwards. There are four bolts holding the tracks, two to a side. The outboard side was simple and easy to get to.

So was the forward bolt on the inboard track, but the aft bolt was partially blocked by the center console cowling. Apparently no way to get a wrench on it.

So I dismantled the back of the seat first and then got the bottom off after taking out four bolts there. The outboard track just lifted off. I couldn’t remove the center console but then discovered that the plastic obscuring the bolt was reasonably pliable. I was able to bend it back and get a socket down on the bolt and, voila, out came the track. Now I’ve got plenty of room for the fridge.

Yes, I KNOW it’s messy, Captain Obvious. Now, piss off!

ON TO MORONS..

You’ve read about how stupid the driver from FedEx was about handing my package to some unknown who apparently disappeared with it. Well, now the USPS is giving FedEx a run for their money.

I ordered a large container to store a lot of stuff on my journey.

It was SUPPOSED to arrive at my maildrop yesterday, Thursday, June 10. It didn’t. I got a message saying the delivery had been delayed. Here’s how things went…

Thursday, June 10 – 5:00 PM Delivery Delay

7:20 AM – Package transferred to another carrier for delivery. Orange City, FL

5:41 AM Package departed an Amazon facility Davenport, FL

3:00 AM Package has left the carrier facility. Davenport, FL US

Okay. Now Orange City abuts DeBary where the mail drop is. The Orange City Post office is 3.6 miles from the drop box location. But do they return it there for delivery on Friday? HELL, NO! They effin send it to Stuart, FL :

8:51 AM Package arrived at a carrier facility. Stuart, FL

That’s a round trip of 356 effin’ miles!!!

Ten to one all these idiots believe the five deferment draft dodger Donald Trump is a patriot and undoubtedly voted for the Giant Orange Wart.

People sometimes ask me what it was I liked so much about Panama. Well, for one thing, it isn’t HERE!!! (And before any rightwing moron reading this says “Then why don’t you go back?” I say, “Get Medicare to pay when I’m not living in this country and I’ll be gone.” In the meantime…

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No Build SUV Camper Build

Well, it’s amazing how much one can accomplish when one’s in Facebook Prison and free from that trap…

If you’re new to this blog then go back three of four days and you’ll get the back story of this post.

I made my way out to Home Depot and traded in the 3″ PVC pipes I’d gotten yesterday that weren’t the ticket for getting the bed level. As I’ve written, the legs of the bed frame I bought are too large to fit into a 2″ PVC pipe cut to even everything out as shown on a Bob Wells video. The legs are square steel channel. There was a rubber cap on the bottom end. It was easy to remove and I figured “If you can’t fit the leg into a decent PVC pipe then why not insert a PVC pipe inside the leg?” I took the refund in store credit. Have a nice orange card in my wallet I can use at any Home Depot in the country. Since there’s not going to be much weight on the pipe and it’s all downwards without any torque, I sprung for 3/4″ pipe in 2-foot sections at $1.19 each.

Simple as can be.

I got back to the swamp before it got too oppressively hot and humid and finished assembling the bed frame. It takes up almost the entire back of the SUV. It presses up against the back of the seats but the tailgate closes easily. At least I’m not going to have to worry about it moving around back there.

I’m going to have to remove the passenger seat so I’ll have room for the fridge. I’d hoped to be able to place the outboard side of the bed flush against the side of the vehicle by removing the middle leg on that side, (1) but I’d have to get some kind of metal strapping and drill holes in it to hold the side together since it’s made out in two sections. Then, as I’m looking at this, I realize that the curvature at the base of the tailgate opening (2) wouldn’t allow that to happen unless I cut at least that one leg down. I have the tools, but…..

I wanted the platform of the bed to be that high so I could store things beneath it. As you can see the Coleman Instant Tent and the folding table fit easily beneath the bed.

But I’m most likely going to keep the table in the storage box

That will live in the aluminum trailer hitch cargo carrier…
The carrier was delivered to my mail drop earlier today and the box is supposed to be delivered later today. So I should have those things by tomorrow. Saturday morning at the latest.

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Frustration

This starts off with an order not delivered. It could be a  recruitment ad for FedEx. Would go something like this:

“Are you stupid? Dumb as a rock? Unable to think clearly? Then FedEx has a job for you as a delivery driver!”

I ordered some window rain drip guards for the Mitsubishi SUV. The “Track Package” feature said it had been delivered last Sunday and signed for by a BBRIANA. The problem is…my mail drop is CLOSED on Sundays. There’s even a sign in the door that says, “CLOSED.” But instead of the moron saying, well, I guess I’ll come back tomorrow to make sure this gets in the right hands. Let me write this down…”Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.” How effin’ difficult is that? But NOOOOOO. “Oh, look, there’s a complete stranger walking down the sidewalk. Hey, you! Yes, you, will you sign for this package so I don’t have to make a trip back here tomorrow?”

I contacted FedEx and talked to a curry-scented customer service rep who hasn’t succumbed to the Covid epidemic ravaging India. Got sort of a shoulder shrug, “We’ll investigate,” comment. Also contacted the vendor and told them what had happened via email and asked how they intended on making this good for me. We’ll see.

If you go back about three or four posts you’ll see a Bob Wells video of how to use PVC pipe to make a metal bed frame even in the uneven floor of a minivan or SUV, I thought it was a great idea considering how the wheel wells in my Mitsubishi intrude on the space available and up towards the seats the floor drops down several inches from back by the wheels. 

Monday I went out to Home Depot and bought five precut pieces of 2″ PVC. Why five when there are six legs? Because I was thinking I’d leave the middle on off of the outboard side nd use it anchored on top of the wheel hump. Then adjust the other legs as needed. 

Well, of course when I picked the frame up yesterday, Tuesday, from the mail drop I discovered a couple of discouraging things. First, the legs are just a bit too big to slip into the diameter of a 2″ piece of PVC. And the joint that holds the two parts of the side frame together also include THAT leg and I’d have to cut it off in order to lay that part of the frame on the wheel hump. Fortunately the frame will sit, JUST, between the wheel humps. Not my ideal, but compromises must be accommodated.

HD has always been good about taking returns so I got a store credit and went and bought some 3″ PVC. Man is this ever going to look UghLEEE! C’est la vie, right? Back in the swamp I unwrapped all the bed parts and actually read the instructions which, though translated from Chinese, are primarily drawings. All the parts are numbered with little stickers corresponding to the drawings. I wanted to get as much done before it got too sweltering hot. The two side pieces went together like a snap. Then, as I was starting on the end pieces I looks at the legs. They’re like square metal channel. And what’s this? at the bottom of each leg is a rubber cap that detaches easily. Hmmmm. I wonder? YES! A piece of 2″ PVC will easily fit INSIDE the leg so it should work just as well as putting the legs inside the PVC. Right? So tomorrow it’s back to Home Depot to return the 3″ pipes. I got the sides and end pieces assembled, but not joined when I just couldn’t keep going in the 90+F temp and humidity. So I’ll get it done tomorrow.

The arrows point to the parts I’ve assembled. Just need to join it all together, put in the slats, get the legs situated so everything’s level and I’ll be good to go.

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Progress…of sorts…

Got my second Covid-19 shot this morning. Only negative reaction is my upper arm is sore right now.  Like I told the doctor, “It hurts when I do this…” “Well, don’t do it, then.”

I have my issues with this vaccine thing. I wasn’t going to do it. Not because of anything I read in rightwing press, and certainly not on T.V. since I don’t have one of those. It’s just that this stuff was rushed through so fast it’s unreal.  On top of all that the damned virus has mutated at LEAST FOUR TIME ALREADY so how effective is the first stuff going to be in the long run?  Without extensive testing I think there’s a possibility this could be the Thalidomide of the 21st century. Actually, the pharmacist that gave me the shot agreed with me and said he advised his two child-bearing age daughters NOT to get the vaccine. Anyway, societal pressure and all that. It’s done.

Then I dropped by my mail drop and picked up the tent, the table and the bed frame. Table is neat. Went together like a charm. Didn’t unbox the tent. will do that when more of the interior of the SUV is set up. I unboxed the bed frame. It’s remarkably well labeled and the instructions, despite some problems translating from Chinese to English, it seems that it won’t be hard to put together. I didn’t do it this afternoon for a couple of reasons. First it was over 90F even when I relocated to the shade of the sabal palms and bamboo that infest this part of the swamp. Then, the 1-1/2″ PVC  pipe I bought to adjust the legs (see the video a couple of posts back) wasn’t right. I need to go back to Home Depot in the morning and probably get 3″. I’ll bring one of the legs inside with me to check the fit. Couldn’t do that yesterday, of course. Oh, well. C’est la fuckin’ vie as we used to say over in Antibes.

The cargo carrier, cargo box, and window rain guards are due in Thursday. The Bluetti solar charger is scheduled for delivery next Wednesday.

Stay tuned.

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Lesser Evil

I didn’t say the “Lesser of two evils” because there are certainly more than two evils lurking out there. 

I use two of the most hated retailers in the United States: Walmart and Amazon. Yes, I sometimes feel guilty about it but that’s life, right? I absolutely detest giving a penny to Sam Walton’s kids, but with some things there’s just no getting around it. When is was anchored off of Anna Maria Island, Florida,  I got the meds that keep my blood pressure in check and lessen the severity of my COPD from CVS. Since finding out that that enterprise has contributed heavily to conservative Republikunts I have issues with them, too. I used CVS because it was a bit less expensive than Walgreen’s  and, conveniently, it was right on the island’s free trolley service. The Wally World pharmacy over there was in Bradenton, on the mainland, an area I always referred to as “The Dark Side.” To visit there was a three hour exercise in bus rides and patience.

When I traded in pelicans and dolphins off the island for manatees and alligators deep in the swamp in DeBary off the Saint Johns River, I switched the prescriptions over to Wally World. They have a pharmacy only a couple of miles away once I slog through 3 miles of dirt road and hit pavement. CVS is a lot further away. Plus, if you’ve been following me recently you know that I’m planning a mega road trip soon. I plan on heading up to New York state to rent a boat for a few hours on Lake Ontario and then head over to Minnesota and do the same thing on Lake Superior. Then I can claim to have been boating on all five of the Great Lakes. ( I did the lengths of Michigan, Huron and Erie back in 1974 when I took a boat from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale, but that’s another story). 

When I’ve done the boat thing I plan on traveling down US Rte. 61 from Wyoming, Minn. to New Orleans, stopping off in Canton, Missouri, where I went to college. I spent two years living with 61 rolling right past my front door.

Later on in life I used to wait for the streetcar on Baronne Street near Canal in New Orleans and look at a stone cenotaph marking the southern terminus of Highway 61.

The thing about using the Wally World pharmacy is THEY’RE EVERYWHERE. When running low on my meds I’ll be able to find one more easily than trying to do the same thing with CVS.

The other loathsome enterprise I use, and I use it a LOT, is Amazon.com. Their prices are nearly always the lowest, and instead of running around to a half-dozen retailers that don’t have what I want anyway, with just a few clicks of the trackpad on my notebook computer I’m able to find what I want/need and have it delivered within days. In fitting out for this proposed expedition I’ve purchased a tent,

a folding camp table,

a Bluetti solar generator,

a bed frame,

and just today I ordered an aluminum trailer hitch cargo carrier…

And a lockable cargo container to put in the carrier. It will hold things like a folding chair that I may purchase at Wally World, my single-burner stove and 11 lb. propane tank, kitchen utensils, etc.

These things are scheduled for delivery this Thursday. By the end of the weekend I should have the stuff together and ready to hit the road.

One of the reasons I don’t particularly mind using Amazon is that the Great Orange Wart, Donald Trump, DETESTS Jeff Bezos and the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

I plan on making my departure soon after the 4th of July. I have to be here for the 18th of June to meet with my new physician and then I’ll wait out the roadside carnage festival that a long three-day holiday weekend creates. When I was touring around on my boat I used to drop anchor Friday evenings and not get moving again until the weekend was over.

Stay tuned…More to come.

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Working Out…

No, not THAT kind of working out, sillies! My idea for converting the Mitsubishi Montero Sport for camping and land cruising seems to be working out.. 

When I went to pick the SUV up in Ft. Lauderdale I told my friend Stef that I might just “throw my tri-fold mattress and the fridge in the back and take a trip this summer.” Well, it’s not that simple. Got stuff to lug around like a tent because some parks and the like won’t let you sleep in your vehicle. A table. A chair. Canvas for a shade awning. Tools, computers, solar generator, etc. How do you fit it all in?

Well, I started by taking the the back seat out opening up all that room. The seat folded down, but not completely flat, so out it goes. I had a problem with getting the tailgate open which I detailed and had to tear off the covering to get at the latching mechanism. That could be a blessing in disguise. Without it on I can open the gate from inside the van which you normally can’t do. Instead of putting the covering back on I might just cover it with some kind of fabric. I don’t know. That probably won’t happen and I’ll just leave the guts exposed. I just don’t get hung up on esthetics. 

I spent hours poring over online images of how people had tricked out their vehicles. It was hard to find any specifically about the Mitsubishi Montero Sport. Recently I discovered that the Aussies have the same vehicle. They call theirs the “Pajero.” Having lived in Panama for eight years and speaking Spanish I pronounce that as Pah-HAIR-oh. Down under the Crocodile Dundee wannabes call it a Pah-JAY-row. Now I could see how others did it even if they put the steering wheel on the wrong side. 

What so many of the buildouts have in common is they take up the whole width of the vehicle.

IMG_20150712_164809-1280x960

While this provides plenty of storage below to stash things like the folded up tent, folding table, etc. I want an aisle on one side for things like drawer cabinets, water jugs, fridge. Can’t really do it with something like this.

164744051_10224512344698246_5815932128994801417_n

I have an electric saw and drill and the basic skills to build this, but have you seen the price of a piece of 3/4-inch plywood lately? The cheapest 4X8 sheet at Home Depot today is going for $54.68. And, the last time I looked that stuff is real crap. A lousy whitewood 2X4X8 is going for $8.24 and even a 2X2X8 will set you back $4.48 for crying out loud!

A lot of people have gone for what they call a “No Build” solution. They do this mainly because they use the vehicle for other things besides camping and need to be able to take things in and out of the vehicle so they can use the seats they’ve left intact. 

Even with my seats gone the biggest problem with the Montero Sport are the intrusive wheel humps. This is not mine, but exactly the same. 

wheels

I thought about using milk crates as a base for a mattress platform. Sort of like this…

 

The crates, sold by Home Depot and Lowes, are higher than that stupid wheel hump on the passenger side, but then I’d need to figure out how to even it all out.

My brother Mark sent me a link to a video I’d seen previously and had bookmarked for future reference and seems like just the solution I need. You don’t need to watch the whole thing, but at least the first 8 minutes to give you the idea of what I’m thinking about.

https://youtu.be/25VBk8AOqRQ

Now, if I take the middle, outboard leg off I can lay the frame on top of the hump and even everything out with the PVC pipes. That gives me plenty of room to store stuff beneath the bed and leaves almost a foot and a half aisle on the driver’s side to put things in. (“In which to put things” for you grammatically pedantic jerks <actually me much of the time>)

To that end I ordered this bed frame from Amazon last night. It has exactly the measurements required.

bed At the same time I also ordered this table which my brother recommended from his own personal experiences in car camping…

 

 

Regardless of the stowage available under the bed I think I’m going to have to add a trailer hitch cargo carrier.

cargo

I’ll fit it out with a large Rubbermaid-type container with a lock. In here I’d keep things like my stove, 11 lb. propane tank, tarps, that sort of thing. 

 

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Gearing Up…

One good thing about having lived on a small sailboat at anchor for the last four years is that when I finally move over to the SUV there’s a lot of gear that will easily make the transition. But there are some things I’m just going to have to buy from scratch. I’m waiting for the Coleman 6-person Instant Instant Tent to be delivered. Traveling around there are a lot of campgrounds that have rules against sleeping in your vehicle. So a tent is necessary. I could have gone with a smaller tent, but I like the idea of being able to stand up. My youngest brother, Mark, used to do a lot of backpacking but in recent years, as he closes in on his dotage, has taken up car camping and he recommended this tent. He has one himself. Looking at videos of the tent and setting it up I figure even with my COPD I can set it up with little effort. Some other advantages are that if I run into a couple of days of inclement weather, a distinct possibility, it will be more comfortable being in a tent this size than being cooped up in an SUV. It’s also a place where one can poop in private if there’s no nearby facility available.

I need to buy a table. Mark pointed out one he got on Amazon that collapses easily for storage. Also need a folding chair.

I already have a lot of things…A propane stove. I recently bought a smaller 11 lb. tank with an eye on space requirements. Have been looking at a smaller water jug than the 5 gal. size I have on board. You can buy smaller 2.5 gal. jugs on Amazon but they’re $25. Yesterday at Wally World when I went to get my meds I saw at their water vending unit small 2.5 gal. jugs. Will buy one of those the next time I go out. I have a rechargeable pump that can be used as well as a still in the box manual pump as a backup.

I’ve been sleeping on a very comfortable 4″ Memory Foam tri-fold mattress for a couple of years now. That’s coming with, of course. It’s width will also be the determining factor in the construction of the bed.

My Enya polycarbonate ukulele will be riding along

as well as my computers, iPad, and cell phone with its mobile hotspot. Needless to say my 12-volt mini fridge will find a place to live in the van.

While nearly everything I have runs off of batteries…2 notebook computers, an iPad, a semi-literate phone, and my interior lighting comes from a pair of Luci Lights though I only use one at a time. My mini fridge operates off of 110-volt AC or 12 volt DC. I have a car-type socket directly wired to the 150-watt battery bank that runs the unit. The power supply for everything comes from cigarette lighter-type sockets. I also have a 2000 watt AC/DC inverter to run the couple of power tools (corded drill and jig saw) that I use occasionally.

You don’t have to delve very far into Facebook van camping sites before you find someone extoling the virtues of their Jackery power station. Usually the 500 watt-hour version.

Occasionally the more powerful 1000 hour model. My first reaction, months ago, was yadda, yadda, yadda. I wasn’t interested. The price really threw me off. The 1000 cost nearly a grand and the 500, like the big brother, was about a buck a watt. Besides that, I have been living exclusively on solar power on my boat for the past three years. And realize that when I say “living on my boat, I mean just that. I haven’t slept on land now in nearly five years! I figured that rather than shelling out that kind of cash I’d simply take my two deep cycle batteries off the boat along with my 160-watt Renogy monocrystalline flexible panel and solar charger, leaving the 100- and 50-watt rigid panels secreted inside the boat when I’m off journeying. To that end I even ordered a $20 battery isolator so I could have a starting battery bank and a “house bank.”

Jackery’s biggest rival is a company called Bluetti. They make units the same size as Jackery…500 watt, 1000 watt, but they also make one that’s in between. A 750 watt unit. It had different battery technology…Lithium Ferric Phosphate by which it’s capable of 2,500 charging cycles versus the Jackery 500s 500 cycles. Also, the price for each unit is nearly the same which makes the Bluetti the winner in my mind.

So, thinking about the hassle of setting up and installing the panels, the controllers, the outlets, etc., and looking at my bank account, I went ahead and ordered the Bluetti.  It will take about a week to ten days for delivery, but that’s quite all right. I don’t need it right now.

The next big deal is to do the build out of the SUV. I’ve spent hours poring over photos online of what I think are good designs. I’ve also spent time just looking at the space and trying to visualize how things need to go together. Today I noticed that the two intrusive wheel well covers are not mirror images of each other.

The idea burbling in my head says I’ll just make the bed wide enough to accept the mattress and leave the side behind the driver’s seat to the tailgate open to accept storage. More stuff to mull over.

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