Add a Little Here and There

Good day all! Here we are again. I can’t wait to tell you just what we have been up to. Let’s jump right in…..

The trailer we are going to use as a car hauler is well under way to being converted. It is still in the “OMG! What have we gotten ourselves into?!” stage, but well under way. The teardown actually proffered some valuable parts that we can use as well. It was well worth the effort of tearing her apart.

I know I didn’t mention before, but the actual frame itself is from an old pull behind RV. The roof had been severely damaged so there was a large hole dead center. That caused the A/C to fall through and left the entire interior exposed to the elements. In Louisiana you might guess that means a ton of rain. You would be correct. Thus, the deconstruction was inevitable.

We have plans to convert this trailer to a car hauler with a small utility room on the front, as I shared previously. Before we could do that we had to strip her down to the actual frame. We will have to sand blast and repaint the rusty areas before rebuilding but look at what we found. We were able to salvage all but 2 of the original windows, the door and the screen, and most of the hatch covers. We also saved the refrigerator, A/C, shower stall, fresh water tank with pump intact, microwave, and stove. Not too mention all of the trailer lights and small whatchado’s attached here and there.

So, the plans go as follows;

  • Attach a steel deck to the frame once it has been sandblasted, primed, and painted
  • Frame out a small utility room on the front 8-12′ of the trailer. (We have to determine what is left after we measure out for the car and a winch.)
  • Enclose the utility room with aluminum siding and roofing. The roofing will have a slight curve to match the Bluebird.)
  • Insulate the entire room, wire for electrical, and plumb (this is where it is getting my heart pumping.)
  • Set out floor plan for interior and get started installing.

So what are we using the utility shed for? I will tell you. We are moving our solar array to the sides and top of the room. I found these fabulous flexible solar panels through Amazon and they will fit the curve of the roof. If we place them with a slight gap so air is allowed to pass through we will be able to triple our solar array. We are also going to use the two 100w panels we currently have to the side and mount them on a platform that can be angled out for optimum southern exposure. Not only will this give us more control over the amount of energy they generate, it will also allow us to use them as an awning of sorts to prevent the sun from hitting the shed area full force. The platform will also fold flat against the side of the room for traveling. I am sure everyone understand how much of a difference have 600w vs. 200w will make. I think this is my favorite opportunity yet!

The inside will be amazing as well because it will allow us to have some amenities that we just do not have the ability to add to the skoolie. Not only are we placing our solar array out back, but we are moving our batteries, charge controller, and inverter out there as well. The convenience of having all of these components in one location will be an immense improvement as the batteries are currently stored under our bed and the inverter takes up an entire kitchen cabinet. No more additional heat coming up through the platform of our bed! Plus one additional kitchen cabinet for storage!! Amazing.

This also allows us the opportunity to add more batteries. The batteries we currently use are the largest deep cycle marine batteries that were available to us as non-commercial purchases. We bought them through NAPA and they have 440 Ah of storage each. We purchased these particular batteries because we originally used them in a wet area in both our off-grid cabin and our houseboat. Because we would like to use some appliances off of our grid, we would like to have more storage available. We would prefer to use the free electricity over burning any fossil fuels. Plus, the ecological footprint we leave will be far less intrusive when we boondock in natural forests, beside lakes, etc. I am sure you are seeing the bigger picture.

Jim is looking forward to his favorite addition out back as well. He is stoked that we will be able to install a shower with running hot water inside. He really prefers that option to the outside solar shower we currently have. Building this shower ourselves allows us to make it a bit more on the generous size than a typical RV shower. It also gives us the chance to place a tub as the base, not just a shower pan. I am a soaker so that is right up my favorites pole. Instead of a high pressure shower head, we are planning to use a custom (made ourselves) shower head. With a little bit of copper tubing we can create our own rain pattern shower head that will be low pressure, relaxing, and soothing. We are going to use an on-demand water heater for this and. after a ton of research, it will be propane. We did this same heater on our houseboat and I will never use another form of heating water again.

The third item we can place in this storage room will be an additional refrigerator/freezer unit. I shop for the main grocery stock only once a month and I really want to be able to continue to do that on the road. Our current refrigerator is around 7 cf. That has been serving us rather well for shopping a couple of times a month with the exception of meat. The freezer is tiny and I really need a bit more storage in that area. With this extra space I can actually get that. By freeing up an additional kitchen cabinet by moving the inverter, I can move the items currently stored in the small cabinet over the refrigerator. Once that has been done we will be able to remove that cabinet and place a larger 9.2 cf refrigerator in that space. Then the current refrigerator can actually be moved to the new space on the trailer. I will more than double both refrigerator and freezer space, allowing me to stock enough groceries for the month. Yep! My second favorite upgrade.

Now there is another improvement that will make Treasure, our grey tabby, very happy. Our current “closet” is adequate for our needs but it is a bit short when it comes to the hanging wardrobe area. All of our shirts, dresses, and slacks come out of the closet a bit wrinkled and I definitely hate ironing. Our intention is to move that portion of our wardrobe to a taller closet in the storage area. As we will be showering out there, it makes sense to have the bulk of our wardrobe there as well. That gives us the opportunity to convert that current cubby into two spaces. The first will be a deep shelf where things like books, our printer, and office type supplies can be housed. The second, a nice little nook for Treasures bed, litter box, and food can be stored. Two of the most unsightly areas of any full time RV home on the road can now be hidden away. Much easier for the neat and tidy atmosphere needed to successfully live in a tiny space.

Believe it or not, this still allows for some additional storage spaces both in the bus and on the car hauler. We have to wait until we have it all laid out with the list above before we can determine what will be going where. We were able to purge a great deal before moving into the Bluebird so we have already maximized the current space. We want to keep everything to a minimum now, so it may be that most of the extra space stays just that, extra space. It will be interesting to see where we go with that. Hang around and help us figure this out! We always love the input from those of you with a bit more experience than we have.

By the way, don’t forget to check out our Patreon page. Once we determine if we will use 8′ or 12′ I will post a floor plan of the space there. Plus, you can always connect with us on our other forms of social media. We are MyBlueJeanLife on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Until then, we look forward to seeing you out there, on the byways.

Jim and Kam

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Decisions Decision, Decisions

Yup! Decisions! We have a bunch of them that we need to make and each one of them has different weights that we need to consider. All of this comes from our past 2 months of living in the Skoolie. Some are changes to the layout that are purely based on making life a little more comfortable when parked at a base camp. Others are in regards to our TOAD. Still others concern both aspects. I should stress that not one of them is necessary to maintain a comfortable life while traveling. We are currently set up perfectly fine for that. These are simply preferential alterations.

The first thing we are looking at is how we will transport our 2016 BMW X1 28i. When we began planning our travels we had planned to drive the Beemer because we actually get about 40 mpg and we have an extended warranty which is bumper to bumper coverage with unlimited miles. We also have run flat tires that are covered in full under a separate warranty. These vehicles are not designed to be flat or dolly towed and, to be quite honest, driving it as the lead vehicle would provide a navigator that could also act as an escort through heavy traffic. Not to mention the additional advance notice of turns, construction, accidents and other obstacles which might otherwise require fast braking by a very heavy vehicle relying on air brakes.

However, there are a lot of negative factors involved in the plan above. For instance, there are a lot of miles that we would be adding to the car and that would require additional oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid and pad, and other system maintenance. Plus, tires that simply wear out are not covered by the warranty and they are a sweet $300 +/- each to replace. Of course, there is the additional risk of accident which would put it out of commission during repair time. Besides, even though we are planning to travel 200 miles or less per move, we would still be traveling in separate vehicles. I know, I know; Awww!!

That being said, Daniel is to the rescue again. He happens to have the perfect trailer for conversion to a car hauler sitting, unused, right outside of his house. With a little bit of elbow grease, and a lot less money, we can create the perfect trailer which will tote our car and give us room for a small enclosed space at the front for some other conveniences that the bus is missing. So, the decision has been made and we will be towing our car. I am stoked. This is going to be a great addition to our little caravan and, from what we understand, because the drag of the bus is already there this trailer will not really affect our gas mileage much at all. Sounds like we will actually be saving some gas money as well and who doesn’t love to save money?!

I am sure as I am alive that there will be some adjustments to our plans as we continue along this new path. The first being the amount of time we will be spending here in construction mode before hitting the open road. As much as I hate the sound of that (not because of the company) it is for the betterment of our future excursions. In some of our future posts I will be sharing the project plans, the progress, and how much the changes will affect our plans now and further down the road. If you have questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to shoot us a line.

This alteration to plans will also change the way some of the bus space is set up. That is another exciting advent and, aside from the work involved, I am super excited about the options here. I will share a lot of before and after photos along the way so stay with us and let us know if you have any cool ideas of your own for personalizing a space like this. We absolutely love to hear from all of you about the different little tips, tricks, and gadgets that make life more convenient while keeping it minimal. We are a long way from knowing everything so we are open to advice from all of your varied experiences.

Don’t forget to check us out on Patreon. Now that we are creating again we will be sharing detailed plans and product information with our Patrons on our page there. If you prefer social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc., just look for us. We are always MyBlueJeanLife so search us out and keep us updated.

Until then, we will see you on the byways. God Bless!

Jim and Kam

Living or Life

No big secret! I am pushing the 60 year mark. I have never really been one to reflect on age too much so it didn’t just creep up, it hit me smack dab in the face. I think the catalyst was losing my mother-in-law and having my Dad go into Hospice. This following not too far behind the loss of my two life long best friends and 3 close family members that I also grew up with. It made me realize that I am at the time of my life where I am going to be experiencing frequent, high impact changes because those who I have known forever are leaving. That being said, I started thinking about what life looks like for my husband and I. It also got me motivated to get moving again. Soooo, let’s do this………

We have a contract on the house! Yes!! That means that our budget has changed so we will share that with you in a post sometime over the next month, before we hit the actual blacktop. As for now, we are at my husband’s best friends home in Louisiana. This is where we are making our home base for all the pertinents while we are on the trail. We will be here for the remainder of July and, depending on our closing date, possibly for a week or two into August. As a side note, I should mention that this was a planned pre-trip lay-over from the start. We have a few solar related projects that we were not able to accomplish ourselves since we don’t know how to weld. Lucky for us, Daniel is very handy in the welding department and is generous enough to offer his assistance in this area.

The plan, from here, is quite simple; Live. We found that most of the folks we know spend their days working to acquire a bunch of stuff. Very nice stuff to be sure. Then, after they work and shop, they sit at home in the air conditioning or heated home, on the nice sofa, and they turn on their nice television and sit there waiting to die! Not consciously, of course, but still with the same result. Seriously, just stop and look at your life honestly. Look at everyone you know. Make an honest assessment of what is going on in every home in every city and every state in this nation. The majority of us are simply living to die. NO MORE! We are making the choice to live life. Death will just have to do without us for a while.

So, maybe we are crazy! Or are we? Let’s face it. We sold a 5 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 story house and we bought a bus. An old church bus. Granted, the seats are not there any more and it has many of the same accoutrements that you would find in a RV that a lot of people take on vacation. Still, it IS a bus and we ARE planning to live in it. All of the time. You make up your own mind, but we do not feel crazy at all. We actually feel relieved, for lack of a better word. The weight of trying to conform to what life has become has been lifted and we released the fret factor. It just wasn’t the fashion we felt comfortable wearing.

What I would like to do is share why and how we made the decisions we made that brought us to living full time on the road. They are numerous and varied so that will a series of posts to follow. Since we are now beginning this new journey, I am going to begin posting short briefs every 2-3 days from here out. On Sundays I will be posting longer reviews to give an idea of the reality of life out there. If there are any topics, hints, tips, products or other information that you would like to hear about, please feel free to contact us. We would love to help everyone have the life they dream of because that is what God created us for.

Also, as a final note, I would love to invite everyone to check us out on Patreon. We have a page there where we will be adding even more special interest information. We hope to provide our special guests with some unique insights, in depth and honest reviews, and a few small gifts from time to time. We want y’all to be a part of our adventure.

Don’t forget, we are on Facebook and Twitter as well. Those formats give us a better opportunity to communicate directly with everyone out there on the road, as well as at home. We also plan to have a YouTube Vlog station coming soon! We just can’t wait for you to be able to see our adorable pups and our obnoxiously demanding kit. You know how people get about their critters.

In the meantime, we hope you have a fabulous life and we pray God blesses you abundantly. See you on the byways!

Jim and Kam