Help along the way.

I can’t say enough good things about Airtable —->

This tool is halfway between a spreadsheet and a database and is the most user friendly software i think I have ever used. It allows non-technical users to create banks of data that is useful for them. It also allows techy type people to add interfaces, scripting and extensions that integrate with anything.

I built a database for this trip that includes everything I need – campgrounds, routes, camper inventory, appointments, gas expenses, the whole 9 yards and then does a nice job of summarizing things with not a lot of effort on the part of the user. Probably my #1 online favorite tool.

Another tool I’ve been using is ChatGPT by Open AI. It’s become invaluable by helping me arrange travel, come up with reasonable routes given my timeframe, making camping reservations and keeping me out of the cold weather (well, mostly). Check out a tidbit of a ongoing conversation I’m having with the tool. It’s helped me immensely.

Not only has it helped me with routing and reservations, it has generated all of the state images you see on the right side. These are original images that I created using ChatGPT and the Dall-e plugin. I keep the requests in the same chat window and everytime I request a state, a new image is created using the same style as the others.

Day 8: Catch-Up

Is it only day 8? It honestly seems like a month at this point. After yesterday dragged on for an eternity, my sense of time has been completely shattered. I’ll get you all caught up (since my last post disappeared mysteriously, I must have forgotten to click save).

Day 1: I left at 2am after getting the water link/sink fixed in the bathroom. I wasn’t too worried about leaving at night, I thought it might make the traffic situation a bit better. It did. I made it to nearly the border of Iowa/Missouri where I stopped at a rest stop off of I 35 and slept for the night.

Day 2: I headed towards my first destination, Bolivar, MO just north of Springfield. I stopped in Sweet Springs because they had a spa and soaked in the hot tub for a few hours – my muscles were so tensed up from driving – I must say that it’s nerve-wracking pulling a trailer for the first time. The spa was super relaxing and afterwards felt ready to tackle the road.

Somehow I lost track of where I was going when the phone died. I kept going in the general direction but when the phone finally came back up, it had me zig zagging on very narrow country roads which pretty much nullified the good the spa did. This also made me late and I didn’t arrive at the campsite until 8pm. So not only will this be the first time I’ve setup the camper, it will have to get done in the dark.

I drove around the campground for a good 1/2 hour looking for my spot. Could not find it for the life of me and finally called Teresa, the campground manager for help. She directed me to my spot, which was in between two already landed campers in a row of very tightly packed sites.

I set up the camper as best I could and went to bed.

Day 3: I worked until 5 and then had to reset up the camper. It was crooked, to close to one neighbor and backwards (connections for water/electricity/sewer were on the wrong side. With Chris’ help over the phone, I got it all setup except for the sewer which didn’t look right. More on that later.

Went to Springfield that night to get away for a moment and have a drink. Found a cool little bar that was having Karoke. Bartender was super friendly and made a good Long Island Ice Tea.

Day 4: Worked and continued to clean up the camper which was a total wreck. I had hit some bumps on those country roads and everything in the camper had been thrown around and the little glass I had was broken. My makeshift shelving in the bathroom had fallen over and there were clothes covering every inch of the bathroom. This cleanup effort would last until the end of the week, just in time for me to have to pack up and leave again.

Went to a local hardware store in search of a sewer hose part that I seemed to be missing. Finally found it, but by the time I got back to the campsite, it was too dark to deal with it.

Day 5: Finally got the sewer hooked up, but not without a bit of drama. I had purchased this cool attachment that has a place to put a hose so that you can easily rinse out your black water tank (the poop and the pee) without having to bring a hose in and stick it down the toilet. It hooks on the the sewer outlet and the hose hooks on the other end. Pretty slick. Thought I was super smart for hooking it up right away instead of waiting until the end when the job would most surely be really shitty. So I hooked up the new hose with the coorect end to the rinser attachment and opened the dam gates. Here comes a flood of really not very attractive brown color water gushing out (the attachment tube is clear) and then it abruptly stops. Like nothing is flowing past the rinser attachment.

I search for a valve or something and nothing. I did note a little piece of plastic on either side of the attachment and came to the conclusion that it had a seal on it like you would find on peanut butter or salad dresssing. I mean, really? Are they afraid my poop might becoming tainted? Shessh. Now I have a problem. I shut the dam gate so there was no more flow but I still had this tube of shit full and ready to well, you get the picture. So again, Im stuck. I’m not unattching the tube without rubber gloves or a bucket. And I have neither. So its off again to the hardware store (the next day) to get the needed supplies.

Day 6: Ok, this time the sewer gets connected and it runs. i held the bucket underneath the tube (with the rubber gloves) and unattached it from the hose. Next I pulled off the plastic tamper-proof seal (god it made me feel good to know my shit tube was safe) and………

……. it all went in the bucket. No more drama to this story, thank goodness. And i finally got the sewer hooked up the day before I leave.

I spend the rest of the night buckling up the camper.

Day 7: Time to pack up and go. The neighbor sees me struggling to hook up the truck and comes over to help. Nice guy. He and his wife bought a camper for $5000 and moved in to it and then realized it was all rotted out. So he’s got tools and saws and wood all over his spot and is trying to make all of the necessary repairs. Meanwhile, they have two teenagers who were just removed from their dad’s home (they are the wife’s) and are now living with them in the camper. 4 adults, one small camper. I don’t feel so crowded all of a sudden.

So it’s raining, of course. It’s been raining for two days now. The only thing worse than packing up a camper in the rain is pulling a camper in the rain. It’s miserable. I feel like I’m hydroplaning all over the road and everytime a semi passes me (and everybody is passing me because now I’m that dude driving 50 in a 70mph zone.

I stop several times to catch my breath and throw up a little and it’s starting to get dark and I’m in a town called Poplar Bluff. I’m cold, wet, tired and grumpy and decide to splurge on a hotel with a hot tub. It was nice but the hot tub was lukewarm, half-full and there were like 4 jets. Whatevs.

Day 8: Most definitely the worst day so far. This day sucked so bad…….

As I left the hotel parking lot I hit the curb with the camper wheel and I’m sure threw stuff around. The rain continued and was pretty heavy at times. I traveled through Missouri and into Illinois and then into Kentucky. I didn’t get very far when I decided to stop at a gas station for a little break in Paducah, Kentucky I went in, and when I came back out I noticed the camper was leaning heavily to the left. The tire was blown! Aargh. I start making phone calls.

On my first call to AAA, the agent informed me that I didn’t have an RV membership. I pulled out my RV Membership form and called back. The second agent told me my membership had been cancelled. As I was on the phone with him, another call came in and it was a third agent informing me that she had it all worked out and was looking for a tow truck that could haul a single axle camper.

While I was waiting, I called around and found a tire at wal-mart about 6 miles away but I needed to get the wheel off and had no jack. So I drove to wal-mart, bought a jack and some jack stands and went back to the camper. Got the wheel off and rushed off to Wal-mart to get the tire put on and when I got there, they didn’t have a tire. Nor did they have a wheel with a tire that would fit my camper. Aargh.

I left and stopped at Tractor Supply and they had a wheel with a tire on it (I needed a spare anyway). Rushed back to the camper and with the help of a very nice man named Mike was able to get the new tire on the camper.

Kentucky gets 5 stars for friendliness. I was very impressed with the people there.

Back on the road and headed towards Nashville around 8pm. I got close to the campground but was worried about getting in too late and dealing with setup in the dark again so I stopped at a rest area and slept for the night.

Day 9: Got into the campground at 7 am and was setup by 7:55. Made it to work with 5 minutes to spare.

Non-eventful day. Went to dinner after work at a nice place after work since I hadn’t eaten a square meal in a couple of days. When I got back to the campground, I had a voicemail from the manager that we were going to be freezing over the next three nights and to disconnect my water supply at night so the faucet wouldn’t burst. I’m supposed to far enough south to avoid the freeze at this time! Aargh.

Day 0

I have a f****^%#%^*ing water leak. I cut my finger and was looking for a bandaid and noticed it was a bit damn under the sink. A little more research revealed a drip from the cold water feed. With a little help from Chris, we are repaired but am not a fan of last minute drama. And it was a mess to clean up. I finally got to bed at 4 am. Was having some doubts but Chris reminded me of the snow coming and that totally energized me to get the f out of dodge

I’m Getting Close to Liftoff

I took the week off of work to prepare for this strange adventure and to help my brother clean up some things on the farm. I spent the week cleaning, organizing, going to the dump, going to Goodwill and endlessly rearranging the camper. I know I’ve packed too many things, but when I think about what is now gone, I’m not being too hard on myself – I got rid of a lot. Like (30) 30 gallon garbage bags of clothes. Countless electronics, knic knacs, stuff that belonged to my parents, my grandparents and my great-grandparents.

Even though I got rid of a lot, there were certain things I felt I needed to purchase in order to make this a successful trip. Here’s a list of things that I believe will make this transition easier.

monitor mount

Monitor Mounts for the monitors I’ll be using for work. I found these to be very reasonably priced and very sturdy. They are an easy mount and the monitors fit flat against the mounted wall yet pull way out when I want to use them. They tilt, turn, twist and rotate just about any way that you could think to adjust a monitor and they stay put when you want them. Great buy.

Also in the technology mounting category, I bought a Microphone Mount and a Base so that could be easily adjusted and out of the way. It works quite well. And of course, we can’t forget the camera, so I bought a mount for that too.

camera mount

They say that travel trailers aren’t really meant for full time living and one should worry about excess condensation which can cause mold. Something I’d never considered but a micro dehumidifier should solve that problem. Seems to be working great in my driveway testing.

Something to help me get rid of flies in rainbow colors.

Ice maker

Because I love my ice maker so much, I had to have one in the camper. I’ve been testing it out for the past few weeks and it make nice thick cubes quickly. Not a lot of noise and easy to use. I get mesmerized by it – watching the water turn into ice is for some strange reason highly interesting to me. I know. I’m weird.

I ended up completely remodeling the dinette – taking the table and cutting it in half to make an L-shaped desk. I, of course needed a keyboard tray so this is the one that I got. Sturdy yet affordable. Very happy so far.

keyboard tray

I know, I know, pictures. I’ll take pictures very soon. I just want the rig to be in as finished of a state as possible before presenting to the world.

Cruisin’ the States: Camper Chronicles

Welcome to my adventure! This blog will document my travel over the next little bit of time around the US as I explore places to find a permanent home. I hope to hit a lot of cool places, meet some new friends and connect with some current friends. Many of you have asked that I share regular updates about my travels and so I thought I would do it here. But first, let’s explore the backstory of how I got here in the first place.

About 5 years ago, I moved back to the family farm in Iowa to take care of my aging parents and the farm that has been in my family for over 130 years. After my parents died, I remained on the farm to help keep the family’s legacy alive. I had previously lived in San Francisco for most of my adult life, and although I love the peace and serenity of living on the farm, the lack of social opportunities, food options and activities started to take a toll on me. That coupled with all of the work that is required on a farm pretty much turned me into a hermit, rarely leaving the place for anything other than occasional shopping trips to nearby towns.

My brother came to me one day in the not very distant past and was complaining about a situation at his job that he didn’t feel was fair. It just so happened that the equivalent of his job opened up in the town where I live and he applied for it. He got it, but was unsure where he was going to live. He had a home in Iowa Falls but that was too far to drive on a daily basis. The stars had aligned and I told him he should move back to the farm and I could find somewhere else to live. He liked the idea and three weeks later was here living in our AirBNB rental. I started going through all of my things but couldn’t figure out a place I wanted to move. I knew that I wanted to be near a bigger city, but didn’t have an idea about where to go. As I brought up my head from contemplative thought, I eyed the camper and an idea was born.

Next came the process of going through and whittling down my belongings, getting rid of things and packing some stuff away in the attic. That process has taken two months but I’m nearing the end. My brother moved into the big house two days ago and I’ve been living in my camper and working here for about two weeks.

So now you’re caught up. I’m currently going through all of the crap I’ve packed in the camper and whittling it down further – I had converted the shower into a closet but have since decided not to bring so many clothes. I’m going to have to learn to do laundry more often.

I’m also considering re-configuring my desk once again. The camper had a dinnette with two bench seats and a table that I tore out and re-configured. It’s nice, but I’m thinking I don’t need so much table and am considering cutting the table in half and making an L shaped corner desk so I could fit another chair in here. Pictures will be forthcoming.

Anyway, hope you enjoy reading about my journey, leave a comment here and there so I know who’s out there!