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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Front Curtain Problem Solved

My original design for holding up the front curtain was a vehicle hanger rack that hangs from side to side and I installed command strip hooks on the pillar to hold it, but I quickly learned that it would not work as the material for the curtain would not slide side to side.  It was also heavy and when I moved the seat forward and back I would hit it knocking it so the hooks fell off.

For my trip I got rid of that idea and went to a light weight budgie cord that attaches to cubical clips on either side pillar.  The cubical clips have two pointed ends that poke through the the headliner without hurting it.  

These plastic clips didn't work either as the plastic clip would fall off the metal pins under any stress to the material.

I finally figured a solution to hold the shock cord up without the plastic clips.  I left the metal pin portion in place in the ceiling and use a spring clip to hold the cord.

I have two pins and two clips to hold the center of the curtain.

I just pull the material across from behind the driver's side and use the clips and pins in the ceiling to hold the cord/material in place.

This is working much better and there will be no damage to the Prius.  I just need to pull out the pins when my trip is over.

Day 16 - Lake City, FL to Cartersville, GA

It was 6:10 when I left camp this am and I was faced with two road closures getting to US90.  CSX (railroad) had closed the closest two crossings from the National Forest to the main road.  They were replacing the grade crossings.  Yesterday I had to find another way to the camp as they started working on them just after heading out yesterday am.  I used my GPS to find an alternate route to I10 bypassing US90.

Once to I10 I then got on I75 north to Atlanta.  The first exit into Georgia was a Flying-J truck stop that I had planned to stop for a shower.  For $12 I get a private shower with sink and toilet.  I hadent had a shower since Wednesday am.  Each day I would wash up and wash my hair at camp, so a shower with running hot water felt good.

There is a dedicated worker who tends the showers that clean them and put out new towels.

When you purchase the shower you are given a number and PIN to use to open the door to the shower room.  You wait to be robo called or are your customer number on the screen telling you which of the 15 showers to go to.  Today I was assigned shower #4.

After my shower & shave I checked out the Flying-J store.  I found a display of baby alligator heads and feet attached to sticks for back scratchers or mounted to leather necklace, I guess to scare woman away.  I figure any woman that would see a guy wearing baby alligator feet around their neck is a real turnoff.

It was time to get back on the road after buying an unsweetened Ice tea to continue my 5 hour drive today.

A couple hours down the road it was time for another stop and a fresh Iced tea at McDonalds and of course podcast downloads.

Back to I75 to Macon and then Atlanta.

Cartersville is off I75 northwest of Atlanta on way to Chattanooga, TN.  It is a good size town with some nice architecture.  One I drove by was a vintage Coke building down town that is now a hospice place.

Cousin Ramona lives here and I will be her and her husband Doug's guest for my stay.  My other cousin Veronica, Ramona's sister also lives in the area and she brought over their mother, my Aunt Pam for a nice visit this pm.

Ramona & Doug have two dogs, Sydney & Princess.  Here Sydney and I are friends.  Those that know me will fine this interesting since I don't usually warm to dogs.  Sydney jped up on the chair with me and put her head on my leg.  She is a lap dog!

I decided to spend tomorrow here after looking at the weather and timing to AZ and CA.  I will head south to Mississippi along I1O Monday.



Friday, January 30, 2015

Day 15 - Last Day at Hog Pen Landing / Battlefield / Fire

The cold front came through this am but we were still warm this am at 52 degrees.

Last day in camp!

I bet by now you will not forget the name Hog Pen Landing.  I won't!

It was a good time meeting up with like minded vandwelling people.  As I am sure you are getting from me is that I enjoyed the visit. 

As usual I got up early and was off to McDonalds in down town Lake City about 10 miles away.  The McDonalds Preacher was there again with one of his followers.  You can learn s lot about scriptures in this McDonalds.

As usual I had my college class to do a couple things with, download podcasts and download apps.  Since I only have a 5 Mb data plan and I am on track to use it all for the month I don't have enough left to watch this weeks Girls, so I set up to watch it on McDonalds WIFI.  I multiplex doing mail and such while watching the show.

Then it was off to play disc golf at the same place as yesterday, but with a bonus.  It was such a good course it was worth a second try.

decided that jogging the course would be a good break from walking it and add a challenge, reduce the time as I had other things to do.  So I tossed the disk from the pad and run to the disc and throw it again and run and continue this to the basket and do it all over again for 9 holes  I've done this before and I get a bit more exercise which is good.

While jogging the 5th fairway I hear someone yell to me.  I turn and it is a worker in the side of the road chipping brush and he throws a disc to me.  Nice throw too.  

A bit dirty but no big dings from hitting things and no name or phone number.  Interesting saying on the bottom too!

The worker found it on the other side of the road that abuts the course.  I added it to my travel collection.  I did throw it a few times on the remaining holes and it threw well.

I stopped at Walmart for some shared items for later at camp on the way to Olustee Battlefield that is on the same Nationsl Forest Land we are camping on.

It's not a big attraction as attractions go, but it was close and I get a bit of southern history.  This battle during the Civil War was to the Confederates a decisive win over the Union.  The battle certainly went to the Confederates, but it is because the Union Forces left after the Battle.  The Union General leaves with his troops and two regiments stayed, one being a Massachusetts Regiment.  These two regiments fought the Confederate army by themselves and did well.  When they noticed their Genrral had left for Jacksonville, they left the battlefield shooting backwards as they walked away.  The Confederates never went after them.  I got all this from the movie they have playing in the building.

They haven't updated to a larger flat screen yet.  People thought my 36 tube TV was small until upgraded this year.

Outside there is a monument to the battle.

The air was filled with smoke and I could see a colum of smoke while coming down the road to the site, so I asked the ranger and he confirmed ti was a controlled burn.  

I drove by where they were burning on way back to camp.

Here is what the controlled burn looked like from the camp.  They have Federal Firefighters controlling it.  They have small 4 wheel drive forestry trucks painted green.

When I got back to camp it had warmed to 62 so I warmed water and washed up.

Then I was off to see Lynn who drives this 1991 Toyota Campervan.  I had talked with her in the am about her rig and she has a problem with the interior door handle had fallen off the side entrance door.  I offered to look at it.  Together we took it apart and I have her a suggestion on a possible fix by drilling a hole, threading the hole and using a screw and washer to hold the handle and piece that broke off together.  Due to the age she couldn't get the exact parts.  If I was at home I would have all the parts to do it.    

I used up some food for dinner as I will be going to the Atlanta area tomorrow to visit my cousins and my aunt there and will not be cooking for a couple days.

I said my goodbyes at the campfire as I will be up early and in the road at 6 something as I have a 5 hour drive.  After the visit to Atlanta, it's time to head back south and then west along the I10 corridor.

Thanks to Cuzzin Dick, Jayne, Jessie, Rita, Lynn, and Gary for their friendship and company during my visit.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rear Platform Problem Solved

In the rear behind the passenger seat is my bed.  That is my orange sleepingbag.  Under it is an elaborate articulating plywood base that uses the Prius rear seat back hinges.  When the forward section is folded down one side sits on the center arm console.  The other side was designed to be supported by a wooden rod with threaded end that screws into the corner.  

The problem is that every time I have to lift the plywood to access the storage underneath I have to unscrew the rod and then red crew it when I set it back down.  This was too much work.

Here is the green thermorest mattress pad under my sleeping bag.

Now a picture with plywood lifted exposing my clothing bags.  The bags are pillow case bags that are waterproof.  These bags conform to the space available.

The change I made was to take out the recessed nut in the plywood that the threaded end of the wooden rod goes into.

This allows me to just lift the plywood to access the area underneath.  When I put it back I just hold the wooden rod as I lower the plywood and insert the rod in the leftover hole, not having to screw it in.  This is much simpler.


Day 14 - Another Day at Hog Pen Landing / Disc Golf / Group Dinner

Tonight's Camp Fire

I woke this am as usual before daybreak and it was cold in the car and I checked the outside temperature and it was 36 and fog from the lake.

After some breakfast I headed out to McDonalds for some high speed internet, podcasts, app updates, and managing my college course.  I love the high speed and iced tea.

The preacher was there again in the same corner as yesterday preaching,  I will call him the "Micky D Preacher".

I had a couple of ideas of some things to do and decided to head west to Live Oak, FL to their 9 hole disc golf course.  This has to be the best maintained, well layed out course I have ever played.  Although small each hole had two tee boxes (red & white) and two baskets (red & white).  The two different colors are for different skill level wit red being the hardest.  They had 2 open field holes and the rest wooded. 

As fort game I only had 3 pars and the rest one or two over.  I hit a number of trees on my drives.

On the way back to Lake City I stopped at Walmart and bought carrots, celery, red wine and some bread for a group dinner that woman here was going to make.

Before I got back to the csmpground I could see a large cloud of smoke north of where I am.  It is a fire that must be large.

Driving to the camp I could also see it off int he distance.  Looks like about 10 miles away.

This is National Forest Land so I don't know if it is s control burn or not.

It had warmed today to 66 so it was now time to wash up as I could do this by warming water with my stove at the picnic table.  It's way to cold in the am.  I have done it Inge car but if I don't have to  I would rather not.  

These flowers are in bloom at my campsite.

Another woman came to the group in her mini Class C campervan.  It is on a Toyota chassis and is smaller than many class c units.  We now have 3 vans, 1 trailer, 1 class A, 1 Car (me).

That is one person per vehicle. 3 woman and 3 men.  

The woman doing the cooking is German and asked me to help her cook the venison for the stew donated by one of the vandwellers.  She made a German dish spatzle which is a noodle but different that egg noodles we are used to.Ƥtzle

I cooked the meat and added the veggies that she cut and it was done and we all ate together.  It was nice.

Lastly, our camp fire. But was warmer tonight so it felt nicer.

Yesterday I planned my next stop.  Saturday I travel to the Atlanta area as I did last year to visit family there. The good news is that it isn't like last year when I haft o plant he visit between two severe ice stoa that Atlanta had.


How to Subscribe to Blog Posts

Thanks to friends back home for reminding me that if you are using a mobile device browser to look at Brent Travels Blog the browser may default to a mobile view in your browser to save data and diwnload time.  

If viewing the blog with a mobile browser you can not see the banner at the top of the full web page browser where you can put in your email in to subscribe to my blog postings.

To get around being able to subscribe usually mobile browser defaults have near the bottom of the web page a link to the full browser view.  Click this and go to the top left of the page and you will see a bar to put your email address in.  You only have to do this once.

The other alternative is to view the blog on a laptop or desktop.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 13 - Leesburg to Lake City, FL

There was frost on the top of the roof at the bathroom at the park before sunrise.  No complaints but it's only going to be in the 50's again today.

I said my goodbyes to Mom and Aunt and told Aunt about dryer vent repair.  While sitting at the kitchen table I noticed a battery clock on the kitchen cabinets.  It is mounted through the cabinet wall.  It needed a battery change but neither of them are tall enough and they should not consider standing on anything other than their own two feet.  I changed the battery and was on my way north to Lake City.

I stopped in Lake City McDonalds and it had the fastest WIFI I have had in one in a long time.  I was downloading podcasts and app updates on both the IPhone and IPad at the same time and there were 5 or 6 others working in their mobile devices too.

The young lady who waited on me told be to have a "Blessed Day".  I then took my seat and the man wearing the white shirt was having a discussion about religion.  It went on for the 30 minutes I was there.  I think he was preaching at McDonalds.  This was a first.

I arrived at the Osceola National Forest's Hog Pen Landing.  Yea, I know it sounds kind of odd but it is a nice looking campsite.

I met up with the Roving Group of Vandwellers Cuz Dick.  To him everyone is called Cuz so I'm Cuz Brent.

I got a spot across from the pit toilets.  I have a picnic table too.

We currently have 3 vans, 1 Class A (motorhome) 1 pickup towing travel trailer, and me and my Prius campervan.

Now for the landing and lake.

I made dinner early as I skipped lunch.  Yesterday I had bought beef strips so I cooked the entire package and used half and put the other half in the fridge for tomorrow.  The beef with salad and pees.  

With dinner done I scavenged wood with others for an evening fire.

I will be here for a few days before heading to my next desination.

Although we have toilets there is no drinking water and no rubbish removal.  Another carry In/out place.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Nights in the Prius

I posted this picture last night and it reminded me that I have had a number of questions and comments about sleeping in the Prius.

I come in the Prius for the night just as it gets dark.  That means before 6:00 pm this time of year, and go to sleep between 9 & 10.  That's 3-4 hours of being up in the Prius.  When it's cold in the car I get under the covers right away and don't deal with the TV.  Here in the desert its warmer and I have a choice to sit in bed and watch TV.  I put the TV on the shelf I have on the back of the seat I made next to the bed as seen to the right in the above picture.

I can also sit in the chair next to the bed facing forward and watch TV having it sit on the back seat table as shown on the picture above.

I would not tell you that sitting in bed is optimum for a 5'11" male to try to sit erect as I can't or I need to rest my head and be partially erect.  

This is the worse part of evenings in the Prius if it's cold.  It's not sleeping that causes me problems as my bed is 6'2" long and I fit nicely, even under the privacy cover that comes with the Prius.

I would rather be warm and be able to use the seat I made and keep bed for when I sleep.

When I was first test sleeping in the Prius at home before I finished my design it was cold and I wondered if the Prius may get to be too small for my travels.

The Prius is small but this not a sleeping problem for me and I don't feel claustrophobic in it.


Day 12 - Lunch, Next Leg, Movie

My home while in Leesburg.  My Prius to the right and to the Left my Aunt's car and far left her mobile home.  To the far right are the neighbors.  I am about 5 feet away from the side with their bedroom.

I am lucky to have the Prius this year as the doors close so quietly.  I just need to lean on them to latch.  Last year with my Class B campervan I had to close the doors much harder.  Last year the neighbors were not home during my stay so that was ok.

I did small things this am like laundry and my aunt took mom and I to lunch at Prrkins.  We had excellent service from waitress.  

After lunch Mom and Aunt went to Bingo in a nearby town.  I had seen the moisture build up in the wash room this am. Seeing the problem a quick look behind the dryer confirmed my thought that the dryer vent had disengaged from the exhaust port.

My aunt had already said she didn't want me to do anything else as she feels she had asked me too many times to fix things since I got here.  But, I could never see aunt at 90 and my mother at 88 fixing it.  There are a lot of elderly woman who's husbands have died before them.  If I stay here too long I may get farmed out. 

It was a trip back to Ace Hardware for stainless screws, caulking, and a new changeable head screwdriver for my aunts tool drawer.  My contribution to the next guy that may need to find a tool that actually works.

Luckily the vent was only disconnected since it was never installed with all the screws.  New screws and caulking on the outside and it was fixed.

On the outside it needed 2 screws and caulking and it was done.

I will tell my aunt what I did as I leave on the next segment of my trip tomorrow.

I took some time to reorganize some things in the car under the fold-down bed.

Here is the space.

It now contains my cook set, cooking tools, cooking supplies an a few other things.  This way when I get one I get all cooking items at once and it is a better utilization of space.  I use medium size soft-sided tool bags from Harbor Freight to keep items as they are better than plastic bins since the can confirm better to the space I have.

After that I went out to Win Dixie for groceries for the next few days.

Since I had a big lunch I only snacked for dinner and with my aunt and mother being out to 10:00 pm at bingo I decided to go to the movies and see American Sniper.  This is a good movie but I don't feel it is for everyone.  There is a lot of graphic warfare and emotional scenes.  Veterans suffering with PTSD may find it difficult as well as family of veterans.  Yes well done and a good movie but it was a bit stressful at times.

As I noted above I move on to a new place in northern Florida to meet up with other Vandwellsers that are in some Federal land in a minimal camping environment like what I stayed in in Southern Florida.  I have never met these people so it will be a new experience.  They move from one free or very low cost camping area to another.  They call it Roving RTR.

More on that tomorrow.

Sunset at the mobile home park.


Day 11 - Back to Leesburg / Lunch at The Villages / Plumbing Work

I was up at 5:00 am at the DuPuis Campground and on the road to Leesburg before 6:00.  

My drive took me through the town of Okeechobee and the high school students were being picked up and dropped off at school before 6:30.  It was still very dark.  A rinder how much farther west we are here vs Massachusetts.

It was a 3 hour drive to Leesburg via the Florida Turnpike.  A half hour stop at McDonalds to download new podcasts as I hadent downloaded for two days.

I arrived back in time to take a shower before heading out to lunch at some friends of My mother and aunt.

Here is what the houses look like in the village the friends live in.

Our lunch was very nice and the host's son and grandson also came.  The son is s piper and was dressed in his kilt/uniform and played for us.  He plays at about 170 events per year and is from Indianapolis, IN and plays at the Indianapolis Colts games.  It was very nice and they did this for mom's birthday and we had cake.

After lunch it was time to come back to the park and I decided to take a walk needing some exercise.  I walked down to the park's marina.

There are many slips on a canal for the mobile home park residents.  The canal leads to the lakes in the area.

Then it was time to finish up on the list of things that my aunt wanted done.

First was to change the double switch in the bathroom.  Then to change the bathroom faucets.  The faucets went well it was the plastic supply tubes that caused problems when one broke below the shutoff causing me to run outside and shut off the water main.

I was off to Ace Hardware where I was assisted by a woman about 30 years old who looked at my need to transition from plastic pipe to a threaded shutoff valve to a supply tube.  I came back and it worked great.  Then although I didn't break the other side the supply tube would not seat correctly and it was back to Ace Hardware and to the woman who provided excellent service 20 minutes ago for another set of parts to do the other side.  

I was finally done and it was time to make some dinner and after work on grading the coursework of my students taking the online course that I am teaching while on the road.

Finally a bit of TV with my mom and aunt befor heading out to the Prius for my 7th night sleeping in the Prius Campervan.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Types of Places to Camp

There are many type of places to camp. You may wish to group them as conventional and nonconventional.

Conventional Campgrounds include Private, State & Federal.  Private can range from Resort to bare bones.  Last year I stayed at both types.  I usually only stayed one night.  

Resort have pools, game rooms, activity centers, scheduled activities and many other amenities.  These high end may have rules that allow them to exclude you  if your camper is more than 20 years old.  At these places I was always asked how old my campervan was.  Some wanted to see it to make sure it looked ok as it was over 20 years old.  Many do not accept tents and there are others that are age restrictive at 55 and older.  I met that requirement last year.  I generally paid $45 per day with full hookups.  These  high end places would generally not accept my Prius campervan or do it yourself van conversions.

The low end I stayed at last year was a place you pull up and read the instructions. Pick a spot put money in an envelope and slide it in a box.  I paid $18 a night for full hookups. Some may just have electricity and water with common bathrooms.

Federal and State campgrounds are generally the same offering dedicated spots to camp, may or may not have picnic table, electric, & sewer.  May or may not have flush toilets and may or not have showers.

Last year at the Grand Canyon I had full hookups and the showers were not at the bathrooms but some distance away.  Brianna and I drove over for showers and the list their hot water and wouldn't have it back running for hours.  We left withou taking one.  This was at a national park.

Nonconventual camping include places that allow camping like the place I have stayed in the last few nights at no cost.  You also don't get much for amenities to no amenities.  BLM land (Bureau of Land Managenent) has places you pay very little for some basic services like pit toilets.  They also have dispersed camping at no cost and no services.  I went to these last year and will do it again this year.

The very nonconventional include parking in Walmart parking lots that allow it and also the Eagles and Elks that allow it for their members.  Some people join these organizations just for the benefit when traveling.  You may also be there on bingo night for entertainment and help them with cash.  Some casinos allow overnight parking but some have rules.  Just like Walmart not all allow overnight parking.  There is an App that is good but not always correct called AllStays that can help.

There is also other federal land that allow dispersed or group camping at no or little cost.  There is slso a free camping website.

My goal in this trip is to visit many of these places and write about them.

I hope this post will give you some idea what I am talking about when I use terminology that you may not be familiar with.


Every Square Inch - REI High Tech Chair Review

Living in/out of a Prius every square inch is important.  I can't emphasize enough every square inch!  

I spent a lot of time to select the right sized items as well as plan and engineer my trip, but it's not until you hit the road that moving things around gets old.  

When planning the trip I purchased ahigh tech folding chair to get the size down from the small folding chair I already had.

I selected REI's FlexLite chair for performance & cost over another.  At $70 it wasn't cheap but it works well within space constraints.

You can see it is about 1/4 the size of what I had. The one I had that was small compared to the standard folding chair.

Light weight and rolls up small.

You can get a good idea of how small by my hand.

I am already thinking of getting a corrugated box and put things in it to ship home to free up space.

My chair will not be one of them.

It is comfortable and are somewhat self leveling.  It requires you to sit and equally distribute your weight on the legs to have it feel solid.  This was intuitive and didn't require any special adjustment.

It is also stable when resting your legs/feet on a object. The legs are relatively short but this helps to keep your center of gravity low for stability.

It would make a great concert chair as it is so small and light that it fits in most smaller backpacks.

Yes every square inch counts in small spaces.  In the Class B campervan last year I did not have to worry about this.