Monday, February 29, 2016

Baby Snuggles, Erupting Volcanoes, Fuzzy Monkeys, and New Readers!

3,015 miles in 4 1/2 days.  Good Weather Window?  BAM! - Nailed it and with time to spare!  I made it to my sister's in Pennsylvania within the tiny weather window I had, exhausted, cramped and a bit cross-eyed, but happy to be here.  My little niece didn't come early so I had about 9 days to help my sister finish up projects and play with my nephew.  Of course when you are hanging with a 3 1/2 yr. old and preparing for a new baby, you have no time for your own work because your days are filled with laughter, singing songs, reading books, making donuts out of Play-Doh, going "camping", making volcanoes erupt all over the counter, and having Fuzzy Monkey wake you up every morning.  Such fun!  My niece arrived as scheduled (she and my sister are now both home and doing well), and I am trying to soak up as much snuggle time with her as I can.  She fills my heart with so much joy.

Play-Doh donuts, better known as "Daddy's Chocolate"

Some people may wonder why I would undertake such a crazy trip.  One of the reasons I made this choice for my life was so that I would be available for family and friends whenever they needed anything.  They have been there for me through both good and challenging times.  It is important to me to be able to be there for them.  Besides, I get little baby snuggles and laughter filled days from my little niece and nephew.  I'd say those are worth every mile - even the snowy ones!

It has been strange to be back in "civilization" again.  I ended up dropping off my tearbaby at my friend's in Ohio, which means I've gotten to live in a house that I can stand up in AND which has heat!!  Both have been appreciated considering it is still winter in Pennsylvania.  It was quite thrilling when I got to make HOT food in the microwave the first day too.  But I have to confess, I really miss my bucket.  The toilets at my sister's are really tall and elongated and therefore not very comfortable.  Plus I don't have the lovely views I'm used to with my bucket.  Those views really are a great way to start your day.  Then again, having Fuzzy Monkey wake me up in the mornings isn't too bad either.

Fuzzy Monkey

It may surprise you to know that as luxurious as it is for me to be back in a typical house, I really do miss living in my tearbaby and minivan (well, maybe not so much during those super cold days and nights with windstorms raging outside).  Zelda and Grania are MY home and like any of you who go on vacation and stay at a nice place, you find that it is great for a little while, but it's always nice to come home again to your own space.  Though I really will miss washing my hair with running water.

As an added bonus to my trip to PA, it turns out my sister has a Trader Joe's close by which she graciously took me to.  I got to stock up on a couple of my favorite treats from there - raw, unsalted cashews and the raw, unsalted almond butter too.  I got hooked on them when I first started my adventure in November after a friend got them for me.  AND there just happened to be a Moe's Southwest Grill next door! As luck would have it, we went on a Monday, known at Moe's as "Moe's Monday" with their awesome burrito meal deal.  Now, I'm not one to snub a sign from the burrito gods, so I did the only thing I could do in that situation.  YUM!!!  :O)

In other news, my Teardroppin' Life was featured on Do It Yourself RV and Tiny Yellow Teardrop.  I was flattered when Christina Nellemann from Tiny Yellow Teardrop asked to do a story about my full-timing life in a teardrop.  If you haven't been to these sites, I highly recommend checking them out.  Do It Yourself RV is a wonderful resource for anyone full or part-timing in any kind of home on wheels.  Tiny Yellow Teardrop is a fantastic blog and resource for anyone interested in teardrop trailers with great stories and photos of teardrops old and new.

As a result of the stories, my blog's visitor numbers skyrocketed!  It was dizzying and fun watching the stats.  But I have to apologize for being so tied up with family matters that I haven't had a chance to get this post written sooner to welcome all the new visitors or to let faithful followers know I made it to PA safely.  I will help my sister for a couple more weeks, then will go a-visiting family and friends.  After that, I don't know yet.  I have to get my businesses up and running so I can (hopefully) support myself on the road, so I will focus on that task next - just don't know where that focusing will be taking place.  It's still a bit too chilly in this region to hang out.  Oh wait, I've already done that!

Welcome New Readers!  I'm glad to have you along.  For your own safety, please be sure your chairs and tray tables are in their upright position.  I hope you enjoy the ride.    

And a hot towel for your comfort!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Where's Jordan?

I had hoped that I'd have some time to explore a few places in Arizona where I had visited 30 years ago & really put my new solar system to the test before I returned to the cold eastern part of the country to help my sister prepare for the birth of my new niece.  But alas, I see I am destined to experience every dislikable aspect winter has to offer no matter where I go. Yep, I'm now convinced  the Weather Goddess has it in for me.

For the past 3 days I've been high-tailin' it across the country to catch the small good weather window on Sunday that will allow me to get to Pennsylvania & my sister before my niece is born. I left Western Arizona on Wednesday & drove to eastern New Mexico that day, then across Tex-Ass Thursday. Don't try that yourself - Texas in 1 day - Don't do it!   Yesterday I drove through Weezy-anna (my first time in that state) & M I S S I S S I P P I (first time in that state too!) & up through Ala-BAM-a to stay with friends in Chattanooga last night (you know you have great friends when they not only provide you with a warm comfy bed, but a bed full of warm cuddly kitties & puppers too!  Hot shower I'm comin' for you next!). Today I'm on old stomping grounds going up through Kentucky & hopefully into O-Hi-O so I will be set-up to run over to Pennsylvania on Sunday.  Grania & Zelda seem to be holding their own- though it's been tough on Grania since she has to do all the work, Zelda just goes where she's towed. The next few days will be bitterly cold - goodbye 80 degrees, it was nice to feel you, if only for a couple of days.

Oh, look at the time!  I have to get back on the road again, I have 3 more states to visit today.  Phew!  I'm tired just typing the whole journey!  Hold onto mommy's fallopian tubes "Baby Matilda", Auntie LaLa is coming!!!  Wait for me!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Rest of the Story . . .

Oh I wish I were a little ‘o’ solar panel,
Cuz in the sun is where I want to be;
And if I were a sun absorbing solar panel,
Everyone would be in love with me.

And now, The Rest of the Story . . .
Upon returning from Quartzsite, all my time and energy was focused on completing my Solar Array of Power!  For the next several days my friends and I worked from morning till well into the night to finish up the solar system and office / work space in the minivan.  Well, after fighting against 2 months of cold windy weather, limited daylight and several uncooperative components we finally completed everything.  

I give you the Solar Array of Power and Minivan Office Conversion!

Grania with her "Sun Hat" on!
You can barely tell there are solar panels up there and I can't even tell the panels are on the roof when I drive.

I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to have lights again and power to charge my computer.  I can be a night owl again and actually accomplish things AFTER the sun goes down!  (If you pay attention to the times at which I typically post, you will see I am definitely a night owl).  With my 200 Watts of solar panels and 100 amp hour battery I will have plenty of power for my needs, even with a couple of cloudy days. The panels even tilt for maximum sun exposure when needed.  My brilliant friend also designed and built the system to be easily upgraded should my power needs change - all I have to do is add an additional 100 amp hour battery.  As you can see in the photos, she has built not only a very impressive, high quality solar array but also a beautifully organized one too (even though it does have red components – I don’t like red - but she added the purple for me). 

"Mother Ship Command Center" is in the van so I can be charging my battery even while shopping!
All that's missing is the Flux Capacitor!

We also upgraded the tearbaby to a 12 volt system with new outlets and an umbilical to the Mother Ship’s Command Center to bring the power to the trailer.  The umbilical will reach to the back of the trailer where the plug is, so I don't even have to unhitch if just stopping overnight.  We still have it set so I can plug into 110 shore power should I need to.  

Teardrop Command Center

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I chose a minivan so that I could use it as an office / workspace.  Since I have to have a way to earn a living on the road, I needed space where I could work and store supplies.  My original set-up wasn’t working, so after much thought about how I needed that space to function, I decided some sort of platform would be best.  My friend and I tried several different layouts, but this one fit my needs best.  I had just planned to make something quick, simple and inexpensive, but she designed and built this gorgeous “work of art” instead, with a control center which houses three 12 volt outlets, 2 USB outlets, switches to turn the outlets on and off as well as switches for lights under the platform and on the van ceiling.  I also wanted the platform to double as a bed for long trips when I don’t want to take the time to set up the trailer (yep, another short bed!).  Plus we turned the front passenger seat around to face backwards for my office chair.  I can set up my folding table to work on or use the seat as a “reclining theater chair” for movie night – which I have already tested and it was great!  No popcorn or Rasinets though – Bummer.  The whole van make-over is amazing!  I am still trying to get it organized, but am loving it.  

Office Workstation / Bed platform with "Control Center" of outlets and switches.

The kindness and generosity of my friends overwhelms me.  I don’t know if they will ever grasp the impact they have made on my life.  I have worked to become a full-time road warrior for the past 2 ½ years and have had dreams for my own businesses for just as long.  But once I got out here, I realized that I wouldn’t be successful with my business plans without power for lights and charging my computer.  They have made it possible for me to make my dreams reality.  What a tremendous gift.    


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Strange Phenomenon Interlude

Strange things have been happening here.

Hmmm . . .

Where am I?  I am so confused!

The Mother Ship has come for me!!