Saturday, January 25, 2014

Life On The Road In My McVansion

It's a Saturday morning in Port Charlotte, Florida and I've now been on the road with My McVansion for 27 days on this first trek of 2014. It occurred to me that, you, my loyal reader and follower of the "Living Free" blog might be interested in what life is like in My McVansion on the road over an extended period of time. So, this post is going to give you an idea of my current life on the road in my 50 square foot very efficient condo on wheels. 

While many of you are vandwellers (full-time or part-time) yourselves, this may not be a big deal for you, but for those of you who are future vandwellers, full-time RVers or just Walter Mitty types living the life vicariously through others of us who are out here, this may give you another peak into a unique lifestyle. And when I say unique lifestyle, I mean that each vandweller and full-time RVer is motivated differently, so each of our lifestyles will vary. You will relate to some more than others, but this gives you another taste of life on the road.

I also want to point out that My McVansion is not complete, yet. I have a number of things I still need to do and I'm learning of things I want to modify or add to my previous thinking and planning. So, this is going to be a pictorial of my life on the road in My McVansion. I hope you enjoy the tour and please feel free to comment.

So, here goes:

On The Surface

Here are some external photos of My McVansion parked at long time Living Free reader, Tommy Head's house in Port Charlotte, Florida. Tommy has been a vandweller himself, having built up his own custom van in which he ran up a couple hundred thousand miles. Currently, he has a 22-foot motorhome, a Mazda Miata and a beauty of a motorcycle. One of the most enjoyable parts of this lifestyle is meeting people who are of kindred spirit and who follow your exploits on your blog. The stories are endless and everyone learns something new.

Parked next to Tommy's house looking down the street.

Tommy's 22' motorhome dwarfs My McVansion

Bringing up the rear. Note the black shore power cord coming out of the right rear window.

Here's my entry. Notice the blue step (actually a plastic Pepsi 2 ltr soft drink carrier), a brilliant idea I obtained from another vandweller in Georgia, Cuzzin Dick. Also, I want to thank vandweller Marshall Ellgas for the nice clean vehicle I'm driving. Marshall pulled out his pressure washer and we cleaned those wheels up and gave My McVansion a much needed bath.

The Cockpit

Here is the nerve center or the bridge, if you will, of my micro condo on wheels. Lots of decisions made in the "Captain's Chair."

The Captain's Seat! This is the place where most of the important travel decisions are made. In front of the steering wheel is my cell phone/GPS mount. To the right is "The Hat," a vital part of the captain's uniform. Again, further to the right is the dash cam that documents all travels. On the sun visor is a Bluetooth speaker phone to keep my hands free. In the right passenger's seat is my travel box containing various items of importance with an extra seat cushion behind it and a Road Atlas behind that.  

The view from the right door shows the waste basket and a side view of the "power" module.

This view is from inside the van between the two cockpit seats. The "power" module allows me to power up to four devices off the 12 volt cigarette lighter jack or with the plug in modules I can power up to 8 USB powered devices. Most all of my electronics are powered off the van whenever the van is moving. Directly below the "power" module is a desktop charger for my spare cell phone battery so I'm virtually never without reserve power for communications.

And this little volume is "The Captain's Log." I also make verbal notations that are captured by the dash cam, but this little book keeps track of travel from point to point, fuel fill-ups and other important information I may want or need to recall at some future date.

The Interior Looking Toward the Rear Of The House Part of My McVansion

This is "home sweet home." This is a photo of the house section of My McVansion from just behind and between the two cockpit seats looking toward the rear. On the right (actually, the left side of the van) is the bunk. That's a 30-50 degree sleeping bag on the bunk. I've found this to be adequate, even in some temperatures approaching zero degrees Fahrenheit. If it's not warm enough, I simply add more blankets on top of it. At the foot of the bunk you'll see a green plaid, Irish wool throw blanket that is my first addition. To the left of the bed is my workstation. I'm using a folding chair in this photo, but it's still a little too large. I'm going to keep looking for exactly the right chair for this unique situation. On the left side (actually the right side of the van) are plastic drawers from Walmart for various office supplies and tools. I've screwed together two 3 drawer units and then secured them to the workstation desktop and the shelf over the wheel well. In front of the drawer unit. And, of course, you can see the computer on the workstation.

Here is another view of the bunk with the head of the bunk in the foreground and the sleeping bag with the green plaid Irish wool blanket at the foot and my green pillow at the head. You should also notice the black felt "black out" curtains I've installed. These are temporary and will eventually be replaced with a southwestern motif material that will also be used for the mattress cover. These curtains are removable. But, this is how My McVansion is set up for night time. That's my soft side attache case on the bunk along with a shirt and a great book Tommy has loaned me called Sensible Cruising: A Philosophic & Practical Approach To Cruising. This a really useful book and even though it was written for boaters, it directly applies to vandwellers and RVers as well. It's no longer in print and it's about 28 years old, but if I can find a used copy, I'm going to latch onto it. 

This is closer view of the office supply drawer units and in front of them is a small, carry around, plastic, portable file case. There are always some important papers you probably should have with you and this is my way of carrying those items. The window blockout on the right rear window of the van (as shown above) is actually a piece of plywood spray painted black on both sides. The forward, left "house section" window also has a plywood block out. It's located behind the food preparation counter.

There was some space behind the drawer unit and the base of the workstation. I had been thinking about where I would store shoes. Well, guess what? Viola! This space is perfect for storing three pairs of shoes. 
This is my view when laying in the bunk. It actually reminds me of being in a small stateroom in some kind of boat. I personally find it very comfortable,relaxing and appealing with the rich wood and light burgundy cloth interior of the van.

The House Section Of My McVansion From The Rear Looking Forward

This photo is from the back of the van. In the foreground is the bunk on the left and the workstation on the right. Straight back are the black, felt, knock out curtains I used to separate the cockpit from the house section of the van. 

Once again, here is a clearer photo of the black out curtains separating the cockpit from the house section.

Here's a photo of the refrigerators on the right side of the van. It's secured with a bungee cord to keep it from opening while in motion. next to it on the left is a small electric space heater and on the right, inside the cabinet, is the porta potty. That's my backpack on top of the porta potty cabinet. 

Here is another look at the small, utility space heater. I only run it on the lowest of two power settings. It takes only a couple minutes before the van is warm and toasty. I may trade this for a smaller unit about half to two thirds the size and power requirements. 

Bungee Cords are our friends, especially if you're a van dweller. Here these useful, stretchy cords, are securing the Walmart plastic storage units I use for clothes, dry foods, utensils, basic kitchen essentials and miscellaneous other things. 

This is the food preparation and misc. work space counter I built. The Walmart storage units are below it. Directly under the counter you'll see my insulated grocery bag on the left under the counter and my blue and black windbreakers that fold into their own pockets and become small pillows on the right. On the counter top is a two gallon water reservoir with a spigot on the front. Once again, it's kept securely in place by another bungee cord. I got the reservoir at Walmart. Next to the reservoir is a black, 12 vdc clip on fan to help circulate air on warm nights. 

Storage A Plenty

Lots of under the bunk storage and there's a lot more than this. You'll notice my 12 vdc electric blanket that comes in handy on the occasional frigid night.

This is one of the cubbys over the cockpit. This one is over the passenger seat and houses sanitary and hygiene necessities.

This cubby is over the Captain's seat and holds extra toiletries, vitamins, first aid supplies and other similar items.

This is the area where the small 13" TV that came with the van resided until I removed it. It's in the center over the cockpit and houses paper towels, my Road Pro lunchbox stove and water heating pot as well as aluminum trays, plastic bowls with lids to store various foods in. 

There are four of these cubbies, two on each side of the van. The only one I've assigned so far it this one for the AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt batteries. 

This is a large cubby and is in the center over the workstation in the rear of the van. There is still plenty of room in this cabinet, but it houses my stash of water crackers and my extra tea bags. 

This is the final area of storage. This is under the rear of the bunk and under the workstation. There's still plenty of room on the left under the bunk. On the right there are two plastic containers that store extra clothing (currently, winter clothing) in the lower one and misc. techy stuff in the upper one. To the right of the two stacking units is another Walmart storage unit. It has tools and such in it. Actually the bottom drawer is still empty. And, finally, to the right in the corner are larger tools, the dirt devil vacuum and other similar things.  

A Room With A View

You've seen this photo in an earlier blog post. But, here is the most awesome aspect of the Living Free lifestyle for me. I can have this view until I'm tired of it and then move on to another Room with a View location. This is the most enjoyable lifestyle I can remember in my lifetime. The world is outside my window. 
So, there you have it. a chance to see how My McVansion is accommodating yours truly and providing a magic carpet to explore the continent with and a comfortable home wherever I am. I hope you enjoyed the tour of my creation. However, what you have seen is not the finished product. There's still quite a bit more work to be done to My McMansion. And, now with several trips under my belt, I know of some additions and modifications I am planning to add to the other things I hadn't completed, yet. Of course, it will always be a "work in progress." Things like this always are.


seeinsilver said...

You got out of town in time Ed! The cold and snow are pounding the mountains and up the Virginia way. Been cold here in Raleigh with only a dusting of snow last week. Enjoy Florida!

Mermaid in the Mountains said...

I love this series of pictures with the narrative, Ed. It helps me visualize what I want to create in my own van dream. Love your blog!

Ed Helvey said...

Yep! Sure did and was lucky, Jimmy.

There have been some chilly nights down here in FL, I had to use the space heater several nights. But, NOT like up north. I'm in Clearwater today (and the last couple days) and it hit about 84 degrees today with plenty of sunshine

BTW, went to the huge Florida RV Show in Tampa two weeks ago and saw some very nice A frame campers like yours. Very nice!


Ed Helvey said...

Thanks, RuthieBee. I really appreciate your feedback and kind compliments. That's what makes it fulfilling to keep on blogging. My McVansion has been garnering rave reviews from everyone who has seen it and taken the 25 cent tour (can't charge 50 cents, there's not enough room to be worth it). People are amazed at how spacious this little 50 square feet seems and how efficient everything is in here. So, I guess I done good, huh?


Unknown said...

Thanks for the read Ed,
I see from your pics I am going to have to really be smart about space management...

Ed Helvey said...

Glad you enjoyed it and got something from it, Scott. Believe me, I probably went through a half a pad of graph paper sketching out ideas before I finally decided this one was probably the most functional. I had a false start and didn't like the way things were going so I stopped pulled it out and started again and this is the result.

You can over think these things, Scott,. So, try not to do that. Look through the files in the Yahoo vandweller groups and you'll find way more great ideas than you can actually include, but they'll help get your own creative juices going.

Good luck in your endeavor,