Gunshots, border patrol, and drooling over a tow vehicle

Thursday, February 4

Our present camp is Midland LTVA, 10 miles northwest of Blythe near California’s eastern border.

After a few days of turbulent weather, the crew and I are outside enjoying the sunshine and calm.  A hummingbird zips back and forth between the feeder and his perch in the ironwood tree behind my lounger.  Bridget lies belly down on the quilt pallet, happily gnawing on a chew bone.  Reggie urges me to grab his toy armadillo from his mouth.

We’re playing an intense game of tug-of-war when we hear . . .

Gunshots!

Reggie lets go of Armadillo and disappears through the open door of the Best Little Trailer.

“Oh, no, Reggie!  Come back.  It’s okay, sweetie.”

Someone continues to practice their shooting at the edge of Midland’s Long Term Visitor Area. 

I grumble to myself . . .  Acres and acres of empty desert with miles and miles of road running through it and this is where we have target practice.  I wonder how many other dogs are suffering.

As much as I’d like to control the world, it’s not going to happen!  Darn!

Reggie’s mojo is lost again.

The passing of time without gunshots is the only thing that will bring it back.

P1090451Not even effervescent Sock Money can cheer him up!

A reader recently asked where to look online for tow vehicles.

My research led me to browse online myself.  Of course, I’m only interested in Chevy Express vans.  The Perfect Tow Vehicle is a Chevy Express.  You may know from reading my blog posts from the early days, the PTV received her lofty name long before she had the opportunity to prove it.

I bought the PTV in spring of 2011 for $8,500.

Being a 2005 model, she was six years old at the time.  In beautiful condition.  Her odometer read 114,940.

A few months later she carried Spike, Bridget and me to the Casita factory in Texas to pick up the Best Little Trailer.  There she was equipped with a hitch extension and her career as our trusty tow vehicle began.

She’s never let us down!

I admit there were times on steep and endless grades that I began to have doubts.  For no good reason!  I should be ashamed!

The PTV’s 5.3 liter, V-8 engine always pulls us up any mountains we want to climb.  And her gas mileage in mixed conditions, while towing, is around 15 mpg.

Need I mention storage space?

Oh, my.  Nothing like a van for storage space.

Alas, all of us are getting on in years and the PTV is no exception. She still has a lot more miles left in her (odometer at present: 158,547)  Even so, it’s fun to see what’s “out there.”

I’m online looking at the cargo van inventory at Pacific Fleet Sales in Washington state when I come across a photo.

A photo of the interior of a Chevy Express van.

My heart goes pitter-patter!  My jaw drops.  Oh, for heaven’s sake.  Is that drool on my keyboard?

cargovan103,591miles-001Shelves!  It has shelves!  Oh!  Oh!  Maybe a kayak would fit on that floor?

I’ll be honest here.

At present my dearly beloved PTV is in disreputable disarray.  The landslide in the back, quite frankly, is the worst it’s ever been and it’s been pret-ty bad over the years.  I blame this condition on a lack of shelves.

(Well, I said I’d be honest — It’s really my fault she’s a mess!)

A recent incident, while the crew and I were en route from Ajo to Gila Bend in southern Arizona, illustrates the monumental mess that the poor PTV has become.

The incident happens at the border control checkpoint.

Three agents wait for us as I bring the PTV to a stop.  Hmm . . . no drug-sniffing dog today.

Bridget and Reggie commence barking their fool heads off.

Over the ruckus, one of the agents offers the standard greeting . . .

“Good morning, ma’am.  Are you a U.S. citizen?”

“Yes, I am,”  I answer with my honest-est smile.

“What are you carrying in the back?” he asks.

“Everything I own.”

Cupping his hands on the sides of his face, he tries to peer through the tinted windows behind me.

“I can’t see inside,” he reports.

“Would you like for me to open it up?” I offer.

“Yes, please.”

He steps back from the driver’s side door to let me climb out.

As I step down from behind the wheel, I add, “I warn you. It’s quite a mess back there.”

I reach for the handle of the side door behind the driver’s seat as the agent stands behind me, looking over my shoulder.

“I have to be careful . . . . “

Cautiously I open the door.

Immediately a camp chair attempts to escape.  A plastic Tide bottle falls and tries to make a run for it.  I grab it off the ground and stick it back in the PTV.

The agent steps back.

 “Uh.  Never mind, ma’am.  Thank you.”

I cram the chair back in, shut the door, and return to the driver’s seat.

“You have a nice day,” he says, over the barking of the crew.

I start up the PTV.  I should just leave, but I can’t help it.

I laugh. 

Still laughing, I blurt out,  “I could have 25 illegal Mexicans behind that chair!”

Without letting his professional demeanor slip, the agent repeats, “Thank you.  Drive safely.”

“And thank YOU,” I add and the crew and I continue on our way.

So, like I say, the PTV is an awful mess.

Okay, where was I?

Oh yeah.  I was salivating over the interior of the van with shelves.  Here are the details on that baby . . . .

She’s a 2012 Chevy Express 2500 (3/4 ton) cargo van, 4.8 liter engine, V-8, with 103,591 on the odometer.  Barn doors (my preference to sliding doors), a/c (presumably a/c that works!) and a tow package.  Two less doors than the PTV, but more wall storage space.  No bench seat. Seven years younger than the PTV.

Price is $17,250.

Of course, I don’t plan on replacing the PTV anytime soon. 

It doesn’t hurt to do a little preliminary research, right?  I’d appreciate hearing opinions on the difference between the two vehicles (1500 vs. 2500 and 5.3 liter vs. 4.8 liter).  Let me know what you think, okay?

Update on the Reggie Man!

By late afternoon, the little guy is himself again, eager to walk the desert with Bridget and me.

P1090453All is well again in the world of RVSue and crew . . . Something to cheer about!

rvsue

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Every purchase is appreciated.

P1090465Here comes my pretty girl.

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197 Responses to Gunshots, border patrol, and drooling over a tow vehicle

  1. Yikes, that’s a bit scary. What if you were walking in that area?! Poor Reggie, glad he is better now 🙂

  2. milliehubbard says:

    Scary…darn…almost first 🙂

    Be careful out there “Crew”!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Keep trying! You’ll get it one of these days, millie!

      • milliehubbard says:

        It is kind of a fun aspect of being a blogarino!! Love the adventures of you and the Crew! Reggie reminds me so much of our little Gabe…a 6 lb Chihuahua we adopted from a local rescue group. It took him a while but he has settled right in to our home life and is even enjoying visitors now!! Love you guys, you add a sparkle to my day!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          And you’ve added sparkle to my morning, millie! Thanks for the sweet message.

          Reggie seems very tiny to me at 9 pounds. I can’t imagine a pup that is a third smaller than he is. I bet Gabe is adorable and very grateful for a secure, loving home.

  3. Renee Galligher - Idaho says:

    Whoa! Closest to the top in awhile.

  4. Annie in Oregon says:

    Oh no something happened to Reggie. Just catching up. Will read post now. Please take care!

  5. Peter says:

    Hi Sue, Love your blog am I the first?

  6. David Ainley says:

    Stick with the 5.3 liter. You would be very disappointed with the 4.8 liter’s performance.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks for the input, David. I see below that Jeff agrees with you.

      • Scott says:

        Sue, First thing Pacific Fleet Sales of Wa. is not someone you want to buy a van from. Do a review on them….not good. They are very high on price. And sell junk that no one wants. If you are to ever get another van get the 6 liter motor with a pos. rear end, that set up is the best for towing. they don’t put the 5.3 in the vans anymore and use the 4.8 or the 6.0. A new Chev. van with the 6.0 and the pos. rear is about $ 32,000 you can get one for about $28K I know because I’m looking at them. That’s new Chevy. fleet sales. Or a work van.
        Scotty

  7. Maryanne Davis-Baldwin-CT says:

    Your desert photos are still beautiful especially the one in the previous epistle of the mountain & the tree in late afternoon. As I’m on the east coast I’m always behind, but what caught my eye recently was your saying something about checking your anti-sway device. My trailer came with one but even now I’m not sure I am tensioning it correctly, though several helpful people have tried to show me & there are discussions on the web. Some say just set & forget, which is where it’s at now. Do you have any advice? Also I got a Paperwhite but though I “get” books they aren’t showing up on the paperwhite. Maybe I need a better, stronger wi-fi? Now in Florida but not warm-low 40’s for Sunday night.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Maryanne,

      Thank you re the desert photos.

      Here’s how I check my anti-sway bar. I turn it until it begins to tighten. Then I un-tighten it until it swings slightly loose. That’s how it was shown to me by the Casita factory guy.

      I check the adjustment because it can change due to rust and me taking it off and on when unhitching and hitching.

      As for your Paperwhite… If you are able to go online with your device (laptop or whatever), you should be able to download books. Look at the top of your Paperwhite when trying to do this. Is there any signal strength showing in the bars?

      I cannot download books onto my Paperwhite if I do not have my Verizon jetpack turned on and connected. When the a jetpack is pulling in signal, books download in a few seconds. If you still can’t download, even with a source of good internet signal, contact Amazon. I had trouble with a kindle once and Amazon replaced it immediately.

  8. Page says:

    Beautiful inside of that truck. Shelves make a world of difference, believe me.

    If I could attach a photo, I would show you our truck. 2015 Freightliner M-2/106 with custom Reading box on the back. Shelves insides and storage bins outside. Her name is Bessie and we get comments of “awesome” or “badass truck” almost every where we go. She serves as our tow vehicle, our tool box, pantry and clothes closet. We love her.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I understand the love, Page. 🙂 When you have enough storage space, your home is easier to keep neat and tidy.

      • edlfrey says:

        I have looked at some of those Freightliners in the past. Just for giggles I went looking for a used 2015 FREIGHTLINER BUSINESS CLASS M2 106 and found one for just a few dollars less than $140,000. It does not have all the bells and whistles that “Bessie” has but still a “badass truck” – what’s not to love.

  9. Haha, loved your experience with the Border Patrol! So glad your PTV is working out well, and I am shocked that you’ve put so few miles on it!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, JanisP,

      I had to chuckle at your comment that you are “shocked that you’ve put so few miles on it!” I guess one could say we get high enjoyment per mile!

  10. Jean in Southaven, MS says:

    I love that van. Boy, what you could cram in there and still be able to find everything. It would be worth it I think. As many miles as the BTV has it will start nickel and diming you before too long. $17,000 isn’t bad price. That was probably a $50,000 van new. Just saying. Poor Reggie, my Blue Healer hates fireworks. Thank goodness they are only allowed twice a year. We took the RV out this past weekend to Corp of Engineers campground and we heard shots from deer hunters in the distance. I don’ know how they were hitting anything. The wind had to have been blowing 50 miles and hour all weekend. Our 36′ er was rocking and rolling. Made good sleeping though. Take care and be safe.

    P. S. Gas is selling for $1.48 here. Can you believe it?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jean,

      Nice price for gas…

      Ha… You love that van, too! I’ve been daydreaming about having my stuff on the shelves in neat bins, labeled for their contents… and sliding a pretty, sleek kayak onto that floor…

      The wind made for a bit of excitement. It’s good that it’s calm again. You take care, too.

      BTW, Jean… I don’t know if I mentioned this. A while back you recalled some of your favorite posts from my blogs. That was such a sweet note! I was recalling them, too…

      • Jean in Southaven, MS says:

        You have been so many wonderful places it is hard to pick favorites, but those have always stuck out in my memory. Just for grins, I bought gas last night for $1.34. Filled my little car up for $15.00. I am enjoying it while I can.

  11. Jeannie WA says:

    Seems like a lot of companies are unloading their cargo vans here in Washington. Most have good shelving in the back but they also have the sliding doors (not really acceptable). I pull my Casita with a 2000 P/U and she’s getting tired. Hopefully I’ll be able to retire her one of these days for a Chevy van like this one.
    Reggie’s terror brought back memories of my dogs – they were both terrified of gunshots, fireworks and particularly thunderstorms. They would both crawl into my lap for comfort and snuggles.
    Hugs and cuddles to you all.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hugs to you, too, Jeannie in WA,

      I hope you can purchase the van you want. I don’t know why sliding doors are so popular. I hate the shoulder-yanking involved. I think sliding doors would be a deal-breaker for me.

  12. Elizabeth in WA says:

    I can sympathize with you on the shooting…I am not against target practice…but people ought to be more choosy where they do that. Years ago, when our first baby was very young, some “big hunters” came and perched within feet of his bedroom window and began shooting (at my dad’s domestic ducks no less) at sunrise. I was very angry. As was my husband. I think we had to call the sheriff to get those clowns off our property. Anyone who would do that next to a house, on private land, without permission has no manners nor common sense frankly. There are times I wished we had fenced it all and had some nasty nasty dogs inside the fence!! Oh well…we moved away not too many years after that. If only everyone lived by the Golden Rule how much nicer life on this planet would be.

    That is a VERY neat van photo you shared…my, wouldn’t that be nice to have?? If our other plans do not “pan out” in a year or 2, hubby says we may live the nomad life too…so we still read and watch some on ideas and just what is out there. Thanks for sharing, Sue.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Elizabeth in WA,

      Boy, that was nervy — and/or incredibly stupid — of that hunter! Well, like I implied in this post… I should be in control of the world! Ha!

      I’m glad you and your husband continue to stick with us. Who knows what the future holds? Maybe you’ll be nomads someday. 🙂

      • Elizabeth in WA says:

        Well, dear Sue, in a way we are nomads…heeheee…just without anything but cars and stuff to our name!! We do not think we will ever be rich…nor do we ascribe to be…comfortable hopefully. And we obviously are satisfied with less than many others. I am not sure I could live in quite as small a space as yours…not when he is there too!! There are days you know…ha! But we are getting along fine in this tiny 500 sq ft apt…and part of that is a small room we basically use for extra food, tools and my sewing stuff storage…we can get in there…but the chump who built this on obviously did not use any kind of insulation and unless it is at least 60 degrees and sunny…we don’t stay long before shutting the door…so we are technically “living” in less than 500 sq. ft. And really? We, esp. me, could live with less clothes, books etc…and even a smaller kitchen if need be. Keep sharing ideas on here please…one never knows when an idea will be just what someone else needs!!

        Some of our grandchildren wish we lived closeby…but what they may not know is that does not mean we would see all that much of them, though they and we wish it. But the oldest is not that far from 18…hummmm, so we shall see…

  13. Jeff Billingsley says:

    Sue, I have had Chevy pickups with the 5.3 and the 4.8 and the 5.3 has much more power, and gets better mileage . I have regretted getting the smaller v8 every time I have to tow anything. It is gutless. Hope this helps when you do get ready to trade. As the hot rod guys always say there is no substitution for a bigger engine. Jeff

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you, Jeff, for adding your experience to the opinion you share with David (above). That’s just the info I’m looking for. I’m sorry you learned the hard way. Many times in many situations the voices of blogorinos keep me from making a decision I would later regret.

      As time goes by I realize how fortunate I was to find the PTV.

      • Jerry says:

        Sure a bigger engine will pull better if it’s not set up to tow with the proper package. What ever is bought the tow package is a must. Not all trucks and vans have this package.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          You’re right. The PTV didn’t have a tow package. I had to have the hitch installed. Well, it does have a button I push that reads “tow.” Maybe that’s what you mean by a tow package… or part of one…

    • Jerry says:

      I don’t consider my 4.8 gutless at all and I tow a trailer that is 4600 pounds empty. Granted that I haven’t gone over mountains higher than 5000 feet, but when it’s put in tow mode with my 3.73 rear end it does a fine job. Plus when not towing it gets 20 mpg.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        What do you mean by “my 3.73 rear end?” I know you don’t mean the measurements of your butt, so …. educate me please . . . anyone?

        20 mpg is nice.

        • Sidewinder Pen says:

          The rear axle (of rear-wheel drive vehicles) has a set of gears in it. The ratio can vary. This, combined with the engine, etc. make a difference in how things “pull.” To summarize, gears with a higher number (say, 4.11) will get you off the line quicker and with more power, but will then (all else being equal) result in higher RPM at highway speed. Gears with a lower number (say 3.73) will give you a little less “oomph” off the line, but then lower RPM at highway speeds.

          That’s only one part of the puzzle, which is why I said “all else being equal.” In reality, it all works together (engine, transmission, gearing in rear axle). But sometimes for a given vehicle, there are rear axle ratio options, and/or people change them later for specific reasons.

          My current (Ford) rig has 4.11 gears; the previous Ford rig had 3.73. I didn’t change anything – this is how they were balanced at the factory (previous rig was lighter and had smaller engine; current rig is heavier and has larger engine).

          • Sidewinder Pen says:

            PS: I meant to add that a “tow package” may or may not be a “must” as bought. Some tow packages really are a complete package that is hard (or a hassle/expense) to duplicate later. These would be comprehensive packages with maybe heavy duty alternator, different springs, different rear-axle ratio or etc. in addition to the obvious hitch and wiring.

            On the other hand, on some vehicles the “tow package” really is simply just a hitch and wiring, and these can easily be added later. So it requires a bit of research to know whether it’s important to get the tow package “factory” on a given vehicle, or whether you can just add equivalent components later yourself and thus have a wider selection when shopping.

            • MB from VA says:

              SP, you seriously never cease to amaze me with your knowledge! I still have a very long, thoughtful and information packed response to a question I asked about a year ago. Thank you for being willing to share you experience with folks like me. Have a great day!

            • Krystina ~ Sutton, Vermont says:

              I agree on the “you never cease to amaze me”!!!

          • rvsueandcrew says:

            Thanks, Pen. Your comments are like mini-lessons… Today it’s “Gear Ratios 101” and “Understanding Tow Packages — Are They Important?”

            🙂

      • Diann in MT says:

        Jerry,
        That is a nice pickup. We began with the same, including the light trailer.
        However, when we took it down the Interstate and across mountain passes, there wasn’t enough”oomph” to get beyond 50 mph, and that was pushing it. As soon as we could, we sold it and bought the bigger 5.3 and haven’t looked back. We even pass the slower traffic when the situation calls for it.
        Have fun shopping for that new vehicle, Sue.

    • stan watkins says:

      Just to prove the government doesn’t do much right https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymodel/2011_Chevrolet_Van.shtml

    • stan watkins says:

      I’ve heard the same for vans but here are the government figures. https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymodel/2011_Chevrolet_Van.shtml

  14. Chris(MN) says:

    It breaks my heart to see an unhappy Reggie. Poor little guy! Glad to hear that he is perky again. I am lucky that my dogs aren’t afraid of loud noises like guns and fireworks. 97 working days until I retire in June! (Not that I’m counting). Tee hee!

  15. Pauline in Mississippi says:

    All I saw was Gunshots, Border Patrol and my heart dropped!! But almost immediately I said to myself …if Susan is writing this, then she is ok……Now, what’s this about drool?? WOW…I understand it all now…even the drool. What a van!!! When the PTV is ready for retirement, I hope you can get a van like that.
    Poor Reggie, I understand his fears and being upset. Our Sassy and Charlie are the same way. Such a sweet picture of him with his sock monkey.
    Sending lots of love and big hugs to you and the crew.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Pauline,

      Hey, I write titles to bring in the readers… Sorry for the scare! I can imagine your two little ones running scared from gunshots.

      Love and hugs to all of you!

  16. Thor ’n Drew says:

    Heya, Sue. Instead of dreaming of a “new” van, why not start the process of designing your own set of shelves? Here’s a discussion with some ideas: http://www.contractortalk.com/f41/shelving-chevy-express-lwb-55906/

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Thor ‘n Drew,

      I looked at the link. Wow, it would be fun to design my own shelves. Building them, not so much…. what with a blog to write, a crew to chase after, places to go, and no carpentry tools or building skills…

      I appreciate you posting a link as there may be readers who have the time, energy and wherewithal to tackle a project like that.

      Although wooden shelving may be better, I’d be happy with the ones in the photo I posted. I’d make them work!

  17. Steve says:

    My bloodhounds react the same way to gun shots. We had some while walking in the field behind my house last week. Stella was about to become a ‘sprint champion’ when she heard them.

    That van with shelving and floor space … very nice.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Steve,

      Dogs have been lost due to gunshots. It’s one of the reasons I can’t walk with Reggie off a leash. He’d run and run until he dropped, no telling where he’d end up. I’m glad you were able to keep your Stella from taking off and becoming lost.

      You like the shelves, too. 🙂

  18. Calvin R (still in Ohio) says:

    I empathize with Reggie. I had some “adventures” in my younger days that sensitized me to them, and I’d rather not hear them. I have since lived through enough things to not react exactly as he does, but I understand. The Border Patrol bothers me more nowadays. I know what they’re entitled to do if they so choose.

    I am awaiting money that will let me buy a rig. It seems to me the most important thing is knowing one’s own taste, abilities, and situation. In my case, that pushes me ever smaller in my thinking, but I am not you. If you have trouble with long grades using the 5.3L engine, I also suggest not going smaller. You want to keep your Casita and the things you use, so lightening your load is not an option unless I’m wrong. If anything, go a little larger for your next tow vehicle.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Calvin R.,

      You’re right. It is important to know “one’s own taste, abilities, and situation.” I emphasize “situation.” I think too many people buy a rig too big for what they want to do with it and it becomes a burden, physically and financially.

      I wasn’t clear in this post when I wrote about doubting the PTV on long grades. She’s always pulled the BLT just fine (except when her air filter was loose or needed to be replaced!). In other words, I’m happy with the 5.3.

      After reading your comment, as well as Jeff’s and David’s, I’ll be sure not to go smaller than 5.3.

      Yes, go as small as you can and still be comfortable and happy. That’s not necessarily the same as what I have. Be nimble as possible without feeling cramped or deprived. 🙂

      I’m sorry gunshots are unnerving for you. The first time I shot a gun, it shattered my nerves and I started to cry!

  19. JIM PETERSON says:

    Every time I see what newer used rigs are selling for, I’m glad we bought out BBT (Big Bad Truck) when we did. She’s an F350 (one ton) 4WD, crew cab, 8′ bed = long wheelbase and needs 40 acres to turn around — no doubt. But she has the famous 7.3 diesel engine with low RPM torque and power to spare. We’ve towed our 33′ 5ER places that most mortals would fear to tread! :o) 3-1/2 years ago, I paid $10,500 for her and I haven’t seen a truck since then (at that price or less) that I would rather have — which is a lot like having the use of her all those years for FREE. We’re probably about 240,000 miles now but some folks are getting a million + from these engines. We can only hope to be so lucky! Of course, we can’t touch your mileage while towing . . . we’re closer to 9 MPG. Our LCC (La Casa Chiquita) is big and tall and wide (a full 8′ inside wall to inside wall). Then we raised her up another 6 inches by having the axles put *under* the springs. Before, she was quite the tail dragger — dragged the rear bumper twice just getting her home. Now we have a lot more clearance, she’s level front to back while going down the road, and we haven’t dragged the rear frame/bumper even once. I think we’ll keep ’em both. :o)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jim,

      It’s great when a big purchase turns out to be one of the best buys ever! You need that big engine for what you want your tow vehicle to do.

      Smart to have your rig’s “bum” lifted off the ground… That was one of the reasons I decided to save for a brand new Casita. I wanted the high-lift option, not always available when looking at used…

      Wow! 240,000 miles on your truck and she keeps on keepin’ on! I’m sure you remember the days when half that was considered high mileage. If you take good care of a vehicle, she should last a long, long time and several miles..

      Heck, Rusty is still driving his 1975 Ford because he treats her with tender, loving care!

      Hello to Annie…

  20. Denise - Richmond VA says:

    Hi, Sue,

    Whew! The title of your post had me worried for a minute. Poor liitle Reg; his life before joining your family must have been hell, surviving the mean streets on his own. Breaks my heart to see any animal mistreated or frightened, Glad that after things calmed down, he was back to his sweet little self, AND that Miss Bridge felt peppy enough to join you all for a walk. Win-Win! 🙂

    Your experience with the border patrol had me chuckling! Beware of jumping chairs and tumbling laundry detergent! LOL!

    Enjoy your day! Do try to stay outta trouble! 🙂 Sending you and the Crew hugs from me and Gracie pup! 🙂

    • Denise - Richmond VA says:

      The storage possibilities of that van are very interesting! 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Denise,

      I hope you are enjoying your day. Gracie, too!

      Let me tell you, it helps to have very little personal pride when driving around in a rig crammed with just about everything you own. I open the back door of the PTV and a sewer hose hits the pavement! Good heavens! It’s the Beverly Hillbillies!

  21. AZ Jim says:

    Hi Missy, Poor little Reggie. I see that sad little head peeking out of his cover and I would love to pet him and try to cheer him up a little. I am sure you gave him extra love. How did Bridge do with the gunshots? Detta is still having a lot of pain in her ribs. She says it may be a little better. We keep on trucking…

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jim,

      Oh, I’m sorry to hear Detta is still having pain. I bet it’s like a knife in the ribs whenever she moves.

      Bridget is one solid little girl. There isn’t much that fazes her, not even gunshots. A camera lens? Well, we all have our weak areas…

      Get better soon, Detta!

  22. cc says:

    FYI – I owned a similar model, except a Ford instead of GM.

    A van like this is usually part of a bulk shipment of fleet vehicles by an auto dealer and so will have both extra stuff under the hood and the storage package in the back. My local dealership ordered a few hundred for local businesses and I was able to nab one by asking (dealers keep these vans stored on an extra lot – fleet vehicles are seldom advertised or on the main lot. you gotta know to ask for ’em)

    Pro: Mine had a beefier alternator and a more solid A/C.
    Con: As a fleet vehicle, it was stripped down which meant no cruise control and no automatic windows and a very, very cheap radio.
    Pro: The storage was awesome.
    Con: All that metal shelving makes lots and lots of noise. Also, if you need to pick up something big, you may have to do some major configuring of everything you own.
    Pro: The rubber mat was easy to clean up.
    Con: It got a little extra hot and there was really no padding under

    Things to think about: I lost the key to the inner door, and had to get a locksmith to open it because the number was too worn to figure out the lock. It creeps alot of people out to see the cage for some reason. I found it funny, but some people were really put off by it. Oh and the bucket seats were super cheap, so they wore out quickly. I just put in junk yard seats pulled from another van.

    Also, also: I never figured out if it was the beefier fleet package or something else, but my van had to have steel belted radials and be balanced twice a year. It liked to eat through tires othewise, and I never ever got a good answer why.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Interesting, specific information, based on experience. Thanks, cc.

      I wondered about heat and noise. If that van were mine I’d put insulation on the ceiling, at least. I guess one would need to put down rubber mats or carpet samples on the shelves and, even then, it probably wouldn’t eliminate all the noise of metal rattling.

      People creeped out about the cage? What? Are your friends criminals or something? Ha! I like the cage. Keeps stuff from hitting you in the back of the head when stopping quickly and you can hang tote bags from it.

      Again, thanks for a comment that gives a lot to think about…

  23. Velda says:

    Happy Friday all! My take on the 2500 vs 3500 comes not from the Chevy perspective but from the Mercedes Sprinter perspective. My Leisure Travel was built on the 2500 chassis/van. Today’s Leisure Travel vans are built on the 3500. Not just different engine and performance but can carry more weight in the conversion., humans, water, and your household stuff, but also usually higher tow capacity. Sue, you might consider as you begin dreaming and research, stopping somewhere with a full tank of water, fuel, and propane, and get weights on both the PTV and the BLT. It will quickly allow you to be selective in choosing your perfect new to you PTV when that day comes.
    Course I could also add, my Sprinter 2500 gets 16 to 17 mpg around town and as much as 28 mpg on long trips, but is a diesel and cost way more than a Gas express. I got what I wanted and when you are ready you will as well. Have a good day. Hugs to the fur kids.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Velda,

      Thanks for the information, specific to your Leisure Travel and also regarding weights. I should follow your advice! I get on the road and all I can think about is our next camp! 🙂

      I imagine the 3500 chassis allows for the weight of air conditioner and other stuff that is on and in the Best Little Trailer.

      I’m glad you’re happy with your rig. You have a good day, too!

      • Calvin R (still in Ohio) says:

        I’ll second the advice about weighing the Casita at its highest weight. There is plenty of advice about RV weight/towing ratings around, but don’t rely on sales people to know or care. Probably the most important numbers are GCWR, Gross Combination Weight Rating, which tells you the total weight a tow vehicle is equipped to handle, including the tow vehicle itself; and towing capacity, the weight of trailer the tow vehicle is rated to pull under specific conditions.

        • Sidewinder Pen says:

          I’m just going to add that GCWR (Gross combined weight rating) can be somewhat misleading. Why do I say that? Because both of my last two van/RV’s would have been horribly overweight if I had got them anywhere near the GCWR. This is not uncommon, especially with vans that are at all “outfitted” or RV’s.

          With both rigs, I had enough capacity to tow a reasonably substantial trailer, but it was the rear-axle weight rating that “went” first, and then the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating of the tow vehicle) that would have gone over next. Both of those would have been “crushed” if I’d gone up to the gross combined weight rating or the “tow rating.” Those were dream figures.

          It all depends, but what I do is find out all of the weight specs: Front and rear axle weight ratings (FAWR and RAWR); the most the tow vehicle can weigh alone (GVWR), the most the combination can weigh (GCWR), the weight rating of the hitch (this can sometimes be beefed up), “tow rating” (if one is given), and any tongue weight restrictions. One of those things will be the “weak link,” and often it’s not the GCWR. It may be, but it may not be. It may be one of the other ratings that comes first and is the “stopper.”

          I totally agree that the only weights to trust are ones you’ve taken at a scale. Anything else is an estimate, wishful thinking, or sometimes lack of knowledge (sales people, for example).

          • Calvin R (still in Ohio) says:

            Pen, thanks very much for the addition. I’ll admit to working from memory, and you make important, valid points. As far as I know, side-to-side balance or the RV’s GVWR tend to go first, but I’m very aware that auto sales people will happily sell a person a vehicle that cannot tow the trailer the customer owns. I’m hoping not to make this too complex, but all of the weight/balance information matters.

  24. Robin Shaw says:

    Oh, gunshots really scared the little guy! I wonder if he has any experience with hearing them in his past? Glad he recovered! Robin in NC

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Robin,

      Of course, I don’t know anything about Reggie’s experiences during his first three years. I think some dogs are built that way — to be alarmed at gunshots. Reggie’s having a great day today! Thanks for the kind note.

  25. Hi Sue, glad the shooting stopped and the Reggie man is back to his usual cheerful self. Interesting interaction with the Border Patrol. Glad he didn’t make you unload everything – that would have been a chore.

  26. Sharon in MO says:

    Glad to hear Reggie man recovered fairly quickly from his gunshots scare. I think it would scare me too to hear shots so close.
    Your weather looks beautiful. Here in KC it is sunny and mid-40s with little wind, a very nice day for us.
    We tow our Casita with a 2002 Ford F150, It has 125,000 miles and tows like a dream. However, I can see how a van is much better for you to store all your stuff!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Sharon in Missouri,

      Those Ford 150s are popular. I’d guess for good reason! I’d probably choose one of those if I didn’t need the storage space a van provides.

      I have an aversion to carrying anything outside a vehicle, like a storage box on the back or on the roof. I want everything inside and the outside kept neat and sleek.

      I know there are nifty storage containers, some that lock even, and they look nice and all. People are very happy with them. It’s just a personal quirk.

      I’m glad you aren’t dealing with wind so you can enjoy your sunny day. Nice hearing from you always…

  27. weather says:

    My thoughts about your purchasing any van-If you type closet solutions into Amazon’s search box you’ll find a nice array of what would turn the landslide into a neat area, and those products don’t need assembly. If you ever decide to get a stationary house, you’ll likely choose a small one so could use what you purchase now very long term. Pro-rating it would make it be pennies per day! And I know that you are well aware of the benefits of having a tidy little fund tucked away as well as a tidy perfectly good PTV that you already own… I recall placing on my Amazon wish list a water craft that folded into a package small enough to fit in the T@B’s cupboard. I believe Pen had suggested it. When I got my new laptop Amazon no longer recognized it as being me when I used your link to get there, so I need to register again and find the wish list items that I’m ready to buy. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    Reggie recuperates quickly when he’s upset compared to many other little guys. You’re being wonderfully perceptive about what he needs to do that, and what Bridget needs in other areas is delightful to see. I’m sure it’s hard for you to see him upset and am sorry both of you had to go through that because someone else is so inconsiderate. If thunder, a wild animal howling or other natural situations cause their fear it’s less upsetting because we are concerned without that being compounded by resenting a person that should know better.

    Love the pics of the crew, and the new header photo. I think I feel as much affection for that ironwood tree as you do. This morning I noticed that with the ice and snow having melted because of a warm rain we’d had, the trees here looked like they were dancing with their lightened boughs and branches. Creation can be such a joy, thank you for sharing the parts of it near you again.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Excellent point about searching Amazon for shelving units for the PTV, and possibly, for use later on, too. One thing about the PTV that is wonderful — It’s insulated and upholstered throughout which keeps it comfortable for Bridget and Reggie when I leave them in a parking lot. I’ll have fun browsing what Amazon has to offer in the way of shelving.

      I’m sorry you lost your Amazon wish list when you changed laptops. I hope you can rectify that easily.

      I can see the boughs lifting and swaying outside your window. 🙂 “Our” hummingbird sits on his usual perch in the ironwood. No singing from him yet. It’s nice having him around.

      You’re right about situations — natural vs. manmade. I also find my resentment of noise depends upon the cause. If it serves a good purpose, like the wail of a train, I don’t mind it at all. If it’s unnecessary, like the honking of a horn because someone’s alarm went off unnecessarily, I’m irritated. 🙂 Thunder is fine; a generator, not so much.

      I hope your day is rolling out with no irritants, only that which is good and desired. Wishing sunshine for the kitties to play in!

  28. Pat H....now off of Olgiby Road says:

    I have a 23 foot class c on a Chevy 4500 cutaway,with a 6.0 and 6 speed tranny. I watch the weight and haven’t had any problems on any mountains. Of course, I have a lead foot. Maybe that helps with the steep climbs.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Pat H.,

      That’s a good size for a Class C for you and your mother. I assume you’re happy with it. I hope you’re enjoying this sunny day at Ogilby Road. The wind is starting to pick up here.

      • Pat H....now off of Olgiby Road says:

        You have me mixed up with someone else. My Mom is with me on spirit only. I wish she was around to travel with me. We would have a great time.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Oh, right. I’m sorry, Pat H. I met you at Darby Well Road. I was thinking of Evelyn and her mom. They were at Ogilby Road recently.

  29. Hold on to you hat Sue, we are having a bout of wind again here….coming your way….but this time not a cold wind, Santa Ana winds, warm but messy. Going to warm up with this wind change….keep your back to the wind and your face to the sun 🙂

  30. stan watkins says:

    Dear Sue.That is a nice van but I don’t think you’d like the horsepower loss.Your van should go for 300,000 miles .I don’t know all the specs for that van but since it’s designed to get better mpg it may not be suitable for the type of towing you do and with the shelving you might be tempted to load it down with even more stuff adding weight to an already stressed drive train. Have you considered taking out your back seats and maybe putting a pedestal between your front seats for Reginald ?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Stan,

      To answer your question…. I’m keeping the bench seat for Bridget. She likes to stretch out on it (as did Spike) and it is “her place” where Reggie knows not to intrude. When Bridget is no longer with us, I may consider removing the bench seat.

      Reggie does ride between the front seats. He doesn’t need a pedestal because I put two long seat cushions from the BLT there and they raise him up to my seat level (in his doggie bed on top). The cushions work great! They extend from under the bench seat to the front console and keep the engine heat from coming up through the floor to heat the air and to bother paws. I have it covered with a quilt. The crew can walk from the bench seat to the passenger seat with no jumping.

      I agree about the van I mentioned. I wasn’t attracted to the van as much as I was to the shelving and the increased space without a bench seat.

      Always nice to hear from you…

  31. Barbara (Nashville) says:

    That van looked super. In my research, I have looked at pickup trucks with a space cap or similar brand of storage units. They are made of fiberglass. My thinking is based on have a place to put trash, until it can be gotten rid of, that is separate from my other things. I do still like the van concept, but would need to have shelving. I get tired of hunting for stuff. This condo is bad enough as storage is at a premium.

    I came home from the hospital today. I did have to have another stent, my second. All went well. The surgeon went through my wrist this time vs. the groin. Angel was soooo happy when I came home, but now that she has calmed down, I think she is mad at me for leaving her, but she will be okay by tomorrow. We have already been walking.

    • Barbara (Nashville) says:

      Also, went back and read remaining comments to yesterday post. Thank you Krystina, Denise & Shirlene for the well wishes.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        I was wishing you well, too, Barbara, although I didn’t write. It was a day when I wasn’t replying to comments. I’m glad the stent is done!

      • Denise - Richmond VA says:

        Glad that all went well and that you are getting back to your routine! Prayers answered! 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m confused about your statement regarding a place for trash. You would buy a vehicle based on where you’d put your trash? Buy a big, plastic bin for 10 bucks, put the trash bag in it, close the lid.

      I hope you are feeling well today and that Angel is taking good care of you! 🙂

  32. Mike says:

    3/4 tn rides rougher. Shelving for sale on CL, is common, scrap/junk yards too, …cheap.
    The Reg man is back. Thank Goodness. You should have wonderful climate approaching.
    ???? Do they make earplugs for Reginators????

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Ha! “Earplugs for Reginators”…. If they do make them, I don’t know how I’d convince Reggie to keep them in. 🙂

      I didn’t think about the rougher ride of a 3/4 ton. One thing about the PTV that surprised me and makes me happy is how comfortable it is to drive her. People tend to think vans are uncomfortable — I did. Not any more! 🙂

      Yes, warm, sunny days coming our way. I don’t know where you are… I hope the same for you, Mike! Thanks for writing.

      • Sidewinder Pen says:

        Just a comment: In my experience something like a 3/4 ton truck or van will ride roughly (bouncy, especially from the rear axle) when it’s not loaded up. This can be an issue for someone who drives an empty truck around during the week, and then maybe loads it up to capacity on weekends. Uncomfortable ride during the week.

        For most RV-ers, I’d guess the loads are more constant, so the vehicle is never “empty.” My camper van was a 3/4 ton (E-250 in Ford terms, probably something like “2500” in Chevy terms) and was not rough riding at all. That’s because it was loaded 100% of the time (the “load” being bed/couch, cabinets, tanks, stove, pop-top, etc. of the conversion). I also added load with my stuff, but the basic conversion was most of the weight. I would have been overweight with a half ton (E-150, 1500, etc.).

        In summary, I’d always look for a 3/4 ton or higher for RV type purposes, but that’s because I never drive the rig “empty.” It gets more complicated if you want to be able to drive around in an empty (or very lightly loaded) rig some of the time, but then also use it for heavy loads. Like say you use it as a cargo van to deliver large/lightweight items during the week, but then put in a camper conversion, water, supplies, and more people on the weekends. Then you have basically two different situations for the same vehicle.

        Sue, if I remember correctly you have a half ton now (1500 I think, in Chevy terms). My guess would be it’s close to fully loaded most of the time, maybe even over at times. If I were you and were looking to replace the van, I’d probably try for a 3/4 ton (2500, 250, etc.). Not that there is anything wrong with your van — and my guess is it will just keep on going, and going, and going — but just that if replacing it, I’d probably opt for a 3/4 ton.

        On the other hand (bored yet? LOL), it’s something to research. I’m more familiar with Fords, but for example the 3/4 ton vans always had bigger brakes, heavier springs, stronger wheels, etc. (logical). However in recent years, even the “half ton” has been on a beefier frame, and I don’t believe there are as many differences as there used to be. I haven’t done any specific Chevy research, but there are always folks who know these things. Since the PTV will probably last another ten years or 100,000 miles, you’ll probably be driving it for a long time to come (unless you choose to change).

        Those shelves ARE droolworthy, aren’t they? And that commodious rubber-matted main area? Wow. I can just *feel* the organization, the tidily labeled tubs, etc. Ahhhhh.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          You teach me so much, Pen! And the stuff you teach isn’t easily learned on one’s own, roaming around the web because you bring up issues and comparisons that I wouldn’t think of. If you’re teaching me, I’m sure you’re teaching others who come to my blog.

          I’ve heard great things about the engine in Chevy Express vans. I certainly haven’t had much trouble with the PTV. In the early months of owning her, the steering wheel cable needed adjustment which took a while to discover. The a/c works great when it’s working; that’s been an unreliable feature. The heater is fantastic! Okay, so I have no idea about oil pressure because the gauge hasn’t worked in several months, well, years. That’s annoying, and a little scary when the needle flops back and forth. Haha! The past year paint has started chipping off. Since that started I’ve noticed other older Chevy Express vans missing great swaths of paint across the front. This is not good.

          The only other big deal I’ve had with the PTV is replacing the back, barn door, which was crunched due to my own inattention. She’s been a perfect Perfect Tow Vehicle, all things considered.

          Today I’m emptying out the PTV and making a pile of stuff to take to the thrift store or the dumpster. As you no doubt know, this is something one needs to do periodically. I’ve been carrying around a very heavy, large table that came with the BLT. Why? I ask myself. I’m getting rid of that, along with some other heavy items.

          Thanks again, Pen, for all you add to my blog and the help you give me by sharing your knowledge and experience. I hope your day is happy and bright!

  33. Chuck Hajek says:

    Hi Sue n crew!
    IMHO the 5.3 is better engine and the 2500(3/4 ton) better tow vehicle. With all those shelves….you WILL be filling them up! Makes for more weight on rear axle. 1500 is to auto as 2500 is to truck.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Chuck,

      If I had those shelves they would already be filled with what I presently have. I don’t think I would get more stuff. I’m pretty good about not accumulating stuff.

      Right now the PTV is only about a third full in the back and she’s been about that for years. It’s not the amount that makes a mess, it’s the lack of organization. So many odd shapes loosely arranged… Nice for a day and then the landslide begins! Ha!

      Thanks for the info on the engine and tow vehicle…

  34. Joel says:

    Gun Shots Echo – Camp fire story
    funny story (sort of) every deer hunting season (Michigan) my uncle would lose a cow to hunters that would poach on his land. He had it very well marked with “NO HUNTING” signs. One year he painted his cows with the word “COW” on their side. They shot one and left it to suffer and die. The next day my uncle went out and waited for the hunters to return. They did! When he heard (felt) the gun shots; they were shooting, breaking branches and bark just over his head. My uncle was so mad he shot in their direction emptying both his shot gun and his pistol. He was wearing hunter orange hat,vest, pants. They never returned. Now, my uncle was known for his tall tails. Us kids, never found any bones.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Joel,

      Great seeing you here! I bet your uncle had a great time telling you kids those stories. Thanks for sharing them here….

      Where I grew up in northern NY state, stories were often told of hunters coming up from “the city” and driving out of the area with a dead cow strapped to the hood.

      🙂

  35. Pookie in Todd Mission Tx says:

    WOW….a PTV with bunk beds………I can use that………..
    chuck

  36. Pookie in Todd Mission Tx says:

    about a year after the thugs took down the twin towers in NYC I took a road trip to vegas with 3 of my co-workers…made it easy driving on us since each one of us had about an 8 hour drive……we took a company mini-van and put our luggage up on the luggage rack so we could lay in the back and sleep………
    of course, this was before the bridge over the hoover dam was built so there was check stops on both sides of the dam….
    coming home they pulled us over and made us take down the luggage from the top…
    didnt make us open it or anything just take it down………
    now that is our wonderful government at work since they did not check our luggage that could have had 50 tons of TNT in it………..
    it never ceases to amaze me the mentality of our government workers…..
    chuck

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Please remember that there are blogorinos who work for the government.

      • Pookieboy in SETexas says:

        Opps, sorry about that Sue…I apologize to all our blogorinos that work for the gov’t…..its just that I get so flustered with gov’t waste….
        Chuck

  37. Lee J in Northern California says:

    I have been enjoying this post.
    This is a bit aside, today my nephew called me and asked me to look up some photos from his grandparents that we have…I did, sent him about 30 that met his criteria. He said he was making a video to put on YouTube about his grandpa.
    My nephew is a twin and their mother died when they were four so were raised by their grandparents, so Glenn was more like dad to them..
    Glenn was a captain in the army air corps, my mother in law was a WAC. My husband was their first child, born while Glenn was stationed in England during the war.
    Here is a link to the video.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FJBinYZq_pE&feature=youtu.be

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Lee J.,

      Interesting comment! What a thoughtful thing for your nephew to do… I’d love to look at the video. I’m 3 days away from the end of this data cycle and don’t dare open it right now. I’m getting close to the limit…

      Thanks for posting the link!

  38. BeckyIO says:

    I tow my Casita with a 4.7 liter and am perfectly satisfied, although it is a mid-size truck (Dodge Dakota) instead of a full-size van and that could easily make a difference. Three years on the road and I’ve never felt lacking for power but as they say you can’t miss what you’ve never had, haha.

    Glad Reggie is feeling better. Been getting gunshots out here at Saddle Mountain on occasion too and it’s startling when out on hikes.

    Enjoy Midland! Looks like it’s suppose to be getting in the 80’s around here next week which’ll be nice after the wind and cold.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Becky IO,

      I hope your refrigerator repair went well and with minimal cost. It sounds like you’re enjoying Saddle Mountain… Yay! We’re going to have some wonderful weather! Already it’s turning warm and pleasant here, and probably where you are, too.

      I saw the spent shells from the shooters at Saddle Mountain. We were fortunate not to have any target practice going on while we were there. I imagine it happens more often on weekends

      I’m glad you are happy with your truck.

      • BeckyIO says:

        Yes the refrigerator replacement went well Sue thanks for asking. It’s a slightly different model than what goes in the newer Casitas and has an automatic temperature control which I’m still not so sure about but it seems to be doing well so far. Single digit temps in the freezer which surprised me, I could keep ice cream rock hard!

        It is pleasant here today and yes I’m happy with my truck. It has a tall camper shell so plenty of storage. Take care!

  39. KC says:

    It is not difficult to build cargo shelves. Use aluminum angle, you can pop rivet it together from standard lengths. Setting the angle upright forms the corners and the cross wise pieces support the shelf and also form a lip. The shelves can be plywood, 3/8″ or 1/2″ is sufficient for anything but the super heavy stuff like big batteries which should be on the floor anyway. You will drill a hole through the angle so you can use a sheet metal screw to secure the plywood in place.

    You can stretch elastic bungee cord cargo net across the openings or else just stout fabric panels. At the ends you can use 1/8 plywood panels, they will cut it to size (no cutting charge) at the big box home supply stores such as Home Depot. Small U bolts through the aluminum on the front face could provide a place to hook the net restraints. You can also use those U-bolts to hook bungees to for securing items such as the folding chairs.

    All of this is actually pretty easy DIY. Tools needed a drill motor, a pull rivet tool, a framing square, tape measure, marking pen, along with a few small C clamps. You will screw the shelf structure to the frame of your vehicle with sheet metal screws. The aluminum angle is plenty strong but at the same time light in weight. It won’t rattle while you drive because it is well secured together. Just one shelf will make a difference. But once you see how easy it is to make this kind of shelving you will want to add more of them as needed.

    I am reworking the interior of my 1980 vintage motorhome and that structure building method is the way I am creating the sub framing for all of my cabinetry. Here is a photo, but I don’t have the cross wise shelf pieces installed yet. I shortened it for your convenience, it links to my picasa album image. https://goo.gl/XWkf6u
    Disclosure because I was a real life Rosie the Riveter I know how to get these things done quick and easy and keep them light in weight 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, KC,

      I had to chuckle reading how easy it is to make shelves from aluminum and plywood. It’s hard for me to imagine me going out and buying the tools and supplies at a Home Depot (oh, gotta find a place to camp near one first!) and emptying out the PTV to start this project.

      Then I begin the project between the hours required to think up material and write this blog, take the photos, edit the photos, insert the photos, monitor the comments on this blog, read and write personal replies to hundreds of comments a week, make Amazon links, keep Amazon ads current, check for trolls and hostile comments…. as well as break camp and move ever 14 days, research boondocks, find boondocks, set up camp, dump tanks, take on water, grocery shop, buy propane, go to the laundromat, maintain the PTV and the BLT, clean house, take care of the crew including two walks a day, write and answer emails, keep myself reasonably informed of national and world news — oh, and take a bath — no quick showers here! ……. and I haven’t kept up with washing the BLT and waxing her exterior… oh my… and I’m going to make shelves?

      Me making shelves is about as easy as you doing all that I listed in the paragraph above! 🙂

      You’re doing a good job on your motorhome. Best wishes with that and thanks for sharing the detailed instructions. Although I’m not going to make shelves, there probably are readers who can put those instructions to good use. It was nice of you to take the time and energy to write them. Thank you!

    • Sidewinder Pen says:

      A real-life “Rosie the Riveter”… that sounds interesting!

  40. Darrell says:

    Sue, If you can afford it I highly recommend diesel for your next engine. I tow 10,500 lb 34 foot 5th wheel. Originally I had a 2009 GMC 2500 with tow package that had a 6.0 liter gas engine. In the summer of 2012 we towed the fifth wheel from Kansas to the Grand Canyon, to Vegas then the Cali coast and back home. 3000 miles round trip. I always liked that truck but within 200 miles of beginning that trip I hated it. It down shifted every 10 miles and it truly was gutless. I told my wife if we ever do this again we’ll need a diesel. Coming home we were turning 5000 rpm up the continental dived and barley doing 40 mph at the top and I could never ever use the cruise control because of the down shifting. Thank God the top came when it did. In October 2013 I traded the 2009 for a 2013 GMC 2500 diesel with tow package, exhaust brake and 4 wheel drive. Yes it cost me $10,000 more than I paid for the 2009 but after a trip to Mesa Arizona in March 2015 it made a believer out of me. This truck didn’t down shift once between Kansas and Holbrook Arizona and I used the cruise control the entire way to Holbrook. Towing an RV of any kind, I’ll never have anything but a diesel. Oh and by the way, the diesel get 2-3 mpg better than the gas engine did towing or not towing.

    Just my two cents for your future options.

    Love your blog and follow it religiously, keep up the good work.

    • edlfrey says:

      Sue,
      This is great advice from Darrell IF you ever trade your 2,000+ pound Casita for a 10,000+ pound trailer. I don’t think you need diesel torque to tow what you have now. You do not tend to do a lot of Interstate driving where you attempt to maintain a speed of 75-80 mph so the diesel would not be needed there either.

      There are pro and con arguments for the 5.3L vs 4.8L which many other people have expressed. I think you would do fine with either engine IF it is matched up with the correct rear end ratio for towing. A 4.8L could be better than the 5.3L IF that ratio is better, Sidewinder Pen has said it well.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        You’re right, Ed, on all points. My towing, other than in-town, stays in the 58-60 mph range and the PTV has the power I need for pulling the BLT.

        I’ll keep in mind the point you make in your last paragraph, when it comes time to replace the PTV.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Darrell,

      I can see where the diesel you have is good for your needs — to tow 10,500 lbs of 34-foot 5th wheel. But, really. Can you see me as a diesel truck owner? Me? Little Miss Hummingbird in the Ironwood Tree, the butterfly lover, who can’t stand noise, tight with her purse strings, with a bada## diesel idling at my campsite? Ha!

      Thanks for explaining your situation and your decision to go for more power. Undoubtedly there are readers who can benefit from your experience. I’m happy you love my blog “and follow it religiously.”

  41. JW says:

    If I am reading your post correctly, your ac doesn’t work? I used to have a Ford, older model than your PTV, on which I couldn’t keep the ac working. After a few (expensive) repairs, a mechanic took pity on me and told me that it is necessary to turn the ac on every week or so, even in Winter, in order to keep the ac functioning – something about seals, I believe.

    I’m not a mechanic, and newer models might not have the same requirement, but if you do buy a new PTV with ac, it’s something to keep in mind.

  42. Doug H says:

    http://www.true-racks.com/home/category/4

    Sue here is a link for true racks shelving for vans. on Amazon they have a nice set of shelves that look easy to build for $245. you could keep them in place with cargo bars if you were worried about them falling over in the back. if you dont want to click on the link just do a search for true racks and it should get you to the place you need.
    I enjoy your blog and lifestyle. thanks for sharing!
    Doug

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Doug H, and thanks for the help! I’m glad you like my blog and lifestyle. 🙂

  43. Sue I tow with a Ford F-150 and it’s the 6 banger EcoBoost. Don’t remember the engine size at this moment. After a year and a half, I’ve not had a problem with power. I do have it serviced regularly and recently got new tires. But what I wanted to mention was storage space. I have the mid sized truck bed, and the super crew cab. That back seat is dedicated to the comfort of Joy and Shiloh (good sized Golden Retrievers) so I don’t count it for storage.
    When I started out the truck bed was so loaded down I swear I couldn’t fit a bag of groceries back there! Of necessity, I’ve kept downsizing and re-organizing, and by now I can say I could easily fit a couple months groceries back there! Not that I want to…but there is a lot more open space, and I can actually find things. I think what it all boils down to is we tend to use whatever space we have, no matter how much or little that is. I own less now than when I started out, but I’m not lacking for anything I need, and there is more that I will eventually let go of..it continues to be a process. It’s all good and suits me fine.
    Loving this vagabond life style!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m a van person. The PTV gives me all the storage I need. I don’t want a truck bed. Different strokes for different folks! I’m glad you have what suits you best… Enjoy the rally!

  44. Pat H....now off of Ogilby Road says:

    Ok, I like this area, but is it always windy?

  45. Piper n' Rusty /Near L.H.City Az. says:

    That sounds like you’d be going slower up hills, bigger ones with that other van and later maybe have to “Beef” it up to tackle all that you carry and pull,, I’d stick with the PTV you have and build shelves and such in her to handle all the gear you have,,,, Gun shot sounds are all ways a no, no, for our pets, unless they’re trained with the sound ,, sorry to hear that Reggie is afraid of them, but once he finds out that they are not out to get him he be doing fine,,,,,,,,,, Well I put down a payment on the work that needs doing on the truck steering repair at ” Done Right” auto repair shop in Lake Havasu City,, $ 70.00,, then on the 2sd. of March at 9:30 they will take out all the bad Steering Gearbox, Rag Joint and power steering pump, flush the lines and put in all remanufactured parts in and adjust the works for $ 255.00. Hopefully…. I’ll keep you posted on it,,,,,,,, have a great day and hug your babies for us, especially Reggie the Rocket,,,, Piper says Hi too!,,,,,,,,,,

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rusty,

      Yeah, I’ll keep the PTV a while longer. She’s just a youngster — only 11 years old with less than 160,000 miles on the odometer.

      Best wishes for the work to be done on your truck. May it go well and smoothly. I’m sure you’ll be happy to have it done. You keep your truck in fine shape — Her engine was purring when you started her up at our Midland camp. 🙂

      You have a great day, too, and hugs to Piper! This warmer weather is nice…

      • Thanks Sue, we are south of town in order to see the neat Fireworks that will be going on starting the 11th, next Thursday night and thru till Sunday, we hear a Boom every day, letting folks know there is a Count Down to the great Show,, Most RVs are camped close to the Hwy and across from Sarah Park, but those might get a ticket for camping on state land there,,, we are far back on a hill at the BLM 14 day camp for to see the Sky Rockets and no one can “Cling” to us,,,,,,, Hopefully,,,,,,,,,, rusty

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Why the fireworks? Presidents’ Day, Flag Day, Valentine’s Day? Or is it just something that Lake Havasu City does to attract people?

          • Well,, It’s to Dam hot here in the Summer, for the Fourth, like it can get up to 129 degrees here,, Soo oo ,, the town of Lake Havasu City brings in a bunch of Pyrotechnics from all over the World for Competition and they, the town, makes big bucks,, at the same time up the road at the AZ state park they’re be Blue Grass music, a Chili Cook Off and such,,,, I don’t go to town for those Shows, cause I’m unable to drive at Night and I’d rather just set and watch the Firework show,,, Free to us out of town,,,,,,,,,,

            • Oh ya,, Snow Birds and folks come earlier each year to get a good spot,, as early as mid January,, It’s a mess real close to Sarah Park at that time, with a lot of OHVs, Drunkenness, fights over camps sites, “CLINGERS”,, And Loud Music to boot,,,,

  46. Linda in Southern MN says:

    Poor Reggie. Gunshots would not bother my two deaf dogs! The thirid one does not seem to be bothered by fireworks, so he may be ok.
    It is so funny you were looking at vans, since my son and I were going through the Craislist ads yesterday. He found a Ford with a diesel engine he it thinking about buying. You were my inspiration in deciding I want a van to pull my Scamp. You are correct, will be great for all the extra stuff and the dogs.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Linda in Southern MN,

      More and more I’m seeing vans pulling lightweight trailers. It really is a good combination, especially for a full-timer who doesn’t have a home base and doesn’t want to rent a storage unit somewhere. I’m glad you recognized the advantages. 🙂

      I’m sorry your two dogs are deaf. It makes Reggie’s fear of gunshots come into perspective. At least he can hear them! Best wishes to you, your son, and your canine crew.

  47. DesertGinger says:

    Hi guys. Just had my carotid artery ct scan. Cynthia, yes, my heart surgery is at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach. Where the rich and famous go….and me. Every time I go the parking lot is full of new BMWs and my little old Toyota.

    As for gunshots…I am not opposed to guns, but the idiots that own them can be very annoying.

    I’ve got a big project today, so I just stopped by to say hi and hugs to everyone.

  48. edlfrey says:

    Sue,

    Here is another blogger’s take on the 5.3L vs 4.8L question. Probably does not help you much in making a decision but something else to think about.
    http://occupation-of-independence.blogspot.com/2016/02/can-retro-grouchery-get-you-better-truck.html

  49. Linda in NE says:

    I’ll bet you could get your van rigged up with some shelves like in that van you saw online if you wanted to.

    Poor little Reggie, he looks so sad & scared huddled under his blanket. Lots of dogs are afraid of gunshote and fireworks and there just isn’t any way to convince them they are safe.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Adding shelves to the PTV is more difficult due to windows instead of solid walls. Yeah, Reggie is King of the Desert, trotting around with confidence, until someone shoots a gun.

  50. Rattlesnake Joe says:

    I think the 3/4 ton is a more sturdy vehicle and the shelves are wonderful to look at but it kind of looks like the stuff in the bins would spill out easily. You could put bungie cords in without too much trouble to fix that problem. It looks like there are already holes drilled into the metal or plastic, so that would save you drilling holes. You can hunt around for some netting perhaps at a Army War Surplus store too? Most vans are used up pretty fast being used as delivery vehicles. You were lucky with the first van that had that many miles on her, now this one might be different. I would get it Diagnostically checked out at a good garage. Check the compression on each cylinder. It would only cost about $60 or so but I haven’t done it since the 1980’s so it might be higher now days. Have the AC checked and the brakes too. If you have Les Schwab tires and there is a station near by in California they will do the brake check for free and also check the alighnment and balance of the tires. There is no Les Schwab in Arizona. You may be getting rid of the old van just in the nick of time? But if you think it will last a while longer just keep the PTV. You know the old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But you will have to see a Gypsy to know for sure 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rattlesnake Joe,

      You’re right about some delivery vans being “used up pretty fast.” Some of these vans are routinely driven on interstates with a lot less stop-and-go, or for other purposes that keep them in good shape. The PTV, for instance, was a mobile insurance office.

      I do plan on keeping the PTV as long as she continues to provide good towing with reasonable upkeep. Thanks for the info about what to check when thinking about a van purchase…

  51. kerry says:

    Sue, you have some gotten great advice on the different engines. The smaller motor is the “soccer mom” motor. GM used this one, in their pickups, and combined it with very high gear ratios, to bump the CAFE (overall MPG of all units produced) numbers up. The end result was a combination that got slightly better MPGs, but had IMHO, a real lack of power, or towing ability. They are for people that want, but don’t need, big SUVs, vans, or trucks. In your case, a van exactly like yours, pulling the Casita, would have noticeably less power, and lower fuel mileage if it has the smaller motor.
    The storage units you saw are real common, and pretty cheap, if you buy them used. I outfitted my Express with a total set of them that I scrounged out of a junk yard. They ended up costing me a few hundred bucks, or about a tenth of what new ones cost. They screw to the floor, ceiling, and walls, with a small handful of fasteners. Once I lightly sanded them and gave them a new paint job with grey spray paint cans, they looked new. They make your van much more usable.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, kerry,

      You were smart to find a total set of shelves at a junk yard to fix up and install in your Express van. I wish I could do the same, although there is another consideration… The PTV is a passenger van with windows from front to back. I’m not sure how attaching the shelves to the walls would work and there would have to be something to protect the windows.

      Good to hear from you… I bet you are proud of those shelves, as you should be. Love a bargain that turns out as good or better than bought-new!

      • kerry says:

        Sue, Verizon used window vans for years, for their service trucks. They would have full shelves installed, with the top shelf ending just below the window sill. In fact all my shelving was scrounged from a row of Verizon vans, sitting in the junk yard. If you go to americanvan.com and look for low profile shelving, you will find reasonably priced units that will fit below the windows. They are essentially metal bookcases that will give you lots of storage options.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          The top shelf is just below the window… So you put things on the shelf and they slide into the window or do the shelves have a back panel?

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I looked at americanvan.com. Good resource, thanks! I see where some of the shelves have backs.

  52. Gun shots always sound so much closer than they are, still a bit unnerving when heard near your home! Poor little Reggie 🙁 Wouldn’t you love to hear the border patrol agent tell the story??? Always fun to shop for new vehicles. I’d worry about overloading a van with all those shelves and having no extra room for the crew, but it sure would be easier to organize!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jodee,

      I’m pretty sure that shelves wouldn’t mean I’d overload. I could put at least twice as much stuff in the PTV right now and it’s been that way for years, yet I haven’t filled it up with stuff. Right now I’m doing another sort — keep, throw away, or recycle/send to thrift store.

  53. Well, we have our first clingers! We are camped at Gunsite Wash near Why, AZ. This morning, our two closest neighbors moved out and we thought we were home free. But NOOOOO, these people in a huge fifth wheel backed right up to us across the wash. They are even blocking our view of the magnificent sunsets here. When we look out our back window we see monstrous white box. New spot found. Moving in the morning. Step down off soapbox.

    About the van. Yours is barely broken in and should carry you many more miles before needing to be replaced. Right now, fixing it is cheaper than buying another one. We are on our third tow vehicle. I hope this one is the last. So far so good. This shelves can be bought and installed pretty easily. I’d think that one of the used fleet vehicle sales places would have piles of the laying about. Maybe try and contact a few and see what they say. I worked out of a van for several years and they are great for keeping stuff organized.

    Glad to hear you are all OK and doing well.

    John

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, John,

      What a bummer to have someone spoil your boondock! I hope you found another camp that you like.

      We learn as we grow up not to complain. “Nobody likes a complainer,” “Stop whining,” “Get over it” and all that. As a result we often suffer in silence when another person is inconsiderate and/or impolite which means the behaviors of the selfish and clueless continue on and on.

      Recently I gave an illustration on this blog showing how important it is for everyone to be aware of how their actions affect others. The example I gave was parking right smack dab in someone’s doorway/window view, placing one’s rig in someone’s sunrise or sunset. Maybe that seemed petty at the time. However, anyone who has actually had the experience of having their space invaded, of having a pleasant campsite ruined by someone else, of being forced to pull up stakes and move camp, knows how maddening it is. . . and unnecessary!

      I’m very glad you reported this, John. Obviously there are people who need to be made more self-aware and taught how to be considerate of others when boondocking.

      Good point about the used fleet places having shelves. I don’t know if shelves would work in the PTV with all the windows, front to back.
      BTW… Are you the John K. with an Airstream who once lived in Alabama? Did you change your handle? Or are you a different John K? I hope you see this and clarify…

      • edlfrey says:

        Sue,

        With the windows in your PTV maybe you need to think about shelves ONLY up to the bottom of the windows. This would give you the where with all to organize your ‘stuff’ and open up the center floor – maybe?

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          It might help a little. Not much would be gained because of the space taken up by the wheel wells and the bench seat.

          • kerry says:

            Sue, you can use the low profile shelf units to straddle the wheel wells, and end up using the dead space above them.

      • Same John K, different nickname. I have to keep you wondering…”what’s wrong with that guy”…

        I would think they’d be ok as long as they were attached top and bottom.

  54. catew says:

    Hi Sue, crew, and blogorinos,

    Hope everyone is doing well today. We had an unusually warm spell in Maine with a couple days in the 50’s so we and the birds thought spring was coming early. Haha..then we had a snow storm on Friday, and today (mon) its windy and 20 degrees. I console myself by looking at Sue’s photos.

    Sue, I enjoyed the story in this post and laughed when I pictured the border patrol searching the PTV for migrants only to find “Fiber Magee’s closet” instead.

    I toy with the idea of a mid-size 4-wheel drive truck for a tow vehicle, however, I think Sue has sold me on the van. I drooled too when I saw all those lovely shelves in the van interior photo. I wonder if any dealer could outfit a van with fiber-glass storage units for me? Would like at least one clothes hanging bar too.

    Brace yourself Sue and blog family…I have a ton of questions so it may take several of Sue’s postings to answer them, but just know in advance that I will be very, very grateful for everyone’s input.

    1. Will I be able to use the kitchen appliances I already own (mixer, toaster, blender, food processor , etc) in my RV trailer or will I have to buy special makes?

    You can use those appliances when you are hooked up to shore power. Anything involving heat, like a toaster, has a heavier energy draw and can drain batteries quickly. I have a camp toaster that is used on my propane stove and can be used over a campfire. Food can be chopped with hand-operated choppers. If you are planning on going totally solar and abhor generators like I do, you can search Amazon for 12v appliances.

    2. Is there anyone I could hire to build and install my solar power system? I’m not handy that way.

    I recommend Starlight Solar in Yuma (Do a search and their website with contact info will come up.)

    3. What’s in your RV pantry? Just curious to hear what full-time folks like to stock up on and keep on hand for the road
    .

    My pantry is the same when full-timing as when I lived in a sticks-and-bricks, dependent upon my diet preferences at the moment. The only change is the amount of room for fridge/freezer storage. I solve that by going to the grocery store more often.

    4. Blogging sounds like lots of time and effort…is it worthwhile?

    Is blogging worthwhile? That’s a question I frequently ask myself. You probably have noticed I don’t blog everyday. I can’t do that and produce anything of quality, plus I want to encourage interaction in the comments and that takes time, too. I strive for balance in my life and the blog is reaching a point of consuming too much of my time. It seems when I’m not blogging, I’m thinking about blogging — what to write, how to write it, what photos are needed, etc.

    The rewards I receive are great — repeated encouragement for my writing, photos, and decisions, companionship from really wonderful people during the ups and downs of life, helpful info and advice, etc. And there’s also the Amazon income, which, I admit, is a motivator. Sometimes I get a little down when I think about the work vs. the very tiny percentage of readers who use the Amazon links and ads I post to actually buy something… Then I adjust my attitude and remember to be grateful for those who DO support my efforts with their Amazon shopping. And I truly am grateful!

    One big reward of blogging — and this doesn’t require that a blog be popular — is the record it creates. The memories made on the road are precious!

    I LOVE Sue’s blog and learn so much from everyone who comments. Its been a constant source of excellent advice and information, incl. this post discussion of tow vehicles, how to calculate weight, and so on!

    Inspirational quote for the day:

    “It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance.
    It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes a chance.
    It’s the one who won’t be taken who cannot seem to give.
    And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.”

    Thinking of Sue, and all of your courageous dreamers who are not afraid to live life to the fullest.

    Virtual hugs to all,
    CateW

    • Marilyn, Dania Beach, FL says:

      Cate,

      Sue gave a recap of her day not too long aga and after reading I was exhausted. The blog is a full time job, trust me. Is it worth it? That is for you to decide. I know Sue’s readers tremendously appreciate her efforts.

      Thanks RVSue for all your time and effort you put into this journal. We appreciate every little and big effort.

      Marilyn in DB

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, CateW,

      I love all these questions! I’m sure there are readers who have the same questions and also blogorinos ready and willing to help me answer them.

      I haven’t heard that quote in a long time. Does anyone know where it originated? Lots of wisdom and inspiration… Thank you, CateW.

      BLOGORINOS:

      I encourage you to contribute your answers to CateW’s questions. For clarity, please repeat the question you are answering in your comment. Thanks.

    • Sidewinder Pen says:

      Hi Catew,

      I know what that feels like: Those “balmy” days that you know aren’t really spring, but you can’t help but think that juuuuust maybe…

      I’ll put in my two cents on your questions. But to comment on the first one (and not to say it’s not a good question!), in a way questions like that are like “how does one set up a kitchen in a house?” What I mean is, there is everything from the sleek kitchen of a person who eats out every meal, to the kitchen of a gourmet cook, to the one belonging to someone who makes TV dinners all the time, to the classic Display of All Appliances, the practical farm kitchen, and the kitchen that contains only scissors for opening Clif bars. These are all answers to the “how do you have a kitchen in a house,” and they are all correct! It’s a little bit the same in an RV/tent/etc.

      On the other hand, I guess another version of the question would be (and maybe this is what you meant): “I am an ‘appliance person,’ and I want to be able to use all of them when on the road.”

      Anyway…

      So I never was an “appliance person” (although growing up in the 60’s, there was an individual appliance for EVERYTHING). I’ve found that a spot of counter space and a really good, pleasing knife will just about do it all for me. This is great, because it’s easy to store one really good knife, and it doesn’t use electricity or take up counter or storage space. Then too, when I was boating, great solar arrays and inverters were but a dream, so I found out you can just (for example) put heavy cream in a lidded jar, shake it a bit, and then, voila, you have whipped cream! (Or butter, if you don’t stop in time.)

      So my own opinionated advice would be to try going with just a good knife, and/or some “non-electric” appliances (for example, I do have a pepper grinder, a citrus zester, a coffee grinder, and a can opener – and I used to have a toaster like Sue has – all hand operated). If it works out, great, you just saved some power, and (maybe more importantly) some storage space. If not, then you know just what you want to buy, without just bringing along a bunch of things because you were used to them sitting on the counter.

      But if you really do want all the appliances? If you bring along the usual 110 ones, some of them will work with a reasonably sized inverter (as long as you have a way to put the power back), and all of them will work when you are plugged in. (I don’t plug in, so that doesn’t work for me.) You can also get 12-volt versions of some things, as Sue mentioned (although you’re not likely to get a big dough-kneading mixmaster or etc.). Also as Sue mentioned, any appliance that makes heat is just killer on electricity. Heaters, toasters, microwaves, induction cooktops, etc. You can run all of these on a 12-volt system with an inverter, but you better have a nice BIG battery bank to first of all, supply the power, and second of all, cushion the big, momentary “hit” that these things take. Plus of course a way to put the power back into the batteries. As you can likely tell already, I find it easier to just keep it simple. I don’t store the appliances, clean them, or provide power for them (although I WOULD if they meant a lot to me – they don’t).

      There are people RV-ing and camping all across the spectrum, but there are also two rough “groups” I notice. One does not want to feel like they are camping, and wants all the conveniences of “home.” This makes them happy. Likely they either stay in places with hookups, or have a larger, more intense 12-volt power system. Complications aren’t complications to them, they are pleasant luxuries. If things break, they are repaired or replaced without undue stress.

      The second group (again, just generalizing here and people fit in everywhere on the spectrum) enjoys the simplicity of “camping” (by which I mean simple RV-ing in this context). They chop with a knife, cool with an open window and a fan, move or add layers if it’s too cold (or run a heater of course, but I mean in the big picture). Camping to them means something closer to care-free and closer to nature than “roughing it.” Less to buy, less to provide power for, less to fix (or worry about needing repair). That’s not to say there is nothing complicated (even a small DC electrical system/solar is nothing like a backpack and a tent), but it’s more the general idea of not duplicating the “home” life exactly. (Well, unless you lived in a cabin, but you know what I mean.)

      Each of these theoretical people is enjoying RV-ing, their way.

      Since you expressed an interest in boondocking and a small trailer, I’d say it might be better to try out the second way, and then if you don’t like it, move toward the first way (until you are comfortable/happy). Or, if you know you are solidly in group A, then maybe start with a slightly bigger, more “home like” rig (I’m sure there ARE people in group A with 13′ Scamps, but it’d be a challenge.)

      On the solar, my advice would be to read/review and try for some level of understanding, even if you are not going to do the work. It’s possible to get a good system without doing so, but it’s better if you have a reasonable handle on what’s being done, how it’s being done, and what you want. Also, I think it’s good to have a basic understanding in order to “manage your own utility company” (which is what you are basically doing when you are boondocking if you have an RV with tanks, solar, etc.). As you can already tell, to my mind, the simpler you can happily keep it, the easier — for most people anyway (say you ruin your battery bank by not understanding it – would you rather replace two or six $350 batteries…) (That’s just one example, and yes there are cheaper batteries, different ways to do it, etc. – but larger and more complicated just about always costs more than small and simple.) Again, I don’t know that you are trying to go small and simple, but I’m just guessing based on some comments and my (hopefully not faulty) memory.

      My pantry looks the same as it did when I lived in a house, and I eat the same things the same way. On a boat I had much more reserve stock (many pounds of flour, cases of paper goods, dozens of food cans, etc.), but that’s not really practical (weight/space) or necessary (stores are on most roads) for me in an RV.

      I don’t blog, so can’t address that.

      Always fun to see different people’s responses to specific questions 🙂 I’m sure others will have completely different views than I do, and it will be fun to see them from anyone who cares to answer.

      • Sidewinder Pen says:

        Oh I’m sorry, I missed the part about “repeat the question.” I answered them in order though, so hopefully not too unclear.

        • SP, when I am out in my rig on the 395, I sure do hope our paths cross, you are an inspiration. And I think I am in the first group of spoiled RV living like in a home group…I hope I can scale it down to something in between, and if I manage, it will be thanks probably to you… stay safe and happy out there, you are a treasure to this group. 🙂

          • Calvin R (still in Ohio) says:

            Shirlene, I’m distinctly in the “camping” group, but that doesn’t mean you are wrong. Much of this is about freedom for me, and it’s important to use that freedom in my lifestyle. If I do a “next to nothing” setup and you do a full-out “home” rig, that’s ok. Just enjoy whatever you do and I’ll enjoy mine. If not, change it.

          • Sidewinder Pen says:

            I’d be honored to meet you, Shirlene. And I can’t think of a place better than 395 (one of my favorite roads).

            As Calvin mentioned (and as you also intimated), there is nothing wrong with either end of the spectrum, or anything in between. (Well, unless someone on the other end is running a generator in my ears to support it….ahem).

            Sounds like you would like to simplify a bit, and to me, part of the fun of living a “different” way is that it makes it easy to experiment, since everything is up for grabs. So you can try and see! Or I could get a Class A with all the mod cons and see how I like it (could be fun with a 4 x 4 to explore with, from my comfy base…)

            I know you can tell which end of the spectrum I’m on (now), but I tried not to “disparage” the other end. On the other hand, I wanted to convey that — especially for folks on a budget — “all the conveniences” can lead to more expense, more weight, and more crammed storage. The expense can grow if one is not making one’s own repairs, since more complex, bigger things bouncing down the highway do tend to break more. But thousands of happy, successful Class A “all the conveniences of home” folks are happily traveling those highways, so there is room for many ways.

            Anyway, thanks to you and others for the kind words. It’s nice to be appreciated by folks I admire.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          You write so clearly, Pen, that it isn’t necessary for you to repeat the questions… 🙂

        • Chris(MN) says:

          You rock, SP!

      • Kerry On (UT) says:

        You’re so cool, Pen! I loved your explanations! My husband and I are just vacation campers at this point. I’m more of a roughing it kind of gal, while my husband is 100% a modern conveniences man. You’d think we’d be the opposite! In our many travels with everything and the kitchen sink in a tent, I’ve found that the more “but I might need it” kind of stuff we bring with us, the less enjoyable the excursion. My motto is Keep It Simple Sweetie! I’ve found that if I forgot to bring something, I’ll either make do, or buy it along the way…. oh yes, and that it’s really not necessary to bring a kitchen sink when tent camping. Seriously. 🙂

  55. bess in eugene, oregon says:

    hi everyone, if you want to see my simple, camping style trailer, Sue featured a picture of it in July 25th (i think that is the date) 2015 at Haystack Lake in Central Oregon. you can use her search button.

    i have written about using a vintage trailer before. the cost is lower to purchase, it has 12 volt and plug-in power, a 14 gallon water tank and pump, a sink and that is about it. a sweet dinette and double bed, full closet. no shower, toilet. perfect for Barry and me because we loved tent camping until 2 years ago when we kept getting rained-out.

    my kitchen is simple and we still cook outside most of the time. we eat organic and fresh food and i cook like i do at home. our cooler is our refrigeration. i recently made a insulated cover,which resembles a tea cozy, to keep the ice longer than the 5 days we get with it. i used Refletotex (sp?) and silver tape that i found at Home Depot in the insulation department.

    i am not a full-timer. and won’t be either. we take short trips and are planning some longer ones as the year progresses, now that Barry is retired.

    vintage trailers aren’t for everyone and i enjoy the simplicity of the whole experience.

  56. Lee J in Northern California says:

    Sue..just a note. Lately when I try to do my order from Amazon using your link, I get to the Amazon site, but on the search line is a small icon of a microphone. It will take me to whatever I search for but only gives me the option of saving the item to a wish list, no option for purchasing.
    Consequently I end up moving away from that search page link in order to actually order. I just ordered a kindle book called So Much Owed..a whole 2.99. I have a feeling it didn’t show up on your purchase lists. Perhaps you can check? Might explain,low purchases if it is happening to others.
    I don’t know it I have done something to cause this or if it is an anomaly of the search feature on your link.
    If this is happening to others it may be losing you sales commission. Any way to check this? Perhaps someone with more knowledge than me could explain this and fix it, or tell me how to fix it?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Lee J… I’ll look into this… First I need you to clarify for me … “when I try to do my order from Amazon using your link..” What link do you mean? The one that says CLICK TO SHOP AMAZON NOW or one of the others…

      Also, you can save me a lot of searching if you could give me an idea when you ordered “So Much Owed.” Within the past 3 days? Within the past week? Otherwise I don’t know when to stop searching as I go further back. Or if you ordered this afternoon it may not be on my orders report yet. I assume the book has downloaded to your kindle.

      I also don’t understand, if the microphone/spyglass icon takes you to the item, why not click on the item instead of saving to a wish list, have the item’s page open, and then buy it?

    • edlfrey says:

      I don’t know what Sue is going to tell you but I know she will do it with more class than I.

      First, the “small icon of a microphone” on the Amazon Search line represents a spy glass such as what Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes might use when searching for something.

      Second, I tried to duplicate your problem of having only “the option of saving the item to a wish list, no option for purchasing” and could not do it. Every item that I selected had a Add To Cart and Buy Now button as well as the Add To List.

      Having said that, IF you accessed Amazon from Sue’s web page and you bought anything, no matter how you might have done so, rest assured that she will get credit for it. Good luck if you are in desperate need of “So Much Owed”.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Thanks, Ed. Right as your comment appeared I realized the microphone icon Lee J. mentioned is the spyglass.

        I think your explanation is quite well done. The Holmes and Watson illustration was a nice, literary touch.

        LEE J…. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem and I appreciate you alerting me. I tried using the search line to search for an item I had placed on my Wish List. Add to Cart and Buy Now buttons were there in their usual place in upper right. I’m at a loss what you’re experiencing.

      • Lee J in Northern California says:

        Funny..the book I ordered is a novel about Ireland ..I actually don’t have any bills other than utilities, etc..thank goodness!

  57. Lee J in Northern California says:

    I used the top icon on the right of your blog..the shop Amazon now ..
    I had just ordered the book so roughly one pm…my post said 1:08.
    I will add that I regularly order from Amazon and have had this problem for a while, I should have mentioned it earlier!

    • Lee J in Northern California says:

      I just checked and it is indeed a microphone . I clicked on it and it says I can verbally ask for a search….I have no idea how this came about. I wonder if it has to do with the newest update Apple did for my iPad?

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Oh, that might be where the problem originated. I can’t help you as I have no experience with IPads. Maybe a reader can help. I wonder if you asked for your cart would the microphone send you there…

        I’ll look again for the ebook. Thanks for giving me the time of your order.

        LATER… The book hasn’t appeared yet. I don’t know how long the usual delay is between customer order and the report being updated. I’ll check again later. I hope there isn’t something “out there” that is messing up my sales. 🙁 BTW, thanks for being an RVSue shopper! 🙂

  58. cateW says:

    Hi Folks,
    I’m still at work and shouldn’t even be looking at the blog, BUT, thanks Sue, Pen, and all for your responses to my questions.
    I cook mostly vegetarian and some of my favorite receipts involve so much chopping and mixing that I have enjoyed using my food processor to save labor and time. I am beginning to have some pain in my hands so prefer a small hand mixer to using a big spoon or wisk. I like simple in many ways so I will have to give some hard thought to how I will make my kitchen on wheels suit my diet and physical limitations.
    You are right…I do want to boondock and rely on solar power. I don’t want to “live” in the more expensive campgrounds with shore power, mostly, ’cause I won’t be able to afford it, and I don’t want lots of company. Just wanted to know what was out there for appliances if I had to switch from ones I own now.
    Thanks for providing the source of the song lyrics…I couldn’t remember where the quote came from…just know I love it and have it posted on my frig.
    Good night all,
    CateW

  59. ValGal (westernWA) says:

    Awesome info in this post. Thank you, Sue and blogorinos! It will be very useful to me if my RV life gets on the road. I must say, most of the technical stuff was a bit Greek to me as I am not mechanically inclined.

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