NM, RV Park Reviews, Tiny Life, Travel

Heron Lake State Park ~ Los Ojos, NM

New Mexico has some of the best state parks in the country, IMO, and back in January of 2017 when we still had the truck camper we purchased a year pass but unfortunately never got to use it.  So when we got back on the road again in our Avion we decided we had better get our moneys worth out of it before it expired (01/31/18)!

New Mexico state park passes cost $225 a year for out of state residents and $180 a year if you’re a New Mexico resident.  Now that might seem like a lot but when you are camping and are in a non-electric site the cost is free!  If you choose a power and water site the cost is $4 a day and a full hookup site (where available) is $8!  Not a bad deal, IMO.  Also dump sites are available at most parks.

Our first state park of this tour was Heron Lake State Park in Los Ojos, NM.  Situated just 20 minutes from Chama, NM and fed by the Rio Chama.  This state park and lake offers many camping opportunities but if you’re looking for something with power and water there are only two options:  Blanco and Willow Creek.

Site #57 at Blanco. Large pull through, power/water and a picnic table with shelter
Willow Creek has smaller sites and not nearly as many pull throughs as Blanco so when we came through looking for a site we chose Blanco.  We found a large pull through almost immediately that was a non-reservation site.  All sites in Blanco have fire pits and picnic tables and some have covered shelters.  Our site had a shelter and was fairly private. Blanco also has a bathhouse with showers while Willow Creek has a bathroom with toilets only.

There are many hiking trails in the camping areas that lead down to and go around the lake.  All are easy paths to hike and offer beautiful views!

Hiking trails to the lake!

Heron Lake

A place to rest with a view of the lake
The only downside to the campsites at Blanco and Willow Creek is that none of the sites have a true view of the lake.  You can glimpse it from certain sites but there are no full views.  There are other dispersed camping sites down the road that you can see the lake from but none offer electric or power so keep that in mind.  Also, some of the other dispersed areas are not able to accommodate larger rigs.  Be sure to scout all areas before driving in!

Another view of site #57
Length of stay in all New Mexico state parks is 14 days and as we are determined to take it slow this winter we did stay the whole 14 days in Blanco.

Verizon cell service offers 1 bar of LTE but it can go in and out without a booster.  TMobile was nonexistent.

All in all, Blanco and Willow Creek offer nice pull through and back in sites that are fairly large and private, good amenities and lots of outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing.  We will definitely be back!

Gorgeous pine trees!

It was wildflower season!

Beautiful sunsets!

Goodnight!
Boondocking!, Eats & Drinks, General info, Tiny Life, Travel

Why We Live This Life

Many times people question us as to why we choose to live “homeless”. We tell them we are not homeless but that we take our home everywhere with us!  A lot of our family in particular think we are crazy, or just going through “a phase”.  No amount of words can persuade them.  No matter, we love this life and this is why. Photos can say what words cannot express. Enjoy.

1.  Visiting amazing places! In just the past couple of years we have visited some beautiful locations and we haven’t even touched the tip of the ice berg yet! Here is a sample of some of the places we have seen:

Santa Fe, NM
American Girl Mine
Crater Lake
Ojo Caliente, NM
Mammoth Lakes, CA
South Lake Tahoe area

 

2.  Meeting great people and inspiring others along the way. So amazing!

Doug, Denise, Zoey and us at Treasure Falls, CO. We inspired them to live full time in an RV and they inspired us to buy our Avion! We’ve known them for over 13 years.
Laurie & Scott of Disrupting Ordinary in Quartzsite
Me with Kait & Leo of We’re The Russo’s in Woodland Hills, CA
Lucas, Nancy & friends in Mammoth Lakes
Shannon & Dave of 2 Wander Away in American Girl Mine

Amazing food!!

Homemade margaritas & fajitas!
Amazing nachos from Kips Cantina, Pagosa Springs, CO
Steak & Kale salad, Ojo Caliente Spa
Low Country Boil in the middle of nowhere!
Amazing views and great food, Klamath Falls

And last but not least, incredible sunsets:

Mittry Lake, Yuma, AZ
Sam’s Family Spa, Desert Hot Springs, CA
American Girl Mine, CA
Somewhere in AZ
Tierra Amarilla, NM
Mammoth Lakes, CA

As you can see, the above photos are just some of the reasons we live this life. And these are just brief moments of why we do this. Our main driving force?  FREEDOM!

Is it all peaches and cream? Hell no! There are many sucky days just like living in a sticks and brick! But we wouldn’t trade this life for all the houses in the world!

New adventure awaits just down the road! Live your life while you can and stop buying into the fallacy that keeping up with the Joneses is the right thing to do. The Joneses are broke!

Travel is the ONLY thing you buy that makes you richer!

Cheers!

Shelly & Mark ~ Boondock or Bust

Boondocking!, Solar, Tiny Life, Travel

And We Are On The Road Again!

This has been a crazy year to say the least. Mark experienced some really bad health issues this year which put a brake on our travels. His health issues were getting so bad we even sold our little off grid cabin. 😢

Sold!! We will miss this adventure

Fortunately we were able to figure out what was causing all his symptoms (Lupus) and now we have a game plan with his doctor and are able to get the most severe of his issues under control.  Along with his major back surgery nearly 4 years ago, things have been really insane health wise. I’m glad that we now have a handle on it and know how to deal with it!

As Mark was feeling better we started to get the itch to travel again. Our friends Doug and Denise have a cute 1978 Avion and we fell in love with it when we visited them.

Doug, Denise, Zoey and “Ava” the Avion

We made it our mission to find one and that we did. We even got to surprise them this summer with it! And of course we were fortunate to have their help for about a month with the rehab of our rig.

Now that Armani the Avion is restored to his former (and better, imo) glory we have decided to hit the road again.

All set up at our first location on our latest journey

We will be hanging in the northern New Mexico area while we finish up some doctors visits and shake the bugs out of the rig.  Oh, and we got a couple new travel partners too!! Meet Ranger (blk/wht) and Scout (tabby). So far they have taken to RV life just fine and we anticipate many fun adventures with them!

RV life is tough on kitties! 😂

See you down the road!

Adios!
General info, Remodel, Solar, Tiny Life, Travel, Uncategorized

Saving Money on a Renovation

As we are on the final leg of our Avion restoration I thought I would share some money saving ideas we used during the process. 

Let me preface this by saying, a full restoration is NOT cheap but it is possible to save some money on some things that would otherwise be expensive or time consuming. 

Here is our list!

  1. Paint: Probably the cheapest way to make a dark RV interior come to life for very little money. I estimate we spent around $275 in paint and supplies.  Of course, the hours I put into painting were crazy but it was worth it IMO. It makes everything so clean and bright!
    Cabinets – before and after
  2. Reusing old hardware:  I admit I wanted new hardware but when I added up all the cabinet doors and drawers I quickly realized the cost was more than we were willing to spend. So for a $4 can of spray paint I saved us over $200! 
    Hardware – before and after
  3. DIY:  This is definitely the big one!  Being handy will save you BIG BUCKS!  Even if you don’t know how to do something, I can guarantee that there is a YouTube video showing you how to do it. If you can follow instructions then you can do it! Also, having friends who are willing to lend their expertise helps too. While we could have built our lounge area ourselves, our friend Doug is a master carpenter and he made it much better than we could have. Knowing your strengths is key! But don’t be afraid of researching how to fix something. Sometimes it is easier than you think!
    The Lounge – even though our friend Doug built it, I did the cushions myself!
  4. Modify:  for example, we had to replace our awning fabric. Since our Avion has curved sides there is a curved arm bracket for the hardware. It’s the original Zip Dee awning hardware. We called Zip Dee and got a quote – $1300 just for the fabric! 😳. So we looked around and found awning fabric on Amazon for $200. We modified the awning fabric on our original hardware and made it work. Now we have an awning for very little money! Think outside the box!! 
    Using rivets to attach a modern awning fabric to a vintage awning hardware
  5. Consider all electric:  the fridge in our RV was no good. We had no choice but to replace it. Again we wanted to save money and by going with an Energy Star all electric fridge we saved almost $1000! Money that will be applied to our solar that will easily run this fridge while boondocking. And if you don’t boondock then an all electric fridge is a simple choice! Also, we have the added benefit of having more fridge space as the electric models don’t have all the gear on the back that the propane fridge does. And it fit in the same cabinet! Amazon for the win again! 
    New “stainless” electric fridge!
  6. Consider whether it’s a “need” or a “want”:  Sometimes the best way to save money is just to not buy something! I know, what a crazy concept, right? But sometimes there are things you can just live without. For example, I really wanted a Precision Temp hot water heater when it was apparent we had to replace ours. But again, it was a $1000+ so we said no to that dream and went with a $380 6 gallon propane one instead. 
    New 6 gallon water heater
  7. I wanted to get new countertops but again, the cost was more than we could bear. So the next best option was to redo existing countertops with an epoxy makeover! I was skeptical at first that they could make our countertops look decent again but I figured for $90 it was cheaper than the alternative. And you know what? They turned out really well! The one kit had enough to be able to do the kitchen, bathroom, desk and shelf behind the lounge! Definitely a money saving win!  And the kit can be used on almost any surface. 
    New “granite” countertops!
  8. Electrical and propane:  sometimes these systems seem daunting but with a little research the problems can be easily solved. Get yourself a test light and learn how to check for blown fuses. The 12 volt system is a pretty basic system and is easy to learn. Now be careful with the 110 system! Unless you know what you’re doing we recommend an electrician. Propane is also fairly simple and with a little working knowledge you can easily repair minor leaks or install a new changeover regulator! Just be careful to follow all safety procedures. If you don’t know what those are then seek a professional. 
  9. Don’t be afraid of hard work! Putting the effort into your remodel yourself will save you a ton of money. Granted, it might take you longer than a professional but you’ll have the satisfaction of having accomplished all this yourself. It’s a great feeling! Obviously, know your limits (especially with electrical or propane) but don’t be afraid of getting dirty! ☺️

In conclusion, our remodel of this vintage rig has been expensive due to having to replace some of the main components but the fact that we were able to do these things ourselves made the cost more bearable. If we had taken this rig to Camping World or some other RV repair place the cost would have been sky high!

And while we are nearly done with all the major stuff we know that down the line we will need to do more repairs. After all, Armani is nearly 40 years old!  ☺️ But we also know if something comes up we have the skill and moxi to be able to fix whatever is necessary.  And it’s a lot cheaper than repairing something in a sticks and bricks!

That leads me to one other thing especially if you are hitting the road for the first time. This life is not magically perfect! The same issues you had in your home WILL happen in an RV. How you deal with those issues is the biggie. The key is having fun and being able to enjoy this beautiful country in the process of tackling these issues. That’s what it’s all about! 

Cheers!!

Shelly & Mark ~ Boondock or Bust

Remodel, Solar, Tiny Life, Travel, Uncategorized

Avion Before Photos

I thought I would give you a look at the interior of our 1979 Avion 28J before I start sharing our restoration photos.

1979 Avion 28J – the skin is in great shape! We need to install a new awning though as the original is gone.

Someone had done some “renovations” of their own many years ago in the lounge area and added some parquet stick on flooring over the original linoleum so of course all of that is getting removed and redone.

The kitchen and lounge area before demo. Someone had applied sticky floor tiles to the original linoleum. Ugh.

Everything else had been left pretty much original though so we wanted to keep the vintage feel but make it a more modern living space.  Paint can go a long way in making a space gorgeous!

Kitchen stove and sink. The stove/oven works! The sink is too shallow and will be replaced.  Countertops will be redone and a backsplash will be installed.
The original cabinetry. It looks good at a distance but there were many holes that needed patching so the cabinets will be repainted.

We’ve already begun the restoration. We have removed the old non-working fridge, hot water heater, water pump and toilet. All new items have been ordered and/or installed. We are going with an all electric fridge. (We will explain our reasoning behind this decision in a future post.)

The fridge and old wall heater are gone now.
Looking back down the hallway you see the bedroom and the rear bathroom.

We still haven’t tested the AC unit to see if it works as we don’t have 30 amps at the house. Once we get it back to a livable condition we will plan a short trip to a local RV park to check it out. If it does work then we are on the hunt for a shroud and interior cover for it. If it doesn’t work then that’s an item for the future.

We are also still working on the furnace. Fortunately parts for it are easily obtained and we know we can get it back to par again. Basically that’s the only major item we haven’t had to replace yet! But, we bought this rig for its bones and exterior. We anticipated replacing all the major items so we knew what we were getting into. It’s a labor of love but we don’t plan on letting this baby go so we are in it for the long haul!

The large rear bath. Toilet had to be replaced.

And of course, another item on the agenda is solar. (We are Boondock or Bust, after all!) After having done the off grid cabin thing (and previous RV solar) we know what we need in terms of power. Again, that’s for the future but all I can say is that I’m so glad the cost of solar is going down!

As we’ve started on the renovations already I will be sharing as we go along. The lounge area is nearly complete so that post will be coming soon. It’s going to look gorgeous!