Boondocking!, General info, Remodel, Solar, Uncategorized

Composting toilet and solar install

When last we left off, we had just purchased our new home and had plans to install solar and a composting toilet to get us set up for being completely off grid (boondocking) before our departure date of June 29th (now June 30th).  Well, we are very happy to say we accomplished both these goals!  Our wonderful friends (who will be going full time themselves next month in a vintage Avion!!) came over and helped Mark get it done in ONE DAY!  Yep, solar AND composting toilet complete.  There were a few things that had to be tidied up in the days following that Mark took care of, but the majority of hard work was completed in just a few hours.  And in 100 degree heat, no less.  Needless to say, we bought them a really nice dinner at our favorite place – May River Grill!

When we installed the composting toilet (Nature’s Head on Amazon) , we had to add a piece of wood to give it a little lift on the floor to get above the hole to the black tank.  No big deal for a master carpenter like our friend Doug!  He had that thing measured and cut out in no time flat!

Doug installing the wood piece to raise the toilet above the black tank hole
Doug installing the wood piece to raise the toilet above the black tank hole

Next the guys had to cut the hole in the floor of the RV to install the venting tube.  They did that with no trouble and it looks great (didn’t get a photo of that.. boo)!  I will need to stain the wood piece the toilet is on but that is the last of my worries for the moment! 🙂  Here is the toilet installed:

Composting toilet installed - success!
Composting toilet installed – success!

As of this writing, we are pleased to say that the toilet works like a dream!  NO SMELL and it’s very low maintenance!  If you are curious about what a composting does and how it works, be sure to check out Gone With The Wynn’s video on it.  They do a great job of explaining it!

Also, we will be taking their advice and will be combining our grey and black tanks to extend our boondocking adventures!  This great video of theirs explains how they do it in a very simple and easy manner!  Check it out:

Our solar install was pretty simple as we had previously installed solar on our Georgie Boy.  We removed the solar and batteries when we traded it in and just moved it to our new rig.  We have 4 – 100 watt – solar panels (Renogy Solar on Amazon) with 400 AH of AGM batteries.

Our batteries we installed in our storage bin pass through.  Mark used some 2×4’s as brackets to hold them in place.  The GoPower! 1500 watt Pure Sine Wave inverter (Go Power on Amazon) was installed close by with the battery monitor being installed in the closet of our bedroom.  All neat and concealed!

400 AH of AGM battery goodness!
400 AH of AGM battery goodness!
batterymonitor
Battery monitor
inverter
1500 watt pure sine wave inverter and charge controller

The solar panels were mounted on the roof (picture coming soon) with plenty of room to add more if needed!  We are using the Renogy tilt brackets and they are nice and sturdy for securing them to the roof.  Dicor sealant makes sure they won’t go anywhere.

When we purchased our new rig we had a list about a mile long of everything that we wanted to get done before we departed for our trip.  I am so glad to say that list is nearly complete!  Just a few more things.  It does look like our trip might be delayed by one day but that is no big deal in the grand scheme of things.  Sometimes plans are set in jello and you just got to go with the flow!

So where are we headed, you ask?  We are off to IDAHO!  Why Idaho?  Well, my (Shelly)’s mom lives there and it’s been a long time since we’ve seen her.  Then it’s off to Oregon, Washington, Northern Idaho and Montana (possibly – again, jello plans) until it’s time to head to New Mexico for the Balloon Fiesta in October!

Idaho or Bust!
Idaho or Bust!

We will be pulling out of here on June 30th and making our way via South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah and then finally… Idaho!  Whew!  2500 miles.  We plan to take about 7 days (or more) to do the trip.  Hopefully all goes well!  I will be posting along as we go so it could get interesting. 🙂 Stay tuned and thanks for dropping by!

Shelly & Mark ~ Boondock or Bust!

 

General info

So we begin again… again!

For those of you who have followed this somewhat random blog, you will know that our lives have had some crazy twists and turns these past 2 years.  So please bare with me while I review our RV life to date.

Three years ago this September (2012), we made the decision when our daughter went to college that we would ditch this crazy rat race called life and strive for something more simple.  All our friends thought we were crazy… ditching our awesome HUGE house, selling all our belongings and moving full time into an RV.  So we looked on RV Trader and found our new home on wheels!

Our rig - 1998 Georgie Boy Pursuit!
Our rig – 1998 Georgie Boy Pursuit!

From there, our plan was to work for another year locally and save, save, save!  We were doing great and had a nice tidy sum in the bank when tragedy struck.  My husband hurt his back severely at work.

He was doing something he did nearly every day at his job – moving a large propane cylinder – when he heard a POP that brought him to his knees.  He told his boss what had happened but his boss told him to suck it up and go back to work.  Nice, eh?  He suffered for three more days at work before he couldn’t take it any longer and called in sick on Christmas Eve to see the doctor.  Doctor felt it was a pulled muscle and he was put on work restrictions (that his work didn’t follow).  Back and forth to the doctor for two months(!!) before they finally ordered an X-ray.  When that showed inconclusive the workers comp doctor finally ordered an MRI.

The MRI results came back.  Not only did he have one SEVERELY herniated disc, he had FOUR.  The doctor at that point referred him to a neurologist and kept him on work restrictions.  His boss still refused to comply so at that point we got an attorney.  Long story short, 3 additional months later and he finally had major back surgery.  After surgery he saw additional doctors that our attorney referred us to and they all confirmed he would never work again as he was 100% disabled.

Flash forward to ONE YEAR LATER (yes, you read that correctly) and after surgery, rehab, doctors appts, lawyer appts, depositions, etc, etc the case finally set to settle – but not before tragedy struck again.  Our sweet Shine… our 11 year old Oriental Shorthair started bleeding from the mouth.  One day he was fine, the next day a diagnosis of untreatable cancer.  My heart kitty was gone.  😦

My heart and soul.. Shine (Grand Champion Klazeekats Luminary of Quicksilver)
My heart and soul.. Shine (Grand Champion Klazeekats Luminary of Quicksilver)

So with our hearts broken, a week later, we attended a mediation hearing for his case.  We had success! He was awarded a decent settlement but with the knowledge that he will now have to apply for Social Security Disability and start the lawyer thing all over again.  But, after all the stress, hassle and headaches of the past two years, we are happy to say that we are FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY hitting the road to travel and see this beautiful country.

But with a few changes!  Our ol’ Georgie Boy wasn’t really meeting our needs anymore.  My husband is 6’6″ and he would have to bend over and duck a lot inside our home.  With his back issues this was no longer feasible.  So when the settlement came through we decided to switch things up.  First thing was trading in our Jeep toad for a truck!  We purchased a GMC 2500 HD.  We love it!  The ride is so smooth and we have tons of room.  Next up was what to live in?  We had looked at a variety of RV’s and we kept coming back to the Dutchmen Aspen Trails.  We had looked at these years ago but at the time couldn’tt afford them.  So we found the one we wanted and made the trade!  Bye bye, Georgie Boy!! Hello Aspen Trail!

Our new home! 2015 Aspen Trail by Dutchmen
Our new home! 2015 Aspen Trail by Dutchmen

The Aspen Trail is a great little travel trailer!  It is 6’9″ inside – perfect for my poor hubby – and a nice large slide and a HUGE kitchen!  We had a few things added like electric jack, larger LP tanks and will be adding our solar (we removed it from our Georgie Boy) and a composting toilet this week!  So far (we’ve had it 5 days!!) we have managed to fit in all our belongings with ease.  It has a ton more room than our old Class A had, surprisingly.

So if you’re still with me, I know this was a long and drawn out story, but perhaps it will explain why this blog is 3 years old and we really haven’t posted much in the way of travel.  Fortunately that is about to change!

Be sure to stick around and check out our adventures!  We depart June 29th! 🙂

Uncategorized

Memorial Day

Wow!! So much has happened in the last few months. Mark’s case is finally settled (very good!) among some other (sad) things that have happened.  Too much to post about today on this day of rememberance. We are headed to a cabin in the woods for a few days to decompress and hopefully I can come up with the words to fill you all in. 

But until then, let me leave you with this little tidbit.  Never forget!!  Happy Memorial Day.  

RV Park Reviews, SC

Park Review – Tanager Woods RV Park

After leaving North Carolina, we headed south to the Charleston, SC area.  We had to be in Charleston for some doctors and lawyer appointments for Mark for his workers comp case.  As of this writing, we are still waiting for mediation to close the case which isn’t scheduled until March 31st.

When we looked at Charleston for an RV park we were a little surprised at how expensive the parks were for a monthly rate.  I guess we shouldn’t have been considering Charleston is a very active tourist area.  So we decided to browse further afield.

About an hour outside of downtown Charleston is the little town of Dorchester, SC.  A local family has a small (and I do mean SMALL) 12 space RV park (7 spaces are 30 amp only, 5 are 50 amp).  It was a bit out of the loop but the price was right so there we went. Located 1/2 mile down a VERY bumpy dirt road is Tanager Woods RV Park.

Map link to Location:  Tanager Woods RV Park location

We stayed here from the first of January through the middle of February.  And while it definitely had its downsides there are some nice things about it as well, especially if you like solitude.  Here is some info to help you make an informed decision about this park.

Small sign to show you are in the right place
Small sign to show you are in the right place
  • Location
    • Pros: Located about an hour outside of downtown Charleston (could be a “con” for a lot of people).  Surrounded by beautiful farm/forest land with all sorts of local wild life.  Lots of Civil War history in this area.
    • Cons: Getting to the park is relatively easy and they have signs that will guide you in.  Unfortunately, the last 1/2 mile you will travel is a ONE LANE ungraded dirt road.  It is very bumpy and you need to go very slow (5mph or less).  There is also no lighting so if you come in late at night you might think you are lost until you see the signs.  The closest real grocery store is in Summerville, SC about 20 minutes away.  Summerville has all the stores you can think of and has a cute little downtown area with lots of places to eat.  The RV park is really out in “the boonies” (which was ok for us) but if you want close by amenities then this is not the park for you.
Are we there yet? Nope.
Are we there yet? Nope.
What about now?  Still no...
What about now? Still no…
Ok... FINALLY arrived!
Ok… FINALLY arrived!
Like we said... small!
Like we said… small!
The office that's not really an office.  It's not used currently.
The office that’s not really an office. It’s not used currently.
  • Sites/Spaces
    • Pros:  Monthly rates are $450/mo (including electric) for a 30amp space at time of writing and $525/mo for 50amp (could be cheaper IMO considering the lack of amenities, see below).  We were able to get by on a 30amp considering it was winter time and we didn’t run an AC unit.  Daily & weekly rates are listed on their website.  The spaces are large and (fairly) level with all being pull throughs for big rigs.  All sites have water/sewer hookups.  All spaces include a picnic table but no fire rings or bbqs.  We stayed for 6 weeks and the owner only charged us for a half a month the last two weeks which was cheaper than the website stated so that was nice, all in all.
    • Cons:  There are no large trees so there wasn’t much shelter from the wind and it was very windy while we were there.  The sewer drop and the water hookups are pretty far away from each other so you will need either a long sewer hose or water hose or both.
Space #7 - our spot for January/February.  The last spot in this row and the best one out of the bunch.
Space #7 – our spot for January/February. The last spot in this row and the best one out of the bunch.
The view out our front "porch"
The view out our front “porch”
  • Amenities
    • Pros:  Lots of shady tree lined trails to walk. Pet friendly. They built a small (50’x50′) dog run while we were there.  There is a park host on duty.  Why, we have no idea, but he is there.
    • Cons:  There is NO CABLE, NO WIFI and NO LAUNDRY.  This is a bare bones park.  AT&T LTE signal is very good in this area and my Coverage? app shows great Verizon LTE as well.  You will definitely need to have your own internet coverage.
Trail to the large hay field
Trail to the large hay field
The end of the trail.. a very large hay field.  Lots of deer come here!
The end of the trail.. a very large hay field. Lots of deer come here!  Click on it to get the full version.
Hay bale study
Hay bale study
Covered patio(?) area
Covered patio(?) area
  • Pets
    • Pros:  Pets are welcome at this park.  Just remember this is a southern climate and with that you could have alligators in the ponds here – do not let your dog swim in them!  Do not approach alligators for any reason.  Also, when walking in the woods be mindful of snakes.  There are many poisonous varieties here.  See my “con” below that I touch on snake issues here.
    • Cons:   The camp host has two dogs that just LOVE to be outside and bark at the world.  It’s a tad annoying to say the least.  There are quite a few loose dogs in the area that like to wander through the park, including the owners dogs who are not very friendly with other dogs.  So just watch your dog(s) around them.  They like to come by and pee all over your stuff outside and knock over grills, etc.  Grrrr.  Also, both the camp host and owner carry side arms due to snakes and this was in January/February.  I would be worried to be here in warmer months and walking around.  But then again, I hate snakes! 🙂
The new dog run area - 50'x50'.
The new dog run area – 50’x50′.
Bench outside the dog area
Bench outside the dog area
Leading the way back from our walk
Leading the way back from our walk
  • Other thoughts:  The website states it accepts rigs that are only 15 years or newer.  That isn’t the case at all, considering they have two pretty dilapidated travel trailers that are parked here full time.  We had a great spot (space #7) and didn’t have to look at any of the rigs as they were all on our far side but be advised that is what is there.  If you are looking for a “brand new rig only” park, then this is definitely not it.  Most of the people here are nice but of course there is always one bad apple that spoils the bunch.  Our closest neighbor was very unfriendly and rude but we just ignored them so it was all good.
The view behind our rig
The view behind our rig
Spaces are good sized
Spaces are good sized
Don't believe everything you read
Don’t believe everything you read
  • AT&T & Verizon – the AT&T LTE signal is very good here.  According to my Coverage? app it shows a decent Verizon LTE signal as well.

Overall, this little park is just ok but it suited our needs (once we got down the road to it) for the time we were in Charleston.  Probably not something we would come back to as their daily rates are on track with parks closer to Charleston, but the monthly rate was acceptable even with the lack of amenities and it allowed us some privacy and quiet.  It could have been a much better experience if the loose dogs were not allowed to run free and be destructive, tho.

Where are we going next?  Well… we are keeping that under wraps for now.  Until this case is closed we are going incognito.  😉  We will post our plans though when it’s all over!

Will leave you with a few photos from around the park.

Sun
Sun
Another hay field
Another hay field
Swamp! No swimming!
Swamp! No swimming!
Making tracks!  Deer tracks!
Making tracks! Deer tracks!
Beautiful blue skies!
Beautiful blue skies!