Shifting Gears: When Priorities Change

Thanks to Jordan McQueen over at unsplash.com for the great image!
Thanks to Jordan McQueen over at unsplash.com for the great image!

Okay, so I’ve been loving campervans for years, but now I’m finding I love something more:  good health.
Since Ana and I changed our diet I’m more energetic, I’m stonger, I think more clearly, I sleep better,

and I plain feel better.

I feel like I’ve woken up from a long slumber filled with hazy dreams to find that my life isn’t what I want it to be and my priorities have changed.

Before, when things got tough, I was just concerned with making it through the next day and to do that I needed something to look forward to – an escape. And that’s where a lot of the campervan and RV dreams came into play.

The idea of literally being able to hop into a vehicle and get away from my everyday life for a while kept me going during those bad days and weeks. I dreamed about fishing all day and then going to sleep tucked safely in a comfy bed next to the lake where I caught my dinner. I wanted to wake up to the sunrise and write until noon on the beach, then go for a walk and meet friendly people. Don’t get me wrong – this all sounds heavenly, still. But now I want to do them not to escape my life, but to enhance my life.

Yeah, I still have bad days (and am actually in the middle of a bad couple of weeks right now), but I don’t look at my circumstances and blame them for my struggles. By that I mean that I no longer think, “If only I could just get away, everything would be better.” I find myself examining my behavior, instead. Like right now, I know my problem is I that I started looking to other people for validation and approval so much that I started questioning my own worth. I’m a grown woman and that’s not where I want to be emotionally. I want to be able to look to myself for approval and validation and to not get knocked down by what I perceive to be the opinions of others. I don’t want to play those mind games with myself anymore. The opinions of others are none of my business and they don’t define me.

So what does this all mean when it comes to my goals and priorities? Escape, and the campervan with it, no longer sits in the top slot for my dedication and attention. Now the most important thing to me is my good health. I want to keep my sharp mind, my clear senses, and my blissful sleep. And that means Ana and I’d better have the money to eat healthy, high quality food. Before, when I wanted the van more than anything else, I budgeted only $200 for groceries for the two of us for a whole month. That is do-able if you only eat cheap boxed mac n’ cheese, ramen, and frozen burritos. But now we’re eating blueberries, salmon, kale, and tons of other healthy stuff that is way more expensive per serving (and per calorie). So I upped the grocery budget to $438 per month and added separately budgeted money for things like deodorant, toothpaste, sandwich bags, tin foil, and Windex. This means the whole $438 will actually go toward food.

So our ability to sock away large sums of money each month has decreased. On top of that, now that I know how much better Ana and I feel on a healthy diet, I’ve researched dog and cat nutrition and looked at what we’re feeding our pets and am not happy. I want our critters to live long, healthy lives and it’s unlikely they will on food with corn as the first listed ingredient. So we’re switching them to higher quality kibble with the eventual goal of going away from commercially produced food altogether

Sooo want!
Sooo want!

and feeding home-prepared food that meets all of their nutritional needs. In order to do that we need some expensive kitchen equipment like a number 12 commercial meat grinder, a big freezer, and a fridge that actually keeps meat cold without freezing all of our vegetables. And we like to do things right the first time, so that means we’ll be buying durable, high quality appliances. Then, once we have all the equipment, feeding our large brood homemade, species appropriate, nutritionally balanced and complete meals will end up costing more than feeding ourselves!

But I don’t mind, and neither does Ana. I’m actually excited about the prospect of cooking for our krids (critter-kids).

So, between the increased costs of food for us, saving for kitchen appliances, and home-chow for the krids, not much is left for saving for, fixing up, and insuring a campervan.

Right now I’m trying to decide how I feel about all this and what I want to do. I’ve wanted an RV of some type ever since my neighbors bought a fancy slide-in truck camper when I was 4 years old. Being able to go on camping and fishing trips with Ana or solo writing retreats in a comfy camping vehicle would improve our relationship, my writing, and be damn fun, besides. But I don’t know if it is in the cards right now.

But that takes me back to a phrase that haunts me in moments of doubt and struggle – “If not now, when?” Even though I don’t just want escape, I still crave the adventure, enjoyment, and challenge of travel. I want to go new places, meet new people, and change my perspective through new information and experiences.

Cats can live for more than 30 years and by then I’ll be in my mid-60’s. No way do I want to wait that long to fulfill my dream. Should I modify my current goals? Should I lower my ideal standards of nutrition and species-appropriate feeding for the krids? Is there a compromise or other way to do it all?

I don’t know at this point.

Baked Sockeye Salmon with Green Salad

Wild Alaskan salmon was on the menu last night, and I think part of me realized it was Cino de Mayo, because I wanted green and white to plate up with the beautiful pinkish-red meat.  However, by the time I finished baking the fish and prepping the salad, I realized I’d forgotten to start the rice!  Oh well, it has been one of those hectic weeks, so I served it on white plates and called it good!

I purchased the wild Alaskan sockeye salmon headed and gutted at a local grocery store and just loved the way it looked, so rather than risk ruining it with my amateur fileting skills, I decided to bake it whole with a zesty sweet vinegar, soy, and citrus sauce and classic lemon pepper rub.  The salad was all-green with a quick, homemade spicy red pepper and olive oil Italian dressing.

 Baked Alaskan Salmon:

1/3 c. soy sauce2015-05-05 15.46.18

1/4 c. brown sugar

1 1/2 T. raw honey

1 T. apple cider vinegar

1 heaping t. minced garlic

1/4 c. oil

2 limes

lemon pepper to taste

4 lb. wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, headed and gutted

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, mix soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, vinegar, garlic, and oil until the sugar and honey dissolve.2015-05-05 17.02.41
  3. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the sauce.
  4. Squeeze the juice of the other lime all over the outside and inside of the salmon.
  5. Sprinkle Lemon pepper all over the exterior skin as well as the inside of the fish.
  6. Use a vacuum food sealer to create a custom sized bag big enough for the salmon.  Add the salmon and sauce to the vacuum bag.
  7. Vacuum seal the fish and sauce inside the bag.
  8. Refrigerate.  I only left mine in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  9. Tear two equally sized pieces of aluminum foil that are about 8 inches longer than the salmon. Place them one on top of the other on a large cookie sheet.
  10. Fold over one of the long edges of the stacked foil by 1 inch.  Then fold this 1 inch strip over again.  The idea is to use the two foil pieces to create a foil envelope large enough for the salmon .2015-05-05 17.04.09
  11. Remove the vacuum sealed salmon from the fridge and cut the bag open.
  12. Place  the salmon inside the foil envelope and pour any remaining sauce on top of and inside the fish.
  13. Fold the foil over and seal the remaining long edges together first.
  14. Pull up on the top layer of foil to create a “tent” of air around the salmon to allow steam to circulate.
  15. Fold the short ends closed to seal the fish inside the “tent.”
  16. Place the cookie sheet with the tented salmon inside the oven on the middle rack.
  17. Bake for 20 minutes.
  18. Using oven mitts, flip the foil tented salmon.
  19. Bake for another 10-20 minutes until the meat flakes easily with a fork.
  20. Serve.

2015-05-05 17.41.48

Green Salad with Easy Spicy Italian Dressing

FOR SALAD:

2 c. fresh whole sugar snap peas

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 avocado, sliced

1/2 fresh lime

torn iceburg, kale, and green leaf lettuce as desired

  1. Arrange the avocado slices on the plate and squeeze fresh lime juice over them to prevent browning.
  2. Add torn lettuce.
  3. Arrange sugar snap peas and sliced green pepper as desired.

FOR DRESSING:

1/3 c. oilve oil

2/3 c. apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 t. dried Italian herb seasoning

1/2 t. dried red pepper flakes

1/2 fresh lime

  1. Add oil, vinegar, herbs, and pepper flakes to bowl.
  2. Squeeze the fresh lime juice into the bowl.
  3. Shake or stir well and drizzle over salad.
  4. Serve.

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I did!

I have a lot of left over salmon, so I’ll try out a few new ideas and post any here that turn out well!

Lemon Lavender Shortbread with Chamomile

I first learned to bake at the elbow of my mother, hovering while she crafted high, smooth loaves of bread for our family. She gave me little gobs of yeasty dough to knead and shape with my fumble fingered three-year old hands. I slapped and threw and beat my dough with gusto, determined to get out the undesirable large bubbles, so my little loaves would not have any offensively empty pockets when sliced open, hot from the oven. Once all the loaves were lined up in the oven – hers in traditional large metal pans, stained dark from use, and mine in opaque yellow glass mini pans – she’d send me to the living room to nap on the couch. Later I’d awake to the magical smell of baking bread just in time for the timer to ring. I’d race into the kitchen to watch her thump each loaf with a wooden spoon, listening for the hallow sound of baked perfection. Oh I loved how the sharp earthy tang of yeast mixed with warm water and freshly ground flour became the sweet golden aroma of fresh homemade bread. Although my abused loaves always turned out tougher than hers it didn’t matter. We’d slather on butter and honey and giggle together, me sitting on the counter top, her leaning close, our mouths full of delicious baked goodness.2015-04-29 11.48.47-1

I enjoy baking to this day, and still find sharing my handiwork a way to express affection. Mixing flour and whatever else while the oven warms give me a homey little boost of what can only be called domesticity. I was raised on the belief that cooking and baking were skills integral to being a woman and that excellence in the kitchen was a good way to snag a desirable mate. Although I no longer agree with the first sentiment, I’ve found the second to have a grain of truth.

This morning I found myself craving something I couldn’t find a recipe for, so I made one up and it turned out pretty good! This is a large round shortbread that is cut into wedges after baking, not formed into individual cookies. So here it is, my recipe for buttery, flaky shortbread flavored with lemon, lavender blossoms, and chamomile.

1 c. flour

¼ c. powdered sugar

½ t. salt

½ c. real butter, softened

1 T. lemon juice

1 ½ T. dried lavender blossoms

3 bags chamomile tea

Granulated sugar (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a bowl, mix flour, powdered sugar, and salt with a fork until well mixed.
  3. Cut open the chamomile tea bags. If the tea is of a rough texture grind it with a mortar and pestle until fine. Add to the flour mixture
  4. Add lavender blossoms to the flour mixture and stir well.
  5. Add the softened butter all at once and mix with a fork until well incorporated.
  6. Butter the bottom of an 8″ spring form cake pan, or 8″ pie tin, or 8″ round cake pan.
  7. Press the dough into the pan, spreading it with your fingers.
  8. Use a fork to prick the dough in a pleasing pattern. I like to prick it into 8 wedge shapes to make cutting easier after baking.
  9. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar, if desired.
  10. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden.
  11. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 3 minutes, then cut into wedges while still warm.
  12. Serve warm, or allow to cool, you decide!

Why Stealth?

While planning my future campervan I have kept the idea of stealth in mind from the get-go. Stealth vehicles are designed to not stand out in any city and – most importantly – to not alert passers-by that someone is camping or living inside.
If you’re like me and have never lived in a car, van or RV, you might wonder why stealth is important. The reasons are many and most are pretty straight-forward. A lot of vehicle dwellers who live or work in cities have horror stories about the police knocking on their windows in the middle of the night. In some cities it is illegal to camp in a vehicle, let alone live in one, so the midnight window tap could be a cop telling you to move on, or even to issue a citation. Blending in and looking like just another work vehicle parked for the night also means a lower likelihood of being robbed or bothered by criminals who would be interested in a traditional RV. Plus it makes parking for the night easier – just pull up next to a commercial building and leave early in the morning — if your vehicle is outfitted correctly everyone will assume it belongs to the business or is making a late delivery.

Ana and I primarily want a campervan for camping out in the wilderness on fishing trips. When someone comes across a van in a campground or next to a lake with no tent pitched nearby, they’ve got to figure the people are inside the vehicle so why should we be worried about stealth? We might occasionally pull over in a parking lot for a nap on our way to the next fishing hole, but that’s not really my concern. But I do worry about the times I’ll take the van out on my own for writing trips and research. I’ll be more likely to spend time in cities or towns then – as meeting people, getting a feel for a place, and generally wandering around downtown are all good ways to gather information and find inspiration. And since I’ll be alone (and a lone woman makes a nice target) blending in and keeping people from realizing I’m in the van will be important when it comes time to find a place to park for the night.

 

 

Hummus Helped Me Find a Way to Finance the DreamWagon

I’ve been obsessing over one specific van and spending inordinate amounts of time on floor plans, color schemes, etc.  I have wishlists on Amazon.com for every aspect of the van, from decor to appliances, including how to generate enough power for Ana’s C-PAP machine on a daily basis for as little money as possible.

What has been lacking, up until now, was
a plan for how I will get the money to purchase it, and then, once it is officially mine, how I’ll come up with the cash to fix it up pretty and functional like I want.

Tonight I figured it out!

Here is the back story, if you care: A week ago Ana had an eye appointment and ordered new glasses. So this paycheck we had to come up with the money for what her insurance doesn’t cover — $315. Now, to some of you that might seem like pocket change, while to others $315 is a big freaking deal. Up until last month $315 – to know we’d need that much and then to actually have that much at the end of the month – well, you’d have as much luck with that as if you asked me for the moon.

Lack of money wasn’t the problem, on paper, anyway. We had plenty of money. We just didn’t know where it all disappeared to every month. I had a vague sense that the groceries I bought every paycheck weren’t getting eaten because we were spending WAAAY too much on eating out and that had something to do with why we were always getting 5 or 6 overdraft fees on our bank accounts every paycheck.

***I don’t want or expect anyone to feel sorry for us. Nor do I want to make other people feel bad for relying on fast food, eating out, or overdraft fees. There are many factors that can lead to a fast-food or financially disasterous lifestyle. In our case many of them were beyond our control. We just had the good fortune of finally being in a situation where we were ready to take control and make a change.***

What happened last month was my mom-in-law (just “Mom”) gave me a little Bella rocket blender for 71WwVEv1nkL._SL1500_my birthday. It sat unused in its box for about a week and I figured that’s where it would stay for the foreseeable future until one night I happened upon a whole ton of recipes for hummus on Pintrest.com. The only restaurant that serves hummus in my little town was closed for the night and I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store, but I remembered seeing a can of garbanzo beans in the kitchen. My mind made the connection that rocket blender + garbanzo beans = hummus. I’d just need to add the lemon juice and garlic that were in the nearly-empty fridge to make simple hummus-y dip.

It turns out hummus is easy to make in a rocket blender. And the next morning I discovered so are fruit and yogurt smoothies. And that evening I blended up canned pinto beans and spices to make burrito filling. In just a matter of days Ana and I quit stopping for pastries and caffine every morning. And I stopped my (secret) two bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit habit. We cleaned all the old expired deli meats and veggies-gone-science-experiment out of our fridge to make room for CostCo-sized bags of frozen blueberries and whey protein and kale to add to our smoothies. I bought ready-to-eat veggies, made sandwiches for lunch, and fried up home-made sweet potato chips to serve with a dinner I actually cooked myself. For months before this the only veggies and fruit we ate were literally the lettuce and tomatoes on our fast food burgers or the “strawberries” in our shakes. So the sudden influx of all those assorted fruits and veggies had the unexpected effect of violently detoxing us from all the crappy food we’d been eating.

Now gas station pastries, candy bars, and greasy burgers don’t sound all that appealing and actually do make me sick when I eat them. I blame the blueberry kale smoothies. Ana has stopped eating processed sugar and I limit my chocolate to two squares of a Ritter Sport milk chocolate hazelnuts bar as a reward for when I’ve cleaned out the litter boxes or done something else equally difficult or unpleasant.

So what does this dramatic dietary change have to do with finally having money? I looked back through our bank statements and it turns out
we were spending more than $900 per month on eating junk at gas stations and fast food restaurants after I bought a month’s worth of groceries.
The food would sit in the fridge and get gross and we never opened the fridge so we didn’t notice until it was really bad and then we wouldn’t clean it out because we didn’t see the point. So, by the end of the month when we were out of money all the groceries I’d bought were nasty, so we’d just keep going out to eat because by then we were REALLY hungry and a $20 overdraft fee sounded better than starving to death.

Moldy Bread thanks to ghostbore @ flickr.com
Moldy Bread thanks to ghostbore @ flickr.com


So, all this partially explains how we suddenly had $315 for Ana’s new glasses. I say “partially” because no longer eating out wasn’t the only part of the puzzle. By the time we stopped eating out we were already facing a financial deficit heading into April. I didn’t want to go into May already down a few hundred dollars, so I sat down and made a budget. Now, this isn’t anything new for me. I make budgets all the time. I actually do it for relaxation because it gives me a sense of control when it feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel and it helps me see there is indeed a way to make everything alright. It’s the actually sticking to them that we’re terrible at.

But, last paycheck we did it! If Ana was hungry and stressed and wanted to eat out, I said no. If I was hungry and ready to snap if I didn’t get food NOW, Ana said took me home and made me a sandwich. It wasn’t easy. Especially when we were down to our last $5 and our friend Jeremiah, who we hadn’t seen in weeks, told us to meet him at Chili’s. After calling Ana and agreeing we wouldn’t knowingly spend money we didn’t have, I finally texted him and told him we could only afford drinks, so we’d eat ahead of time. He was a sweetheart and bought

bottomless chips and salsa for the table so we didn’t have to just sit there and sip our lemonades while everyone else munched on fajitas. At the end of the meal he even paid for our drinks! That was especially nice because we had decided to wait on filling a prescription so we could go. So we got to do both!

At the end of the two weeks we still had a of couple overdraft fees to make up, but that was mainly because we’re still getting the hang of our bank’s slow online bill pay system. But two fees is way better than the usual five or six, so we had a lot more wiggle room this paycheck.

I budgeted for Ana’s glasses first and then made everything else fit in around them. I budgeted for groceries last.
I spent most of my morning roaming the local grocery stores hunting for the best prices so we could get all the (healthy) food we’ll need for the next two weeks for only $87.00. That’s less than $1.04 per meal per person. I remember when I lost my job due to illness several years ago and we had to survive on that much per month. It made me grateful I could buy so much! Other than bread and barbecue sauce I’ll have to make everything from scratch, but now that we’re eating healthy I feel so much better I don’t mind.

Seeing how quickly and (relatively) painlessly we were able to pull together $315 got me wondering what else we could do if we stick to a budget and prioritize saving for the van. As I created a new spending plan for next month,
I focused on paying the minimums on our regular bills and squeezing every cent from the more flexible categories like haircuts, groceries and personal spending money. I nixed wedding savings, figuring we have longer to save for that, as the van could go up for auction any time. Without showing you our actual budget, I’ll do my best to show you how I did it.

We have had a budget on paper for years. We just haven’t been using it. Part of the reason is I saw how much money there was and I didn’t feel like I needed to pay attention to our spending. It just seemed like there should be plenty for anything and everything we wanted. Turns out there isn’t! However, careful planning can help us save money for what we want pretty quickly if we stick to it.

Please keep in mind that before this we were spending all of our money on food and overdraft fees and most of these categories only existed on paper. So, taking money away from, say, the house upkeep budget, doesn’t actually mean we’ll be spending any less on that.


I added $6 to utilities because I noticed our electric bill is higher than it used to be and I didn’t want that throwing everything else off. I took all of the savings ($792) and put them toward saving for the van. If we stick with it we’ll have the money to buy it soon!

But that isn’t the whole story. I realized we will still need money for the wedding. So after talking to Ana about what she thinks is reasonable and doing some research, I decided to reduce the total wedding budget from $3130 to $1980. How does that break down?


I already bought my dress and jewelry ($200) so that means once the van is ours we’ll need to save $1350 before the wedding. With some more careful money manipulation, we’ll be able to get all of the money for the wedding with days to spare. Then, since the day of the wedding is also my pay day, we’ll get our honeymoon money in the nick of time!

So there it is! We’ll get a campervan and a wedding, too! All we have to do is stay on budget!

I know it won’t be easy, but we’re determined, we have a plan, and it is do-able!

 


CamperVan: Blue & Orange Sketch

Colo9r Perspective Inside Van

So, here is what I’ve been working on for the past two days.  Finally, a sketch with some sense of perspective.  This is my basic idea for the campervan — what I see in my mind when I imagine it.  11 ft by 6 feet of space at 5 ft 6 inches tall.  Fun patterned counter tops and a matching rug, galvanized steel stock tank bathtub, sink area, and comfy queen size bed!

Now, I just have to wait (not so) patiently for the van to go to auction, be the winning bidder, and then I can work my ass off to make it just the way I picture.  🙂

Pretty CamperVan Ideas: Interior Sketches

I’m having  a hard time concentrating on anything other than CAMPERVAN, like happens so often when I’m getting serious about an idea.  So today I spent the time I should have been doing something else (*cough*) like work (*cough*) drawing cross-sections of my latest ideas with Photoshop.

I have no experience or training with Photoshop, so it’s not awesome, but I hope it gets the idea across.

1989 Ford Van Interior Shaded Labled

I wish I’d been able to get a better sense of perspective. *Note:  Those of you who saw this post before I tweaked the images might notice these new pics have a little better 3-dimensional quality due to better shading.

I got the idea for the patterned countertops here.  I want to experiment with similar ideas using paper or fabric and a clear acrylic coating.  I figure if I use fabric I can make matching covers for the passenger and driver’s seats.  I found instructions for sewing covers for bucket seats here.  I’ve seen several tiny houses and bus conversions using stock tanks as bathtubs, pools, planters and other stuff, but I had to really look to find one the right size for my idea.  Ana and I are big fans of paper plates, so when I saw the Pop-A-Plate, I knew it would be a great fit for us.  Plus it is will be way easier having the plates above the sink than having to dig for them in storage.

I want to put a big mural or poster with lots of orange tones on the back doors to act as a kind of headboard and focal point.  Plus it will cover up the insulation I want to put on the windows.  I love the canyon mural I found.  And that cute “The World Awaits” pillow, yeah, it’s real.  Found tons of travel-themed artsy pillows and what-not at society6.

Just so you know, no one paid me or even asked me to point out the products I want to use in my campervan.  These are the things I want.  Being able to afford them, well, that is often another matter.

Side Interior Ford Van Shaded & Labled

Here we have two cross sections of the van.  The top is what you’d see if you sliced the van long ways down the middle and looked at the passenger’s side.  The bottom drawing is the driver’s side.  You’ll notice the bottom drawing has both the passenger and driver’s seats.  I did that to illustrate how I want to shift the driver’s seat back by about a foot to give extra room for Ana when she drives.

After I drew this I realized the collapsible countertop over the bathtub will need to fold up, not down or it will hit the edge of the tub, so I need to figure out a different way to build it than I’ve drawn.

If you’re interested, the two travel-themed prints are also available at society6.

I think this is a good use of the available space (approx 11ft by 6 ft cargo area) in the 1989 Ford Club Wagon XL with high top I’m considering.  This way we get a stay-down queen bed, storage, a place to bathe, cook, and wash up and some privacy and added insulation without having to totally gut all the nearly mint-condition blue interior that is already there.  We’ll store a Luggable Loo in the tub when it isn’t in use.  With the two front seats on swivel bases, all of that adds up to give us a pretty comfy place to stay while camping!

High Top 1989 Ford Club Wagon XL: Are You Harvey?

Courtesy of carpictures.com
Courtesy of carpictures.com  Not Peggy, but looks just like her!

The name “Harvey” keeps knocking around in my noggin when I think of my future campervan.  You see, I’m one of those people who loves to anthropomorphize their cars.  I get in there and drive and after a while (sometimes only minutes) I start to see personality in the way they accelerate or take a turn and they become more than just a hunk of metal and rubber.  Naming them satisfies the intuitive side of me but I also find it logical — simply because it is easier to say “Peggy”  that “1985 Chevrolet Sprint” or “my first car.”

So, I’ve been hunting for Harvey every time I look at vans online or drive past one with a “For Sale” sign in the window.  And I think I might have finally found him.  My soon-to-be Dad-in-Law (who I just call “dad”) noticed a forlorn looking faded blue 1989 Ford Club Wagon XL van with a high top in the back of the parking lot where he works and decided to ask about it.  Turns out the institution is going to be selling it sometime soon because no one wants to drive the ugly old behemoth.

After some talking, dad got me convinced to come see it and got the guy in charge of selling it so excited at the prospect of netting a decent price that he gladly let me come up and check it out.

1989 Ford Club Wagon XL instrument panel
1989 Ford Club Wagon XL instrument panel

As I came across the parking lot that old Ford van kept getting bigger and uglier and bluer.  At first it looked grey, the faded paint was so ashy.  But up close it is clear it used to be dark blue and might still be, with some aggressive exfoliation.  Then I got inside, and oh boy!  It is like the TARDIS — blue and bigger on the inside and so much better than you could imagine!  The blue cloth seats are just about mint condition, the cloth ceiling has no tears or sags, and other than a little dust and dirt and the obvious odometer reading, the instrument panel looks as new as the day it rolled off the assembly line!

With dad’s help I carefully measured every bit of it I could think to measure and it is as big as I had been hoping for when I draw my campervan floor plans:  the cargo area is 11 ft from the back of the front seats to the rear door and 5’11” wide  at the floor.  This gives me enough space to fit a queen size bed, some side storage, and a kitchen/bathroom box with a sink and tub.

Plus, if I widen my stance a little I can stand upright in the back.  It is 5’6″ tall back there!

Looking forward from the 3rd row seat
Looking forward from the 3rd row seat

It has an old broken wheelchair lift installed in the side sliding door.  It looks pretty heavy and dad says I might get lucky and get $100 if I recycle the metal.

When the institution added the wheelchair lift they took out two rows of rear seats, but there are still two left.  The guy selling it says they might still have the missing seats, if I want them. Before I saw it I didn’t think I would, but with how pristine the installed seats are, I’m wondering if I might be able to take all of them out and sell them as a set.  The two front seats are comfortable, but have the the original mid-back design that just aren’t that safe when whiplash is taken into account.  I want to add new, high back bucket seats with locking swivel bases so we can use them as part of our living area.  Besides, the old guy doesn’t have enough space between the driver’s seat and the steering wheel for my fiance to be able to drive it comfortably.

1989 Ford Club Wagon XL passenger and driver's seats.
1989 Ford Club Wagon XL passenger and driver’s seats.

Aside from all this awesomeness, there are two main reasons I’m considering a van this old:  they are asking a price I can actually afford and the level of care and maintenance this particular vehicle has gotten.  They have all the maintenance and repair records that show regular oil and filter changes.  My van, Harvey The van (*cough cough*) even had a newer transmission and rebuilt engine put in a couple thousand miles back.

1989 Ford Club Wagon XL rear doors.
1989 Ford Club Wagon XL rear doors.

Now for the bad:

There is some surface rust on a few spots outside.  Around the rear licence plate holder is the worst one, but careful inspection makes me think I can sand it out and repair it pretty easily.  It doesn’t seem to penetrate into the metal very far.

The hood latch is broken, so I’ll have to fiddle with it and possibly run a new cable to act as a release, and although it is time consuming and can make you speak in tongues, I’ve done it before.

The fiberglass high top is showing its age.  I’ll have to get up there and give it a careful inspection because I noticed some tiny hair-line cracks, but couldn’t tell if it was the paint (do they paint those things??) or the actual fiberglass.

And worst of all, it gets abysmal gas mileage.  Something like 7 in town and 9 on the highway.  As much as I like the roominess and the price and all that, I don’t know if I can stand driving such a guzzler, let alone afford going anywhere in it.

So yeah, there it is:  my possible Harvey, TARDIS and ecological disaster in one.

Hello world!

I’ve decided to document my journey, for better or worse, and as usual, NOW seems like the right time now that I’ve decided.  Not sure what-all I’ll have to say, but I have a few ideas and want to see where this will take me.

I promise to be honest, even if it takes me a while.

Binni Nita

From trash to treasure. Kitty with a stubborn will to live.

CamperVan: RV Solar Components Worksheet

How to Calculate Your RV Solar Needs

Jerky-Lover’s Carniverous Snack

My newest meat candy and one to avoid.

Stealth Camper Van Idea

From Cargo to Camper – Ford Van Conversion Concept — no plumbing or propane necessary!