Sunday, February 12, 2012

Life in the Camper UPDATE {finally!}

Maybe today is a good day for finally updating my “Life in the Camper” blog, since I’m stuck in the camper, waiting for my frozen water to start running again.

We’ve been here in the camper since September of 2008, and the camper just seems to get smaller. When we moved in here, I had this na├»ve vision that I’d keep stuff picked up and orderly. Well, obviously, I didn’t just magically become some other person, a person like my Mom for instance. My Mom is the neatest, most organized person I ever met, not a slave to cleanliness, or compulsive about putting stuff away, just naturally organized. I didn’t get that. The camper is most often cluttered, and there’s more stuff in here than we need.

So far most everything in the camper has worked most of the time. The first winter, I had to replace the little water heater that came in the camper. Luckily for me, I once worked in the plant where they make the little water heaters, so I was able to score one really cheap. I had to adapt it a little to fit, without buying a whole new trim kit, but since the camper sits still, that’s no big deal.

The furnace quit once, but magically, by divine intervention, it started working again. Since then, I’ve always talked sweetly to it, and never take it for granted.

The stove works Ok, but the oven will set off the carbon monoxide detector if I keep it on for much more than 30 minutes. This has kind of cramped my ‘cooking style’. I’ve learned to bake stuff on my propane grill, but try not to do that too much, as it uses a LOT more propane than a regular oven. I also have a toaster oven that I use for some stuff, but it’s small. I also use the crock pot a lot. Since I try to devote as much time as I can to working on the house, I try to cook ahead. A lot of our meals consist of heating stuff up I cooked earlier.

We had to replace the mattress and box spring that came with camper. It was so old, the mattress still had metal buttons on it.

I found out that the shower/tub thingies that go in campers need to be supported really well, too late. Ours has a crack across the seat. I’d have to disassemble the entire bathroom to replace it, at a cost of nearly $200, so it’s going to stay that way.

When we first moved into the camper, I decided we’d just unhook the hose when it got down to freezing. That didn’t last very long! The water hose is now wrapped with heat tape and two layers of foam pipe insulation. The pipe insulation has held up much better than I expected it to. The water still freezes when it gets really cold. This winter it hasn’t been cold, so today was the first time we had a problem with it.

My husband was out of work for three months this winter, so the camper has seemed even smaller. I’m very grateful that it’s paid for though and that we’ve been able to stay warm and dry without worrying about the foreclosure and eviction that so many have suffered. I’ve enjoyed using this camper as a canvas for some of my idle artwork, and as a place to display the artwork of my grandchildren and my friends.

I hope none of this sounds like complaining, since it was never meant to. This whole camper episode, though it’s lasted longer than I thought it would, has been a great adventure. And to be honest I kind of enjoy bragging about the obstacles I’m overcoming to make my house a reality! Besides, no matter how small this camper gets, as long as my internet connection holds, it’ll always be big enough to hold all my friends!!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Repost from 2008 - Life in the Camper

I wrote this blog for MySpace back in September of 2008, annd thought since there are a lot of my readers who weren't "around" back then, I'd re-post it.

Our camper is 23 ft. long, built some time in the early, orange brown and yellow 70’s. It was cheap! Probably not cheap enough, but cheap. It took me months to get I cleaned out and fixed up good enough for us to live in. There’s a little room in the back that had 3 bunks in it. I took the bunks out and built a computer desk to go in the corner. Our little closets are back there, the books that I saved back from the storage building, and the DVD’s we kept out. I also have a 2 drawer file cabinet for papers and stuff. We call this the other room.

There’s a tiny bathroom in the middle of the camper. The last people to own the camper had painted the bathroom, shower, tub, walls cabinets, nearly everything, school bus yellow- with a broom! The only thing I could do with the tub was jerk it out and buy a new one. RV parts are expensive, and the people who sell them tend to be snobs. I turns out that the roof over the bathroom had been punctured by a tree branch, a tree branch that went undiscovered for a whole season before the roof was repaired - poorly. Quite a bit of the bathroom had to be replaced, and painted.

I’ve given the roof on the camper up as a lost cause. It was repaired and had been doused with white roof coat, but it isn’t bowed up like it’s supposed to be, actually it’s bowed in. Water sits on top of it and can’t help but leak. We’ve just put a big tarp over it. It’s stretched out with poles from the camper where the trees aren’t in the way. It makes a great over hang/porch, along with the dining canopy I screwed to the side of the camper over my scrap-constructed porch.

The rest of the camper is sleeping, cooking, and dining. It’s not too bad. The bed is actually a real full size box spring and mattress, really old and kindly sagging, but far better than foam rubber cushions wedged together, on top of a broken down dining table. The “dinette” is the original camper table, seats with foam rubber cushions. The sink is tiny, the stove isn’t very big either. The refrigerator was nasty, and I never even checked to see if it worked. I pulled it out and used the space to make a pantry/cabinet and a place for my microwave. We have a fridge on the “porch” that we’re using, and another in the garage for over flow.

There are several things that we’re having to adjust to. One is that we have to put stuff away promptly. We’re not dirty, but we aren’t fastidious either and having just 2 or 3 things out of place throws the whole camper into a turmoil. We’re always asking each other to pass us stuff. No matter what I want to lay my hand on Danny’s in between me and that thing. And it works the other way around too. We’re using a portable camping potty, and we have to dump it into the septic tank pipe everyday. First of all the dang thing gets in the way. The toilet that came with the camper is still in the tiny bathroom, but it’s got a problem with the valve in it and we weren’t interested in fooling around with the holding tank experience anyway. The little potty just fits in the floor space that’s left in the bathroom. In order to bathe, we have to move it out into the “kitchen” floor.

Cooking is a trip, too. While it’s warm, I try to do most of my cooking on my gas grill outside. I’ve learned to cook a wide variety of food on the grill. Even breads and casseroles. In the camper I have a microwave and a toaster oven. I’m not a real big fan of microwaving too much stuff, but I’d rather not try to live without it. The camper stove was icky, but I got it mostly clean. One of the eyes doesn’t adjust very well, but the rest of them work really well. I’ve only used the little oven a few times, but I’ve checked it with an oven thermometer, and it’s right on. Having the fridge outside is fun to get used to.

Actually the whole Life in the Camper thing is pretty fun. We spend a lot of our time outside or in the garage while we’re working on the house, so we’re not getting claustrophobic. And we really like each other! It also helps that we’re both people who have learned to count our blessings. And we don’t take stuff for granted. On a global scale, we are still far better off than a whole lot of people, even people who haven’t been displaced by war or famine.

As we go along, I’m sure there will be more postings concerning had we’re getting along. Especially as it gets colder.

The pictures I've put in this blog are all pictures taken "back then".  I'm planning to post an updated Life in the Camper soon.