School Bus Conversion Into Tiny Home on Wheels with Vicaribus

School Bus Conversion Into Tiny Home on Wheels with Vicaribus

School-bus-into-home (P)This summer I met Heather, Nick, and Miles, who owns a school bus conversion (also known as a skoolie bus )called Vicaribus, at the Xscapers convergence in Oregon and then we accidentally ended up on the Oregon coast at the same time and started traveling with each other all the way to California.

They converted a 1998 Thomas Vista school bus into their tiny home on wheels after completely gutting it and starting from scratch.

I was super impressed with their school bus conversion skills and how they were able to design a tiny home that suited their needs for Heather's love of cooking in the kitchen and Nick's need for a remote workstation.

Of course, you can't forget Miles, their fur baby, who needs lots of room to play and jump around into their arms and lap. Seriously, Miles is the star of this conversion bus tour!

Tour their Vicaribus skoolie bus to see their school bus conversion and how they made a skoolie into a tiny home on wheels with solar panels and a composting toilet.

They have taken school bus living to a whole other level, so if you are looking into a school bus tiny house and want to do your own DIY skoolie conversion then check out Nick and Heather’s school bus home conversion.

School Bus conversions are becoming very popular since you can purchase a used school bus fairly cheaply and then perform your own DIY school bus conversion into your dream tiny home.

Whether you want to drive it around or keep it stationary is up to you but a great alternative for a home that has the outside prebuilt and then you only need to design and build out the inside.

Interview with Vicaribus – School Bus Conversion

As we neared the California border, I had to ask them if I could film their school bus conversion and interview them about life on the road so I could show you all how cool this bus is and also give you a glimpse in what you can do if you're looking into tiny home living and traveling.

To see the whole interview I suggest watching the video, but I've paraphrased and summarized some areas to make it smoother for reading.

Amber:                   Okay, guys. You have heard me talk about Vicaribus a couple of times, Heather, Nick and Miles. We are going to do a school bus conversion tour with them today. They're going to show you the inside and the outside, and talk to you about why they started down this road of full time traveling, and how they are actually able to do full-time travel and still make an income because they're not retired yet.

Vicaribus Full

Why They Decided to Full-Time Travel in a School Bus Conversion

Amber:                   So this is Nick and Heather and Miles from Vicaribus. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourselves, why you decided to go full-time RVing, or busing?

Vicaribus Stairs

Nick:                         We were in Denver for a few years, and we had both done a good bit of travel. We decided it was time to maybe take it to the next step, the next level. We'd go full time for a while, and check out a lot of the West coast areas west of the Rockies that we hadn't seen before. We actually never looked into RVs at all.

Heather:                 We went straight into the bus idea.

Nick:                         I think we saw it on YouTube, and then we said, “Yeah, that sounds fun. Let's do that.”

Amber:                    That's the non-traditional way of going into RVing.

Nick:                         I think we didn't really check out our first RVs until we bought the bus and were building it out. We looked at RVs, and were pretty happy we decided to build our own out, because we didn't know exactly what we wanted and how we wanted it so custom building was better for us. It's been great.

Heather:                 We don't even remember whose idea it was to live in a bus first. Whoever said it, the other person was immediately like, “Yup. Let's do it.” Nobody needed to convince anybody, so we don't know who thought of it, or how we came about the idea. It just kind of happened, and then we went full speed into it.

Amber:                    Well, it's good that you both agreed on it.

Nick:                         No, there wasn't a lot of convincing needed.

Deciding on the Custom Design

Amber:                    So who actually designed the inside, or was that a collaborative effort?

Heather:                 It was a collaborative effort of mostly me telling Nick what I wanted, and then him telling me whether or not it was possible, and me yelling at him a lot about me wanting the kitchen as big as possible, which is pretty much how it went. He did 95% of the manual labor, maybe even 98% of the manual labor.

Amber:                    Did you have any previous experience with building out, or custom work like this?

Nick:                         I'd done a few smaller projects, like woodworking stuff, and I've done a lot of stuff. I've always been pretty hands on, like figuring stuff out. It was another one of those figure it out as you go kind of things.

How They Came Up with Name of Their Skoolie Bus

Amber:                    That's amazing. So tell us about the name of your bus, and your branding for it. You have a blog and YouTube channel?

Vicaribus Owners

Nick:                         Yes, both of those things. It's Vicaribus, kind of like vicarious but with a b. The idea was – it was sort of our parents. I didn't know anybody else that could live vicariously through our travels, so we share as much as possible. I don't know if I asked Heather if she liked the name. It just popped into my head one day. I was like, “That's the name of our bus!” I bought the website and started getting all the Instagrams and things set up. I was like, “By the way, our bus is Vicaribus.”

Heather:                 Yeah, I don't think you asked me about it at all.

Nick:                         When you get a brilliant idea, you've just got to go for it. (Totally humorous statement from Nick!)

Outside School Bus Conversion Tour & Solar Panels

Amber:                    So you want to show us the outside of the bus now? Do you have solar panels? What kind of a bus it is, year?

Nick:                         So it's a five window, 23 foot, Thomas Vista, 1998. We have two panels on the roof to combine solar of 330 watts. The very back is a large and spacious deck where we hang out and check out stars, or sunsets and stuff like that.

Custom Deck on Skoolie Bus Roof

Amber:                    So wait. You built a deck on the top of your bus?

Nick:                         Yeah, it was actually the first thing we did when we got it.

Amber:                    It's the coolest feature, right? How do you get up there?

Vicaribus Deck Side

Nick:                         We have a collapsible ladder. It's like a telescopic ladder, and it's awesome.

Amber:                    That's very cool. So the windows, are these the original windows?

Nick:                         Yeah. A lot of the bus conversions, the way they're cut out, some of the windows are lock out. Seemed like a lot of work, and we wanted as much light and visibility as possible, so we left all the original windows in.

Solar Power System for Off-Grid Living

Amber:                    Your solar power, how much solar did you say?

Nick:                         It's 330 watts of solar.

Amber:                    Does that seem to work for you?

Nick:                         It's pretty good. We could probably go a little bit more now that we're on the Pacific Northwest. We get a lot more cloudy here, foggy days. We have a 200 amp hour lithium battery, so it charges pretty quick and we can discharge pretty low. It's pretty low space requirements for that battery. It does us pretty well. We haven't had too much trouble with our set up.

Amber:                    That's great. And inverter?

Nick:                         We have a 2000 watt charger inverter, so our power system, our battery can charge through shore power, alternator, or the solar. I think the longest we've been on just solar is about nine days. We usually try to plug in every week or so, about once a week, or less if possible. We get a nice, full, deep charge.

Amber:                    Yeah. Do you have a generator?

Nick:                         We do not have a generator. So far it's been fine without it. I'm sure there's probably been a couple instances where it would have been nice to have, but we didn't want to rely on that, and have somewhere to store it.

Amber:                    So because you don't have a generator and you only have about nine days of power through solar, you're boondocking what percentage of the time, versus being hooked into shore power?

Heather:                 Probably about 50/50 of having power or not having power, or being camped out or not being camped out. But even sometimes we'll stay in a campground that's dry camping, and we're still using our solar in that situation.

Storage and Back Deck of School Bus

Amber:                    What's the smiley face about?

Vicaribus Deck

Nick:                         It was a sticker I found on a Chinese website. I was ordering some stuff and decided to get a couple.

Amber:                    Nice.

Nick:                         I didn't know where to put them, so I put one on the back of the bus and then one on our toilet.

Heather:                 This is all just storage.

Nick:                         It's under the bed in the back.

Heather:                 Yeah, this is our bed, and then this is just all outdoor stuff and our utility stuff and our ladder and chairs and grill.

Amber:                    It's pretty deep.

Heather:                 Windshield washer fluid, and the sticker Nick put on the wrong side of the window, so you can only see it from the inside.

Amber:                   Yeah, it looks pretty spacious.

Vicaribus Back of Bus

Heather:                 Yeah. That's like most of our storage.

Amber:                    There's the back side of the deck. What's that up on the top left?

Nick:                         Surf board.

Amber:                    Surf board, eh?

Nick:                         Yeah. Picked that up since we hit the West coast. I didn't know if I would, but after spending a weekend at a spot with a great break and no board, I decided I had to get one, so I went and found me owning one.

Heather:                 He's used it six times already.

Nick:                         Yeah. I've caught 5 waves.

Traveling Sticker Collection and Art on the Side of Their Skoolie

Amber:                    Nice! Nice collection of stickers. This is every place you've been?

Heather:                 Every place that we've been that we bought a sticker at.

Vicaribus Stickers

Amber:                    Very cool.

Heather:                 Some of the ones on this end are some of our favorite places before we left. So right here starts our actual travel journey.

Amber:                    A lot of places.

Heather:                 All those in just under five months. We haven't really been going slow.

Prior Travel Experience

Amber:                    So have you ever RV'd or traveled like this before?

Nick:                         I did probably, I guess, six or seven, eight years ago now? I lived in an old Ford panel van that I converted, that I lived in by myself for a couple of years, on and off a couple of years and traveled. Not nearly to the level as this thing, but I did that.

Heather:                 We've done a lot of just general travel and like cheap travel, and frugal international travel and all of that, but this is our first, really, RV experience.

Amber:                    And Miles' first time?

Heather:                 Miles has grown up on the bus. He was an itty bitty puppy when we got the bus, so he was there for the whole conversion. He's been living in it. He doesn't really know life without the bus.

Inside of School Bus Conversion

Amber:                    All right. So they are going to show us the inside of the bus now.

Heather:                 People really like our stairs, for some reason.

Vicaribus Stairs-2

Amber:                    Why is that?

Heather:                 I don't know, but any time we post a picture of them, people go crazy. They're just stairs, so make sure you get lots of footage of them because that's what the people will like.

Amber:                    I will. It's going to be this thumbnail now on the video of the stairs. Oh, bottle opener. That's important.

Heather:                 Bottle opener, although we tend to keep buying cans because they fit in the fridge better.

Kitchin of School Bus Conversion

Heather:                 You can pretty much see the whole bus now that you're standing inside. We have a kitchen over here, and it's currently in driving mode so there's a bunch of crap in our sink. We have a two burner propane stove, and then this cabinet here is actually our refrigerator. It comes out in a drawer-

Vicaribus Hallway

Vicaribus Kitchen and Front of Bus

Heather:                 … and then we use screws that we put into the floor and against the door to prevent the fridge drawer from opening and kill us while we're driving.

Amber:                    Yes, that's important.

Amber:                    So the fridge is a freezer, or refrigerator, or both?

Vicaribus Refrigerator

Heather:                 It can be either one, but it can't be both at the same time. We only use it as a refrigerator. It is directly wired into our 12 volt system and runs on the solar. The frame of the cabinets and the counters and all the general build-out we did ourselves, but then the cabinet faces we ordered from an online place that we just gave them our dimensions and the style we wanted. They shipped them to us, and then we painted them. They came as just a raw wood color, and then we put all the hardware on. Countertop is actually a door, and we painted it and sealed it so we completely made that ourselves. Can't find anything like it anywhere. We even have a tile back splash, because why not?

Vicaribus Kitchen Counter

Amber:                    That's real tile, or vinyl?

Heather:                 It is real tile- and the only part that's cracking is the caulk where it connects to the counter, so tile holds up on bumpy, crazy roads. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

Amber:                    It's bound to happen with a moving home, right? It looks like you've got some nice lighting in here.

Living Area and Workstation in School Bus Conversion

Heather:                 We have some fun party lights.

Amber:                    Some fun lighting, yeah?

Heather:                 Everything is LED, so it doesn't use a ton of energy.

Vicaribus Lights

Amber:                    And you have your couch.

Heather:                 It's also super modular and multifunctional, so we can move the pillows, and then this piece is on wheels, and it moves out like this. Then there's a table that comes up here, and then we have a dinette, or a workstation.

Amber:                    That converts pretty quickly too.

Heather:                 We can do this, and have a super comfy lounge.

Amber:                    Thank you, Vanna.

Vicaribus Workspace

Heather:                 Then our computer monitor is actually on one huge swivel arm, so it can come and be at the table to be a workstation, or it can sit in bed and be a tv. That's the living area.

Amber:                    Living. Very functional, converts from living to dining all at the same time, or workstation, right, and office?

Heather:                 Or it's long enough to sleep on.

Nick:                         A lounge.

Amber:                    Do you have many guests?

Nick:                         We've had a couple, or one?

Heather:                 We've had one person who spent three days sleeping here with us so far.

What Type of Toilet & Shower They Installed in School Bus Conversion

Amber:                    So what about your toilet situation. What kind of toilet do you have?

Heather:                 So our bathroom is behind these lovely mirrored doors that everyone thinks is a closet.

Amber:                    It does look like a closet.

Heather:                 But it's the bathroom. You open it up, and we have one very happy Natures Head composting toilet.

Heather:                 So there's where the other smiley face sticker ended up. We also designed it to be a wet bath with a shower and everything too, so the shower actually hooks in here, and the hot water heater is on the other side of the wall. It kind of comes through this little notch, but we don't ever use it because it would deplete all of our water supply. Usually when we have water there's better showers, and when we don't have water we just stay stinky.

Vicaribus Composting Toilet

Nick:                         We find other ways to get clean.

Heather:                 We do stay clean, just not with our own shower.

Nick:                         When we say we haven't used our shower, everybody's like, “Oh my God! You don't shower?” You can stay clean without showers.

Amber:                    For sure. So do you like the composting toilet? Have you had any issues with it? A Lot of people think that they smell really bad.

Heather:                 So it doesn't smell at all. If anything, the pee smells worse than the number two, although we've figured out if you add a little vinegar that kind of takes away all the pee smell, so we don't even really have problems with that anymore. Miles is attacking me, sorry. The most annoying thing is dumping the pee, because we have to do that almost every other day, but the number two section usually we're only dumping about once a month, so that's not bad at all. Then you're just kind of bagging it and throwing it away, versus dealing with a black tank and poo spewing. I don't know, horror stories. Neither one of us has actually used a black tank, but it sounds terrible.

Nick:                         Miles thinks it's terrible.

Transitioning Cooking from Sticks-and-Bricks Home to School Bus

Heather:                 Miles agrees. So when we were outside, and I yelled at Nick about making the kitchen as big as possible the whole time we were designing it, it's because I actually really, really like to cook. I'm not a person that uses every single burner and every single pot and pan in the kitchen when I cook, so switching to only two burners has been a little interesting. I still am able to make complete meals and delicious things. I just have to be a little more conscientious about how much pots and pans I'm using at once, and how many dishes I'm using.

Heather:                 We do have an instant pot in here too, so that helps too, because we can make a lot more one-pot meals in that, or half the meal can go in the instant pot, and half the meal can go on the stove. We do still cook in here pretty much every single day, and the two burners and the instant pot has been sufficient. I do have a food processor and an immersion blender and a nut chopper and all of that stuff too but in terms of actual cooking surfaces …

Amber:                    Have you found it to be relatively easy going from a traditional home to this, since you did make the kitchen bigger?

Heather:                 I think overall in terms of cooking it's been an easy transition, but the thing I miss the most is having dishwasher.

Amber:                    Ah. Do you have an oven?

Heather:                 We don't have an oven. No oven, no microwave. Just stove top, instant pot, and then we have a grill but we hardly ever use it.

What Changes Would You Make Now After Full-Time Living in the Bus

Amber:                    So now that you've been full time RVing about five months, is there anything that you would change about the conversion of your bus?

Nick:                         Aside from a few small adjustments to how we stored stuff and where we stored some things, we've been pretty dang happy with how it turned out. The main thing though, the one thing would probably be the shower bathroom. We spent a lot of time, effort and money trying to figure out how to set it up in the space we had and keep it waterproof so we could use the shower in there. Since we've never used the shower, that was such a lot of wasted effort, and time and money, so next time we probably wouldn't do that. But otherwise, we've been really happy with how everything worked out.

Vicaribus Adventure Pics

Vicaribus Plants on Dash

Planter pots are bolted to a board that is bolted to the dash.

Heather:                 It's been really good. I think the whole time he was building it, his goal was how can I build this the easiest way as possible? Then I would come back and be like, “But how is this functional, and how are we going to use this every day?” We really did think about the day to day functionality of it the whole time we were building it, and so we knew exactly how we were going to use the space when we moved in it, versus moving into something that just already was built out, and we had to figure it out. We built it to be what we needed. I think that kind of made a huge difference there. One thing, though, the whole time we were building it, we wanted it to be bigger. Now that we live in it, we think we could live in something smaller.

Amber:                    How long is this bus?

Heather:                 It's 23 feet long on the outside, but it's about 15 feet from the stairs back.

How They Afford Full-Time Travel and Work Remotely

Amber:                    Okay, so that's still a good size, 23 feet. All right. Let's talk about how you are able to travel full time. Obviously, people need money coming in somehow. Are you independently wealthy?

Nick:                         Yes.

Amber:                    Are you? Oh, good. Okay.

Nick:                         No. No.

Amber:                    I need to travel with you guys more often.

Heather:                 If only!

Amber:                    I know.

Nick:                         We saved up a good chunk of money to help us get through this year of travel, or however long we go. Heather is a physical therapist taking a little sabbatical, while I do this versatile segment. I'm still working part-time as a software engineer maybe like 10, 12 hours a week, but maybe bump it up soon. It's been rough to keep the gas in the tank and bills paid.

Amber:                    What are the top three things that you think that are must-haves in order to work remotely?

Nick:                         It probably just comes down to connectivity. We have two hot spots. We have an AT&T hotspot, a Verizon hotspot. We only used a little extra directional antenna for those. We picked up a little more signal until recently, like four and a half months in, we decided it was time to get a weBoost so we could boost our cell signal. That's actually kind of really handy the week we've had it, but number one, definitely, connectivity.

Amber:                    How has your connectivity been since you got the weBoost?

Nick:                         Definitely better.

Heather:                 You've done a few different speed tests where we're getting five to seven times the speed with the weBoost, so that's definitely worth it.

Nick:                         Yeah. It was taking signals that were probably not usable for the stuff we needed to do, and made them workable, for sure.

Amber:                    What else would you say about the other two?

Nick:                         Flexible clients. The client I work with is on the East coast, and we are now Pacific coast, so the time zone difference makes it a little more challenging. Plus our travel schedule where we can disappear for a couple days in the middle of nowhere and we spend half the day traveling, or half the day doing all this stuff outside, you've got to have a client … At least in the kind of business I do, you need a client that's a little flexible for that kind of thing.

Vicaribus Inside

Nick:                         Headphones.

Amber:                    Why headphones?

Nick:                         So you can tune out the rest of the world such as your other two bus mates, and really get in the zone.

Amber:                    So Heather, you are a physical therapist. Do you work on the road?

Heather:                 So right now I am taking a sabbatical, so I stopped working three days before we hit the road, maybe? I think I had a weekend to get the bus packed up. I have not been working on the road, but the plan is to work sometime next year. As a physical therapist, you can do travel contracts, and they usually are 13 weeks-ish, so about three months. We kind of hunker down for three months' work, replenish the bank account, and then go back to traveling. We'll do that as often as we need the income from it, also just to keep up my skills and not just never work again.

How You Can Connect with Vicaribus

Amber:                    Well, I just want to thank you guys so much for showing me your bus, and talking to me about how you guys got started traveling full time. If people want to get a hold of you or get in touch with you to ask you any questions, or just to follow you, how would they do that?

Nick:                         That's pretty easy. We are everywhere that you can find anyone under the name Vicaribus. We have vicaribus.com, that's our blog, and we keep track of where we've been, and what we're doing, and put up photos and stuff, and a lot of little posts. We are on Instagram under Vicaribus, Facebook under Vicaribus, and YouTube under Vicaribus.

Amber:                    All right. Thanks, guys.

Vicaribus at Face Rock

Vicaribus Social Media

  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vicaribus
  • Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vicaribus/
  • YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzT9iv9nxED5pQoKAf25PmQ
  • Website: http://www.vicaribus.com

Have you thought of a school bus conversion to travel in or build out a tiny home? What are your thoughts on this idea?

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway Part II

Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway Part II

Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway Road TripThe best way to describe the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway drive is beaches, sand, and haystack rocks everywhere. That may sound weird to say “beaches everywhere” when you're on a coast, but let me explain. Sometimes coastal areas aren't always accessible and have been overrun with tourist attractions, that, in my opinion, take away from the natural beauty of the area. This isn't the case with the Northern Oregon coast. Sure, there are a few tourist spots along the coast, but not many. I love being able to pull off to the side of the road and gaze at the ocean below or hike down to the beach where Lily runs like crazy through the sand. I've enjoyed every minute of my time on this quest drive and had so much fun exploring the towns, the beaches, and meeting people along the way. Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Leaving Astoria, Oregon

Due to rain in the morning, I got a late start leaving Astoria, Oregon – which was Part 1 of this quest drive on the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway. Since I would be filming the coastline, I wanted more sunshine, preferably, to take pictures and document my travels, which is why I waited. So I didn't leave Astoria until about 5:00 pm to start the drive south. I stopped off at the Fort Stevens State Park to empty all the tanks and fill up on fresh water then continued down Highway 101 with the first stop being Seaside, Oregon.

Seaside, Oregon

Seaside is right off the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway and just minutes from the beach. It's a fairly populated area with quite a few touristy things like bike rentals, four-wheel cart rentals, the boardwalk along the beach dotted with shops, restaurants, and condos. Seaside Oregon Boardwalk One of the things I love about Oregon is the ability to bring your dog with you on the beach. I haven't seen a beach yet that didn't allow dogs on leash. That's a huge plus in my opinion because though I love the coastal parts of California too, many times you aren't allowed to have dogs on the beaches or even in some parks. When I was in Washington along the coast, you were allowed to bring dogs there as well so huge props to Oregon and Washington for being dog-friendly! Seaside Oregon Beach A noticeable difference between Washington and Oregon is the coastal topography is changing quickly. In Washington there are evergreens and trees almost up to the very edge of the cliffs overlooking the beaches; however in Oregon, you do see trees in some areas, but it's the dunes – sometimes covered in tall grass – that make up the topography by the shoreline. Oregon Dunes

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Next stop is Cannon Beach to visit the infamous haystack rocks which were also made famous in the Goonies movie. For those who gave me so much crap about not watching the Goonies before actually filming Astoria – I finally watched it. I can check that off my bucket list now. Haha… After Google Maps sent me down a very narrow residential street that did put me right in front of the main haystack rock, I had to turn around and find the beach to access the haystack rock. There wasn't an access point on that street, but I tell you those people who owned homes right there must have paid a fortune for their houses with that view. It's pretty fantastic. There's RV parking in town as well, and then you can walk over to the beach. I didn't want to take an RV spot since I can fit my Hymer Aktiv into standard parking spaces, so I circled around onto another street and found a great place fairly close the entrance of the beach. The sun was starting to get lower in the sky which made for an incredibly beautiful view of the beach, the ocean, and the haystack rocks. Cannon Beach It was pretty windy, so my hair was all over the place as I tried to snap a selfie with the haystack rock in the background. This was the best I could do. Cannon Beach - Amber Cannon Beach Seagulls I didn't stay for too long as Lily, and I needed to keep moving so we could find a spot to sleep overnight.

Arcadia Beach

I met up with friends from the Xscapers Convergence who just happened to be on the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway as well. Heather, Nick, and their sweet dog Miles live in a converted school bus, affectionately called Vicaribus that they custom-built on the inside. I might have a van tour with them soon. Hint hint. Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting We were all headed the same direction, so we ended up hanging out down the Oregon Coast sporadically as our schedules matched up. This is one of the things I love about RVing. You seem to find friends everywhere, and you already have so much in common with RVing that it's easy to make friends along the way. Arcadia Beach is just super incredible with the wood plank stairs down the side of the cliff to the beach, haystack rocks, tons of sand for Lily to run on (you have to watch the video of her running), and another spectacular sunset.
Arcadia Beach Sunset 2 Arcadia Beach Sunset The beach was pretty deserted too. Only the 3 of us and we saw one other couple later. Arcadia Beach Arcadia Beach Sunset 3 Arcadia Beach 2 Lily was all over the beach. I had such a great time just watching her run all over the place and enjoy being off leash so she could run everywhere and kick up sand behind her. She makes me smile as I see her have so much joy from this playground of sand. Lily Running on Arcadia Beach Lily Running on Arcadia Beach 3 Lily Running on Arcadia Beach 2

Finding a Place to Overnight

The sun was setting fast, and the marine layer started to roll in pretty quickly so I figured I should start looking for an overlook to spend the night. That was my initial plan, to find an overlook that didn't have a sign stating “no overnight camping.” All through the Manzanita area of the Oregon Coast, there were these overlooks I could have stayed, but I got cold feet because I thought highway patrol would show up and knock on my door. I could have had this view, but no, I chickened out and kept moving. Oregon Coast Pull off I did find out later from an Oregon State Park ranger that it's okay to stay there and police wouldn't bother us. Now I know for the future! I ended up finding a place a the Blue Herron Cheese Company in Tillamook, Oregon. They are part of Harvest Hosts, but also allow overnights even if you aren't a member of Harvest Hosts. Blue Herron Cheese Company 2 Blue Herron Cheese Company sits on some land off of Highway 101 on a farm with an extensive pasture area for you to park your RV. At one point in time, I think I saw about 15 different rigs and most nights were 2-5 rigs. I ended up staying several nights so I could work and also host my first live stream video on YouTube. It was important for the live stream to have a good Internet connection and this place did. Blue Herron Cheese Company I also ended up purchasing about $50 worth of items in their store and cafe like sparkling wine in a can (never even knew this existed and it was pretty tasty) which is perfect for the van, rosemary sea salt, a few decorations, and a salad from their cafe. It's a neat place with chickens, goats, lamas, and other farm life running around. I recommend this place if you're ever on the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway. It's free too and also nice if you partake of their goodies inside.

Pacific City, Oregon – End of the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway

After staying several days in Tillamook, Oregon – I headed towards the last stop on the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway, before continuing to the Central Oregon Pacific Coast Highway quest trail. Pacific City is a vibrant little beach town, and let me tell you, the sand was not very compact in many of the areas that they allowed you to drive onto to in order to access the beach. I saw multiple vehicles that were stuck in the sand and airing down their tires to get out, revving their engines to get through that thick layer of sand without stopping so they wouldn't get stuck again, and park rangers digging out sand from around car tires. Lily and I just walked down the path instead. I didn't even want to deal with that mess and take the chance of getting stuck again. We saw more haystacks and a huge dune – more prominent than I've ever seen on the coast – right there on the beach. Pacific City Dune Pacific City Rock Dune Rock Pacific City Beach Pacific City Beach Rock 2 I caught this on video where a kayaker started on the beach and kept inching his way out into the water to catch a wave and thrust him further out into the ocean. I loved watching him maneuverer through the water and navigate his best route amongst the waves crashing onto the beach. Pacific City Beach Kayacker What a great end to our Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway quest drive! I've been able to watch sunsets across the ocean waters. I've watched people kayak out into the ocean. Dogs were running on the beaches. Waves were crashing against the rocks. Lily was kicking up dirt as she bounces and runs through the sand. Met up with friends along the road. Met new friends throughout the quest drive. I smelled the salty air from the ocean. What a great quest drive! I love the Oregon coast and am just taking my time traveling down it and enjoying the ride. Have you been on the Oregon coast? What places would you recommend to visit? Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Road Trip Report & Map

Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Trail Take a look at all of the places I've been on: Full map of all my travels Miles: 95 Average Miles per Gallon: 15.5 Road Conditions: Roads were clear and well maintained. Weather Conditions: Cool at night around 40s and days were 60s-70s on average while I was there in the later part of August. Time of Year Visited: Late August

Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 
  • Blue Herron Cheese Company – Tillamook, Oregon / $0
Places Visited/Cost:
  • Seaside, Oregon / $0
  • Cannon Beach, Oregon / $0
  • Tillamook, Oregon / $0
  • Pacific City, Oregon/ $0
RV Accessibility:
  • You can drive this route in any RV without any problems until you get onto some of the coastal residential roads where streets narrow and there are no turnarounds.
Cell Phone Signal Strength:  Had full signal throughout the quest drive.

Park Pass:  N/A


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot. Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings. Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone. AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route. Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling. SaveSave
August 2018 Income Report – How I Made $4,200 Traveling Full-Time

August 2018 Income Report – How I Made $4,200 Traveling Full-Time

Last month, July 2018, was my first monthly income report and I was so nervous to publish it, but you all were amazing and so encouraging and seemed to garner some value out of it, so I'm now posting my August 2018 income report that shows some incredible growth.

Last month I decided to start teaching what you all are asking me to video. My background is in Accounting and Finance and what better way to use it then to teach on financing a full-time travel lifestyle. I figured the best way to show you all how to have this kind of life is to be the story. I'm the experiment, and you can learn from my mistakes and my successes.

In my post on How to Make Money Online Traveling in an RV and the video on YouTube, I announced a huge change that I made in my life.

After traveling for a year, full-time, I wanted more freedom, and I was working 60-80 hours a week. I was considerably stressed even though I love this company that I worked for – but the pace was starting to get to me, and I just felt like I needed a change. I was documenting my travels on the blog and YouTube and was able to tap into my creative side again – something I hadn't used in a while – and it felt great and nourishing to my soul.

I took the BIG LEAP and quit so I can focus my attention on my endeavors in business – like building my online business and coaching/consulting practice. Even though I was working remotely this whole time – I still felt that I needed a change.

Now I'm even more location independent because I don't always have to stress about making sure there is an Internet connection – even though I depend on it for my own business – at least for a couple of days. I can relax more and take in the landscape in places that are more remote and not feel like I need to rush through it to make sure I'm available for my job.

It's exciting, thrilling, and a little nerve-wracking, but I feel thrilled with my decision and am pushing forward!

Why Am I Sharing My August 2018 Income Report?

Sharing what I earn each month and from what sources will not only allow me to document my income but also to see the growth or where I need to make adjustments. It's challenging to me to see how far I can push myself each month to be creative and reach my goals.

I have a vision in my head of what I want to create, but that also means listening to you, the Story Chasing viewers, to get your feedback and understand more of what you desire in order fulfill your dream experience.

I want to be the example, the experiment, to you all so you can see that you can also accomplish your desires. Who knows how long it will take me to reach my overall goal of replacing my former income, but as long as I don't quit, I don't see how I can't win at this little experiment.

Each month I'll post in the income report:

  • Monthly earnings for the month
  • Percentage of increase/decrease month-over-month
  • Sources of income (when I'm able to be transparent)
  • Monthly and annual goals
  • Growth opportunities
  • Successes

I hope by posting my income report that it provides you with some inspiration as to what's possible for you and your journey. My biggest hope is that I can share with you all a different lifestyle that's not necessarily the “social norm,” but that is entirely enriching and makes me feel more alive than I've ever felt. This is why I named my blog and YouTube channel Story Chasing.

It makes me pretty happy to create new stories and moments in my life and fill my brain with these special memories of my travels and the people who I've met along the way.

August 2018 Income Report – Working Remotely While Traveling Full Time

July was my first month after quitting my job so the August 2018 income report will be my second income report since starting to work full-time in my own business while also traveling full-time.

I have the StoryChasing.com blog and also the YouTube channel – which by the way, if you like what you see on my YouTube channel, please hit that subscribe button and click on the notification bell so you’ll know when I upload a video each week.

My Goals and Business Insights for the August 2018 Income Report

After taking some rest time in July, the month after I quit my job, I decided I should probably get busy and start accomplishing more in August. I mean, I can't be a slacker when I just quit my job!

Well, I guess I could be a slacker, but then I wouldn't fulfill my goals, my dreams, my desires – so – time to get moving lady!

August 2018 Income Report Video Goal

In July I was producing one video a week and a blog post which can be extremely time-consuming in the learning phase. It still takes me about 16 hours sometimes to finish a video and blog post from beginning to end. However, I had this goal for August that I would start creating two videos a week where Sunday will be all RV and travel related while Workshop Wednesdays will be about answering those questions on how to fund a full-time travel lifestyle or just generally how to make money online.

I was nervous to take this leap, because of the time factor of producing one video and blog post, but I was up for the challenge. Except I didn't do so well at it.

I think I had two weeks where I produced two videos, but dang it's exhausting, and I don't want to do it. I felt too much pressure by it and felt like I was going right back into working that 60-80 hour work week that I just got rid of in June. My whole goal for quitting is enjoying life more, and I wasn't enjoying it with producing that many videos along with all the other aspects of the business.

So, I've relinquished this goal and gave it a send-off into the ethers. I feel much better now. I still want to produce more content for you all, but it will be sporadic rather than planned, except for the once a week video that comes out every Wednesday or Thursday. I'm still playing with these two days to see which is better to publish content for you all.

YouTube Subscriber Goal

My goal for August was to have over 5,000 subscribers on YouTube.

For the 5,000 subscriber goal, I didn't succeed at this goal as a final number; however, you all came through, and I gained 566 viewers for an ending total of 4,331 subscribers on YouTube.

So not a loss.

I'm so happy with that number. Again, I'm going to keep on pushing through, producing content that you all can connect with, I hope, and numbers will continue to grow.

Free Mini-Course Goal

My goal for August was to put together a free mini-course for the blog. At the time, I wasn't sure what the free mini-course topic would be, but now I've nailed it down to one of the biggest questions I get surrounding RV expenses, budgeting, and how to live cheaply without blowing your budget.

I launched the Free 4-Day Mini-Course Budgeting for Full-Time Travel which includes 4 modules + a bonus module on my expenses for RVing, includes my budget for you to download, a budget template for you to work on your budget, ways to save money and slash your budget so you can travel more freely. First, I walk you through developing your travel style, so you'll know what expenses to budget and then show you how to apply that style to your budget.

     Story Chasing Course Curriculum 2

Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting

This was a labor of love and a massive project I got to check off my task list. Not only did I accomplish this goal, you all signed up quickly, over 100 of you, and devoured the information. Look at these comments from the students:

I'm full of joy over your participation and how much you all like the course!

Story Chasing Insider Crew on Patreon Goal

Lastly, my goal was to hard launch the Story Chasing Crew site with Patreon as a way for loyal readers and subscribers to gain more access to all that's happening at Story Chasing like:

  • Monthly live streams
  • Patron only videos and clips from outtakes to deleted scenes and raw footage of what it's like to live in 100 square feet.
  • Exclusive access feed
  • Priority comments to Patrons
  • Invitations to group meet-ups
  • Your name in credits on each video
  • Voting on Polls to shape the story on the blog and channel
  • Monthly postcards from travels around North America
  • One-on-One chat sessions

With not a moment to spare, I announced the Story Chasing Insider Crew page at the end of my Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway video with a bonus to join the live stream call the following Saturday to discuss the reward levels and get your feedback. Once again you guys blew me away! I had so much feedback during the live stream and afterward.

If you haven't signed up, it's not too late. I'll be holding a Story Chasing Insider Crew live stream only on Patreon for all who have signed up towards the end of September.

If you're new to my blog, here's a little bit about me and what I do.

I'm Amber, and I started StoryChasing.com and my YouTube channel last year in the second quarter of 2017 after selling my home and everything I own to travel full-time in an RV. When I first started out traveling, I had no idea where I was going, and then I came across a book called National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways. What a great way to see the country and learn about the areas around, so I started a quest to accomplish all 300 highways and byways – with no end date by the way.

From the beginning, I documented my travels across the United States and Canada, through photos and video, so I could show that I've completed all 300 highways and byways. I'm the sole traveler, writer and videographer, marketer, editor, administrator, accountant, driver and whatever other hat is thrown my way in this adventure.

I travel with my fur baby, Lily, who is a 10 lb Whippet, Chi, Rat Terrier mix and a fantastic traveler with her own car seat so she can see outside and be safe in her harness that clips into the seat.

Over the course of my travels, I get asked quite a bit if I'm fearful to travel solo. I even made a video about it and how I overcome fear. It's been one of my more popular videos because I believe it addresses a fear that we all have – whether you're a man or a woman – about being by yourself and living in this world without subjecting ourselves to the constant fear of others and media. I've discovered that the world out there is kinder and more beautiful than I anticipated and that I'm also much stronger than I ever imagined. I've conquered plenty of fears this year, but I believe those fears are just opportunities to overcome and the greatest success and reward are on the other side of that fear.

I have worked in some capacity in Accounting since I was 17 years old and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Accountancy and am a Certified Financial Crimes Investigator. Most of my career I was working in property management, construction, and real estate with the last company being a Private Equity Firm specializing in acquisitions and development of multi-family housing where I was the Director of Asset Management Accounting. Though I loved my job, the company, and the people I worked with, I knew it was time for a change and to see what I could do with my own company.

I've been blogging on and off for over eight years and have created many websites and blogs and learned quite a bit about making money online. I just needed to figure out what I wanted to do to make money online.

As my viewers started asking me questions, a natural business started to form where I could teach others the knowledge I have on various subjects. I'm so thrilled to be working in this capacity and to help others. I've been coaching women for several years as well, and it's an immensely fulfilling joy to help these woman overcome experiences in their life.

I'm also business consulting for acquisitions/dispositions of real estate and multi-family housing.

Lastly, some of my income – that you'll see below in the August 2018 income report – also comes from an e-book I wrote about five years ago that helps people overcome rosacea naturally. It's not generating much income right now since I haven't been focusing on the marketing very much in the last couple of years. When I first wrote the book, it was generating about $200-$400 per month.

August 2018 Income Report

I've completed a breakdown by passive income and active income with totals for each.

Passive Income August 2018 Income Report

  Affiliate Income:

  Advertising:

  • Ad Revenue $245.43

  My Products:

Passive Income Total of $389.79

This is an increase over July by 17.78%.

Active Income August 2018 Income Report

  • Consulting/Coaching – $3,810 which most likely will go down in the future since some of this is coming from contracting for my previous employer.

Total August 2018 Income Report $4,199.79

August 2018 Income Report QB

My bottom line goal is to increase my passive income, month-over-month by approximately 16.25% and I definitely hit that goal this month at 17.78%.

All of the income above is before expenses and taxes and represents my gross revenues.

Top Goals for September 2018

I'll also make sure to follow-up in the September income report with how I met my goals below:

  • Continue to reach viewers looking for an alternative lifestyle in minimalist living, traveling full-time, learning how to earn income on the road, and growing YouTube subscribers to 5,000+.
  • Learn how to batch produce my videos and blog posts to decrease time in the workflow, but still, maintain the quality of content and videos.
  • Fill in editorial calendar through the end of the year and review new series on nomadic life.
  • Begin the process of outlining a new product for sale to diversify my income.
  • Enjoy the journey, slow down more, and read more. Even with quitting my job I'm still going too fast sometimes, and after over a year of traveling, I'm still learning how to slow down more. I even work on my own business at a frantic pace. I know it's because I have so much I want to do, but I want to learn the art of slowing down more and enjoying the moment in its entirety. Why do we always need to be “accomplishing” something to feel good? What about just sitting down and reading a book? I used to be an avid reader at several books a week. Now I'm lucky to finish one in a month. Yes, even with traveling and quitting my job. I want to start reading each day again. Take my time to get up in the morning, get my coffee and some breakfast, and sit and read for even 30 minutes each morning.

Please leave me a comment below on how you liked this August 2018 income report. Was something missing or something you'd like to see?

Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting

Video/Audio/Gear Used for August 2018 Income Report

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Astoria Oregon Pacific Coast Highway Part 1 / Van Modifications

Astoria Oregon Pacific Coast Highway Part 1 / Van Modifications

My first road trip after a little sabbatical is to Astoria, Oregon on the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway – also known as Highway 101. I am so excited to get back out on the road after a month-long stay in Washington waiting for warranty work to complete.

If you'll remember about a month ago, I was on the Washington Pacific Coast Highway along the Olympic Peninsula, which is the start of Highway 101 from the north. I've driven the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway before – about three years ago – in my car, and that drive was one of the moments that made me start thinking about RVing even more seriously.

I had Lily with me and had to get a hotel to sleep in while I explored the area, but it was hot and I couldn't leave her at the hotel and couldn't leave her in the car. I remember thinking, “If only I had my home with me – this trip would be different.” Little did I know then, that three short years later I would be back on the same stretch of the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway with my home.

It's funny – I didn't even remember that until I pulled into Astoria.

The manifestation of your dreams can become a reality when you start to focus on what you want to create in your life.

It's my Create. Do. Live principle.

Dream up what you want during the Create Phase, put it into action during the Do Phase, and the result of your actions is the Live Phase. I'm in the Live Phase of what I've created, and it's pretty sweet!

Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Hymer Aktiv Warranty Work

Warranty on the Hymer was an interesting process – not interesting as in fascinating – but a bit of challenge. I had to call Hymer almost daily to make sure things were moving quickly because the dealership doing the warranty work said it could 2-7 weeks to get repaired since they have to wait on Hymer to approve the warranty and to send the parts.

I love my Hymer, but the warranty process – well – it just plain sucks.

The dealer said the process was pretty good by most RV industry standards. Seriously?

Something needs to change in the RV industry. I realize that supply is at an all-time high with the manufacturers, but they also need to add infrastructure that supports the demand, whether that be hiring more people or creating a more efficient process.

I really want Hymer to succeed in North America, so I hope they listen to all of us who are actively trying to work with them through these processes.

Two items needing repair:

  • Roof vent wouldn't open due to the hand crank being stripped inside so it wouldn't crank the roof vent open.
  • Somehow they forgot to add the back awning clip to the van. I'm really not sure how they missed that during the quality control inspection.

Thankfully these were small items that needed repairing and nothing major.

Camper Van Modifications

While we're on the subject of the camper van fixes, I made two other modifications to the Hymer over the last month.

I finally removed the microwave since I didn't use it that much. Now I can use that space for storage.

It was relatively simple to remove the microwave by unscrewing the two bolts at the bottom and then pulling the microwave out. I ended up donating it to a thrift store while I was in Bend, Oregon at the Xscapers Convergence.

Next, I needed to fill in the exposed area to the van, so nothing fell back between the wall and the camper van itself.

Time to get creative!

I headed to Lowe's hardware store and found a piece of peel-and-stick flooring for $1.08 that worked almost flawlessly. Granted it's not the same color as the backboard, but once I put the storage items in there, you won't notice it.

The peel-and-stick didn't stick so well, so I instead used Gorilla Tape to hold it in place. You can see that part of the van has some exposure at the top. I left it there in case I needed access to the area, but the board is there to keep things from falling behind the wall and nothing should drop back there with how I added the flooring strip.

I also left the AC electrical outlet accessible in case I needed it.

Now I need to find a way to hold the storage items up there. I was thinking of a bungee cord hooked into eye hooks, but I think I found a solution with some cargo netting. I could also add a wood lip to the area that would also work. I'm still undecided, so more to come on this.

The other camper van modification I made was to replace the all-weather tires that came with the Hymer Aktiv to the BF Goodrich All Terrain K02 tires. Since I tend to stay in areas that are rocky, can be muddy, gravel, and dirt roads, I wanted a tire that would hold up on these surfaces and also reduce any accidental times of getting stuck again.

While I was in Mount Vernon, Washington area, I contacted Discount Tire to order the tires and have these mounted. They also bought my all-weather tires at $70 a piece, so I didn't have to deal with trying to sell the old tires after installation of the new AND I don't have anywhere to store the tires waiting for a buyer.

Hymer with All Weather Tires

Before: Hymer Aktiv with all-weather tires

Hymer with All Terrain Tires

After: Hymer Aktiv with all-terrain

The difference in the tread is incredible and, well, the all-terrain tires are just much cooler! Not only do I get a zillion questions a day about the Hymer Aktiv, but now I get stares and head-bobbing-approval nods from people on the street when they see my tires. It's pretty funny!

All Weather vs All Terrain Tires

Comparison of all-weather tires (left) and all-terrain tires (right).

All Weather vs All Terrain Tire Comparison

Comparison of all-weather tire tread (left) and all-terrain tires (right).

Cons of All-Terrain Tires

People have said two cons to getting all-terrain tires are:

  • Road noise
  • Reduction in gas efficiency

So far I haven't heard a difference in road noise, but I have had a decrease in gas efficiency.

With all-weather tires, I was getting about 16-17 mpg on average, and now with the all-terrain tires, I'm getting between 14-15.5 mpg which is about a 10%-15% loss of gas efficiency.

So with most things, there is a trade-off.

In this case, I'm okay with the loss in gas efficiency to ensure that I can travel to those remote boondocking spots without bursting a tire and possibly save myself from getting stuck.

Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting

Prevention in Getting Stuck Again

To also ensure I could get out of a jam if I did get stuck, I heeded the advice of a friend and purchased the Maxtrax extraction boards that you can push up next to your tires to gain traction and also dig out the sand around the tire if needed.

These boards are kind of long, so I wasn't so sure I wanted to even purchase it due to the limited storage in the camper van. However, I felt like I wanted the peace of mind in case I really needed to get unstuck; I could do so without calling a tow truck.

Last time that cost me $300 when I was in Yuma and got stuck in the sand!!

So when I received the Maxtrax boards, I found a convenient spot that was a bonus.

I missed my adjustable bed in my sticks and bricks home where I always slept with my upper torso slightly elevated. Score!

Not only did the spot under the head of the trifold mattress work for storing the Maxtrax boards, but now I have an adjustable bed again. Sweet!

Maxtrax Extraction

 

Maxtrax Extraction under bed

Overall, I love the new tires and can feel a difference in how the Hymer drives on those rougher roads. Now I need to get the Sumo Springs to stabilize the ride a bit more on the rear side of the camper van.

Astoria River Walk and Overnighting on Oregon Pacific Coast Highway

My first day here I overnighted next to the Astoria River Walk on the east side of town at a place I found on the Chamber of Commerce website. There's a map that shows all kinds of things to do in Astoria, but interestingly also indicates RV overnight parking. I ended up staying over in that street parking area for several nights as I explored the area.

Astoria Oregon Chamber of Commerce Map

So when it was time to stroll along the Astoria river walk, we were really close and just had to walk across a small parking lot.

The Astoria river walk is alongside the Columbia River that pours into the Pacific Ocean and where cyclists, runners, and walkers are enjoying the scenery. Alongside the river walk is the Astoria River Walk Trolley system that takes you all along the river walk from beginning to end.

Astoria Riverwalk

Astoria Oregon Columbia River

Astoria Oregon Old Buildings

There's shops, restaurants, breweries, and cafes all along the river walk too. Walking along the path and visiting the local eateries you'll also discover the sound, and maybe a sighting, of the sea lions in the area. If you don't like noise at all while sleeping, the area I parked is probably not the place for you. You can hear the sea lions, somewhat faintly, but you can hear them.

Lily and I enjoyed a pleasant stroll along the waterfront and people-watched along the way and took in the sights around. I even spotted a sleeping sea lion all by himself around the shore area.

Astoria Oregon Sea Lions

Rising over the Columbia River is the Astoria-Megler bridge that connects Washingon and Oregon. It's the longest truss bridge in North America at just over four miles long.

Astoria-Megler Bridge

It was such a beautiful day with the sun shining and the cooler temperatures. Thankfully all the forest fire smoke had also cleared out.

We've been under siege in the Pacific Northwest for weeks now with the forest fire smoke. It's just awful, and it's hard to breathe – not to mention all the ash dust in the camper van.

Astoria Difficult Area to Overnight in for Free

Overall, the Astoria, Oregon area is a tough place to find free overnight camping. There is a Walmart not too far away, but the police regularly patrol it and give out fines. The rest areas show restrictions signs for no overnight parking.

There's a Safeway in town that has an area for RV parking, and I've seen people stay there overnight, but there is also a clearly marked sign stating no overnight parking by City of Astoria ordinance.

Where I parked overnight that was on the Chamber of Commerce map, there are no signs for no overnighting which makes sense considering the Chamber of Commerce has designated that is RV overnight parking.

There's the Fort Stevens State Park along the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean; however, it's incredibly full right now, and everyone is packed in like sardines.

Along the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway, there are some recreation areas, but signs clearly marked “no camping” though I saw people camping over there.

Fort Stevens State Park along Oregon Pacific Coast Highway

While I didn't stay at Fort Stevens State Park overnight, I did make use of this beautiful park during the day.

It's right off of Highway 101's Oregon Pacific Coast Highway and overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River.

Astoria Oregon Map

It felt so amazing to breathe in the ocean air and feel that crisp ocean breeze on my skin! This is my happy place! It's Lily's happy place too in the sand. I think she loves it as much as I do.

Fort Stevens State Park Pacific Ocean Beach

Fort Stevens State Park Beach

We also stumbled upon this shipwreck on the beach which I later discovered was the Peter Iredale, a four-masted ship that ran aground in 1906 on its way to the Columbia River during a northwest squall that forced the ship into the shore.

Four-masted_ship_PETER_IREDALE_at_anchor,_Washington,_ca_1900_(HESTER_634)

By Wilhelm Hester – Wilhelm Hester Photographs Collection, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49245575

Fort Stevens Peter Iredale Shipwreck

Remains of the Peter Iredale shipwreck

Story Chasing Crew – Insider Crew Access on Patreon

It's finally here! The Story Chasing Crew insider access page on Patreon where you can decide on what level of insider access you'd like. I took your suggestions and added different reward levels for different pledge access levels. You get to choose how much insider access you want.

So – to make sure I got your requests right and didn't completely mess this up, I'd love to chat with you all this Saturday, 9/1/18 at 10 am PST on a Live Stream Q&A on YouTube so you can tell me your thoughts on the page and see if I need to make any changes.

This will be my first time doing a Live Stream, so I'm sure I'm going to be nervous – so be gentle with me! I'm so accustomed to talking to the camera and editing, so this is all new to me. I can't wait to speak with you all this Saturday.

I hope to see you there and get your feedback!

A special thank you to Francine Roach for being the first Patron to subscribe to the Story Chasing Insider Crew page on Patreon!! Thank you!

It's time to move on and continue down the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway and find our next adventure and hopefully some prettier spots to overnight camp. See you Saturday! This is only part 1 of the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway journey with more to come soon as I accomplish 3 different quests along Highway 101:

  • Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway
  • Central Oregon Pacific Coast Highway
  • Southern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway

All three are different quest drives in the National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book.

Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Road Trip Report & Map

Take a look at all of the places I've been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 52

Average Miles per Gallon: 14.35

Road Conditions: No issues, roads are clear.

Weather Conditions: Cool at night and warmer during the day between 65-75 degrees.

Time of Year Visited: Mid August


Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Designated Chamber of Commerce RV Overnight Street Parking – Astoria, Oregon / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Astoria River Walk / $0
  • Fort Stevens State Park / $30 annual pass
  • Downtown Astoria / $0

RV Accessibility:

  • You can drive through here on the main road in any RV though some streets in downtown Astoria will be tight and even more narrow through the residential streets on the hill.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  No signal in some areas of Fort Stevens State Park and 4-5 bars everywhere else in Astoria.

Park Pass:  Oregon State annual pass


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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How Much Does Living In An RV Cost // It’s Cheaper Than You Think

How Much Does Living In An RV Cost // It’s Cheaper Than You Think

Welcome to another series of Workshop Wednesday's. I get the question all the time, “How much does living in an RV cost?” and “How can you afford to live full time in an RV?” I'm going to show you my full-time RV living expenses so you can see my budget, see how these expenses can change based on your travel style, so you can then crunch the numbers and put your budget together.

Make sure you sign-up for my free 4-day mini-course where you'll get a full copy of my budget, a template for your budget, and tips on how to save and slash your budget so you can travel full-time in an RV.

When I first started out researching on how much living in an RV cost, I quickly found that there are so many variables to living costs. Much of your RV living costs are based on your travel style and the type of RV you are living in full-time.

Living in an RV Costs Significantly Less Than a Sticks-and-Bricks

I found that my expenses are much lower in an RV then when I lived in a sticks-and-bricks home. Now that I'm in a Class B campervan, the Hymer Aktiv that is 20 feet, my expenses are even lower than when I lived in the first RV I purchased, the Winnebago Spirit that was 26 feet.

Living in an RV and lowering my monthly expenses have greatly increased my happiness. I save money, and I get to live an incredible life traveling all over North America. My home and all of my belongings go with me where I go, and I can change locations when I want. This week I may be craving the mountains and the next week I can be by the ocean.

That's one of the many benefits of living in an RV – you can change locations at will.

No more utility bills.

No cable bills.

No landscaping bills.

No house insurance (kind of)

Less consumption of decorations, furniture, “things.”

I'm sure Amazon noticed! I'm an Amazon junkie! I still shop there since it's highly convenient for travel when you have the Prime membership. I also now have a rule, if something comes into the RV, then something must go out. Storage is limited and you need to be aware of the weight of your RV, so you don't have a tire blow out.

How Much Does Living in an RV Cost?

How I RV and travel can be much different than yours so when I show you how much living in an RV cost; keep in mind that these numbers can fluctuate drastically.

You are in ultimate control of how much living in an RV costs you. I try to live as frugal as possible, but I also want to LIVE, so some of my expenses are based on the things that are important to me; like enjoying sight-seeing tours, watching Netflix at night, making sure I always have an Internet connection, and continually accomplishing my quest travel goals which mean sometimes higher fuel costs.

I tend to travel, on average, about 1,500 miles per month; however, that number can change quickly if I found a great area that I want to spend more time in or if the weather is terrible, I might drive more to locate more desirable temperatures, less wind, or no snow.

My RV Living Budget

Before you look at the budget, remember, this is based on how I live, but it gives you an idea of how much living in an RV cost each month and a starting point for you to begin your budget.

I did not include the cost of an RV since this can be vastly different for each person whether you finance your RV or pay for it upfront in cash.

Also, I save every month for every expense even if I pay it annually or it's an expense that varies from month-to-month. For example I save every month for RV insurance, but I pay this expense annually, or the cost for hair care is saved monthly, but buying the products to color my hair or cut it vary and aren't monthly expenses.

EXPENSE

Fuel

RV Insurance

RV Maintenance

RV Registration

RV Park Rent

Club Memberships

State Park Passes

National Park Pass

Groceries

Eating Out

Hot Spot/Internet

Laundry

Cell Phone

Propane

Water

Mail forwarding

Mailbox Rental

Entertainment

Total

 

BUDGET

$400

$100

$100

$9

$100

$4

$10

$7

$300

$50

$65

$10

$148

$15

$5

$13

$12

$200

$1,548

Living in an RV Cost Breakdown

RV Gas & Maintenance & Insurance

I travel on average about 1,500 miles per month, so I budget $400 per month. Sometimes I'll spend that much and sometimes I don't. It depends on how much I decide to travel that month and if I've found an area I'd like to stay in longer. I'm very flexible with my travel so I can make adjustments where needed to make last-minute decisions on places I'd like to visit.

RV insurance is pretty reasonable, in my opinion, especially considering my insurance also covers being a full-time traveler, which is an added cost.

Though I don't incur maintenance costs every month on the RV, and I have a 6-year warranty on the Hymer, I do save each month for future maintenance which can include the cost of purchasing new tires, which isn't covered by the Hymer warranty, oil changes, and washing the RV.

RV registration is paid annually, but I do save for it each month.

Daily Park Rent & State/National Passes

RV park rent or any place where I would pay a daily rate in exchange for a parking spot and possibly hookups is an expense I save for monthly though I rarely use it. Most of the time if I were to pay for a spot, it's because I wanted to visit a particular area and the boondocking or even dry camping, like at Walmart, isn't plentiful or non-existent. Also, I might pay RV park rent if I were with the Xscapers group and we were having an event somewhere and that was the designated location. So I just save up for it each month just in case I need it.

This is another area with how much living in an RV cost that you can be drastically changed by your travel style. The daily rent at RV parks or campgrounds can get expensive each month, depending on each campground of course.

Since purchasing the Hymer Aktiv, it's much easier now to stealth camp in places and not need to incur that fee since I'm entirely self-contained.

State park passes are annual fees I pay to a particular state that allows me certain privileges for a more extended period. For example, I knew I would be in Washington State for a couple of months, so I purchased the Discover Pass that is $30 annually. It allows you to make use of any of the on-site dump and water stations and also allows you to day park for free. Typically parking in a state park can be $10 per day. Also, some Department of Natural Resource campgrounds are free if you have the Discover Pass.

New Mexico is another state that has similar privileges as Washington, but in addition, you can get deeply discounted rates at state park campgrounds.

The national park pass saves me a ton of money. I get in free to all National Parks and Monuments across the United States.

Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting

Groceries & Eating Out

I don't eat out very much but reserve some funds monthly that I can save, primarily if I'm socializing with others. It's so much cheaper to cook myself and save that money.

Cell Phone, Internet, Propane

For cell phone, data and Internet connection I have a Verizon plan for my cell phone and then a Verizon hotspot. In addition, I pay another $65 a month for an AT&T hotspot. You may or may not need two hotspots, but I do for the sake of making sure I almost always have a connection in case one area serves Verizon better than AT&T or vice versa.

Since my entire business is online, having a data connection most of the time is critical for me.

My propane costs last year were much higher since my refrigerator used propane or electric to cool; however, it was much cheaper to keep it on propane.

Now that I have the Hymer Aktiv, my refrigerator is all electric. The furnace and water heater can either use propane, electric, or a mix of both.

So far since I purchased the Hymer in May 2018, just 3.5 months ago, I still am 2/3 full on propane and haven't added any more propane since my date of purchase. My budget may be a little high on this, but I'm still budgeting so when it's cooler in the winter months when I might need the furnace more, I can have enough funds budgeted if I need it.

This is another area with how much living in an RV cost can be different for each person. You may not need two hotspots or even any hotspots depending on what you do for a living, if you're retired, or just use your cell phone for calls and data.

Mail Forwarding

Since I sold my house and I don't have any relatives in Washington (my current domicile state) that can handle my mail for me, I chose a mail forwarding company where I pay an annual fee and then they can forward my mail to me once a month. I'm also currently looking into the Xscapers program of mail forwarding that can be completely digital so this cost might change as well.

Since purchasing the Hymer, I decided to go ahead and get a gym membership so I can work out when I'm in the cities and take a shower in the facilities. That's the one thing that is harder in the van is to do yoga and I don't like rolling my mat out in front of everybody, depending on the area, and working out in public. Also, I prefer not to take showers in the Hymer as it's just more of a pain. Instead, I'll wash off every day with a wet washcloth and wash my hair in the sink.

Entertainment

Lastly, you have to have an entertainment budget! Well, I guess you don't have to, but if you can, it's nice to have dollars set aside for when you're traveling and places you want to visit cost money. There's a ton of free sites out there to visit and explore, but some also cost.

I don't always use the full $200, but again, I keep the money set aside for those months where I might spend more than $200, like when I get together with friends or family, and we tend to go out and do more.

I hope that helps you to understand how much living in an RV cost each month and gives you enough information to either make some decisions for yourself and put a budget together. If you are looking for more information on budgeting and want my budget template and my budget, then sign-up for my free mini-course.

All of the costs here are specifically for traveling in an RV; however, in my free mini-course, I provide my entire annual budget in full, including my personal expenses and items you'll want to think about when you create your budget really. Plus I'll give you tips on how to save money and slash that budget to the bare bones on items like insurance (the things we must pay but aren't fun) so you can either save that money or use it to enjoy yourself during your travels. Along with an overview of each expense and the possibilities in how it can vary so you can adjust your budget accordingly.

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Cassette Toilet Emptying in Campervan / Helpful Video Tips

Cassette Toilet Emptying in Campervan / Helpful Video Tips

Cassette Toilet Emptying in Camper VanSince purchasing my Hymer Aktiv campervan, I've received so many questions about the cassette toilet that came with the campervan. It's an anomaly here in North America; however, European countries primarily use the cassette toilet instead of the traditional black tanks. 

Cassette toilet emptying in a campervan is much easier than a traditional black tank. I'm going to go through the pros and cons of a cassette toilet, how I use the toilet, how it's different than a black tank, and how NOT to empty the cassette cartridge – because there is definitely a way NOT to empty it!

In my cassette toilet review, I go over how to use the toilet, the swivel operation, the full tank sensors, how to empty the cartridge, the blade operation, using chemicals to keep the odor down, and where to dump the tank and how often.

I’m going to explain to you the entire process on how to operate and empty a cassette toilet so you can determine if a cassette toilet is right for you over the traditional black tanks. 

Why Hymer Used a Cassette Toilet Instead of a Black Tank

My Hymer Aktiv campervan came with a Thetford cassette toilet instead of the black tank to aid in keeping the weight of the campervan down. Since it's a Class B RV and considered a campervan, you already have limited space and storage, especially if you are planning on traveling full-time.

In order to maximize space in the campervan, installing a cassette toilet instead of the traditional black tank makes sense. Not only do you reduce the load of the vehicle, reduce the space needed for the sewer tank (cassette toilet in this case), but you also don't have to carry the sewer hoses, commonly called “stinky slinky”. Hoses associated with black tanks can store in a compartment or container where it cannot touch anything else due to possible contamination. Well, and then there's the smell. Yuck!

Hymer is a brand that is very popular in Europe, and it has taken the philosophy of the cassette toilet and brought it here to North America in its campervan lines to date.

Let's Talk Pee & Poop

An interesting thing happens when you first start RVing that is different than owning a home especially if you boondock or dry camp more than staying at RV parks.

You become acutely aware of your water consumption and – well – how much you go #1 and #2. Okay, so maybe you don't want to talk about or hear about #1 and #2 and think it's gross. Well, I would agree that it can be gross in certain situations, but it's something we all do and is very typical. Plus, when you start to RV, you'll find that we ALL talk about it.

In a traditional home, where you connect to city water and sewer, you might not think about your use as much for sewer and water. You might be conservative, but you still have an endless supply of water at your fingertips by turning on the handle and letting the water flow.

You can go to the bathroom at all hours of the day, every day, all day, whenever. You get my point – right?

In an RV, you become intimately involved with understanding how long you can stay out boondocking and dry camping without needing to empty the cassette toilet or a black tank. In my old RV, the black tank was 23 gallons, and I could wait three weeks before needing to empty the black tank.

That's not the case now. Now I must empty every 4-5 days. You'll find out why coming up.

How the Cassette Toilet Operates Inside the Campervan

You might have seen from my van tour how small the bathroom is and that it's a wet bath, which means the shower and toilet are all-in-one. I don't take showers in there, because it's just a pain. I have to move things around and then dry everything off afterward. Instead, I use public showers, go to the gym, or truck stops. It's just easier. That's a whole other topic that I can post on later.

Hymer Aktiv bathroom

No Toilet Paper

While I do in fact use toilet paper, I do not flush it down the toilet. I didn't flush it in the black tank toilet either in my other RV. This way it keeps anything from getting clogged and saves on capacity in each tank before having to empty.

Instead, I dispose of the toilet paper inside of a garbage can with a lid on it and then empty it fairly often.

#1 & #2 in the Cassette Toilet

Some RVers have a cassette toilet where they prefer only to go #1 in their toilet to cut down on the number of times they need to empty and also having to clean it. I prefer to use it for both #1 and #2 only because I'm a solo traveler and only need to empty it every 4-5 days and it's just more convenient that way. As long as you use the chemicals made for the cassette toilet, you shouldn't get any smell from it.

I don't typically like to use chemicals, but I was thinking that when you are in a home, and the city manages your sewer for you – they are also treating the waste with chemicals to help break it down, which is precisely what I'm doing.

So for now, I'm just using the cassette toilet like I would any other toilet, except for the toilet paper usage.

How Often Do I Empty the Cassette Toilet

I generally am emptying the cartridge every 4-5 days of usage; however, that can depend on where I'm at in the city or in the wild. For example, if I'm doing a bunch of errands and I'm in and out of stores, I'll use the store facilities to go to the bathroom.

If I'm out in the wild, I'll go #1 outside using my pStyle urination device for women which saves me from having to empty, and I can boondock longer.

One of the advantages to those who go #1 in their cassette toilet is that they can empty their cartridge in the wild – as long as it's only urine with no chemicals.

Swivel for Comfort

Since this is a small space in the campervan, the cassette toilet has an added feature that it can swivel to the left and right. When you are sitting down on the toilet, you can swivel the toilet to a position that is comfortable for your legs.

You can also swivel it all the way to the right if you use the wet bathroom for showers so you'll have more space to stand up or sit down to shower.

Flushing the Toilet

Just below the toilet seat, in the front, is a grey lever that you can move to the left and right to flush the toilet. The lever opens up the bottom of the toilet where the blade is at and empties into the cartridge below.

Once you empty the toilet bowl, you hit the blue button on the wall behind the toilet, and it will add water to the toilet bowl to rinse it off. You must have the water pump on for this to operate correctly.

Tank Sensor Button

The tank sensor button on the Thetford cassette toilet only shows when the toilet is full. The sensor function is different than the black tank which will show you how full it is at all times. However, I found in my other RV that those sensors would get dirty and not always be accurate.

How to Empty the Cassette Toilet Outside of the Campervan

On the driver side door is a doorway that opens with a key to the box cartridge on the inside that holds the waste. Once you open the door, you pop up the orange handle to release the cassette toilet cartridge and then pull it out from the side of the campervan.

Opening Cassette Toilet Door

Thetford Cassette Toilet

Screw open the lid to the cartridge and slowly empty the contents into the sewer receptacle. Once the cartridge is tipped over and draining, push the pressure valve button at the top to release the pressure, so all the contents empty faster.

Emptying Cassette Toilet

WORD OF WARNING!

Do NOT push the pressure valve until after you start emptying the contents else you risk raw sewage spilling through the button sidewalls and onto your hand.

How do I know this?

I was the one who was wondering what that button was for and pressed it while it was right side up spilling nasty sewage onto my hand. Another moment to throw up.

So now that I've entirely disgusted you with my cautionary tales (there's still one more below) – doesn't it make you want to RV? It's such a small part of RVing so don't let this deter you. Remember when I said you would become intimate with #1 and #2 – I wasn't lying!

Okay – so now that the cartridge is empty, you rinse it with water then dump it again until the contents run clear.

Rinsing Cassette Toilet

Next, add about 2 ounces of the cartridge chemicals to the tank, then add about 2 to 4 ounces of water to the tank. Put the lid back on, slosh the chemicals and water around the cartridge, and then put the box back into the side of the campervan and shut the door.

Done Cassette Toilet Emptying

It's that simple. Well – if you do it right and don't do what I did in the beginning, but that's why you're here – to learn from my mistakes!

Pros & Cons of the Cassette Toilet

Pros:

  • More freedom of choices to empty the tank which can reduce your costs of paying to dump if you can’t find a free dump station.
  • You can dump at traditional RV dump sites like state parks, RV parks, wastewater treatment plants, but now you can roll this small tank, like a suitcase, to a pit toilet, bathroom toilet in a house, and the rest areas off of the freeway.
  • Easy to clean by adding water and sloshing it around to clean the insides and then dumping into the appropriate receptacle.
  • No more dreaded poo pyramids! I never had this happen, but I've heard horror stories on it. Poo pyramids occur in black tanks when there isn't enough water and chemicals in the tank to break down the fecal matter, so the poo keeps rising. Gross right?
  • No “stinky slinky” sewer hoses to store so saves on storage space as well.
  • Super fast and easy to empty.
  • No longer need to flush the black tank or put the rinsing wand down the toilet to clean the tank. Instead just put some water in the cassette toilet, give it a shake and empty.

Cons:

  • Condensation on the inside of the toilet lid. I haven’t figured this out yet, and fellow RVers have noticed the same on their cassette toilet. Some say it's when you're in areas with high humidity, but I'm not 100% sure just yet as it also seems to happen when I was in a dryer area too.
  • Need to empty more often because it holds 4.6 gallons compared to 23 gallons in my other RV. It's a con only because I was able to last three weeks in my other RV, but that said, it's not a deal breaker for me, and I seem to do just fine with finding places in that time frame.
  • Tank sensor only shows when full and not how full it is at each level as it rises. This is a real bummer because when it's full, you can't go to the bathroom at all in it and need to find a place to dump before you can use it again. I had made the mistake of using it when it was full which leads me into how NOT to dump the cassette toilet.

How NOT to Dump the Cassette Toilet

One morning, shortly after I purchased the Hymer Aktiv, I woke up and saw the cassette toilet was showing full. So I went ahead and used the toilet thinking that I would dump the cartridge and then I would flush what was in the toilet bowl.

BIG MISTAKE!

I pulled the cartridge out and everything that was in the bowl, #1 AND #2, fell through the bottom of the toilet, onto part of the cartridge remaining in the cartridge bay, and the rest splashed inside of the cartridge bay.

I almost threw up multiple times cleaning that mess up. It was awful! Just awful! I've never had kids, so I don't know what it's like to clean up poo, but this was all over everything.

After I cleaned up the mess, I knew I just had to figure out how that happened. So on closer inspection, the blade at the bottom of the toilet is the same blade on the cartridge in the cartridge bay, so when you pull the cartridge box out, anything in the bowl will spill through because there is nothing below it to stop from emptying since the blade is attached to the cartridge.

There needs to be a big warning sign somewhere in the bathroom about this when you first purchase!

I learned my lesson, and that won't be happening again!

All-in-all, I love the cassette toilet and it's ease of use. It really works for me and my travel style. I'm still loving my Hymer too!

Have you ever used a cassette toilet? Are you trying to decide on getting a campervan or something larger? Leave me a comment below.

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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July 2018 Income Report – How I Made $4,036 Traveling Full-Time

July 2018 Income Report – How I Made $4,036 Traveling Full-Time

July 2018 Income Report Traveling Full TimeThis is my first income report ever and let me tell you, it makes me nervous! I don't typically share anything about my income to friends or family and here I am sharing it on the Internet. I do have a reason for sharing my income report though.

Ever since I started traveling full-time in my RV and documenting my travels on the blog and my YouTube channel – I've seen a huge increase in questions from viewers:

  • How I make money while traveling full-time?
  • What do I do for a living?
  • How can I afford this life?
  • Am I independently wealthy?
  • How do you film the videos and what gear do you use?
  • …and even more “how – to” questions.

So I've decided to start teaching what you all are asking about. My background is in Accounting and Finance and what better way to use it then to teach on financing a full-time travel lifestyle. I figured the best way to show you all how to have this kind of a life is to literally be the example and the story.

In my last post on How to Make Money Online Traveling in an RV and the video on YouTube, I announced a huge change that happened in my life. Well I made it happen.

After traveling for a year, full-time, I wanted more freedom and I was working 60-80 hours a week. I was considerably stressed even though I really love this company that I worked for – but the pace was starting to get to me and I just felt like I needed a change. I was documenting my travels on the blog and YouTube and was able to tap into my creative side again – something I hadn't used in a while – and it felt really great and nourishing to my soul.

I took the BIG LEAP and quit so I can focus my attention on my own endeavors in business – like building my online business and coaching/consulting practice. Even though I was working remotely this whole time – I still felt that I needed a change.

Now I'm even more location independent, because I don't always have to stress about making sure there is an Internet connection – even though I depend on it for my own business – at least for a couple of days. I can relax more and take in the landscape in places that are more remote and not feel like I need to rush through it to make sure I'm available for my job.

It's exciting, thrilling, and a little nerve-wracking, but I feel completely happy with my decision and am pushing forward!

Why am I Sharing My Income Report?

Sharing what I earn each month and from what sources will not only allow me to document my income, but to also see the growth or where I need to make adjustments. I also am posting my income so you can follow along and see how to build this business and what areas of income I'm generating so you can also do this for yourself.

Each month I'll post in the income report:

  • What my earnings were for the month.
  • The percentage of increase/decrease month-over-month
  • Sources of income (when I'm able to be transparent)
  • Goals
  • Growth opportunities
  • Successes

I hope by posting my income report that it provides you with some inspiration as to what's possible for you and your journey. My biggest hope is that I can share with you all a different lifestyle that's not considered the “social norm”, but that is completely enriching and makes me feel more alive than I've ever felt. This is why I named my blog and YouTube channel Story Chasing.

I'm literally creating new stories and moments in my life and filling my brain with these special memories of my travels and the people that I've met along the way. I'm pretty darn happy!

July 2018 Income Report – How I Make Money Online Traveling Full-Time

July was my first month after quitting my job so this will be my first income report even though I've been making a little bit of money over the last year on my blog.

I have the StoryChasing.com blog and also the Youtube channel – which by the way, if you like what you’re seeing on my YouTube channel, please hit that subscribe button and click on the notification bell so you’ll know when I upload a video each week.

My Goals and Business Insights for July 2018

Since this was my first month of full-time entrepreneurship after quitting my job, I wanted to take a little time off the first of the month to just rest before I jumped into things too much with the business. It was the high season of summer which is a great time for RVing all over the country – except for some of those states down south with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees.

I didn't work as much as I wanted to and ended up relaxing more than I anticipated, but there were nights where I stayed up until all hours working on a backlog of projects for the business that I was able to complete. That felt really great. I like checking those tasks off my list, but I seem to keep adding more and more each week so I have a feeling I'll never be done with that list.

The one thing I've learned in my life is to really pay attention to what my body and soul are telling me. I needed rest. So I gave in and rested, but I still got a lot accomplished.

In July I was producing one video a week and a blog post which can be extremely time consuming in the learning phase. I still feel like I'm learning so much so sometimes editing the video, writing the blog post, editing the photos, and scheduling social media can take upwards of 16 hours. I'm getting in a rhythm though now that I can focus all of my efforts on creating.

My goal for stst is to start creating 2 videos a week where Sunday will be all RV and travel related while Workshop Wednesdays will be about answering those questions on how to fund a full-time travel lifestyle or just generally how to make money online. Though it may sound like 2 videos a week isn't such a big deal, I'm a little nervous about doing it, because of the time it takes to complete, but I'm up for the challenge.

I think as I learn more and find short cuts for editing and filming, which happen daily, I'll reduce the amount of time it takes for me to complete the process from start to finish.

At the end of June, YouTube approved my application for monetization after 2 months of meeting the requirements to be a YouTube Partner. In order to qualify for monetization you need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. I started my YouTube channel in July of 2017 so it took from then until beginning of May 2018 to qualify. That said, I was so back logged with video footage that I hadn't published on YouTube last year, that I didn't really get most of those videos edited and officially published until 2018.

Since YouTube monetized my videos, I started receiving ad revenue which really helped my July income increase over last month.

I've received a few product sponsor deals that I'll be working on in the next couple of months which is another huge learning curve.

My goal for August is to have over 5,000 subscribers on YouTube and to put together a free mini course for the blog. I haven't fully decided on the topic yet, but will be nailing that down soon. I'll also make sure to follow-up in the August income report with how I met my goals.

Lastly, I'll be launching my Story Chasing Crew site with Patreon as a way for loyal readers and subscribers to gain more access to all that's happening at Story Chasing like:

  • Monthly live streams
  • Patron only videos and clips from outtakes to deleted scenes and raw footage of what it's like to live in 100 square feet.
  • Exclusive access feed
  • Priority comments to Patrons
  • Invitations to group meet-ups
  • Your name in credits on each video
  • Voting on Polls to shape the story on the blog and channel
  • Monthly postcards from travels around North America
  • One-on-One chat sessions

I've technically finished the Story Chasing Crew site, but I haven't formally announced it yet – so if you're reading this, you're getting early access!

If you're new to my blog, here's a little bit about me and what I do.

I'm Amber and I started StoryChasing.com and my YouTube channel last year in the second quarter of 2017 after selling my home and everything I own to travel full-time in an RV. When I first started out traveling I had no idea where I was going and then I came across a book called National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways. What a great way to see the country and learn about the areas around so I started a quest to accomplish all 300 highways and byways – with no end date by the way.

From the beginning I documented my travels across the United States and Canada, through photos and video, so I could show that I've completed all 300 highways and byways. I'm the sole traveler, writer and videographer, marketer, editor, administrator, accountant, driver and whatever other hat is thrown my way in this adventure.

I travel with my fur baby, Lily, who is a 10 lb Whippet, Chi, Rat Terrier mix and an amazing traveler with her own car seat so she can see outside and be safely harnessed into the seat.

Over the course of my travels I get asked quite a bit if I'm fearful to travel solo. I even made a video about it and how I overcome fear. It's been one of my more popular videos, because I believe it addresses a fear that we all have – whether you're a man or a woman – about being by yourself and living in this world without subjecting ourselves to the constant fear of others and media. I've discovered that the world out there is actually kinder and more beautiful then I anticipated and that I'm also much stronger than I ever imagined. I've conquered plenty of fears this year, but I believe those fears are just opportunities to overcome and the great success and reward is on the other side of that fear.

I have worked in some capacity in Accounting since I was 17 years old and earned a Bachelors Degree in Accountancy and am a Certified Financial Crimes Investigator. Most of my career was spent in property management, construction, and real estate with the last company being a Private Equity Firm specializing in acquisitions and development of multi-family housing where I was the Director of Asset Management Accounting. Though I really loved my job, the company, and the people I worked with, I knew it was time for a change and to see what I could do with my own company.

I've been blogging on and off for over 8 years and have created many websites and blogs and learned quite a bit about making money online. I just needed to figure out what I wanted to do in order to make money online.

As my viewers started asking me questions, a natural business started to form where I could teach others the knowledge I have on various subjects. I'm so thrilled to be working in this capacity and help others. I've been coaching women for several years as well and it's a huge, huge, hugely fulfilling joy to help these woman overcome experiences in their life.

I'm also business consulting for acquisitions/dispositions of real estate and multi-family housing.

Lastly, some of my income – that you'll see below in the July 2018 income report – also comes from an ebook I wrote about 5 years ago that helps people overcome rosacea naturally. It's not generating much income right now since I haven't really been focusing on the marketing very much in the last couple of years. When I first wrote the book it was generating about $200-$400 per month.

July 2018 Income Report

I've completed a breakdown by passive income and active income with totals for each.

Passive Income

  Affiliate Income:

  Advertising:

  • Ad Revenue $212.11

  My Products:

Passive Income Total of $330.96

This is an increase over June by approximately 112% which was due to YouTube monetizing my videos.

Active Income

  • Consulting/Coaching – $3,705 which most likely will go down in the future since some of this is derived from contracting for my previous employer.

Total of All Income $4,035.96

My bottom line goal is to increase my passive income, month-over-month by approximately 16.5% and I definitely hit that goal this month.

All of the income above is before expenses and taxes and represents my gross revenues.

Top Goals for August 2018

I'll also make sure to follow-up in the August income report with how I met my goals below:

  • Continue to reach viewers looking for an alternative lifestyle in minimalist living, traveling full-time, learning how to earn income on the road, and growing YouTube subscribers to 5,000+.
  • Formally launch the Story Chasing Crew Patreon site.
  • Increase videos/blog posts from 1 video per week to 2 videos per week with the introduction of Workshop Wednesdays.
  • Finalize topic and create free mini course on blog.

Please leave me a comment below on how you liked this new addition of the income report. What do you want to see? Was something missing? Did something not make sense?

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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How To Make Money Online Traveling In An RV

How To Make Money Online Traveling In An RV

How to Make Money Online and Travel Full TimeIf you're looking to learn how to make money online for a side hustle, to save for travel, or completely fund a lifestyle of full-time travel, then today I'm going to share with you SIX ways on how to make money online by starting an Internet business so you can travel full-time and be location independent.

If you’re like me, I was at a crossroads in my life where I knew there was more to life than just working 60-80 hours a week at a job and feeling like something was missing in my life. That’s one of the reasons I sold everything I owned and bought an RV to travel more and create more stories and moments.

So I’m going to show you 6 ways on how to make money online and also share with you my real life story on how I make money online.

Also, I have a HUGE change and a surprise to share with you.

Two Types of Income

Okay so let’s get started and first discuss the two different types of income you can earn:

  • Active income
  • Passive Income

Active Income

Active income Is income generated where you complete a set of actions repeatedly over time in order to receive income or make a sale.

For example, selling products on Ebay is active income, because you must first find the product to sell, list it on Ebay, sell the product, get paid, then ship the product. In order to receive more income you must complete those actions again and repeat.

Another example of active income is consulting where you only earn money when you work with a client, which is generally an exchange of time for money; somewhat like a typical job.

Passive Income

Passive Income is income that you complete an action, essentially once, and then it can earn residual income in the future many times over without any action on your part.

For example: writing a blog post, publishing the post, and monetizing it with advertising. For as long as you have the blog post live, it can generate income for you. You might have to tweak that post in the future or you might decide to add some additional layers of marketing, but the post is still there generating income residually.

Now, it can take a while to build up passive income, and it’s not an overnight get-rich-quick-way of making money, but if you’re in it for the long haul, creating sources of passive income can be you’re gateway to making money online and funding your full-time traveling.

How to Make Money Online – 6 Methods

Active Income Methods on How to Make Money Online (and travel full-time)

#1 Selling on Ebay

This is great if you’re starting out and want to fund your travel lifestyle, but not yet traveling, unless you plan to tow a cargo trailer with your items. With Ebay you can find all kinds of products to sell and list on Ebay; however if you plan on traveling in an RV then you'll have to consider your storage needs for the products you're selling and if that's something you want to haul around with you. You'll have the extra cost of the storage whether that's taking away storage from your RV or towing a separate cargo trailer which will cost for the purchase of the trailer and hookups and also the additional gas you'll be spending for towing.

#2 Selling on Etsy

This is a great way to create your own handmade products and like Ebay, this is great if you’re starting out and trying to fund your travel lifestyle, but not yet traveling unless you plan to tow a cargo trailer with your items. How much storage space you'll need just really depends on the items you be making and selling.

#3 Selling on Amazon

You can sell on Amazon without products by sourcing products and having those products sent directly to Amazon and then Amazon handles the fulfillment for you. You can sell anything on Amazon from items laying around your house as “used” items, researching products that are in demand and sourcing those products for Amazon to fulfill for you, or writing an ebook. I'm sure there are a vast amount of other items to sell on Amazon, but this gives you some options as you start to think about how you travel and how much income you'll need each month.

#4 Consulting/Coaching

You can take what you are an expert in and find clients to teach or provide a service and BONUS – there's no storage needed since you'll most likely only need a cell phone and data connection.

Passive Income Methods on How to Make Money Online

Remember passive income is 1 Action = Residual Income. This is my favorite, because who doesn’t want to work once and keep getting paid continually? 

#5 & #6 Website/Blogging

Think about what you’re passionate about or what kind of skill people ask you to teach them – or help them with continually. You can literally turn your knowledge into a business by teaching it to others.

#7 YouTube

YouTube is the same as a website in blogging when you think about a niche for content.  Think about what you’re passionate about and what you like to teach and then build an audience by sharing your knowledge. There's also a small percentage of Creators on YouTube that are completely entertainment driven. If this is something you feel can benefit you and provide entertainment to others, then go for it!

People are always looking for solutions online? What solutions can you provide?

My own example is starting the Story Chasing website and YouTube channel. I was simply documenting my travels and love of this lifestyle when I started getting so many questions about RVing in general, what gear do I use, how do I film, how to I edit, how do I make money online, and more.

So I answered the call and am creating more videos and content to answer these questions, which is why I created Workshop Wednesdays on my YouTube channel where the focus is completely about answering viewer and reader questions in a video and teaching the methods I've learned.

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How do You Actually Earn Passive Income Online?

Okay, so now that you know six areas on how you can make money online, how do you actually make passive income from website, blogs, and YouTube?

For websites and blogs you can earn an income through:

Amazon affiliate

So for example if you love a certain product and you blog about it or mention it, you can provide an affiliate link to that product on Amazon and get paid a small commission for the referral at no extra cost to the consumer.

Affiliate advertising

This works similar to Amazon affiliate program, but are more targeted products/services by companies like ShareaSale which has a plethora of different companies and categories to choose from depending on your niche. This would be for services or products that you also highly recommend to your viewers.

Ad revenue like Google Adsense or Media Vine

Targeted ads are placed on your website/blog or YouTube (except for Media Vine). YouTube uses Google Adsense exclusively at this time, and most likely for a very long time since Google owns YouTube. Ad revenue percentages are fairly small so this takes time to build up, but again if you’re committed and see this a viable way to make long-term income then this can be a great solution for you.

Your own products

Creating your own products, especially digital products, is another great resource for making money online. This can be in the form of ebooks, online courses, selling your photography, and more.

Sponsors

As you become an influencer in your niche, you become more valuable to sponsors who see you as a resource to help promote their products and services. My own personal philosophy though is only work with companies who’s products and services you really love and therefore feel might be also valuable to your viewers and readers.

So as you can see there are many ways to make money online and to fund your travel whether it be active or passive income. It’s just deciding what best fits your lifestyle and then determine what solutions you can provide to your audience.

THE BIG CHANGE

Ok – so for the big surprise and change!

I haven taken a HUGE LEAP and quit my six-figure a year job to focus on my own business and travel full-time. After traveling for a year and still working so many hours in my job, I knew that the only way to get my own company off the ground was to leave that job so I could focus my time fully on my own endeavors. I also realized during this last year that my focus on life had changed so much and I was seeking even more freedom in my life and to live on my own terms. 

I get so much joy out of this creative process with making YouTube videos, blogging, and teaching. It's truly fulfilling.

I’ll be honest though – I was scared and nervous to quit!

It was a huge step.

I’ll be living off of my savings until my business can replace that income so it's no wonder I was so nervous.

What if I fail?

I could completely fail at this OR I can absolutely succeed.

Remember my phrase, “On the other side of fear is your greatest success?” That’s what enabled me to take the leap, to live without regrets. If I fail, well I just get another job, but at least I’ve tried.

So I feel like the best way to show you how to make money online is to be the example and the story myself.

I’m going to take you all on a little ride with me each month. I’m going to be completely vulnerable and share with you how much money I make online and specifically what areas of income.

Why would I do that?

I'm a pretty private person when it comes to talking about my money, but this is why I'm sharing it with you:

  1. I can see for myself the growth and where I should make changes.
  2. It’s a huge motivator for me when you all are watching.
  3. You all can see along the way what I’m doing and how you can do this too.

The first income report is published for July 2018.

I hope you've gotten some value out of this post on how to make money online whether you are traveling or not. Share with me your thoughts below in the comment section. Do you have additional questions? Are you looking to make money online and travel?

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Olympic Peninsula 2 | Hurricane Ridge

Olympic Peninsula 2 | Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge Road TripAfter spending the last several weeks on the first part of the Olympic Peninsula road trip, I just had to stop at Hurricane Ridge before leaving the Port Angeles area.

Hurricane Ridge is part of the Olympic Peninsula quest drive and part of the Olympic National Park, so you'll need your America the Beautiful annual pass or just pay the daily rate.

I'm hoping by now – if you're doing any kind of traveling around the United States – that you have your annual pass to the National Parks. It will save you quite a bit of money every year, plus once I showed my pass to the park ranger, I was able to skip ahead in line and not have to wait to pay.

Another perk – saving time!

Related Posts: Olympic Peninsula Quest Drive Part I

Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park

Another gorgeous day outside with 70ish degree temperatures, full sun, and no clouds in the sky.

That’s a perfect day!

Before moving further down highway 101 I decided to travel over to Hurricane Ridge, which is only about 20 miles and approximately an hours drive, since you’re literally climbing in elevation the whole time and traveling about 25-40 miles per hour.

Hurricane Ridge sits inside of the Olympic National Park and is 5,757 feet high with the most spectacular views of the surrounding, snow-capped mountains and trails diverting off the parking area at the top of Hurricane Ridge.

You can sit on the ledge overlooking the vast meadow that slopes downward and watch the deer and marmots walking through and partaking of the grass and flowers around the meadow.

Hurricane Ridge 2

Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center

Even Lily was mesmerized by the beauty of Hurricane Ridge with it's almost blue colored peaks and rolling meadows. I only know this because she’ll lift her head to the sky, squint her eyes, and sniff the air. You can see this peace come over her face like she knows this beautiful place is special. Maybe she feels the calm peace even in a place called Hurricane Ridge.

Lily at Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge Dogs

Hurricane Ridge get its name from the 75 mph plus winds and 30-35 feet of snow that falls in the winter.

As I was traveling up the mountain side I saw at least 20 bicyclists' huffing and puffing up the mountain. I’m in awe of their determination and ability to climb this type of elevation.

I’ll never forget, as I was climbing in elevation, I saw a bicyclist coming down the mountain. He was traveling pretty fast, wind blowing his unzipped cycling shirt behind him, but his face is what moved me.

It’s like his whole face was smiling.

Just this simple expression made my eyes tear up, because I could only imagine the feeling he had of climbing Hurricane Ridge, this incredible mountain with huge elevation gains, and then descending with the gorgeous and breathtaking beauty around him.

It feels like freedom to me.

Lily and I hung out on top of the mountain and walked around and then had some lunch before heading back down.

Deer on Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge at the top

Meeting Solo Sisters in Forks, Washington

Some Xscapers friends of mine reached out to me and let me know they were also in the area and at the same free campground I had been contemplating for the night in Forks, Washington.

It was an easy and beautiful drive to Forks along Highway 101 – passing around Lake Crescent and her blue-green waters. The wildflowers along the roadside are in full bloom and provided a colorful array of beauty alongside the road.

Do you know the name Forks or remember it from a movie?

If you watched Twilight then you’ll recognize it from there where the movie was filmed. I’m going to explore a little bit and then head out to La Push on the Pacific ocean in a couple of days, but for now I’m joining up with the ladies at the Hoh Oxbow Campground for some social time with my fellow nomads.

We spent several days working during the day, chatting occasionally and then hanging out in the evening with our kombucha or our own dinner and had great conversation and laughs.

Joni (The Galavan) has been also full-timing in her custom van and Becky (Interstellar Orchard) is our resident veteran of over 5 years full-timing. They both are solo ladies who are also entrepreneurs and have Youtube channels if you want to check them out. I met them this winter in Quartzsite, Arizona at our annual Xscapers Bash – which quite honestly seems like a year ago, but was only January 2018 – 7 months ago.

I truly enjoy the relationships we build on the road and so thankful for the Xscapers group that brings us all together.

Hoh Oxbow Campground Review

I was in site 1 just as you come into the campground and turn right down one of the paths. There are several sites on this path and all alongside the Hoh River, which by the way, is a very fast running river.

The campground was pretty quite and the flowing river was soothing at night as white noise while sleeping with my window cracked.

To get to the river you walked down a small incline to a lower camp area where you could pitch a tent if you’d like or make use of the picnic table and fire pit. Just beyond that is a very wide section of river rocks and boulders alongside the river to walk around on or sit and meditate.

It’s truly beautiful and this kind of cloudy aqua colored water.

Overall the Hoc Oxbow campground is great for dispersed camping and in a very scenic area. That said, it was extremely difficult to get solar energy since it was a very dense forest and more shade than sun.

The bugs and mosquitos were pretty bad as well to the point we stayed inside the RVs most of the time when socializing which was a real bummer.

Lastly, cell service wasn’t that great. You could call somebody if you needed, but for working remotely, it was hard. The signal was sporadic even with a cell booster on the AT&T and Verizon network.

Another Mouse and Lily is Sick = No Sleep

I was up late working and I kept hearing this weird ticking sound coming from the engine compartment. It didn’t necessarily sound like a mouse, but that ticking shouldn’t be happening either so I went out at 1 am in the morning to investigate.

It was literally pitch black outside and I couldn’t see hardly anything in front of me without the flashlight and headlamp.

I popped the hood.

Secured it with the hood-secure-thingy-wand. What is that called?

Then flashed the light down into the engine compartment. I didn’t see a mouse, but I did see evidence of a mouse.

Mouse poop.

Yuck!

It looked like it was only in one area and I didn’t see any evidence of nesting or chewed wires. I also don’t know how long it had been there. I could have picked it up back in Idaho when the accidental murder happened.

Great. I’m hoping there’s not a mouse.

So I banged around, squirted peppermint essential oil (the previous accidental murder weapon) into the compartment near the mouse poop, left the hood up and attached the head lamp to the top of the hood to shine down onto the engine area.

Supposedly those critters don’t like the light nor do they like cold so opening the hood won’t let it get warm in there.

Lastly, I turned the van on for about 10 minutes.

I didn’t hear the noise after that, but who knows if it was really something with the van or a mouse. It seemed to consistently timed to be a mouse, but who knows.

Once I get to a car wash, I’m thinking I’ll rinse out the offending mouse poop and monitor it more as I travel.

I need to figure out a way to keep those critters out.

Okay so with all that going on, Lily threw up four times over several hours. I’m not sure why, but her poor little belly was upset. After going to bed at 3 am and then waking up twice, because she suddenly needed to go outside to potty (which never happens) I didn’t get any sleep.

To make it even worse, I awoke around 7 am to Lily moving around a lot under the covers and shifting to a spot she never sleeps in.

Hmmm..weird.

Then I felt it.

The cold, slimy liquid that she threw up on my leg while I was sleeping.

What the heck???

Her poor face looked like she was so sorry and uncomfortable. I felt bad for her that she felt bad, but yet I had yucky throw up on me and the bed sheets so I guess I’ll be washing clothes today.

She didn’t eat this morning and we were moving on towards Ocean Shores, Washington today. I'm hoping she'll get better as the day goes on.

Ruby Beach and Quinault Resort and Casino Camping

After taking a few work calls, I headed out around noon to Ruby Beach just about 15 miles south of Hoh Oxbow campground and was going to hike down to the huge sea stack rocks on the beach, but 1) it was super crowded and I had a hard time finding a place to park, 2) it started raining.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach Trees

Ruby Beach Driftwood

So I gave up on the hike and continued to Ocean Shores to dump the tanks and fill up on water before calling it a night at the Quinault Resort and Casino.

It has $5 ocean view dispersed camping it says on the Campendium app; however, yes it’s $5 and it is dispersed, but there is no view of the ocean. They have these large hedges blocking the view which I imagine was designed to pull us into the casino for some gambling.

At least I can hear the waves crashing on the ocean. It’s also raining still and quite cold at 58 degrees with 93% humidity.

It’s going to be a good nights sleep. Cross your fingers!

I woke up the next morning feel so refreshed especially hearing the steady stream of raining tapping against the metal van. It's so sunny outside and just a few clouds, but enough to take a walk down to the beach before heading out on the road.

The boardwalk bridge down to the ocean took us to the sandy beaches, salt stained driftwood, and tall beach grass blowing in the wind.

Lily, even not feeling that well, took a run through the sand – throwing it up everywhere and then promptly getting herself all tangled in her leash. You'll want to watch the video for this one. I even slowed it down so you can see how funny she is. Oh that silly girl!

Quinault Beach Resort Beach boardwalk

Quinault Beach Resort Beach driftwood

Quinault Beach Resort Beach

Have you hiked Hurricane Ridge yet or even gone to the top of the mountain? Going earlier in the season you can see more snow on the tops of the surrounding Olympic Mountains. It's just breathtaking.

Road Trip Report & Map

Hurricane Ridge to Aberdeen

Take a look at all of the places I've been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 225

Average Miles per Gallon: 17.2

Road Conditions: Roads were clear with a little construction (to be expected this time of year).

Weather Conditions: Cool at night with quite a bit of humidity, 93% on average while I was there in middle of July. Warmer during the day between 60-75 degrees.

Time of Year Visited: Mid July


Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Walmart – Port Angeles, Washington / $0
  • Hoh Oxbow Campground, Forks, Washington / $0 since it's part of the Department of National Resources (DNR)
  • Quinault Beach Resort & Casino / $5 per night

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Hurricane Ridge National Park / $0 with America the Beautiful annual pass
  • Port Angeles, Washington
  • Lake Crescent, Washington
  • Forks, Washington
  • Ruby Beach / $0

RV Accessibility:

  • You can drive this route in any RV without any problems except for the following:
    • Hurricane Ridge will be fine for oversized RVs and there is RV parking at the top, but it will be slow going.
    • Hoh Oxbow Campground is a little tighter, but most RVs can get down in there. I suggest walking down first and finding your spot so you don't have to turn around if there aren't any spots available.
    • Ruby Beach – If you're an oversized vehicle, park along the side of the cliff and street towards the entrance. Once you get to the parking lot, there's no parking for RV's buy you can turn around, it will just be tight.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  No signal on Hurricane Ridge, spotty, even cell boosted in Hoh Oxbow Campground, and spotty along the 101 until you get closer to towns.

Park Pass:  America the Beautiful annual pass


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Olympic Peninsula Road Trip and Stealth Van Camping | Part I

Olympic Peninsula Road Trip and Stealth Van Camping | Part I

Olympic Peninsula Road Trip in Pacific NorthwestIt’s just the day after the Fourth of July here in Washington and I’ve decided to travel around the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington for my next destination in the Pacific Northwest along highway 101.

Can you believe after living in this state for 15 years, I’ve never traveled Highway 101 on the Washington coastal area? I’ve been by the Olympic Peninsula a couple of times, but never really past Port Angeles, so this will be a first!

The National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book starts you out going clockwise on the Olympic Peninsula scenic drive; however I’ve been hanging out around the south part of the Puget Sound and I’m going to travel counterclockwise instead around the Olympic Peninsula.

Starting from Hoodsport, Washington on the western edge of the Hood Canal that flows in from Puget Sound, I made my way north along 101 that winds around the shore and through forested areas. The Hymer Aktiv did really well around the corners and rolling hills though I may look into getting Sumo Springs to replace my springs. Supposedly it really helps to cut down on the tilt when going around a corner and keep the van more level when you go over bumps.

It’s sunny days like this, with a light breeze, that has made me fall in love with the Pacific Northwest so many years ago. The water in the Hood Canal was just sparkling a blueish-green color and was picture perfect.

Related Posts: Olympic Peninsula Quest Drive Part II – Hurricane Ridge and more

Olympic Peninsula: Port Townsend, Washington and Stealth Camping AGAIN!

I stopped over in Port Townsend, which really isn’t a “stop-over” it’s more like a 30 minute diversion, but nevertheless I couldn’t come all this way and not hit up this quaint little town overlooking the Puget Sound and home to ferries between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend.

Port Townsend Olympic Peninsula

Founded in 1851, Port Townsend, Washington is known for its historic Victorian buildings lining the waterfront which comes from its extreme popularity during the 19th Century. It’s views are stunning over the water and great places to eat and get some coffee or an afternoon cocktail.

Port Townsend Historic Downtown Water Front

I usually try to find free spots, but if I were going to stay here at a campground I would pick Fort Worden State Park. It’s nice and large with tons of campsites, right off the Puget Sound with bathrooms, coin operated showers, dump site, music in the park, restaurants, and tons of beach and trails.

This area all over the Pacific Northwest is a tourist spot and not just people from the United States. People from all over the world put this area on their bucket list of places to travel. So that makes it very difficult to be spontaneous in trying to find campgrounds. You virtually can’t unless somebody cancels. These spots get reserved at the first of the season and after that you have to figure out alternative means of sleeping at night.

So guess what I did? I stealth camped again in a more residential area. I’m becoming a pro at this now and thankfully can do more stealth camping with my Hymer Aktiv.

Hymer Aktiv in Port Townsend

I ended up staying in Port Townsend for almost a week, stealth camping in town and then heading to Fort Worden State Park during the day to work, walk the beaches, and enjoy the sunny weather and cool breezes.

Fort Walden Beach

After a week I figured it was time I should leave and keep story chasing.

Next stop along the Olympic Peninsula quest drive is Sequim, Washington. Sequim spells like how you might thing it should be pronounced SEE-QUIM; however it is actually pronounced like SKWIM. So if you’re in the area, remember SKWIM. It's like saying SWIM, but with a “k” between the S and W sound.

Sequim, Washington Farms, Berry Picking, and Hiking Dungeness Spit

Sequim isn’t that far from Port Townsend, only about a 30 minute drive west along the Olympic Peninsula. Last night I planned out the places I wanted to go in town using this amazing app called RoadTrippers.

You just tell the app what city your driving from and to and it finds all of these really cool places along the way and the surrounding area for you to explore. Everything from hikes, tourist areas, restaurants, parks, and more.

I found three places I wanted to visit:

  • Purple Haze Lavender Farm
  • Graymarsh Berry Farm
  • Dungeness Spit

As I was traveling to Purple Haze Lavender Farm, I came upon this incredible park and marina off of the road overlooking Sequim (remember it’s SKWIM) Bay. It was so breathtaking to see these sailboats in the bay with the sun glistening off the water and mountains all around.

At one point I heard this loud, CRACK, and turned around to see Seagulls dropping their catch of mussels, or other shellfish, on the parking lot. Can you believe they had figured out how to fish for the mussels, fly over the parking lot, drop the shellfish, which cracked the shell right open for them to easily get out the meat inside?

What a sight.

See this is what I love about the Pacific Northwest. You can be driving down a thick, tree-lined road, and then, BAM, there’s this hidden body of water that you weren’t expecting and then you get side tracked from your original plan, because how could you not stop and take in this exquisite beauty?

So what was scheduled, albeit my loose schedule, to be a 5 hour sight-seeing day turned into 6.5 hours with my cool park finding AND a marina for yachts and boats.

Sequim Bay Marina 2

Sequim Bay Marina Mountains

That’s one of the perks of just venturing off though. I try to be flexible so I can take in those unexpected moments and really enjoy it and not feel rushed.

Purple Haze Lavender Farm

I found the Purple Haze Lavender Farm down this winding round and through a small embankment of trees and a gravel road. The farm was busy with bees buzzing around the lavender and roosters crowing. Yes, there was a chicken coop with roosters, or maybe just one rooster.

Anyways, the smell in the air from the lavender was sweet and the various colors of purple lavender swaying in the wind with the bees pollinating the flowers made my whole face smile.

Purple Haze Lavendar Farm

Purple Haze Lavendar Farm Rows

Purple Haze Lavendar Farm 5

These simple, but precious moments are golden. It fills the pages of my book of stories and memories to always cherish.

I feel like I’ve really truly lived so much this last year since I set out on this journey and been all over the United States and Canada in a short amount of time.

Slowing down. That’s my phrase this year. I’m learning to slow down and live at a more simplistic, slower pace instead of the mad race my life was before.

Graymarsh Berry Farm

Next it was off to the Graymarsh Berry picking farm where I brought my Stasher bag to fill with my hand-picked raspberries. They had these huge white buckets so you could pick as many berries as you wanted; however there was no way I could eat all of those berries nor store those berries in the van, so I opted for a smaller batch and ended up with 1 lb.

Have you ever been berry picking?

This was my first time.

The raspberries, if ripe and ready to eat, pulled off the green bushes very easily and oh these babies tasted so good and fresh. I’ve never tasted anything like it. The raspberries in the grocery don’t even compare.

I highly suggest it! Do you have any local farms around you where you can go pick your own fruits and vegetables or they just picked it for you? It’s a must!

Dungeness Spit North Side of Olympic Peninsula

Last stop for the day is the Dungeness Spit for some hiking on the cliffs overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca which is on the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula.

Straight of Juan de Fuca Vancouver Island

Straight of Juan de Fuca Dungeness Spit 4

So this area is interesting with its water ways and all have different names for the salt water that spills in from the Pacific Ocean.

There’s Puget Sound (often called The Sound) that runs North and South all the way from Canada to south of Seattle with many islands scattered throughout. This body of water separates Western Washington from the I5 corrirdor of Seattle, Olympia, and all the way up to north to Canada. Unless you want to drive all the way around Olympia at the southern point of Puget Sound from the north, then you’ll have to take a ferry over to get to Western Washington.

I ended up driving around so I could pickup the 101 on the south side of The Sound – which is part of this quest drive.

Then you have the Strait of Juan de Fuca that pours in from the Pacific Ocean that runs more West and East and fills Puget Sound. The Strait of Juan de Fuca separates Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada from Washington. You can actually look across the Strait of Juan de Fuca while in Sequim or Port Angeles and see Canada.

There’s also a ferry boat, the Coho Ferry that travels between Victoria, B.C. and Port Angeles so you can explore Victoria on Vancouver Island.

While I was hiking Dungeness Spit I could not only hear the blue and green waves hitting the cliffs and beach below, but I could smell the salt water in the air as I looked across the waters at Canada.

Straight of Juan de Fuca Dungeness Spit Cliff Beaches

It was such a beautiful moment and so peaceful.

Detour to Strait of Juan de Fuca

In my National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book I noticed there was another scenic drive that diverts off of the current Olympic Peninsula drive. This one goes all the way out to the farthest Northwest corner of the United States to Cape Flattery at Neah Bay.

So I temporarily stopped this quest to divert onto the Strait of Juan de Fuca quest and hike out to the farthest Northwest point. I’d like to travel to all four corners of the U.S. and so far have been to the farthest Northeast corner in Lubec, Maine last year and now the farthest Northwest.

That little diversion was only two days and I picked up the Olympic Peninsula quest on highway 101 in Port Angeles, Washington again.

Showering on the Road

I stayed at Walmart last night in Port Angeles, but not before heading over to Anytime Fitness gym to sign up for a membership so I can not only get some working out in, but also partake of the showers. I finally decided to get the gym membership. It’s something I’ve been contemplating for a while, but really didn’t want the added expense; however, a couple of things happened, especially since purchasing the new Hymer Aktiv van.

I don’t use the shower in the van – mostly because it’s a pain to use.

No matter what RV you're in, if you like to boondock more, as I do, it requires you to really watch your water consumption, so I would always take military showers. There’s nothing wrong with it, just that it’s nice sometimes to have a more traditional shower.

Also, I need to move more – and not just walking or hiking. I try to do more yoga like movements when I’m boondocking and I purchased resistance bands, but I can’t really do all that when I’m stealth camping. I could go to a park and do it, but, well, I fell weird doing it in public. Maybe I'm self-conscious. I know – I know, I probably shouldn’t care, but I do.

Hence the gym membership especially for those times when I’m in towns or cities.

So, I worked out for about 45 minutes on the lower body, indulged in the hydro massage and then took a much-needed shower. Since I don’t use the shower in my van – I wash my hair in the sink and use wipes to clean off daily – I don’t get “normal” showers as often as I would like so it felt so nice to stand under the hot water.

I slept really well that night!

….to be continued in part 2.

Have you visited the Pacific Northwest or anywhere around the Olympic Peninsula? What's your favorite place to travel?

Related Posts: Olympic Peninsula Quest Drive Part II – Hurricane Ridge and more

Road Trip Report & Map

Port Townsend Olympic Peninsula

Take a look at all of the places I've been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 112 miles for this leg of the Olympic Peninsula road trip

Average Miles per Gallon: 16.5

Road Conditions: Roads are well maintained, curvy in some areas along the Hood Canal, but fine for any size RV.

Weather Conditions: In early July it was cool in the evenings and warmed up to mid 60s to the mid 70s most days. Perfect weather and sunny!

Time of Year Visited: Early July

Places Visited:

  • Port Townsend, Washington
  • Fort Worden State Park
  • Sequim Bay, Washington
  • Purple Haze Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington
  • Graymarsh Berry Farm in Sequim, Washington
  • Dungeness Spit between Sequim and Port Angeles, Washington

Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Stealth camper van camping in Port Townsend / $0
  • Walmart in Port Angeles, WA / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Dinner out and the groceries in Port Townsend, Washington / Cost varies
  • Fort Worden State Park / $0 with Washington State Discover Pass
  • Purple Haze Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington / $0 entry and you can purchase lavender or goodies in their shop
  • Graymarsh Berry Farm in Sequim, Washington / $0 entry and pay per lb for berries $2 per lb.
  • Dungeness Spit between Sequim and Port Angeles, Washington / $0 with the Washington State Discover Pass

RV Accessibility:

  • You can drive the Olympic Peninsula route in any RV without any problems.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  3-5 bars. Cell signal was great.

Park Pass:  Washington State Discover Pass


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Hiking Cape Flattery at Neah Bay | Strait of Juan de Fuca Byway

Hiking Cape Flattery at Neah Bay | Strait of Juan de Fuca Byway

Pacific Northwest Washington Road Trip to Cape FlatteryWhile filming the Olympic Peninsula quest drive, I momentarily halted its production to divert to the Strait of Juan de Fuca quest drive which is 60 miles out and 60 miles back to get back on the Olympic Peninsula drive to Cape Flattery.

I couldn’t come all the way out here and not travel over to the farthest Northwest corner of the lower 48 states which is Cape Flattery at Neah Bay on the the Makah Indian Reservation. This is my first time in all my 15 years of living in Washington state that I've traveled to Western Washington and to Cape Flattery.

I know – I can't believe it either!

Lyre River Campground – Free Camping

Since it’s the end of the day, and I did quite a bit of sightseeing on the Olympic Peninsula drive, I’ve decided to stop for the night at a place I found online for some free camping, called Lyre River Campground. You only need a Washington State annual Discover Pass in order to camp there for free.

There’s very limited spots, but I thought I’d just try to see if there was anything available. It’s the middle of the week and not a holiday so my chances are better, but there’s not much out here for free so it could have turned out that it was completely full.

I snagged the last open spot and feel so fortunate there was one left; else I would have driven all the way to Neah Bay and had to, most likely, pay for a dispersed sight at an RV park.

While there I met another couple who actually built out their Mercedes Sprinter van and started on this full-time nomadic journey just 6 months after I did. We all have similar stories of having some wanderlust in us and this idea of living more simple and seeing these beautiful lands.

They also work from the road and just roam where they want. They told me this story of how they found a place in Oregon to have lunch and then they were going to keep traveling north, but ended up staying three weeks.

We do that sometimes.

We get to a place, fall in love, wander around and explore, and then move on.

I guess that’s one of the perks of having your house with you all the time.

Preparing the Camper Van for Travel

Well, I thought I was going to get up early and drive to Neah Bay and Cape Flattery; however I must have been really tired because I woke up and it was 8 am. Of course I was trying to work last night, but the Internet connection at my spot was awful. Even the cell booster wasn’t boosting enough.

After walking Lily and making a strong cup of coffee I prepared the van for travel, you know like:

  • Taking the front window shades off and storing.
  • Making sure the drawers were all latched, because I keep forgetting this one until I turn a corner and the drawer comes flying out.
  • Safely securing the Berkey water filter. Thankfully I’ve NEVER forgotten this one, because spilled water all over the RV would be, well, just awful and painful to clean up.
  • All windows are shut.
  • Fantastic fan in the bathroom is closed.
  • Water pump is off.
  • Inverter is off.
  • Both Lithium batteries are on so I can charge both while driving.
  • Awning is in.
  • Toilet seat is down and all water is flushed.
  • Glass tops on the kitchen counter are down and items are secured.
  • Mobile cell booster antenna is removed from the roof top and stowed inside.
  • Lily’s harness is on and seatbelt is fastened to harness.
  • Propane gas is off.
  • Emergency break is down – yep I’ve tried to drive with that thing up. You can’t see it since it's on the left side of the driver seat way down at the bottom, so I forget sometimes until I hit the gas and I'm not going anywhere.
  • Lastly, keys are in the ignition and it’s time to go.

Oh wait, I forgot to eat breakfast. It’s one of those mornings where I’ll just eat on the go, so I grab a banana and some more freshly picked raspberries that I picked at a berry farm in Sequim, Washington.

You’ll see that in the upcoming video. I realize it’s a bit out-of-order. I started the Olympic Peninsula quest drive, but then part way through there is a different quest drive, this one, the strait of Juan de Fuca that you’re reading about now that would require me to travel back over 200 miles if I didn’t do it now.

So I did it now. Anyways, I picked the berries in the next episode which, historically is before this episode in real-time, but after in blog and YouTube time. Hope that makes sense.

Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway Drive to Cape Flattery

Lyre River Campground to Neah Bay

I’ve been on some incredible drives over the last year, but this one is right up there with:

Breathtaking

Exhilarating

Winding

…and well… I’ve never said this one before –

Motion sickness inducing.

At least for me. I’ve never gotten car sick driving myself, but wow – this one really got to me. I don’t know if it’s for the lack of eating something more substantial and having a triple shot of espresso in my coffee, coupled with the excitement of hiking to Cape Flattery.

I had to pull over a couple of times and just breathe and that was no easy thing either, because there are warning signs everywhere, for approximately 40 miles of these winding roads that are between 15-40 mph (25 mph being about the average speed) that this area has slides and washouts.

Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway

The last thing I wanted was to feel sick, pull over and have a slide take me out.

Despite the sickness and the ever-present notion that there could be a slide or a road washed out down the cliff side and into the ocean waters, it was still a fantastic drive and I’d do it again.

The roads were somewhat rough in a couple of areas and signs giving you plenty of warning for bumps, but most of the road was pretty smooth.

Hymer Aktiv Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway

In order to actually get to the most Northwest tip of the continental United States, you have to actually hike out there for 1.5 miles from the trailhead.  Since Cape Flattery is on the Makah Indian Reservation, they require you to have a $10 recreational permit, which you can obtain from several locations in order to park and hike the trail. These locations can provide you with the permit in Neah Bay:

  • Makah Marina
  • Museum at the Makah Cultural and Research Center
  • Washburn’s General Store
  • Makah Mini Mart
  • Makah Tribal Center
  • Hobuck Beach Resort

So before heading out to Cape Flattery for the hike I stopped by the Makah Mini Mart to pick up my permit and hang from the rearview mirror.

Then it was another 8 miles of winding roads, so about 20 minutes, until the trail head of Cape Flattery.

Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway 2

Hiking Cape Flattery to Farthest Northwest Point of Continental United States

Once I arrived at the trailhead to Cape Flattery, I geared up with my Camelbak backpack and water supply, another banana, some sesame crackers, walking poles, camera, and dug out my hiking shoes since it’s supposed to be a little muddy in some areas.

Lily was geared up to with her walking harness – and well that’s it – except for the leash attached to her harness.

I was so glad to see they allowed dogs. Since this on an Indian reservation they seem to be a little more lenient as National Parks would never allow it.

The trail immediately starts off in the forest where you can hear water trickling through small streams and water falls somewhere deep in the forest.

Birds were singing.

Sometimes there was just nothing but stillness and quiet, save for the occasional hiker walking as well. People of all ages were hiking. Some with dogs. Some with kids. Some solo.

What I loved was to see their faces as they rounded each turn and marveled at the beauty as well. People were quiet and seemed at peace on this land. Maybe we were all just looking forward to the reward at the end.

The hike is 1.5 miles and all downhill with all different types of terrain from hardpacked dirt, mud, carefully planted walking stones, large tree roots to be navigated over, wooden planks rising above the muddy ground, and stone steps that gradually allowed us to peek around trees and see blue ocean beyond.

And then – there it was.

The beauty at the end of the trail. The reward for driving over 60 miles (at least from where I started that day), paying a $10 permit, walking the 1.5 miles downhill knowing it’s another 1.5 miles back uphill all the way, the motion sickness from the winding roads, and defying death from washed out roads or landslides.

Cape Flattery Kessiso Rocks

Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery Caves

Cape Flattery End of Trail

Was it worth it?

Absolutely!

I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

The raw beauty of the blue Pacific ocean water tossed against the cliffs and rocks. Waves turning into giant, foamy splashes as it crashes against magnanimous rock formations and hollowed out caves in the cliff side.

Kessiso Rocks Cape Flattery

Jones Rock Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery Caves at end of Trail

What is it about water that seems so calming? Even with its angry waves that can cause so much destruction?

It’s calming presence creates this meditative state that relaxes me. Her waters make me feel free and alive. Just breathing in the saltwater fills me with such happiness.

Listening to the water flowing back and forth, crashing against the beach, and going back out to sea soothes me.

Tatoosh Island at Cape Flattery

Tatoosh Island Rocks

Jones Rock at Cape Flattery

I didn’t grow up around the ocean, but something pulls me towards her.

Lily and I hung out for a while just gazing at the blue water and chatting with others over the incredible sight, then we started back up the hillside and back to the camper van.

Finally – a Name for My Hymer Aktiv

Oh my goodness!

It just hit me.

As I was writing what the blue ocean waters means to me and how she makes me feel, then how Lily and I were headed back to the camper van, and it clicked. A name for my Hymer Aktiv van!

Her name is Oceane which represents the feminine word for ocean.

She personifies all the things that calm me about the actual blue ocean waters, running rivers, and glacier lakes:

  • Peace
  • Freedom
  • Independence
  • Strength
  • Happiness
  • Alive

Yes, this is her name. Oceane!

Now I can always have the “ocean” with me! Okay corny, but yes it’s true.

What a great day.

I ended the day with the drive back to Port Angeles, Washington to continue on the Olympic Peninsula quest drive.

See you on the road my friends.

Road Trip Report & Map

Take a look at all of the places I've been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 155

Average Miles per Gallon: 17.2

Road Conditions: Roads were fairly smooth except in some areas that were clearly noted for bumps; however this scenic byway has 40 miles of warnings for slides and washouts. Roads are very winding with 15-45 mph limits with an average of 25 mph through that 40 mile stretch.

Weather Conditions: Temperatures were cool in early July between 58 – 75 degrees, full sun, and no clouds on this day.

Time of Year Visited: Early June

Places Visited:

  • Lyre River Campground
  • Cape Flattery
  • Neah Bay, Washington
  • Port Angeles, Washington

Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Lyre River Campground, Port Angeles, Washington / $0
  • Walmart, Port Angeles, Washington / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Cape Flattery / $10 Recreation Permit from the Makah Indian Reservation

RV Accessibility:

  • You can drive this route in any RV but it will be slow going along the curves. There are 4 long, RV parking spaces at the actual Cape Flattery trailhead, but if you don't get there early and get a spot, there is literally nowhere else to park. It does have an RV turn around though. All the other spaces are for passenger cars or vans.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  0-1 bar at Lyre River on the AT&T network and the Verizon network even cell boosted I had issues. No service at Cape Flattery and very spotty 3G service on the drive to Cape Flattery and Neah Bay.

Park Pass:  $10 recreation permit from Makah Indian Reservation


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Hymer Aktiv Camper Van Tour Q&A | Your Most Common Questions

Hymer Aktiv Camper Van Tour Q&A | Your Most Common Questions

In May 2018, I finally purchased a Class B camper van – after 7 months of really thinking I could downsize more – I published my video camper van tour of the new Hymer Aktiv and received an amazing response from viewers.

I even surpassed my top video views and hit over 61,000 views on the video so far! So thank you all so very much!!!!

Since the camper van tour video was published there are many questions that came from viewers that want to know more information about:

  • Why I decided to downsize again.
  • Why I decided to go with the Hymer Aktiv camper van over other Class B vans.
  • Questions about specific areas of the Hymer and its systems.
  • How to live in such a small space.
  • Organization of my things.
  • How I make money remotely.
  • ….and more.

So I decided to put together a video answering these camper van tour questions.

You have several options for learning more:

  • Read below and skip to the clip for that question
  • Read below the summary of the video
  • Watch the full video here

Question #1: Why Did I Downsize from a 26 foot Winnebago to a 20 foot Hymer Camper Van?

 

Questions from Viewers

Joans Question

 

Summary Answer

  • Either downsize or get a tow car on the Winnebago and I didn't want to tow.
  • Easier for me to get into tight spaces.
  • Explore more areas that are length or height restricted on East Coast.
  • Better gas mileage
  • I didn't need as much space as I had on the Winnebago, like the couch or the bench on the other side of the dinette.
  • More kitchen space. Surprisingly my camper van has more usable space than the Winnebago did.
  • Ease of getting around like some of the highways, roads, bridges with height restrictions.
  • Hymer Aktiv has Voltstart which isn’t a reason for downsizing as much as it was a perk to downsizing.
  • Freedom to travel all road in my quest travel with the National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book.

Detailed Video answer at 0:45

Question #2: Why Did you Downsize to a Hymer 1.0 Camper Van Instead of 2.0 Camper Van?

 

Questions from Viewer

jbowderdel Question

 

Summary Answer

  • I chose the 1.0 just for the ease of parking in a regular parking spot and I honestly didn't feel like I needed the extra foot of space.
  • Love how nimble she is, which I know the 2.0 is as well, but considering I was downsizing to be able to go more places, I just wanted the smallest space I felt like I could still be comfortable in.

Detailed Video answer at 3:27

Question #3: How Easy is it to Find a Hymer Dealer Since I've Never Heard of Hymer Before?

 

Questions from Viewer

Gloria Question

 

Summary Answer

  • So far my experience has been somewhat favorable. I've had 2 experiences where I needed warranty work and was able to get right in. (View the video for more details on this)
  • Hymer is only 2 years old in North America which is most likely why people haven't seen it very much. However it's very popular in Europe.
  • As of the time of this video Hymer's USA website shows 104 dealer locations in North America
    Hymer Locations North America

Detailed Video answer at 4:22

Question #4: Did you Test Drive or Look at Other Vans Before Purchasing the Hymer Camper Van?

 

Questions from Viewer

Penny Kemp Question

 

Summary Answer

  •  I originally looked at B+ vans like the Leisure Travel Unity camper vans before I started traveling a year ago and while I really liked these I opted instead for the 26 foot Class C thinking I needed more space at the time.
  • Before purchasing Hymer I had looked at the Roadtreks, the Winnebago Travato, Sprinter van custom buildouts.
  • Chose Hymer for big selling factors:
    • Already built out and had everything I wanted.
    • Voltstart system to charge the batteries
    • Refrigerator runs on electric rather than propane
    • Bed can stay down the whole time
    • Work station area for eating and working
    • Swivel chairs to make more seating
    • Counter top is bigger than my 26 foot and with stove and sink glass lids it opens up the space for more counter room
    • I didn't have the time nor means by which to custom build a van and this one had clean lines and I like the lighter colors inside for the walls, wood, and seating

Detailed Video answer at 7:03

Question #5: What is Your MPG and How Much Was the Hymer Camper Van Purchase Price?

 

Questions from Viewers

Garitt Bondsteel Question

Jamie Smith Question

 

Summary Answer

  • Retail price is over $100k; however dealers always will come down off of those prices signficantly and you can negotiate a reduction of 20-35% most of the time.
  • If you have the flexibility to look all over the US for an RV, whether it's a Hymer or something else, than you have a better chance of finding a deal that's suitable for you.
  • So far I'm getting about 16-17 mpg fully loaded and sometimes more if I'm coasting down mountain passes and not doing too much up hill climbing.
  • Surprisingly though she does very well with the gas mileage through the mountains. I baby her going uphill and rarely go over 3,000 rpms uphill to 1) baby the transmission, 2) save gas, 3) enjoy the journey.

Detailed Video answer at 11:00

Question #6: Do You Think the Hymer Aktiv 1.0 Camper Van is Suitable for 2 People Comfortably?

 

Questions from Viewers

Cocominga Question

 

Summary Answer

  • I absolutely think 2 people could occupy the Hymer comfortably. We're the Russos have done so quite well even when their larger husky, Leo living in the Hymer.
  • There's more living space with the 2 front chairs turned around and then of course there's the outdoor living.

Detailed Video answer at 13:25

Question #7: Where Do You Empty the Cassette Toilet (Black Tank) Waste?

 

Questions from Viewers

Guiseep Nero Question

 

Summary Answer

  • Rest stops in pit toilets or dump site, day use parks
  • Any where there are the typical dump sites like:
    • State parks
    • BLM
    • Wastewater treatment plants
    • RV parks

Detailed Video answer at 15:03

Question #8: The Hymer Mattress is Very Firm – Have You Made Any Modifications Like a Mattress Topper?

 

Questions from Viewers

Allyson Olson Question

 

Summary Answer

Mattress is very firm for me as well and I had several nights of tossing and turning.

My old mattress was a Tempurpedic 4 inch topper that was quite comfortable but I didn't want to put it over the firm Hymer mattress, because I didn't want to deal with how heavy it is to move around when I wanted to access underneath storage where you have to lift up the end of the bed.

I decided to live with the mattress for 2 months and then reevalute, but after just a couple of weeks I've grown really accusotomed to it and actually like it now. It's probably also gotten a little less firm with the use.

Detailed Video answer at 17:00

Question #9: Do You Leave the Queen Mattress Down All the Time?

 

Questions from Viewers

RHS Tools Question

 

Summary Answer

I got the Hymer 1.0 and I leave the queen bed down all the time.

If I need to access storage underneath I lift up the one folding mattress at the end of the bed or crawl under into the garage storage.

Detailed Video answer at 18:51

Question #10: How Do You Level the Camper Van When There are Hills and Slopes?

 

Questions from Viewers

Tom Question

 

Summary Answer

  • I just try to park on as level spots as I can.
  • Don't want to store leveling blocks.
  • I sleep with head on drivers side so that if I'm off level I make sure the van is pointed with passenger side facing downward. If you're parked on the street usually that will happen automatically for the rain water runoff.
  • I have slept once on an 8% slope so I had to change my position to be from corner to corner so I wouldn't roll towards the kitchen at night.

Detailed Video answer at 20:27

Question #11: How Does the Voltstart System Work Especially with Keeping Pets Cool?

 

Questions from Viewers

Jay G Question

 

Summary Answer

Voltstart is a proprietary system with Hymer as a different way to recharge your batteries, so for example if I want to leave the RV with the AC running then I can engage Voltstart.

You can charge batteries in the Hymer these 5 ways:

  • Shore power
  • Solar panels
  • Driving and using underwood generator
  • Turn vehicle on which uses underhood generator as well
  • Turn on Voltstart which utilizes underwood generator by turning on the camper van

To engage Voltstart you must:

  • Turn on your batteries, in my case I have 2 lithium batteries (also referrred to as the Ecotrek system).
  • Make sure Inverter is on which will now give you AC power to all the outlets in the camper van.
  • Toggle Voltstart button to the on position.
  • Turn on AC to desired temperature (if you want to use the A/C)
  • Exit vehicle and much sure all doors are closed.
  • It will cycle through this recharge 5 times before you must restart the system.

Also make sure you have plenty of fuel in the van.

Disclaimer about pets: Have a backup system like a temperature monitoring system, etc. Review the video for a more in-depth analysis on using a backup system. I use the Canary Home Security System to monitor Lily visually and the temperature to make sure while I'm away from the camper van that she is safe and the Voltstart system is functioning properly.

Detailed Video answer at 22:37

Question #12: How Do You Make Money Remotely and are You a Trust Fund Baby?

 

Questions from Viewers

AGloriousLife Camper Van Tour Question

Terry Question

 

Summary Answer

I seem to get this question a lot lately about how I work remotely and how I make my money, especially since purchasing the Hymer. So let me tell you a little about myself.

  • My background is mostly in property management and real estate accounting.
  • I started working in accounting at 17 years old.
  • Bachelors Degree in Accounting with a concentration in forensic accounting
  • I've been working as a Director of Accounting for a private equity firm that acquires and develops multi-family housing for the past 8 years.
  • I have a business where I provide business consulting and holistic life coaching as well as this new adventure of travel vlogging.

So no, I'm not a trust fund baby. I didn't receive any inheritance, no alimony, no anonymous donations (unless you'd like to send one to me then email me and I'd be more than happy to accept your donation), no legal settlements.

I just work and save. I know, pretty hard to believe huh?

Well it's true. I also teach people how to achieve their goals and dreams just like I've done and experience.

Detailed Video answer at 29:08

Let me know if you have any other questions about living in the van, how things work, etc, by leaving a comment below!

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Manfrotto Travel Light Compact Tripod – For steady, long shots, steady panning, and wind conditions. Super compact, folds up into a case for minimal foot print.

Sony Digital Voice Recorder – Recording external audio for those times where the camera is further away or there is a need for boosted audio.

Lavalier External Microphone – Coupled with the the Sony Digital Voice Recorder to capture external audio and clip onto shirt.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Camper Van Tour of my New Hymer Aktiv 1.0 | Van Life

Camper Van Tour of my New Hymer Aktiv 1.0 | Van Life

You all have been hearing me say for months that I really should downsize into a smaller RV considering my travel style and knowing I could downsize more – so I did it – I traded in my 26 foot Class C RV for a much smaller 20 foot Class B Hymer Aktiv 1.0 camper van.

Uh huh – you heard me right – a camper van.

I can hear the gasps now from my non-RV friends who thought moving into a 26 foot RV was – well – crazy. Now she’s in a 20 foot camper van?

One of my dear friends, when I called to tell her the news, thought I would be trading into a bigger RV, like a Class A. I know, it’s a shocker!

Truth is, I didn’t use all the space I had in the 26 foot Winnebago RV and so downsizing, purely from a spacial point of view, seemed perfect.

Then of course there’s the BIG reason I decided to downsize into a camper van, which I’ve been talking about for months in some of my videos, especially when I traveled on the East Coast.

Why I Downsized into a Class B Camper Van

Hymer Aktiv Camper Van New Mexico

Though I just started this journey a year ago, I’ve known for about 7 months that I wanted to downsize. It was either that or buy a tow car, which might have been cheaper, but I really didn’t want to tow a vehicle nor did I want to purchase a trailer.

I needed a solution that provided me with even more freedom to explore.

Hymer Atkiv Camper Van Tour

Getting to know so many other RVers and what solutions they have come up with made the decision easier for me on what I knew would be best for my situation.

Over the winter I met RVers who pulled trailers like the tear drop trailers, Airstreams, casitas, and longer trailers, traveled in camper vans of all sizes, drove Class C RVs like me but towed a vehicle behind, and then there were the big Class A RVs with tow vehicles as well.

Class A was definitely out since it was much bigger than my Class C.

Though I like the idea of pulling a trailer, unhooking and having a vehicle to go explore AND leave my campsite up, I just didn’t want to tow and instead liked the idea of being able to leave quickly and go.

Class C RVs were out since I already had one and the only other option was tow a vehicle. Again, same decision as not wanting to pull a trailer and having to hook and unhook the tow car. I would also lose freedom and flexibility to travel into some of those areas that I really wanted to explore without unhooking and leaving the RV somewhere. Just pulling into a grocery store as is in cumbersome sometimes and my 26 foot is considered smaller by most RV standards.

While all of these options are completely doable and you’re really giving up one thing for another – it’s just a matter of personal preference and the way you want to live and travel.

Lastly, there was the Class B camper vans that provided so many of the things I really wanted and would allow me to have the freedom to travel without restrictions.

Top 10 Reasons I Decided to Downsize into a Camper Van

  • I was looking for something that was easier for me to get into tight spaces.
  • It was either downsize or get a tow car on the Winnebago and I didn't really want to tow so I opted to downsize.
  • When I was traveling on the East Coast, where it's more congested and with more compact spaces and land, I couldn’t explore some of the areas with the size of my 26 foot Winnebago and I really want to explore that area more and not be restricted.
  • Ease of getting around some of the highways, roads, bridges with height restrictions.
  • My quest travel with the National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book either states you can't go on those roads at all or highly advise not to in a larger RV. Considering I’m on this major quest to complete all 300, I need something that will allow me the freedom to be more mobile and go anywhere a car can go.
  • Better gas mileage.
  • I didn't need as much space as I had on the Winnebago, like the couch or the bench on the other side of the dinette since I only use the one.
  • More kitchen space. Surprisingly my camper van has more usable space than the Winnebago did.
  • Hymer Aktiv has Voltstart which isn’t a reason for downsizing as much as it was a perk to downsizing.
  • I can take it around those tight corners and not be nervous of the places with no guard rails, like when I was in Lake Tahoe.

The 2018 Hymer Aktiv 1.0 Camper Van Tour

So now after deciding on which camper van to purchase – the Hymer Aktiv 1.0 – I’ve produced a video camper van tour to show you the outside and the inside of the Hymer Aktiv.

When I was down south for the winter I found a dealer in Albuquerque, New Mexico and ended up purchasing from them in May 2018 – just one year after I started this journey.

I still don’t have a name for her, because I love my original name of Liz for my Winnebago. It’s the name of the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat Pray Love, which completely inspired me to go out and create my own adventurous stories.

I was thinking Liz 2.0, but I dunno. Maybe she needs to have her own identity. Comment below if you have any ideas. I’m looking for something that really speaks to me and symbolizes my journey and the freedom this new camper van provides to me.

A Sneak Peek Inside the Camper Van

Hymer Aktiv 1.0 Camper Van Specs Compared to My Class C Winnebago 26 Foot RV

 

 

Help me name her! What are your suggestions?

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

Blue Yeti USB Microphone – I use this to do the voiceovers for my videos. It's made such a huge difference in the audio quality of the voiceovers. It's smooth like butter!

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Sawtooth National Forest & Craters of the Moon

Sawtooth National Forest & Craters of the Moon

Sawtooth National Forest Scenic DriveWell I’m off on another National Geographic scenic quest drive through Sawtooth National Forest. This was my first time stealth camping in a city, albeit small city of Ketchum, Idaho in Sun Valley resort area.

Sawtooth National Forest is a place so rich with wildlife, rolling hills and mountains, densely forested trees, and temperatures ranging from 45-85 degrees – when I was there in early June – depending on your elevation.

There’s definitely something for everyone when you travel to Sawtooth National Forest. You can hike through the forest and along the many trails, take your boat out to the lakes, ski in the winter time in Sun Valley, make use of the day camping areas, boondock on BLM, and more.

I could have stayed for so much longer, but it was time to depart and get moving to visit friends in Boise, Idaho.

I also visited Craters of the Moon National Monument, which was just a several hour loop drive in the park, and then made my way around the scenic drive from Shoshone, Idaho to Boise, Idaho through the Sawtooth National Forest.

Craters of the Moon National Monument

This is one of those spots where you literally have to go out of your way to see Craters of the Moon. It’s on a road off of the main highway 15. From Blackfoot, Idaho, it’s about 120 miles before you get to the national monument.

It’s well worth the drive though for a day trip or even an overnight at the campground within the national monument.

My annual America the Beautiful pass had expired so I took the opportunity to renew while at the visitors center. As much as I visit national parks and national monuments the $80 for the annual pass is well worth it.

I thought I might stay at the campground while there, but it only took me a couple of hours within the park to travel the loop, site-see, and do some light hiking so I decided to forego the campground and the expense.

The campground was like nothing I’d ever seen. It was like these pitted boulders of volcanic rock with spaces for you to park your RV or place a tent.

Craters of the Moon Lava Flow 2

Also note that there is no cell signal within the campground (I drove around it first before doing the scenic loop) though I did get a signal most of the time throughout the loop drive through the park.

Craters of the Moon was quite the sight with volcanic rock formations, lava flows, and cinder cones that made me think I was on a different planet. It was really unique and a huge difference than the lush green, rolling hills just before the national monument and after.

Craters of the Moon National Monument

What’s weird too is that there is no volcano, but instead the lava flow came from cracks in the Great Rift eruption between 2,000-15,000 years ago.

Despite the seemingly hard landscape of lava flows, the national monument is filled with breathtaking beauty of plants and wildlife.

Craters of the Moon and My Hymer Aktiv

I also found some little chipmunks munching on these pink dwarf monkey flowers that covered many areas of the park along with yellow rabbitbrush.

Sawtooth Quest Scenic Drive

Ketchum and the Sun Valley area are pretty cool in the summer and OMG the views, the land, the day use parks – it was all amazing.

Camping on Lake Creek BLM

I found some BLM land just a couple of miles outside of Ketchum, in the Sawtooth National Forest, to stay while I was in the area and I was looking forward to the incredible nature around there.

The BLM was located just past a swanky residential area on a well maintained gravel road and oh, the views are incredible!

Beautiful green mountains, lush green grass, sun shining, and wait – what is that I hear?

Water running?

Is there a river?

I walked down a short distance from my campsite and there it was, this sparkling, flowing river dotted with trees. It’s truly nature at its finest and I couldn’t believe how incredible the surroundings were.

Sawtooth National Forest River

Lake Creek Road BLM

I only wish I could have stayed longer, but there were so many field mice running around and I swear they were circling my van trying to find an entrance.

This was in broad daylight too.

I tried using my pest control essential oils spray around the van to keep the little buggers away, but they were persistent and one accidentally got sprayed with the essential oil while I was spraying around the van.

Okay – I hate mice, but I wouldn’t just kill one for no good reason. A good reason would be that I couldn’t live trap it in my RV and therefore have to resort to quick-kill bait traps – which I’ve only had to do once, but it was awful.

Now that I’ve prefaced with why I would’t kill a mouse – I killed a mouse that day. It was an accident. It was the one that accidentally got sprayed.

I felt really bad. I even tried to get him to move along to the river to wash him off. I wasn’t about to pick him up.

I’ll spare you the rest of the story because I know he died painfully. It upset me so much I had to leave.

Yes – I know, it’s just a mouse. Some will think, “I can’t believe she’s getting upset about killing a mouse” and some will understand my pain.

After the murder of an innocent mouse – which is debatable on his innocence considering he was circling my vehicle – I was pretty sure his family was going to come after me for revenge and find some way into my van.

So I left my beautiful spot after one day and headed into Ketchum for some stealth camping.

Sun Valley and Ketchum, Idaho Stealth Camping

First task was to figure out where I could stealth camp. I’ve never stealth camped before and I wanted to make sure I stayed in place that was legal, wouldn’t get me a knock on the door at night, and also not freak out residential neighbors for an unknown van parked on their street.

I did find out through the Ketchum City website that it’s completely legal in Ketchum during the non-winter seasons to overnight on specific streets. You'll want to review their parking map to make sure you're in compliance else you'll get a knock on your door at night or towed.

I choose a residential neighborhood just a couple of streets outside of the main downtown area in front of some swanky condos – which by the way are being sold at close to one million dollars if you’re interested.

This is a resort town after all so you’re going to pay to live here. However, I lived there on the “streets” for about a week and half stealth camping and it was pretty amazing.

It’s a bit expensive in town to eat and grocery shop, but it was well worth the time there.

It has this small town feel, yet great village shopping areas with all the typical restaurants you might expect from pizza, Mexican food, American fare, sushi, and even a raw food restaurant.

Ketchum has lots of outdoor activities like music in the park, poem readings on the street, a Brewfest, bicycle rentals, kayak rentals, ski shops, and more.

I just loved walking around through the town and exploring with Lily and partaking of the restaurant food.

During the day when I needed to work I headed over just about a mile north of town to a day use park right off of the raging Big Wood River.

It was perfect with a great cell signal, picnic tables by the river, a trail for walking Lily, a trash bin for, well trash, and a pit toilet restroom where I could empty my cassette toilet.

Then at night I’d head back into Ketchum, have some dinner, go for a stroll with Lily, and then settle in to my street stealth camping – which I changed each night.

My Hymer Aktiv van is doing well and I love the ability to stealth camp, hang out in the cities, go to restaurants and groceries without having to scope out the parking ahead of time. I love my Hymer!

Finishing the Remainder of the Sawtooth National Forest Scenic Drive

After a week and half of taking it easy in Ketchum, I decided to leave and visit some friends in Boise, Idaho and pick up mail and packages I had sent there.

Plus I heard the mountains were going to get hit with snow the next day so I wanted to get moving before that cold front came through.

It was just a day drive north to Stanley, Idaho, and then cutting over west then south through the Sawtooth National Forest.

Sawtooth National Forest Mountains

Temperatures went from 60s to 40s at the highest elevation and then into the 80s as I descended into Boise.

Sawtooth National Forest is lush with an abundance of beauty.

Sawtooth National Forest clouds

Even the burned out areas were beautiful.

At one point I had to pull over. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I know I grew up in the city and in places where we barely got snow, but there was this huge measuring stick coming up out of the ground.

Its measurement went all the way up to 12 feet.

TWELVE FEET OF SNOW??

Good grief. That’s incredible.

I like adventures, but 12 feet of snow doesn’t sound like my kind of adventure. Now maybe if I were in a snow mobile or something, but that’s a lot of snow.

The Sawtooth National Forest scenic quest drive ended in Boise, Idaho with high temperatures and a stop at my friend Cortni's home, who by the way, flips trailers for a living so if you’re ever interested check out her crazy beautiful work to see her past and current projects.

Hymer Aktiv Van at Sawtooth National Forest

Have you stealth camped before? Any knocks on the door? How about driving the Sawtooth National Forest scenic drive?

If you missed my van tour of my new Hymer Aktiv, check it out and see the inside and outside up close.

Oh, and if you haven't already subscribed to my YouTube channel, head over there and subscribe soon so you can partake in the giveaways I'll be doing. I think you'll like it. No it's not a new Hymer van. I wish!

Road Trip Report & Map

Take a look at all of the places I've been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 275

Average Miles per Gallon: 16.5

Road Conditions: Road were clear and very well maintained though on Idaho 21 the road was very curvy and speed was between 25-35 for many miles.

Weather Conditions: Cool at night in Ketchum and warmed up to 60s-70s during the day. Highest elevations in Sawtooth National Forest was 40's during the day and 20's overnight.

Time of Year Visited: Early June

Places Visited:

  • Craters of the Moon National Monument
  • Ketchum, Idaho
  • Sun Valley, Idaho
  • Sawtooth National Forest
  • Lake Creek Road BLM
  • Stanley, Idaho
  • Boise, Idaho

Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Lake Creek Road BLM, Ketchum, Idaho / $0
  • Ketchum, Idaho stealth camping on street / $0
  • Boise, Idaho moochdocking at friends / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Craters of the Moon National Monument / $0 with America the Beautiful annual pass ($80 annual fee)
  • Ketchum, Idaho / Variable cost of food and groceries
  • Sun Valley, Idaho / Variable cost of food and groceries
  • Sawtooth National Forest / $0
  • Lake Creek Road BLM / $0
  • Stanley, Idaho / $0
  • Boise, Idaho / $0

RV Accessibility:

  • You can drive this route in any RV without any problems but there are some tight corners on Idaho 21, but I saw trailers being pulled through there without any problems.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  0-2 bars in Craters of the Moon National Monument, 3-5 bars around Ketchum, Idaho, 0 bars through most of Sawtooth National Forest until you got closer to some small towns.

Park Pass:  America the Beautiful annual pass


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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What I Learned about RV Living in My 1st Year of RVing Full-Time

What I Learned about RV Living in My 1st Year of RVing Full-Time

In Season One of my first year RVing around North America I learned so many different things about myself and what I’m capable of doing with my life. This experience of traveling all over the country has pushed me into this part of my life I never knew could exist.

The last year has been a powerful opportunity to learn, grow, adapt, and literally transform my life and I love that I get to share it all with you.

My hope is that if you’re reading this that you garner something from it that you can take and use in your own life – to create your own transformation that allows you to live at your fullest.

To live your best life.

Just after I purchased the new Hymer Aktiv – I headed to Colorado to explore and landed at Mesa Verde National Park for some rest, relaxation, and a tour around the cliff dwellings.

Mesa Verde National Park

Morefield Campground in Mesa Verde National Park

You know me, I typically go for the free overnight places, however in the new camper van, showering is underwhelming so I’d much prefer to take a shower in the campground. Plus I needed to dump the tanks and fill up on water.

So, I opted to go ahead and spend the night at the Morefield Campground within the Mesa Verde National Park. I also opted for the cheapest option of dispersed camping, which was still $30 per night.

It was quiet and in a really beautiful area close to the scenic loop around the national park. I love how well-kept the area was, including the showers.

Amber Baldwin - Mesa Verde NP

The shower was simply amazing with piping hot water. No military shower for me this time! It was such a treat to stand under the hot water and feel it cleansing my skin after scrubbing it with soap.

What a great feeling.

Morefield Campground also had a small shop for your typical National Park souvenirs and some grocery items along with a little outdoor cafe and all-you-can-eat-pancakes for breakfast.

The first day I arrived I decided to stay at the campground, shower, and get a good nights rest before making a day trip around the national park and scenic loops.

Hymer and Lily Back door screen

Mesa Verde National Park Scenic Loop

Caution to RVers in Trailers on the Scenic Loop

I arrived at the Mesa Verde National Park during the off-season so some of the tours into the cliff dwellings were still closed. You aren’t actually allowed to walk through the dwellings on your own without a tour guide.

You can purchase tickets at the front entrance into the national park for any of the tours during peak season.

It’s quite a climb in the RV through the winding, steep roads to get to the actual cliff dwellings. Any RV should be able to get around – I’ve seen tour buses up there – but just know that parking spaces will be more limited. You also cannot pull a trailer through the park.

Mesa Verde Cliffs

If you’re here just for the day and have a trailer, you can unhook at the base of the national park in the designated area for trailers and then complete the scenic loop in your passenger vehicle.

Mesa Verde National Park Cliff Dwellings

One of the first places I arrived on the loop was at Cliff Palace which contained 150 rooms and 23 kivas built into the side of the cliff. During its population, it housed approximately 100 people and is thought that Cliff Palace was primarily used as a social and administrative site that conducted more ceremonial activities during its time.

Cliff Dwellings Colorado

Cliff Palace Cliff Dwellings

One of the things I noticed about the dwellings throughout were the openings to enter the dwellings were rather short. It appears the cliff dwellings were made for people who were shorter during that time period.

Mesa Verde National Park Cliff Dwellings2

Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings

An average man was about 5'4″ tall, and an average woman was approximately 5′. The Pueblo people's average life span was pretty short, due to a higher rate of infant mortality so most people lived an average of 33 years which is skewed by the fact that many children didn’t live past 5 years of age.

Mesa Verde NP Cliff Dwelling

Mesa Verde NP Cliff Dwelling 2

Can you imagine living such a short life? I feel like it’s short enough already. At 33 you’re just getting started. Though I suppose times back then were more difficult to live in with disease, little medicine, tribal wars, and constant threat from enemies domestic and foreign.

Seeing the history of this land always makes me thankful for what I’ve been given and to live in a more modern society where I can travel in my RV and live mostly how I choose. I say mostly because there are laws and rules in our countries, some of which I don’t agree with, but we will never agree 100% agree with everything.

So I live within those rules and as free as I possibly can.

Ahh…..freedom. Well that leads me into my next topic of wrapping up what I learned in my first year of RVing. I just celebrated my one year nomadiversary on May 8, 2018.

What I Learned in my First Year of RVing

Can you believe it’s been one year already? Time seems to have flown by at lightening speed this last year. I packed in an abundance of traveling, activities, and lessons during this last year.

In my first year of RVing around North America I learned:

  1. Living my best life
  2. I’m Happier
  3. More social
  4. Experiencing world
  5. Transformational
  6. Love this life
  7. More adaptable
  8. Vulnerability
  9. Trust instincts
  10. Love minimalistic lifestyle
  11. Restored faith in humanity
  12. Overcame fears
  13. Slow down and enjoy the moments (driving slower)
  14. Appreciation & Gratitude
  15. Flexible & spontaneous
  16. Living My Best Life

In learning more about how to live my best life, just the simple act of deciding to RV and sell my home and all its belongings was part of the mindset to live my life differently. I wanted to live life more fully rather than working all the time and dedicating my spare time to the house and yard.

I wanted my focus to be on creating more experiences and moments – my collective stories – hence the name Story Chasing.

I’m Happier

Okay, truth time. Before I started down this road a year ago, when I was just thinking about the prospect of RVing full-time, I wasn’t 100% sure I’d like it. I knew I loved road trips and site seeing, but I had doubts. The doubts were really just me questioning myself.

This was a big step to sell my house and all my belongings. I took a gamble that I would love it. Thankfully that gamble – albeit I was about 98% sure I would love it – paid off and I do love this life.

More than any other time in my life, I feel at peace and at home. I’m apparently a nomad at heart. I hate moving, but I think that’s because of all the “stuff” that comes along with moving. Packing, unpacking, and then doing it all over again.

Now – no more packing. Just put the gear shift into drive and roll away with all my stuff still in its place.

Amber Baldwin Niagara Falls Road Trip in RV

Cycling to Niagara Falls in New York

I’m More Social Now

While I love having my me time and traveling solo I love the people who I meet on the road whether it’s in a store, a campground, hiking, GETTING STUCK, or through some of the RV clubs.

My new camper van especially attracts more attention and consequently sparks conversations about how I travel full-time and how I’m able to live this kind of life. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to get a glimpse into other people's lives as well and share with them my experiences and help them to also overcome some of their challenges that keep them from living their best life.

Solo women RVers Moab

Xscapers Convergence in Moab, Utah – Just us solo ladies

Experiencing More of the World

I truly feel like I am story chasing and collecting these beautiful moments with the experiences that keep coming my way. In the past I didn’t think I’d be able to live this life until I retired, but to be able to live this freedom now and see our beautiful lands, explore historical sites, and meet people of all different cultures is just a truly gratifying moment!

I’ve learned so much in just the last year about our history and especially to see how people live in regions around North America. I get excited to visit these places and immerse myself in that area and talk to the locals.

Quartier Petit Champlain Shopping 2

Strolling through Old Quebec City in Quebec, Canada

 

Cape Breton Island Cliffs

Touring Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia

 

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain in Maine

Traveling has been a Transformational Experience and Restored Faith in Humanity

Merriam-Webster defines the word transform as, “to change in condition, nature, or character; convert”.

My transformation experience in traveling has absolutely changed me. It’s changed my emotional state. I’m more happy, less stressed and just overall more joyful.

Traveling and doing this “thing” of RVing that brings joy to my life has changed my outlook on humans. The media would have you believe there is so much to fear in our world and I truly believe that keeps people from living out their dreams. It almost killed mine.

I have discovered that most people are genuinely good and nice and willing to help. It has absolutely restored my faith in humanity and I no longer watch media news and instead read if I want to get the news.

Look, I’m not saying there aren’t bad people or bad things that happen, I’m just saying that my focus is on the good and that’s what I tend to receive – the good.

What you focus on is typically what you’ll get in life.

What do you focus on?

Lake Havasu Thanksgiving Friends

Thanksgiving with new friends in Lake Havasu

Learned More on Adaptability, Flexibility, and Spontaneity

I learned how to adapt better and not get stressed out when a challenge occurs. For instance, the weather always changes and in an RV, well, you have to adapt, get out of the way, and learn to live with the weather.

You’re more one with the weather so if it’s hot outside, it’s going to be hot in the RV. If it’s cold, well it will be cold in the RV. If it’s windy, like it was in the Southwest for most of the winter, your RV is going shake and you’re going to get dirt all in the RV if you’re in the desert.

Breakwater & Lighthouse8

I had to learn to quit being such a clean freak about the dust. I still clean it up daily, or every other day sometimes, but it’s there. Bugs too. Bugs come in. They crawl on the RV. They are also adapting as well by trying to take shelter or search for food in my RV. So I had to learn to not be so freaked out if I saw a bug or bee.

Yeah, I know, that probably seems weird about the bugs, but I lived in this nice, stale, city environment my whole life, though I love nature – I just didn’t like dealing with the little pests that want to come live with me. Like the mouse that invaded my first RV and chewed up everything it could find. I haven’t adapted to those things and they will never live in my home if I can find it.

Mice – you've been warned.

Learning to be More Vulnerable and Trust My Instincts

So this one can be difficult. Though I had been on the quest to be more vulnerable for years, there are things that you choose to “let out” and those that you keep inside.

Creating a YouTube channel and putting myself out there on YouTube has been a HUGE vulnerable moment. Have you seen the trolls that comment? It’s ridiculous. Thankfully my skin has toughened up over the years – literally toughened up from those dry deserts – so I can let a lot of things roll, but seriously, the energy these people put into making stupid comments is literally more than I can comprehend. If they put that much energy into being positive and building people up, they might, themselves, be more happy and live a more fulfilling life.

Delete – is what I do with their comments.

Living a Minimalistic Lifestyle

This is one of my favorites. Literally everything I own is in my van. I didn’t rent a storage and store a bunch of things in it before transitioning to this life.

It makes me feel even more free to not carry around a lot of things and also to not feel the need to buy anything.

I have exactly what I need and enjoy and the rest of my life is filled with creating stories and moments in my travels and meeting people. That’s the “stuff” I like. No need to get a storage for that. It’s documented in my blog, on my YouTube channel, and in my brain.

Downsizing this much has been a surprisingly joyful creation to live with only what I really need. I got rid of the 30 pairs of socks that I didn’t need. How many socks can one really wear at a given time? Especially when most were just plain ‘ole white athletic socks.

Goodwill made a small fortune off of me! Not just from the socks, okay I didn’t have that many socks that Goodwill could get super rich, but along with all the other stuff I was lugging around from place-to-place.

Learned to Overcome Fears

Overcoming fears has been HUGE for me over the last year.

First I was fearful of traveling as a solo woman in an RV. It almost kept me from living out my dream, but then I decided I had to move through this fear and just do it.

So that’s when I bought the RV and sold everything to fulfill this lifelong dream of traveling across North America and then beyond that in the future.

I was also super nervous about staying by myself somewhere boondocking at night, in the woods, where it’s really dark. This one took me a little bit of time to get through, but after each experience of just staying by myself somewhere, I started to feel better and better and less fear. Now it doesn’t seem like any big deal at all. I love it!

Amazing how this gripping fear of something turned into this beautiful moment of love and appreciation.

On the other side of fear is your greatest success!

Learning to Slow Down and Enjoy Life

Slowing down has been difficult. I'm still a work in progress on this one.

I’ve been going so fast for so long that I feel like my brain was just permanently hard-wired to stay that way. It’s taken me the better part of the year to slow down and relax and to enjoy what’s in front of me.

I still don’t have this one down, but I’m getting better at it.

All those years of commuting to work and then commuting back home and then starting it all over again the next day really took a toll on me.

The RV actually forces me to slow down – since it’s larger and needs more time to stop – more as well and really enjoy my surroundings.

My meditations have helped as well with learning to slow down some more, but I’m not there just yet.

Learning to Appreciate and Show Gratitude

I think because I wasn’t slowing down before it was hard to take notice of the things I was grateful for in my life.  I’ve been meditating for a while and writing in a journal about gratitude prior to this RV life, but it’s different now.

The appreciation and gratitude are more heartfelt and real. I cannot even count how many times I’ve been driving or standing in front of something so profoundly beautiful that my eyes welled up with tears in that moment.

It renders me speechless and I feel so humbled by the awesomeness of these lands – of the mountains, the waters, meadows, hills, and even the desert which I hated in the past.

It’s almost like the gratitude is tangible. I can feel it. I’m no longer numb with busy-ness.

Devils Tower Prayer Cloths

I can't wait to see what happens in Season 2 as I learn more about myself, my traveling, story chasing, and creating more beautiful moments that will last a lifetime.

What do you focus on? Do you dwell on the past or do you actively create, in your mind, what the present and future look like? I'll be discussing this topic soon.

Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Morefield Campground at Mesa Verde National Park/$30 for dry camping per night

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Mesa Verde National Park/$0 with the America the Beautiful annual pass

RV Accessibility:

  • Morefield can accommodate any size RV; however if you have a trailer, you can't take it through the National Park if your just going for the day, but there is a designated place to unhook and then travel the loop around the park with your passenger vehicle.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  0-1 bars mostly nothing so plan on not having cell signal or data even with a cell booster

Park Pass:  Free entrance with America the Beautiful annual pass


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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