Saturday, September 05, 2015

Life in 38 square feet

I arrived in Sanford on Sat, 6/13/15.  On Sunday, 6/14/15, I deployed my temporary home on its spindly legs and pulled the truck out.  This is always a stressful time, especially so in this case because the site pitches down in front of the pad, bringing the back edge of the bed precariously close to lifting the front edge of the camper when pulling out. 

I immediately drove the now-empty truck to a local Home Depot where I bought a sheet of outdoor 3/4" plywood and had them quarter it for me into 4 pcs 2' x 4'.  Using a jig saw and clamps that traveled with me (explicitly for this purpose), I bridle-jointed two together to make a pair of "X"'s to take some weight off the jacks.  In addition to making the camper very stable, they provide some cover for under-camper storage. 

I took this pic a day or two before bugging out, which would have been around 8/15/15, almost exactly 2 months of full-timing in the camper at this spot.  I used the overhang as a moto port, and the curbside wing as a bicycle port.  Both spots keep their charges fairly dry.

The trailer had bunches of stuff stored in it - anything not essential in the camper or able to sit out in the weather was in there.  A cheap Walmart camo tarp keep everything dry for months of mid-summer Florida monsoons.

Two Months of Maintenance and Mods:
There is a 2' long paracord rigged to the passenger side front gutter and a little stand-off made out of wire and duct tape which holds it an inch or two away from the siding at the loose end.  The water running off the roof from the A/C flows to the gutter, then the string wicks it down to drip on the ground instead of running down the siding and over the exit window seal.  I was proud of the ingenuity of this and texted a pic to my wife, who promptly said, "oh, a 'rain-chain."  Wheel: reinvented.  Still, I was self-satisfied every time I walked past a dry camper with a 'drip-drip-drip' coming off the end of the string.

The front driver side overhang developed a leak at some point, and I cleaned and re-caulked most of the seam between the plastic nose and rubber roof.  Following my repair, the ceiling seemed to be drying out.

After a week of continuous rain, I noticed the ceiling panels drooping.  The camper had been uncomfortably humid for days.  The A/C duty cycle is not long enough to do any real dehumidification.  I clocked it one sleepless night at 2 minutes running every 15.  In that two minutes the temp would drop 7 degrees, making it cold and humid.  I bought a residential dehumidifier from Lowes which pumped 30 pints of water out of the air the first 4 hours it ran.  I think cooking, washing, and breathing, produces more humidity than the camper can deal with.  Extended rain just adds insult to injury.  An ideal solution would be a smaller A/C unit with a longer duty cycle, which would likely also reduce overall external height and power consumption - to the point of enabling a generator, maybe.  On the other hand, I routinely turned my A/C off during the day when leaving for work.  This saved 11 or more hours/ day of running.  The A/C cools a roasting hot camper down to the setpoint in 5 minutes.

The one closet in the overhang has a useless hanger rod in top.  Another trip to a big box for some plywood and shellac, more fiddling with clamps and jigsawing on a picnic table, and I have shelves!  This is a big deal given how little storage there is, and how many clothes are aboard.  The pantry similarly had no shelves.  Before leaving, I'd installed one.  I added another the same day I added them to the overhead cabinet.

Opposite the overhang cabinet, I installed a bracket for the TV which worked out great.  We'd bought the bracket from a dollar store or clearance store for this purpose, and being able to swing the TV between viewing from 'upstairs' or 'downstairs' was super convenient.  Not using counter space is another huge plus.  The TV quickly disconnects, which will come in handy on the road:  I wouldn't trust the hardware to hold the weight of the TV while bouncing down the highway.

Life in the park:
For all but the last week or two of my camp-out, this old Airstream was parked next to me.  After fixing multiple roof leaks (in PA and in FL), I envy the solid Aluminum roof.  I met the owner the day he was leaving, and helped him hook up the trailer to his tow vehicle.  The park model across the street from me has a fenced yard with a lawn.  For $390/month rent, this has got to be the cheapest living there is.

I zip-tied a milk crate to the bike rack.  By chance, the collapsible Walmart laundry basket fits it like a glove.  It also helps out with hauling trash bags to the dumpster, and a gym bag to the showers.  I can't imagine long-term campground life without the bike.  I settled into a rhythm of riding to the laundry, dumpster, and showers with little fuss.

The Anoles really screwed with my peripheral vision the first few weeks I was in FL.  If you haven't lived with them, it's a novelty for a while.  Here a green one checks out the camper:

The Live Oak tree which shades site 600 always has a lot of brown Anole activity:

One day, this was in the middle of my door.  It's about 1/2" tall.  I assumed it was bird poop, or tree debris or something.  Closer inspection revealed it to be some kind of camouflaged snail.

In the dark of my early commute, I also encountered my first live armadillos (a pair) and also an owl of unknown species.

The Live Oak which shades the site is full of Spanish moss.  Wherever there isn't Oak, there is Palmetto.  I picked a very good spot.

After two months of solo full-timing in the camper, my wife joined me.  We tandemed for about a week before moving into an apartment.  The following day, I trucked up the camper, hitched up the trailer, and drove the rig over to the storage area of the RV Park, where it awaits our next adventure.

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