As I am writing this Judy and I are back in Cottonwood, Az and our road trip is over. After we had been at Moab for two weeks, we were undecided whether we would continue the trip or go home, so we flipped a coin and the coin said to keep going. The next day we left for Zion but my sprained knee became sore from driving, so we decided to quit the trip to reduce the number of miles we drove. We both had a wonderful time and I want to wrap it up with a summary and some of the lessons I learned on the trip:

I love being on the Road! I have to get my "fix" of it every year!

I ‘m addicted to being on the Road! I have to get my “fix” of it every year or I go into withdrawal!

I am too lazy to keep accurate records of a road trip like this, but fortunately Judy loves to do it. So she kept records of her fuel mileage and all her spending on the trip. Her 2007 Chevy Express van with 5.3 liter V8 averaged an astounding 18.16 MPG over 1324 miles! Her total cost of fuel was $278. She buys premium fuel because by experimenting she believes it gives her another one MPG which more than offsets the higher cost.
Judy averaged an astounding 18.16 MPG over the whole trip.

Judy averaged an astounding 18.16 MPG over the whole 1324 mile trip with almost no freeway miles but lots of giant hills with switchbacks..

Her essential daily spending for the 25 day trip was $473. By that I mean money you have to spend and not optional spending or fixed monthly expenses.
This table is of money that she didn’t have to spend but were things she was wanting or needing. October is the end of the season in Moab and we found quite a few end-of-season sales she couldn’t pass up. She picked up some outdoor gear she was needing at great prices.  She also got a stunningly beautiful tattoo to celebrate the experience.
Jud'ys gorgeous new tattoo!

Judy’s gorgeous new tattoo!


I need to be in new locations and absorbing the sights, sounds and feel of different places.

It’s startling how easy it is to fall into a routine and before you realize it you’re in a rut and your life is boring. That’ just where I found myself so I knew I needed to get out and hit the road. I am so glad I did! It just feels so “right” to be on the road and free to roam as I please again! This trip reminded me how much I love it and I don’t ever want to forget it again. All my plans are written in Jello but I am almost certain I will spend all next summer on the road to and from Alaska and after that I will do at least one road trip every year.
This is my office, living room, and kitchen. The fact it was a low-top wasn't a problem because I had to move around very little.

This is my office, living room, and kitchen. The fact it was a low-top wasn’t a problem because I had to move around very little.

While I have lived the mobile life for nearly 12 years, I’ve never lived in a low-top van. I lived in a 6×7 camper for 2 years (and it was smaller than this extended van) so I knew I could easily live in the small space, but I honestly didn’t know how my back, neck and knees would respond to being hunched over or walking on my knees all the time. Fortunately, it wasn’t a problem at all. I still prefer a high-top, and I wouldn’t want to live in a low-top year-around, but for short-term trips a low-top was no problem. I’ll be fine in it for 6 months to Alaska and back.
I preach this constantly and so of course I ended up with way too much in my van and it was making me miserable! File this under “Do as I say, not as I do!” Living in the cargo trailer and using the van for storage allows me to have a lot more stuff (I admit that I’m weak) and I filled it up! When I realized I was doing it I went on a mission to get rid of a bunch of it and it has come down quite a bit, but I left too much in the van for this trip. It took a while but I eventually found a place for everything and got everything in its place. When I do this again in the future I will be ruthless and only take bare-bone essentials.

I bought a 4-drawer unit just like this one and it helped tremendously! Judy liked it so much she bought one also and this is hers in her van. It’s right behind the drivers seat and is ratchet-strapped to the front seat (red strap) and bungeed (blue strap) so the drawers don’t come open during driving.

 Sterilite 4-Drawer Unit Light Platinum
If you are going to have too much stuff, you must have lots of organization and I had none. I had an open unused space available so I went to Wal-Mart and found a plastic, four drawer unit ($60) that fit right in it. Getting it was one of the best things I’ve done for living in a van! I now recommend it to everyone as one of your first purchases! It’s a little hard to find at Wal-Mart because it is not with the housewares, it’s back in the hardware section. They are built heavier to be used in garages and not in the kitchen or bedroom. But, not only are they much stronger I think they are more attractive than plastic drawers made for housewares. To mount it I used a ratchet trap that went to the shelf units that came with the van. They are industrial shelves and mounted extremely well so I have no question the plastic shelves are secure.

This is my kitchen. Inside the green plastic tote is my 2 1/2 gallon propane bottle and my Coleman 1-Burner propane stove sits on top (I cut a small hole in the side for the hose to come out). I have a splatter guard around it to keep the heat and splatters from escaping (there’s a link to the one I have below). Beside it is my Dometic fridge and behind it is the shelves with groceries. There are links to for most of these products below.

Norpro 2063 Nonstick Splatter Guard
Coleman 1-Burner Propane Stove
Coleman High-Pressure Propane Hose and Adapter
Some people like all their stuff hidden in drawers and cabinets; I’m not one of them! I’m so lazy that the things I use every day I want within easy reach. I’m a big fan of peg-board; I think it should be in every vandwellers home! I just happened to have a sheet of it and some scraps of plywood with me, so I cut it down to fit on the end of the 4-drawer unit and mounted some bins on it. Viola! Instant cheap and easy organization!

My peg-board for organization. Below it is my 5-gallon poop bucket bungeed to the plywood. Inside the bucket is my trash can. In the wheel-well is a gallon of water.

Mesh Basket-Value Pack For Peg Board
Peg-Board and Ultimate Kit
I will never be a hard-core 4-Wheeler, but when I’m heading down a little dirt road in the desert I don’t want to be scared of, or turned back by a sandy wash I have to get across. All the other RVs and campers turned back because of it so if I can cross, I can be all alone. I like being alone! After talking to my good friend Forrest, I’m convinced all I need to do is get a Detroit locker in my rear axle. So that is on my agenda for some time this year.

We camped in Moab for 14 days at this spot. This little road was very typical of where I always plan to camp. It was rough and rocky in places but a car could make it.


Full-moon rise at our Moab camp. The road went down into the wash below us and it got very sandy the further it went. We couldn’t go past it.


Looking back from the wash towards our camp. With a Detroit Locker I could have crossed it and been truly remote.