In my last post I invited all vandwellers who were nearby to join us in Quartzsite for a Tribal Thanksgiving Celebration and 18 of you responded and came! In today’s post I want to give you a report on how it turned out. The next day was Black Friday and that’s the day we are all supposed to go out and buy presents; and you all know what a conformist I am, I have to follow ALL the rules, so I had to go out and buy myself a Christmas present. I’ll tell you all about it at the end of the post, but here is a photo of how well Santa treated me this year!!
This is the second year we had a Tribal Thanksgiving Celebration for the vandwelling Tribe and it turned out just as well! Last year my good friend Steve volunteered to do almost everything and cooked most of the meal by himself, including the turkey. You would think that would have over-whelmed him so much he would never do it again, but us vandwellers aren’t know for doing normal things so Steve did it all over again at Christmas, and it was just as wonderful the second time!! This year Steve is camped somewhere else so it was up to me to do it all without his help. To say the least, I’m nowhere near the cook Steve is !! He really can whip up a great meal in the middle of nowhere with nothing but his Coleman 2-burner propane stove and Weber Grill. (To learn how he does it see this post http://www.cheaprvliving.com/blog/best-darned-bbq-ever/)
There were 18 of us total and I provided most the food for the meal. Because I am not an experienced cook the hardest thing for me was knowing how much to buy, so I just made my best educated guess and tried to buy too much. Fortunately we had plenty of everything. Steve did most of it alone, but I knew that would be way to hard for me so I asked other people to do much of the cooking. Because most of us are in vans we had limited cooking facilities, so everything but the turkey could be cooked on a Coleman stove and most of it was pretty simple. Cooking for a large group requires large pots so I carry several for the RTR and a couple other people had some also.
Lots of people worked hard to make it happen! Thanks to you all!!
- Lesa and Peg made real mashed potatoes (a 10 bag of spuds and just a cup of leftovers!)
- Donna who brought cranberries, mixed up a nice salad and baked real cornbread
- Judy who made a green bean and onion dish
- Dean made a wild rice dish
- Gretchen made Stove Top Stuffing and brought 2 pies
- Lavonne made yams
- Del Mont made gravy and brought Cool Whip
- Al brought a chocolate Bundt cake
- Roady brought paper plates and plastic ware
- Jeff was the hit of the party with a box of wine!!
- I brought the turkey, rolls and 4 pies!
There were virtually no leftovers! We ate 4 of the 5 pies and everything else but a cup of mashed potatoes and some gravy. Everything was amazing and we all had a fabulous meal, in an incredibly beautiful setting with great friends. Even the weather cooperated and the day was sunny, warm, and best of all, calm with no wind!
You’re probably wondering how I made the turkey in the middle of nowhere. It’s very simple, I cooked it in my Weber portable propane grill. I love my Weber grill!! People have been cooking over open fires and charcoal for millenniums. Cooking on a grill is very much like that but we have modern inventions to make it easier, the best of which is aluminum foil. You can cook an amazing variety of foods on a grill as long as you wrap it in foil first. A book I highly recommend to teach you how is “Fix it in Foil” which is available on amazon.com. Fix It In Foil
So here is exactly how I cooked the turkey.
- I bought an 8 pound frozen turkey breast. That isn’t a turkey loaf which is a mix-mash various turkey parts crammed together into a loaf. Steve and I tried one of those at Thanksgiving 2012 and it was okay but not the best. What we had this year was a whole, bone-in turkey breast. it was just like any other whole frozen turkey except all it had was the breast.
- I put the bird in my fridge and let it thaw.
- By Thanksgiving day it was thawed and so I de-boned it by peeling off the skin and cutting the meat away from the bones. I wasn’t sure we had enough turkey, so I cut it into smaller sizes so people could take smaller portions
- I tore off a long sheet of Heavy Duty aluminum foil (thanks Blars!) and sliced an onion into thin slices and laid it in the center of the aluminum foil (I had already sprayed the foil with Pam cooking spray).
- Finally, I formed the aluminum foil into a pouch around the sliced onions and piled the turkey on top of it, salting and peppering it to taste. Some people put garlic in but I’m not a garlic fan so I didn’t. Then I folded the ends of the foil together in order to seal it in. All the turkey wouldn’t fit one loaf-sized foil pack, so I made it into two loafs.
- I preheated the grill for 15 minutes on High, and then turned it down to Medium. As soon as I turned it down, I put the loaves in the grill, put the lid on it, and I was done. I timed it and left in in for 50 minutes and it was done perfectly!! I can’t recommend a Weber grill highly enough. Weber Potable Propane Go-Anywhere Grill
I think it turned out very well and everyone seemed to enjoy it!
My Newest Toy: 1996 Honda Rebel Motorcycle
The next day Judy, Gloria and I went out to check out the vendors tents and we stopped at one that had a beautiful 1996 Honda Rebel 250 motorcycle for sale. For a long time now I’ve been wanting to have a second vehicle so that I didn’t have to drive the van so much because it only gets 14 mpg. I’ve been considering three options, 1) An electric bike 2) A Honda Tail 90 3) A Honda Rebel. The problem with an electric bike is that my knee is getting worse and I think it’s time to give up on bicycles. The Trail 90 is a fantastic rig, but it’s slow and illegal to ride on the freeway and unsafe on fast moving roads. The vast majority of the time I won’t be able to ride one. I’m a big fan of the Rebel because it solves those problems and has lots of advantages:
- They are light and have a minimum amount of power, so they are less dangerous than the big, fast bikes.
- But, they have enough power to ride comfortably on the freeway.
- They get 70-80 mpg!
- They’ve been making them for almost 30 years with virtually no changes and the engine is built-proof.
- They are built very low to the ground so anyone can put their feet flat on the ground while in the saddle. I have short legs, so this is very important to me.
I used to own a Rebel, but in 2011 I had an accident that destroyed it and severely broke my wrist and elbow. Every since then I have been debating getting another one. For a long time it looked like my arm wouldn’t heal enough to allow me to ride again, but eventually it progressed to the point where I can. Then there was the question of whether I was too traumatized by the wreck to ride again. When I saw that gorgeous Rebel at the Vendors booth I jumped at the chance to find out and asked to take it on a test ride. It felt so normal and natural to me I instantly felt at home. I had to have it! So we dickered a bit and I bought it!
I love it and I am really glad I got it! It runs perfectly and looks like it just came off the show-room floor. The reason it looks that way is it only has 1076 miles. The vendor was the second owner. The first owner had bought two of them, one for himself and one for his wife, but his wife wouldn’t ride it. So he just kept it in the garage for 15 years hoping she would. The vendor bought it with 200 miles on it and has owned it every since. He took great care of it and made several upgrades like the windshield, the luggage rack and higher gearing (so it is more comfortable on the freeway).
Your probably wondering how I will carry it, well that’s easy, I ordered a rack to carry it on from discountracks.com and a front receiver hitch for the van. When I’m towing the trailer it will ride on the front hitch, and when I leave the trailer in storage and travel in the van it will ride on the back hitch. When it gets here I’ll write a report on it. Stay tuned for more reports on how it is working out for me.
Very neat present for yourself! And I love gatherings, it looks like you all had a lovely community Thanksgiving, that’s wonderful! It’s all about bringing people together 🙂
I’m glad you all had a great thinksgiving i enjoy seeing the pictures yep you got yourself a nice looking motorcycle hope you enjoy it it should save you a ton of money on gas,when will the rest of your web site be up and running i can’t weight to see the pictures you have on there
J, I wish I knew when the websites are back up. I’m astounded it has taken this long to get them done. I can’t give you an ETA.
Congratulations on the new wheels!!!! It was meant to be.
And a fine and fitting feast for the tribe.
Thanks Kim! Wish you had been here, but you gotta work and support yourself! maybe next summer. Could you make it to the East coast RTR in South Carolina?
Wow hopefully I can join you this Christmas in Arizona!
Martin, that would be great! I don’t know if I am going to do another meal at Christmas, but I probably will. By spreading out the work it was actually pretty easy.
Lovely Thanksgiving feast and ultra cool new bike! Hope to see you and it in March….the East Coast RTR is still happening I hope!
Chris, yes, the East coast RTR is still in the works. We are applying for a Special Use Permit in the National Forest there and as soon as we get it I will make it official!
Awesome! I have a few peeps who have already shown great interest so keep me in the loop and I will help spread the word. And let me know if you need any other help.
You bet Chris!
Beautiful bike – it will pay for itself in gas savings in no time.
Desert Rat, I sure hope so, that’s the plan anyway! Jumping from 15 mpg to 70 mpg is a very appealing to me. Plus the total cost of running the van is much more than the bike saving even more than just the gas savings.
OK, I am a little jealous about that sweet bike you got!! Nice work. Looks like it’s real fun to ride and very economical. Aren’t bikes a blast!?!
CAE, yes they are! But I’m safest if I look at it as just transportation and not fun.
Glad you all had such a joyful Thanksgiving Bob, i specially like the “family like” attitude the “tribe” has towards each other, deliciously cooked Thanksgiving dishes with a little “Arizona desert spice” and good company of friends to top it off . . . can’t blame you for leaving no leftovers .If the food turned out anywhere near as good as you describe the different dishes on the menu, then it is well worth forgeting cholesterol levels , diets and the like ! LOL
Much appreciation goes to the very good friends around you that helped make it a Thanksgiving to remember.
Now …. that “Toy” that Santa left for you (LOL),is a beautiful looking machine!! I absolutely love the pristine condition it is in , you were in the right place in the right time, very wise decision !
I’m sure you will get very good use off it as it is the perfect size motor one needs for balancing fuel economy and ease of handling.
It really is a useful tool to have.
No question , you very well deserve this “present” for all your hard work and dedication to “VANDWELLING” and friends.
Ride Safely !!
Mario, thanks so much for your kind words. I’m very thankful that my life has turned out far better than I could ever hope.
Looks like a lovely TG you had! And that ride sure is a cutie!
Thanks Joni! I hope you had a great thanksgiving there in Florida and see you soon!
This is how we cooked turkey in a garbage can.
It is delicious, cooks fast as serves loads of people. Have you ever tried this?
Lay about 3 long sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil out on the grass to make a square about 3×3 feet. Pound the wooden stake into the ground in the center of the aluminum foil.
Fill the lid of the garbage can with a large pile of charcoal, and light. Place the whole turkey (thawed of course) onto the stake, legs down. Turn the garbage can upside down, and place over the turkey. Place piles of lighted coals on the top, and around the sides of the can.
Cook for at least 1 1/2 hours, or keep going until coals go out. Do not lift can during cooking. Brush the charcoal off of the can, and lift off carefully as some heat may rush out when you lift the can. The internal temperature of the turkey should be at least 180 degrees F (83 degrees C) when taken in the thickest part of the thigh.
Sharon, that’s new to me, but sounds great!
Sweet find Bob! I thought I did good finding my KLR with right at 3000 miles on it. I’ve had it for 3 years now and have over 25,000 on it now. I hope you get to have as much fun on yours! Glad your Thanksgiving feast went off so well!
Thanks Doug. I assume you have the 650, they are great bikes! I thought about one of them but with my short legs I could only put one tippey-toe on the ground at a time so it wasn’t a good fit. But they are the perfect bike for anyone they fit.
How did the electric bike work out? I haven’t heard anything since you bought it.
Guy, I will write a followup report on it later. But for most of the summer it wasn’t usable because the only connection to town was on the freeway and you can’t ride them on the freeway. Now that we are back to the desert it is practical to ride it into town, but I have found my knees getting worse and I don’t think I want to take the chance to on doing more damage to them. So if I am going to have an electric bike, it has to be good enough to need very little pedaling. I’m not sure that is going to happen.
I was thinking about selling my small mototcycle and getting an electric bike, but was waiting on your report first. Now I think the better idea is to keep the motorcycle I have.
Guy, when gas hits $10 a gallon we will have to do something other than drive vans that get 12-18 mpg, so being ready is a good idea. Right now I am planning having both. But my bad knee means I have to have a high-quality electric bike I don’t have to pedal.
The food was fantastic! The whole event was invigorating and inspiring. It was great to meet other people living “FREEDOM”! Thank you, Bob! Even my dog, Mr. Pico was able to meet some new buddies!
It was great to meet you Sameer, I’m so glad you could join us!
Looks like everyone had a lot of fun. Glad that you faced down the possibility of being too afraid to ride a bike again and overcame it. Ride safely.
You know what they say Naomi, if you get thrown from the horse, you just have to get right back on. I didn’t get right back on but when I finally did I knew it was going to be okay! Safety will be at the TOP of my list from now on.
It was a wonderful meal and I met lots of new friends and hugged some old friends. Thank you for all you do for this community.
Trying hard not to be envious of your new wheels.
Thanks Linda, it was great to see you again!!
Congratulations on hosting a great Thanksgiving get together and on scoring such a great bike. I want to get a moped, or something like it, but I’m nervous about having it on a hitch. I’m going to be doing a lot of urban camping and I can see it attracting the wrong type of attention. The very opposite of stealth parking. Plus, I’m guessing it would be stolen sooner rather than later. Then again, I see people park their motorcycles overnight all the time and it seems to work for them.
What do you think about the idea of towing a moped and urban dwelling?
cerentee, I think your first instinct is right, it wouldn’t be practical. Carrying a scooter or a moped on hitch is not hard at all, I think you could master it pretty easily. I also don’t think having it stolen would be a major problem either. Just get a couple of good cables and a good lock and it would be fine.
But there is no stealth with it on a hitch. If stealth is important, I wouldn’t get one. However, carrying one inside the van is probably fairly realistic if the bike is small enough–especially if you get an extended van. A moped is very small and light, I think you could carry it inside-just get a ramp to run it up on. That wouldn’t hurt your stealth too much. But, it will take up a lot of room inside and you might have a problem with gas smell.
Bob: I’m getting ready for the mobile life, and I’ve been struggling with how to transport a motorcycle. I’be been looking at the 650 Suzuki S-40, Yamaha Virago 250 and virago 535, Shadow 650, and rebel 250. These are all low to the ground, light, good milage, enough power for the highways. But they all share the problem of needing a way to transport from point to point, so I’ll be interested in seeing how your method works out for transporting the motorcycle.
We’re also struggling with whether to buy a used motorhome, or convert a step van or cargo van, and whether or not to tow a small car or motorcycle, to save on gas. One problem with motorcycles is they’re not much fun in cold weather, ice, snow, or rain, but they’re absolutely great in the desert on warm days when the wind doesn’t blow too hard.
A motorhome would cost some, but if you get an older one then they go pretty cheap but they aren’t very stealth. A step van would be roomy, but it isn’t very stealth. A cargo van with a roof rack and ladder on roof, would be more stealthy, especially if I painted a fake logo on it that gave the impression that I was a workman, such as an electrician or carpenter, etc., especially if I towed a trailer like you do.
Dan, choosing a vehicle to live in is all about making the best compromise for YOU. What is perfect for you might be terrible for someone else, and vice-versa. The only way to do it is to sit down and right out your true needs and priorities and be sure to meet the most important ones. Here are some of the factors you must consider and be really honest with yourself about.
* mpg and cost of driving
* back-country and remote travel ability
* initial price
* City or country camping
* Simplicity (a 2013 diesel pusher motorhome is a millions times more complicated than a 1985 Toyota Tacoma with a shell)
Rate these on a scale of 1-10 on their importance to you with 1 being not very important and 10 being a very high priority. It’s critically important that you be as honest with yourself as possible. Otherwise you will find yourself going from one bad choice to another until you are finally honest with yourself.
From your post it sounds like stealth is a high priority and if that is true then you have very few options, basically a van, step van or box van.
Figure out your priorities and write back and we will see if we can figure out some of your better choices.
Bob, how’re you going to transport your new motorcycle? At a bit over 300 pounds, I’m assuming inside the van, but that’s why I’m asking.
Doug, to be honest I’m not exactly sure. I ordered a front hitch for the van and a receiver hitch carrier. Its rated to 600 pounds and for big bikes so the weight won’t be a problem. When I just take the van on trips it can go in the back hitch with no problem. I’m hoping that it can go on the front hitch when I am pulling the trailer. My concern is that it will block the lights/turn signals so much it’s illegal. If it does then I have several options:
1) raise the lights to shine over it like with a snowplow
2) mount the carrier on the tongue of the trailer and carry it there
3) rebuild the interior of the trailer so it can ride inside.
I’ll just have to figure out which one works.
If you don’t drive at night, the headlights won’t matter, at least not in most SW states. For the turn signals, you can mount lights to the front of the bike carrier and use a 4 pole trailer conecter to connect to the turn signals on the van.
I’m happy to know you all had great food and great company during Thanksgiving!
Bob – No Wheelies! LOL, I sold my Triumph Speed Triple earlier this year when I was going through my downsizing phase. The truth is after years of riding I lost my passion for it. I only ride human powered bikes now. Enjoy your new ride.
Joe, I’m pretty sure there won’t be any wheelies!! The best thing about the Rebel is it doesn’t have the power to do a wheelie or get me into real trouble. That Triumph of yours would for sure get me in trouble!! Speed and power are irresistible!!
I’m actually trying to eliminate any passion for the bike! Passion caused my accident and so I want to see the bike as dangerous transportation. I don’t have a passion for driving the van, just living in it, so I don’t see passion for the Rebel as a plus.
Glad you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Nice bike Bob, should serve you well and the gas mileage is fantastic.:)
Great post, Bob, as usual. Sweet wheels. I am not even a motorcycle person and I feel slightly envious, she is so beautiful!
As a (mostly unrepentant) spender I found that steps 1 and 2 just didn’t happen for me until I skipped ahead to step 4. As soon as I rented out my house and started living in the van the debt started disappearing. For the first time in 9 years my bills are all paid and I even opened a savings account! And I love my little home, even though the last few months have been spent working as a warehouse drone and living in an RV park in no. Nevada in the winter (but you do gotta love a neighborhood that makes my 1990 Ford E-350 extended van turtle top look small!).
Can’t resist this little plug for simplicity. The vast majority of my camper co-workers are living in some sort of RV or at least larger travel trailers or campers. It was cold here this week and the talk around the lunchroom was all about frozen or leaky plumbing and the work they all had to do to keep things going. I am pretty much “indoor camping” as I like to call it, with my Coleman propane stove, no sink or shower, but the only thing I had to worry about freezing was the cat’s water dish, which I foolishly left on the floor. I know it’s not for everyone, but for me, the tradeoff of no frill living for low maintenance is a no-brainer. And I don’t feel the least bit deprived. Quite the contrary, I feel warm, cozy, grateful, independent, and free.
Can’t wait to see you all in Quartzsite. I’m being liberated from my labors on Dec. 21, so with any luck I’ll be there for Christmas. Yeah, my first RTR NOT in a tent! I’ve been researching how to make a no bake/stove top only pumpkin pie FROM SCRATCH (no instant vanilla pudding mix involved). You all will be my guinea pigs. I can also make some pretty yummy cardamom spiced sweet potatoes to add to the feast, although I will have to break down and buy a larger pot first!
Silvianne, it will be great to see you again!! Your laugh and joy for life is infectious and I feel better having you around. It’s also time for another reading!! Maybe you can tell us all about your time with Amazon?
Your comment on how your finances have changed so much gives me a post idea: the wonderful unintended consequences of vandwelling! For me they fall into 3 categories 1) Health (Body, mind spirit) 2) Friendships 3) Finances.
Fianances are the most obvious and many of us have your experience and find our money issues solved by vandwelling.
I’d be glad to do another Christmas dinner but I’m not sure there will be enough people. If there are we will do it for sure. I usually provide the food for people to cook, but you can if you prefer. I can also provide a larger pot. I’m looking forward to try your recipes out!!
See you in a few weeks!
For medium-light two-wheelers, may I also suggest a larger scooter? In Oregon, a ‘moped’ is legally defined as anything with a (maximum) 50cc engine or smaller, about 200 lbs., which typically top out at 25-30 miles per hour. In my opinion, they’re too small for safety even in town when you’re trying to keep up with traffic in the artery roads. Anything bigger is (legally) classed as a ‘motorcycle’, regardless of body style. The ‘classic’ scooters are 125-150cc, 275 lbs., and can reach 45-55 mph top speed, sometimes higher — OK for around-the-town general use as a second vehicle, but still a bit small for me. Mine is a Vespa GL200, 350 lbs. and larger 12-inch wheels, which I’ve been riding since the end of 2004. I put more miles on it year-round than I do with my Ford Explorer – currently around 23,000 miles. It will do 70-75 mph stock, and 80-85 mph with a windshield. I’ve got it set up with luggage baskets/racks for weekend runs to the coast from Portland (about 90 miles+), and feel quite safe and comfortable, assuming good weather. More importantly for a guy my age (64), the step-through design of the scooter will allow me to keep on riding even if/when my knees give out. I’d recommend an engine of 200cc or larger for highway use; the larger wheels and heaver weight of the larger sizes also make for better smoothness and stability of ride. Anyway, I’m slowly checking things out to join you on the road in a while, and I’m also fiddling around with ideas for bringing the Vespa along, until I’m just too old to drive at all.
Peter, that’s great advice. many of the larger scooters are great machines. Thanks!