Living in a tent SUCKS!

Okay – it only sucks sometimes.

We have been living in tents since November of 2017 (with a couple of months spent living in a travel trailer in Texas in Rico’s parent’s backyard) and for the most part, we have really enjoyed it.

But…

There are times when it is really challenging!

We are currently on our 5th main tent and we’re about to have to replace it again. We’ve decided we’re not going to get another one like the last three because they’ve all had the same issues. The zippers on the doors stop working, and the front loop for the tent stake tears, causing the nylon part of the tent to rip. We’re done with that tent! Hasta la vista, baby!

Wind is also a HUGE factor. If you’ve read past blog posts, you know what I’m talking about.

The Tent Killing Winds Part One

The Tent Killing Winds Part Two

The Tent Killing Wings Part Three

There is also a video about it on our YouTube page. Please subscribe to our channel while you’re there!

After the current main tent was recently battered and beaten by the wind, and since it is already needing to be replaced because of the zippers and strap, we started looking for something smaller and more suited to high winds. We still haven’t found what we’re looking for but we are on the hunt.

We also need to make sure it is big enough for our bed, because we are currently sleeping in what used to be the secondary tent, and it’s ALL bed. Not fun when you have to change the sheets.

Speaking of sleeping, when one is housing themselves in a tent, one must make certain the bed is the absolute best! Ours most certainly is. It’s a Coleman Cot with a built-in air mattress and it is the most comfortable bed I’ve slept on in years! (I’m not getting any kick-backs for recommending this bed – I just want to inform y’all)

We have had to replace the air mattress one time, but we got a cheap one from a big-box store and it works great. It also comes with a battery powered air pump that makes inflating and deflating the bed super easy. The only drawback is that it’s pretty heavy.

Hopefully, we’ll find our forever tent this time around. I’m getting sick of replacing them for sure!

Hope to see you out there on the road!

Big Love,

Lainie

A Day In The Life…

Good morning all! I thought I’d let you get a peek inside our world of boondocking. What is boondocking? It’s a term for those who camp without hookups or any typical camping conveniences (i.e., bathrooms, water, electricity, etc.). It’s also called dispersed camping or dry camping.

 

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Morning:

Wake and head to the toilet – for us this means exiting our sleeping tent and schlepping over to the bathroom tent next door (or across or behind, depending on how we set up the camp), making sure to let the dogs out at the same time. We have a nice RV portable toilet, but many people use a bucket or something similar… that would not have worked for this girl, so we have a “real” toilet. After using the toilet, I clean it (there is no water in the bowl, so I like to add a little bleach water before I “flush” it), and then wash my hands.

Next, I round up the pups and give them their breakfast, after which I check the weather (extremely important whilst camping). If all is right with the weather, I usually sit back and read the news, scroll through social media, and watch a video or two. If there is something bad forecasted in the weather, I let Rico know and we get busy addressing whatever issues need to be handled before the inclement weather arrives. (It should be stated here that we ALWAYS check the weather before bed, so we’re usually well prepared before morning, but weather forecasts have a bad habit of changing rapidly, so better safe than sorry.)

Once Rico and I are fully awake, Rico cooks breakfast. Our typical morning fare is eggs with some sort of protein on either tortillas or toast. Sometimes we have oatmeal and fruit, or bean and cheese tacos. When the weather is bad and Rico can’t cook, we have sandwiches because they’re easy. Sometimes I do the dishes after breakfast, but more often I don’t, much to Rico’s annoyance.

Afternoon:

Laundry

After breakfast, we plan our day. Here are some of the activities that we have to choose from:

  • Go to town to do laundry
  • Go to town to get ice
  • Go to town to get groceries
  • Go to town to dispose of our trash
  • Go to town to dump our toilet
  • Go to town to busk
  • Scavenge for firewood
  • Practice music for busking
  • Edit videos
  • Upload videos
  • Blog
  • Write things other than the blog (i.e., music for Rico/novel for Lainie)
  • Visit with our neighbors and/or camping companions
  • Make art
  • Go sightseeing (where we are now, that is mostly going to the hot springs)
  • Play with the dogs
  • Research where we are going next
  • Take a nap… or two… lol

For the town runs, we always combine activities, but laundry and showers rarely happen on the same day because they both take a lot of time.

As you can see, we have a lot of activities to choose from, and every single day includes a nap, for sure.

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Lunch is usually something quick and easy, and we often skip it and have a light snack instead.

Evening:

Once the sun heads toward the western horizon, Rico starts making a fire and preparing to cook dinner. Our meals are often shared with those around us, which is really nice. We enjoy the community feel of these dinners, and everyone pitches in groceries and/or helps cook or tend the fire. I usually get stuck with the dishes (which I detest), but sometimes Rico does them for me (which I greatly appreciate).

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After dinner, we hang out around the campfire and talk about life on the road, past adventures, and future destinations. Rico usually gets out his guitar and we sing songs or just listen to him play something beautiful. It’s really nice. Sometimes we pass the phone around the fire and allow each person to choose a song to play for everyone. You wouldn’t believe some of the songs we’ve heard… from Opera to Irish folk tunes and everything in between.

Night:

We also like to stargaze, and we’ve seen a lot of falling stars. We are super in tune with the phases of the moon now that we’re out here away from the cities. With nothing to block our view, and no bright lights to compete with the beauty of the night sky, we’ve been awed by the things we’ve seen in the heavens. We even saw the SpaceX rocket boosters fall away earlier this month. We thought it was a UFO at first… lol. I’m sure we’ll see one of those eventually.

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We are usually in the tent by around 8pm, and in bed by 9 or 9:30. No late nights for us because once the sun is up, so are we. I expect this to change as the days get longer.

When it’s cold, we have our little heater that we huddle around before climbing, fully clothed (sometimes in multiple layers), beneath a mound of blankets. The dogs snuggle up to us and we keep each other warm.

So, that’s a typical day in our lives. We don’t have jobs, we live without a clock or a calendar, and we try not to plan things too far ahead. We are truly free to live life as we choose, bound only by our budget, which isn’t too bad. We have the time and the talent to make a living out here on the road, and the freedom to do that is worth all the struggles we face.

Yes, I’d rather have a real flushable toilet and a hot shower on board, but I don’t mind doing without those creature comforts in order to live this life of freedom. I have a very comfortable bed, a nice tent, a great portable toilet, plenty of clothes and jackets to keep me warm, a great man to share these adventures with, and I’m unencumbered by the trappings of a “normal” life. To me, this is bliss.

We’re heading to Slab City, so stay tuned for pictures and fun stories from our adventures there!

Big Love,

Lainie

 

 

Problems & Decisions, Decisions & Problems…

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While we love our nomadic lifestyle and the freedom it provides, it does come with a few difficulties. Trying to keep everything organized, making sure we have enough ice, water, groceries, and supplies so we don’t have to go to town every day, untangling paracord, trying to keep everything clean, and making sure the dogs don’t get into something they shouldn’t are the everyday things we deal with.

However, there are other things we have to deal with that are on a much larger scale. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are in a sticks and bricks house, an RV, a car or, like us, in a tent… there are always going to be problems you have to deal with that involve your dwelling place. Sometimes they are easy to figure out, fix, and handle… other times, they are downright difficult.

The tent situation is on the more difficult side. We know we are going to have run-ins with wind and rain and other types of inclement weather, and we realize having a plan in place for each of these events is important, but figuring out the solutions for each scenario is more difficult than we anticipated. Especially with our limited budget. After the last tent killing winds episode, we felt we needed to address the problem.

Ideally, we’d have an RV, but that is a mere pipe dream at this time on our journey. So the questions remain:

  • How are we going to handle bad weather?
  • How can we protect the tent during windy weather?
  • Where do we sleep if we have to collapse the tent?
  • Where do we put our stuff if we have to collapse the tent?
  • Where are we going to put the toilet?

Bad Weather (i.e., rain, thunderstorms, snow):

  • If in a flood-prone area, get to higher ground immediately
  • Double tarp the tent
  • Put toilet and supplies in tent
  • Move everything indoors (tent, car, or trailer)
  • Make sure we have all our stuff charged up (phones, laptop, tablets, battery pack)
  • Have food, water, games, etc. handy

Windy Weather:

  • Collapse the big tent and secure it
  • Empty trailer and stash everything
  • Tarp all stuff stashed outside of trailer
  • If wind forecast is for moderate winds, leave bathroom tent up
  • If wind forecast is for high winds, collapse bathroom tent and secure it
  • Organize trailer and car for sleeping

The last windy weather we had, we followed the above protocol. Rico slept in the trailer, and the dogs and I slept in the car. We put the toilet in the front of the trailer for ease of access, and Rico had the buddy heater since I could start the car and use the heater if I got cold.

Everything seems to work well, though schlepping through the blowing sand to use the bathroom at 3am isn’t fun. Another drawback is that everything is covered in sand and it’s really, really hard to clean. We feel we’ve got a good working plan, but it will certainly need to be adjusted as time goes on. We also have the second tent we’re using for the bathroom, changing room, and storage, which we could sleep in if the winds aren’t too bad. Meh… it’s a work in progress.

By the way, for those of you who follow our videos on our YouTube channel, you know we were dealing with possibly replacing Big Betsy (tent). We did replace her with another of the same exact tent, but it seems a little bigger if that’s even possible… We named this tent Brutus, hoping the wind will be intimated by that name.

Our YouTube Channel

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As you can see… we’ll probably be implementing the wind plan in the morning. If any of you have any other suggestions, please comment. We’d appreciate it 🙂

‘Til next time…

Big Love,

Lainie

 

The Tent Killing Winds – Part Three

Yes! It happened again! Despite all we’ve learned along the way, we were again caught unprepared to deal with high winds. We thought we had taken all the precautions necessary and prepared the campsite the best we could, but all of that was no match for those infamous Santa Ana Winds… I don’t actually know if it was the Santa Ana Winds, but they were devil winds none-the-less, and they wounded Big Betsy. We still don’t know if she will survive the ordeal.

The second day at the Joshua Tree BLM camp, we were joined by one of our tribe members, Deni. She is a joy, and we are blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with her. We all discussed the upcoming wind forecast and began prepping for the night. Deni is in a van, so all she needed to do was make sure everything was inside and find a safe place to park for the night (away from any trees, which are few and far between, so it wasn’t too difficult).

We, on the other hand, are in a tent, as you all know by now, so we had a lot of preparations ahead of us.

We put everything we could in the tent, trailer, or car, and then set to the task of shoring up Big Betsy for the event. We made sure the tent pegs were securely in the ground, secured the rain-fly, and even wrapped the tent with extra tarps. I cleaned out the car, moved the seats back as far as possible, and got it ready in the event we needed to sleep there. Next, we put the dog’s crate and the toilet inside the tent, had dinner (delicious quesadillas), and then hunkered down for the night. Everyone was inside and battened down by 6:30 p.m. as the winds came whipping down the mountain.

About 1 a.m. I got in the car because the wind was deafening and I couldn’t sleep. Rico and the dogs joined me around 3 a.m. because Big Betsy had given up the ghost. We were both exhausted and feeling very defeated. I shed some tears, and we discussed our options. We purchased the warranty on Big Bertha, so we knew we could get Big Betsy replaced, but we were really questioning our ability to continue on the journey in a tent.

How would we handle the wind situation going forward?

What if we ran into worse storms?

Should we go home, get jobs, save up money for a van, RV, etc. before hitting the road again?

Should we abandon the plan altogether?

We knew we were both tired and frustrated, so after looking at other tent options and researching the weather for the coming week, we tabled the discussion until we had rested.

The winds finally died down around 11 a.m., so Rico shored up Big Betsy and we all took a long nap.

Poor Deni, safe in her van all night, had been so concerned about us that she didn’t sleep either, so she slept the afternoon away as well.

By 4 p.m., we were all up and moving, though still exhausted. I was in a depressed state, and Deni saw that, so she set about to cheer me up and encourage me to continue our journey. I am truly thankful for her words because they did the trick. Rico had already made the turn from defeat to “let’s do this!”, and Deni helped me take that turn also.

Turns out Big Betsy held up better than we first thought… only a tent pole bent and one little rip in the velcro that holds the tent fly to the frame… so she’s fixable. I’ll call the manufacturer today to see if they’ll replace the pole or if we need to replace Big Betsy entirely.

This was our camp before the winds…

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Now all the tarps are gone, as is the shower tent, and we’ve patched up Big Betsy as much as possible while we wait to hear back from Field & Stream and Dick’s Sporting Goods (they have been no help thus far).

We’re also working on a contingency plan because, although Pearl is awesome as a car, she is terrible as a bed, so we need to find another option in the event that we have this happen again… which I’m sure it will. Better safe than sorry, right?

After we get these issues figured out, we’ll go back to enjoying the journey. We’re heading to Slab City in a couple of weeks, and going to busk here in the area until then, so stay tuned for more exciting adventures!

Big Love,

Lainie