Useful Stuff #1

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 -- Vancouver, WA

Living fulltime in a bus-house (aka motorhome), we have but a small fraction of the stuff we used to own. This isn't just an issue of space -- where to keep it all, it's also an issue of weight in order to stay under the weight rating of the chassis.

The innate need humans seem to have to constantly acquire more stuff is one element that makes this lifestyle a bit un-natural. We're fighting mother nature here. I want more stuff but the "on-board" safety director forbids it, and the bus-house can't carry more, and there's no place to put it anyway. So, what to do?

We've developed an informal process whereby when something new comes onboard, something old has to go. As long as Dar doesn't drag home a new driver (which, I guess, would mean I'd be out), I'm OK with the process. Here's an example of how it works for us: Dar gets a new coat --> Thom gives a coat to Goodwill. Or, Dar buys a new pair of shoes -- Thom gives his fishing gear to Goodwill. You see, it's a nearly perfect system. Used effectively, the bus-house will never be over-weight.

All kidding aside, we have found after almost a year, that we really don't need nearly as much stuff as we once thought. You learn to value things that have multiple uses and things that are light and small, and things that you really use a lot. We were talking about this the other day and thought it'd make for good blog material... a list of our useful stuff.

I anticipate there'll be a series of these "Useful Stuff" posts as I'm trying to keep the length of posts shorter and the list we've come up with so far is rather long. So, here goes, in no particular order:

In the category of simple creature comforts:

1) A Small Portable Fan: Often, on those quiet warm summer days or nights, just having a little air movement around the inside of the bus-house is enough to keep us comfortable without having to run the A/C. We have two little fans... one 120v for when we have an electric hookup, and one 12v model for those times we don't.

2) A Small Portable Electric Heater: During the winter months, even in the south, it can get cold at night. We've used this thing almost every night. The one we have is a 1500 watt model that plugs into 120v and it cost less than $20. As all electric heaters are 100% efficient, there's no need to spend a lot of money to get one that's effective.

3) Wireless thermometer system: We brought a wireless thermometer system along that we used to use at our house in Illinois. It has three outdoor temp sensing units that wirelessly send to a single receiving station inside. Nothing high-tech here, but it's nice to know the outside temp at a glance. The system we have can read three different outdoor devices, and we use the capability in a unique way: unit 1 is assigned to be the outdoor temp, unit 2 gives us the current temp in our basement storage area, and unit 3 is assigned to report the temp in the water bay (no worries on freezing nights).

4) Bedroom Clock w/Projecting Display: This one also uses the outdoor thermometer system described above. The neat thing about this thing is it's ability to project the time and outdoor temp on the ceiling of the bedroom at night. The large red characters are very readable without glasses, and it's a real convenience to have the time and temp so readily available without having to sit up, squint, turn on a light, or just wonder.

5) On-Board Washer & Dryer: When we ordered the bus-house, we went back and forth on getting a washer and dryer. We ultimately made the decision to get the pair and it's turned out to be one of the best things we did. We can be washing one load, drying another, while doing something else... all in the comfort of our own home. And we don't have to hunt for that rare laundromat that's both clean and safe. During extended periods of drycamping we have used laundromats, but we far prefer the convenience of our own machines.

More to come...