Feb 27 - More Downsizing Details

nimble - moving quickly and lightly; sleek and agile...
At the risk of re-hashing thoughts I've written about before, I thought I'd write a summary of the key ideas driving the next chapter of our nomadic life. What we're calling "Sabbatical II" will be an evolution of our current fulltiming experience. Driven by our desire to be more nimble and flexible in our travels and explorations... it'll be a hybrid lifestyle that combines a couple of, what we're calling, "mooch-docks" (think mini-home-base or small apartment) coupled with a much smaller camper. These are a few of the key elements of Sabbatical II:

1. Two mini home-bases, one each in Wisconsin and the State of Washington, the two places our family is located.

2. No towing anything. Towing fosters "hub and spoke" exploration. We want to explore in a linear fashion during Sabbatical II.

3. A small Camper... at this point we're focused on either a truck camper or a Sprinter van conversion camper. The RV will serve as both our living quarters and our exploration vehicle.

4. Keep it simple... keep complexity and clutter to an absolute minimum.

Let me expound further on each of the elements above:

1. The mini-homebase: First some background: During our last 6 years of RV fulltiming we've developed a pattern... alternating periods of sitting and traveling. Most of our family is in either Wisconsin or the State of Washington and we find ourselves staying in each of those for long periods... a month or two at a shot. Between those periods of sitting, we travel and explore... usually for a couple months at a time, but perhaps longer if, like this year, we don't sit in one place during our southern escape from Winter. In total, we sit for about 6 months and we travel for about 6 months each year.

So an idea evolved as we talked about the future. If we could re-engineer things so that during the times we're visiting family we had a space we could call home... a place to find a little solitude, to sleep, a refuge... a place to keep extra clothes and stuff needed only rarely... if we could make that happen, our need for a big RV diminishes rapidly. You might think of it as glorified guest room or a studio apartment. In any case, we'd consider it a mini-homebase (or tongue-in-cheek... a "mooch-dock"). But there wouldn't be much mooching as, like most work-campers, we'd trade our services, brains, and brawn for the place to stay.

Of course, with our situation we'd need two of them... one in Wisconsin and the other in Washington. Tentatively, we've got two spaces in mind and have already talked with the landlords. There's still some work to do putting this piece of the Sabbatical II puzzle together, but we're hopeful we'll have both mini-homebases ready by the end of the summer.

2. No Towing Allowed: For maximum nimbleness, we'd like to get away from towing anything. No trailer, no towed car, no utility trailer... no "toad" of any kind. The dictionary definition of nimble is moving quickly and lightly, which pretty much captures our thoughts on the matter. The part of our current lifestyle we really enjoy is the traveling and exploring... and our aim is to maximize that by traveling in a more linear fashion... exploring as we go and finding a campsite when we're tired at the end of the day. With the bus-house and our current system, we have to return to our starting point every night.

3. A Small Camper: Going hand in hand with my comments on towing, nimbleness will require a small camper. And once you take towing out of the equation, there are very few RVs to consider. What we're focused on in our search at this time are slide-in truck campers and class B van conversions based on the MB Sprinter van. What we like about truck campers is the go anywhere capability of the 4 wheel drive truck we'd put it on, the ability to separate the truck from the camper, and the full size queen size mattress we'd be sleeping on. On the Sprinter van side of the equation, we like the high fuel efficiency of the MB diesel (20mpg), the van's stealthiness (without splashy graphics and crazy paint jobs, it doesn't look like a camper), and the all-in-one, motorhome nature, of the van (no need to go outside to start driving). Like almost everything in RVing and the nomadic lifestyle, it's all a series of compromises.

4. Keep it Simple: Small is beautiful in other ways too. We want our next camper to be simple and uncomplicated. No slide-outs, easy to access systems, a 12v compressor fridge so being level isn't as important and no leveling system is needed, and no air conditioner. Instead of a generator, even a portable ultra-quiet Honda, we'll opt for a larger solar PV array coupled with a couple hefty deep cycle batteries... enough to power our simple needs and the 12v compressor fridge too.

As long as we can touch home-base every once in a while, we think we can live for extended periods of time in a very small camper. Remember those folks who live out of their backpacks for long periods of time while seeing the world? I think we'll be a little more comfortable than that. And if we really need a break from the camper during a longer excursion we can always check into a motel for a night or two.

We have a wonderful collection of friends, acquaintances, and adventure travelers who are already living like this. They've proven to us it can be done... that it is being done. And they're having a great time living another version of the nomadic RV lifestyle.

I think we'll join them.


What about a Tiger? It's actually a small C built on a 4 wheel drive pickup truck frame. Not inexpensive. But you can walk between the driver's seat and the "house" part of the rig.
Thom Hoch said…
Boonie... Tigers are a bit out of our price range. I like the idea but it just ain't gonna happen unless the perfect used unit comes along. Not likely as there just aren't many around.

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