Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

A pinned map with the places we have traveled in our RV’s.

Downsizing to a Tinier Home – how to become home-free in the Mid-Atlantic

Successful launch is successful! After over 2 years of planning, researching, watching, and waiting, we have done it. We have become full-time RV’ers in our 28 foot travel trailer. Our new normal has downsized from 1500 square feet to just over 190 square feet. How did we do it? Very easily, with only 254 steps, and you can too!

Full-time RV’ing?
After we spent our first night in our first camper (R-Pod, I love you), Jesse proclaimed, “we can do this.” Meaning, we can do this full-time (and I believe he also meant, we can do this forever).

I don’t know about the forever part, but we have now been full-time for 4 weeks. And so far, I don’t hate it. Which, I guess, is a super-positive thing to be able to say when we’ve blown up everything else to do it. And I really do mean that in a good way.

Preparing the House (and ourselves)
Last fall we started making minor fixes to our townhouse; drywall repairs, painting, hardware, etc. Thanks to the mother-in-law! With her help we were able to get things going. Her drive to be doing was kind  of inspiring for me because I generally… don’t. She made several trips up to our home to light a proverbial fire under us and helped get shit done.

Downsizing for Tiny Living
Then the downsizing began. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get people to take your stuff? After previous attempts with FB marketplace, Offer Up, etc. we weren’t really motivated to try and sell things. So let’s give it away. My stuff is nice enough, people should want to take it, right? Thank you to my friends, co-workers, and Goodwill associates for taking on my burdens. May they bring you joy; I’m done with them forever.

And, please note, that even when you feel like you’ve downsized so much and you have so few things left, you’ll still need to get rid of more things. Not much fits into 190 square feet. The kitchen, especially, has so many tools, appliances, and bits and pieces! I thought that I had done such a great job, but when the time actually came to box things up, I was staggered by how much was left. Not to worry though, everything fits in the RV kitchen space.

Selling a House for Fun and Proft
Unbelievably, selling the house was the easiest part. Seriously. We interviewed a couple of realtors and went with the cheaper option – assuming that given the timing and location, our house would sell without too much trouble. She proved to be a good match for our level of interest  and after hammering out a schedule to get things tidied, shiny, and photographed, she sold the house before it was ever listed for sale. Amazingly (to me) the first person who walked through made a full price offer. Full price? That means we can start this adventure debt-free! After making some minor adjustments needed after the buyer’s inspection, we were home-free.

Now literally home-free! Somehow that’s a preferable term to homeless. We chose to take this step and divest ourselves of property and the responsibility that goes with it. So I feel the need to differentiate our ourselves from those who don’t get a say in the choice of how to live.

Beautiful Downtown Lake Fairfax
The week before closing on the house we moved the rest of our things into our new camper with just a few extra bits going into storage. Still downsizing and purging – I think that’s going to be an ongoing process as we acclimate to this lifestyle. Luckily we were able to stay for almost 4 weeks at Lake Fairfax in Reston, VA. Having lived in this area for almost 10 years, it’s not a place I would want to visit on a camping adventure. But, it was damned convenient to the house and to our offices. And quiet? Wow. It’s amazing, but in late February – early March, no one wants to go camping in Northern Virginia where it’s below-freezing every night. What gives? Have they no sense of adventure?! Being in our trusty 4-season camper, we had no problems.

Having a few weeks with very low pressure to acclimate was very good for us. We were in our comfort zone with our surroundings; we were still going into the office each day; low impact intro to full-time RV life.

Becoming a Remote Worker
This part of the process started long, long ago. Over a year ago when we first started talking about the possibility of becoming full-time RVers, I stopped in to my HR Dept to ask some “what if” questions. Planting the seed early was key for my work. My management had the time to acclimate to the idea of me not being in the office.

Jesse’s company took a bit more work, a bit more back and forth. But, at the eleventh hour, they came through with a new policy to accommodate our plans. Literally the last minute though; papers signed on Friday, moved to WV on Saturday. Whew!

Homefree in WV
And here we sit. At our base camp on a friend’s lovely farm in West Virginia. We’ve been comfortable in our new space as winter turns into spring. The seasons feel a bit like a metaphor for  us as we are starting out on this new lifestyle. I can’t wait to get on the road and start meeting people and seeing new places and things.

Book Report – Nomadland

In an effort to learn more about the lifestyle we’re proposing to set out on, I read the book, “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder. I’ll admit, I mainly picked it up because of the cool Airstream on the cover. I thought it would be kind of lighthearted and newsy – and the title fit in with my perceived notions.

This was a heavy book. Mentally.

Very well written, it was a deep dive into the lives of certain full-time van dwellers as they worked on the road and tried to stay afloat. It was about scraping and scrimping, working hard labor for farm harvests, Amazon, and campgrounds. These are all jobs I’ve read about as we’ve been learning about full-timing, but this was a point of view I hadn’t yet experienced. Bruder gave a no-holds-barred commentary on how difficult the work can be.

Eyes opened.

While I don’t think I would recommend the book to people who are “just” into camping, I think it’s an important read for those who want to learn more about alternate walks of life in the US. It’s a lifestyle somewhere in between transient and almost homeless, full of people who are fiercely independent and willing to work hard long into retirement age, as long as they have their idea of freedom.

I give it a solid B-.

 

Book Report for Learning Basic CSS

Do you want to pick up some CSS and don’t know where to start? Have you asked yourself… [self] what is this CSS thing? Then the book CSS & CSS3: 20 Lessons to Successful Web Development by Robin Nixon could be for you.

I wanted to re-familiarize myself with CSS and the minutiae of its details, so I picked up this book at the library. Overall I would say it starts at a good pace for beginner’s, explaining an HTML document and how CSS can be used. The book gives good tips throughout for things to do and not do.

All of the examples were toy examples, which I feel was fine for the introduction of the topic. If you want to follow along, there is code available that could really help a person on the color and animation related sections.

The pace was good, and the topics were introduced in a very discrete and isolated way. If you are looking to get introduced to CSS styles in a bite size way without getting too many details then this book does the job. A person could easily skip around in the book without much trouble, if you were interested in a specific concept.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wishing to start from knowing nothing about CSS, and moving to a place where you can be comfortable creating, understanding and modifying CSS. This is a great primer for getting the basics, and it was easy reading.

What the book was not… I did wish there was a CSS troubleshooting section that gave tips on how to deal with interacting and resolving situations when using 3rd party CSS libraries. That might be an advanced topic for most, but once your in the weeds of that kind of situation it is good to know what to do to get the job done. The book did not promise advanced CSS, and it did not deliver that, but I can still wish it was practically perfect in every way.

For next time I need to find a book that covers the more advanced situations in which I find myself.

Installing home-assistant on a Raspberry Pi 2

Home automation is something I have been trying to pursue for many years. As a person that is technical but sometimes not very savvy I have tried other open source solutions and met with defeat. This is my successful attempt at installing Home Assistant on the Raspberry Pi 2. I also included the steps to install Z-Wave support because I have some Z-Wave devices, and the Aeotek Z-Stick which I wanted to integrate into this system. Continue reading “Installing home-assistant on a Raspberry Pi 2”