I don’t know if Soleil ever felt tired of living out of a suitcase, but Tree and I definitely did. Not being able to find what we were looking for, losing one baby sock everywhere we went, and the tedious exhaustion of packing and unpacking was wearing us down.
But those days are over now that we’re Breaking Bounder!
It took an insane amount of work before we could hit the road, and we never could have done it without the help of John Sr. and Diane, Pa and Nana to Soleil.
While we were still in Hood River, John was kindly dealing with the carpet, upholstery, and solar panel installation. Still, when we arrived in Yuma, the Bounder was not quite livable, so we had to sleep in Pa and Nana’s coach, the luxurious 45ft Hollywood Rambler. Darn it!
When Diane wasn’t watching Soleil for us, she was deftly leading me through every big box store I swore I’d never shop at.
She magically made things like picking out a toilet scrubber and countless other boring but necessary items pretty darn fun. Still, if I ever have to go back to Walmart, Target or Bed Bath and Beyond again, I might gauge out my eyeballs with one of my new brushed metal butter knives. Total darkness has got to be better than wandering around a fluorescent-lit mega maze for hours on end.
To mitigate the pain and shame of big box shopping, we went to Martha’s Gardens. They grow an incredible selection of beautiful dates, and they make a date shake so damn good it made me forget I gave money to the darkside.
After a week of living in the Rambler, I think Pa was afraid we’d grown a little too accustomed to a lifestyle we can’t afford, so he booted us over to the Bounder.
A BIG transition for Soleil happened in that move: She got her very first big girl bed!! Yay Soleil!
In exchange, Tree got to move back into my bed. Yay Mommy and Daddy! I’m really happy to have my husband back. He kicks me less than Soleil does.
Another great addition to the Bounder is our bad-ass wifi system. We’ve got a Boosting External Wifi, Pepwave Surf SOHO, Omni External Antenna, Outdoor Panel Antenna, Boosting Celular 4g Wifi, 32 Inch Omni Truckers Antenna, and a Wilson Mobile 50db 5-Band SmarTech III Kit. I’m not sure what all that means, but I’m pretty sure that if E.T. exists, he will contact Sprinter Life as soon as he hangs up the phone with Drew Barrymore.
As expected with a 12 year old RV, things broke and we had to fix them. Our windshield wipers needed repair. Screws needed to be tightened, wheels needed to be greased. And then one morning our back slide wouldn’t come in and we had a mini-panic attack. Fortunately Pa had just befriended an RV repair guy named Mitch the day before, and he made an emergency house call.
As I was taking this shot, Pa was recounting how he had met Mitch. Apparently, while at an RV store nearby, Mitch had helped Pa find some particular item, and Pa reflexively said, “Thanks hon,” as if he were talking to Diane. Fortunately Mitch thought that was very funny.
We had to learn how to do everything–how to drive, use hand signals, flush our tanks, understand our solar control panel, and work together while hitching and unhitching the Trooper.
Fortunately talking with my hands comes naturally to me. Badda-bing!
“Couldn’t you just buy the floor model?” (It’s a good thing he’s so handsome)
In a future post, I’ll show you the inside of the Bounder. I am currently not done decorating. Oye.
When I moved into the Sprinter many moons ago, Tree lost his precious man cave, but now he has his own little section in the Bounder to leave his trail of tissues, ear plugs, and big long yellow lists. Enjoy honey!
When we decided to get an RV, I struggled to reconcile owning a gas guzzling behemoth. What happened to “We Did It for the Wild,” right? But we put a lot of time and money into retrofitting our RV to be more energy efficient, and now I’m at peace with our decision. We bought used, stayed within our budget, and made our home as earth-friendly as we could. Sure, I wish the Bounder ran on biodiesel and got better mileage, but we couldn’t afford a new RV on a Sprinter chassis, and all the Eco-Roamer type rigs are stupid expensive.
So here’s what we did to lessen our lifestyle’s impact on the planet:
1) We installed 2 large solar panels and 4 deep cell batteries– This set up allows us to live mostly free from fossil fuels when we’re stationary. We don’t need to run our generator or plug in to power our cabin. Since our stove and fridge run on propane (a clean-burning alternative fuel), and we never use the microwave (it’s used as storage instead) and only rarely use the toaster or vacuum (power suckers), the sun is able to recharge our batteries back to 100% on its own. Given the smaller space, our low payload, and our robust solar system, our impact is less than it would be in a house.
2) We replaced all the lights with LED lighting to conserve energy. This keeps our payload low so that we are able to use solar energy to effectively recharge our batteries.
3) We have TWO kitchen trash cans, one especially for recycling. This is obviously no big deal to you house dwellers, but in the van we struggled with where to put trash, let alone recycling. Now I have plenty of space for both! Who knows, maybe I’ll even figure out a way to compost.
4) We bought a shiny new Berkey water filter system with stainless steel water bottles so that we no longer have to buy plastic bottled water EVER. No more hormone disruptors, arsenic, or fluoride for this family.
5) We have a ton of reusable grocery totes, produce bags, snack packs, and glass/stainless food storage containers and, more importantly, I finally trained myself to remember to bring the damn bags to the store. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught myself explaining to the check-out person that I really am a good person who loves Mother Earth, but I just forgot today. Again. I’m so sorry!
6)We’re strategic about our itinerary. Given that we get 10 miles per gallon (ouch), we want to minimize our driving and maximize our stay-time in campgrounds, BLM lands, and RV resorts. And fortunately we work remote, so we don’t have a daily commute.
7) We’ve become 95% vegetarian, and we’re shopping organic as much as possible. This is probably the most impactful thing we will do this year. Although we don’t make Soleil be a vegetarian, she mostly is by default since that’s what I cook. When we’re with other people, however, she can eat Abuelita’s bacon or Nana’s pollo, if she chooses. I say 95% because we’re not perfect and don’t want to be. When we eat meat, we make conscious decisions to buy grass-fed, local, sustainable, cage-free, and humanely raised, if there is such a thing in the States.
Why does unfettered, expansionist capitalism have to make eating (and everything it touches) such a moral/health dilemma?
Anyhoo, for fun, I really want to start a little herb garden. Maybe some rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano and basil. MMMM. I love this aquaponic version. It would be such a cool way to teach Soleil (and me) about sustainable farming and permaculture. I’m just not sure we want a big glass bowl full of water in the RV. If that thing broke, it would be really, really ugly. Maybe I should just stick with the herbs, sans le poisson?
Despite working our booties off the whole time we were in Yuma, we had a great time hanging out with Pa and Nana. Soleil got to eat ice cream every night. Tree and I got to see a Garth Brooks and Shania Twain impersonator concert, which was weird because somehow we knew all the songs. How does that happen? I listen to snobby indie music, not pop-country, and yet somehow I sang along with total exuberance. “‘Cause I got friends in low places where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away, and I’ll be okay…” So fun, right?
Oh, and we even got to go to Mexico a couple of times for dental work (Tree) and prolotherapy (me). I actually have a lot to say about my adventures in alternative, non-evidence based, foreign medical treatment, but I will save that mixed review for another post. Suffice to say that when the questionnaire asked “Do you drinky?” I probably should have walked out.
But the time came to hit the road! And boy were we excited.
We buckled Soleil in her car seat and took off for Las Vegas, Nevada.
When we arrived, we had our first sunset on the patio of the Oasis RV resort. Not bad at all.
In the photo below, Soleil is “talking” with Noni. Earlier in the day, Soleil asked me for a lollipop, to which I replied no. So later on, she “called” Noni with her hand. While she was on “the phone,” I asked how Noni was doing, and she told me that Noni was very, very sad. Taking the bait, I asked why. Well, she explained, because Noni wants a dulce. But she can have a dulce, I say. No, she wants a dulce FOR ME, mama.
I can just imagine poor Noni right now, suffering immeasurably because Soleil still hasn’t had that lollipop.
I love this little girl. And I love my husband and our crazy life. We celebrated three years of marriage two days after Valentine’s, and we’re celebrating nine years of being together this March.
Here’s to love and adventure, folks!