Search

Drivin' & Vibin'

Full-Time Travel and Mindful Living

North American RV Park – West Glacier, Montana

After a stretch of boondocking at Glacier National Park, we were thrilled to pull into North American RV Park and set up camp for a few days. The park is conveniently located, its less than 10 miles from the National Park’s west entrance.

Here’s the breakdown:

Location: West Glacier, Montana

GPS: 48.43762, -114.04107

Amenities: North American RV Park offers lots of amenities to enhance the camping experience. Our spacious, pull-through site had full hookups and a picnic table. We enjoyed using their clean showers, bathroom, and laundry room. The park also has an entertainment room open 24 hours. It has a large screen tv, arcade games, and unlimited free coffee! Lastly, the park allows car & RV washing – this was great for us, because our vintage camper was in serious need of a bath.

IMG_8521.jpg

Wifi/Internet: The park offers free wifi with many signal extenders located throughout the grounds. While the wifi can get bogged-down during the early evening, we were able to stream and upload with it. With the help of our WeBoost, we were also able to pick up a strong 4G T-Mobile signal.

Errands/Grocery: We drove into Columbia Falls (10 miles) to do some small grocery shopping. If you’re needed to shop at a big box store, Kalispell is the place for you. It’s an easy 20 mile drive from the campground. We drove there to get a few things at Walmart.

Dog Friendly: North American RV Park is dog friendly. They have a small dog run that’d be good for dogs 25lbs and under. Many of our neighbors had pets with them – they were all leashed and well behaved.

IMG_8574.jpg

Entertainment: The main attraction in the area is Glacier National Park, and for good reason! We recommend driving the Going-To-The-Sun road. If you’re looking for some good Mexican food, check out the burritos at La Casita. It’s located just a few miles north of the RV park.

Thanks for reading our blog. Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or shopping Amazon through our link.

ee

AMA.jpg

Q&A – Composting Toilet for an RV

This week we continue our Q&A series with a question fielded from our YouTube subscribers. During our 11 months on the road, many people have wanted to know the scoop on one of our favorite RV modifications.

A composting toilet?! How does it work, and do you like it?


Installation

We installed a Nature’s Head composting toilet in our RV during the final stages of renovation. Torn between having to empty a black water tank or empty a compost “bucket”, our research led us to the latter.

Needing only two L-Brackets to hold it in place, the Nature’s Head toilet is an easy install. It does require 12 volt power and a ventilation hole. We easily wired it into existing wires in the area. The company offers a 110 converter if you’d rather plug it in to an outlet. We routed the ventilation hose into the floor – in an existing hole from our old toilet.

Overall, the installation took about two hours. Most of that time was consumed by figuring out exactly where to place it.

Starting the Compost

To begin the compost, we recommend using Peat Moss or Coco COIR (we buy it on Amazon). The Coco COIR we use comes packaged very dry & tight. You’ll have to chip off the dry material and rehydrate it in a bin or bucket.

We learned how to do this from Gone With the Wynn’s. Here’s their tips:

1. Take off the top, aka the seat and set it out of the way.
2. Break off enough coconut coir or sphagnum peat moss (about a 1 gallon buckets worth) and place it in your bucket.
3. Hydrate the coco coir or sphagnum peat moss (typically comes dehydrated in a solid mass) with water until no dry clumps are visible and it has the look and feel of fresh garden soil (damp and crumbly, not wet). I use approx 1.5 – 2 liters of water.
4. Pour the hydrated coco or moss until it levels out just under or at the agitator.
5. Put the toilet back together and its ready for use.

Using the Toilet

It seems pretty intimidating to use the bathroom on a new device, but before no time it will feel like home!

Toward the front of the toilet are two holes; these holes drain into a urine compartment. The urine tank holds about two gallons of liquid.

In the center of the toilet is the solid waste hole equipped with a lid. A lever on the side of the toilet easily opens and closes the lid. When you have to go, open the lid – and when you’re done, simply close it.

You may put toilet paper in the compost, but it will slow the composting process down and lead to emptying more often.

Cleaning & Emptying

The most annoying aspect of this toilet is how quickly the urine tank becomes full. We empty the urine at least twice a week.

The urine tank is easy to remove and there are a few methods of emptying. When boondocking with no vault toilet, we empty the tank in the woods (and never in the same place twice). When boondocking with vault toilets, we empty the urine in a vault toilet. If we have access to flush toilets, we’ll empty the urine down one of those.

Any method works fine,  just practice common courtesy when handling large amounts of urine in a public area!

The composting tank is fairly easy to clean. We unhook to toilet from the floor, place a large trash bag around the lid, and flip it upside down. Because the substance is considered compost, you can throw it away like everyday trash.

Why We Chose a Composting Toilet?

We wanted a composting toilet for two reasons. First and foremost, our blackwater tank was tiny (7 gallons) and we didn’t want to empty it so often. And secondly, we liked the organic aspect of the Nature’s Head toilet. Dumping strong chemicals into a blackwater tank and filling our camper with that chemical smell is a sure-fire way to harsh our vibe!

Overall, we’ve been really happy with the function of our composition toilet.

Thanks for reading our blog. Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or shopping Amazon through our link.

ee

AMA.jpg

WeBoost OTR 4G-X Cell Booster – Product Review

Our mobile internet game has really stepped up over that last month. WeBoost (a division of Wilson Electronics) gave us an OTR 4G-X Cell Booster to test, and the results are amazing!

Here’s the breakdown:

Product: WeBoost OTR 4G-X Cell Booster by Wilson Electronics

Price: $500

Function: The WeBoost cell booster amplifies cell signals and re-broadcasts the amplified signal inside your RV or vehicle. More simply, it makes dropped calls and dead zones less likely.

Installation: The OTR antenna is bracket-mounted; it can be easily secured to a ladder, flagpole or rod on an RV. It was created for truckers and originally intended to be mounted on their large exterior mirrors.

From the antenna, a cord must be run into the interior of your RV (or vehicle). We used the same entry point as our solar panel wires. Once inside, the cord is then connected to the WeBoost 4G-X Booster, which is connected to an interior antenna.

IMG_7403.jpg

Performance: During our first week of testing the booster we were in an area with strong cell service. Noticing a 20% increase in upload & download speeds, we were glad to see a boost, but it wasn’t impressing us yet. A dramatic boost was documented at our boondocking site in West Glacier, Montana. We were receiving an unusable 3G T-Mobile connection before turning on the WeBoost. Once powered up, the boost gave us full bars of 4G LTE T-Mobile service coming in at -79dBm.

Recommended For: We think any traveling RVer could greatly benefit from the WeBoost Cell Booster. The company also makes a sleeker antenna for daily drivers. We use one for our truck and get great results out of it as well.

DSC02810.jpg

Our Personal Experience: Our primary use of 4G internet is for entertainment. On many occasions, the WeBoost allowed us to stream movies at locations we would’ve only been able to listen to pre-downloaded podcasts. We’ve also been able to upload YouTube videos more quickly because of the boosted signal.

by.jpg

For more information about WeBoost products visit RV Mobile Internet.

Thanks for reading our blog. Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or shopping Amazon through our link.

ee

AMA.jpg

Q&A – Living in 16 Feet – Fulltime RV Traveling

This is one of the most asked questions we receive – some ask it with a humorous tone, some ask it with concern, and some with pure bewilderment. Today we’ll break down the pros & cons of living in 16 feet and shed a little light on how we do it!

How Do You Live Fulltime in Such a Small Camper?

Keeping it 100%, we’ll start with the cons. The list isn’t too long, but there are some issues that make living in a small space pretty frustrating at times.

CON #1 – Storage

It’s pretty obvious; we don’t have much storage. This is particularly an issue in the kitchen. We aren’t able to travel with many pots & pans – or any other fun kitchen item. For Example, our biggest kitchen gadget – a NuWave oven – lives in the back of the truck.

Storage for our recycling is also an issue. The shower is filled up with cardboard boxes and tin cans.

CON #2 – Kitchen Counter & Sink

There’s probably one square foot of prep area on our counter. Cutting, dicing, mixing and blending are all risky propositions in the kitchen. Our sink is also very shallow and the water faucet has minimal clearance. We can fill up our tea pot, but not much else. Filling up a 20 oz. bottle from the kitchen faucet should be an Olympic event.

IMG_2122.jpg

CON #3 – Standing Area

We have one “standing area” in our camper – its a combination of a foyer, kitchen, and central hallway. This space is made for one person. When all three of us are in this space at the same time, someone (and sometimes everyone) ends up grumpy!

CON #4 – Bed & Dinette Combo

When hunting for the perfect camper, we really wanted a separate bed & dinette. But, this Fiber Stream was just too unique to pass up, so we made the sacrifice. Before we complain about the bed too much, let us state that it is huge! Its an oversized king bed – this was a big selling point. However, it takes a long time to break down and convert to the “U-shaped” dinette.

12347778_10103446398711221_1437355396343535641_n

CON #5 – Small Tank Capacity

Our fresh water tank holds 20 gallons and our grey water tank holds 7 gallons – you do the math! Emptying the grey water tank so often is annoying; we’ve become masters at conserving our water consumption.

Now it’s time for the PROs!

PRO #1 – King Size Bed

Its one of the only “upgrades” we made when moving into a camper. The bed gives us so much room to lounge – all three of us can get comfy without invaded the others space.

PRO #2 – Mobility

We’re able to navigate this camper into tight spots, down sketchy roads. The reward has been beautiful boondocking locations with complete privacy. The size it also helpful when visiting a busy parking lot are crowded gas station.

13924837_1738103089774850_6910016497064406020_n

PRO #3 – Consumer Awareness

Buying “stuff” is out of the question because we have no room to store it. We’re really aware of the fresh fruit & veggies as well – it forces us to eat all of our food before we buy more.

PRO #4 – Cost

As a rule of thumb, smaller campers cost less than big rigs. In fact, the tires on a Class A cost more than our entire camper! We’ve enjoyed the cost savings of our initial investment and on the continued maintenance.

PRO #5 – Easy to Clean

Even at its most cluttered, it only takes an hour to clean and re-organize the camper. Everything has a home, so if there are things scattered about, we know right where they belong.

PRO #6 – Relationship

Living in such a small space makes it difficult to hide bad vibes. If we’re angry, frustrated or whatever, the small space makes us talk about the issue and work it our pretty quickly. We also really like each others company – we’re two introverts that enjoy solitude and reflection, but also like getting out and exploring.

IMG_5386

PRO #7 – Encourages Exploration

Even though our living space is 16 feet long, our backyard is the entire world! We love seeing new places and learning about history and culture. Our small camper reminds us daily to get out and explore!

Thanks for reading our blog. Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or shopping Amazon through our link.

ee

AMA.jpg

Free Camping at Glacier National Park

Our quest for free camping continued as we approached Glacier National Park. Campendium and FreeCampsites offered a handful of choices – and, although difficult to drive to, the first site we visited was amazing!

Here’s the breakdown:

Name: Blankenship Bridge SW or Middle Fork Flathead River

Location: Columbia Falls, MT

GPS: 48.4641, -114.0726

Accessibility: The road in is narrow and has multiple dips. We were able to navigate it without a problem, and in fact there was a 30’ class-A that was able to make it, but we recommend walking the path first to view the conditions.

13924837_1738103089774850_6910016497064406020_n.jpg

Date/Temp: We camped at Blankenship Bridge for three nights in mid-August. The highs were in the low 90s and the lows were in the mid 50s.

Amenities: This is dry camping with no amenities. There’s a vault toilet on the opposite side of the bridge in an adjacent county park. We filled up our 6 gallon water jug at a nearby gas station.

Noise: This area sees a lot of traffic and is noisy during the day. The noise isn’t unpleasant though, and at night it becomes quiet very quickly.

IMG_8414.jpg

Wifi/Cell: Our WeBoost OTR Cell Booster came in handy at this location. It was able to boost the T-Mobile Hotspot from no service to 4 bars of 4G LTE. Our AT&T service received a solid 3G connection.

Grocery/Errands: Downtown Columbia Falls is 10 miles away. It has all the basic shopping we needed – a grocery store, health food store, post office, multiple gas stations & restaurants.

Dog Friendly: This boondocking location is very dog friendly. River loved playing in the water and roaming around the rocky terrain. There were many unleashed dogs here, but there owners seemed to have pretty good control.

Entertainment: Glacier National Park is the main attraction in the area. We haven’t explored it yet, but plan to in the next few days. We really enjoyed the Farmer’s Market & Concert held ever Thursday in Columbia Falls.

Thanks for reading our blog. Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or shopping Amazon through our link.

ee

AMA.jpg

Fireside Resort in Wilson, Wyoming

After boondocking at Yellowstone and Grand Teton, we were ready for full hookups and a few extra amenities. We pulled into Fireside Resort in Wilson, Wyoming; it was the perfect spot to kick back, relax, and explore the town of Jackson.

Here’s the breakdown:

Location: Wilson, Wyoming

GPS: 43.52052, -110.84185

Date/Temp: We camped at Fireside Resort during the first week of August. The weather was ideal with highs in the 80s and lows in the upper 40s.

Amenities: This park is beautiful – the landscaping is thoughtful and well maintained, the sites are level, and the facilities are very clean. Our site was shaded, private, and had full hookups. Fireside Resort offers great recycling options, as well. This is a huge perk for us, so often campgrounds (and communities) offer no recycling.

IMG_8081.jpg

Wifi/Cell: Fireside offers fast, reliable wifi. We were able to stream movies, upload files, and surf the web without interruption. Our T-Mobile hotspot received 4G LTE, and our AT&T service received a few bars of 4G.

Errands/Grocery: Downtown Wilson is just two miles from Fireside. They offer a few small shops and a post office. If you have major grocery shopping to do, Jackson (5 miles from camp) has multiple grocers, gas stations, and a lot of tourist shopping.

Dog Friendly: Fireside Resort is dog friendly. The park offers free doggy-bags throughout the grounds and has small trash cans to throw away the used bags. Our grassy site was large enough to play fetch with River. The town of Jackson is very dog friendly. Many shops allow dogs to browse with their owners and most restaurants with outdoor seating allow dogs as well!

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 11.29.08 PM.png

Entertainment: There’s so much to do within a few miles from the Resort. We really enjoyed exploring the town of Jackson. It’s a unique tourist town with some real charm and personality. The Grand Teton National Park is also nearby. We drove the scenic loop and snapped some great photos. If you don’t want to drive, there’s a walking path from Fireside Resort to multiple restaurants and bars.

Thanks for reading our blog. Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or shopping Amazon through our link.

ee

AMA.jpg

Disclaimer – A big thanks to Fireside Resort for allowing us to camp free of charge. As usual our thoughts and opinions are our own and not swayed or purchased. We just like to explore and discover new places!

July Expense Report – Fulltime RV Traveling

July was a month full of travel and exploration. We trekked through middle America, crossing the Continental Divide in Wyoming. We saw animals we’ve never seen before and visited three National Parks! Months like this are always amazing, and often rough on the wallet.

We did keep expenses under control, but spent a few hundred more than last month.

Here’s the breakdown:

Camping Fees

July was the first month we spent $0 on camping; this was a huge accomplishment for us! We took advantage of many free camping locations and traded our services at a few campgrounds.

We dry-camped for 15 days, had partial hookups for 12 days and had full hookups for 4 days.

  • Total Camping Expenses: $0 ($51 previous month)
  • Daily Camping Average: $0 ($1.70 previous month)

SONY DSC

Food Expenses

We stuck to our normal diet this month and went out to eat a couple times. As we visited many national parks, well-priced grocery stores were hard to find. Our overall food costs are slightly higher than the previous month, but the daily average is lower.

  • Total Food Expenses: $543 ($541 previous month)
  • Daily Food Average: $17.52 ($18.03 previous month)

IMG_8176.jpg

Gas Expenses

We did a lot of driving in July. We began the month in eastern Wisconsin and ended up at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The 15 days of dry camping also cost us in gas for the generator.

  • Total Gas Expenses: $470 ($369 previous month)
  • Daily Gas Average: $15.16 ($12.30 previous month)

IMG_3188

Camper & Truck Maintencance

We had a few minor expenses for regular maintenance and small unexpected repairs. The truck received an oil change, the camper got a new bearing protector, and a few supplies were purchased.

  • Total Maintenance Expenses: $58 ($0 previous month)
  • Daily Maintenance Average: $1.87 ($0 previous month)

Other Expenses

This category is our catch-all section; in July it consisted of park admission fees, parking fees, pet supplies, propane, and laundry.

  • Total Other Expenses: $172 ($84 previous month)
  • Daily Other Average: $5.55 ($2.80 previous month)

IMG_7658 (1)

The Monthly Cost of RV Living

We consider July to be a successful month. Even though gas expenses were higher, we managed to camp for 31 days without paying once!

After the “July Living Expenses” line, you’ll notice the “Fixed Expenses” line. Fixed Expenses is the combination of our unchanging monthly bills – insurance, internet, cell, student loan, and subscription services.

  • Total June Living Expenses: $1243 
  • Total Fixed Expenses: $400
  • Total Cost of June RV Living: $1643
  • Daily Average: $53

Thanks for reading our blog. Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or shopping Amazon through our link.

ee

AMA.jpg

Free Camping at Grand Teton National Park

After leaving Yellowstone, we drove 40 miles south to Moose, Wyoming. Thanks to Campendium, we were able to find tons of free camping with beautiful views of the Grand Tetons.

Here’s the Breakdown

Location: Moose, WY

GPS:43.7645, -110.5558

Date/Temp: We camped in the Bridger-Teton National Forest for four nights. The days were sunny and dry, reaching 90 degrees; the lows dipped down into the 30s.

DSC03088.jpg

Amenities: This is a primitive campsite, offering no amenities. We filled up our water at a gas station spigot inside the National Park. The boondocking site does provide a bear box for tent campers.

Noise: Our site was very quiet and tucked near the back of the grounds. Multiple tent campers passed through during our stay, but none of them were rowdy or loud.

Wifi/Cell: We received full bars of 3G T-Mobile service, and one bar of AT&T 3G. The cell service seemed throttled, this could be due to the nearby forest fires affecting the towers or being altered for emergency use.

DSC03107 (1).jpg

Grocery/Errands: The town of Jackson is 20 miles south of the campsite. We drove there twice to go to the grocery store. Its a well populated tourist town and offers lots of shopping, but its all a bit overpriced.

Dog Friendly: The Bridger-Teton National Forest is dog friendly. Here, unlike the National Park, you’re allowed to hike with your dog. Our campsite was grassy and spacious – River’s ideal playing environment. 

Entertainment: The main attraction is Grand Teton National Park. It’s northern entrance is just a few miles away. We’ve been enjoying the National Forest so much, that we’ve yet to explore the National Park. We’ll make our way over there in the next few days!

Thanks for reading our blog. Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or shopping Amazon through our link.

bn

AMA.jpg

Free Camping at Yellowstone National Park

As we drove away from the Black Hills of South Dakota, the wonders of Yellowstone National Park were on our horizon. We never know what to expect when traveling to popular parks during peak season, but we hoped to find an awesome free campsite.

Snake River was pretty amazing and located just a few miles from the park’s southern entrance.

Here’s the Breakdown

Location: John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway

GPS: 44.097, -110.689446

Date/Temp: We camped here for two nights in early August. The highs were in the high 80s, but the evenings dropped into the mid 40s.

Amenities: The campsite offers an amazingly clean vault toilet, multiple trash receptacles, and two bear boxes. There is no water on site, but just down the road you can get some water from the side of the Flag Ranch store.

IMG_7621.jpg

Noise: Our site was very quiet. We were the only RV campers, but many tent campers passed through during our short stay.

Wifi/Cell: There is no wifi or cellular service here unless you have satellite internet. It was a dead-zone for AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verzion.

Grocery/Errands: Your best bet is to stock up on groceries before setting up camp. Once you’re here, the closest options are at Flag Ranch or inside Yellowstone – all of which are overpriced.

Dog Friendly: Snake Creek was a great place for our pup to play. She had plenty of room to run around on her line, and she enjoyed getting wet in the river.

IMG_7658 (1).jpg

Entertainment: Yellowstone National Park is a stone’s throw away. We only explored the park for a day, but there is enough to do there to be entertained for weeks!

Thanks for reading our blog. Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or shopping Amazon through our link.

bn

AMA.jpg

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 189 other followers