We have accomplished the Maiden Voyage, albeit a brief and barely packed for it, voyage!
We took a small amount of storage items and a shelving unit about four hours North and spent the weekend with my Father at his new place.
Dad bought a few acres several years ago and has been building his dream… wind powered, geothermal cooling, super-insulated, dual voltage 120v and 12v systems, windmill water well, livestock, garden plans, the whole shootin’ match! And he is building his home, by hand and mostly by himself!
He recently completed the garage and storage building, and has generously offered us a place to stash the things we simply cannot get rid of in the Minimalism Purge.
We only packed overnight bags, dog food, the oven, and enough food to contribute a couple meals so we could test out the camp stove and fridge under more “Real World” conditions.
We took off on Friday, after Rock wrapped up work… and were on the road just in time for Rush Hour traffic.
Open the Curtains!
The first noticeable shortcoming was that the poor dogs were behind the privacy curtain, and roasting since the A/C didn’t make it through the curtain. So we adjusted fire – opened the curtains, turned on the two little circulation fans, and moved the A/C to blow down on the floor, instead of up on us in the manner in which we are accustomed.
One of us must stay in the van with the dogs, while the other one runs into the store to grab beer. OK, this one was pretty much expected – but multiply that by six months. This might be something to consider a little more deeply.
Driving Four Hours
The drive was blissful. As the city fell behind us, we felt our stress drain and our spirits soar! The van handles wonderfully, especially for having the aerodynamics of a cinder block! We could notice the additional weight on the roof, but it didn’t feel as if our center of gravity had been raised up too high. MPG was a reasonable 16.3, which included 27 days of pulling The Schooner out of the driveway and then backing it back in as we let the commuter car leave daily. It was a warm 95 degrees F when we left home, and while the A/C didn’t make the back of the van chilly, it cooled it enough that the dogs weren’t panting or approaching heatstroke.
Out in the Country
We arrived pretty late, it was 10 p.m. or so when we got there. Rock only unloaded the headboard and footboard to our mattress (which now lives across the back of the Schooner) so we could used the bed. Dad joined us in the Prairie Schooner and we all enjoyed a couple beers while the dogs ran off some energy.
The silence was almost deafening… no car alarms, no tires doing burnouts, no sirens, no shouting neighbors, no screaming children, no gunshots, no police helicopters! My ears almost hurt from the silence! I always feel drained in the city, and recharged in the countryside.
Mosquito Netting Fail
I had, years ago, put mosquito netting around my daughter’s canopy bed. It draped beautifully, laying in puddles on the floor in the doghair and dirt. For some reason, I still had this mosquito netting, although her canopy bed sold several months ago… So, I figured, this would be GREAT to drape over the sliding side door and across the back barn-style doors of the Prairie Schooner. We will need netting of some sort, so why not use the mosquito netting that we already have? Right?
Oh my… Ornamental Netting is not mosquito-proof. It is not moth-proof even! We had a gajillion bugs come stampeding in the van with us! They were everywhere! In our hair. In our mouths as we laughed. Diving into eyeballs. It was horrid! LOL! We had to move the little Luci Light over to the opposite side of the van from where we were all three sitting (because y’know, the North Wing is so removed from where we were seated and all that), to draw the bugs away!
The Dometic Fridge held a weekend of food wonderfully! (We didn’t bring it with us, but a full gallon of milk fits in the bottom, with one of those big jugs of OJ! I’ve been using the fridge when grocery shopping.) We took a couple packs of brats, buns, milk in a pint Mason jar, cheese, sour cream, and a couple six packs of Shiner Black beer.Everything fit well and it kept a constant temp once the beer got chilled.
Sleeping in a Metal Box
We went to bed that night, happy to be on our first road trip, and exhausted from a long day of packing, preparing, working, and driving. We slept soundly and deeply in the Prairie Schooner… until the temperature dropped to about 42 degrees F overnight. It got a little chilly in there. Which made for wonderful snuggling… (screen fades)
- Don’t touch your bare toes to the metal wall in your sleep when it is 42 degrees outside.
- The inside of the windshield fogs up with four mammals breathing overnight.
- Dog Toots seem to be amplified in the moisture of the breath-laden air. <gag>
Its a Beautiful Day
The next morning came early compared to our usual schedule… we were both up early! The dogs enjoyed romping with their cousin, Country Mouse, as she showed them all the wonderful things dogs like about living in the country. Big fields to sniff, a creek in which to dig and splash, ants and flowers and bugs and trees. Then there are also a couple cows and three donkeys…
Breakfast worked great in the Camp Chef Oven! Dad liked it, and we all polished our plates.
A Day of Play
We unloaded the van, stored the items, ate lots, drank well water, enjoyed the sunshine, fresh air, grass, trees, and silence. We helped Dad with a couple little nothing projects. Fed the livestock. Watched the dogs romp and frolic – City Mice discovering nature.
Dad uses insulation board, much like we put in the ceiling of the Prairie Schooner, on his home. He and Rock cut out some and made plugs for the rear windows on the van. I’ll post the project notes and pictures in another post. They turned out well.
A Change in the Weather
A front blew in, and BLEW is the correct terminology… it brought with it some gale force winds! The next day, when we left, we had some serious crosswinds that buffeted us around until we got below the front line.
We filled up again, and with highway driving netted ourselves a respectable 17.8 MPG. This is better than we had anticipated for such a large and unwieldy vehicle!
As we drove back into the city, we both lamented the fact that we needed to return… we both are ready to be out of this place and to move on to the next phase of our life. When we pulled back in the driveway, we were greeted by the next door neighbor’s ceaselessly yapping little POS dog.
We were greatly pleased with the efficiency of our solar system, the economy of our power usage, the handling of the van itself, the plans we have for storage and supplies, and are really looking forward to living our life in The Prairie Schooner!
She performed admirably during her Maiden Voyage!
Thanks for following our blog! Subscribe to be kept up-to-date on the Prairie Schooner and our frugal van-dwelling adventure.
We would love to hear from you – drop us a comment below.