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21 Years in a 1973 Dodge Van




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#31 Zoomie

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Posted March 22 2008 - 06:14 PM

Heh. The first pic looks like the "Bog 'n' Grog" I used to attend in my younger days.
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#32 TwoDogs

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Posted March 22 2008 - 06:26 PM

Heh. The first pic looks like the "Bog 'n' Grog" I used to attend in my younger days.

Probably pretty much the same thing you see here. We call them "Wash Crawlers." They frequently run that wash for about a mile and a half upstream. Surprisingly enough, they never leave beer cans or trash behind.

I stayed up on the hill above that wash for years. Long enough that my van is parked there in the shot of the area on GoogleEarth. The higher altitude shots are to give you an idea of my "property."

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#33 guy

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Posted March 23 2008 - 04:10 AM

this has to be one of the more interesting posts i've seen for a while

#34 Barbuchon

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Posted March 23 2008 - 11:59 AM

if not, the best.

#35 TwoDogs

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Posted March 23 2008 - 08:49 PM

this has to be one of the more interesting posts i've seen for a while


if not, the best.


Thanks guys. I'm just hoping to provide some info and highlight some of the neater aspects of being poor financially but rich in blessings. I don't think that I could live any other way now. I'm never bored and things are always changing. Usually for the better.

I did take a bunch of pics of the inside of the van today but don't have time to upload them and post. I had to change the van over to "Royal Carriage" mode 'cause my California Hippie Chicklet flies in tomorrow to spend the week in the boonies with me. That means moving stuff around and putting a front seat back on the passenger side of the van.

I'm only here on the weekends when I'm at the welding shop, so if I'm slow to respond, that's the reason.
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#36 AFierceInvalid

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Posted March 24 2008 - 01:36 AM

You are an inspiration to us all. I've been wanting to tramp for a while but haven't had the guts nor resources to do it.

"If you want to see God, kill desires. Desires are in the mind. When you have a desire for something, don't act on it and it will go away. If you desire to drink this cup of tea, don't, and the desire for it will fall away." - Neem Karoli Baba


#37 Olympic-Bullshitter

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Posted March 24 2008 - 05:39 AM

Under the waterfalls looks like a great spot.

#38 Barbuchon

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Posted March 24 2008 - 08:03 AM

I have made a lot of road trips, but not all year long. Would love too, but I would have to know about mechanics first, than I'll consider... Now there's the price of gaz that you gotta think about.

Right now my ride is a subaru legacy GT (wagon) wich is pretty decent for offroad and give plenty of space, not as much as a van would but is very less expensive on the gaz. without the backseats theres enought spaces for a bed and lots of gears. On the short therm it does the trick... but hey, it's not 21 years looool.

I've been more thinking about traveling on a semi-cross motorcycle (you know the one that you can road offroad and on the road)

#39 TwoDogs

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Posted March 29 2008 - 04:39 PM

Okay...here are some interior shots.

#1. Here is where the front seat once was. I built shelves that bolt to the floor utilizing the seat mounting holes. There's mostly automotive related parts and tools kept below and CDs in the boxes on the top shelf. Canned goods and such are in the cardboard box alongside the shelves. Dogfood and odds and ends in front.

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#2. Five 1 gallon water jugs sitting next to a red 6 gallon water jug (almost hidden from sight in this shot). My little DC black and white TV, two coolers that hold misc. items are sitting on a steel tubing framed table I built. The wooden table on the right sits on a three drawer toolbox and holds one blue, square, 5 gallon water jug. The top is hinged and that's my "junk drawer." The small, red, topless cooler in front of the wooden table holds more odds and ends. The cooler on the floor between the steel table and the wooden one actually holds food.

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#3. A shot from the bed. You can see that I've got a pretty narrow aisle and have to step over the center cooler each time I move from front to back and vice versa. in the left foreground is my "end/dinner/TV table" and is actually a 10 drawer Craftsman toolbox sitting on top of a tubular steel frame that I built. Angle iron securely holds the bottom corners of the toolbox and the frame extends for a foot beyond the front of the toolbox to keep it from tipping over if I hit the brakes hard. In front of the toolbox, a 5 gallon bucket holds my roll-up solar panel. I keep loaves of bread inside the solar panel to keep them safe and utilize that space when driving somewhere. Two fold up camp chairs share that space and the woven plastic dogfood bag is my trash can.

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#4. In this shot you can see 4 of my 8 stereo speakers and the rolled up army blanket that I can unroll on really cold nights so that between myself and the dogs' body heat, and the insulation behind the panelling, the van stays pretty comfortable.

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#40 TwoDogs

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Posted March 29 2008 - 04:48 PM

#5. Here's the bed. The front 1/3 of the bed top is hinged as I said earlier in this thread and the area beneath is filled to the brim with odds and ends. As you can well see...just about every inch of space is used but I'm still allowed some moving around room. Smaller than, but still WAAAAAAAAY more comfortable than a jail cell. It's small...but it's Home Sweet Home.

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#41 Barbuchon

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Posted March 31 2008 - 01:10 PM

nice set up man... you might don't wanna answer this... but I'll give a try... do you actually keep any weapons? What's your stories around this? I'm sure some shits happened... maybe not... but that would be kinda rare I guess.

#42 TwoDogs

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Posted April 04 2008 - 07:06 PM

nice set up man... you might don't wanna answer this... but I'll give a try... do you actually keep any weapons? What's your stories around this? I'm sure some shits happened... maybe not... but that would be kinda rare I guess.

It's good to be armed when you're away from civilization. (Actually...it's probably better to be armed IN "civilization.") I've had run-ins with drunks out four-wheeling in the dead of night...but nothing serious. The thing about my van and the way that I look is that it seems to make people assume that I'm armed with everything short of a 50 cal. machinegun. I don't bother to try and convince them otherwise.

I've always told people that if someone camps within a mile of me that I go and introduce myself, then inquire, "Say...are you people hiding out from the cops too?"
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#43 stalk

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Posted April 04 2008 - 09:04 PM

Hey twodogs,
I plan on moving into a van soon.
How do you keep clean?
Are there rivers out there?
I'm going to be starting out in california,
and without friends showers
I won't really know where to clean myself
I'd like to get away from the city
and go somewhere far away
and beautiful
where I can just bathe in the water........

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#44 TwoDogs

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Posted April 05 2008 - 02:27 PM

Hey twodogs,
I plan on moving into a van soon.
How do you keep clean?
Are there rivers out there?
I'm going to be starting out in california,
and without friends showers
I won't really know where to clean myself
I'd like to get away from the city
and go somewhere far away
and beautiful
where I can just bathe in the water........

Solar shower bags are cheap and even in the winter (Here in AZ.) if the sun is shining they get pretty warm. I'm not too far from the Verde River here in Central AZ. There's a good 8 or 9 months of river bathing weather here. I use biodegradable soap and shampoo.

The Southern and Central California coast, unfortunately, are primarily "occupied territories" as far as I'm concerned. There isn't much in the way of public land where you can go and camp for free. Northern CA. is better and in the Eastern part, like along 395, there's Nat'l Forest land where you won't get bothered.

I'm still stuck on AZ. where a huge percentage of the land area is Public Land, whether it be Nat'l Forest or BLM. You can have it all...rivers, lakes, mountains or desert...whatever suits you. Sometimes, like where I'm situated, all these different terrains within a 50 mile radius. As I stated earlier in this thread...I've only had one run-in with a Forest Service Ranger in almost 22 years.
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#45 stalk

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Posted April 05 2008 - 02:29 PM

good idea.
arizona sounds and looks beautiful, man.
thank you

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#46 TwoDogs

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Posted April 05 2008 - 02:36 PM

New Mexico's really cool too. I'm planning a trip there for this Summer. A huge amount of Public Land there also.
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#47 McLeodGanja

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Posted April 05 2008 - 02:45 PM

Respect my man!

You is 56 and I'm 35, which means you started living in a van when you were about my age. Funnily enough I have been thinking of doing the same thing, I am fed up living with people, who make too much noise, or in noisy neighbourhoods. I figure if I have a small house that has wheels on it I am therefore free to live where I please, more or less. I wonder if I will do this, I am currently working in Holland and saving some money so maybe at the end of it all I will buy myself a second hand van, they are pretty expensive though. Who knows maybe in 21 years I will be saying the same thing.

Some guy at my work told me that there have been a couple of cases whereby people who live in vans in Holland got murdered as they lay sleeping, and robbed, so that kind of puts me off. Having a couple of dogs though is a good idea that would offer some protection against intruders.
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#48 TwoDogs

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Posted April 06 2008 - 10:25 AM

Some guy at my work told me that there have been a couple of cases whereby people who live in vans in Holland got murdered as they lay sleeping, and robbed, so that kind of puts me off. Having a couple of dogs though is a good idea that would offer some protection against intruders.

That happens everywhere. There'll always be tales of violence, but think about it...the stories of people being murdered in their beds is MUCH more common in "civilization." I think that you'll find that things like that happen more frequently when someone is hanging out close to a town or city. I rarely see other people out where I live because I'm pretty far out in the boonies. Criminals are generally lazy and their crimes are ones of opportunity. If you are way out there where no one expects to find people, you probably won't run into someone looking to take advantage of someone.

You can't let fear keep you from doing what you want to do. If you do...then you've already lost the battle to be free.
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#49 McLeodGanja

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Posted April 06 2008 - 10:37 AM

Wise words indeed. I am going to live like this sometime in the future, when I have enough money behind me. I think in Holland, with it being so densely populated no opportune killer thief has to go far to find a camper van. It is not something I am so worried about though really. When I do it I will go back to Scotland I think anyway. You are right there are always stories, remember the couple who got murdered in the Australian out back a few years ago.
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#50 TwoDogs

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Posted April 06 2008 - 11:13 AM

Good luck to you. I hope that you do in fact give it a try. I couldn't live any other way now. Every day I see something that inspires me and puts me in total awe of the wonders of nature and the complex simplicity (oxymoronic, but true.) that ties everything together in this world.
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#51 Barbuchon

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Posted April 06 2008 - 04:19 PM

How's your romance life?

#52 McLeodGanja

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Posted April 06 2008 - 04:37 PM

Good question.

Good luck to you. I hope that you do in fact give it a try. I couldn't live any other way now. Every day I see something that inspires me and puts me in total awe of the wonders of nature and the complex simplicity (oxymoronic, but true.) that ties everything together in this world.


I kind of got inspired to do this after living in Holland for a couple of years, after experiencing about as many problems with and trying to find accomodation than I have ever experienced in my life 3 times over. I was living in squats a lot, and loads of the people I lived with had vans. Facing perpetual imminent eviction, work coming and going, I eventually thought fuck it why I don't I just save up and buy a bloody good van. It's cheaper than a house and it doesn't require static land.

I do wonder though whether it might end up being a folly investment, what with the rising price of oil and that. I don't know I've heard lots of things, some people say there is plenty of oil, some say it's running out way faster than we think. I am inclined to think we might have a problem on our hands, owning t the sheer momentum with which we appear to be guzzling it up, and on an accelerating state.

No diesel and your left with a tin house in the middle of nowhere.

It is a realistic thing to consider though, isn't it? What if they started rationing it, could be a slight problem.

It's a choice between that and an old bothy in the middle of the Highlands, kind of left with the same problem though.
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#53 TwoDogs

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Posted April 06 2008 - 08:19 PM

How's your romance life?

It was nonexistant for many years. Not because there weren't opportunities...I actually never followed up on many of them. I enjoyed the solitude after many years of playing head games with women just for a little bumping of the uglies. 3 years ago I got in touch with my sweetie from 1971 via the computer. She teaches college in California. We've been doing a long distance thing since then. She comes out here and spends a week or two every couple of months or I go see her. Sort of the best of both worlds. I still get my alone time and a bit of the other stuff too.

I do wonder though whether it might end up being a folly investment, what with the rising price of oil and that. I don't know I've heard lots of things, some people say there is plenty of oil, some say it's running out way faster than we think. I am inclined to think we might have a problem on our hands, owning t the sheer momentum with which we appear to be guzzling it up, and on an accelerating state.

No diesel and your left with a tin house in the middle of nowhere.

It is a realistic thing to consider though, isn't it? What if they started rationing it, could be a slight problem.

You could get hit by a piece of space debris too. I'm not trying to be a smartass. There are a million reasons to do, or not to do what you want in this life. Me...I never look at the reasons not to live my life the way I want to live it. If we run out of oil...so be it. I'll deal with that problem when it arises.

Today...I'm FREE!!!
The internet allows me to meet every butthead in the world that I won't get to meet in person.

#54 McLeodGanja

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Posted April 07 2008 - 02:57 AM

It was nonexistant for many years. Not because there weren't opportunities...I actually never followed up on many of them. I enjoyed the solitude after many years of playing head games with women just for a little bumping of the uglies. 3 years ago I got in touch with my sweetie from 1971 via the computer. She teaches college in California. We've been doing a long distance thing since then. She comes out here and spends a week or two every couple of months or I go see her. Sort of the best of both worlds. I still get my alone time and a bit of the other stuff too.


I can relate to that a lot. My own space has become a lot more important to me than sowing my wild oats these days. I just can't be bothered with the whole dating nonsense and all that, it's bullshit.

You could get hit by a piece of space debris too. I'm not trying to be a smartass. There are a million reasons to do, or not to do what you want in this life. Me...I never look at the reasons not to live my life the way I want to live it. If we run out of oil...so be it. I'll deal with that problem when it arises.

Today...I'm FREE!!!


Oh don't worry. I have rarely ever had the sense to consider the consequences of my actions any longer than a day to come. Well, I exaggerate slightly.

I once packed in a job I hated after three days, on an hourly rate of 27 UK pounds an hour, and ran away to India for six months, then came back an inherited about 1 year of misery and debt, stuck living with my parents for most of that time until they eventually got sick of me and bailed me out to Edinburgh.

I don't regret it one bit though, I felt I had to do it, and I came back richer for the experience.
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#55 Barbuchon

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Posted April 07 2008 - 06:49 AM

What were your hardest times you had to deal with?

#56 sonik

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Posted April 07 2008 - 04:08 PM

Very cool stuff man, you ever hook up with other folk and do some caravaning?

Ever been to Mexico?

As for the oil thing it certainly won't be running out during any of our lifetimes. The price of it however....

#57 Barbuchon

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Posted April 07 2008 - 05:04 PM

It's getting really expensive up here in Montreal. They say it's gonna be between 1,50$/l to 2,00$/l cdn by the end of spring. That change of price is gonna make considerable changes in our lifes...

#58 scatteredleaves

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Posted April 08 2008 - 10:09 AM

wow, twodogs, your thread is very inspiring!
it looks like i will be getting a small school bus soon for free from the camp i work at (so excited). its a ford econoline f350, it looks like a 79 to me, but im not sure yet. im gonna take it for a spin today. its been well maintained over the years so i feel pretty good about it.
id like to be on the road by august or so and maybe head south for the winter. the bus is in original form with seats and all and i have no experience with doing anything like a camper conversion. im so excited htough. any tips you have would be so much appreciated. can you tell me a bit more about insulation? the paneling in your van looks great. i dont know if it would be practical in my bus, but i live in canada, so its something id be interested in doing.
id also love to have a little solar setup like yours, but thats another thing i dont have a clue about.
what do you use for cooking?
what kind of food do you keep on hand?
where do you get your water/how fast do you go through it?
what can you reccomend for someone who has next to no mechanical experience?
is there any kind of work i should have done on my bus before i take it on the road?
anything you could give tips on would be great :)
thanks so much for posting this, you are inspiring many people.

#59 TwoDogs

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Posted April 11 2008 - 07:31 PM

I can relate to that a lot. My own space has become a lot more important to me than sowing my wild oats these days. I just can't be bothered with the whole dating nonsense and all that, it's bullshit.

I think I need to expand on what I posted a bit so that I don't sound quite so misogynistic. First off...I grew up in the Sixties and therefore had my share of sexual experiences...and 14 other people's shares also. Good times. Prior to my deciding to live in a van in the boonies I was meeting women mostly in bars. There were no real quality relationships being gleaned there. Just a lot of hangovers and remorse when I woke up in the mornings. I quit drinking just before I bought the van and haven't had a drink since. 22 years and one month ago was my last.

It seems that there are no shortage of women that find the Gypsy Life intriguing. It's just that it also seems that the women are a lot younger than I am. I find that there's not too much to talk about. I also think that as I get older that I find that I need more from a relationship than just sex.
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#60 TwoDogs

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Posted April 11 2008 - 07:53 PM

What were your hardest times you had to deal with?

When I first moved into the van I didn't have two nickels to rub together. I did some Flea Markets and landscaping jobs to get by. I was paying my insurance by the month and I never missed a payment. It was odd...every single time I needed cash something came my way. I guess it really wasn't that hard a time afterall.

Very cool stuff man, you ever hook up with other folk and do some caravaning?

Ever been to Mexico?

As for the oil thing it certainly won't be running out during any of our lifetimes. The price of it however....


On rare occasions I've caravanned with others. Usually as a tourguide for people I've met online.

I've never taken the van to Mexico. It would take me days to put everything back in it's place if the van was searched.

what do you use for cooking?
what kind of food do you keep on hand?
where do you get your water/how fast do you go through it?
what can you reccomend for someone who has next to no mechanical experience?
is there any kind of work i should have done on my bus before i take it on the road?
anything you could give tips on would be great


I rarely cook. I keep a lot of canned goods: chili, tuna, pasta of sorts and a lot of sardines and kippered herring. I make a lot of sandwiches, mostly. On rare occasions I build a fire and have hotdogs or hamburgers. If you are going to get a small bus, you'd probably have plenty of room for a Coleman stove. I just don't have the room to spare for a stove, pots, pans and dishes.

For years I got my water from a spring but the drought has taken care of that. I fill up at the welding shop where I work the occasional weekend or at a friend's place in town. I have at times bought water from a water store or filled jugs at the machine at a supermarket. On average I go through about 7 gallons a week. At times I carry 22 gallons, sometimes 32 if I'm out prospecting.

I would try and find a maintenance manual on the type of bus that you're getting if I were you. I would also try and have a friend that knows basic mechanics teach you those basics. Tune-up, oil changing, Fluid checks, lubing the suspension, steering linkage and u-joints, wheel removal and replacement in case of flats and all that good stuff. I would also have a mechanic that you trust give the entire thing a "once-over" and have everything that he feels needs to be done taken care of.

I hope that this helps. I also hope that you do the road thing...it's a wonderful experience. If you ever make it down this way, give me a shout and I'll show you some Native American ruins and some views that'll knock your socks off.
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