January 2021 Update

Featured

Mary Mitchell with corgis Annie and Abigail
Abigail and Annie were not being cooperative for this photo session.

Hey there friends out on the internet. How were your holidays? I hope everyone has remained healthy, that you are managing financially, and that you are able to see your loved ones.

All’s well here. As you can see, Annie and I have a new puppy. I was searching for a dog to adopt on Craig’s List and happened on a Corgi puppy. Our whole household is getting out more. No more sitting in front of the computer for hours for me. Sometimes Annie is very happy for the company and sometimes not.

Abigail and Annie on the floor in my studio.
Annie likes it best when Abigail is contained.
Abigail and Annie guarding the garden against squirrels.
Abigail and Annie guarding the garden against squirrels.
Both dogs still fit on my chair during coffee time in the morning.
Both dogs still fit on my chair during coffee time in the morning.

We’ve taken one day-trip together. You might have seen the above YouTube video about it.

Making YouTube videos has been my Stay-at-home thing. I run two channels. One is for my RV stuff called Rambling in Ramsey. I posted this video a vew months ago about converting my Ram ProMaster City into a camperfan without building anything or making permanent changes to the van.

I haven’t taken any overnight trips in a while because of the pandemic. Sadly, that means I haven’t seen my family in Southern California for a while. Real bummer. But the grandson who lives near me in Marin County loves toodling around town in Ramsey. Our favorite haunts are still the Railroad Station and the Dump.

I also have a YouTube channel by my author name, Mary Ames Mitchell. I post stuff about my books and genealogy research on that one. At the beginning of 2020, I created a series of videos about book formatting. You can access them from the tab above “Self-Publishing Guides.” But I need to redo them using a more updated verrsion of Microsoft Word.

My current project is a video about human rights. For several months, I’ve been working on a video about my great-great grandparents Charles and Fanny Ames. They were human rights activists in the 1800s. Originally, I only intended to compile the historical research that I had in my possession so that the rest of my family could access it. But as I gathered letters and notes, I wanted to know more details.

Researching through Charles and Fanny’s eyes, I’ve learned how interconnected the abolition and women’s rights movements were, how the Unitarians were involved, and what exactly heppened between 1833 (the founding of the American Abolition Society) and 1920 (the ratification of the 19th amendment). It’s amazing how many parallels I’ve found to what is going on today with human rights on all fronts (race, sex, and religion). Now I know how the term liberal came about.

I’ll let you know when I finish. Meanwhile, stay safe and be kind to each other.

Meet Ramsey Junior

Hi

I haven’t posted for a while because my van life has been in transition. I traded Ramsey, my fully-stocked 21-foot Class B that got 14 miles per gallon, for a small cargo van that fits in my garage and (supposedly) gets 28 miles per gallon on the open road.

I made the decision to make the swap after taking a trip around the Northwest last August. As you can see from this map, I visited many National Park sites. What a treat that was!

2019-Aug-Map-NorthwestNatParks

But on my way home I was wishing I didn’t burn so much fossil fuel while enjoying the scenery. I was coveting smaller vans. Driving Ramsey around for two years taught me what I need and what I don’t.

  • I never used Ramsey’s shower.
  • I only need one burner on the stove.
  • I don’t need a generator and air conditioner.
  • I don’t need a sink and complicated plumbing.
  • It is just as easy to use a bucket as it is to use the toilet that requires black tanks.
  • Since I have a wonderful home where I can entertain, I don’t need my RV to be a place to cook elaborate meals. Besides, one of the fun things about traveling is trying out local restaurants.
  • I don’t need a whale beached on my driveway when I’m not using it. It blocked access to my garage.

I suddenly knew I was done with my Class B, even though the PleasureWay Lexor is an absolutely beautiful mini-RV.

Fortunately, a cute couple in Oregon was ready to start where I’d left off and purchased Ramsey from me. I put 2/3 of the cash back in the bank and used the rest to purchase Ramsey Junior, a ProMaster City cargo van – the passenger wagon version.

I did a lot of planning before making that purchase.

  • I took all the items that I had had in Ramsey that I thought I would need in a small campervan and placed them in a pile in the middle of my garage.
  • I put the smallest items in 11″ x 17″ plastic tubs that I could stack.
  • I obtained measurements for self-inflating mattresses from the Internet.
  • I got measurements for the cargo spaces in Ram ProMasters, Ford Transits, and Nissan cargo vans.
  • I marked the spaces out in my garage and made mock-ups of how everything would be placed in that space.
  • I measured myself sitting to see how high a chair could be and not cause my head to bump the ceiling.
  • I drew plans using Adobe Illustrator.
  • I test drove the ProMaster and the Transit and lay down in the backs of both to see how well I fit.

Promaster-City-Wagon-Layout

I took a few practice trips in my much-more-cramped BMW X1. That helped me eliminate more stuff I didn’t need. I watched countless videos about van conversions to see what other people found important. (It is amazing how some couples actually live full time in tiny vans. One couple packs a water heater and a stove in the ProMaster City!) I do not live full time in my van, and I place elbow room high on my priority list.

RamseyDrivewayFacingDown

My goal is to be able to live off the grid for a week at one time. I’ve made the decision to stay with a cooler instead of a 12-volt fridge, which would need some sort of power. I can charge my phone, my computer, and my LED lantern while driving. But what if I am in one place for a week? Do I need to buy one of those self-contained batteries, like the Jackery, and a solar panel? I’m still working that out.

Meanwhile, here is a video showing Ramsey Junior so far. I have taken several weekend trips in him and been very comfortable. Let me know your thoughts.