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Brian A. Wilkins Posts

RV Living: California Coast Has Plenty of Paid and Free Parking

Ocean, breeze, no crowd…what more can you ask for?

The best part about RV living between San Diego and Los Angeles is that there are plenty of beaches to park. The only thing that’s a bit annoying (besides gas prices) is that there are virtually no truck stops on Interstate 5 or the Pacific Coast Highway in this area. That makes it difficult to empty black and grey water, along with refilling fresh water tanks. Truck stops are also great overnight parking spots that are easy to navigate in a large vehicle.

There are obvious conveniences that RVs offer that vans and Class B’s do not. But the one thing you have to get used to is not being able to just park where ever. A lot more planning and logistics are necessary with an RV, particularly those over 35 feet long. Many California cities have street signs everywhere saying its illegal to park vehicles 30+ feet long. Regardless, there are more than enough places to park for free. But even the paid beaches only cost between $15-$20 for 24 hours. read more

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Veterans talk colonialism, “protect and serve” at Standing Rock

by Brian A. Wilkins
December 7, 2016

From L-R: myself, Steve Wilkerson, Art Grayson, Don Brisson and Jeshua Sosa.

BISMARCK — Art Grayson joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 19 because he was looking for something that would give him a good education and provide a diverse experience. He served out of Coronado, Calif. and was deployed in S.E. Asia and the North Arabian Gulf, with his longest deployment being six months long. He operated nuclear reactors in the Navy and today is supervising a reactor at MIT for work. Grayson is also a graduate student at Harvard studying neuropsychology. But his current career and studies did not stop him from traveling more than 1,800 miles from Boston to the Standing Rock Reservation this past weekend. read more

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40 Acres and A Van: 3 Simple Tips For Buying Remote Land Out West

June 19, 2016

You’ve all seen them: large plots of land that seem too cheap and too good to be true. I’ve just purchased my second one, this time in Nevada. Its 45 acres in the middle of nowhere, but perfect for several projects I have in mind. A small cabin came on the property, and I’ve installed 500 watts of solar, along with satellite for internet and drilled a well. This will potentially turn into a spot where a “Vanpolooza” can be held, but really its just a great off-grid place for an escape from Phoenix weather and cities in general. read more

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New Refrigerator, Cooking Appliances In The Van

After replacing all four shocks and getting a transmission service, I’m ready for the 8,000+ mile round trip from San Diego to Bangor, Maine and back. It should span about the entire summer. The ARB 50-quart refrigerator is expensive (around $900) but well worth it, particularly being a highly-efficient 12-volt fridge/freezer. I also highly recommend the Max Burton Grills.

Have a great summer all!

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Arizona Van Dwelling: Basics For First-Time Phoenix Campers

I’m leaving Phoenix until at least November of this year. I’ve lived there for a good portion of my life while in a van, so know the ins-and-outs. Its best to avoid all together in the summer months, which, heat-wise, span from April to October. But for whatever reason, some van and RV folks love the heat and will live there all summer. More power to you. March and April are still bearable months however, so this guide will help anyone traveling to the desert capital find a few parking spots, amenities and other friendly spots. read more


Emergency Comfortable Showering For Vandwellers


SOMEWHERE IN CALIFORNIA — When you haven’t showered in three days and you don’t feel like dealing with traffic and other Monday B.S. that comes with locating a gym to shower, this is an effective alternative.

Find a deserted spot, put on the shower shoes, two gallons of room temp water, 24 ounces of boiling water, generator for shaving/trimming tools, and shower away. Crazy the average American shower lasts eight minutes and uses 17 gallons of water, per one source. But two gallons is more than enough for your pre-wash spray down, then wash yourself with whatever you use (I’m a body wash guy), and use the remaining water to rinse. read more

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My New Bed In The Van

Chilling on the new bed!
Chilling on the new bed!

The cup is full of 90% hot green tea and 10% cold Barefoot Pinot Grigio; and lemon and honey. Always use a carbon monoxide (CO) detector when using any propane appliances indoors. Even Mr. Heater which is meant for indoor use and has a low-oxygen sensor, still requires a detector. You also need cross-ventilation all the time i.e. cracked windows on each side of the van.

The new vacuum is probably the best addition of all. No more searching for car washes in unfamiliar cities. Now vacuuming is part of the daily routine. The BioLite Nanogrid is great for 3-4 hours of bright light on a full charge. Those coil light bulbs in a desk clamp lamp are golden for a small inverter system like mine and are great for similar bright light when the BioLite dies. read more

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Kansas Shortcut Between Midwest and Southwest

The van is now approaching that 200,000 mile[stone]. Interstates are always best as far as speed limits, amenities (i.e. 24 hour rest areas, truck stops, etc.), lighting, smooth pavement and everything else that makes living on the road for months at a time more comfortable. But in most cases interstates are not the shortest route to your destination.

Those who have traveled a lot between the Midwest and Southwest (for me, Des Moines to Phoenix) have probably used the I-80 to I-25 in Denver route until you get to I-40. The scenery in Colorado, along with the atmosphere, is always worth the trip. But that route extends 1,600 miles. I decided to try the Kansas route that is only 1,410 and takes two less hours than the interstate/Colorado route. You also still avoid Texas entirely (albeit by only about 2.5 miles). read more

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