Why We Love Our Truck

A few weeks ago we talked with Jim’s brother about an upcoming road trip. You might have read our Fiat 500 story two years ago about renting a car instead of taking our truck on a 1,000 mile jaunt? Upcoming was another opportunity to avoid piling expensive miles on the truck. Or was it?

The possibility of saving money and saving our truck caused Jim to run an analysis of life-cycle costs for our truck and see if we made the correct decision last week. We decided not to rent a car for a week-long trip to North Carolina. The truck gets almost 16mpg highway (not towing), is trouble-free, very comfortable, and we don’t have to support a rental company’s O+P if we use our own truck. We’ll get back to the rent decision in a minute.

We love our pickup truck. Full-timers, maybe, maintain a closer relationship to their truck than some folks. If the truck doesn’t go, we can’t either. Bought to tow the Airstream trailer, this truck has met or exceeded all our expectations. The truck just turned 140,000 miles and has towed the Airstream approximately 100,000 miles since July 2006. Below are the new truck’s story and some numbers.

Over eight years ago we bought a new truck. The old Ford 4X4, while fine for the 22′ RV, wasn’t enough to stop or pull our new 25′ RV. The Ford was tired when we bought it. Pretty, nice paint, comfortable, but a worn-out engine. We needed a new truck and were brand indifferent.

What mattered more to us than brand was the right arrangement of features including gas engine, bucket seats, extended cab, 4X4, no sunroof, and some others. We had bought the new Airstream and needed a more capable truck. Ward Williams came to our rescue. Thanks to Williams Buick-GMC in Charlotte, we were able to find a good deal on the right Chevy Silverado 2500HD. The truck apparently was languishing at a dealership in Virginia.

Big Red Truck

Big Red Truck

His buyer found us a truck meeting 5 of our 6 criteria. He called us one day and asked, “Can you go with a red one instead of blue or green?” Once we looked at it we were all in. The truck is a deep red called “Sport Red Metallic” by Chevrolet.

Jim owned three other trucks before this one, all purchased used. And between us, we’d bought, traded, and sold dozens of cars. None of those previous trucks and cars came close to the comfort and technology represented in this 2006 Chevy. No, none of them cost close to the truck’s purchase price.

We’ve never experienced a failure or breakdown of any type. The truck has found no hill too steep, even towing the trailer up or down 15% (that’s really really steep) grades on the Sea-to-Sky Highway in British Columbia. The engine temperature doesn’t vary more than one degree. It’s a little hard on batteries but, really, that’s more Jim’s fault for accessorizing the truck with 12v appliances like ham radio, cb radio, air compressor, trailer tire monitor, and chargers for Apple mobile products.

Folks often ask, “Why didn’t you put a camper shell on the truck?” We thought we were minimalists, having emptied a 3,000 sf house and moving so much less stuff into a 180 sf travel trailer.

We thought you might appreciate seeing some of the numbers we’ve developed on this great truck’s performance. No, nothing like 1/4 mile or 0-60 stuff. These are life cycle cost numbers. Bottom line, we thought we could save the rental cost and at least break even using our truck. See what you think?

copied from worksheet

copied from worksheet

Here’s how it worked out when we ran all the numbers for rental vs using our gas hog truck:

copied from worksheet

copied from worksheet

The $195 saved by not paying tires, oil, maintenance, and gasoline on our truck would be close to breakeven once we paid the fees for renting a subcompact car. Our truck is roomy, comfortable, has XM radio and ham radios, and we like it. According to these numbers, we did okay on our decision. Not great, not saving the world by reducing carbon footprint and fuel usage, but for our pocketbook, we at least broke even.

We made over 15 mpg overall, the best we’ve done since ethanol cut our gas efficiency. We were ready with 4-wheel drive in case those New England/Canadian storms brought snow into our path. Best of all, we enjoyed 1,300 miles Interstate driving together in our big red truck. What a nice way to spend Valentines Day!

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™
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©2007-2015 Dreamstreamr

No iHouse? No Problem

Our top choices today are TimberCab by FABCAB and Element by BLU. Both nicely thought out, smart finishes, good sizes. Both fabricated in a controlled environment for reduced waste and more efficient and rapid build and completion in the field. Both seem well insulated and sealed.

The TimberCab has better proportions for us with 30′ X 35′ sides. The 30′ short side allows us good margins for garage doors placement below.

Five years ago, two years into full-timing, we announced our affair with iHouse. Not enough of you bought it. Our time to buy still was ahead. And Clayton Homes no longer offers the iHouse. S’okay, lots of choices.

There’s nothing wrong with our current manufactured house, nor with our lifestyle. In fact, we love it. We’ve always enjoyed browsing floorplans. Window shopping doesn’t require committing prematurely. Someday we may want a house in NC. P’haps we’ll know what it may look like.

A favorite question we get is, “Do you still love full-timing?” Easy to answer – “YES.” Explanation – “We’re still living the dream. When we don’t love living and traveling full-time in our Airstream we can make a change.”

We like manufactured and panel-built prefabricated options. The TimberCab homes and BLU homes are two attractive examples. Others you know of?

Chilly in Corpus Christi

Contemporary Small House – Airstream

You never know what’ll turn up under the next rock. Debbie and I are enjoying our eighth year of full time living in our 25′ Airstream trailer. We love living on the road, able to travel where and when we want.

A year ago we closed on a nice piece of land. Now we wonder how small a house we can afford to build. Browse the web with different key words for search terms, and you may find an endless array of hits. How many floorplans do we need for enough choice?

We keep looking. The iHouse isn’t offered anymore. Still, there are enough new options to keep us looking. Sometimes we find really stupid hits on the Internet. On the other hand, we get lucky too. Look what we found today when we searched “contemporary small homes”:


Pretty cool. We should get one, right?

Hanging out in Corpus Christi for the month

Things You Don’t Really Want To Know

Someone close to me called yesterday with a concern. They had read a symptom-cause anecdote on the Internet. Worried if the report was as bad as they feared, their question to me was, “Should I stop looking things up on the Internet?”  

Do you really want to know how turkey ham is made? What happens to the frozen fries dropped on the restaurant’s kitchen floor? How is the turkey you ate a couple of days ago killed, cleaned, and packaged? It might be information that neither makes you healthier nor feel better. Some things, I think, might make you feel worse for learning. When should you defer from looking up the answer to that meaningless query?

I said, “Yes!”

Here I go with something I read on the Internet. We found this week a critical report about one kind of coffee machine. As it turns out, the scathing article may have some truths, and some not-so-solid information. We found this linked report from Snopes.

The whole truth seems to indict most equipment with cool water reservoirs or with residual moisture (which pretty well includes all typical coffee makers). Okay, let’s check the two coffee machines in mom’s house.

I checked and found mold on the inside walls of the cool water reservoir. Yeah, makes sense that something that stays wet and between 45 and 100 degrees can grow mold. I cleaned the parts I could reach and researched how to clean the hard-to-reach parts. Here’s a link to an article on cleaning the coffee makers. Y’all probably already do all this. It was new to us. We’re going to pick up white vinegar to run through both of the coffeemakers.

If someone offers me a cup of coffee, I’ll probably accept. I won’t ask about the machine or cool water reservoirs. Not only shouldn’t I ask, it’s something I’d just rather not know.

It’s 75 After All

Look what we found yesterday.  75 degrees!  Just right. And all from passive solar gain on a very beautiful sunny day in NC’s mountains. Kind of makes everything good again. We were ready for it.


Sunday rained all day. We both already felt terrible, fighting head colds (probably exacerbated by the Wx changes). We never stepped foot outside the camper, not once.  I thought of our readers whom I’ve told, “The camper is large enough because Debbie lets me know when I should find something to do outside. ”

We stayed in all day. And we got along famously.  Granted, we neither one felt well enough to start any horseplay. Still, plenty of room for each to do what they wanted.  We stayed dry, consumed pots of green tea, caught up on reading, planned work days, and rested.

We still find the 25′ camper plenty big enough for both of us, even when one of us can’t get outta here. Luckily, it’s a rare day we’re confined to indoors. It wasn’t 75 degrees outside, but felt good enough to stay outside all day yesterday.

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™, Chasing 75 (again)
©2007-2014 Dreamstreamr

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Great Point of the Day

Sunset has been my favorite time of day since decades ago. I remember the day I 1st realized it. Do you remember the big vinyl covered bean bag chairs? I had one in front of a west-facing window in my house in Fall 1975. Like todsy, the sky was colorful. While the sun was dipping below the horizon, everything just seemed alright for a few minutes.

Today we almost finished clearing the right-of-way for the trench for our u.g. electrical power primary cable. We’ve removed more than a dozen trees and a few mountain laurels. Eleven of the trees are oak, locust or maple, the other one was white pine. Cutting with only a bow saw is a great work-out, and moving all the trunks, tops and brush adds to the job.

Sunset from Woodland Ridge

We’re properly worn out from today’s adventure. The sunset was a perfect reward!

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™, Chasing “45” (for a little while)
©2007-2014 Dreamstreamr

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See our location by clicking HERE

Chasing 45 Degrees

These are two of my best friends, these last few days. Warmest things I have

Know where we are? Know just how cold it is here? If you follow us then you may know we claim to “chase 75 degrees” and you might have clicked on our location icon (links to findu.com or aprs.fi to show Google map of N5RTG location).

Well heck, I was talking yesterday to Wag W9WAG, a friend who wishes he had already left Kenosha WI. His current outdoor temp was 8, well colder than our much more comfortable 28 and low of 18. Brr.

What are Debbie and Jim doing in these cold, for them, places? Why haven’t they already fled to warmer climes? We mentioned the wooded acreage we purchased earlier this year. If it was in a much warmer place, then we wouldn’t be running both the furnace and the catalytic just to keep the trailer interior at barely warm enough.

Ashe County is very heavily populated with Christmas trees, and not so much with people. The population swells in the summer, and so might be heading for a sudden drop after the past week’s chilling weather. We stayed through the recent snow. Made nice pictures, a snow person, but didn’t really get very cold.

Our friend Carolyn recommended we spend as much time as we can watching the seasonal changes on our land before we commit to building anything. I hope she remembers to tell us when we can leave. My pile-lined slippers and toque are warm but tend to fall off in bed.