Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Take me Home

My Solution

Part of my intention for this blog was help shape a positive future.

I haven't been doing much of that, hung up on the van and assorted mechanical problems, and for that I apologize.

But now I am free to go in search of my Green Valley.
I believe that after attitude, community is the most critical factor to survival.

I need to find my Tribe.

I want to be far away from the cities. I want to leave this culture of fear and death and poisons.

I want to greet the dawn with the birds, smell dew on the grass, and feel the plants and the forests living around me.
I want to let the sun shine on my face every day, and give thanks.

I will no longer sign contracts I don't understand.
I will no longer be a wage slave.
I will no longer pay taxes.
I will no longer buy useless crap.
I will no longer be a victim of circumstance.
I will not take water or food for granted.
I will not take my life for granted.
I will not take my freedom for granted.

I will take resposibility for my life and its direction.
I will raise much of my own food.
I will generate my own electricity.
I will grow my own fuel.
I will cultivate community with honest, hard working people.
I will cultivate a local barter economy with my neighbors.

I am opting out.
If I no longer feed the beast system, it will get weaker.

I'm fortunate to have found a few groups of like minded people who've already got a good start on opting out.
Sorry, I can't tell where.
Everybody has to find the community that is right for them.
Or cultivate the community they are already a part of.

We need each other to survive successfully. And we need RESPECT to survive as a group. We need RESPECT to survive within our ecosystem.

We must live the future we seek.

I'm off to find a better way.

She Rides

I found the mysterious second solenoid, right over the headlight on the passenger side.
After poking around with the multi-meter, I determined that the solenoid was good, but the little red and blue wire that fed it power from the switch wasn't getting power.
So I bypassed it.
I'm not sure if I bypassed the ignition switch or the neutral start switch (or both), but since it cranks and runs, I really don't care.

Now I have a push button ignition.

Ghetto engineering at its finest.

I still have some packing to do, and a quick fan install over the bed (it's mighty still back there) but I should be able to finish up today and be on my way tomorrow.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I am annoyed right now.
After pulling the starter, I took it to Auto Zone and they tested it.
It was bad, so I replaced it. ($150.00)

The van still won't crank.
It doesn't even turn over.
I think the ignition switch is still good, the glow plugs come on, and when I try to start it the dash light dims, so the starter should be getting power.

I guess I'll try the neutral-start switch next.
I'm gonna have a brand new van by the time I'm done.....
Though I may run out of money before I even get on the road.


Friday, April 17, 2009

The ex BF's friends came into town last night.
I guess now they're my friends too, since they are Good People.
Last night the conversation turned to the state of the world today.
I had quite a few beers, and and my mouth decided to run away and scare the sheeple.
I'm afraid I went into a bit of a rant.

I ranted about the oceans acidifying, about 260DB sonic tests for oil exploraton in the ocean (it only takes 140DB to kill a human, and sound travels much better underwater)
I ranted about government oppression, and how the whole system needed to be replaced.

"This isn't right. We're not meant to live like this. We are so separate. For thousands of years we lived in communal family groups.
We respected the land.
It is only in the last 100 years or so that we have become so isolated.
We might have all this fun, easy stuff, but there is something missing.
Something fundamentally HUMAN.
We are so disconnected. From each other, from our environment, from our reality.
I think there is a better way. And I'm gonna go find it."

Fortunately, the West Coasters are not sheeple, and actually took my rant somewhat seriously.
The friend I consider my Sister could see that I was talking about building a new paradigm. She was interested and excited.

But on the way home I got bitched out by the ex.

"They're here to have a good time! We don't need to talk about all that gloom and doom sht. Let them have a fun vacation."
"You're right. I'm sorry. I know that stuff bothers you. I will make an effort not to talk about it in your presence."

He's sheeple.
What a turnoff.
He is so blind. So deep in denial. But I can't change that.
I can only leave, and live the future I seek.
What is really frustrating is that he's not stupid. He sees what is going on, and knows how wrong it is. He just chooses to ignore it.
He told me once that if things ever got got THAT bad when TSHTF, he would just put one of those guns in his mouth and call it a day.

When the he said that, it was the end of the relationship.

A few years back my dad took his own life. I've made peace with it now, but it changed me.
I can't let anyone matter so much it would kill me to lose them.

I can understand allowing someone to follow their own path, but I WILL NOT STAND BY AND WATCH YOU KILL YOURSELF.

I will be gone. Following my own path.
I intend to survive.


I think maybe the van doesn't want to leave Louisiana.
I got the vacuum pump put in, and the short test drive was great, but next time I tried to crank it up, the motor turned over, then just stopped.
No click, no spinning starter noise, nothing.

I put the battery charger on it overnight, hoping it was weak batteries, but knowing better. Today I tried jumping the solenoid to crank it, and no go.
The starter gear may be jammed in the ring gear, or my neutral start switch could be bad. Jumping the solenoid ought to bypass that though.

I didn't have a universal joint for my socket set, and the starter bolts are tricky enough that I need one. I got one from Auto Zone, but ran out of light before I could try it.

Maybe I just need to accept that I won't be leaving Monday. My brother was supposed to fly in tonight and keep me company on the first leg of my journey, but he is really sick and can't make it. I had to leave Monday to get him back to his work outside San Diego by the 24th. I guess I'm kind of relieved he can't come out, though I was looking forward to travelling with him.

It is frustrating to have all these issues when I'm so ready to hit the road. But I guess I'll just roll with it. Everything happens for a reason.
Que sera' sera'.

It does sort of seem especially cruel to leave the ex BF at the same time his out of town friends leave.
One year, after spending a wonderful holiday with my family, I went back to my house in Louisiana, and the silence was deafening. I've always been able to handle being by myself. But in winter, after feeling the warmth of my family, it was especially painful to be all alone again.

But come on, van! Work, dammit! I want to find my tribe!

How I'm Feeling Now

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Final Preps

The vacuum pump is installed, and once again my Beast runs like a dream.
While I was under the hood, I tightened up all the belts, as they had stretched some since I'd changed them.

Then I took a test drive to Auto Zone to stock up on fluids and filters.

Conveniently, Auto Zone is in the same parking lot as Harbor Freight and Sav-a-lot.
I went into Harbor Freight looking for a magnetic paper towel holder, and came out with that, a fire extinguisher, a cast iron griddle (I couldn't resist) and some pepper spray (wouldn't hurt to have some non lethal force).
All useful items, but I didn't expect to spend that much.

At Sav-a-lot I got some final food preps; mostly water, noodles, snacks for the road, coffee and canned milk.

All that's left is organizing and packing the food, cooking, and 12volt gear.
I have 3 large rubbermaid tubs. One for dishes/foil/cooking utensils, one for food, and one for fuel/batteries/flashlights/bug spray, etc.
Snack foods and things I want easy access to (small inverter, phone charger, camera) goes in a fabric bag stashed under a front seat. Four 1gal jugs of water fit under the other seat.

My OCD (obsessive compulsive disorter) side is coming out.
I made a sketch of the van cargo holds, and anything that gets packed is written on the sketch so I can find it later.
The rubbermaid tubs are numbered, and each has a corresponding inventory list of contents.
People have alternately laughed at me and been very impressed by this level of organization. They laugh when they hear about it, but they're very impressed when they need something and I not only have it, but know exactly where it is.

Almost done. I won't need to be in evacuation panic mode much longer....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Pulley

After some good advice in the comments section, and the helpful folks over at Ford Truck Enthusiasts forum, I determined that the old pulley was toast and ordered a new one from Ford ($75.00) to go with the new vacuum pump from Auto Zone ($100.00)

The old pulley was pretty messed up after I reamed on it, beat on it, heated it with a torch, and beat on it more. It was rusty anyway.
The pulley installer/puller kit I got from Harbor Freight ($14.00) didn't quite fit under the flange on the pulley to remove it. Somebody on Ford Truck Enthusiasts suggested grinding it down so it fits. Good idea, but a project for another day, now.
Here is the puller kit, next to the new pump and pulley.

After a 4 hour bus trip to and from the Ford dealer, I retrieved my pulley, and with a little figuring and much clamping and elbow grease got it pressed onto the pump. The Ford dealership wanted at least $70 to put it on, and I think the service guys were annoyed that I was doing my own work instead of letting them rip me off.
I DON'T trust dealers. Been there, been screwed.

I'll install the pump tomorrow. That will be easy compared to the pulley ordeal. Now I have to clean the house since company is coming in for French Quarter music festival.
The poor kitties know changes are afoot. They follow me around meowing at me.

Fluffy kitty Cleo says, "I know you're leaving and you're gonna take me with you if I have to stay permanantly attached to your suitcase."

Beating to Windward

Ship analogies seem to be popping up everywhere lately. So I thought I'd add one, since I often think of my Beast of a van as a ship.

Sailboats cannot go directly into the wind. They must sail diagonally a few degrees off the wind, and "tack" to diagonally go the other direction and keep their course.
This is called beating to windward.

We all know we don't like the way things are shaping up in our country and world. We need to start talking about the world we want instead of bitching about the world we have. Coming to the realization that our government, economy, industry, environment, and current paradigm are going downhill fast was an important first tack into the wind. Now we need to make a second tack and really envision a positive future to take the place of systems that obviously don't work. The first step to creating a new reality is to envision what you want that reality to look like.

Last Saturday morning (before my fantasy turned to reality) I was walking back from the fabric store. A sign at an oil change place said "Your reality reflects your mindset." I though that was pretty deep for a Jiffy Lube, so I smiled, taking it as a sign, and went on my way. Lo and behold, apparently it was a sign.
Be careful what you wish for.

Sailing into the wind is usually not a very comfortable ride. It's windy, sometimes scary, and the waves break hard on the bow. But to get where you want to go, it is necessary.

We've been sailing downwind for too long. With the wind at your back, it is easy to become complacent. The temperature is pleasant, and you're surfing the waves.
Complacency is dangerous though. A sudden wind change, or a distracted captain can cause the boat to "jibe". A jibe is usually unexpected and often the deadliest thing that happens on a boat. The boom of the sail suddenly swings to the other side of the boat, knocking the complacent crew in the head.

We need to shake it off, and turn this boat around. Batten down the hatches, secure the cargo, and trim the sails, for there's a storm a' comin.

George Ure over at Urban Survival beat me to the "windward" post, though I thought of it several days ago. He has some pretty good suggestions for starting points;

"Wouldn't it be grand if had a national vision, meaning agreement on some very simple, easily action steps that virtually all of us could buy in to? Here are some thoughts, and while it's by no means complete, it's a starting point and you can add, or subtract, as you please:

America is going to be the first country to harvest the benefits of information technology. We are setting as our key objectives:

A 20-hour workweek (or)

A 40-hour workweek commanding a high enough wage such that only one family member need work to support a family of four.

We hold as a national objective the reinvention of the family as a solution to health and social ills.

In addition, we will offer incentives to families that care for aged relatives at home. We are going to value family values in a meaningful way instead of lip service.

We will achieve massive energy reduction though three major initiatives:

Ending regulations that are keeping small highly fuel efficient vehicles off our roads while in places like Europe that have proven their value.

Insulation retrofitting of every home in the country to reduce energy consumption by 50%.

Conversion of all lighting to energy efficient LED and other technologies.

Government will offer every family that lives off the grid for 30 days, or more, an income tax credit. The more off-grid time, the larger the tax credit.

We will establish an organic food supply and will achieve organic food independence again within five years.

These combined should reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 30% - or more.

We will require that every company selling manufactured goods in America demonstrate that all its workers, whether overseas, or in the US, are paid at least the applicable US minimum wage. Those companies which can not do so will be taxed in the amount equal to their exploitive labor practices and the revenue from that tax, equal to the amount of foreign worker underpayment, will fund unemployment and healthcare for American workers. And more; so great is the exploitation of developing country labor.

Further, we will require that any company doing business in America document its revenues coming from America and be taxed on those. Over the next ten years will will phase in a program whereby if a company sells goods in America, only expenses incurred in America will be allowed to offset that revenue before a revenue tax is applied..

We will reestablish sound money. We all know that the purchasing power of the US dollar has declined from $1 in 1913 to just 4.6-cents today. We are going to hold that value, and in doing so, we will again become a nation of savers. We will reinstitute gold and silver convertibility.

As we return to sound money, and the value of savings is restored, we will reinvest in American infrastructure. Except now, instead of making assembly line jobs, we are going to automate everything we can to harvest the bounty of technology.

We will institute a national usury law of 18%. This will apply to all companies, including and especially credit card operators.

American-English is the only language of the country and we will end all programs that are not part of a migration to our single tongue. While we respect differences of our cultural heritage, we must be able to communicate with one another.

We will set up a web site ( and we will find even more, better, and immediately actionable ideas.

Finally, we will create and install a system of government accountability with the following features:

We will strictly regulate lobbying with 100% disclosure and reporting.

We will ensure that no more legislation is ever passed that has not been read by each member of Congress voting on it.

We will install a recall system to hold Congress accountable and an online voting system, so that members of Congress can see what their home district wants at any time, and so that voters in the home district can see how their wishes are being carried out by folks who are supposed to represent them."

Read the whole post at

Not everyone agrees on everything, of course, but EVERYONE has the responsibility to think about the future they would like to create, and start dialogues to determine our course for the future. It's obvious our "captain" is asleep at the helm, distracted by greed and power.
It's up to us.
You and me.
Words have great power, and visions even more so.
Be careful what you wish for.

I for one am beating to windward.
HEADS UP.......TACK!!!!!

Flower Power

I woke up with this song in my head today.
The lyrics are as relevant now as they were back then.
As hippie as the video is, it made me cry.
I was born a flower child, after all.

It's the pictures of the children that really get to me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hi Big Bro

Wow, everything just got
r e a l l y
s l o w

Hope everybody can read the fine print....

You GO, Texas.

This is a line in the sand if I've ever seen one....
People are fed up, and the Republic of Texas has a Governor with enough balls to stand up and tell it like it is.

“I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,” Gov. Perry said. “That is why I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm the states’ rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I believe that returning to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and its essential 10th Amendment will free our state from undue regulations, and ultimately strengthen our Union.”

Kudos to Mayberry at and Old Lightning at for the links.

Might be a good time to hit the road....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Vacuum Pump

The vacuum pump should be an easy part to change out.
Nothing but 3 bolts, a belt and a hose.

But it's being a bitch.

The pulley won't come off the spindle of the old pump. I tried a two jaw puller, I tried a pulley puller/installer. I brought it to Auto Zone and they tried.
It must be frozen on there with rust. So I decided to drench it in PB Blaster and let it sit overnight with pressure from a puller on it.
If I can't break it free tomorrow, I'll be searching for parts.

I did get a lot of packing done today. It really is amazing how much stuff I can fit in my shelves and cargo holds. And since recent ecapades in the van have made it abundantly clear that I need curtains, I made some today.

There's 2 curtains on a rod between the cabin and cockpit/front seats, and I used my leftover Reflectix shiny bubble wrap to make black-out curtains for the side and rear windows. In addition to privacy, they will insulate the windows. I didn't want the shiny Reflectix to show on the outside; that would make it obvious that someone sleeps in the van.

We're going for incognito here.

I bought some black fabric Saturday, and after busting out the sewing machine, I encased the Reflectix panels in black fabric.
The Reflectix is sort of stiff, so by screwing picture hanger brackets in strategic spots around each window to hold it in, I can easily take the panels out for driving.
With the new black out curtains, it just looks like a dark van from the outside.
I was quite pleased with the result.
Curtains are a good security measure too. Not much stuff will be visible on the inside anyway,(it's in the cargo holds) but I still feel like it makes my ugly old van less of a target.

I leave a week from today. The panic is starting to set in; I haven't eaten anything all day. Too busy running around getting organized and cleaning.

"Just a few more weary days and then I'll fly away..."
-Allison Krause

Drunken Revelry

Holy crap. Saturday night I partied like there was no tomorrow.
The batches of crawfish just kept coming. They must've boiled 7 bags. In the last batch they did some stone crab claws - the biggest I've ever seen - brought in by a shrimper friend.
The excellent food helped balance the number of beers I drank, but I really don't remember how many it was.
Somebody brought out a guitar, and everyone who was drunk enough (myself included) sang along to such classics as 'Long Haired Country Boy', 'American Pie' and 'Bad Moon Rising'.

As it got late, we sat around the fire and talked and laughed, and soon all but the hard core partiers had wandered off to bed.
It was a fabulous party.
My fantasy of christening the van bed with an attractive 20 something male even came true..... though I would've enjoyed it more if I hadn't been quite so inebriated.

Then tomorrow came. I think I'm getting too old for this shit. I must be paying some kind of karmic price for my debauchery, because the vacuum pump appears to have gone out in the van.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Before and After

OK, here it is;


Not bad, eh?

Interior Pics

View of the seat/storage locker from the back.

View of bed platform and seat from front of van.

View of hinged access to "cargo holds" in bed platform.

Hinged access to storage in seat.

As promised, here are pictures of the interior. It's still not 100% as I'm waiting for paint to dry on shelves and trim boards to hold the bed in place.
The sun is at the wrong angle to take pictures from the back, so later in the day I will post more.
The shallow storage area over the rubbermaid shelf will likely hold warm/bulky clothes and or raingear. There are shelves for food or books next to the rubbermaid shelf. You could smuggle a person in the deep cargo hold in the bed platform near the outside wall. The storage under the head of the bed is accessed by opening the back doors. That will be for camping/auto repair storage.

I'll start moving in this weekend. I'm using a system I learned from Bill Mollison's book on permaculture; The storage areas easiest to get to rate a "1" (center console, bench storage) while the most difficult rate a "4" (deep hold under bed).
Items I need to use regularly go into "1" compartments, and things I won't use on the trip (sentimental items, bulk food, 120v power tools) go into "4" storage.
Auto maintenance stuff like my hand tools and extra fluids rate a "2". Backup parts and assorted hardware are a "3", along with most camping stuff.
I'll have 'easy food', coffee, french press, stove and propane in a rubbermaid tub in the 'kitchen' area.
5 gallon jerryjugs of water will fit perfectly in the step for the side doors.

I still don't have the top for the battery box/center console done. I killed my RO sander yesturday while sanding the exterior of the van. Apparently I have more stamina for sanding than my little Craftsman random orbital.
It had a good life. :(
Working on vehicles tends to kill sanders pretty quickly. I went through 5 of them while refinishing the sailboat in Key West.

Well, I'm off to buy a new sander and brackets for my shelves.....

Thursday, April 9, 2009

So Wrong

Ok, I have to admit I find this whole Jeff Goldblum conversation hilarious.
So I'm gonna torture y'all with this video, just to prove I'm not the only crazy chick out there.
Jeff Goldblum is bringing Sexyback....
This girl has TOO much time on her hands.
Watch it or don't, it is pretty funny.

I have to say, I really prefer the younger, shaggy looking Jeff Goldblum to the older, cleancut cop look. Older and cleancut, he kinda looks like my dad.
Wait..... EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW......!!!!!

Don't worry, I should be done with the interior of the van later today or tomorrow, and will post pics.

The Natives are Restless

Yesturday was an interesting day. It was errand running day, and I stopped for breakfast at the Fat Hen Grill, recommended by a friend.
It was good southern cooking, and I perused the paper, reading about our corrupt politicians, various shootings and killings throughout the area, and a 20 year old girl who drowned her baby in Lake Ponchartrain after giving birth alone in a bedroom.

It's been a while since I've read or watched the news, and I wasn't as desensitized to it as I used to be. I felt very sad.
After a while, a man in the medical profession sat a few stools down, and started talking to the waitress about health care. They were both angry about the cost of treatments and prescriptions, and talked about how the medical system didn't give a crap about people, we were just there to make money for it.
The man said the heads of Big Pharma ought to be stripped and hung from their male parts.
I almost voiced my agreement at this point, but when I open my mouth lately, it tends to run away and spook the sheeple. I just stared at my grits, and thought about how it doesn't have to be this way.

After the bank, the Salvation Army (to dump the rest of my stuff), and the tobacco shop (ACK! a can of roll yer own is up to $40, from $18 a month ago), I was passing by the bar where my friend works. I stopped in to see if she was there. I was worried about her, she had to file chapter 13 bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure. Her world seemed to be crumbling, and I hoped to comfort her.

She was not at the bar, so after chatting with the regulars, I left. I stepped out the door, and a train was coming down the tracks next to the bar.
The hair rose on my neck and arms when I saw the train was loaded with tanks. There seemed to be about 4 different models, probably about 40 tanks in all. They looked like they had been sitting out of service for a while, and were followed by a tanker of phosphoric acid (used to remove rust). The train was headed north.

After a productive afternoon of finish work on the van, I was watching the History channel. In a series about the 7 deadly sins, they were on envy. It raised some interesting questions. Is envy learned or hard wired? Can certain types of envy be good?
They cited the French Revolution as envy of the rich by the poor, and the betrayal/murder of Caesar as envy for Caesar's power.

I don't think revolution is produced by envy. I think it's produced by the downtrodden and oppressed finally defending themselves against the oppressors.
But maybe that's just my proletarian viewpoint...

Watch out PTB, even the sheeple now want you strung up by your male parts.....

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Moving sale

I did really well with the sale. It was stressful preparing for it, but I made over $700.00. And it feels great to get rid of stuff. It makes me realize that this is really happening, I'm really doing it, not just endlessly working on a van.
I've got a little of the interior to finish this week, a lick and a promise paint job, and bypass the temperature sensor for the glow plugs.
There's a sweet spot where the engine is not warm enough to start without glow plugs, but too warm to turn on the glow plugs. So I'll just install a switch, and I can turn on the glows when I want them to turn on.
I'm almost on my way, and now I have money to get there.
Things are going great, and to top it all off I had a naughty dream about Jeff Goldblum last night. Mmmmm.... Jeff Goldblum.....
Now I've gotta go watch Earth Girls Are Easy.
Sorry guys, it's been over 3 months now. In about 14 days anything male will start to look really good...