Last Update: 5/03/2018

Washing Clothes in the Van With a Toilet Plunger

ball clothes washer and 5 gallon buckets ready to do laundry

One cheap way ta wash your laundry when vandwelling is with a 5 gallon bucket and a toilet plunger. Just started doin' this last week. Works great! Here's how.

The basic formula is ya get a 5 gallon bucket. Ya can get 'em free here and there. Or ya can buy 'em. I got mine at Walmart for less than $4 each. Ya need the lid, too.

Then ya get a plunger. Any ol' plunger'll do. It helps if ya drill holes in the rubber.

Vanholio got fancy, though. That one in the photo is the Ball Clothes Washer. Sprang for the $25 mostly 'cause I figured it'd be nice ta have the handles. Works fine. Only problem – and I ain't the only one who run inta this – is the workin' end comes loose. Plumber's tape fixed that.

Now, in the bucket lid, ya cut or drill a hole for your plunger handle. That cuts down on water swishin' out.

Toilet Plunger Clothes Washing How-To

  1. Pretreat stains.
  2. Put your plunger inta the bucket.
  3. Add some clothes.
  4. Add some laundry soap.*
  5. Top up the water. Hot is good.
  6. Close the lid.
  7. Work the plunger for about 10 minutes.
  8. Wring out the clothes
  9. Repeat Steps 2-8 with clean water / no soap ta rinse.**
  10. Hang dry.

* Since I'm at my house now, I'm usin' ¼ C Castile soap so that it's safe to pour the wash water onto my yard after. Good idea in the woods, too. One gal told me she just uses hot water and vinegar.

** Photo shows two buckets, but I think ya can use the same bucket again. Also, I put a little vinegar, about ½ C, ta the rinse water to clean off the soap better. Read somewhere that helps.

That's about it! Vanholio didn't invent this shit. He just tried it an' is passin' along.

Heard about other ways a doin' laundry on the road. This is just one. But it's a small enough system for vandwellers. Only issue is havin' 'nough water at hand for the job, about 6 gallons.

Try it out and let me know how it works for ya.

Fancy Toilet Plunger Clothes Washer Video

Traveling Mailbox ad

Also See ...

Don't Let Dirty Laundry Stink Up the Van

Where to Get Free Water for Van Life

How Do You Do Laundry? (Living Without Money)
Read More »

Last Update: 4/20/2018

#Vanlife Interrupted

Van upside down in middle of street, cop car next to it

Circumstance has got Vanholio off the vanlife road and sweatin' in South Texas – maybe permanent! For the next month or two, he's playin' Mr. Handyman. Probably won't be updatin' this blog, neither.

Fixin' Up the Rental House ta Sell

Now, I ain't never gone inta detail about how I make my money. 'Cause it's none a your goddamn business! But you're about ta get a little window.

Down in South Texas, Vanholio's got this house he's been rentin' out as one income stream. It's where he lived before vanlife.

Now, I say "house," but it's really an overgrown shack. Definitely some Baltic Avenue shit.

Last two years, he's gone through four sets a tenants – FOUR! – and not one a the bastards finished out the lease! Latest just skipped last week. Fuckers!

Between lost rent, more repairs, and management costs, this income stream is more an expense stream.

So I'm givin' up on this landlord shit. Early this week, I drove the wide expanse a Texas, got settled inta the house, and started cleanin' this shit up. Thankya Jeezus they didn't fuck the place up serious! Just a little scruffy round the edges.

Vanholio's gonna take a month'r two ta get 'er fixed up, painted, and spit polished, ready ta sell!

But Devil's Temptin' Me Off the Road

Once Vanholio made the decision to come back ta Texas and fixerup, a wicked idea hit him like a goddamn truckload a horseshit laced with anvils. That idea? Move back home.

See, I got most my people 'round here. While I weren't lonely at all wanderin' around in the van, the idea a seein' my people more regular's got me excited. Imagine that!

Other seductive thoughts been comin' inta my head, too. Like: "How 'bout enjoyin' the place once ya finally got 'er fixed up like ya always wanted?," and "Wouldn't a little wood shop be nice?," and "How about plantin' fruit trees and a garden, puttin' food up?," and a course, "Wouldn't it be damn nice ta have a full kitchen again?"

Yessiree, Vanholio's bein' tempted by the Devil a Domestic Bliss! He may succumb. Never did say I were a saint. In fact, I sure as hell ain't.

What's the End Game Here?

Not sure. I'm gonna take a month or two off the blog ta fix this place up. We'll see if stayin' put is gonna be or just a passin' fancy. They's pluses and minuses both ways. I'll let ya'll know.

Traveling Mailbox ad

Also See ...

Read More »

Last Update: 4/13/2018

Ya'll Come on Down ta Pie Town!

cherry pie and ice cream on paper plate

White chocolate cherry pie, if the curiosity is killin' ya. Made by The Gatherin' Place in Pie Town, New Mexico – a town of three pie shops on US 60, and that's mostly all.

Well, there's also an RV park that allows tents. Hikers on the Continental Divide Trail like ta stay there ta rest, catch up on internet, and for a shower – and ta get mail and grub in town. That's pretty cool. But it does mean you might sit down by ripe hikers at a cafe. I did last year. It added a certain earthy perfume ta my eggs!

Oh, #vanlife folks: They got free campin' in the woodsy park on the south side with water and shitters. Decent Verizon signal, too.

Most famous place in town is the Pie-O-Neer Pies. Someone even made a documentary about it!

But The Gatherin' Place is Vanholio's preferred pie stop. Good food and free WiFi, too. They used to have killer barbecue, but no more, I lament.

Pie Town has been a center for badass pies for almost 100 years. In 1924, some guy name a Clyde Norman started a pie shop in this tiny ranching hamlet out middle a nowhere. Word got around, and folks started coming for pie from hundreds a miles. So they changed the name from whatever the hell it was before, 'cause it was good for business. Today, the tradition continues.

They got an annual pie festival, too. This year it's September 8, 2018. Might have the county rodeo same time. Not sure.

This manifesto was originally posted on Vanholio's Steemit blog.

Traveling Mailbox ad

Also See ...

Read More »

Last Update: 4/10/2018

Sproutin' Pinto Beans in the Van

two pinto beans split open showing tiny sprouts

Vicki at Gypsy Clipper's been learnin' Vanholio on vanlife sproutin'. Sprouted beans, grains, nuts, and veggies is easier ta digest, less farty, and more vitamin packed than dry. Real easy ta do, and cooks quicker, too!

This ain't just for hippie-dippies. Read what WebMD says about it!

How to Sprout in the Van – Super Easy!

Followin' Vicki's advice, here's what I did:

  1. Got regular ol' bought-at-Walmart dried pinto beans.
  2. Soaked 'em about 5 hours (4-6 recommended).
  3. Drained 'em.
  4. Tied 'em up in a t-shirt.*
  5. Hung the t-shirt in a dark place in the van.
  6. Got 'em out about 20 hours later.
  7. Cooked as normal.

No big fuckin' deal! Tasted fine, too.

* BTW, it's that hangin' 'em in up in a cloth that makes it easy. Most sproutin' guides advise this setup with jars. Bad news for a van – takes up room, fussy, and fragile. Usin' a t-shirt, hitchhiker towel, bandanna, or whatever is so much fuckin' easier!

Gypsy Clipper Artisanal Food Operation

Vicki's inta all kindsa indoor farmin', sproutin', fermentin', and more shit in her van. Who knew ya could take all this homesteady stuff on the road! Hear what she says herself!

What's Next?

Vanholio's next vanlife foodie goal is bakin' homemade bread in a solar oven made from a windshield reflector. Stay tuned! (But it might be a while ...)

Traveling Mailbox ad

Also See ...

Read More »

Last Update: 4/05/2018

#Vanlife Podcasts – A Bigass List!

white media van with antenna and dish on top

Living in a van down by the river? Wanna be? Want podcasts on the car, RV, digital nomad and vandweller lifestyle? I’ve collected this huge list of vanlife-related podcasts!

Did I overlook some? Are some of the links defunct? Comment below, and I’ll update!

Read More »

Last Update: 4/03/2018

Curin' and Storin' Smoked Pork the Lazy Way

Smoked pig tails in kosher salt

Nothin' Vanholio loves in his beans more than some smoked, cured pork – bacon, ham, hocks, tails, and the rest. Gives it that downhome flavor. Here's how he gets it on the vanlife road.

Why Can't Ya Just Buy Smoked Pork for Vanlife?

But goin' solo and livin' in a van, they's a problem. The smoked meats at Walmart and grocery stores is sold in too bigga packages, about as much as he uses over a month or two.

And most modern smoked meats ain't fully cured ta last without refrigeration. Instead, they got minimum salt so as ya don't have ta soak 'em first, like ya do with traditional cured meat.

So that leaves two choices: Get some kinda freezer set up to hold the extra or buy old-fashioned uncooked, cured pork.

Well, settin' up a freezer that'll be cold 'nough ta keep meat fresh for a couple months without goin' off or gettin' freezer burn, is easier said than done.

Buyin' old-fashioned smoked meats is an option. But it's expensive. And if I buy local, I gotta source the places (ain't many!) and adjust my travel plans to hit 'em. If I buy online, I got the smallish hassle a intersectin' their delivery ta my route.

So why not make it myself, I asked?

Salt Down Store-Bought Smoked Pork for Vanlife – Easy!

The how-to's I found online for curin' meat are all about startin' from scratch (like in the video below). Makes sense for sticks-n-bricks folks. But Vanholio ain't got much room, nor patience either.

Thought ta myself: Why the hell don't I just buy some at Walmart and pack it in salt? That's how it all started way back when!

That's just what I did! Bought a package a smoked pig tails, which are perfect size for one-person batches a beans. Broke 'em up into smaller pieces. Then packed 'em inta a plastic jug with coarse Kosher salt all around.

The salt keeps out bacteria and absorbs more moisture from the meat. It gets saltier and tougher, like the old-fashion kind.

Now, were I wantin' ta season vegetables, I'd need ta soak the tails overnight ta drive out the extra salt. But as I'm cookin' dry beans that take hours anyway, the tails salt my beans as they cook out. By the time the beans is soft and the meats fallin' off the bone, it's just about right.

No, it's better than right. It's damn well Heaven on Earth! Yum, yum!!!

Is Storin' Modern Smoked Pork in Salt Safe?

Well, I ain't makin' no guarantees. What I can tell ya is that I've had that pork salted over a month in the van, sometimes in temps up ta 90 F (32 C). The latest I pulled out smelled fresh, tasted fresh. (I nibbled a bit raw ta check). Cooked up delicious. I never got so much as a rumbly tummy nor the burps, let alone the trots.

It's your own call if ya wanna give it a whirl. Be smart. But it worked out just fine for Vanholio! Kicked up the quality a his vanlife cookin' a bigass notch!

Old-Fashion Cured Pork From Scratch

Interestin' video. Not how Vanholio does it (as you read above). Love the Townsends YouTube channel, BTW.

Traveling Mailbox ad

Also See ...

Read More »

Last Update: 3/30/2018

What if I Die Alone in the Van?

Common fear if ya do vanlife solo (or even as a couple) is what'll happen if ya die or get too sick ta help yourself. Valid worry. Shit happens! An' the older ya get, the more likely it becomes.

Here's how ta cover yourself in case ol' vanlife goes ta hell. (Most a this info is Android based, but iOS should have similar. Even some dumbphones do.)

1. Stay in Contact Daily

Vanholio uses the vanlife buddy system. Every night, he uses an app ta text his GPS location to his best buddy and medical POA.

Sendin' out my GPS coordinates via SMS has three advantages:

  1. It's the most current location ta find me.
  2. It works when cellular Internet don't work. All I need is the barest cell signal.
  3. It lets my buddy know that I'm conscious and OK at that moment.

If I know I'm goin' totally off-grid, I'll text my current location and a summary of my travel plans. Includin' when he can expect ta hear from me next!

2. Use Your Smartphone as a Tracker

What if you're unconscious or otherwise can't contact out? What if ya moved since your last text in? That's where some kinda phone-based trackin' system works.

Right now, Vanholio's sharin' his location ta some friends usin' Google Maps. It's automatic once set up, which is great.

The downside is it only saves the last location I was on the internet. In other words, it don't work for shit if when your totally offgrid. But at least it gives searchers a startin' point.

Even better would be some kinda app that lets your buddies or family get your GPS coordinates via an SMS message, independent of Internet access.. That'll work as long as your phone is on and has the barest cell signal. There's a few apps out there.

3. Have Affairs in Order

It's damn smart ta have an Advance Directive, Last Will and Testament, and all that other shit ready ta go. 

Truly, Vanholio don't care much about whatever pathetic assets left when he bites it. Ain't my fuckin' problem. But I sure as hell care about my dog! And myself if I'm hard up but not quite dead.

The Advance Directive, gives instructions ta the doctors on how much I want done and what I think is bullshit. No fuckin' way I wanna be kept as a vegetable!

My best buddy is my Medical Power of Attorney (POA). He knows how I feel about things and'll see it done ta the best of his ability. I also got a regular POA ta handle the bills while I'm down.

Finally, I got a Pet Care Agreement and some money set aside 'specially for my dog. It's an agreement a who gets Ms. Barkley if I go. Has some backup folks, too. I'd hate ta think she'd die heartbroken and alone in a shelter. That shouldn't happen.

Now, ya might think plannin' all that stuff is gruesome. But it gives Vanholio peace a mind. Truly.

4. Keep Easy-to-Find ICE Info

Say LEOs or other first responders find you out or dead? Make sure they know what ta do. Vanholio's got printed and digital instructions for ICE (In Case of Emergency).

On my phone, I got an ICE app that does three things:

  1. It has my emergency contacts, includin' doctors, family, and POAs.
  2. It has my medical info, such as meds, allergies, and conditions.
  3. It has an emergency button I can press ta automessage my best buddy/medical POA, plus his wife.

But wait, there's more! Vanholio printed two laminated cards, one for his wallet and one mounted on the driver's shade in the van. It's got my meds, insurance info, allergies, where ta locate the Advance Directive, etc. in the van and online, and my emergency contacts.

Friend a mine is a hospital nurse. Says they get in single people all the time, especially middle aged men, with no info about who they are, what medical conditions they have, who ta contact, or nothin'. Makes their jobs damn hard. And maybe they don't guess right what the unconscious patient wants. Don't be that guy.

5. Get a Satellite Locator

Actually, I ain't got this yet. They're kinda pricey. But if you're type a vanlife takes ya outta cell range, look at a personal locator beacon or satellite messenger. Both work off satellite, so ya just need sky where you're at.

Traveling Mailbox ad

Also See ...

Read More »