Queen of Trades; Travel and Photography- Category [Travel/Stories/Tips]

Hellllo Everybody! 

   Its been a while since ive posted but I am back and ready to get into the regular routine of posting once again. 

So with that being said here is what to expect. I am once again leaving in late September and traveling around in the U.S until mid March. I have many ideas as to where I will be visiting this time around and it all starts with the Grand Canyon. Oh yes, the Grand Canyon. This magical place was the start of my love of traveling and we are finally returning once again. Dad and I have some big plans for this time around and I couldn't be more excited to go back. We will be spending 7 magical days out there together, exploring and enjoying the peace this area gives. Of course, I am mostly excited to do more travles with  my Dad becuase well..its always a fun time with him. Plus this place was one of the first ones we visited together after I got out of high school so it will be a blast from the past for us. 

Once im done with the Grand Canyon Dad will return home and I will continue on my journey in the van. I plan to go North for a month or so and then head back down south towards the Vegas area to take my time exploring. My last trip out west I realized that I really liked the Vegas area a lot and want to go back to see what else I can explore with Lylah. It also has some amazing boondocking areas that have strong cell connections so that I can work without paying for a campground. For me that is a huge plus. 

I plan to take it slower this time and not go any further North than Idaho falls. I learned some hard lessons last time and as much as I love going North West I also realized that Gimli is a real piece of work in the snow and Ice. I had more than one heart attack while I was out there last time and I plan to not recreate those times. Of course I always expect something ot happen but I rather avoid the slidding that comes with those conditions. So we have a different game plan in mind. 

With that being said Gmili is finished and he is ready to rock and roll. There are a few minor things were waiting on but for the most part all of the upgrades are complete. I am excited and nervous to get back on the road and I know Lylah is ready to explore and live this wild life that she loves so much. 

So here we go. Getting ready for another amazing adventure. 



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Great news! The van maintenance is complete. Not going to lie the list was a lot longer than I expected it to be when it came to things that needed to be fixed. For a long time, the van has had this growl and I thought that was part of the van, thinking that he just liked to make noise. To be honest I don't mind a little bit of grunge. My Volkswagon has this grungy sound and even though it's annoying to most people I love the way it sounds. It gives it character so when I bought Gimli I thought that was just part of his character. Turns out it wasn't. 

The alternator was the source of the growl and luckily there was a place in town that was able to fix it. Along with the alternator being the source of the growl, the intake had a pretty good leak going on which lead to high long-term fuel trims. Along with these issues stacked on everything else, the list was quite long in terms of what needed to be fixed or changed. Of course, there are a few other things to be done before I head back out but in terms of the main components that make the van safe and ready for travel, we now have those completed. 

The next step in Gimli is the last part of the build. Currently, we're looking for a way to make the passenger seat rotate so that I can use that as a seat for work, and we're going to build a cabinet area that goes all the way from the passenger seat to the bed frame on the passenger side. The passenger doors will be able to be opened for airflow if I so choose, but you will no longer be able to get in and out. This will also stop the power drain on one side and hopefully stop me from accidentally draining the battery by having one of those doors accidentally propped open. 

It will also make storing kitchen supplies easier as well as make my life easier for food quality. With a cooler, there is always a chance of it being ruined by temp, ice, dunking in water for a long time, etc. So we will also be upgrading to a fridge for more of a boondocking experience. 

It's a relief to know that were so close to Gimli's completion. I can't wait to see how everything turns out. 

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Its May 1st. Waking up this morning was a strange feeling becuase it was the day I was supposed to arrive back in Tennessee. But due to the van giving me strange noises that made me nervous everytime I turned it on I made the deicison to come home early. Now that ive had time to settle and work on the van with Dad it became apparent that I amde the right call. There was a long list of things that needed to be done. Some of them are easy to do but take a lot of time to get right. 

This is the list 

  • Install new radio 
  • Back up camera install 
  • redo carpet in front section 
  • Build cabinet area (passenger side)
  • bigger batteries
  • Install swival seat???

Along with this list we also had maintence to do. I learned how to do the parking break on the van and also got to learn how to change out the spark plugs. Along with these changes dad discovered my front shocks were totalled and I honestly have no idea how long they have been done for. Needless to stay I got lucky that they didnt just fall apart completely on me. That would have been a very bad phone call with plenty of curse words and lots of tears. 

We still havent gotten the sound tracked down yet. The weird gruff that he was doing is a question mark but that will come after I get the new carpet installed along with the seats back in place.

So far the radio has been installed along with the backup camera. Im excited for those updates becuase the old radio had a terrible blue light that would blind you at night. It also made the occasional weird noise that you never got warning about. It would start and for hours would just keep going. It sounded like a shrill coming from under the radio and I Swear I was ready to murder someone when it came on during long drives. 

With the radio now changed out and the camera installed we can move forward. I maanged to scrape up as much of the old glue as possible and we even found a wire that was shorting from bad placement by the previous owners. With those tasks completed its time to put down the new carpet. Next stop, carpet store. 


To help with future travels I do have art pieces for sale. Down below is one of my new favorites. Click the link to purchase. 

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It's been Two weeks since I've been home. I feel somewhat back to normal now that I've settled back in. 

Going from a van back to living in a home that ISNT on wheels is a big transition. Especially when it comes to finding the right balance between work and normal activities. Mostly though it is exhausting. The transition is a lot to take on and it's different from the way it felt when it was only two months. For seven months my "home" has been wherever I've parked. Vegas, Stanley, Pheonix, Valley of Fire, Bozeman, and so many other beautiful locations. Every day was a new adventure and it was filled with new tastes, new views, and new people that I got to meet. Being home is nice in the sense that I get to go back to a normal workout routine, I get to hang out with family, cuddle my wonderful kitty Spice,  and of course, I have access to a hot shower (which has been my best friend since I've been back)

Now that I feel like I'm settled back in I can take the time to focus on the next steps. Currently, we're fixing the van. We did the parking brake and now we're working to find the source of the weird noise that started in Casper, Wyoming. There are a few possibilities but it's unclear yet as to the source. Once the big fixes are done we have one more upgrade to do to the inside of the van before I finally say that it's completed. I'm excited to do these upgrades and I can't wait to see the final product. This will be the cherry on top of this design. 

As for Youtube, I do have some videos in process and I am also practicing my spray paint work. I even have a few for sale right now. 

Stay tuned for what is to come. 


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We made it home. It was earlier than planned but we made it back. Originally we were gonna be home on May 1st but Gimli started making very unfun sounds and I didn't feel like going to a mechanic to spend more money on things that may or may not fix it. So with little time to spare, I made the decision to head home from Rapid City, South Dakota. From there it is over twenty hours to get home and it was quite the journey to get back. It took us roughly three and a half days to get home and the last leg of the trip took nearly ten hours to get back. It was a journey and I felt like death once it was over. Not only did we drive but I stopped a few times to work and I also found a place to run 4 miles with Lylah before sitting in the van and hauling ass to get home. 

We arrived at three in the morning and needless to say, I Was excited about a hot shower and to be clean before I hopped in my bed and passed out. The next few days have been a whirlwind of getting things together. I've been cleaning out the van, tackling a mountain of laundry, and have been going through my belongings from in the van and putting them in boxes for the time being. 

There are things that I have been mentally sorting through. A lot of them are small thoughts about the items I brought with me this time around. I'm configuring what I want to have and not have for next time. I used almost 90% of what I brought which is impressive and I'm very happy with that number. The 10% that I didn't use I'm ready to filter out and not bring it again. Even small adjustments can really help out in the future. 

I also have a plan for this living space and because of that I have one more configuration I want to tackle before the van is just as close to perfect as it can get. I'm excited, nervous, and ready to tackle the long list of things I want to do this summer and I hope you all are ready cause it's going to be a lot. We're getting set up for success (hopefully) and I'm ready to see how things play out and see if all this work is something I can sustain over time. 

Of course, with coming home I brought back Beer and something a little fancier for Dad as a thank you and as a pre-payment for the frustration of teaching me vehicle lingo over the summer. I need to learn but I also know that I can get frustrated easily so I'm hoping that doesn't happen too often. I'm sure in the end I will be grateful to learn what I need to for a more successful trip. 

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