Ursula Sadiq

"Hey, how did I get here?", asks the once and future geek. "Each step made sense along the way, didn't it?" Didn't it?

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I got the licence plate and it's now registered all legal like in Delaware. Hurray.

But of course it is getting a vanity tag, so this tag is just temporary. I put it on anyway, because I may need to get a Christmas Tree in it this weekend.

I called the local RV store about installing shore power for me. I know I *could* do it myself, but this (and the ceiling vent) I'm quite happy to pay a professional. .. they haven't called me back.

I started removing the inside fluff, err, wall panels. So far no rust! Yay. I'm thinking I may reuse the panels after I put insulation in the walls. I wonder if I can paint/stencil them. ... I don't really want plain black walls.

I ordered insulation. I'm going with Haverlock Wool for the walls/ceiling because reasons. It should get here in 4-6 weeks. Although I'm going with polyiso insulation for the floor, covered probably with 1/4" plywood. Also because reasons. I'll doubtlessly go into the reasons at some point, but this is pretty much the case for wool

The resources out there are staggering. Quite the subculture, it's easy to get sucked into "research" for hours on end. MUST RESIST. . . this GreenRV site sucked me in today on my insulation and flooring research. And will likely do so again in the future.

Current effort:

Step NOW: Continue to remove interior fluff and unneeded stuff

Step NEXT: Drag in my camping cots to see how/if they'd fit (I have 3). And the trifold mattresses (I have 2). Nag the RV store on shore power/vent fan installation.

Step AFTER Next: Get moving on the floor.

Pending: Electrical design -beyond Shore Power hookup (Alternator Power Hookup). 

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I would agree with paying pros for certain elements (including the ones you mention). My philosophy is that things like water and electric can damage other elements pretty easily, so (where reasonable) I shove money at those problems. If it's about making it look good, or functional in any way that _doesn't_ put other aspects at risk, I'm good enough and smart enough to figure it out.

That's actually my life in general, honestly.
 

I got a Medium Top Used 150-Ford Transit 2015 Cargo Van. Bought it in Connecticut, picked it up last weekend, getting it tagged at the Delaware DMV today (God willing and the creek don't rise.)

It currently has shelves and a bulkhead divider in it. Which I need to take out. I posted the shelves/bulkhead on FB marketplace and craigslist, no takers yet.

I do NOT plan to live in this van full time. I do plan to take it to parks for a few nights (the type of parks that have bathhouses). I plan to sleep in it at rest stops. I don't expect to be spending more than 5 nights in a row in it. 

I expect it will be just me sleeping in the van 50% of the time; 25% of the time to have my kid with me, 25% of the time to have another adult with me.

My first scheduled trip is to the Delaware Seashore state park (Indian River Inlet) for 3 nights in early April, most likely with my 10yr old. The second trip will be 2 weeks of hiking in Utah with my brother. We'll sleep in the van on the drive out and back, but will be in tents/hotels for the hike. These are guided hikes where the outfitters take care of sleeping accommodations.

So I have 3-1/2 months to get this van into "sleep for 3 nights" in 40degree weather condition. Also to get myself into "hike for 2 weeks" condition.

I've been thinking and dreaming on how to proceed. The blank canvas is a bit daunting, but also exciting. So breaking the build down into smaller and smaller pieces so I can attack them one at a time. 

Step NOW: Get it tagged

Step NEXT: Remove the Shelving & bulkhead (and other interior fluff), which I could use an extra set of hands for. Which I don't have, so it'll be interesting. In non-Covid time I'd get a neighbor to help - in particular the young dad from across the street who is always very helpful when you, say, need a half dead mouse dispatched from under your sink or need help changing a flat. Or I'd throw a deconstruction party of sorts. Stupid plague. Just going to have to figure out how to muddle through from within my bubble.

Step AFTER Next: Figure out Vent Fan installation. Figure out heat and AC (?) options.

Pending: Electrical design - Shore Power hookup, Alternator Power Hookup; Insulation choices;  Sound deadening

Ok, it's apparently to me now that I need a step 0: Start a document to get all my thoughts together. Doing that now.

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For some reason I thought you would turn it into a mobile crafter/makerspace, but a camper van is also awesome! Congrats on your movable tree house!
I still might turn it into a mobile makerspace. ... with a bed for those overnight crafting adventures.
It occurs to me that the two are not mutually exclusive. Especially if you're thinking about it from the beginning. :)
OMG, DON'T TELL MICHELE!
Rob 1d
This sounds SO exciting.
Offer to help stands. Wearing of masks, and good ventilation (van doors open etc) would obviously be a requirement, and I _100%_ understand if that's still too bubble breaking for you.

Also, if I'm honest, I'd probably be really annoying to work with since I've watched so many #vanlife videos. I'd have so many solutions that it might lead to Option Paralysis which does no one any good. :P

Moral of the story: psyched for you!
I may take you up on that. Lets see how January looks. I ordered insulation today, which has a 4-6 week lead-time.

I'm pretty good at not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good, so I'm not SO worried about option paralysis.
Sweet! I'll enjoy following along until then. :)
Wow, so cool!
Have you named it? Is "Beethoven" too obvious?

I'm confident you are waaaay more than capable to handle this project yourself, but if you want to bounce an idea off three pals of mine who have lived / toured / camped in said vans, my friends are really lovely humans and I'm sure they'd love to chat with you.

One set of humans is a couple: the folk duo from Newark known as The Honey Badgers. They toured the US making music for over a year living in said van. They did all the modifications themselves. They even had a doggo with them.

My other pal James is a writer, and he got himself a sprinter van after the 2016 election so he could travel the US and talk to random people about things so he could try and wrap his head around how a Cheeto could get elected. Anyway, I don't believe he ever traveled with any guests.

I'm so excited for your adventures!


I have NOT named it. The moniker "the white whale" was floated, but I'm scared of whales, so that got nixed immediately.

I've spent enough time in RVs to pretty much know what I want. And I'm not in it full time, so it doesn't really need stuff like plumbing (though I might add some anyway) But yes, I may need some advice once I get going on the wiring plans.
SWEET. This, this is what money is for.
Indeed! Until the Money is no more!!
 

In a lovely November weekend, I head out to my local winery. While buying a case, I notice there is a photo of a Mason-Dixson crownstone framed on the wall.

I get excited. “You have a Mason-Dixson stone! Can I see it?!!?”

Alas, I was informed, it’s on the owner’s property, and not available for public viewing. Except EXCEPT, occasionally when they do the behind the scenes vineyard tours. Which they aren’t doing now due to Covid, but expect to do so again. As one of the workers there carried my case out, he took me to the side and pointed out where the stone is - in the distance, behind the vines, under a tree. 

I am so going back for the Vineyard tour.

Mason and Dixon and crew placed "crownstones" every 5 miles, way back in 1763. Smaller stone markers were placed in the inbetween miles. The stones were quarried in England, and crown stones were engraved with the crests of the two great houses that commissioned the survey: House Penn and House Cavert. (Calvert was also Lord Baltimore, and the Maryland state flag has this same graphic on two quardrents of its flag)

Five miles north of the Harvest Ridge Winery is the town of Marydel, on the border of Maryland and Delaware. In an unassuming spot by the road is a little chain marked square, with a crownstone inside. My understanding is that this marker was removed and displayed in St. Louis in 1904, and later in Baltimore. It was returned to Marydel in 1954 and was reset in 1964. So it may be a few feet off the original spot. 

The next day, we traveled south to the south western most point of Delaware. I planned the route to take us across on the Woodland Ferry. (Google maps doesn't realize this ferry is an option, so you have to convince it.) Apparently this ferry has been running since 1743ish, by the Cannon family, who were eventually granted “exclusive ferrying rights”. The Cannons ran the ferry for 100 years, among other business ventures. The Deldot brochure on the ferry mentions a jilted groom, strongarm foreclosures, slaving, and honey disputes that end in death. Apparently the Cannons were assholes, and their demise was not mourned. The county and eventually the state took over the ferry, which is free to use today. It’s about a 2 minutes crossing and can fit 4-6 vehicles at a time. (And from my home in Dover to the southwest corner of Delaware, only a 5 minute detour from google’s “fastest route”.)

Anyhow, at the south western most point of Delaware there is - you guessed it - and monument placed by Mason & Dixon. It is another crownstone, called the Transpeninsular Midpoint Marker and it is much better protected than the Marydel one. Also in the protective cage are 2 smaller survey stones done by other surveyors before Mason & Dixon came around. Mason & Dixon verified the earlier survey work. There is ALSO a third smaller stone, which apparently is just there because when they were building the cage, a local had it, thought it looked similar and belonged with the others, so put it with them. Another point for my Delaware is Awesome tally.

People throw change into the cage. Dunno why. We left our 2cents and moseyed on.

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Out of 24 county equivalents in Maryland, exactly half are named for people directly related to the Calvert family.
Cool! History is cool.
I am trying to engage my kid on seeing the connections. Astronomy! Surveys! Taxes! The crests! The Flag!
Ferrys before Bridges! ... mostly she just roles her eyes at me. But I'm hoping some of it sinks in.

She did seem to perk up when I said that Jeremiah Dixon was a miscreant that got disowned from the (Quaker) church. But I'm hoping she remembers the other stuff too
Some of it will sink in. Says the guy whose father dragged him to every civil war and American revolution battlefield in driving distance.
 

My research of Mason-Dixon markers on the Delaware Border. All of which I plan to go see in the near(ish) future.




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At the northwest corner of Delaware, where it meets Pennslyvania & Maryland, is the “Tri-State Marker”. It was first located by Mason and Dixon back in 1765, though the marker was placed later, in 1849. I learned pretty much everything I know about it from this newspaper article from 2015: https://www.newarkpostonline.com/news/new-trail-provides-first-public-access-to-mason-dixon-tri-state-marker/article_a5ec3a04-fe1a-58d4-a317-93c3e887c863.html

I’ve hiked to the marker twice this year, from Delaware's White Clay Creek State Park starting at the Chambers House Nature Center parking lot. It’s about a 3.5 mile roundtrip, meaning an hour and a half walk for me. I walk slow, and stop to look at things a lot. I had the path mostly to myself when I hiked it Friday afternoon, saw just 6 others in the 1.5 hours I was walking.

I understand you can also walk to the monument through other shorter pathways, but I haven’t done so. That’s an adventure for another time.

Note: The Chambers House nature center is also the location of one of the Selfie spots for the Delaware State Parks passport program. It's still closed due to COVID, but I saw some staff heading in to work. They arehoping to repoen in January. They gave me a map, and seemed to think the walk to the monument was "far". 

Trip start

OUTBOUND

Trail is mostly wooded trees, but it does open up to a field or two upon occasion. You cross from Delaware to Pennsylvania pretty early in the hike. And yeah, I bough hiking boots (Merrells). Last time I hiked this in the Spring, I had just bought hiking sandles (Tevas), which I love. But it's getting too crisp for sandles.

THE MONUMENT

I later learned (from reading that article above) that the monument has no D because in Mason-Dixon's time, Delaware was still part of Pennsylvania. Hence 2 P’s , 2 M’s no D.

THE WAY BACK

On the way back you cross into Delaware, then back into Pennsylvania, then back into Delaware.  Also, there is a peace love & happiness tree (Yo peeps: don't graffiti trees, even with nice sentiments). I understand there is a CAVE near one of these PA/DE borders, on the PA side. Something to look for next time.

So, pretty easy hike, cool historical marker, not crowded. Recommended.

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A beautiful day for hiking. If you ever lack things to look for, https://www.geocaching.com has thousands, including https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC1EN31 in White Clay Creek State Park.
I just today learned about letterboxing. Which sounds like fancy geocaching... I might give that a try
Ursula Sadiq 10/30edited
Yeah, letterboxing long predates the practice of "using multi-million dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods".
 

I take myself out and about to expand my horizons on a fairly regular basis. I'm retired, and mom only 50% of the time. Meaning even after house keeping, I have a lot of free time. In this year of not-leaving-the-country, and not willing to risk getting on a domesticc flight, I've been learning about things to do within driving distance.

I've been thinking of my trips as Quests or Missions. These are the ones I'm currently working on:

1. Delaware State Park Passport Quest. One goes to each of 19 state parks, take a self at a designated location in each park, and submit the photos to the park system via an online form. I think you get a free pass for next year if you complete it. I've been to 13, 6 to go!  https://destateparks.com/Passport

2. Delaware Tourism has 5 "Trails" you can complete.

  • Delware on Tap, (I'd be 11/34th done if I'd know about this earlier)
  • Delaware Discoveries (3/9th done!),
  • Delaware History,
  • Delaware Outdoor, and
  • Delaware Culinary trail.

Frankly, I just learned that there were 5 of them. Like, today. I've been working on the Delaware Discoveries one, but now I think I'll work on all of them. At once! Yeah! https://www.visitdelaware.com/things-to-do/trails/

3. The Mason-Dixon markers: Ok, I made this one up. But there is the Tri-State Marker in White Clay Creek park (been there! twice!), a Mason-dixon crownstone marker across from a gas station in MaryDel, and a Middle Point Marker on Delaware's southern border near Delmar.  There may be another crownstone 10 miles north of the Marydel stone. It's a bit of a scavenger hunt. There is a site that documents all of the PA-MD stones, but not the Delaware ones.

4. For beyond Delaware: I found out last month that the National Park system has a Passport book. Like a real booklet that is setup for you to collect stamps. I have 4 stamps already! https://americasnationalparks.org/passport-to-your-national-parks/

Are there more quests? I'm sure there are. But theses are the ones I'm keen on just now. 

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I've been wanting to make a project of getting to the 4 extreme points of the continental US for a while. I've only been to the northwesternmost point (cape flattery in WA) so far, but key west seems nice. and I'll be going to Maine with Ellynne pretty regularly for years to come, so I'm sure we can collect Grand Isle pretty easily. so then there's just Lompoc CA to work out.
CM Adams 10/25
That sounds like an awesome quest.