October 30, 2011

Early Snow

What a mess. Last night western Massachusetts got buried under 14-24 inches of snow. Normally us New Englanders freak when we hear there's snow. We run to the nearest grocery and stock up on grocery carts full of canned goods, just in case the powers out for more than a day. To say we tend to overreact is an understatement, but this time we blew it. We didn't believe them. It's October! We get flurries, not blizzards! Wrong.

I slept in the campus parking lot last night because it was already snowing pretty heavily and I didn't want to drive to the other side of town. I woke up to a fully buried car and a winter wonderland. The leaves are still on most of the trees so the added weight of the snow snapped branches all over town. Roads are closed, traffic lights are out, there was one gas station open this morning accepting cash only, but they've run out of gas. The grocery opened on back up power, which means minimal lights and no perishable food. It looked like the apocalyptic films, bare shelves, grocery carts blocking isles. A lot of people haven't gotten their first oil delivery yet so families were coming to the grocery for the heat. One woman told me it was warmer outside than in her apartment.

There are a lot of things I miss about sticks and bricks dwelling: Walking around in my underwear, having a place that's yours and no one else, putting a pot of tea on the stove and curling up with a book. But when the power goes out everyone's on my side of the fence. No TV or computers, no stove or microwave. Bet there are a few people tonight who wish they had my handy dandy tin can stove.

If you're in the northeast, hang in there; It could be a week before we all have power again. If your in a warmer part of the country, pat yourself on the back.


For a good time listen to this guy (note the accent) update us on the weather as of last night. He's a town or so away from me so I'll be interested to see the aftermath pictuers.

October 28, 2011

Return of Chris/Nick

I woke up at 5:30 am this morning to 30 degree temps. Yes, that's 3-0 degrees. I was buried under three blankets and a comforter so I didn't really notice the chill until I sat up to shut my alarm off. I started the car and curled back up until the temp went up 25 degrees and it was safe to come out. Lucky for me the shelter opens in less than a week and I don't have to worry about winterizing (or freezing to death).

It looks like there's a road trip in my future! A few years ago I worked on a farm with some great people who have since headed off to all corners of the country. It was suggested that we stage a New Years Eve reunion in Tampa Florida, so we are taking trains, plane, and automobiles from such scenic locations as California, Arkansas, Texas, Pennsylvania, and New York. Because the go go gadget red car won't make it to Florida (the will is there, but I don't trust her temperament) I was thinking of hoping a Greyhound bus. $186 round trip from Hartford, CT to Tampa, FL and it takes 35 hours each way. While I'm totally up for that a friend and I might carpool down for cheaper, which would be awesome. Maybe we can make a DC stop on the way back and spend some time at the Smithsonian! I could make this trip last weeks if allowed, but it will probably be more like a week.

In other news guess who I ran into at Stop and Shop last night... can't guess? Well, I'm getting my dinnertime salad bar (to be wrapped in tortillas) and who should come bee lining for me from the other side of the produce section but Chris-maybe-Nick. You may recall the date from hell last month with the guy whose name I couldn't remember. This is a synopsis of last nights conversation:

NC: I really liked talking to you and it was so nice to meet someone sophisticated (say what?) and intelligent (ah, flattery).
Me: We didn't really talk much
NC: Yeah, I feel like I kind of blew it but I really want a second chance (no eye contact)
Not my actual phone but you get the idea
Me: um, what would you do differently?
NC: um, you know, just talk more (was obviously unprepared for my stealth pop quiz)
Me: I see
NC: So what are you doing this weekend?
Me: Nothing
NC: Do you want to hang out?
Me: Not really

Needless to say he's texted me (classy, right?) asking for another shot three times since last night. How do you block a cell number on my Flintstone aged phone?

October 27, 2011

Dwelling with Pets

Many if not most of us planned to enter the mobile lifestyle. We did some research, talked to some people, maybe even had time for a test run. Turns out, we were lucky. Over the past year there have been hundreds of people forced into mobile dwelling out of necessity and many of them are less than prepared.

They aren't ready to give up their stuff, so they try to cram it all into their cars. They don't know how to stay clean, so they often run into hygiene problems. Today I wanted to touch on a subject that has been getting sporadic media coverage since the recession: Vehicle dwelling with pets.

Pets are family, even those of us who don't have pets can appreciate that, and when people find themselves houseless, thrust into a new lifestyle, the last thing they want to do is give up their furry friends. This means that people are not only learning how to take care of themselves on the road but how to care for an animal. Some people can pull this off, make it work, find a balance. Some people just can't make the necessary adjustments and it's not healthy for anyone. Here are some recent cases that made the news.
These are only a few cases, but there have been hundreds. Something that often does not make the news are all those people doing it the right way, people who have found the needed balance.
So, if you're thinking of mobile living with your pet, do some research, ask some questions, think about what will work best for you both. When consitering vehicle dwelling with an animal keep in mind
  1. How long with the animal be in the vehicle each day?
    • Do you work long days?
    • What's the season?
      • It's hard to keep a pet in the car during the summer unless you are prepared
  2. Will you be able to keep the animal (and yourself) clean?
    • Think about what your car going to be like with a litter box and if you'll have the time to keep it clean.
  3. Is there space for you to both live comfortably?
    • This ain't the Ritz! Some pets are better suited to small spaces and the lifestyle than others
There are plenty of happy vehicle dwelling pet owners, so don't feel like just because you're houseless you have to give up your buddy. Do, however, do some research and make the necessary adjustments to your space so that you can both be comfy.

If you are a vehicle dweller with a pet feel free to leave a comment about your system. First hand knowledge is always helpful!

      October 26, 2011

      swissRoomBox Portable Camper

      If you're a gadget nut like I am, you'll love this! The future of mobile living? Maybe, but first they need to make it more affordable. It's a couple grand for the full set up (see price list) but maybe it will give you some ideas for your own car dwelling set up.


      Check out their Website at
      and the

      October 25, 2011

      Andy Bussell, Truck Dweller

      Someone sent me this super sweet video and I thought I'd pass it along! Andy Bussell is a college student (Like Moi!) who has lived in his truck for quite a while (like, years!).

      Here's some more Info on Andy
      Keep that info coming, you know I love mail:)

      October 24, 2011

      Suction Cups and Mr. Bean

      I woke up at 6am this morning. 38 degrees according to my new thermometer and, though I'm snug under my blankets, I'm beginning to worry about my electronics and the low temps. My phone was a bit sluggish and I can only imagine how unhappy my Kindle was in the front seat.

      I have lately discovered the wonder of suction cups in a space where most of my walls are glass. I used yellow duct tape to cover the smaller black windows (not too stealth, I know, but picture will follow) and am now able to have all sorts of suction cup stuff like hooks and baskets.

      I took myself to the movies on Sunday afternoon. Sat in the back row of an almost empty theater to watch the new Johnny English movie.
      “It would seem to appeal mostly to hard-core fans of the ‘Mr. Bean’ star and children who laugh at the sight of men being repeatedly kicked in the groin.” – Lou Lumenick, New York Post
      Yeah, ok... That's about accurate.

      Two midterm papers due this afternoon so it's back to the books. Stay warm

      October 19, 2011

      UK Nomad News

      Some news out of the UK today. This is just an example of a nomadic lifestyle coming into conflict with a sedentary society.

      Violent clashes as UK police begin clearing illegal Traveler camp

      This is from earlier


      Afterthought: Cyndi brought up a really good point about this video. The government and media has really painted this group as "homeless" rather than a community of travelers and that distinction has greatly effected popular sentiment in the UK. I would highly encourage people to read up on this issue. Society views different groups at different levels of threat or safety. Our opinions are always influenced by popular sentiment and how the greater society views these groups. 

      There are people in this world that are mobile and people who are not. When these two lifestyles meet there is often conflict. Check out these other gypsy struggles around the world and please keep in mind that there is very rarely a right answer:

      October 15, 2011

      Ms. X Guest Post

      Hey all you cyber vagabonds!
      I get a lot of emails from all types of people. Some have great ideas for improving my situation, some are new to the life and are looking for practical advice, and some just drop me a line to share their progress. Our guest today (I'll call her ms. X for privates sake... And because it would be an awesome super hero name.) is a fellow female college student who, like me, is juggling studies with a very alternative lifestyle and ironing out the details along the way. Because I know how much we love new community members and inspiration I asked her to do a guest post here on the Tuckerbag. So here she is to talk about her experience: Ms. X:

      Last year after Christmas break I walked into my apartment and got so fed up with all the stuff I had that I just kind of went nuts and got rid of almost everything.  I hate cleaning.  I take it back, I don’t mind cleaning, a little, to keep a place neat, but that in depth clean everything, dust everything, maintain everything, every week drives me crazy.  So my quarters took on a very Spartan atmosphere and I really liked it. 
      At the end of last semester my landlord raised the rent.  I looked around for alternatives, but I’m a bargain shopper and my apartment was already the best bargain on the rental housing market.  Spending time at home just started turning sour for me. I realized how much it cost, how much I didn’t want any of it, so I spent all my time away from the house.  I basically started living out of my car.  I cooked at friends’ houses, showered at the gym, napped at the library.  I only went home to sleep, change clothes, and wash dishes.  The only thing I did miss at home was my cat so I started bringing him along too.  I got him a leash and harness and put a litter box and food and water in the floor boards.  He loves it.  He is an excellent traveler.  When the weather was mild enough I left him in the car with the windows cracked while I went to class or work. (I would never do this if the temperature was even a little bit high.)   He settled in nicely. 
      We both just started living out of my car 24/7.  We even drove out to the local national forest campsites and just slept there a few nights.  Then my duh moment arrived.  Why not just get rid of the apartment entirely?  So that’s what I did.  I broke my lease, no deposit return, but he wasn’t going to give it back to me anyway, rented a small storage room for a while, and moved into my car.  At first I parked in friends’ driveways and in various places all over campus.  We have this lovely spot down by the river with a bunch of trees.  I can pull my car in there and it is really beautiful and secluded.  I string up my hammock (I slept in a hammock at my apartment too) on nice nights and just enjoy.  My cat climbs in there with me on colder nights.
      Now I park in several different areas.  There are some really nice suburban neighborhoods on the edge of town with some mini-wilderness type areas that are perfect for sleeping in.  I can park at the campus library parking lot.  My church also gave me a key so I camp there sometimes which is really nice because of the bathrooms, laundry room, showers, and fully stocked kitchen.  It is a little creepy out there at night so I don’t stay there really often.  I also just pull in at hotel parking lots sometimes.  They have security guards who make sure everything is safe, but they aren’t diligent enough to notice that the car doesn’t belong to a guest.
      I do my laundry at the Laundromat or at a friend’s house in exchange for chores or dinner.  I can cook in a variety of places.  My backpacking stove works anywhere.  I also have a rice cooker and an electric wok that I can hook up in the student lounge, the campus cafeteria, or at work.  I shower mostly at the on campus gym, but I have used the showers in the vet tech labs before…shhh, don’t tell.  I like setting up an outdoor shower when I go to the local campgrounds.  They are really basic and secluded and no one bothers me.
      I make a note to befriend mechanics wherever I go, so maintaining my vehicle is no problem.  Thanks to my dad I have some basic vehicle maintenance knowledge, but I am learning to do more and more to fix my own vehicle.  Once a week I take some quarters and unload everything at the car wash.  I vacuum everything and shampoo regularly.  I can’t stand strong odors.  I scoop the litter box three or four times a day.  Part of the bargain I have with my Mom and Dad is that I will take every security measure possible.  So I sleep within an arm’s reach of a crowbar, a hunting knife, pepper spray, a taser, and a handgun (licensed of course).  Seems a little extreme but Daddy is very protective.  He also has me signed up for self defense classes next summer. Who knows, maybe it’ll be fun. 
      So far the police haven’t disturbed me.  Then again, this is a very eccentric city full of eccentric people.  It is not an unusual sight to see people walking around in strange costumes or a musical group setting up on the side walk at the most random times of the year.  We have tons of people who set up tents or just carry their sleeping bags around on bicycles and then sleep outside at night year around.  The climate is tropical; I can still wear flip flops, shorts, and tank tops in December sometimes.  The police are really easy going with a great sense of humor.  The transition has been smooth, but I have lived here a few years.  Oh, one thing I have found really useful.  I went ahead and shelled out the money for a $50 donation to the local police department.  In exchange I got a bumper sticker that identified me as a supportive, law-abiding citizen and a friend of the police.  This has saved me many times.  It does not necessarily keep me out of trouble, but it gives me the benefit of the doubt.
      So far keeping my secret has not been a big deal.  I let a few close friends know for safety purposes, though the rest are in the dark.  As far as dating goes, I ride my bike so that no one volunteers to drive me home.  At first I found it difficult to avoid the inevitable questions about where I live, but I have learned to avoid the topic altogether so the dating scene has improved a little bit.   

      Good luck Ms. X and please keep us updated. I love that police bumper sticker idea!
      There have always been awesome people vehicle dwelling around the country but the sketchy economy has really brought it into the main stream. There's a whole segment of the population who are faced with telling their families, getting to work, bathing, cooking, etc. The more we can learn from each other the better, so thanks for keeping in touch. 
      Questions? You can email me and I'll do my best but for really knowledgeable people check out the Cheap Living forum at http://www.cheaprvlivingforum.com. Good luck to all!

      October 12, 2011

      The New(est) Kindle

      Hola mis amigas!

      I've been getting a lot of questions about this lately.

      So, I don't recommend products on this site unless I think they're super awesome (This is also why I don't allow advertising at the moment). You may remember that I got a Kindle back at the beginning of the summer. It might be the best investment I ever made considering my living situation. While I miss the feel of a real book, there is just no way to get the selection of books for free and in a devise that saves me so much space.

      Anyway, I just saw that Kindle has a new touch screen version for $99. That's less than the one I got just a few months ago (and mine isn't touch screen). They also have a more basic one for $79, but you'll have to do some research.

      My coworker: You live in your car and you own a Kindle?!
      Me: um... yeah

      It's all about priorities.

      October 11, 2011

      Winter Residence

      Some of you have been asking about my winter plans and I figured it was time to get the ball rolling. I hope that everyone (especially you fellow New England vagabonds) have been looking into either winterizing your rides or finding a warm dry place to hibernate. Per usual, an awesome solution fell into my lap last minute. Well, maybe I guided it just a little… Here me out!

      I’m in college for Sociology (among other things) and focusing in social work. Living in my car has allowed me to meet some awesome people I’d never have come in contact with otherwise. They feel better talking to me when they find out we’re in the same boat.

      So I was surfing the web, looking for cheap places to winter over, and I thought “hmmm… homeless shelter?” Yes, there is a difference (huge!) between being houseless and being homeless. Please keep in mind that every cent I have goes to college or food, so I don’t get to be picky. Anyway I totally lucked out. There is a church right next to my school that hosts a shelter and food kitchen from November through April. I’m going to volunteer there as well as sleep and eat, so not only will I be warm and fed all winter but I can put them on my resume. Sweet, right? It’s just a cot but, like I’ve said, I’m not picky. The best part is that I don’t have to drive all winter, so I don’t have to worry about the car making it through the snow.

      So that’s the plan! Shelters are a great way to give back to the community and have a safe place to stay this winter. Please leave comments with other suggestions for winter residences, and stay warm!

      October 7, 2011

      A Cold Morning

      It was so cold when I woke up this morning that there was ice (ICE!) on the windows. It was 6am and I couldn’t convince myself that getting out of the warm covers was good idea. My solution? I reached for the umbrella (exposing as little skin as possible), used it to depress the clutch, turned the key, cranked the heat, and went back to bed.  Fifteen minutes later I woke up, but this time to a nice toasty car.

      Winter's coming!!