Monthly Archives: September 2016

First “Vlog”

John and I went on our first RV road trip this past weekend and we attempted to vlog it.

We drove up to Santa Rosa, California to visit John’s uncle and aunt. It was our first time taking the RV out on a trip like this and staying in it. We parked in John’s uncle’s driveway and slept in the RV.

It was fun! The driving is probably the least exciting part. We passed the hours by listening to the HarmonTown podcast. My favorite part of those podcasts is the D&D section. That’s pretty much the only reason I listen to the podcast. Although, I am a fan of Dan Harmon’s other work: Community and Rick and Morty. In fact during SXSW 2015 we went to the Community Season 6 party and got to see the cast of Community and Dan Harmon in person. That was pretty cool.

danharmon

I was so drunk at this event.

I tried to sneak into the upstairs party where the cast was hanging out but I failed miserably. I was super drunk and also I’m terrible at acting like I belong where I don’t belong. Oh well!

Unfortunately, at this years SXSW I missed the opportunity to go to HarmonQuest because I had no clue what it was and I didn’t even bother looking it up. Little did I know, that later, when I would watch the HarmonQuest show, I’d end up loving it and regretting not going. Sigh.

Back to the road trip… We went hiking on the first day up Taylor Mountain. It ended up being a much more grueling hike than we were expecting. We weren’t prepared at all. No water, no hats, and we didn’t have on proper shoes. We made it though. We also went and emptied the RV tanks for the first time but I didn’t include that in the video because I didn’t really film us doing it.

I liked Santa Rosa. John’s aunt and uncle are SUPER nice people. Piet, our dog, loved them right away. I hope we get to go back soon.

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Half Marathon Training Week 1 recap and My Running Story

I’m starting my training with Hal Higdon’s novice 5k plan because I have not run regularly since I ran a half marathon last December. I ran the Decker Challenge in Austin and it was my first half marathon ever.

decker

Do my fingers look less swollen like this?

I had never run that far before. In fact, before starting training for that race I had only ever run 6-8k tops.

For a first half marathon, I picked a HARD one. The Decker Challenge is full of hills, with a really long incline around mile 10.

deckerchallenge

Not my photo. I can’t believe I ran this.

I used Hal Higdon’s novice plan for half marathons to train for it. The longest run you do in that plan is a 10 miler the week before the race. According to Hal, you didn’t need to run more than that before your first half marathon, because the adrenaline and excitement you experience during the race will get you through to the end. Well, for me it was sheer willpower. After that huge hill at mile 10, it took EVERYTHING I had to get through that race. I HAD to finish. And I HAD to finish having run the whole thing. Those thoughts were the only things keeping me going. I had no music to push me and no podcasts to distract me. John was on a business trip at the time and I didn’t have many running friends or people who would willingly wake up early on Sunday morning to cheer me on. So, I didn’t even have that to keep me going…. just me and my thoughts. I was also running in between two pace groups, the 2:15 group I believe and the 2:20 group.For a lot of those last few miles I was running by myself.

I have never been good at running. Always huffing and puffing and lagging behind. Hating my life with every step. I remember being a senior in high school and having to run just one km during PE and I was dying. I was only 18, how embarrasing, right? I wasn’t overweight, just really unfit. I also have a pretty high resting heart rate. In the 90’s last time I checked, which really bothers me.

I didn’t start running for exercise until I was a Sophomore in college and I had gained the Sophomore 15. I had to start out really slowly. Run/walking until I could do 3 miles without walking. I was pretty confident in my running at that point. So much so that during the annual sportsfest at the university I was attending I signed up to run the one mile race after the original runner had cancelled. Sportsfest was just an event where different floors of the different dorm buildings at the school competed against each other. Some students were athletes, most were not, so it wasn’t a super serious competition. I had just had a bowl of oatmeal and the race was in half an hour, “yeah, I can totally do it.”

mile

Look at how confident I was

Well, I nearly barfed after that race. I did come in third though, out of four.

After that I didn’t run for a few years until I moved to Amsterdam and lived near the Amsterdamse bos (Amsterdam forest).

amsterdamsebos.jpg

Amsterdamse bos on a really good day. Also not my photo!

I decided I would start running in there and I started out slowly until I could run 6-8k without stopping. I would always quit in the winter time though because I couldn’t and still can’t stand the cold. In fact, it was the cold that stopped me from going running last year after the Decker Challenge and I lived in TEXAS.

When I moved to Austin I lived right next to a busy trail which was always full of runners.

trail.jpg

Just one of the many things I miss about Austin.

I got inspired to start running again after yet another hiatus and signed up for the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5 mile race. I had so much fun I decided I was going to train for a half marathon and the rest… the rest is history.

I have about nine months to train for this next half marathon which is why I’m starting with the 5k plan. I’m also taking my dog out running with me and he needs to slowly build up his miles too. He has gotten way out of shape since we left Austin.

fatdog

Time to get fit doggy!

I want to try to keep running after this race. Now that I live in California there are a bunch of cool races around: Big Sur, the North Face challenge (I think), the San Francisco half, the San Francisco women’s half, and so on and so forth.

I do really miss the trail I used to live by in Austin though. I just don’t see as many runners out here. I like running where other people are also running around me.

Training is going well so far. This week the longest run was 1.75 miles. Piet, my dog, is getting used to it too. When he hears my watch beep he starts running. I listen to podcasts while I run. If I listen to music I have a tendency to blast it and that’s not good for my ears. I find podcasts a lot more distracting than music too. I try to listen to inspirational podcasts to help me feel hopeful about my life. It’s a good start to my day.

How We Mounted Solar Panels Onto Our 1988 Toyota Sunrader

Last weekend we mounted the second set of our six solar panels to the roof of our RV. So, now our home reminds me of that car in the movie Honey, I Blew Up the Kid:

honeyishrunk

Dude was ahead of his time.

Not that that’s a bad thing. It feels good to get our electricity from the sun. Like we are really reducing our carbon footprint.

We decided to make a video out of the process in case anyone out there might find it useful. A video like this certainly would have been useful for us and would have saved us a lot of time! After a failed attempt at mounting the solar panels using long pieces of wood (not sure what we were thinking), my husband, John, did some reading online and found a much better way to do it. In the video we demonstrate this method.

Keep in mind, our solar panels do not tilt… yet. When we figure that out, we will definitely update. We needed to have solar panels STAT though, because we were running out of time before move in day into the RV. So, for now, they are just up there laying flat.

We are pretty frugal people, my husband more than I am, and cost was definitely something that my husband took into consideration when he purchased all the materials and especially in choosing solar panels. Our solar panels, like many of the things that we own, are second hand and we bought them on Craigslist for  $100 total. We have 6 used Acro 55w panels (~7v~8a). Total power when bought new would have been about 330 watts, but these are about a decade old, so we expect it to be less than that. Maybe 260 watts or so. The fact that they aren’t tilted, and we don’t live at the equator also limits power. But they work, and we can charge and use all of our devices in here (not including things like blender, flat irons, and such), so it’s good for now.

Here is a list of the materials we used:

All images taken from the Home Depot website or amazon.

  1. Two 1-1/2 in. x 14 gauge x 48 in. Zinc-Plated Slotted Angles

slotted-angle

2. 1/4 inch hex bolts 

hexbolts.jpg

 

3- 1/4 inch lock nuts

locknut

4- 1/4 inch zinc plated washers

washer.jpg

5- 1/4 inch neoprene washers

neoprene

6- VHB tape

7-T hinges

thinge

 

And the video describing the process is below:

If you are new to solar panels, it’s a good idea to do some reading about them. I am linking a pretty good post below that talks about voltage, watts, and amperes. You can find a bunch of videos on Youtube that talk more about connecting solar panels in series and in parallel and what that means. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! Any pointers are welcome too. Thanks for reading!

About watts, amps, and volts.

 

 

Full Time Living in the RV Week 1 Recap

It’s officially one week since we started living in our RV and so far things are going much better than expected. We started out the week with waking up super early at 6:30 AM so that we could get all of our morning stuff done before too many people were out and about. This included walking the dog, working out at the gym, showering at the gym, and preparing and eating breakfast. As the week progressed, however, we kept waking up later and later despite going to sleep at the same time every day: between 9:00 and 9:30 PM.

Today we woke up at 7:30 AM and still managed to get everything done as stealthily as possible before my husband had to go to work. I still prefer waking up a little earlier than that though and I’m going to start setting an alarm.

Parking has been going well too. We park in areas where we are allowed to park and move every 72 hours. This hasn’t been an issue so far. It helps that our RV fits into a standard parking space.

I have always had problems with certain noises when I am going to sleep, especially if it is repetitive. Typing, snoring, water dripping… these are all noises that I absolutely can not stand if I am trying to go to sleep. I think I might have a mild case of misophonia. I’ve been dealing with this by wearing ear plugs. Sometimes if I can still hear the noise through my ear plugs I get really angry and it prevents me from sleeping. Now that we live in the RV, sometimes the perfect parking spot will also be right next to something that makes a repetitive sound. I wear ear plugs but I can usually still hear things with them on. I’ve just had to deal with this. I’ve had to just force myself to deal with it. I think to myself, ‘I have no choice right now’ and I start counting in my mind. So far it has worked. I still have to wear the ear plugs though. I also NEVER take naps during the day or else I definitely won’t fall asleep.

The dog and I haven’t had problems with being too hot in the RV so far either. Summer is pretty much over though, so this isn’t really something we have to think about until next year. I’ve even been able to leave the dog in the RV by himself a few times for short periods of time. He has food , water, and his bed, and I always leave the RV vent fan on and crack open one of the smaller higher windows that he can’t reach.

Other than that, the dog and I have been getting WAY more exercise. I take him with me jogging in the mornings, and we go for an hour long walk in the evenings, exploring the surrounding areas. This is really good because my dog has gained 1 lb since we moved here and has gotten really lazy!

This weekend we are going on our first road trip in the RV. We’re driving 2 hours north to visit my husband’s uncle. I’m really excited for this trip and I’m thinking about vlogging about it. We’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, so far it has been a positive experience. It helps a lot that my husband and I are fine living in a small space and that we are both short enough to fully stand upright in the RV. I could see this being a lot more annoying if you were really tall. It kind of sucks that there isn’t much space in here to work on crafts, specifically sewing, and we don’t have the electrical power needed to use an iron. Instead, I work on things that I can do in here: learning to program, blogging, and editing videos. Sometimes, you just have to make compromises.

I’ve also noticed that I’ve become a lot more mindful about the amount of water I use for things like washing my hands and brushing my teeth, as well as the amount of trash I produce because it’s annoying to have to take out the trash all the time.  We’ve also actually never emptied the tanks in the RV before, so that’s going to be a project for this weekend.

In summary, things are going well. No catastrophes yet!

Disneyland Tinkerbell Half Marathon Training Day 1!

This morning I woke up super early and took my dog out with me for my first run in nearly ten months. Last December I participated in a half marathon. After the event, I kept running now and then for about a month and then I just stopped. It was winter time, and I was tired of getting up early to run in the cold. One particularly cold day I woke up and decided to just stay in bed. And you could say I’ve basically stayed in bed since!

I didn’t really workout regularly again until June. I did stay active: a lot of walking with my dog, I commuted around the city on my bike, and stuff like that. I just didn’t set aside an hour of my day solely dedicated to training of any kind. The last 4.5 months I’ve been doing some strength training and treadmill running at the gym.

This morning was my first run and since I have 9 months until the half marathon, I decided to start with an 8 week 5k plan. The first run was only 1.5 miles. I thought my running on the treadmill would have helped me out but it didn’t as much as I thought it would. They might as well be two different workouts. One thing it does though is keep up my cardio but my legs were still super tired during this first run and I ran really slowly: 12:30 was my avg pace. My average pace for the half marathon last year was 10:20 and it was for the Decker Challenge in Austin, which is known for being a hilly race.

Nine months is more than enough time though. My plan is to do Hal Higdon’s novice 5k plan for the first 8 weeks, and then go through his novice half marathon training plan twice before the race. I’ll have to see if there is space to maybe do some repeat weeks if needed.

I’m super excited. If all goes well I might register for the Walt Disney World Marathon next although maybe not. Disneyland is at least in the same state I’m in. I might look for other interesting races in California to do instead.

This will be my first Run Disney event and second half marathon ever. I appreciate any and all tips! Especially if it’s related to Disney running events!

Long Term Storage Favorites!

If you read my blog you know that recently my husband and I decided to live full time in an RV but to also keep a storage unit for when we go back to apartment life and because our RV is tiny and does not have a lot of storage space. I just wanted to list a few of the products that I bought that I loved that we used to help store our things in our storage unit.

Images shown are affiliate links.

  • My favorite of the favorites that I bought is a plastic file container with handles shown above to store all of the files we have accumulated last several years. When we lived in an apartment we had a filing cabinet which we had to get rid of and we temporarily put our files into a large plastic bag, which isn’t really the best way to store them. This container keeps everything neat and ordered, and acts as a portable filing cabinet, so if I really need it, I can take it out of storage and use it. its great!

 

  • The next item we used a lot of were these storage bins by Sterilite.

    I used these to pack our clothing and linen and placed them near the front of our storage unit for easy access. These stack easily, are easy to carry, and are not very expensive.

 

  • What’s my solution to keeping my clothes and linen in good condition? These cedar wood balls which are a natural moth repellent. These things are great and I think they smell good too. I put them in all of our storage bins that contain clothing, and I use them inside the RV as well. I don’t want our things to be destroyed in our storage unit. That would be the worst case scenario I think. Paying money every month to keep things only to find they were ruined in that time.

 

  • Along the same lines as the cedar balls I also purchased anti moth satchets by Colibri.You can get these in many different scents and they smell so good. I keep these in the RV as well inside of our storage compartments.

 

  • Lastly, we have a plastic drawer set inside of our storage unit like the one pictured below:
    We keep one like this near the front of our unit for easy access and keep our frequently used clothing in it. I also placed anti moth sachets inside the drawers to protect the clothes. Now when we visit the unit we can easily access any clothes we want without having to dig through everything and the drawers makes it feel kind of like a closet.

That’s it for my storage unit favorites! Do you have any tips for long term storage? Particularly anything that will help protect furniture and clothing? Please leave a comment. I appreciate it!

Day 3 of full time living in the RV

Today is day three in the RV full time. On Friday we moved out of the apartment. My husband went to work and it was my responsibility to load the last few items into our RV and hand in our apartment keys. We had until noon to check out so I had plenty of time to get everything ready. At around 11:45 I checked out, left the keys in the apartment, and my dog and I headed to the RV. The RV was loaded with stuff that needed to go to our storage unit as well as a few things that we were donating to Goodwill. So that was my first stop.

After I went to Goodwill I drove all the way to the nearest Container Store to return a few items I had bought there the other day. When that was done I headed to the storage unit but I could not remember the gate code and my husband was not answering his phone. At that point it was around 2:30 in the afternoon and I was exhausted. I decided that rather than hunt around for a parking spot near the storage unit place I’d head to my husband’s workplace and park on the street out there.

We parked next to some shrubs and I climbed into the back with my dog. It was hot, the RV was so full of boxes I could barely move around in there. I made a little space on the bed and laid down with my dog. I started crying, actually. What we’re we doing? Is this what it was going to be like? My dog and I in the hot RV while my husband went to work?

My husband finally answered his phone and came down to check on us. We moved the RV to a better spot and he told me he’d get off work at 4. That wasn’t such a long time so I spent the time reading and at one point fell asleep. When he got off we went to the storage unit and loaded the last of our stuff. The RV was more comfortable already and I was feeling a lot better about it.

Finding a place to park that night was not difficult and I slept soundly, mostly because I was so exhausted and also because I decided to wear ear plugs so that I wouldn’t jump at every sound I heard outside.

The rest of the weekend was spent working on RV chores. We put up the rest of the solar panels which took the entire day Saturday. I will post about this soon! We also put up the rest of the blackout blinds and sorted things out in the storage and took out what we needed in the RV. Sunday was a little bit more relaxed but the RV still needs a lot of work. It’s at least at a point where it is comfortable and livable though.

Today is the first day that I am in the RV and my husband is at work. We woke up at 7 AM and I headed to the gym to workout and shower. After breakfast my husband went to work and I stayed in the RV with the dog. I was so anxious. My heart jumped at every sound. I kept imagining someone knocking on our door and telling us we couldn’t be hanging out in our RV or we couldn’t be parked where we were and that we needed to move. I finally got up and took the dog for a walk. The street we were on was quiet which reassured me. I also spotted a few other RVs down the road some. That reassured me even more. Despite this reassurance, I took my dog to the nearest cafe and we are sitting outside while I write this and sip on tea. I think this being in an RV thing is going to take some getting used to. I hope my anxiety subsides over time.

In the meantime I am trying to keep myself busy with productive activities. Learning to program/build things on my computer, keeping up with this blog, learning other skills in general but it’s going to take some time before I get into a real routine here. I thrive when I have structure and a routine. Since I am unemployed and not in school, structure and routine is something I have to create for myself. It can be hard sometimes.