New Gadgets, Mods and Updates

My last post was all about the new toolbox, but it’s not the only change I have made.  This post is to get you caught up on mods and great gadgets I have found, as well as some updates to previous modifications.

The first new item is for Bella, of course. When I had the Escape the seats folded down right behind the front seats and there was no gap between the platform and front console.  This allowed her bed to sit right behind me and she could see outside.  While the Pathfinder is bigger and I don’t need to fold down the second row seating, it has presented a problem for her finding the right place to ride. I put her bed on the floorboard behind me, and she would use it some, but she was always coming back up to the passenger’s seat. The problem with that was that she couldn’t lay down and relax because she would slide around on the leather.  I tried putting her bed there and slid around too. I did some checking and found this “car seat” that attaches to the seat. It doesn’t move around, actually puts her up higher and has pockets on each side I can put her leash, poop bags, treats and other stuff I always seem to forget to pack or can’t find when we get out.  She was kind of untrusting at first, but now she sits in it more than she tries to sit on the console.

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My second change is how I store things in the truck.  While the toolbox allows me to put more in it, its not useful if I have to take everything out every time I need something.  I did a lot of looking at custom built sleeping platforms with storage drawers for ideas but they kept presenting the same problem of having a place to store it when I’m not using it.  I started looking at folding tables and found these at Walmart online.  They are 22″ wide and 48″ long with adjustable heights.  I have them at the lowest height and they look like they were made for it. The best part is that they fold in half, down to a flat, 22″ x 24″ suitcase that I can easily store in the garage.

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Since I have more space in the Pathfinder I also looked into more water storage options.  Over the summer I did a turn around trip without Bella and the Teardrop to make some money and found that while most rest stops were open, most water fountains were shut off due to Covid.  This made me realize I need to look at more storage if I didn’t want to end buying water the whole trip.  This is actually a 5 gallon container for restaurants, also from Amazon.

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My new internal addition is so simple I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner, but it really came out of necessity…….or maybe honestly wishful thinking.  When I started making a packing list I realized I needed to pack a couple of dress tops in case I do have a call for a video interview. While I have a lot of hooks inside, they all already have a purpose, wouldn’t hold more then one hanger or anything on it would have to be moved daily to see, get to stuff, ect.   I started thinking that I need a hanging rack and realized a tension rod is the simplest solution.  I say I should have thought about it because I grew up with my grandparents traveling with tension rods across the back of their mini vans to hang clothes when they traveled. 

This one is actually a shower curtain rod for a single shower stall.  The space between the over head storage compartments looks like it was meant to have a hanger.  It works because I can push them to the back, out of the way during the day, but then they will hang out of the way of the bed on the other side at night.  It will also help solve another ongoing issue I have been having of washcloths drying. I use them a lot when I can’t take a shower and to clean Bella but they never dry on a hook.  Then if they are not dry when I need to get on the road, they inevitably fall and end of leaving a wet spot on the bed or pillows, and usually if it’s hot, start to mildew. This should give them a place to lay them out to dry with plenty of air.

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The biggest change I am making is saying goodbye to the tie dye shower curtain.  It has served it’s purpose but it’s also had issues and I finally had time to deal with it.  The biggest issue was that it was made out of such a lightweight fabric that it blew open with the lightest breeze.  I somewhat fixed that by adding a shower curtain liner, but that also had issues.  One being that it created a sauna effect inside on a hot day, which made it hot to use but also created a lot of moisture between the curtain and plastic liner.  The last few times I used it I had to take it out, separate it and hang it out to dry when I got home and the compartment under the bed where I store it was starting to smell like mildew. The other issue I was having was that since it was not made to be outside it was starting to fade pretty badly and was providing little to no privacy in the middle of the day. I started looking at other shower curtain options but ultimately decided to make my own. I bought a heavy weight, outdoor canvas that is water resistant, UV resistant and heavy enough it should stay in place better.  I also got a great print that matches everything else in the camper.

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One addition I made that, I hope serves dual purposes.  With the shower curtain I had to keep a tie of some kind to hold it together and fold it up in a somewhat organized fashion.  The problem with that was keeping up with a tie back. On the new one I made a tie back as part of the curtain and am also using it to tie the side of the curtain to the camper.  Hopefully this works, stays tied and helps keep it closed.

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My new favorite gadget is actually an accessory for skiers. It is a hand held, battery operated, hand warmer.  Last fall I was looking into safe heating options for inside when boondocking and Amazon suggested these.  They are about the size of a cell phone, have three settings and charge with a USB.  When they had them on sale for Cyber Monday I bought four of them.  So far they work great. I have only used two at once when it got down to 58 degrees in the T@G.  I put them under the blanket and in 3 hours the inside temperature was up to 65 degrees.

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Since I’m unemployed and there are many, new Covid restrictions, going out on the road will be a little different when it comes to food.  I know I will need to cook more to save money and be prepared if grocery stores are the food sources open.  Knowing that, I did invest in a  couple things to make my life easier.  The first is a new, non-stick skillet.  The skillets I had had been handed down from various family members and most of the non-stick surface was gone, which made cleaning them difficult.  I decided to get one with new technology that is not the coating that can scratch off. It was a happy accident that I also found one with a soft, wood grain handle that does not hold heat and can be touched without getting burned.  It has been wonderful!  Every time I use it, all it takes is wiping it with a wet rag to get it clean.

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My last gadget is my most “techy” one to date.  It is a battery operated, personal serving size, blender.  I decided on getting it for a couple reasons.  First, if I am boondocking I don’t have any kind of food processor or blender and it can be used for that.  Second, I decided I can made juices and smoothies with this as I drink them and be healthier, as well as save refrigerator space by not storing ready made juice in it. It charges with a USB and only takes 2-3 minutes to make a smooth juice from fresh fruit, skins and all.

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