The Makings Of… A Little Free Library

Today was an amazing day. I accomplished a handful of things that made me extremely, joyously happy. For one thing, I now have a library card for the local library in Lake Havasu (as a full-time traveler, most counties will not provide such a gift, but as I’ve said before – Lake Havasu is a very special place). And, as I left the library, I left with an amazing book haul of purchased books – as much as I could carry in my arms. Yes, I did this. Yes, I still live in a van. But no, these books are not for me, they are for my library. Yes… my library.

This is how many books I can carry at once.

Little Van Library Book Haul

Shopping for our Little Free (Van) Library was so much more fun than shopping for myself! And since I purchased these in the “Friends of the Library” room, the money I spent goes directly toward supporting the local library. Besides, this amazing book haul cost me $6. Local Libraries are one of the best used bookstores ever that everyone forgets! 

Okay, let me back up a little bit now and give some background. What is a Little Free Library you ask?

A Little Free Library is a book trading zone, usually setup in front of someone’s house, or place of business. The person who establishes the Little Free Library buys or builds a location to house the books, and then will usually collect some books to kick things off, or donate from their personal collection. After that point, it should be fairly self-sustainable with people following the rules of the slogan, “Take a Book, Leave a Book”. You can take a book now, leave one later, pass along the book you picked up from one Little Free Library and return it to a different one (which Pays it Forward), or give to a friend to read. Basically, you share the joy of reading. It’s very simple really. 

I first heard of Little Free Libraries years ago and have wanted one ever since. I love sharing books with people, and I love talking books. Once we decided to travel, I figured there was no way we’d ever have one of these. I mean, who ever heard of a Little Free Library that moves? Well, you have. Now YOU have. Because we are making this happen.

A few months ago I mentioned to Dave that as crazy as it would be, I would still love to have a Little Free Library. I told him I knew it wouldn’t be possible, we most certainly do not have the room for it! But his response was priceless. His eyebrows shot up, and he told me the idea was brilliant. That’s pretty much all it takes for me to start brainstorming solutions. So that officially kicked things off.

The trick is, we live in a 22′ foot van. What would we use to store the library? They’re often pretty bulky (see examples here), and they need to be able to sustain being outside in the wind and rain. And for us, they need to be able to be transported on a regular basis.

At this point, we were committed to figuring out some way to do this, and some way to make it fit in a cargo box. So, we moved forward with obtaining a cargo box, which added 16 cubic feet of storage to our van. Wohoo! It was like adding on a basement! Do you know how LARGE 16 cubic feet of storage is when you live by way of spare inches? It’s ginormous! But I digress…

As much as I would love to have a super cute, adorable Little Free Library, like this one we saw in Columbia, Missouri – we knew we needed to be more creative.

Little Free Library

It’s taken me months to figure out a solution, but now that we have, we are just a few days away from having this fully setup!

Storage BoxOur Little Free Library will be housed in a Sterilite Storage Box, and available for use outside our van on a portable camping table that rolls up and fits in our cargo box.

This covers the weather issue, and the portability issue. Because the box is see through, books will be visible from the outside. Before you think I’ve abandoned the cuteness, don’t give up! I have absolutely not!

People will need to know that this is not just personal property, but something that is there for THEM to use and enjoy!

I have made some colorful attention-grabbing flyers for display next to the library box. I’m still working on the final touches, but I’ll go ahead and show you a sneak peek:

LFL Fliers

No, don’t bother trying the domain name, it doesn’t work yet silly! (Edited to add: The domain works now – yay!) I’m still working my way through my to-do list, but I am just too excited about this to not blog about it.

Anyway, the flyers. I’ll have a few of those printed next to the box of books so it’s clear, the books are meant to be touched, taken, and read.

This has been an amazing project to pull together, but now that we have the cargo box, the book-storage box, and an idea of what to do – I am very excited. It makes perfect sense to me to have a shareable bookshelf just outside my van door, ready for one and all to take, borrow, share – and talk books.

Our Little Van Library is almost here! Just a little more yet to do… stay tuned!

Our Update from Lake Havasu, Arizona – January 2016

Home Is Where You ParkOur last update was almost a month ago, so I wanted to write about what’s been going on with us – which to be honest – has been very little.

Yes, we are full-time travelers. Yes, we live in a hyper-mobile RV and are ready to change locations at the drop of a hat. And yes, I have a chronic illness. Kerplunk. You know what they say about the best laid plans, right?

Tomorrow is my 6th anniversary with Gastroparesis. To put it simply for anyone unfamiliar, it’s a chronic digestive disorder. I’m not able to eat all the food my body needs, and, I’m not able to absorb all the nutrients from the food that my body is able to take in. That combination of factors places me in a constant state of malnutrition. And, as a result, I’m often exhausted.

Interestingly enough, Gastroparesis is really a moving-target kind of illness. It has a lot of ups and downs, mostly driven by patterns. It affects women more than men, changes with the hormonal cycle throughout the month (I think most women with GP can time their cycle based on their digestive discomfort), changes throughout the day, and even seasonally.

Every winter – I tank. I hit bottom. You’d think after 6 years, I’d remember, and plan accordingly, but after having energy in the summer, I always forget. I always think I’m getting better (when in reality I’m probably just in a state of remission). In fact, yesterday I realized every life-changing idea we’ve had over the last few years was launched in the summer time. Summer is when I tend to feel somewhat closer to normal, for longer stretches of time.

We hadn’t planned to be in one place for several months like this, but I have to say, Lake Havasu, Arizona is an amazing place to be “stuck”. Knowing what we know now, I plan to be stuck here every winter!! Obviously, I don’t feel stuck at all… but you know what I mean.

The weather in Lake Havasu has been constant since November, with temperatures ranging from 40-60 each day. Most days are gorgeous, some are extremely windy (up to 20 or 30 mile per hour winds) – but that doesn’t even happen every week. And the people? Everyone is friendly – and I mean everyone! The locals and the seasonal folks are all extremely nice. I think we actually know more people here than we have in any neighborhood we’ve lived in over the past several years.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been up to doing anything social, but there are many days when we head out to walk Frodo and that’s at a nice time of day so everyone else seems to be out chatting, or walking their dogs as well. As you drive around town, you’ll notice stickers on quite a number of cars that say, “No Bad Days – Lake Havasu” – and it’s true. There are NO bad days here.

Lake Havasu quickly became a favorite place of mine and I already view it as a sort of “home-base” for us, likely at the RV Park where we are spending this winter.  As the days progress, you see people come and go, and folks who come year after year run up to each other and give a pat on the back or a hug. It’s like summer camp. Only in winter. For adults. For reals. Who wouldn’t love it here?

And relatedly, I think there is a lot of benefit in living full-time in a setting such as an RV park, or a Trailer Park. I know if I’m not seen for a few days, our various neighbors would ask Dave about me, how I’m feeling, and if there’s anything I need. You just don’t experience that standard suburbia. (Places like this sound very cool!).

Until next time…

Lake Havasu City, Arizona is Nature’s Etch a Sketch…

Lake Havasu City in Arizona has to be one of the most beautiful places in this country. The appearance of the sky changes continuously all day long and is a bit like nature’s version of an Etch A Sketch.

The view of the clouds over the mountains in the distance, the color of the sky, the shape of the clouds – it just never stops. It’s drawn, and re-drawn, and re-drawn, over and over again. I stare at the sky often and just feel better when I do.

And sunrise? It’s breathtaking. And sunset? Even more-so.

Lake Havasu City Sunset 1

These photos are from tonight’s sunset.

Lake Havasu City Sunset 2

And yes, it’s like this every day.

Lake Havasu City Sunset 3

Every. Single. Day.

Lake Havasu City reminds me of the movie The Truman Show. The sky seems too beautiful to be real, as though we’re witnessing a staged production all day long.

Lake Havasu City Sunset 4

And of course, Lake Havasu has more than just sunsets, there are really cool cars. There are classic cars everywhere here, and though this car doesn’t fit that description, it caught my attention. It has character, oodles of it.

Lake Havasu City Cool Cars

Someday soon I hope to capture some of the amazing classic cars here, but until then, goodnight…

Lake Havasu City Sunset at Dusk

Basking in the Quiet at Craggy Wash in Arizona

Is the rest of Arizona as beautiful as Lake Havasu City? Throughout the day, I find myself staring at the sky, the mountains, and clouds.

Clouds and Mountains

Every few minutes the scenery changes and I wish I was better skilled at landscape photos, but, that’s Dave’s speciality. I usually take better photos of people or things. Like our van.

I took this photo shortly after we arrived at Craggy Wash, our home for the night.

Boondocking at Craggy Wash in Arizona

No, I do not miss having a house thank-you-very-much. I mean really, what is there to miss from a house?

In related news, over the past few days I learned I do not need Hot Water. Honestly, the fact that we don’t have hot water right now has been no big deal at all. I’m shocked that I feel that way, and I’m grateful for this little life-lesson. I thought hot water was a necessity. Apparently, it isn’t for us.

After dinner I sent Dave to grab some of his amazing sunset photos. He didn’t disappoint. Can you believe that sky? Thank you Arizona, you’re being an amazing and gracious host!

Craggy Wash Sunset Photo by Dave

 

Chilling Out in Lake Havasu City, Arizona

It looks like we’ll be staying in Lake Havasu City for a little while longer. Though our Hot Water Heater was working a tiny bit, it is now completely dead. Poof. It lives no more. As of yesterday it had a little life left in it and the manufacturer was going to send some parts our way. By last night, the Hot Water Heater was totally dead, so we went back to the local shop we’ve been working with, and more parts are on the way.

Since Thanksgiving is this week and Girard is shipping us parts via slow travel, we’ll be without hot water for quite a bit longer.

I have to give a quick shout out to the local shop we’ve been working with, Canyon Country RV, Truck & Auto Service Center. They have done everything possible to try to get us up and running, balancing calls between Pleasure Way (maker of our van), and Girard (maker of our hot water heater), and have spent a lot of time working on this issue. I overheard one of their calls today and they were requesting on our behalf that Girard overnight the parts because this is our home – of which I definitely appreciate the request! Girard declined though, but wow, huge thumbs up to Canyon Country RV! They are clearly acting as advocates on our behalf, not something I’m accustomed to at repair shops!

After spending a good part of the day at the repair shop again today, Dave and I headed over to Lake Havasu State Park for the night, and I have to say, it’s beautiful here!
Lake Havasu State Park

Though one of the reasons we chose this park was because of the high reviews of their showers (because… no hot water… remember?), we still chose to use our own bathroom this evening for a shower!

We have a Class B Van, with a wet bath. From what I’ve read, many folks (possibly even most) who have wet baths never use their shower, instead opting for campground facilities. We chose this van knowing the pros and cons of a wet bath and fully intended to use it as it is part of our home. I think by opting to take a full, 100% cold water shower, over using a shower just a hundred feet away that fully works – marks as completely and totally crazy. But you know what? That’s okay!

Lions Dog Park in Lake Havasu City, Arizona – 4 Paws Up

Our poor dog. In the last few weeks we have traveled through Arizona, Nevada, California, and now Arizona again – and in that time he has not set his paws-to-grass. Thankfully he’s fairly adaptable and was able to adjust to rock gardens but still… he’s a dog! He likes grass! We were also quite busy moving out of one RV into another, in a very tight timeframe. I think Frodo was feeling neglected. It was way past time to get this dog to a DOG PARK!

Thankfully, we discovered Lions Dog Park in Lake Havasu City, Arizona!

Lions Dog Park in Lake Havasu City, Arizona

The off-leash area was HUGE, and very well cared for – and – it has grass. In Arizona! Real grass in a dog park! Sadly we’ve seen too many parks recently labeled “dog park” that were sand pits – um – that doesn’t count!

It was really awesome to have such a large area where we were allowed to let Frodo just be himself. He’s very well behaved and loves socializing (in the photo below, he had just greeted the man on the bench, before running back to us).

Frodo Having Fun

And Frodo makes friends everywhere he goes, this was just one of his playmates today.

Frodo and a Friend

Since Frodo got to run and greet people and dogs, he was able to wear himself out from play. It’s a great thing to see him tired from playing! A tired dog is a happy dog!

A Tired Dog is a Happy Dog

We may stay in Lake Havasu City for a few days so I hope to have an opportunity to take him back to this park. If you are traveling with your dog, Lions Dog Park a must-visit park! Frodo gives it 4 paws up! For real, he’s sleeping on his back snoring right now, all paws in the air. It was really nice to give him a good play day!