June 6th Wednesday night)…I found a Penda tool box that goes in the bed of a pick up, on a BUY-SELL and TRADE site on FB. I messaged asking what the dimensions of the box were. Other people began asking if they could get it but she said she would take them tomorrow and let me know. I’m so glad she waited for me to have first dibs.  Little did I know how invaluable and ultimately perfect, this $20.00 item would prove to be. It was a truly a God Send.

Thursday, June 7th…I’m exhausted.


I was so tired after work today. I did NOT feel like driving ANYWHERE. All I wanted to do was sit down on my recliner and rest. I told myself this was NOT an option! I pressed on and drove the WHOLE NINE MILES away.


I was so VERY grateful to recieve this. We had a great talk together and it turns out that she feels adamant about helping our Veterans too. Her husband (I’m ASSuming) was there and still had his work clothes on. I asked if he was a mechanic, (thinking maybe I could pay him something to check on my door latch). It turns out he is a welder. 🙂 After we were done visiting I noticed this sign at the end of their driveway, so I stopped to take a photo of it before heading home. ME AND SIGNS! ARRR!


When I arrived home, I started checking out the way I thought this  would best fit in the back of the van.

I began unloading the recliner I’d been driving around for months, as well as a large tote of items that I recieved recently from my niece when she moved to Texas.  I basically emptied the van of all items I would not need and set aside a few to donate at the store the next day.

I’d somehow been given a second wind so I decided to take the back panel off myself, and see if I could fix it.  It was super hot out that day, so I ran the airconditioner as I proceeded to use a small phillips screw driver to remove (5) screws. I removed the back panel and began to struggle reaching into the small and very greasy opening in the door, and trying to find out how to open the latch. I was getting frustrated but would not give up. I finally said, Lord…please help me. I don’t know where it is or how to find it.” Immediately after saying that, the thought OPEN came to mind and much to my surprise, when I pulled the latch, the door opened right up. I shouted THANK YOU JESUS!!!

I was thrilled and knew I could return the latch to the Ford dealer ALONG with a headlight switch that I was going to replace up under my dash right after I fixed the door. My head lights were dimming and growing brighter as well as the brights not working most the time. In order to make the brights work, I had to physically pull the dimmer shift (wiper switch) towards myself and hold it the whole time driving. I went to pop it in once my back door opened, only to find out that mine had alot of extra wires attached and the new one would not work. Guess what never got fixed before the trip and the someone who thought “that’s ok coz I don’t plan on driving after dark anyways.” Bahahaha




I talked with my eldest son about building a stand. I really hate to ask him for anything, because he works really hard and didn’t really have the time or energy to make the stand. I guess this time he was basicly forced to and he agreed to since I had no one else to do ask.


I arrive at work on Wednesday and get ushered into the Break room by Debbie, who is working through her employer to fulfill requirement to receive workmans comp, and happens to inspect, tag, and hang clothes for me to price and put on the floor. I enter the room and find this…


Everyone at work had been rooting for me to take this trip. I’d always find little treasures placed upon my work station that were so encouraging. This one was there when I came in on Wednesday.


I had many doubts, fears, and reasons that kept trying to stop me, all that I knew were ridiculous but some a reality (like having no one who seemed willing to commit themselves to helping me make it happen…I STILL KEPT ON SWIMMING.) In the end…it m was a combination of my friends at work urging me to GO and not take my grandson along. (NOT THIS TIME.)

I felt like I should take him and share the fun with him. Everyone UNANIMOUSLY said, ” This is your time! Not a time to watch over someone else. Not to take care of anyone…BUT JOANNE. It won’t be a vacation if you take Felix along.Sometimes-you-need-to-be-alone.-Not-to-be-lonely-but-to-enjoy-your-free-time-being-yourselfI agreed reluctantly…(but found out later, THEY WERE RIGHT.)thucydides1


My son called and asked “What’s going on with your van?” I said I still needed someone to build the stand. He told me to meet him at  Aldi’s. He came out and asked me where I wanted it. As he looked at the tool box and the heater vent it needed to go over, he made a few measurements, took it out with Phil and placed it in his truck and said to give him in a few hours at his place to make it.

talent quotes (11)

I took the parts back to the Ford dealer and ran with Felix into Wal-Mart, where we spent several hours picking out various bins, bungee straps, hardware, and other things, since I had no storage system figured out at this point.


Mind you, for some reason…I was picturing built in shelving units to store my things.  Someone else had promised to take care of the storage units, but things happen, and they will, rendering him unable to fufill the commitment.


Once I set my mind to it, I realized I never needed a shelf unit to be built. I picked out the bins instead. Originally, purchasing (4), then realizing I only actually needed (2). After several trips in and out of the store, I came up with a bungee system that worked really well, tying it all together with zipties to make for a custom fit system.

I also needed to come up with a custom made poop/pee pool.  That morning, as I watched my co-worker walk out on the floor with 5 short and fat, swimming noodles, I thought…I could use those for something on my trip. I walked past them while taking out a rack of clothes to put them on the floor and a picture of the pool appeared in my mind.


The previous summer, my stall area was very simple. Levi rode in the back with his lead rope attached to the bracket between the two back doors. I laid down an 8×10 heavy weight tarp which Jesse helped me tape completely down with duct tape. (McGiver wouldn’t have done a better job.) I started off with cedar shavings as bedding only to realize that it is not good for their hooves, to automatic for my senses, and  more expensive than pine shavings.. See example below…P.S. IGNORE THE CRABBY LOOK ON LEVI’S FACE. FB_IMG_1504586541957FB_IMG_1504586565519One bag of pine shavings fit easily into the large red tote we used and lasted for the whole summers worth of traveling we did.

The problem came into play when he would urinate if we were on an incline with the back end higher than the front. The urine would simply run down the angle to the front of the van. This called for a solution that I came to refer to as a poop-pee pool. Something custom fit to the back that would keep his urine from leaking forwa6xiftrd.


Thus introducing the original Poop-pee Pool. Designed by myself with additional input from Phil and Joe.

I took the swimming noodles to our local Hardware Hanks and was trying to come up with something to insert between the sides (length) of the pool.  I finally asked the clerk what would work good for this project and he suggested pvc pipe. I purchased 2 (8ft) pipes and a 6x8ft, light weight tarp from Wal-Mart for under $3.00. I headed to my son’s house. The eldest had put together the stand to hold the Penda truck tool box in the back as well as attached it. He attached it to the back of the van and went off to do his own buisness for the night.


Phil set up the backup camera by installing it in the back as well as front. He also helped me assemble the bones of the pool. He measured and cut the pipes and noodles to create the sides and we both duct taped the noodles securely onto the pipe. He came up with the idea of curving the top noodle and shoving the side pipes into it it, which secured the top nicely once we wrapped it with duct tape. After the frame was built, we duct taped the tarp to it. It was flimsy and didn’t look like much at that time.  Phil thought it was a dumb idea but he hadn’t seen the rest of the steps it would take to complete it into the final product. I appreciate the help that every single person put into getting me one step closer to accomplishing my goal.


Joe came on the scene Thursday, the day before we left, (which was originally the planned date to leave) He taped and painted the outside edges of the van with spray on truck bed liner.

He also helped me to attach a larger heavy weight tarp around the poop-pee pool using spray on gorrilla glue (my idea) and making a very clean and sturdy product by cutting the excess tarp out, to seal it neatly.20180614_144503


It was even better than I had imagined. I had a small pillow that I kept under the top edge when we traveled and the whole thing worked like it was meant to and was really easy to keep clean.

The Poop-Pee Pool pulls out easily when not being used to travel. You simply sweep out the back of the van as there is a medium weight tarp duct taped on the floor of the van. I bought a bag of rags that fit perfectly in a bin under his storage unit. We could spray the tarp with a cleaner/disinfectant. (I used Mr. Clean this time.) We could then lay down a throw rug and then set up cot or mattress.

I picked up a Coleman Cot for Seth to sleep on. It took me a long time to decide what to get for him to sleep on. It was a $70.00 purchase that proved to be a waste of money. The cot was uncomfortable and he may just have well used a sleeping bag on the floor.20180613_092855_HDR


Earlier that day, a used cot had just gone out on the floor at St. Vincents. I purchased it for $20.00 but found the frame cumbersome and decided I would use the mattress directly on the floor, between the front and back seat and laying across the width of the van. 20180609_12123420180609_121308

All these major details were worked out and put together in the 3 days before leaving on Friday morning.

Luckily on Thursday morning, the very morning that 4 people came together and 8 hands touched the van, I was also given the correct path to take to arrive at our destination at The Haycreek Ranch by Nemo. It was such a relief to HAVE A CLEAR PLAN.


Candace arrived early Thursday along with Iysis and the neighbors daughter. They cared for the toddler and Candace did most of the dishes and cleaned the house for me.




Jesse got home from work and went straight to work painting on the driver’s side of the van. Upon finding out which spot he chose to paint, I began to scold him, telling him that this was a special square where I was hoping to get Chris’s Military Portrait done in Oil.

He simply said,”Nana, You have to tell me before I start painting if you have a special spot you want filled. I didn’t know you had a special spot.” Aww. That’s my Jesse. Suddenly that spot seemed made just for Jesse’s painting which he informed me was the Tree of Life. He wrote To Live is To Grow! Wow. Little did I know how much I would come to learn the truth of this before my ship returned to my home Port of Portage.



20180614_145802Between a handful of people, we pulled off preparing the van for the trip. I ended up with awesome storage facilities and a comfortable travel/sleep van that was super efficient in most ways. Fuel economy and lack of cruise control were always an issue, but everything is hindsight. I have no regrets, only more insight than I’ve ever had before.



All I had left to do is work on laundry that night. Lots and lots of laundry. Oh and packing. Lots and lots of packing. what will go along?

In the morning I plan to get up early and then there’s loading. Lots and lots of loading. Imagine the hours that went into those last fun filled moments. More than I expected, I can assure you. It’s all a part of living and growing. 🙂