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Old 01-24-2021, 11:12 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Travel, Security, COVID, Lockdown Orders???

We are wanting to jump into Skoolie life, but as we assess the operating environment we have a lot of questions about how travelers are addressing and accounting for personal security, COVID's impact on local economies and access to bed down locations, and lockdown orders at the State and Federal level.

Thanks so much for your time and thoughts.

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Old 01-25-2021, 09:14 AM   #2
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Well here are some of my thoughts. Personal security? I have a CCL and keep 2 handguns in my bus plus a shotgun and a carbine. I also try to be very aware of my surroundings. Don't park in stupid places. I've used casino parking lots before and found them to be safe, and sometimes the food can be real good, just not cheap like it used to be. If you are going to use their parking lot for parking at least buy a meal. Walmart parking is good too. BLM dispersed camping is good in states with lots of BLM land, not Texas though. We have a new administration now so I don't know how that is going to change things on BLM, USFS and NPS land camping. Covid's impact? Each state is different. I'm in NM the state has lots of restrictions and most of us in SE NM just don't give a damn. Not that it is right, just how it is. In the north part of the state we are very careful. Texas is wide open no problems there. The local economies are impacted to varying degrees depending on the restrictions and compliance levels. You just have to assess the state you are in and the ones you plan to go to. I avoid some states like the plague. The BS to benefit ratio is just not worth it. Be sure to carry a mask with you. And wear it. Some people get real offended if you don't wear it. Good travel weather is soon to be upon us. Your area may be very different from here. The nice thing about this forum is that we are from all over the US and Canada and can tell you what it is like where we live and travel.
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:51 AM   #3
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Why is everyone so scared? Even when packing? I have never understood people who are so afraid. Ive ridden my bicycle thousands of miles without incident, but it seems that the only times I have any hostility directed towards me, usually in the form of hazing by drivers passing too close, were in those places that wanted to be great again.

Stop watching the news.

And at least now your favorite BLM spot won’t become a fracking site.
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:57 AM   #4
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While its too early to tell what is in store for the country from DC, it really is a shame how politics seems to be guiding the narrative on this uncommon virus strain.

And I absolutely blame the biased media for spreading the propaganda and fear, both far and wide.

Stay safe...
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:19 AM   #5
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We live in a very safe nation, but I respect the OP's questions and s2mikon's thoughtful reply. I cringed when I read the thread title, wondering how long it would take before it devolved into a political discussion.

Safety and security are more than just personal...there's also the property/theft aspect. Be aware, be thoughtful, consider risks and try not to make yourself a good target of opportunity. Bicycles hanging off the back, not well secured, make them a target for theft. Lock your side boxes. Keep valuables out of sight. All the common sense things we should do in a car or at home, anyway. Just like at home, don't keep your garage door open all day with all your tools accessible. It's not about being scared, I think...just being smart. I spent 2 decades as a police officer and saw lots of crimes which could have been prevented with some minor forethought.

If you're traveling south of the border, it can be a good idea to set up your bus so that riders can't hang on the back. You'll see lots of the expedition rigs have sloped tops on the bumpers and ladders can be a problem. Heck, ladders might not be a good idea anywhere if you have stuff stored up top. I don't know if you intend to travel out of the county or not (you mentioned Federal restrictions...do you mean border closings?).

I've made 4 out-of-state trips to pick up vehicles (buses or ambulances) last year and my best advice is to be flexible and understanding. It's interesting to see the difference in rules and restrictions as we travelled from state to state. When the lockdowns first started, it was harder to get food in a big vehicle. We found lots of places that had drive-through service only...which wouldn't fit our bus (although I did find one Wendy's which had such an open drive-through passage that I got our bus through!). Now, though, most places which are closed to dine-in still allow you to order inside. Another challenge at these places, though, was that many of them had the bathrooms closed. All truck stop bathrooms are open, though. And, they have coffee!

EDIT: I should add that, if you're traveling in a rig that's converted, you'll face very few challenges and may notice little different. You've got a level of autonomy and independence that car travelers don't have. You've got your own bed, your own kitchen and table, your own bathroom. The freedom that gives you is very comforting.
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:44 AM   #6
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@rossvtaylor I totally agree with everything you wrote, especially the theft aspect. Sticky fingers everywhere.

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling to take care of family business. Because of Covid and caring for elderly parents, I avoid all truck stop activity except for the getting fuel part. Even when I’m driving my pickup I carry a cooler and a little propane stove. And a roll of TP. Works great. I drink better coffee. The “number two” part is trickier.

To the OPs question of bedding down, I’ve tried truck stop lots, but they are usually noisy and too bright. Lately I’ve also experienced homeless camps on the edges of Highway towns. I avoid those. To my mind, being down and out doesn’t have to include turning the place you’re at into
a dumping ground. Out in the countryside no one seems to mind too much if you park next to a field or orchard as long as you don’t leave a mess or overstay your welcome.

I haven’t crossed any state lines, but a friend did on a business trip just last week. Three states, no checkpoints.
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:45 AM   #7
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Ross you are correct we do live in a very safe nation but, we have cities or parts of cities that are not safe. In fact their homicide and violent crime rates are 3rd world. I do not want to go to those places. At all. That is your first line of defense. When I went to the class for my CCL that was stressed over and over. Don't go to stupid places. At first glance you would think that El Paso due to it's close proximity to the narco terrorists south of the border would be very unsafe but it is not. It does have some bad neighborhoods but the crime stats are better than Albuquerque , NM. So you have to do your due diligence before you travel. And Ross, the last time I went to Albuquerque in the bus about the only place I could stop was at a truck stop. Darn hard to get a 40 footer through the drive through. So far they have not banned fracking as of yet so you may still have that to contend with. The real problem with camping around oil and gas wells is H2S gas. There was a whole family here in NM that were burned alive while camping when a gas line ruptured on the NM TX state line. So you have to be careful where you park. And Ross, thank you for your service.
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Old 01-25-2021, 12:50 PM   #8
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I have a CA CCW and a Utah CFP, that keeps me covered firearm wise in most states. I carry a J-frame smith in the pocket or on the person and keep a full size high capacity 9mm with a light and night sights on it in the vehicle and on the hotel nightstand. If I’m on a hunting trip usually the sidearm is a .357 or 10mm. I have traveled all over the country by car since covid and haven’t noticed much difference except for the inability to use restrooms at fuel stations in certain areas and no sit down dining in certain areas. My IPhone is a really useful tool For figuring out what the restriction landscape will be like ahead of me. Generally in my experience the More democratic heavy local and state government the more restrictive (THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL STATEMENT JUST SIMPLY AND EASY WAY TO ASCERTAIN THE RESTRICTION AND MASK CLIMATE IN A GIVEN AREA) just be aware of your surroundings, don’t walk 10 feet from your vehicle without locking it. Leave nothing unsecure for any amount of time anywhere. Be wary of those that offer you services or assistance, be cordial but cautious. Be kind but firm and carry yourself in a manner that tells the rest of the world that you are not an easy target. Stay sober, and avoid urban centers, especially on the west coast. Anywhere in major urban centers where they will tolerate you parking a bus or RV is probably in a neighborhood you shouldn't be parked.
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Old 01-25-2021, 01:05 PM   #9
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I agree with ISAF2009 about the urban camping scene. Why can’t a hobo just be a hobo? I’ve tried to sleep in my bus in just that kind of place, to keep the sticky fingered tweekers from dismantling it, and I couldn’t relax and fall asleep for all the nocturnal goings on. Really a scene from Mad Max.
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Old 01-25-2021, 01:15 PM   #10
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I forgot to mention, related to the OP's question about lockdown orders, I was looking at a bus auction in Northern California in November and at about the same time I started seeing news reports of a 14-day quarantine advisory in the state. It did actually lead to my decision to pass on that purchase...not because of my own personal concerns but because I was a bit worried that the advisory might become mandatory. It would have sucked to buy a bus and then not be able to get it!

Since then, though, I've not seen any interstate restrictions or checkpoints out here in the West. So, after that I did buy a bus from Washington and drove it back (with my daughter) without issue or concern.

ISAF makes a good point about people approaching you...cordial but cautious. If someone asks you the time or for directions, keep this thought in the back of your mind...you might be about to become a victim. When I worked in the not-so-nice part of Phoenix this was a pretty common beginning to a theft/robbery victim's story. That's a good way to get distracted, because the common reaction is to look down at your watch (this was when people wore watches...) or to look in the direction you wish to direct the person..."why yes, the bus stop is right over there... <looks that way and points>". I'm always aware of this when I approach people, too, because I like to help. I've given lots of free beers (from our restaurant) to skoolie folks and stealth campers who use the laundromat in our complex...but I always approach openly, maintain a respectful distance (even before covid), and keep my hands visible. The free beer helps!

Safe and peaceful travels, all.
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Old 01-25-2021, 01:22 PM   #11
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ive travelled during Covid.. the "lockdowns" in the USA arent bad if you have a bus.. from my perspective ive still been able to buy grocieries, stay in hotels, get restaraunt takeout, park in shopping centers, buy fuel, drive wherever whenever.. I have had no issues with travel...
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Old 01-25-2021, 02:39 PM   #12
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Hey ATravelingMan32, has any of this been helpful? It's an enjoyable thread and this is, really, a very diverse and great community. If I can summarize the status of travel now, versus over a year ago, it's... be flexible and adaptable, carry a mask, enjoy the freedom and increased options that your bus gives you. The same travel precautions exist, threats haven't increased (now that everyone's got toilet paper again), and travel always requires the willingness to work around issues...whether mechanical or logistics...that's part of the adventure for those with the right mindset.

On a related note about mindset...the traveling home life isn't for everyone. I started to watch a van living video and had to turn it off, shaking my head. The host kept talking about how the dark woods seemed scary and noises sounded like Sasquatch and how they needed to see out and be in the open to feel safe. That's not a good recipe for happy travel life. It was sad, actually, because you could see their dream...but reality didn't fit that.
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:08 PM   #13
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ross, you do know that the toilet paper shortage was artificially created don't you. It was to encourage social distancing.
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s2mikon View Post
ross, you do know that the toilet paper shortage was artificially created don't you. It was to encourage social distancing.
Well...that stinks!
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:16 PM   #15
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You all are awesome!

Because of our service experience, we are extremely threat environment conscious so thank you all so much for taking the time to address how things are out there.
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:19 PM   #16
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Thanks, ISAF!
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:20 PM   #17
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Thanks, s2mikon!
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:21 PM   #18
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Extremely helpful!!!! These are the questions we have been hoping to get some answers to for quite some time.
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Old 01-26-2021, 08:46 AM   #19
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ATravelingMan32, In your OP you didn't state what your skoolie goals were. So at this time I thought I would make the following statements. If you look at a skoolie as a motor home/RV it may be more cost and time effective to just buy a factory made RV if, and it is a big if, it will fit your needs. If you want something different or really different you have no choice but to roll your own. My wife and I had a 34 foot Gillig gasoline powered unit that we did a fast and crude conversion on to test the waters with and really liked the skoolie platform. Here is why. The suspension, brakes and body work of the school bus is so far superior to the run of the mill RV that I could afford that it was not even close. I was using it in my work so it had to go when I had to go. Around here the weather can be triple digit hot in the summer or low teens in the winter. Then we have high winds at times 40-60 mph. Then we get hail, RV damaging hail golf ball size and larger. I have been in all of it with that old Gillig and it did great. During one of the hail storms I was inside my Gillig and the noise was deafening. It broke most of the clearance lights but that was all it did to the Gillig. My Honda civic had the windshield cracked and looked like 50 angry people with ball peen hammers attacked it. The other RV's in the park were just trashed. Leaking water through the roof, vents broken out and lights removed. In high winds it rolled along just fine. I have driven a few motor homes in the wind and found it was time to just park them until it was over. It never overheated in the summer while pulling steep grades and had air brakes to stop well with. And the parking brakes actually work. The tires 22.5 inch are overkill and far better than the standard RV fair. Needles to say it was the way to go. Later we bought a 40 foot transit style diesel and did it like we wanted. The lessons learned from the Gillig were applied to the Bluebird. This forum has a lot of people that have built units to meet their needs / wants, from mild to wild as some would say. Ask more questions and you will get more answers. My dad used to tell me there are no dumb questions, just dumb mistakes. Looking forward to your input. Have a great day.
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Old 01-26-2021, 11:05 AM   #20
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I think I’ll go with the wild...... GREAT THREAD !!!
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