Tiny House On A Steel Soldier…………….Expedition Notes.

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Philipsburg, Montana
Bellrose family of five complete a 19 day build out in April 2017 to travel the country in their M931a2 hauling a classic m109a3 shop van pulling a m1101 trailer for a cross country overland adventure. Currently the expedition is in its 124th day covering over 6124 miles. The following log will cover current and prior events noting vehicle improvements, cool trail finds, tasty food stops, break downs, accidents, people encounters, and family morale living in a 96sqft box.
 

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Philipsburg, Montana
We bought a M923a2 beginning of 2013 pulling our RV through Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana ending up in Philipsburg, Mt.. The family fell in love with our big green truck on 53" tires making it our everyday driver. The only problem with the M923a2 is that it only seats three people, we have five and a big dog. During our stay in Wyoming late 2014 we also purchased a M931a2 tractor with 1800 miles on it in nearly mint condition. Having two trucks was cool, but not practical to travel the west pulling our RV. After tirelessly searching the web for options using our 5ton trucks we came across a M109a3 shop van that use to fit on a half ton. The M109a3 shop van was the perfect match for our smaller M931a2 chassis. Now we had a empty, rusty, dented, and moldy project on our hands with a two week window to convert the shop van into a Tiny House On A Steel Soldier expedition type overland rv. Investing two weeks of work, and fabricating the living quarters with things we already had lying around we new our Tiny House On A Steel Soldier would be less then perfect. The adventure and challenge was to build as we went, knowing if we waited for the Tiny House On A Steel Soldier to be finished the ultimate trip might never take place.
 

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Philipsburg, Montana
April 24, 2017
Philipsburg, Montana to Post Falls, Idaho
First night on the adventure Post Falls, Idaho Walmart parking lot. Cold! Honda generator came in handy keeping the Tiny House On A Steel Soldier warm with a ceramic heater.
 

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Philipsburg, Montana
April 26, 2017
Sand Lake, Oregon
Sand Lake Recreation Area
We arrived to Sand Lake, Oregon early morning in a bad storm. We parked on the dunes not really knowing where we were. Upon waking up we were treated to a endless sand and storm driven surf. The adventure was on!!
 

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Philipsburg, Montana
April 27, 2017
After spending the morning in Sand Lake, Oregon the weather started degrading quickly, we decided to head into the Tillamook Forest. The Wilson River in the Tillamook forest seemed like a good whitewater kayaking river to scout along Hwy 6, and we really didn't want to be on the beach during a storm. While navigating the extremely curvy Hwy 6 we witness a vehicle accident involving a rented U-Haul type moving van. While helping out the accident passengers it was decided by other helpers and us that we would drive further up Hwy 6 to find help. In doing so we found the Tillamook Forest Center not to far from the crash site and reported the accident to sheriff using the Centers landline due to no cell service. After meeting the local sheriff and giving what little information we new about the wreck, it was decided that we would enjoy the Center and tryout the areas new dispersed camping. The kids learned quite a lot about the Tillamook Forest with a local Center guide. According to the guide the Tillamook Forest burned to the ground and was replanted, hence all the trees are close to being the same height. The kids really found the exhibits at the center very educational and entertaining. After leaving the Center we found our camping site and was visited by a different sheriff and was told that the victims driving the van that wrecked most likely were criminals on a stealing spree. That knowledge gave the family a dirty feeling that we helped people that were possibly committing or running from a crime. That night it rained all night, all of us had a uneasy feeling about the area causing us not to enjoy our stay. Explaining to the kids about bad people and how they can influence our way of life and the out come of our journey became a topic over popcorn and a movie. You want your kids to soak up natures hidden secrets, but we live in a very human world. Sadly the lessons learned of the Tillamook were drowned out by fears of a unknown boogie man that might jump out and get us.
 

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german m1008

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I've seen you have been at steelsoldiers for a while, but is your first thread or postings......Welcome und Hallo from germany.
You have a great truck ...... and btw a cool family.
It look's like a lot of fun......
......apart from the criminals, of course
 

Jericho

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We do the M 109A3 thing for camping as well, Its tight but we like it! We sleep up to six easily. Recently began a conversion on a M-750 expandable trailer, Lots of extra room ! Pulled behind the M 931A2 Keep the up dates coming as well as the trial and tribulations, be safe Enjoy
 

german m1008

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Hello back "german m1008", yea I have been a lurker for sometime now. I thought it was time to reach out and say hi, in the hopes of meeting up with members along our travels.
......too bad, Germany is a bit far and too much water in between..........
I hope there will be more photos and stories in the near future.......the truck on the beach, great.
Have a lot of fun and a safe trip.
 

silverstate55

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Thanks for sharing, and best of luck in your travels! You are creating memories for your children that will last them a lifetime, and hopefully they will want to recreate those memories with their children someday.

As for the crooks, if you had no way of knowing what they were up to, at least you get kudos & good karma for trying to help & do the right thing....after all, you could have done what most people nowadays do, stand there and film it with your phone, but not offer any help....

Thumbs up, hope to see more pics along your travels!
 
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Philipsburg, Montana
April 28, 2017
We found a campsite four miles from the Tillamook Forest Center along a rapid fill stream next to a bridge. Rained all night, campsite was quite muddy but we still enjoyed some outdoor grilling on the stove. I wished we could have white water kayaked, but after talking with the sheriff about the crash that we had witnessed. The family decided dry up and head into Portland for supplies and showers.
 

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April 29, 2017
Camping downtown Portland was quite interesting and highlighted what is so special about our "Tiny House On A Steel Soldier". We were approached by a very eclectic arrangement of people, from the police, club, business, kids, elderly, hip hop, city works, homeless, tourists, foreigners, and construction. Never did we have any trouble or negative comments, which gave us the confidence to camp four different nights in the heart of the city. I don't feel any other type of camping setup RV or tent would have been so well received. Plus when things got a touch Wild early morning when the party people were at their craziest, the "Tiny House On A Steel Soldier" felt quite safe. Looking out the windows of our "Tiny House On A Steel Soldier" at city life in the wee hours of the morning. People sleeping in door ways, others kissing after a nights drinking, and city workers hurrying to clean the streets for the next days act. We had a ground floor view you couldn't get from a hotel room, apartment, or condo, feeling all most like a urban human exhibit.
 

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marchplumber

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Thanks for posting and sharing here! Sounds like a grand adventure..................adventures aren't always fun, nor are they supposed to be, I believe. Glad you are allowing your children to see the "good" and the "bad"................... it's not all about a "participation award" in life. So glad my parents didn't sugar coat stuff. I was way better prepared than many when I joined the service. Keep the pics a coming and I too am curious about the interior of the "Tiny House On A Steel Soldier", but understand if ya wanna keep it private, heck, it's your HOME! Stay safe!
 

FloridaAKM

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Thanks for posting these two pages of threads of your adventures. Your kids have a chance to see things most of us will never see & all in a military vehicle setting here in the states. Please keep posting till the vacation is over. All this in a 5 ton military truck/radio shack shelter & a M1102 trailer is so unique that it might only happen here in the states & a rare few other places. Kudos to you & your family.
 
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Philipsburg, Montana
With request to show the interior of the living space, I will be posting notes in the chronological order as I took the pictures during the trip to the present time. Several photos in the notes will give a good idea of how quickly we did the build out to hit the road. There is a back story for why I felt a rush to hit the road with my family in a rig that was built not much more then tent living.

I started a family late in life being at the age of 52 now having child as young as 5 years old. A year ago I had heart surgery in Missoula, Montana which was a big scare for the whole family. I decided I didn’t want to waste time for the perfect build as I have done so many times in my past. I figured that I would bring most of the tools required for a remodel on the road, knowing the life experience with my family was greater then a perfectly built truck. That being said the beginning weeks on the road were tough, we didn’t have a shower, sink, cabinets, or much of anything. Owning a cabinet/counter fabrication business in my past, being educated in Auto Design, and knowing my way around a shop. The first few weeks seemed like I was torturing my family, we were living just a step above what felt like homelessness.

The good thing is my family understands and gets it, and with their enthusiasm I have stopped along the way making some crucial improvements. Increasingly the family is getting to enjoy the art of adventure travel instead of the grind of how we will survive living through the day. Plus since the improvements are so in their face, the kids are learning first hand what in the past they took for granted.

Examples:
1. Where does water come from, where does it go when your done with it.
2. Electricity must come from somewhere. Inverter, generator, shore power.
3. Food storage.
4. How fast a small space gets dirty.
5. How to have privacy when there is no privacy.And the list goes on and on.

What this has caused is the entire family is to challenge themselves to over come goals in sometimes extreme discomfort to gain comfort. Such as in the case of surviving brutish heat until we mounted a air conditioner while still traveling, and not making the install look horrible.

In the end I hope I will give my kids memories that will excite them for future adventures on their own later in life. I’m learning that life is short and I don’t want to miss a second of it.From my family’s point of view they might be plotting to burn, sell, or let the truck roll off the cliff. Hoping we could all go home to Montana and play on the Play Station’s VR watching others people crazy life instead of having to live it ourselves.

Only time will tell if they are enjoying this as much as me.
 
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