Tag Archives: gopher tortoise

Our Growing Girl

The Gopher Tortoise is 6 months old. She’s grown so much (literally – I think i need a trampoline to get in now) – lets get a run down on all the stuff we’ve done:

So last update was we bought a truck and made some plans… well those plans are almost complete – so much for taking our time!

So far we demo’d the inside…


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Did a lot of painting….

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Please note: Spray painting inside the truck was a bad idea. Don’t do this.  It was messy and dusty and difficult to control. Paint with brushes or a real paint sprayer would work best.

Installed a 6″ lift from Rough Country


New (used) 37″ Military Tires (so a total of 9″ higher)….

That tiny thing in the background... oh that's just our house. You know, the one without wheels.
That tiny thing in the background… oh that’s just our house. You know, the one without wheels.

2 8″ Bully Side steps (But lets be serious… they only drop down like 6″ so its still a BIG step to get in – no skirts allowed in this ride unless you plan to give the world a show)

Installed custom cabinets, counter tops, a bar sink (bought locally) and an Atwood 2 burner stove

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Cabinets were used (read: cheap)- an old office filing cabinet and an old gym locker (one courtesy of an used office supply store, the other from craigslist). We sort-of fabricated the counter using some garage shelving plus sheet aluminum and some plywood for the counter top base. When I say we: I mean Mike did the work, with my uncanny supervision and artistic direction. I also helped carry stuff.

Mike installing our stainless steel sheet countertop.
Mike installing our aluminum on plywood countertop.


Double-duty cabinet doors…

Cabinet doors double as tables/workstation
Cabinet doors double as tables/workstation
Me mixing the epoxy for the cabinets... see I do stuff besides blog and take pictures!
Me mixing the epoxy for the cabinets… see I do stuff besides look cute, blog and take pictures!

We might be changing the cabinet doors… we have found through use that these are just too big. Something maybe half the size would be good so we can still maneuver around them when open, and still big enough for eating/working.

4 sliding windows…

Mike cutting in some window holes
Mike cutting in some window holes

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An Engel 60 quart SR-70 Front-loading Fridge/Freezer

Stays cold, uses very little power from the solar, can be used on an uneven surface, worked well with our layout. Top loaders probably have a little more room.
Stays cold, uses very little power from the solar, can be used on an uneven surface (parked on a hill), and worked well with our layout. Top loaders might have a little more room.

Got ourselves a custom mattress/couch made by Karen’s Canvas Shop

Couch mode
Couch mode
Bed mode (bow-chika-wow-wow)
Bed mode (bow-chika-wow-wow)

We used high density marine grade foam for the bed and Sunbrella indoor/outdoor fabric. The foam and fabric are mold/mildew resistant (made for boats) and super solid… We couldn’t try it out by laying on it and its a little too stiff for us, but we hope it will soften a little from use.

Installed an 600W Samlex Inverter….

Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter Samlex PST-600-12 L

Installed 3 100W Renogy Solar Panels and Charge Controller… Purchased Here. 


Ewwww look at all those dirty footprints. Also, please note those are bare feet footprints, only possible because of the fancy schmancy white paint. We painted the roof with Kool Seal – white roof coating that reflects heat, really makes a huge difference in heat absorbed into the truck, and onto the roof of the truck.  Totally worth it.

Added a cabinet we built to house all the solar components, wiring and fuse block. We decorated it using beer bottle caps that we saved from our last trip and a few maps from a thrift store + more epoxy (love that stuff)….


4 V-Max 6Volt AGM 225 Amp Batteries for the battery bank, as of now we are powering our fridge, fan, water pump and inverter off of the solar battery bank but we have tons of available solar energy to still be utilized…

Added a roof vent, with a fan (purchased locally)…. Sorry no pictures of this one – its really not that exciting to look at anyway.

Changed out the old, non-functioning a/c unit for a new one that can be plugged in at RV parks or where ever “shore” power is available… Small problem is when we run it, we accumulate some water and when we drive it comes out in the truck…. so we need to work on that…

Put in a 11 gallon water tank and 55 psi Shur-Flo water pump…




We also have a secondary tank that isn’t installed (both bought used from a local RV repair shop for $40 total) but we will probably put it in before taking any big trips – especially when we get that outdoor shower (hint hint Michael  – we ARE getting an outdoor shower – with HOT water).

And there might be some more murals added (so what was the point of painting the inside again?)

First attempt at immortalizing the GT. Doesn't she look majestic amongst the pines?
First attempt at immortalizing the GT. Doesn’t she look majestic amongst the pines?
Also works well as a fake halo in a photo.
Also works well as a fake halo in a photo.

A lot of the little things (sink, roof vent, paint, windows…) we got at a local store The Mobile Home-Depot. They had pretty good prices on most things (either comparable to Amazon or cheaper)and some pretty knowledgeable staff. Most of their stuff is for real Mobile (manufactured) homes, but they had RV supplies as well.

All told, we have spent about $17,000 on the truck, parts, supplies and professionals. We still have some work to do, like the spare tire mount (in process), second fuel tank to give us more range of travel between fill ups, adding shore power plug in, water fill port, hook up the stove (we need the propane lines run and tank mounted outside), that hot water outdoor shower I mentioned, and some more storage. We also plan to add a small microwave.

What is PRICELESS however is the help we got from our wandering pals; most specifically, Richard from Desk to Glory. Mike would probably be at least half electrocuted, and we probably would have needed new panels or something when he blew them up, if he didn’t have Richard to guide him in this electrical wonderland.

Other helpers:


Neli’s Big Adventure, Slow Car, Fast House, and Exploring Elements.  Thanks Everyone!


Planning for the Future AKA The Birth of a Tortoise (and a baby (NOT ours))

Did you guys think we were done?? Nah… Just a rest stop.

So… Recap of the last 4 months….

We returned to the states, visited some family in NY and the Carolinas, then got the hell out of the cold and made the official move to Florida (YAY!)

Mike on the Melbourne causeway
Mike on the Melbourne causeway

florida map


This thing decided to visit one evening. I check the sheets now.
This thing decided to visit one evening. I check the sheets now.

We spent the first week recouping, unpacking and whatnot… Then job hunting began. Mike got a job first and I had my job offer a week or so later… Then had to submit to a background check, pee in a cup (good thing we turned down all that ganga) and essentially wait two weeks before I could start makin that money honey.

We built a chicken coop and run and some raised garden beds… Bought 6 chickens (no we didn’t raise them we wanted eggs right away and I couldn’t bear it if one died or something) and planted a garden. Chickens are good and laying about 3-4 eggs a day. The garden didn’t fare so well… But we can replant next month and try again. We also remodeled our kitchen and finished the Florida room rebuild…. Now that I think about it that’s a lot of sh*t to do in like a month… We’re pretty amazing (pats self on back).

Raised garden beds. Failed mostly. We got corn tomatoes and salad greens though.
Raised garden beds. Failed mostly. We got corn tomatoes and salad greens though.
The old kitchen mid-tear-down
The old kitchen mid-tear-down


I got a little creative with the coop.
I got a little creative with the coop.


After weeks of effed up transfers (we hate our bank), poor communication and generally stressing ourselves to insanity, we are now officially Belizean landowners!

And….Probably the most exciting thing is we are officially Auntie Tiff and Uncle Mike! Check out this handsome devil.


Ok, so…. What now? Well.. Now… WE BUILD!



Why gopher tortoise? They’re the first critters we spotted around our new home. They’re kind of like our own personal mascots. We live a short walk for a preserve that these guys thrive in… And they need the protection. It wasn’t until 2007 that Florida put in a law protecting them from essentially getting bulldozed to death during land development.  Now, around here you see turtle crossing signs and people stop their cars to move them off the roads. So… We like these guys. They’re cool and eat grass and dig holes and walk slow. Other reasons we chose gopher tortoise… Well the truck is green, our home is inside the “shell” and this big galoot is slow. Like tops out at 60 mph slow. Hence, the Gopher Tortoise was born (cue angelic choir).

Now the real fun begins. We essentially get to creat our own custom four wheel drive camper. For under $20,000 (based off current estimates should be about 18-19k). Eat your heart out XP camper and adventuremobile! (**disclaimer: we would love to buy either of these great vehicles we just can’t afford it. We know people who have XP Campers and love them.) Progress details coming soon!

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