We Try To Follow 70 Degrees, but is this realistic?
When we started building our van, staying cool was a big topic of conversation. We had installed a mini-split air conditioner in our skoolie, but the van is considerably smaller, so we had to decide what to do. Our solution was simple, inexpensive, and so we thought, brilliant! We would try to follow 70 degrees.
If you think about it, it is a brilliant solution! 70 degrees is tolerable even if you are hot-blooded like we are.
We have a tiny house on wheels that can take us where ever we want to go. Working remotely for ourselves, there is no geographical anchor, so to speak, to keep us in one location for any given amount of time. Being able to follow 70 degrees should be no big deal right?
You would think we thought we had just discovered white bread, electricity, or indoor plumbing.
Just travel, camp, and adventure where the daytime highs would be somewhere around 70 degrees. Easy peasy!
How Have We Done Trying To Follow 70-Degree Temperatures?
How have we done with the following 70 degrees?
To put it mildly, we have done quite poorly! If we were to be graded by the machine-indoctrinated school grades most of us grew up gauging our self-worth by, we would grade ourselves a D-. I don’t care who you are, that is bad!
We started off strong! Oncew our van build was complete we got out of the south! Leaving hot, sticky, humid Florida in the summer of 2021, we headed North. Just about as North as we could go in the lower 48.
We made a beeline for Michigan. Not just Michigan either. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan! The Great Beige North. (not quite the Great White North, but damn close).
In fact, we were so close to Canada at a few spots, Don could have thrown a good-sized rock from the United States to Canada over the canal separating the two.
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan was a fairytale land to us!
The big evergreens. Lush hardwoods as thick as mashed potatoes. The great Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and Lake Huron are all three breathtaking.
Literally, the water is so cold in the summer it will briefly take your breath away. After being in the water for a few minutes, we acclimated and had a hard time convincing ourselves to get out.
Oh! Let us tell you how clean and clear Lake Michigan and Lake Superior are. First of all, let us say, that we have not been in such an expanse of water so big and so clear since swimming and scuba diving in the Caribbean.
At chest deep, we could see our feet like there was nothing between our eyes and the floor of the lake. It was perfectly transparent. Have we mentioned how cold the water is in August there?
It took a bit for us to understand that this water was fresh. There were no sharks anywhere in the waters to be found. No worrying about a big old algea-covered gator creeping up on us.
Nothing, in fact, that was a danger to us as we floated and waded in the cool, refreshing, crystal blue clear water.
We did it!
We followed 70 degrees and were able to enjoy the late summer months without sweating our asses off and needing a shower every few hours.
Our Quest to Follow 70 Degrees Temperatures Was Achieved
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan had daytime highs in the mid to high 70s and a nighttime high in the mid to high 50s. Chasing 70 degrees temperatures was a success, and we were digging it!
This is what van life was all about and how we pictured living a nomadic lifestyle on the road!
Not only were the daytime and nighttime temperatures pleasant and ideal, but the rivers and Great Lakes water was so refreshing and rejuvenating, that we thought we had found our paradise!
We can’t recall getting cranky, pissy, or frustrated once due to hot temperatures. Even on the days when the heat would creep into the low 80s, sitting in the shade under our awning by the van was nice and cool.
Always a breeze blowing from Lake Superior to the north or Lake Michigan to the south.
Keep in mind, that this is in July and August. The two hottest, yuckiest, and sweltering months anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere.
The weather, Great Lakes, and remoteness of the Upper Peninsula were so intoxicating to us, that we quickly decided this is where we want to buy one of our plots of land for off-grid living.
Our Plans To Follow 70 Degrees Weather All Year Around
One of our goals as we travel around North America in our DIY Van is to find four or five locations and purchase 10 to 30 or so acres. The idea is, that we always have a place to go to and be still for a bit when we want to.
Ideally, these pieces of land will be spread out in four geographical locations so we can enjoy mild temperatures regardless of the season.
We already know Northern Arizona is one of those locations. Once you get around 6,000 feet above sea level, the average summer highs are very dry mid 80’s in the summer. A cold, but livable mid-30s in the winter.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is at the top of the list for the midwest, and now that we are experiencing Maine, well, let’s just say we are already browsing property for sale here as well.
Somewhere in the Smokey Mountains would be nice for the winter. It gets cold, but not like Michigan, Maine, or Montana cold. Doable for sure!
Back To How Poorly We Have Followed 70 Degrees
After Michigan, we meandered down to the Ozarks in Missouri. This was sometime in late August to the first couple of weeks of September.
Missouri is not exactly what we would consider the south. It’s not really the mid-west either, at least in the Ozarks. That part of Missouri has what we believe is a bit of an identity crisis. It wants to be The South. With Arkansas as its next-door neighbor, there is a great influence of Southern Living, but, it’s just not there.
The climate and temperatures were pretty good though.
Definitely not as cool as the Upper Peninsula, but still not as hot and Muggy as Florida.
We Had To Go Back To Florida
We need to get back down to Florida for some medical stuff. X-rays, MRIs, and things like that. At least it was approaching October, but in all reality for Florida, that doesn’t really mean much, because it was still hot as Hades down there.
Not really wanting to be in Florida, we really didn’t have a choice in the matter.
We decided to seize the opportunity to visit a couple of the kids, spend some time with good friends on Merritt Island, and enjoy a little beach time we had been missing so much.
Cocoa Beach was like reuniting with an old friend! Salty air, cool ocean breeze, and sand between our toes.
We did all of that and then some. It was nice to see, smell, and soak up the ocean’s energy on the beach, but it was too warm for us.
With all of that, we did what we needed to do and prepared to head back up to the Northeast for the cool 70 degrees temperatures and a chance to see the Fall colors of the changing of the leaves.
Heading Back Up North For Cooler Temperatures
We made our way up to a friend’s place in Kentucky first. Owensboro, Kentucky is a quaint little Southern town. Great views of the Ohio River, and lots of relaxing and fun conversations with our friend Sandy!
Owensboro was the first place I have ever had a Long Island Iced Tea. Colby’s Fine Foods and Spirits are definitely a must-do if you ever happen to be in Owensboro.
They have been serving immaculate food and drinks to their patrons since 1987. A local favorite and a great memory for us!
Well, it’s getting towards the middle of October now, and we want to visit some friends in upstate New York.
Back on the road again. We drive through Louisville, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Ohio, and on into Pennsylvania.
We Have Never Seen Niagra Falls
We realized that not only had neither of us put eyes on Niagra Falls, but we would be driving very close to it. We decided to make a pit stop and visit the iconic falls.
The Falls themselves were nothing less than magnificent! Majestic, powerful, and a little bit intimidating considering how close we were able to get to the actual waterfall itself.
We must admit, staying on the United States side of the Falls, looking over to the Canadian banks, we vowed to go back and watch it from one of the restaurants on the Canadian side one day soon.
Back On The Road to Cooler Temperatures
Back on the road to visit our friends in the Finger Lakes area of Upstate New York. We had a great visit with our friends for a couple of days.
The weather was perfect! Low 70s during the day and low 50s at night. Sleeping with our windows open and Maxxair fan exhausting, we needed our comforters. In fact, at night, it got downright chilly!
A little dip south to some of our other friends close to Oneonta, New York. This area of Upstate New York was simply beautiful! Farmland, mountains, and crystal clear rapid rivers were a sight to behold.
That was just the icing on the cake. Visiting our friends, Amanda, her kids, and Paul was a real treat. We hung out with our friends for a good week. Worked on some writing. Lots of dinners together! Helping with a project or two around their property. A trip into town with one of Amanda’s boys for an ice cream trip to Sweet Frog Ice Cream Parlour.
It was a great time and great 70s-degree temperatures. We had finally found our groove by following 70 degrees. It was the perfect traveling life!
Vermont and New Hampshire In The Fall
We moved on to Vermont for a few days. Covered bridges, waterfalls, and perfect temperatures. We even visited the Bob Newhart Hotel from the Bob Newhart Show. The Wayburry Inn was just like it looked from the outside on the television show.
It was very cool to put eyes on such an iconic landmark from one of our childhood television shows.
Driving through some of the wooden covered bridges created some memories for us for a lifetime. We’ve both always wanted to do that!
We slept at Lifetime Fitness for a few days. By the way, that Black Card Membership is so worth it! Long hot showers are like a day at the spa sometimes.
The Fall Leaves of New Hampshire
We made our way over to New Hampshire and visited some of our dear friends, Robin and Jeremy. What was meant to be a couple of days of catching up turned into 3 weeks of laughter, lots of delicious food, and an Autumn full of colored falling leaves?
It really was a quick and fun visit with them. We are looking forward to our next visit with them again soon!
The day before we were to leave and head south again, it snowed! It was freaking snowing in October!
We love us some cool temperatures, but we did not want to be in snowy temperatures.
Ugh! Back to Florida Again
We have to get back down to Florida again for more medical stuff. We don’t want to go. Florida is the headquarters for Bat-Shit crazy people, love bugs, and humidity.
Epiphany: Floridians are so damned crazy because it is too damned hot and humid there! We just figured it out! We grew up in Central Florida, therefore, we are automatically qualified and allowed to make such statements.
You know, the old, “we can say it, but you can’t rule.”
On our way to Florida, the DEF light comes on the dash of our Sprinter. Normally, no big deal. This time, however, it didn’t go off when we added DEF fluid. In fact, it gave us the “Count-Down to Limp Mode” warning.
If you have a diesel vehicle that requires DEF, you know what means. If not, google and you can sympathize with us.
We have 10 starts before we can go a maximum of 15 miles per hour. We know we’re going to have to get this addressed by a certified Mercedes mechanic, and quickly!
We made it to our friend’s place in Jesup, Georgia. The Skoolie Homestead Community ran by our good friends Brett and Renee Niehaus. Brett’s mechanic, Brad is just a few miles away.
We took the van over to his garage the next day. He did his best to reset the DEF issue. There was no reason for it to be on. We had plenty of DEF fluid, but the computer was not recognizing it.
He did discover that we needed a new water pump though. So, almost $1,000 dollars later, we have a new water pump.
Mercedes Appointment Needed
We still have the DEF issue though. That was something a Mercedes Service Center could only address because of the proprietary software used to clear the code.
The soonest we could get an appointment to have our DEF issues addressed at a Mercedes Dealership Service center would be the end of December. That would be a month away.
So, we are stuck in Jesup Georgia for a month. A week before our service center appointment, we hit a large deer on our way back from town. We are down to three starts at that point.
Now, we have $1,000 in parts alone due to the damage from hitting the deer. We had to reschedule our Mercedes Service appointment.
The soonest appointment we could reschedule was January 20th now.
Make that two months in Jesup now.
We got the van to Mercedes. Mercedes did all of the work that needed to be done. A completely new exhaust system. New DEF components.
After three weeks at the Mercedes dealership, we are now three months in Jesup, Georgia. Just about three months longer than we had planned.
Now it is starting to get warm again, we are waiting on our oldest daughter to give birth to her first child. Our first grandchild.
No way in Hell are we going out west until this child is born. Now it is 6 months in Jesup Georgia. We had been making short trips back and forth to Florida.
By the way, we were no longer following 70 degrees. We had all but lost those ideal temperatures. Even in the south, with the thick humid air and temperatures in the low to mid 80’s, we were not feeling good about the weather and our travels.
The longest story ever, shorter, we finally leave Florida in June and beeline up North to Maine. (we did spend a couple of weeks in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina visiting some good skoolie friends)
The Great Smoky Mountains are beautiful! Could easily live there for a few months a year. Night-time temperatures are perfect. Daytime highs get a little too warm for these two modern-day Vikings.
Maine is Paradise
Here we are in Maine.
Daytime highs of low to mid-80s. Nighttime highs of the high 50s.
The salty air, tall pines and hardwoods, rolling hills, and cool temps have opened our eyes to the reality of wanting to purchase land in Maine for a summer getaway.
When we say summer getaway, we are talking all summer long baby!
We are loving our time up here. Camping with great friends, campfires at night, trips to the coast, and Kinzie and Kona having free range on the 200 acres we are camping.
The plans are to make our way out west, traversing the northern states. Make our way down to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and spend some time with our son Luke.
Then, head down to Tuscon, Arizona, and spend some time with our son Manta and their fiance’ for a while before getting to the Tiajuana border crossing into Mexico.
The temperatures in Baja California are ideal for us! Especially in the winter months.
Following 70 degrees is not as simple as we’d like for it to be. Winter months in the south are easy, and summer months in the far north are doable.
This past year has been one circumstance after another beyond our control.
Looking forward to the next year, our plan is to be in control of our travels going forward. There are always going to be unexpected hiccups. It’s van life after all. Shit is going to happen.
When it does, we pivot, adapt, and make the most of it. It’s what we do!
Here is to the next year of following 70 degrees!
If you would like to know more about full-time life in a DIY van, take a look at what we have discovered over the last year. Everything You Need To Know About Full Time Van Life.