As this day comes to an end, so does my first week of van life. What is van life you ask? Simply put I have given up on the typical failing American dream and instead of living in a traditional home I have chosen to live in my van.
The change is dramatic and requires a new way of thinking and approaching my day to day life. My possessions are few as are my expenses. I have a freedom of movement that is rarely experienced by most humans and perhaps will be similar to the migration of birds as I plan to travel with the warm seasons as my primary plan.
Let us examine a typical home. You wake up, go to work, come home, hopefully enjoy some brief time of happiness and then go to sleep and repeat again for practically eternity. The theory is that when we are at our older feeble years we shall stop working and enjoy a much deserved retirement.
I decided that there is no reason to put off the retirement and I shall enjoy it while I am young. Wait, how is that possible? How do I survive? The answer is actually quite simple, my only expenses are realistically gas and food. I have no utility bills, no 30 year mortgage or rent, property taxes are non existent, and I have very little space so I have no realistic ability to acquire material goods. I’m not giving up collecting my Simpsons action figures though!
My income is from savings and some tattoo work that I do and I luckily don’t have to do it very often. Everyone out there has a skill to make this work, I’ve seen others survive doing auto repair, seasonal labor, stand up comedy, and the weird internet based jobs. So this is possible for you. I encourage everyone to stop the traditional grind and experience life and happiness in your own original way!
Onto the adventures of the first week. As I left Moab Utah my anxiety and fear were at a rare high. I even had to take one of my extra anti crazy pills that my doctor wisely thinks I need. Can you imagine me not medicated? Oh the things I would write and do then….. I drove a short distance to Goblin Valley state park in Utah. It was a good choice, only an hour or so from my home for the last two years so it still felt familiar and comfortable.
I went into the visitor center and realized that people are still going to treat me the same and I have the ranger working at the desk to thank more than she will ever know. She helped me find great mountain bike trails and coordinated my next 2 days of my new life. Our interaction was brief but her smile and happiness was just what I needed to click my brain into a better way of feeling about my future.
As I rode my bike around there were no other sounds except the great big winds interrupted by the sound of nothingness. It felt wonderful. What didn’t feel wonderful however was the 31 degree mornings I woke up to! My van has all the comforts of home but for some reason I cheaped out on the heater and didn’t get one with a thermostat control. Arguing with the cold while I’m snuggled under my blankets was my first challenge. The heater was only a couple feet from my bed, but I had to get out of bed and out of the warm comforter to turn that heater on. Ok, it’s time to make a mad dash to get to the on switch! It’s not like in a normal house where you have extra space. My ceiling is only three feet from the mattress so there is a very ungraceful shuffling and slithering to get out of bed and then back in. Even more unfortunate is a few mins later when the van is warmed up I have to do it again to turn the heater off before I’m trapped in a sauna.
By now I’ve exhausted my supply of yummy foods since I left all of those with my son in Moab. I’m on a quest to find a Walmart and fill up my refrigerator and freezer. Shopping is so much different now. All I have is a refrigerator which is basically a fancy version of one you would see in a college dorm. Although most kids are spoiled now so they probably have much nicer ones than I had way back when. Buying in bulk is not really a possibility anymore since storage space equates to non existent. This makes my being a cheap ass shopper much more difficult but as with most things I defeated walmart and stocked my SINGLE food cupboard and tiny fridge with all my yummy comfort viddles.
Now we are onto day 3 ish. I say ish because I really am not sure what day it is already because time is irrelevant to me. I’m not stuck in any set schedule so I can do whatever I want whenever I want. Dammit though, my dumb ass body still wakes up at 6 something every day, gotta find a solution for that soon!
I embark onto highway 50, named the loneliest road in America by some travel writer. It stuck though cause it’s even written on the highway sign.
I had expectations of zero traffic and tumbleweeds bouncing across the road. Signs for no gas for the next 234 miles. Unfortunately none of that was accurate at all. I found the road quite uneventful, there were other travelers on a regular basis and the towns were at most 63 miles apart. Highway 50 today is simply another road that has lost its mystery and majesty.
The desolation ends at Carson City Nevada. The road continued but there is a McDonalds and every other store whorehouse, casino (it is Nevada after all) or hotel everywhere you look.
Lake Tahoe is my final destination of this first week. A tourist town like any other, overcrowded and expensive. If you like lakes I suppose it would be wonderful for you. The scenery is nice, the hikes are quiet and private but I expect when the tourist season really starts that will be completely different and much more frustrating. Practically zero free parking as well which is going to be a grumbling point in my future I predict. The quest for free parking is real!
Here ends the first week as I settle in to watch a nice relaxing movie. Yes, I have a tv and movies in my van, I even had a chance to watch the new episode of Survivor this week! Despite my anxiety and fear, van life is for me and it can be for you too. Find your happiness before it’s too late, don’t work so long and hard that you don’t have time to enjoy your retirement because you’re stuck wearing a diaper and using a walker or even worse one of this damn scooters!
Oh yeah, I went to Great Basin national park too. That’s all I have to say about that place. Hahaha