Jesus Christ "#vanlife"

A project log for Esot's Trenches

True tales (Trigger Warning!)

esot.eric 09/20/2017 at 05:046 Comments

I had no clue "#vanlife" was a thing. Serious.

Just like I had no clue what the lady walking between two huge dudes walking like a wall blocking the entire sidewalk meant as I ducked off to the side and she asked "duck men?"

Let me make this very clear: I am here because I lost my home. This wasn't some dream fulfilled. I knew within the first weeks of my "california adventure" nearly a decade ago that I've little interest in being "on the road". And, no, I had no idea about that dude nor his book when I found myself writing some thoughts in a notebook allegedly where he used to sit and do the same. When, after someone there informed me that's how I seemed, I did read his book, I knew even better that that lifestyle is not for me. But I already had an idea of that from "into the wild," and the fact of my being not particularly social just made "on the road" litlle more than a stress-filled read. And if anyone ever bothered to ask why I found myself homeless in Cali in the first place (and if I trusted them enough to tell them) they'd've known better than to think it some calling to live some great adventure.

So how the hell did I end up here? Lemme put it this way... I was forced into it. And having been, by people I considered friendly, by people I relied on, and more... we're left with, quite frankly,  I don't trust people worth a damn. Certainly not enough to rely on their decency again to keep a roof over my head. So what goddamned option do I have?

No. Absolutely. This had nothing to do with "#vanlife" or "on the road" fantasies in any way except as a plausible silver-lining on the thundercloud that put me here. Try #makingdo


Look what I discovered today... upon trying to figure out what to do about the rain that may happen soon *inside* my home:


Now... the fact is, I generally talk about (vs wrote about, maybe) the good things... so some folk seem to be under the impression I'm living the dream... some folk even seem jealous! And again I'm reminded of how desperately folk search for grass-is-greener... when I tried to explain living on a boat to my elementary school classmates, they didn't want to hear about the divorce that ripped my family apart, that we were too poor to live in a regular house, that I didn't get to hang out with my friends during the summers, or anything else *real* about the scenario... the majority heard "boat" and instantly assumed a friggin' yacht and shut me out, out of misplaced jealousy. A few, far between, saw it as something cool. And even fewer (if any?) heard anything more than silver lining. Here we are again, 30 years later. "#vanlife" #makingdo.


zakqwy wrote 09/20/2017 at 13:24 point

agreed that the #vanlife thing is a bit horrifying. but if you really want to go down that rabbit hole, the New Yorker had a good piece on the phenomenon:

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esot.eric wrote 09/20/2017 at 20:11 point

oy... I fear what it has to say... but maybe it'll give me some ideas what to do... thanks for that, I'll read it one of these days.

As I said in a comment below, though, I can see how it could be appealing, and even great for the right folk... am thinkink, though that as soon as something becomes a "social movement" or gets a friggin' hashtag, that many folk who are entirely unprepared will risk everything for a "dream" that has just as many unexpected downs as the lives they already know how to deal with the downs within. For whatever it's worth, I at least have some experience with living in small places, in unusual/difficult scenarios... and am somewhat handy... making do... so am less terrified of the situation I've found myself in than others might be should they find themselves living it unexpectedly... but I am definitely terrified at times... quite a bit, in fact. 

E.g. I used to drink a six-pack a night, tallboys... in the past three+ months I've had five pints, total. Not from lack of want, but from fear that an open yet long-empty container will not just cost me my license, but My Home. Where's the fallback from here? This thing gets impounded, I live in a doorway. And will I be able to get my cat?

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Dr. Cockroach wrote 09/20/2017 at 07:30 point

You know Eric, My wife and I have been thinking about living in a small RV after I retire next year. After reading " Harsh Truths " we will have to do a bit more thinking...Been homeless twice, not recommended unless a person is made up of real sturdy stuff.

On the dampness, Have you tried Damp-Rid? It works in our closets but not sure about the van.

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esot.eric wrote 09/20/2017 at 09:33 point

meh.. I was a bit harsh... 

Regardless, an RV is an entirely different beast... many drawbacks of van-living aren't as problematic in RVs... e.g. rest areas (here anyhow) have a dedicated area for RVs... where people can stay up to 8 hours. Vans don't count, and many times now have been awoken by authorities telling me to use the car lot. Wherein stays are limited to one hour.

Similarly, the RV lots often have hookups for sewage disposal.

There's no space in here for a head... and even if there was, I'm doubting they'd have the same hookup... and technically that area's off limits to non-RVs. Having a shitty day? Gotta park near a public restroom till that clears up...

Showering.. is damn near impossible.

Vans look creepy... from surveillance to predators... people don't stigmatize RVs the same. People don't expect people to be inside parked vans, nor for vans to have curtains, for non nefarious purposes...

RVs are designed with insulation... condensation would be a much smaller concern. Nevermind a larger interior to handle more air.... less reason to open the windows on cold nights... and headroom. And of course the heating and cooling benefits. Also sound.

Batteries... most RVs have two... one for the engine and another for the house... they're different types, the latter designed to be loaded for hours on end, the former to have a brief but really heavy load (starter). Can't even count the number of jumpstarts I've needed in the past three (?) Months.

Showers... did I mention those?

Kitchens, stovetops, sinks for washing,... ice boxes, or even a fridge... potable water tanks... generators...

I'm sure they have their own drawbacks, (more gas! Have to be cautious on small roads... overpasses, etc. Are drive thrus even possible? Even harder to park in towns... long term parkers might be presumed meth labs) but they are designed to live in...

Yeah, I was a bit harsh... sure, I've had some jealousy of others' ability to live on the road... the freedom, whatnot... might be fun as a retirement gig or long vacation, especially with a loved one... or with a caravan... or if you're really good at meeting new people... or if you're a photographer or otherwise have plans for what to *do* on the road...

but this, here, is unplanned homelessness... and yet another thing to make it hard to relate to people... I guess I should be used to that, by now. Maybe I'll grow into It... figure something out along the way... heck, I kinda have to.

Wise to know what you're getting yourself into... research, meet people, plan for unexpected bills, AAA, maybe... hope I didn't scare you away.

I'll have to look into this damp-rid stuff! Thanks!

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Dr. Cockroach wrote 09/20/2017 at 17:25 point

Nope, have not scared me away. Have been doing a lot thinking along those lines as well as perhaps build our own tiny house on a small flatbed. I think that Walmart sells a camping chem potty that could fit under something in the van. Would be good to have on those nasty weather days. Can be carried to a dump station when needed. The Damp-Rid works, we use it and it does collect a lot of water. When hiling we have used a solar shower which is a black plastic water bag with a hose/ spray attachment. set outside to heat up even on cloudy days.

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esot.eric wrote 09/20/2017 at 20:19 point

great prep! Easier to shower like that in the woods... but where are they? So far I've found that most land is owned... if not by companies, then by farmers with no tresspassing signs, etc... or state parks which have dedicated campgrounds (and showers) that are not cheap, nevermind people making use of the park... I've yet to find such a place... maybe I'm just too close to the coast?

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