It Begins — July 30, 2015

It Begins

Yesterday I drove my van from my apartment and parked it on a street to go to work.  After work, I went back to my van, and I didn’t go back to the apartment. It was my first night in the van.

The first thing I did was buy some necessary items:  A mattress topper and other daily items I needed.  Following that, I took my goodies back, organized the van, went to dinner, then drove to that night’s sleeping location.

It was odd at first… I was tired and I drove around looking for the ideal place to park and sleep. I passed up several potential spots just out of nervousness.  It felt awkward for a while, looking for a sleeping place. Also, there were so many streets with inclines, and the streets were narrow, so I felt huge driving down them in my van!

Finally exhaustion got the better of me and I took the next space that seemed good.  My intention was just to slip into the back after parking, not leaving the van at all, and to go to sleep.  But as soon as I parked, I worried that my huge van was blocking a driveway, or that I wasn’t close enough to the curb, so I had to get out and check.  Of course, this made all the lights light up on the van, and I felt like a beacon – here!  Look at me!  I parked here to sleep!.

Finally I got back in and got in the back. It was stuffy and dark.  I had to go through my bag by feeling to find the clothes I was to sleep in, and I had to figure out how to unfold and set up the toilet I’d never used before… all in the dark!  Finally, after changing clothes and creating a huge mess of clothes pulled out of my bag, and after halfway assembling the toilet bag, I settled in for sleep.

I actually slept really well, though that was helped by an advil PM I took before falling asleep.  The whole night was quiet and peaceful.  I woke up a couple times.  Once because I had to use the bathroom – which I did without too much trouble, and other times just shifting positions.  I was surprised I slept so well though, and I didn’t want to get up when my alarm went off.  I wanted to sleep at least another hour.  But I did, and it was still dark outside, and darker inside with the windows covered.  I fumbled around with the toilet bag and the toilet, trying to get it folded back up and gave up on it until later.  Folding the toilet in and out isn’t as easy as it seems.

I drove to a Starbucks (in my preparation I had asked them what time they open – 5:00AM), and had to put together all my morning stuff when I got there, so I could go in and use the bathroom. On my way in I disposed of the toilet bag in a can outside of the strip mall store.  After getting coffee and washing my face, and brushing my teeth, I went back to my van.  Once back, I tidied up the van, managed to figure out how to fold the toilet up again, opened the curtains and drove on my way to a parking spot for the day.

Lessons learned on my first day:

1.  Prepare for the night in advance!  Wow, this is so key!   I could easily have prepared all my things for bed, including unfolding and setting out the toilet, and getting out my bed clothes before leaving for my sleeping location.  Then when I found the location, all I would have to do is slip into the back and sleep.  Lesson learned – Prepare in advance!

2.  Keep my morning stuff all together in a bag, ready to go!  Again… this prevents the fumbling around in the dark.

3.  Just stop and sleep!  I really drove around way too much.

So about the toilet.  Who knew discussing elimination technique would be a primary concern!  As gross as it is, I feel like it can’t be omitted, because I think that it is a primary concern for those of us living in cars and vans.  These bags and the toilet I had gotten online at ack.com.  The bags weren’t made for the toilet, and they are a little small.  However. the powder that turns the liquid to gel… that stuff is amazing!  In the morning, when I went to seal up the bag and take down the toilet, it was like a semi solid gel, and there was no danger of spilling.  So I just sealed up the bag according to the directions I’d read earlier, and tossed it away!  It really wasn’t a problem in the least!  In fact, the biggest problem was my lack of advanced preparation for the night and figuring out how to unfold and fold back the toilet.  I just have to make sure I NEVER run out of those bags or that amazing gel creating powder.  I think it’s called Poo Powder.  Yeah, disgusting!  But this whole process really does deserve discussion.

I’m actually looking forward to tonight!  I honestly don’t know why any single individual, or even any childless couple would throw their money to a landlord!  But that’s me!

Liselle

Tonight’s the night — July 29, 2015

Tonight’s the night

I picked up my van yesterday, and I’m really happy with it!  It’s a lot nicer than I remember it, but it’s also a lot smaller.  The image in my mind about what I would put in it, and where, has to be changed.  However, it’s already got curtains in it, and I’m fine with that for night.

One thing I didn’t expect is that now I want to have the windows blacked out with felt or other black material during the day.  I don’t like not being there (while at work) and having people be able to see the van with the curtains closed, or open (they can see the bed if they look).  If I black them out during the day, I’ll just feel better about it.

Tonight is the first night I’m going to be sleeping in it.  I’m going to buy the mattress topper and some other items I need, like contact lens fluid and toothpaste, and when I’ve got the things I need, I’m going to have dinner, play my phone game, then go park and sleep.

Some of the things I’ll be buying include an eye mask and ear plugs.  I’m also buying some sleep aid stuff.  I think it could be difficult the first few nights as I will likely be hyper aware, and anything I can do to calm down and go to sleep will be helpful.

I already have my portable toilet in case I have to pee during the night.  I got a reliance fold up one with some environmental bags that you put a powder in and it turns liquid to a solid (ish) substance that you can just throw away.  I trust this because it is meant to be an environmentally sound solution for back packers and campers who need toilets.

I’ll report my night experience tomorrow.

 

The home stretch — July 27, 2015

The home stretch

Now I’m on the home stretch of my van living adventure.  I’m starting to separate my things:  Those that I need to live with, or want to live with in my van.  Those that won’t be necessary, and will be extra baggage in my van, but I can’t bear to part with (to go into a storage).  And those that I am just getting rid of – either selling on Craigslist, or giving away or calling someone to haul away.

The biggest pile is the stuff I’m getting rid of, and not only because this pile includes all my furniture!  It also includes something I have valued for so very long – my books!  Or most of my books anyway – there are some books that I am keeping.  These are the books that contain information about my spiritual path, and the books on hypnotherapy (something I practice when I have clients).  Oh… my cook books too!  Some of them anyway.. until I go through them and get the recipes I have used over the years.  I’m feeling anxious about getting rid of some of the books – The protestant ethics and spirit of capitalism!  But really, when was the last time I actually read that?  I think it’s been over two years… and I can surely find it in a library – like most of my books!  So that’s that!

To go in the storage?  I’ve collected many things that I’m just not willing to get rid of.  Crystal goblets from Prague, a St. Francis cross from Krakow, a Kashmir carpet that I got in Thailand, a mask from venice, hand made wall plaques that I received on my 13th birthday.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with these things, but at this point I can’t bare to get rid of them!  There are also things like, my kitchen aid mixer.  I should just sell it, but since I’m getting a storage place anyway… I just want to make sure that not too many things will go there using that reasoning.  I will also put things there that I may need access to occasionally – some clothing, extra towels things like that.  I expect that as I get deeper into this adventure, these things will slowly decrease.  I’m hoping to eventually be completely contained in my van.

To keep.  I’m getting rid of so many clothes just by asking the question:  Will I wear this now?  Because really anything can be replaced!  I don’t need all that I have by a long stretch.  Other than that – one set of sheets.  A blanket or two… some books and my electronics.  Also maybe one or two of my dishes and silverware.

What next?  Lately, I’ve been really concerned about where I will park to sleep!  I even thought about renting a parking space just to make sure I’d have some place that I wouldn’t be kicked out from.  But in the end I decided – no.  I’m just going to park and sleep and see what happens!  I’m both excited and scared about all this!

I am supposed to get the van as soon as Tuesday (hopefully) or as late as the first (and I hope like hell it’s not later than that)!

I’ll post more later.

 

… and counting — July 20, 2015

… and counting

Less than two weeks to go!

I went and looked at a lot of things this weekend in preparation for moving into my van.  Turns out I’m not going to get the van this coming weekend, but the weekend of the 1st of August.  That means I’m not going to have that week to prep the van.  I’m going to be doing all that while actually living in it. With that in mind, I’m trying to anticipate what might come up, or what I might need, and what that will cost me ahead of time.

Some of the things I considered while looking were my need for a comfortable sleep, my need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, my need to have some food available, and my need to charge items during the night.

First thing I looked at was a mattress topper.  Fortunately there is already a bed in the van, but I’m going to need that extra mattress topper for a comfortable sleep.  Since it was really warm this weekend, I’m leaning toward one of those tempurpedic cooling mattresses.  The mattress in the van is an irregular size, so I’m really going to need to take a look at it before buying the topper to see which one might work best.  That means I can’t really make a decision about that until the 1st.

Toilet – this is something I can make a decision about.  I looked at the luggable loo, and at a cleansite pett toilet.  I really like the cleanside one because it can be folded up and packed away, but it’s also 4 times as expensive as the luggable loo!  Those were both at REI, and I did an internet search and didn’t find the cleanside one any cheaper there, but I did find something comparable at ack.com for about half the price.  So I’m going with that, and I’ll use wag bags (sold at rei)  These bags were made for environmental purposes for campers and hikers.  They are biodegradable, and the chemicals in them neutralizes the waste so that the sealed bag can be thrown into the regular garbage can.  SOLD!  I wasn’t really looking forward to emptying jugs of urine in the gas station bathrooms every morning!

Clothing… damn, I need that van in order to make a solid decision about this!  I don’t know how much built in storage space it has, or how much I’m going to have to create.  Some of my clothes need to be hung up so I’m going to have to get one of those multi-garment hangers.  I may need a curtain rod too!  But I’m holding off on the shower curtain rod!  My dad says there is a screen that goes between the driving area and the back, but said it was “flimsy.”  I don’t know what flimsy means to him, so i’m going to have to see it, and see how I can work with it.  If It is something that will help me hag clothing, that’ll be a bonus.

Food – I plan on eating simple food, and I can eat and prepare food at work, so really I’m only going to need an ice chest.  However, I do want a good one that has drawers so I can keep things separate and up out of the melting ice.  I looked a yeti one at REI, and eventually that’s the one I want, but it’s also quite expensive, and something I don’t need right away.  I’m going with an igloo one for now.  It has double open doors at the top and is fairly cheap, so I don’t mind replacing it with the Yeti in the near future.  The reason I want the good solid Yeti is that, I am planning to do this long term, and this is supposed to keep the ice good for 10 plus days!  That will definitely eliminate my constant draining and buying ice every time I turn around!

Charging items. I don’t see how I’m going to get around purchasing some sort of extra battery with 12V outlet and possibly AC outlets.  I haven’t looked or talked to anyone.  I don’t even know the right questions to ask on this one, but I have two weeks to figure it out!

Two more weeks — July 16, 2015

Two more weeks

The time is drawing closer.  I have two more weeks until I officially move into my van, and I have so many things that I need to do!  Tomorrow I start the preparations.

First thing is that I need my van!  I am going to be picking that up next weekend, so really I’ll only have a week of preparation time once I have the van.  I might camp out in it a couple days, just to see what it’s going to be like.  But prior to getting the van itself, I still have things I can do.  I need to get a post office box, or a place that I can have items delivered etc.  I need to figure out a system for when I need to use the bathroom at night.  It’ll have to be something that I can easily seal up and carry to the gym with me in the morning, where I will dump it and clean the item.

I need to arrange for the removal of most of my stuff, and storage of some things I’m not willing to part with just yet.  Surprisingly, I don’t think I’m going to need a huge storage space.  I won’t be storying any furniture at all.  It all goes!  Even my lovely new bed 😦 Oh well!

Printer that I never used – it goes.  Actually, I’m thinking I might not even need a storage because I still have my car!  I can store some things in the trunk.  Until I can pay my car down enough so that it’s not upside down, I’m going to have both the car and the van, but I’m hoping to eliminate that as soon as possible.

The car will make it easy for me to travel around town though, so that’s good for now!

I’m just rambling – thinking online to myself.

Once I get the van, I really need to make sure the mattress is comfortable long term.  I will need a mattress topper – a really good one because I need a comfortable sleep.  I’m going to need to get reflectix and black felt or some black material to black out the windows.

I’ll probably add to this as the day goes on.

Pets — July 13, 2015

Pets

Moving into my van with my cat has been bothering me for some time now.  It’s moving my cat there that is bothering me, not the van part.  Things are set in motion to move into the van, and I can’t back out now even if I wanted to!  But my cat…

My cat is old!  She’s 19 years old, and my heart really breaks for her.  I think she is blind.  Sometimes, when going to get water in the bath tub, she gets confused coming back and runs into the wall.  Most of the time she can navigate her course from eating or drinking or the litter box back to the bed where she sleeps, but sometimes she gets confused.

I’ve moved plenty with my cat.  I know cats are supposed to be territorial, but mine have been more territorial with people rather than places.  Once, when I moved from one apartment to another in the same complex, my cats just followed me back and forth when moving my things, and when I was settled into the new apartment, they just settled in with me, not returning to the old one.  That is to say… my cat can handle the move!  That’s not a problem.

I have several concerns about this move though.  One is that, as mentioned my cat is now old and blind!  She navigates our space based on an established routine.  The second is that, her sibling died about 6 weeks ago.  She’s been with him all her life, and of course, any move I’ve made, they have made together.  When we were in a new space, and i had to go to work, they had each other.  She doesn’t have him now.  She’s alone for the first time in her life at 19, and she’s blind, and is suffering dementia.  I am concerned that the move will be really scary for her.

In addition, though I can park in cooler places like the parking garage, she will sense that she is more exposed to the surroundings, and since she can’t see, this could be really scary for her. Also, what if something happens to the van while I am at work?  What if someone breaks in or… who knows!  She’s blind now…. I’m just really afraid for her.

With much sadness… I really think I might put her down before moving into the van!  I think it’s not fair for her to subject her to that!  I work 10 hours a day for 4 days, and she would be alone all that time!  She’s 19…. she’s had a very long and happy life.  Why subject her to so much uncertainty and loneliness and fear at the end?

Comments please…. I think that’s the right decision, but it breaks me heart to have come to that conclusion!  Plus… I can’t even tell you how lonely I will be without her!

 

Making preparations — July 7, 2015

Making preparations

Just over 3 weeks until I move into my van!  I’m doing a ton of research, trying to figure out what I’m really going to need, and what I can live without for a while in terms of stuff for my van.  In all likelihood, a lot of my first two months savings is probably going to go into making the van more livable for me.

Comfort and safety will come first.  As far as safety goes, I need to be able to black out the windows completely at night.  I don’t want anyone to be able to tell that there is a single woman and a cat in the vehicle at night.  I’ve been watching videos on how to black out the windows, and I’m going to go with the felt/reflectix option. Black felt on once side for night, and reflectix on the other for day when I want to keep the sun out.  So I’m going to need the window block outs immediately.

As far as comfort goes, I’m going to need a really comfortable bed for sleeping.  I bought a new bed about a year ago, and it so comfortable – just right for me!  It’s one of the things that will cause me pain to give up. There is a bed in the van already, but it’s not a high quality mattress, so I’m going to need a high quality mattress topper to go on top, and make the bed sleepable on an ongoing basis.  I’ll do whatever it takes in order to have a comfortable sleep.  So those two things will be essential before I even move into the van.

Further items that I feel I need to get as soon as possible are a back up camera and a security screen.  Traffic and pedestrians here are just crazy.  Pedestrians will seriously walk out in front (or back) of you as you’re driving down the road, backing out of a parking space… or whatever!  I will be going from backing out a small car in which I can see nearly everywhere around me, to backing out and parking a huge van in which my vision is limited.  A back up camera will be essential as soon as I can possibly get one.

The screen will give me a level of feeling comfortable about keeping all my worldly belongings in my van, about sleeping on the street at night, and about leaving my cat when I have to go off to work (where I will park in the parking garage – it’s quite cool in there).  The mesh screen will be between the driving area and the living area.  I’m also considering metal screens for the windows.  I’ve had my window smashed in Berkeley before. I’d hate to have that happen while I’m sleeping.

OK, so those are the immediate, and somewhat immediate things.  I’m also considering a back up battery – I’ll have to research on this more, and see what others have done, but i know that sitting in starbucks while my phone, ipad, facial cleanser, toothbrush… or whatever… charges, is going to get old really fast!  I really need to be able to charge those things while I’m in my van reading, or whatever.

Beyond that… I really need to decide what level of cooking and washing up I’m going to be doing in my van.  Eventually, when I get to travel, I’ll want a full set up.  But for now I don’t need to cook, so travel appliances are in the future.

Oh… I’m going to need to make a decision about how I’m going to handle it when I have to pee at night!  So many things to think about!  But decisions have been made and things are coming along so far!

 

Let’s Eat! — July 1, 2015

Let’s Eat!

One of the things I don’t really have figured out is food.  I don’t know what I’m going to do about eating, because I’m not going to be cooking – at least not at first.  Really, I’m going to be sleeping in the van and living in the world.  On the days that I’m working, I will eat at work.  But I like to eat meat and eggs, and I am afraid that not cooking means eating a lot more carbs than I really want.  I don’t want to eat a lot of pre-prepared processed food.  On the other hand, I will have more money to dedicate to good food.

I was at the store yesterday, and I was in the produce section when the smell of fresh peaches filled my mind and senses.  I love summer fruit, but often it’s expensive – especially if you want the good stuff!  So even though it’s the beginning of July, and there are peaches and cherries and all kinds of berries and melons available, those things are as expensive as buying lunch out!  I don’t eat nearly as much of it as I’d like to in the summer.  But yesterday I bought some Rainier Cherries. Those are my favorite!  They’re also almost twice as expensive as the regular red ones.  Given than I won’t be paying rent in August, I know my food quality is going to go up, in spite of not having a place to cook.  I don’t know what will change once winter is here, but for the summer, I’ll be eating beautiful fruit that I often deny myself due to the cost!

On my days off, I imagine that I will be able to go to the park and use the grills, so I will be able to eat meat, and maybe even be able to cook some eggs that way.  I might even get a little butane single burner stove.  I just don’t know… these things aren’t clear in my mind yet.  I do know that it will be extremely important to both take care of myself, and to not spend a significant portion of my former rent money on eating out!