Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Whitey Shakedown

If you've been following along you know that a couple months ago I quit my job and have embarked on the next phase of my life. Part of this involves transitioning from Bozeman, MT to Denver, CO where I have a friend and a passive income stream business opportunity.

So in January I bought a 1997 VW Eurovan camper van. She's all decked out for living in with a kitchenette (galley?) and sleeping arrangements.

This past weekend was our maiden voyage -- a chance for us to get to know each other and for me to learn how she works. 

The goal was to drive from Bozeman to Denver via the scenic route, because what's the rush in getting on the interstate. Might as well enjoy every moment, right? So Friday I took off from Bozeman and headed south via Big Sky and ended up in Evanston, WY where we camped in the parking lot of Big Box Store Whose Name I Will Not Mention.

This introductory video is from our second night out which was spent on BLM land just outside of Canyonlands National Park in southern Utah.

I call her Whitey and I'd like for you to meet her...

There are 3 key free locations where I expect to be camping with Whitey:
  1. Public land, like Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or national forests. BLM land is kind of a free-for-all where people can shoot their guns, ride their ATV or camp quietly on the side of the road.
  2. Stealth camping on neighborhood streets in towns or cities. I did this in Durango, CO on the 3rd night.
  3. Big box parking lots, et al.

Each of these is a free spot to spend the night, so very attractive in that regard. 

The shakedown trip was great in that I learned how Whitey works and developed a couple rules of the road.

First of all, I became comfortable with the propane use. It's a little nerve-wracking driving around with an extra tank of combustibles hanging low beneath the vehicle, but I figured out how to work the stove and the heater (this is the secondary heater to be used when in camping mode and not driving). I even made myself a few kickass meals on the stove. As you know, meals taste way better when made in a camping environment then when made at home.

Second, I got to v1.1 of my storage arrangement and I expect this to continue to evolve and improve. There is a lot of storage space in the van for small things, but less so for big stuff. The process of figuring out the most efficient way to pack everything is ongoing, but I learned some key points and improved upon my original setup.

Third, I came up with two rules of the road:
  1. No junk food in the van. I want the vanlife to be a healthy experience and to ween myself off the habit of eating lots and lots of junk and comfort food while driving. Now that I have a fridge and kitchen there's no excuse for stopping at gas stations and grabbing candy all the time.
  2. Only exceed 70 mph when required. There is no rush in the vanlife. Vanlife is about chilling out and relaxing. It's also about conserving fuel and funds, so stick to the small highways whenever possible and just enjoy the ride.
That's where I'm at so far. It's very exciting for me to be on this new path and to be an example to others that it's possible to live differently. It's all about priorities.

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