It's almost three weeks since I departed on this crazy journey of mine and there's no shortage of things to learn and adapt to when living in a van full time.
My transition from tiny bachelor apartment to van dwelling wasn't such a big deal. My daily routine stays the same; get up, make coffee and while it perks clean house. Living in such a small space, and being slightly OCD when it comes to organization, makes me have have to keep a tidy abode. There really is no way around that. Plus, if I am ever to be stopped by the police it just looks better.
My toilet is in both my kitchen and my bedroom and that takes some getting used to. I didn't think I would use it that much but I do enjoy not having to go outside in the dark scariness to relieve myself. I have also discovered it's important to remember to empty the campa potti every few days or there's a strange smell of cured meats in my house. (most of you are wincing right now and I don't blame you, but these are the gritty facts)
Without power my fridge is an ice box so I need to buy a bag of ice every day. If I forget the water melts and severe turns cause the water to come pouring out all over the place. This goes for everything else too. Every single item has to be tied down or wedged in or things go flying. Just this morning I took a quick turn and my fridge opened, sending cheese, sandwich meat and potatoes flying. It's a bit of a distraction when you're driving.
Obviously showering, or not showering, is a constant concern. I'm ok with a few days of bird bathing in gas stations or fast food joints but after a while a hot shower is definitely needed. I have been lucky in the last week to have the luxury of staying with people and showering on a regular basis. Back on the road and one day later I'm already missing that which we all take for granted.
Lastly, where to sleep for the night is a concern every time I see the sun disappearing on the horizon. I have pulled over in front of a little cemetery, in broad view in parking lots and sometimes right on the side of the road. Last night was the only time I had a problem. In West Virginia I was feeling rather crappy due to a cold and felt I shouldn't drive any further. I pulled over on the side of the secondary highway I was on and crawled into bed. It was only 8:30pm so I knew I would be up early and back on the road, hopefully feeling less coldish. After about 10 minutes a car pulled over behind me, stayed for a minute then left. A few minutes later a truck pulled over in front of me, then turned around and pulled in back, stayed there for a minute, and left.
It was the first time this kind of thing happened and I got spooked so I drove to the next town. I parked on the road between a lawyers office and the police station thinking it would be safe. Two seconds later another car pulls in behind me and there is a flashlight in my face. You know the saying, "they are as afraid of you as you are of them"? Turns out that's the case here. People were checking me out because I'm a stranger here and called the police. The kind policeman told me people are suspicious because with the way the economy is they want to hang on to whatever they have left. Apparently there is a big problem with stealing in the little town of Ritchie County. He allowed me to park in the police station's lot for the night. When I left in the morning I swear I was followed by a black truck until I was out of town.
Now, I head out towards Ohio with a golf ball sized hole in my exhaust. Hopefully I can find a mechanic who is willing to let me trade for the fix. Let the learning and exploring continue!