40 days later: a retrospective

i decided this would be the summer that i would leave my homebase in the gulf coast and let the weather dictate where i would sleep at night.

despite living in my van since january 2019, i’d be lying if i said i’d spent much time in it. between working 6 days a week and flopping between my mom and brother’s place afterwards, i probably was only inside of my van between 8pm and 5am (the only bearable hours to be outside in Texas).

so the preparation for this summer was more than just hoarding supplies and mapping out potential destinations. it was surprisingly a mental strain too. leading up to my departure date, i started to doubt myself heavily. “do i really need to do this?”

even after i finally left houston, i could still feel the anxiousness, the nerves throbbing beneath my thin skin.

it started raining day 2 through day 3, even though the weather app said the weather would be peachy. so i ran out of electricity day 3 since i wasn’t able to charge with the sun.

midway into day 3, i ran over a giant screw in the middle of a bumpkin town.

o dumbass bitch sure picked a fine spot.

of course, there are only 2 tire shops in the area, neither have my tire, but one of them could patch it for me, just so i could be on my way.

“no guarantees,” he said as i rifled around for my credit card, “for insurance purposes. but i think it should be fine.”

despite his inbred appearance and lack of eye contact, in that moment i decided i had to trust him. i really had no other choice.

by the time i got into new mexico, i could feel the anxiety begin to melt away.

besides, i used a credit card, so if i had any issues, i could always run a chargeback.

and just as i wrote this, a sudden ache in my belly told me that the coffee i made this morning was too strong, and that whatever is my bowels will soon evacuate.

shitting in a bucket isn’t something that everyone likes to talk about, but it’s gone from one of the things i was terrified of doing, to looking forward to my next movement.

“why don’t you use public restrooms like a normal person?” you might ask.

number one, have you met my dog? he is ike turner reincarnated. he won’t let me out of his sight without screaming at me.

number two (no pun intended), i spend more time out in the wilderness where there aren’t typically toilets.

and where there ARE toilets, let me tell you, they are nothing to write him about. i’ve walked into plenty and immediately turned back around.

i’ll just go shit in my own bucket.

moving on.

the added “burden” of living full-time with a dog who has separation anxiety has also created a little extra pressure for my lifestyle.

the following are things most other vandwellers can do with ease that is more difficult when you are being held hostage by your canine friend:

  • use public bathrooms
  • use public showers
  • go inside public places like grocery stores, laundromats, the mall. you know, places with air conditioner
  • make friends

i’ve had a lot of people suggest i give up my dog in order to be “more free.” although that was definitely my plan A, i couldn’t find anyone who was willing to keep him for a monthly stipend.

so basically all the people suggesting i give away my dog was completely worthless and offered no better recommendations than reddit users offering stock advice.

overall, i have been doing a balancing act of prioritizing my dog’s wellbeing, building my business, avoiding the heat of the plains, and peeing into endless bottles of water.

on my free time, i’ve been watching SNL reruns from the 90s, reading about true crime closest to whatever town i am in (man, there is a lot), meditating, and trying to get back into the groove of creating instead of consuming.

bad habits exacerbated by lack of socialization and dependence on cell signal.

but i am learning about myself. forcing myself to just work through whatever uncomfortableness i might be enduring.

i’ve had plenty of days of endless driving, low blood sugar because i forget to eat, lightheadedness from climbing altitude too quickly, and of course, having a period and trying to avoid contaminating yourself.

vanliving is freeing, no doubt. to be able to move (or not move) as you see fit allows you to see as much as you want or do as much as you need.

if you depend on internet to work on the road, your camping spots might be limited, especially during peak camping season in high traffic camping towns.

but if you decide to say, “i’m cutting myself off from the world and sitting in my van with my piano,” then you have a plethora of options.

mountains are cooler than everywhere else right now, and it will only get warmer within the next two months, so if summer heat is an issue for you, checking weather is a vital step to choosing your next spot. the temperature can fluctuate 10 degrees of more within a few miles if there is a difference in altitude.

if i can force myself to channel my inner hunter s thompson, i would love to try to get into writing again, my first love.

i just need to combine it with something else i really love, and the truth is, i really like a lot of different things, so it’s hard to narrow my focus.

currently, i am staying around Sheep Mountain in Jackson, Wyoming. there’s a memorial plaque in the next spot – apparently in 1996, a cargo plane carrying a Secret Service agents and several Air Force crew members crashed a C-130 into the side of Sheep Mountain shortly after takeoff here in Jackson. they were in town for President Clinton’s birthday vacation.

i climbed the top of the mountain trying to find Sheep Mountain based on pictures i saw online. i ended up taking these.

the teton range

i’m at the top of this hill thinking, “wow i wonder which one it was” so i’m taking all the pictures.

but i’m dumb, and i didn’t realize that Sheep Mountain (also known as the Sleeping Indian because i guess people think it looks like a Sleeping Indian) was actually BEHIND me. by this time, i’m at the bottom of the hill so then i had to take more pictures.

a bit lackluster from this angle, but you can see the "sleeping indian" toward the center

surprisingly, there isn’t a lot of information on the plane wreck, and i would’ve never known about it had i not seen the memorial plaque.

i guess i’ll end this with a van tip:

if you do poop in your vehicle, don’t tell your passengers. because once you do, their eyes dart all over the place looking for spots so they can say, “omg is that poop?! what about that?”

so avoid the inevitable answer of “yeah, that spot is probably poop” and don’t disclose your little secret.