I’m sitting in a parking lot in Red Rock Canyon near Hinton, OK. This is the beginning of my second week of van-dwelling. I’ve been driving all day and sleeping like a baby at night, but haven’t taken much of a break for anything. I did go to church yesterday in Houston, but other than that it’s been drive, drive, drive from the time I get up until it’s too dark to see and I can’t concentrate.
I’ve learned a few things already that may help others interested in this adventure:
- You cannot park overnight at Love’s truck stops. They have signs everywhere saying customers can only park for one hour.
- Flying J truck stops charge $1 for a cup of hot water. I can buy a whole bottle at many stores for that price. You can, however, bring a cup of water in and heat it in the microwave.
- It’s not so easy to find things like 12v immersion water heaters for cups unless you order them online. I finally found one today after looking for a week.
- Of the 3 nights I spent in WalMart parking lots, I was not the only person sleeping in a vehicle. This is not as uncommon as people think.
- Don’t pin your hopes and dreams on your orders arriving at an Amazon Locker location on time. I sat for several hours waiting for a shipment that was supposed to arrive one day, and then at 9pm I was informed it would arrive some time within the next 2 days. If you have somewhere to be, which I did, this can be extremely frustrating.
- Cats are extremely resilient. Mine have traveled very well. I had them in their crates for the first day, and then put them on leashes hooked to their harnesses and let them get used to the van for a day before letting them go. When I’m driving through a bigger place like Dallas or Houston I stop before we get there and hook them back up to their leashes in case one of them gets a wild hair and tries to help me drive. Other than that, they’re handling this like champs. They seem to really enjoy looking out the windows as we travel.
I’ve noticed a few things as I’ve been driving across the country.
- It’s become apparent to me that many of us are in far too much of a hurry all the time. A simple trip on your local freeway will prove this. People cut in front of each other going 80 miles an hour, don’t use turn signals, and present a real danger to others sharing the road. We need to learn to slow down, leave earlier, and not try to do so much.
- We all need to take more time to enjoy and appreciate the beauty around us. I’m one of those people who would love a way to take a picture while I’m driving – without having to stop and pull over, because sometimes you can’t. Just sitting here today and listening to the wildlife around me is refreshing and feeds a need in me to be still.
- Possessions aren’t everything. I’ve gone from 4.2 acres of land with a nice mobile home, 3 outbuildings, a pond, and up to 54 chickens to living in a van, and I’m no less me than I was when I had all that stuff. In fact, this has been very freeing. There’s no pressure to keep up with the neighbors; I don’t have to hire someone to pressure wash the house, clean the gutters, or fix a kink in the plumbing. There’s no pruning or weeding to be done. I can clean this area in under 10 minutes, including sweeping the stray kitty litter out the door.
- Silence is precious. We don’t get enough of it. In the city, it’s noisy all the time. Trucks, cars, neighbors, dogs barking, and the sounds of people doing what they do carries into everything. Learning to live in the quiet without needing constant outside stimulation is a good thing.
While it’s certainly not for everyone, and I don’t know for myself how long this will last, it’s been a learning experience I will take with me for the rest of my life.