Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Hot Cup of Tea

There are just some things in life that are necessities. Yes, clean water is one and so is a dry place to sleep. And warmth when the temperature dips at night. But a hot cup of tea should be on that list, too. I am just back from a little camping trip in the wilderness to see how it would be to live out of my Honda Element for extended lengths of time.

For this inaugural trip I had only the barest of essentials:

  1. 6 gallons of drinking water - more than I needed for 4 days. I probably should have been drinking more water, because the first night I had really bad leg cramps throughout the night. But drinking more water means getting up and peeing a couple of times a night.
  2. 2 tarps that you can see from the photo were put to good use. It would be nice to have 4 more, one for each side and on the ground. And the poles to go with. I went to Home Depot and bought 5' aluminum conduit poles. They are strong, but too large to go through the grommet holes in the tarp so I needed stakes to hold the tarp to the poles. Still need to work on this design.
  3. 2 5-gallon buckets. One was used for storage of miscellaneous things and one was for a toilet. Worked pretty well.
  4. 2 large spray bottles with water for cleaning body parts. Very essential. Towels for drying and a towel on the step into the sleeping area of the car to keep dirt from feet out of the blankets.
  5. I had a camp chair, a little stool (I am pretty short and never know when I need to reach something) which ended up being another seat. I had a little folding table that is used for couch-side dining. I would like to bring a larger and more stable folding table next time. I used it for working on a piece of art, but tables are also handy for organization, stove, dinner buffet with fellow campers, etc.
  6. I did NOT bring warm enough clothes. I was leaving a very hot Phoenix when I packed and just did not think about cooler weather and a storm coming in. Lesson learned - always pack for ALL weather.
  7. I did bring lots of warm bedding and that was where I spent a lot of time, under the covers. I had camping pads and that was OK to sleep on, a little hard, but OK. The 2nd night I inflated the air mattress I had recently purchased (because it was on sale) and slept better, but it sure took up a lot of space in the back of the Honda. If I am to continue to use the air mattress, I will need to build a full platform across the back. Since my dog, a miniature dachshund sleeps with me, and often under the covers with me, having the space is a comfort to be considered.
    Blankets, down comforter, sleeping bag, pillows
  8. I brought lots of food and the best of it was the quinoa that was easy to cook in a fellow camper's solar oven and shared for dinner with salsa and avocado. Very yummy and healthy.
  9. Since my Kindle was damaged, I brought books and that was really helpful to while away the cold and windy days when a storm blew through. I also had my camera and did take some photos of the flora and campsite. 
What I did not have and would have been nice was a writing pad or journal and pens. After the 2nd day my battery on my computer was gone and I wanted to write more, but while I was making little art journals for others, I did not bring one for me to write in.

For my next time I will have a platform constructed so that I have more storage space. I will bring a stove, because hot water for tea and to cook things like oatmeal, quinoa, rice, etc. is nice. I will bring milk jugs painted black so that I can have solar-heated hot water to wash with. I will bring more writing materials.

Because I live on a small fixed income, I can only purchase significant items once every couple of months. Items that would make the Element really comfortable and what I am saving up for are:

  1. 2 marine batteries for electrical charge for the computer and some lights
  2. 1 200-watt solar panel for the top of the Element to compliment the batteries. Because I will not be able to afford the solar panels, inverter, converter, wiring, etc AND batteries all at the same time, I can purchase the batteries first and get some electrical juice while I am saving up for the rest of my electrical system. This entire system will probably run me about $800. 
  3. After I have a decent electrical system, I would like to have a small 12-volt refrigerator. There is no way an ice cooler will work for extended lengths of time in the wilderness. And it is nice to have a way to keep the yogurt and veggies cool.
  4. I think it will be good to have a communication system that allows me to access the Internet while I am traveling. It is a way to maintain a 'community' with other vagabonds/vandwellers. It is also a way to stay in touch with family and friends. I intend to frequent coffeehouses and other free wifi spots, but there will be extended times where I need my own communication system. At first that will be a smart phone with unlimited data. As I am able to afford it, I can purchase a booster for that signal and be more remote.
  5. And way down on the dream list is a little harbor freight utility trailer to add some extra room. That would mean that I could always have a bed set up, rather than the entire inside of the Element used as storage while I am traveling, and then unpacked for camping. Even with living minimally, things still add up. 
I know I can do it. I know that it is preferable to my current alternative of living in a place I really do not want to be in and not having enough money to eat properly throughout the month, let alone for any thing else, like a bottle of paint. I know that I feel calmer and more grounded when I am living in the open. I am more active and so is my 9 year old dog. I know there is still some life and energy in these old bones, and I still have dreams. And miles to go before I sleep.

As a single woman in her 60's, on SS disability, I have options that are exciting and very doable. I don't have to figure it all out at once or even before I start out. I will make mistakes and wrong turns, that is life. I will have adventures, and that is what life is supposed to be about. While I am a single woman traveling alone, I need not be alone (unless I want to) because there is a burgeoning community of full-time vandwellers/vagabonds/folks living on the road.

Bob Wells set up with antenna and satellite dish, solar panels on top.
I have already learned a great deal from Bob Wells of A blog by a long-time Vandweller, and Charlene of Swankie Wheels. Both of whom I met up with in this past weekend at the campsite in Northern Arizona. Through Facebook, Charlene and I were able to coordinate and she could give me directions to the campsite. That is why access to the Internet is pretty important. I have also learned a lot from reading the blogs of Roxie of the Good Luck Duck. There is a lot of information out there, both on the Internet and in books. Living full-time in your vehicle, whether it is a Prius, a Chevy Cargo Van, or an Element, is becoming more of an option for folks caught in a crazy world and just wanting to find a better place - physically and spiritually.

Headline from today's paper, "Disney drops bid to copyright 'Dios de los Muertos' ." How crazy is that? Well, "Happy Birthday" is copyrighted, so that is pretty crazy. Time to find a better way.

1 comment:

SwankieWheels said...

What happened to the end of your post???? Thank you for the art work journal you made for me. It was a pleasure meeting you. I'm going to spot back by there in a few days and wish you were still going to be there. I want to get another photo of the Agave plant.