To make up for my lack of updates, I thought it would be fun to do a bonus blog post on some questions that I imagine people may be asking themselves, but aren’t asking out loud. To be clear, I have made these questions up in my head…I have a lot of time to think while I’m driving! I will now answer these imaginary questions:
Q – Is Harlan actually on the trip with you? How come I never see any pictures with him in them?
A – Great question! Yes, Harlan is on the trip with me. Turns out, he hates having his picture taken. Not exaggerating here. When I point the camera at him, he will do one of 3 things:
- Block his face with whatever object is at hand
- Flip me the bird (nice)
- Give me a hate stare
All of these tactics get the result he is going for which is for me NOT to use his image. I now feel compassion for paparazzi. I feel like I am trying to take a photo of the elusive Sasquatch and end up with many blurred photos of his head turning away. That is why our IG feed is filled with pictures of his back, walking away from me.
Q – Where do you sleep while on the road? Campgrounds? Hotels?
A – Another great question. Some nights we sleep on the street, and there is a science to this. I will explain more below. Some nights we sleep in a campground at a reserved space. It is rare that we reserve these sites ahead of time because our plans change often. Some times we sleep at somebody’s house (people we know!) We have only stayed at a hotel one night so far and that was a nice treat.
When sleeping on the street, we have to be sure that we are being respectful and not parking right in front of somebody’s home. In CA, especially beach towns, many cities don’t permit overnight parking anywhere near the beach, so you have to be kind of stealth re. parking at night. Although it’s legal, a lot of home owners don’t love vans parked on their street with people living in them. (Side note: as the housing crisis becomes even more of an epidemic in our nation, I think more and more people will be living in their vehicles and we are all going to have to be more tolerant of alternative living situations.)
I have found the best code of conduct (for us) is to find a flat place to park, on a street, by a fence, field or empty lot , not blocking anyone’s view, and pull up after dark. All meals have been cooked and cleaned up, all teeth flossed and brushed, and we just pull up, shut all the curtains and go to bed. Then in the morning, we get up early and drive away. No disturbance to the community. I will say, I never have had a great night’s sleep when we park on the street because I am always prepared for getting rousted and having to “move on”. Not sure this would ever happen, but it literally keeps me up all night. So that’s the drawback to this way of living. The bonus is that it’s absolutely free.
When sleeping at a campground, we get the luxury of hooking up to electricity and water and I get a great night’s sleep knowing that we won’t be disturbed at night and that we can take our time in the morning. The drawback to the campground is that it can be pricey – $80 a night in SoCal for an ocean front site – the ones that all the Instagram photos show of a beautiful sandy beach right outside their window. What they don’t show you is that 2 feet from their awesome campsite, is another RV complete with kiddie pool, dog run, lawn chairs and astro-turf. My mother said to me: Which view do you choose to see? So wise that one.
Q – Where do you go to the bathroom?
A – Well somebody has got to be asking this question, right? This amazing van has a bathroom with a toilet and shower. For some reason, Harlan and I decided the first day we picked it up that we were not ever going to use the bathroom. And we haven’t. I think it had to do with the turd that was in our “potty” that was discovered by the rental guy as he was giving us instructions. We then had to drive for a few days with this waste matter in our tank and then dispose of it (referred to as “black water”) and just suffice it to say that between the reality of the turd, the chemical smells of the pellets used to break up the turd, and dealing with the “black water” itself, Harlan and I were united in our determination to never deal with that again. So…to answer your question, we pee in a jug when we have to (like overnight) and we use a restroom at other times. If this seems gross to you, it is. And. You get used to it.
OK, that does it for the imaginary questions. Got a real one? Ask away! I’ll do my best to answer. And as always, thanks for following along!