2016 was a
roller-coaster powerful year for me. Coincidences, serendipity and a huge measure of luck came my way as I tried to figure out how I was going to pull off my new adventure.
Researching my vehicle and how to live in it consumed me like a second job. Among the mountain of information I accumulated, Bob Wells of Cheap RV Living grabbed my attention like bright satellite in a night-dark sky. The blog, videos and insights were invaluable and his book How to Live in a Car, Van or RV became my bible.
A van, rather than an RV or pickup and trailer, appeared to be the right vehicle for me. My budget was limited to $20,000 and the idea of having decent fuel mileage plus an easy-to-drive-and-park vehicle appealed to me. But where to start? I narrowed my focus to used cargo vans with the idea of refurbishing it to my specifications. I pictured a low-mileage, short wheelbase, late-model vehicle without a generator, bathroom, or fussy RV characteristics. A few nice windows, a bed, kitchen set-up and storage was on my “must have” list. A tall roof, solar panel, back-up camera, and trailer hitch was on the “wish” list.
In August, following advice in one of Bob’s posts, I decided to make my spare room into a “van”. I marked off 6′ X 12′ with blue tape and pulled together some of my furnishings to create the van-like interior. You can laugh if you want, but I had fun!
Full disclosure: I cheated a little because I used my regular kitchen and bathroom.
Camping in my new abode was easy. I slept there, worked on my computer during the day and read books in the evening. My clothes are tucked into the bins under the bed, the antique dresser served as my “kitchen” and a couple portable tables became the desk and eating area. If you, too, are thinking about downsizing, I wholeheartedly recommend trying this!
Later that month, armed with more moxey and confidence, I started shopping in earnest. The internet helped me travel hundreds of virtual miles searching for the right vehicle. Craig’s List, E-Bay, local newspapers and social media fueled my imagination and determination.
One day a Facebook friend tagged someone advertising a van for rent. What a cool idea – right? That’s only the start of it. I checked out the Outdoorsy RV Rental Website and discovered that this particular Sprinter lived in my neighborhood and was available to rent! You’d think I was making a 911 call the way my heart raced as I dialed the owner’s number.
“Sure,” they said, “You can meet Tootsie (the van was named after the owner’s late mother) this afternoon.” And so I did. She was perfect, just the kind of rig I was looking for.
A week later, after taking the owner for a quick test-drive, I loaded up the van and headed to one of my favorite places for the night. Without the normal camp set-up process to manage, I had plenty of time to check out the Bogan Flats campground, then journal and read for awhile. Pretty soon I fell asleep to the song of the Crystal River playing near the back door.
It might be a stretch to say it was the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had, but with the cool breeze wafting through the windows and the big pine tree shading the coach, I slept until 8:30 the next morning. Very unlike me. This was not the first time nor will it be the last time that I declared ” I could live like this!”.
I scrambled around the next morning, headed to the office, and parked the big rig right in front of my office where everyone could see it. With the excitement still flowing through me like the riffles and rapids of the Crystal River, I marched into my managing broker’s office and announced my intentions to retire from my property management business, travel, work in National Parks or campgrounds and live in a van in the summer of 2017.
Soon after, when the adrenaline wore off, I thought how crazy I must have sounded, but decided that this bold move was an important step toward my future.
Stay tuned for Part II. Thank you for signing Here to take the journey with me!
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