Vanlife, 5 Weeks In

So what’s vanlife really like? Here’s our update 5 weeks in.

I had to go back and count the weeks it had been since we sold our 5th wheel and moved into Sally, our 1995 Pleasure-Way Class B motorhome, aka a campervan.

5 weeks.

On the one hand, I was surprised it was only 5 weeks. We’ve done so much in that time.

1500 Miles

The day we sold the RV we began driving back to the midwest. The direct route was flooded from Spring storms, so channeling our inner sailors we went around the weather.

We drove north from San Antonio, through Oklahoma (in the spring, not my favorite place to be), into Iowa, then over to Illinois and up into Michigan.

Van Projects Done

We’ve also done a ton of work on the van - adding wheel spacers, buffing out the paint, building a charging station, and a bunch of other organizational projects.

Tinkering on the van is now my downtime activity. It’s good to have a reason to get off the screens, get my tools out and get my hands dirty.

Much To Do

On the other hand, I am a bit frustrated that it’s already been 5 weeks.

Curveballs

Life threw a couple of curveballs:

Threesome Again

eBook: Homeschool Legally While You Travel the USA

eBook: Homeschool Legally While You Travel the USA Worried about homeschooling legally while you travel?

The HSLDA says to "follow the laws of any state you are in for more than 30 days". But what do the states say?

We contacted all 50 states, asked them how to homeschool legally while traveling there, and compiled their responses into this 45 page eBook.

The first curveball was Miranda’s “all-summer” farm gig ending after three weeks. We had to go back and pick her up again.

We’re still figuring out what’s next for her. Possibly another WWOOFing gig. Possibly getting her drivers license. Possibly looking for a local job. Not sure yet.

In the meantime we’re making life easier by borrowing a tent from our son. The tent provides both a place for Miranda’s stuff, a better spot for her to sleep, and a bit of separation for us all.

Gimpy Boyink

The second curveball is my knee. It’s been weak ever since an incident years ago in high school. Usually after I injure it I can go easy on it for a couple of months and be OK again. This time it’s worse. I injured it two months ago and it’s not getting any better.

I went in to have it looked at by a doctor. She prescribed physical therapy. That starts next week. I’m not yet convinced that I don’t need surgery. I hope to get a second opinion from the therapist.

Regardless, that whole finding our focus thing and hey I know - let’s be hikers?

Not happening. For a while at least.

Focus Refactored

We have to refactor our focus.

Our (hopefully temporary) focus will be enjoying live music and other small town events. We can take advantage of Sally’s size, find close parking, and have our whole “home” there. 

We are doing that today. There’s a brewery in Holland celebrating their 20th anniversary with a street party. We came early and are parked close enough we can either wander over or enjoy the live music while sitting in Sally.

Zip Dee camp chairs and a table from the van make an outdoor offce.

Zip Dee camp chairs and a table from the van make an outdoor offce.

We borrowed a tent for Miranda - it lets us offload her stuff and gives her a bigger place to sleep than across the front seats of the van.

We borrowed a tent for Miranda - it lets us offload her stuff and gives her a bigger place to sleep than across the front seats of the van.

Between lots of wind and Cottonwood trees I haven't been able to do the paint touchups.

Between lots of wind and Cottonwood trees I haven't been able to do the paint touchups.

MsBoyink in the front living room.

MsBoyink in the front living room.

My current coffee-making appoach: coffee in a filter, twist-tie it shut, drop it in boiling water. I can make a quantity of coffee without dedicated equipment.

My current coffee-making appoach: coffee in a filter, twist-tie it shut, drop it in boiling water. I can make a quantity of coffee without dedicated equipment.

Curveball number 2 - you can see my right knee is swoolen.

Curveball number 2 - you can see my right knee is swoolen.

Our bed - we're currently throwing down a sleeping bag to lay on then using a fleece blanket over us. It all goes in stuff sacks during the day. We're trying to get used to sleeping side to side and not having to setup the bed extension each night.

Our bed - we're currently throwing down a sleeping bag to lay on then using a fleece blanket over us. It all goes in stuff sacks during the day. We're trying to get used to sleeping side to side and not having to setup the bed extension each night.

Breakfast-making on the Pleasure-Way pull-out pantry.

Breakfast-making on the Pleasure-Way pull-out pantry.

Parked downtown where live music starts in a few hours. I finished this post from this spot.

Parked downtown where live music starts in a few hours. I finished this post from this spot.

RVing Differently

We are learning to use the Class B differently than we did our fifth wheel.

Necessity

Some differences are out of necessity.

We are in one “box” now so if someone needs to go grocery shopping everyone else goes too. We struggle to remember that we have everything with us everywhere we go.

We were visiting family and MsBoyink recently asked me if I remembered how big a certain bowl was. I walked over, got it out of the van, and handed it to her with a chuckle.

Convenience

Some differences are out of convenience. We aren’t using full hookups even when we have them. Hooking and unhooking water and sewer each time we want to drive somewhere is a hassle. Instead we are just plugging in electric and running off tanks while parked. We catch a dumpstation on the way in or out of the campground.

We’ve also purchased things like paper towel holders, walked them out to the parking lot, realized they wouldn’t fit, and walked them right back in for a refund.

Complacency

Some differences are part of our fight against the triple-headed C-monster.

We’re (trying to be) more intentional about getting out of the campground and parking somewhere else for the day.

Recently we had Sally in for a repair and picked her up at noon. Rather than heading right back to the campground we went to a park on the Lake Michigan Beach. We had lunch, worked a few hours, ran the generator to charge our devices, then headed back to the campground for the evening.

Handling the Small Space?

Living in the ~100sq.ft of the Pleasure-Way Class B is still awkward and uncomfortable. Less so as we organize, find places for everything, and create new routines. We’re not there yet, especially given our current curveballs.

I’m confident we’ll find our stride in #vanlife. MsBoyink is less convinced, but I’m sure once we start doing more things that we wouldn’t otherwise do the inconveniences of the van will make more sense.

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2 Comments Vanlife, 5 Weeks In

  1. Picture of Natasha & Bill StevensNatasha & Bill Stevens June 10, 2017

    Hi. We’re RV newbies. My hubby, 2 kids, & I went full-time 5/25/17. I’m hoping to learn tips & tricks of this RV life.  Happy Trails!!!

  2. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael Boyink June 10, 2017

    Ah - pretty fresh on the road yet! Up in our Blog section there’s a link to Archives - we have 7 years of content here on Ditching Suburbia..:)

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