I really thought I had played each scenario out in my mind about what van life would be like. In addition I raised my kid from 8 to 16 vacationing in an RV so I really thought I had a good idea about van life. Heck I even traveled the world building international tech companies and never worried about traveling alone and figured that was a huge thing in van life.
I call bullshit on myself about knowing what van life would be like.
Day one of van life set the tone for almost everyday for the first 14 days living in a van. Everything I filled with water: my Berkee filter, toilet and my sink tank leaked everywhere on my virgin first night. I had floods from one end of the van to the other. Okay I thought no big deal just clean it up and move on sister.
Day two and things get even more interesting.
My gut thankfully is 100% healed. So healed that my morning constitution happens on schedule and without delay daily. The BAM van is equipped with a Porta Potty as of right now that is strictly for #1 and off limits to #2.
I learned this at Burning Man and believe it is a great rule to live by when not using a flush toilet.
Day two living in a van and I chose to begin my journey at a California Parks and Rec campground that only allows RV’s thinking it would offer hookups in case I needed them for electricity. Funny thing is my van is not able to hook up to 30 and 50 amp which most parks offer, but I did not know this until I was actually at the RV park. I was under the impression my electrician had installed this capability and learned the BAM van did not in real time.
Situations like this are exactly why I wanted 2 weeks on the road alone before touring. I knew I needed to get used to van life.
The park I stayed was literally right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and simply perfect. EXCEPT they lock the bathrooms and they lock you in at night from 8pm until 7am. No one can come or go and bathrooms are locked. I did not know this prior to arriving so another real time learning experience.
All RV’s have their own toilet and kitchen which I have in the BAM van so they assume you have a bathroom and toilets being locked is not an issue. They even inspected the BAM van twice to be sure I met the criteria of an RV which I did.
Little did they know I was counting on their bathroom at 4am to be my hang out at my bodies daily request.
I knew within an hour of my first trip living in an RV I was now going to have a ‘situation’ the next morning. Immediately I ran to the internet to find out how to poop in a van when you don't have a toilet.
I will be damn shitting in a van is a huge topic.
I was so relieved to know that I was not the only one faced with this although for different reasons others had figured it out and were happy to share how.
You shit in a bag that is on a bucket.
That is right folks many people do this and officially I have joined the ranks of being a bag pooper!
The most common set up includes a 5 gallon paint bucket with a toilet seat on top and a bag wrapped around the toilet seat. When you are done you simply take the bag and put it in the trash (totally legal folks).
I kept reading and did not have time to get this set up and knew the only answer was I had to figure out how to shit in a bag at the crack of fucking dawn in my van. I knew the Porta Potty needed to be the vessel and somehow I had to make it work.
I prayed hard all night the poop God’s would let my body hold off until 7:01am, but they suck and at about 4:10am I am notified I have less than 5 minutes to come up with a solution and fast.
I looked at Porto Potty, grabbed a trash bag and began retrofitting it into a shitting potty. A few minutes later and Gidget and I are shocked because I have just pooped in a bag! This from the girl who once had live in help, was drenched in diamonds and a gold Rolex with a 40 foot RV complete with a Sub Zero!
Today I am pooping in a bag in a van and loving life more than ever!
Later that day I decide to make a delicious lunch and afternoon coffee using my nice propane oven/stove. As I am cooking I thought kids were toasting marshmallows burnt just the way I like them. It is about 2pm and I look outside and no one was toasting marshmallows.
Quickly I realize it may be my van that is burning. I take everything off the stove and lift it up to see a fire. Fuck!!!
Grab the fire extinguisher & run outside with a call for help. Nice thing about RV parks everyone is pretty nice. I had 3 men in the van in seconds with extinguisher's in each of their hands. The fire was no big deal (a result of a leak caused by faulty installation by a professional recommended by the manufacturer. All has been fixed thankfully.) , but a freaking scary situation close to my initial fear of shitting in a bag. I now had a van covered in extinguisher powder, but things were going to be okay.
I simply sat in the van and don't think I moved for almost 24 hours. Literally paralyzed with my thoughts of WTF you can't do this van life V. You made a huge mistake and now have to figure out how to end this.
By the morning I was more determined than ever to keep going.
Day three I realize that the sliding door on the van does not agree with my hand/arm. Silly me to forget how sensitive they are. Not a problem I have 4 other doors, but a huge eye opener reminder that I still have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Once again I sit down for 24 hours thinking WTF you can't do this and MS is giving you a warning sign to stop.
By the morning I was more determined than ever to keep going.
I was also grateful for my tour partner Elixinol and their amazing CBD balm which took all pain away and I no longer open that door all day long. Code: boss10 saves for anyone looking to use CBD.
After leaving San Diego I head up to Morro Bay to camp with no hook ups once again beach side. The campground is open 24 hours and so are the bathrooms thankfully. I breath a huge sigh of relief that my bag pooping days were on hiatus during my stay on the Central Coast of California.
The next morning I open my van door to several neighbors complaining that my lights flickered on and off all night. Sleepy V had no idea. Upon further discovery it happens whenever I locked the van. This meant I had to live in the van that has everything I own and is worth over $50K unlocked until I could get it fixed. WTF again I am thinking I can't do this and have made a huge mistake.
By morning I was more determined than ever to keep going.
Took my van in and it was a software glitch and a simple fix thankful once again. In fact it seems to be an issue for many because most often when you lock your van you are outside and I am locking it from the inside which creates weirdness apparently. Who knew?
After 4 days in Morro Bay without any major issues I start to get into my groove and become certain this is where I belong. Next up was Joshua Tree and the Grand Canyon which had me way excited. I also had to remind myself that nothing is ever easy and all of this just growing pains. I see the van as a community vehicle and I am the vessel that helps it support others.
I knew I was where I belong even with all the events that stood to take me off my path.
Thursday I was driving to the Grand Canyon after 3 nights in Joshua Tree National Park and as the van is going from 6 to 7000 feet like a champ I catch a glimpse of the mileage on the van and I was close to 7800 miles at that moment (today I am over 9000 miles) and I simply started to sob like a baby. Snot pouring out of my nose and literally crying out loud like a crazy person tears of pure joy & pride.
I realized that in 2015 which is only 3 years ago I was only able to drive 3300 miles the entire year due to MS effects on my body. The years prior too I was either not able to drive or only about 5 miles a day. Here I am realizing in real time how far I have come and will probably have over 35K by the end of the year which is HUGE. In addition I am driving my house that I live in and take care of all by myself. Cry baby V drove the final way to the Grand Canyon filled with pride and reminders of how amazing my journey has been in the face of many fucking obstacles.
At this moment I realized THERE IS NO DOUBT I CAN KEEP GOING and I am where I belong.
Van life takes me out of my comfort zone daily more than once a day and if there is one thing I know for sure is that my best life has always happened when I am fucking uncomfortable to the max.
Today I am getting rid of my Porta Potty and officially transitioning to bag pooping in a bucket. I prefer it and have found it to be perfect with no mess to empty in the grey tank dump. Who knew?
My life is filled with more joy than I have ever known when by societies standards I have nothing to be joyful about because who poops in a bag and lives at poverty joyfully? Yet I am more certain than ever of who I am & what I am made of.
The BAM van will be my life's greatest adventure and achievement beyond being a mom and today more than ever I am grateful to be uncomfortable and me.
Thank you life for once again reminding me who I am.
I even believe someday I might be the 1st ever to kick MS out of my body for good. That is who I am. Someone who never gives up and lives outside of societal norms happily.
Hang on folks because if anyone can kick MS our of their body this BOSS can!
Watch me try!
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