2 Months of Van Life
Today officially marks 2 months I have been living in a van. The experience is beyond anything I could have ever imagined even thought I truly believed I was prepared for this journey. Since the age of 5 I have been stubborn and always certain I have a general idea of how shit works. Today at 55 I call bullshit on myself.
Clearly I knew nothing about living in a van and to be honest I am learning every day.
The 1st and most important thing is the van has exceeded my expectations as a home. I wanted the BAM van to feel cozy and a perfect home for myself and Gidget. We both consider it our perfect 60 square foot home.
As I am typing it is 3:30am MST and I am by candlelight, with essential oils diffusing while sipping fat coffee with Gidgt curled up next to me wrapped in a soft blanket. My perfect Nirvana start to the day. When I was living with strangers I lost this. So grateful to have it back except for when you are not parked level and your pour over coffee spills all over the van at 4am. Then it sucks trust me.
Another bonus of living in a van is that I have no shower. Showers are over rated.
Grateful Planet Fitness (PF) offers showers at each location. I find myself when I am not in a National Park working out at PF most mornings typically followed by hydro-massage before my hot shower. I have been to a Planet Fitness in almost every city and found only one not up to standard. They all are busy, clean and welcoming. It is the best $20 I spend a month.
The Dodge Promaster van drives like a champ and I am grateful my home is built in one. Although a high roof van it is not much harder than my cute little red Fiat to drive. The van has guts with a V6 and front wheel drive make it a huge BAM. Believe me since it has been tested in snow, sleet, rain, ice and high winds. The BAM van performed like a champ after watching Jeeps and tractor trailers flip over in front of me during an ice storm in Texas.
I am once again pleased with a car made by Chrysler and love the BAM van like my Fiat.
Community once again stands at the forefront of van life. Most of you know I was plagued with electrical issues for almost 6 weeks when I first started touring in the BAM van. If it were not for this community I don't know how I would have survived and come out on the other side. Thanks to your support and kindness I was fixed up by a family from this tribe and have been working well ever since.
I said goodbye to my refrigerator and hello to an electric cooler. In addition the inverter was busted and replaced with a battery charger that works so well. I am filled with loving emotion as I type. This issue was huge to overcome and literally had me close to breaking.
Nothing in a van happens quickly. Small spaces have a place for everything and a certain way in which things go. You cannot skip a step even if you want too. Trust me I have tried. This outcome is good for this little busy bee. It forces me to slow my role and take my fucking time. Something I do not come by easy and van life offers a slower pace that my body and mind so desperately crave.
Pooping and peeing in a bucket is liberating in a way. It changes the narrative around the best way to make this happen. I am hoping to have a place in the van where the bucket can live securely so I can maybe use composting stuff instead of plastic bags. I love the bucket solution so much and yesterday at Rocky Moutain National Park it allowed me to park off the beaten path and spend time making and enjoying brunch filled with gratitude.
Meals I have noticed seem to be one cooked and one no cook meal daily. I love having my stove and oven, but find I only use it for one meal a day and my morning coffee lover. I do however use the oven often for Cappello's Cookies and bacon outside of meals making it simply the best choice for the BAM van ever.. If these are the only two things I ever cook in the oven it is so worth it.
I am grateful l made the decision to have an oven and 3 burner stove top.
My sink is beyond measure a BAM. I have a 17 by 17 square sink that is deep. It is my everything and holds so much stuff for when it is time to get moving. In addition it has a butcher block cover that is ideal. I have a hand pump facet that is beyond perfect for meeting my needs and conserving water. I am on the daily proud of these two choices. No need for a water pump here.
The two Maxx air fans are truly a huge blessing. I use them almost daily and love how they work and how efficient they are. You can set the temperature you want and they are off to the races. One I use as input air and the other output.
The choice to have 2 fans was clutch and I would recommend every build out have two.
The sliding window over the sink was a perfect choice. I was discouraged by a few in the van life a world due to concerns about rain. It has rained almost everyday for a spell while in Colorado and I have not had an issue with the window. Seldom does water come in. I sleep with it open most night and am grateful for the added ventilation. I believe this window is a life safer and love the nice view it offers.
My bed/sofa mattress suck. I worked hard to pick the best least toxic and even spent a lot of money on it, but my body aches. I must replace this and thought a short term fix might be a topper, but my issue is storage of the damn thing. I have no idea where it will fit and feel like I might have to bite the bullet and replace what I have. Damn it more funds I will need.
Solar power are essential to the ultimate van experience.
I hope to some day have at least 500 watts of solar on the BAM van. In addition a control station for the power system would be nice. Right now everything is pretty raw and not the best look although it all works. I also would like a shore power connection to the outside of the van. Right now I have to roll down a window for electrical hook up and it simply sucks. Right now it is 32 degrees outside on June 3rd and I feel it with the window open even a little. Not ideal.
I love the walk through design of the van.
I find that It is very much a huge asset. I struggle to open and close the sliding door and find myself using the back doors often to enter and leave the van. I don't have a table to use for my laptop/meals and that blows. I hope to install an arm on the edge of the bed frame that will hold a laptop and/or dinner plate.
The closet is my everything.
It holds all I need and offers me a surface to body roll with balls. The doors are not as sturdy as I would like and hope to have them reinforced this year sometime. I hesitate to put my entire body weight on the doors when rolling with the therapy balls. I believe once the construction is a little better I will love the closet even more. Adding this to the list.
I believe insulated window covers are a must and will get some cute to size when I am back in Orange County this month. I anticipate they will help with hot and cold. The magnetic window coverings are great and easy to use however adding the insulation will be an added BAM.
Life in the van offers everything I need to be able to continue touring while honoring my body.
My work out routines have changed 100% with yoga taking on a new look. I do tons of stretching on my bed and warrior poses in the van. Planet Fitness and Hula Hooping are the daily norms in van life and the most consistent work out routines I have.
The hardest things to navigate are filling my 5 gallon jug of water and managing the grey water.
In addition the propane tank for the oven is heavy too. I am using machines at PF to build my arm strength and think I am getting stronger each day. This continues to be a challenge yet I remain confident it won't be for long.
The van does not have a step and core strength is needed to get in and out. I can tell when I am tired by how well my body navigates this each day. Some days I am a champ and others not so much. I am not interested in a step and like the daily challenge and awareness this offers me and will continue to use getting in and out of the van as part of my workout.
I know an awning is another purchase for the BAM van I will need to make.
It will allow me to open the sliding door while providing cover and shade. Right now when I open the sliding door for fresh air it simply makes things hotter inside due to know shade I see many van life folks with awnings and I am 100% certain it is a huge need for the BAM van. No matter how you slice it living in a van is living in a metal box. Shade is key and for little miss MS it is necessary.
I would say I am an 8 out of 10 with the BAM van's build out which I am proud to share. I am pleased with almost all of my choices for the build out and van type.
It seems every van life experience is an evolution just like this. Many live in their 1st build for a year and then sell it to get some cash for their next build rather than outfitting their existing. I can see why this would make sense and know how valuable and easy to sell a conversion van is.
I will be outfitting the BAM van to it's 10 status because the energy and love that has built this van cannot be duplicated.
The community powered BAM van is the greatest gift to the tour and my body. I know without it my ability to so this work would have been compromised. Having a 60 square foot home on wheels allow me to continue to be a miracle and serve. A huge part of my management of MS is to be able to control my environment as much as possible. The BAM van provides this.
I am so grateful for the BAM van.
I am in LOVE with our home.
Thank you everyone for believing in us and providing what we need to continue to serve.