It was a good day. Sam, my 1968 camper, came home from having his gas tank lined due to rust. Sucks getting old and oh how can I relate. The great Great Spirit is shining on him though with some love here. I just picked up Sam at the end of last year and he’s been in and out of the shop for various repairs, so today was a good bonding day. I started up in the cab and commenced cleaning. I swear Sam hasn’t seen any TLC and many moons. Tomorrow is a tear out day in Sam where I’m going to remove an old sink and fridge. There’s so much work to do but that’s why I bought Sam. I needed a hobby and when I saw him my heart smiled and I knew we were meant for each other. We’re both a bit older, slower, rustier, but still have great potential to shine again and head out on this highway of life! Feeling grateful! And so it is.
The kids were excited as they ran over to meet Sam. “This is so cool”, my son Bob said. “This flooring has to go” – from Allie. We were all pumped up and ready to drive him off to the repair shop to get some new tires. I pulled up on the choke, put it in neutral, and turned the key. It sounded like it was going to start and then nothing. And more nothing. Allie turned on Start me up from her iPhone and that did nothing. Over and over we tried but nothing. I called the guy that sold me Sam and he said just keep pumping the gas as you try to start it. I tried that and still nothing. Our excitement was fading and it was starting to get dark. Finally, I said we’ll give it 3 more tries and then we’ll have to come back next weekend when the guy who sold me Sam is around. Final try number 1 – no success. Final try number 2 – no success. Final try number 3 – Allie turn on Won’t get fooled again by The Who and Sam started sputtering. I couldn’t believe it (The Who is my favorite band). We couldn’t quit now. A couple more tries and he was started. I let him warm up and then shifted him into first gear. Now, this is a 4 speed on a column that I have no experience with. I’m used to on the floor shifting. My heart was pumping! I didn’t even drive Sam before I bought it.
We had to exit on a hill and head down a dirt road. I didn’t think we’d make it up the hill, but Sam just putted up. We got out on the dirt road and we were off. It was like trying to steer a boat and when it came to stopping it was omg. No power steering or power brakes. I had chosen to drive Sam to Big o tire which was 8 miles away. The owner had suggested having it towed because the tires were so old and dry rotted. It would of cost me $350 to have it towed, so I opted to take my chances and use that money for part of the money for the tires. The only bad part of this plan was I had no experience driving a 4 speed on the column and no practicing in a parking lot. It was all or nothing. Showtime and I was on. First gear was a real trip..very close to reverse. I had a heck of a time getting a feel for that. Sam’s headlights didn’t help matters with just covering a small amount of space in front. As I said my heart was pumping and I hadn’t felt so alive in a long time. We discovered the blinkers and brake lights also didn’t function correctly. Bob was behind me in his vehicle and I was afraid at traffic stops I’d accidentally slam into him thinking I was in first gear. To top it off things were flying out of the cupboards and right behind my ear all I could hear was a lot of squeaking. Somehow I managed to get Sam to Big O and with that, I took a big breath and said to myself – what a first Adventure!!
Okay, so who is Sam? Sam is a 1968 Chevy van (307 engine) that has been converted to a motorhome that has what I believe is a lazy daze on it. The only thing I could find that is comparable on the internet is a Dodge lazy daze. I’ve been reading all about van life and watching YouTube. Every once in a while I would view craigslist just to get an idea of how much they would cost. I kept coming across Sam and finally, I decided to go check him out. When I got out of my car and saw him in person, I almost got back in and said see you later. He was showing his age and that intimated me. I know nothing really about vehicles. I decided to stay though and check him out. I still didn’t think I’d pull the trigger, but the longer I stayed the more I started bonding with Sam. Like I said I was scared to death of getting him, and then it clicked. All I’ve been reading about lately is to push through your fears. The little Dwight inside said fuck ya get it. The big rational Dwight said run..run fast. I decided for once to listen to the little voice inside!! Here he is and I hope you enjoy me blogging about our adventures together.
I haven’t posted in quite some time, but all seems to be moving according to my soul’s plan. I’m not beating myself up as much and joy and content are growing and growing. I had a good summer hiking and even got to do a cool backpacking trip up to Devil’s playground on the back side of Pikes Peak! The hike was brutal, but days later I just had a big grin on my face. I did it and loved it!! I slept out under the moon above tree line. I’ve come to realize nature with exercise is my therapy.
Okay so what’s all this business about Bob Wells and living in a van? Well you know all about the saying that the teacher will appear when the student is ready? For the longest time my son Bob had telling me about some folks he follows on YouTube who live in vans and travel. I started checking them out and came across this guy named Bob Wells. He’s been living in a van for the last 15 years. What interested me about Bob was after his divorce he was pretty down like myself and really didn’t have many options for housing and decided to live in a box van. It was just fasinating learning more about him and his life. I could relate at so many levels.
Two things that resonated with me from Bob is the concept of Comfort vs Freedom and being out in nature. Bob says that the more comfort we have in our life the less freedom we have. I’ve got the video below so you can learn more. Even though he’s comparing it from living in a big RV to a van…think of it as living in house or renting a house compared to simplifying and living in a smaller environment. It just makes so much sense to me on so many levels. It’s so crazy we buy into purchasing a house on a 30 year slaved mortgage and also buying vehicles that drain our budgets. These are 2 of our biggest expenses in life and we often don’t even questions them. I say start questioning them!!
The other piece was being out in nature. As I said I’m learning nature has such a calming affect on me and beats any pill I can take for happiness. In one of Bob’s videos I believe he mentioned some mental health counselors have even suggested some patients to hit the open road and camp out in national forest, BLM, disperse camping, …boon docking!
It’s so interesting to me that when we are young we don’t have a lot of “stuff” and are so content. Then comes adulthood and we start accumulating more and more stuff, but we are no longer content. When retirement comes though we start seeing more and more people downsizing and simplifying their lives. Why do we go through this exercise of accumulating and accruing debt and having less freedom in our working years?
Anyway you can tell I’m jazzed about this van life and that hasn’t happened in a long time to be excited over something. Now all I can think about is when I can I sell all my shit and hit the highway. Yes there is a lot of planning and considerations to be made – but it’s one exciting option I’m going to explore!!
Here’s some links to learn more about this lifestyle and Bob:
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAj7O3LCDbkIR54hAn6Zz7A
Comfort vs Freedom: https://youtu.be/i-_Bw83SvYI
Book: How to Live in a Car, Van or RV–And Get Out of Debt, Travel and Find True Freedom. https://www.amazon.com/Live-RV-Debt-Travel-Freedom-ebook/dp/B008S129XY/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1507914203&sr=1-1