We have no fancy pretty things, only an old comforter and mis-matched pillows and blankets. We have no extra insulation, no extra battery power, no bathroom, no kitchen (my kitchen is a cooler that plugs into the cigarette outlet and a Tupperware box that has a cutting board, knife, foil, etc.), no curtains, no extra heat or cooling. When it’s warm, we can roll down the windows and cover them with mosquito nets, held in place with magnets. However, mosquitos are kind of smart and figure out how to crawl under the netting between the magnets, so we will have to upgrade this feature. In the winter, we have sleeping bags and lots of blankets. We have woken up to find ice inside and outside our windows some mornings. We have some plans for curtains, insulation, and storage pockets, but we are also lazy and busy and what we have is functional.
Having a van that looks like a delivery van really helps with stealth camping. I should probably not list the places we have gotten away with sleeping in our van—don’t want to alert the authorities to the tricks of our trade—but we save a lot of money crawling into the back of our van to sleep on our thick, cushy camping pad from LL Bean. We’ve only been bothered by people a couple of times: once on the first night we slept in the back of the van (at a rest stop in New York) when some people tried to ply money from us at three in the morning and once when someone in Downeast Maine called the local Sheriff because our van looked “suspicious.” He checked our IDs and said there were no signs saying we can’t camp there so have a nice day.
We fit all of our summer and winter gear into this little van, though we have had to make adjustments at times and our winter gear and random junk is currently in storage with friends while we travel for the summer. But, my expert-packer can shove a lot of stuff into the storage space he built under the bed platform. The only thing that I’d really like to have in the van is a bathroom, but I survive.
(The slideshow above shows some of the places where the van has taken us in this last year plus--on my "unauthorized" sabbatical last winter and my real sabbatical this winter and spring, as well as on my resupply trips while my husband hiked the 100-mile wilderness of the Appalachian Trail last fall.)
So, while he hiked, I rested and read and was even able to do some restorative yoga in the back of my van. (Reclining butterfly with blanket props is quite comfy!) Some of my resting and waiting happened road-side. Some of it happened in the parking lot at the Warner Springs Community Center, a fabulous resource for PCT hikers. In addition to wi-fi, charging stations, an activity center, a backpacking gear store in an Airstream camper, bucket showers, foot baths, laundry services, and flush toilets and running water, the Warner Spring Community Center is a gathering place for hikers to rest, socialize, and re-stock with two free nights of camping
Now that I have returned to my temporary home base and have a bed and the related amenities, I kind of want to go out to the carport and sleep in my van. I kind of want to live in my van, waking up to mountain views and river sounds and fresh air and solitude. A simple van for simple dreams….