Saturday, January 14, 2017

Arriving long after the set.

I arrived forty minutes after the gig. I had intended to drink wine in a solitary manner, but after cooking dinner, I had energy to burn. I lowered down my Hoopty from my bicycle rack, and pedaled a short distance along the Gulf of Mexico.

I locked up my bicycle, and stepped onto an empty deck, lit by rope lights along the perimeter. I made a few bird sounds to announce my arrival. The Kraken lit up when she saw me. I was pleased to be out and about. It didn't matter that I arrived long after the set, I can catch the act soon on a sidewalk. There were no more patrons by the time I got there. There was no pressure to waste money on beer.

Everywhere here is close to some water. We stood by some boats, and we looked at the moon. I went inside to fill up on water, and I inquired about the owner. We are friends, but haven't talked in some years. I lost his number long ago, but got fresh intelligence for tracking him down.

We took to our bicycles, put the moon behind us, and rode impossibly slowly to the Kraken's RV. I had wine and a cup in my milk crate - exactly as I planned it on the eleventh. We entered her home through the driver-side door, because the passenger side is parked tight against bushes. I sat at the table, and she took the bench, and we discussed matters both silly and serious.

Before long, The Young Man arrived. I enjoy his commentary and presence. He is so very young, nineteen I think, and has mysterious and mixed beliefs about life. Sometimes his actions and words make me question if we exist on the same side of reality's thin cloth.

I saw The Young Man earlier today. We were both at the library book sale. He was reading a book about numerology. I scrambled to buy books to make money. The wine that I brought tonight was red - his preference - so we slouched around and shared what little was left.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fresh as a daisy by the ocean.

When you live in a van, and you don't have a shower, eventually your body gets dirty. Greasy skin and an itchy scalp can both be cured in the ocean.

The island is protected by a reef. The ocean remains shallow far from the beach. I walk far out in the water. I dive under the water and scratch my hair and my scalp vigorously with all of my fingers. I reach to the bottom and grab a handful of fine sand, and rub it into my armpits and beard. I swim a little bit, but mostly I float, which sounds like a metaphor for my life. I let saltwater rinse away most of the sand. Before long, I return to the shore.

The cold ocean water makes the beach shower feel warm. If you use the shower without swimming, you freeze. I rinse myself off, use my little towel like a squeegee, and then I feel fresh as a daisy.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Finishing my first crochet project in years.

I finished my first crochet project in years. So far I can only make rectangles. However, rectangles of crochet, which are joined along the edge, make cylinders which can go around objects. The only trick up my sleeve, while I'm creating these sleeves, is that I know how to change the color of yarn.

Also @vans_books_bicycles on Instagram

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ukuleles at the Green Parrot.

The Kraken called. Ukuleles would be played at the Green Parrot. Wine and a movie had been on my agenda, but I supposed that plan could wait for tomorrow.

After darkness was complete, a misting of rain began. I sipped wine while some quinoa and lentils boiled. When the food pot was complete, I rested tortillas on the supports above the little isobutane burner - one at a time, and flipping them every five seconds. I had tacoesque dinner in my fabulous home, then insinuated myself in my premium spot - my most peaceful spot on the island.

I proceeded by Hoopty bicycle to the Green Parrot. I knew I would get a beer once there. I regretted the effect on my super-low budget. In past times, I might end up buying four or five, but tonight I stopped after two [10.50 with tip]. Maybe next time, I thought, I could keep costs down, and simply order a water. Next time, I could sip wine outside, from a discreet plastic mug kept in the Hoopty's milk crate.

The Kraken was a little bit late. She can play ukulele, among other stringed instruments, ie: dulcimer et. al., so the scene appeared less awkward for her. However, as it turns out, there were more than a dozen ukuleles to borrow, and the chords are often one finger on a string. There were notecards displayed with chord diagrams, so I was only 95% off. I could pretend to play along, and hit a note 5% of the time. In the din of the bar, you could scarcely tell the difference. Some CeeLo Green and some Of Monsters and Men. Bob Marley, and obvious classics were played. George Michael and Michael Jackson were fun.

The Young Man also showed up. We had a great time fake strumming and goofing around. He borrowed a ukulele that looked like a tiny banjo. It was cute as the dickens, I'll tell you. The one I used was transparent green lucite, and would float if you dropped it in the water.

We all joked around for a couple more hours. The Young Man scored us a free beer that we split. But soon it became late, and it was time to ride back to our RVs and vans where we parked them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

It was so adorable it floored me...

I can only report on how happy I am. I am increasingly content and peaceful. It was in this mood and mindset that I began working on new crochet. She arrived as my crochet began to look good. My rows were clean and precise, and I was adding the brightest colors. She ambled over from her small RV, and invited me to join her in crossing the street. She had a basil plant waiting for her at the garden. To be perfectly honest, I was zoomed in on my crochet. But it would be ridiculous to turn down any manner of invitation.

After retrieving the small potted basil, we continued to wander about. We watched the sunset, which is what I do every day, because I am parked near a pier with nothing on my schedule. We had many things to discuss, being from the same tribe, and I enjoyed hearing her stories. She has some serious adventure in her past and future, and she seems to be very young. She lived with monkeys in a treehouse in Costa Rica, and she's been here and there on a sailboat. She thought it appropriate and fun to not share her name. More amused than invested, I let it pass. We sat eating some quinoa with a little bit of basil, and I learned more details aside from her name.

Soon after darkness, another friend arrived. It was a young man who she knows who has been sleeping in a car. Sometimes, he takes refuge in the RV. As they caught up, I was content to relax and listen. A Scientologist is trying to poach and hypnotize him. The attempted indoctrination led him to Miami. He had just arrived back on the island. I suggested a Wikipedia search of Scientology, but he thought it better to go to the source. The real information, he claimed, was all on their website. They have answers for everything.

Then the good part began. They compared notes about how on the previous evening, they had both independently rescued different baby birds. I worked to contain my intense enjoyment of the details of this conversation. She had created a bed with a half of a coconut, but had to keep the bird close to her body to give it warmth. If she tried to rest, it would begin to chirp, and she would draw it close again. In his case, the bird was an orphaned baby chicken, and he constructed a bed from a small cardboard box. He made a nest of toilet paper to keep the tiny chick warm, and draped a small piece over it like a blanket. They spoke excitedly about their efforts. They took their tiny birds to the same bird sanctuary. At different times, they'd spoken to the same person there. The extent to which this was adorable floored me.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Adopting an intelligent exercise routine.

All pushups are not created equal. I learned this while researching an improved exercise routine. The pushups which I thought were acceptable are evidently absolute garbage. After learning correct form, I was unable to complete one.

A reader linked me to a recommended routine at Reddit. I generally trust Reddit, so I gave it a whirl. It is a little bit tedious and complicated, but so are many tasks that are worth the effort. If I stick with it, it will become easier in time. I will be doing this routine three days a week. It seems intelligent and complete.

Each part of the routine has "progressions" - or different versions of the exercise which increase the difficulty. So the routine will work as you get stronger. It will work for anybody from novice to superhero. I look forward to being less weak.

Today I did pushups with perfect form. I could only do five at a time, in spite of pushing up from a fairly large log. This made me feel silly, but I could shrug that away. It beats getting wasted and falling asleep in direct sun - and there's plenty of that going around.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Giving advice to an imploding new vandweller.

I parked in my usual spot. I watched the sun change positions in the sky. I was occupied with my minor daily activities. Perfectly at peace; side doors open wide.

A white camper van pulled up behind me, and the driver got out. He left his door open and his engine running, in spite of a twenty foot stretch of empty spots beside me. He approached me quickly and tried to feign being calm. His anxiety was almost an entity. Nervous energy followed him like a cloud.

I knew what he wanted, but I allowed him to ask: "Where do people park on the island?" Obviously, he meant for sleeping at night.

I gathered from the details that he was able to divulge that he'd recently dredged up his life. He broke up a relationship and quit a job, and thought that living in a van would bring peace. Holy smokes. He'd been at it for a week at that point, and I wondered if he'd slept at all.

I shared some advice about parking, and tried to reassure him that he was in good company on the island. Everything would be completely okay. I smiled and spoke to him calmly. It takes time to adjust, I explained. I said he'd feel more comfortable if he got some cheap curtains for privacy. I outlined what I'd do in his case.

He was acting like a cornered animal. I tried to help him too much. I offered to show him a good parking area that would work, but he quickly declined because he "had GPS." So I gave a description of the spot and wished him luck. I offered him my phone number, in case he had more questions, or just wanted to talk to somebody here. All of these gestures only made him more nervous. I'm almost certain that he thought I was nuts.

I was amused by the encounter. I took a deep breath when he left. So much worry and fear! He was out of his element and alone. I could completely relate to his situation, but I'd forgotten that exact feeling until then. I attempted to will positive vibes in his direction. Then I returned to my business of not much.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Listening to Scientist and T-Rex.

"RAIN MY ASS!" a cranky islander shouted. I gave him a nonplussed look and shrugged. The bearded old grump shuffled back the way that he came. "They wish it would rain!" he was heard huffing in muffled tones, as he rolled a torn up suitcase into the distance. He turned a corner, and island life resumed.

I showed up to work early. A book sale was scheduled in the palm garden next to the library. A sign taped to the door announced it was postponed. Storm activity was clearly on the radar, and water is terrible for books. I was amused at the man's outburst. It's been weeks since I've seen anybody upset.

I returned to my van, and prepared to do nothing. For a soundtrack to that, I chose Scientist. Scientist announces that track five is "the curse of the mummy." As the music begins, it sounds like anything but. The entire album is like this. Dub from 1981. I love the entire thing.

Late in the afternoon, the weather began. The temperature dropped fifteen degrees as the wind picked up, and rain smashed down to the pavement. I sat at home facing the ocean, traded my tank top for a T-shirt, and enjoyed the view.

Soon it was time to relocate for the night. I listened to T-Rex as wind rocked the van. I slept like a baby under my thicker blanket.

Friday, January 6, 2017

My current routine.

I feel content to exist far from the flim-flam forced upon my mind by a typical winter in the north. I am settling into a happy routine. In the morning I park with the other vans and vehicles, in the lot by the pier. I face the top of the island if I want sun on my feet while I drink coffee. I face south if I prefer to cook eggs in the shade. I sit and I read and I cook twice a day. I listen to podcasts and I ride my bicycle. I watch the sunset and relax until darkness falls. I move the van to my nighttime spot, where I usually have some wine. Everything is figured out. For the duration of my time here, I do not have a single worry. I am in love with my position on Earth.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Meeting part of the tribe.

Work

I finally made it to the library to do some re-pricing work on my inventory. This is the season where textbook pricing becomes a delicate balance. My aim is to be optimized - get the highest prices I can get, while pushing a ton of inventory out the door.

I'm taking time away from Adderall. I'm moving in a slow and sluggish manner. My brain is more cloud than laser during the transition. However, it makes no difference at all. I remind myself daily that it is acceptable to accomplish almost nothing. It's ok! I do a little bit of work when I can. The world and the universe remain stable regardless. Most of my tasks can wait.

Happy Hour and Budget

I was on the fence about going to Kelly's. Aside from happy hour, I am spending almost nothing. I buy simple food at the grocery store, and that's it. Kelly's, by comparison, is blowing up the budget. $22.76 is a black mark on my spreadsheet. It's throwing off my low-average numbers.

Money-wise, I can afford restaurants and beers for every meal. I could drink better than some $3 wine. But that doesn't fit with two parts of my Master Plan -- saving money and eating better. I am examining my happy hour habits, and deciding if there is room to improve. Once the numbers are in at the end of this month, I will have a better idea of what to budget. My aim right now is to set a baseline as close to the floor as I can manage, while still feeling fulfilled as a happy human being.

Meeting Part of My Tribe

Happy hour today was excellent. I sat at the bar with a couple who moved to the island eight years ago. They are positive folks who are in touch with the universe. They have been together for many years. They are clearly in love - it is evident by the way they look at each other and interact.

We talked much longer than we might have, because the subject of excellent books came up. We have all read some of the same books, and our interests have tons of overlap. They were excited to talk about Ernest Shackleton. I swear it wasn't me who brought him up. We talked about other books of adventure, and we talked about selling shit online. They make money that way too. We talked about vans which are built to live in. They have one of those too. They have traveled extensively, but they now have a house.

The more we talked, the more connections we made. They say they hate society as if being in Key West makes that obvious - and you don't need to pull back many layers of the onion to recognize that's a major component of what's going on down here. They're for the people, and against everything else, and that's also roughly where I stand. They subscribe to the idea of finding a tribe, and if I were choosing today, I would have them in mine.

By the time we said goodbye, we were at firm hug status. A handshake would have been out of the question. Where else but Key West could I so easily find my people? Many of our type have historically escaped here for the same exact weather and reasons.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Final Time We Spoke

The man lacked proper boundaries. I would later learn that. He lived in a small beat up RV. The year was 2007. I arrived on the island via big old box truck. I knew absolutely nobody. Not a soul aside from my own. He was parked on White Street with his door wide open. I glanced in as I passed on the sidewalk. In response to accidental eye contact, I gave him a little wave.

He was up in a flash, and greeted me at the door. We immediately had lots to discuss. I asked about parking on the island. I wanted to know what would fly and what would not. My 22 foot former U-Haul box truck was parked behind him. I showed him my setup, and he showed me his.

He had lots of good technical advice about parking. We both got on our bicycles, and he showed me around. He pointed out areas that would work well for a box truck - some for the daytime, and some good for night. It was valuable advice. Nine years later, I still share it with newcomers who ask.

The next time I saw him, he was cooking some steak. He waved me over with enthusiasm, and added a steak to the pan. I joined him in his RV that smelled of a warm summer armpit, and ate steak and instant potatoes off a flimsy paper plate. I was relieved for the food, because I wasn't eating very well, and frankly I wasn't working with much of a brain.

We talked about parking, and he revealed that he had special privileges. The police all leave him alone. He was woken up, accosted, and ticketed, and he took the matter to court. He prepared an argument, plead his case, and then somehow he won. The judge ruled that he should have the right to sleep in his vehicle. News of the court case made it into the newspaper. He kept a clipping of the story on hand. The paper had yellowed like the whites of his eyes. He had hepatitis C, it turns out.

He didn't seem to have many friends. He was nice enough generally, but some of his commentary led me to believe that he lacked certain people skills. The third time I saw him, he rushed toward me and trapped me in a hug. He lifted me up from the sidewalk, and I was in the air with my arms pinned to my sides. "Oh, Chris! You have such a big dick!" he exclaimed. That was the final time we spoke.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Three goals for the island and beyond.

I have goals in Key West this year. I have lifestyle changes that I am trying make. The island is an ideal platform to get started. When I leave, I want to carry new habits beyond. Here they are:
1) Eat much better
2) Spend much less
3) Exercise all muscle groups
Eating:

So far, my grocery purchases include zero processed foods. I look at the ingredient list, and I want to see at most two pronounceable words. I eat eggs most every day. Three eggs cook fast on my camp stove. Drop them in a puddle of oil, and the pot is a breeze to clean. Aside from that, I've eaten avocados, almonds, navel oranges, oats, flax seeds, and plain Greek yogurt. I will expand this list with other simple foods. I plan to put lentils on the list - and other staples that belong.

Then there's the booze. For some reason I drink Pinot Grigio now. The heart wants what it wants. Also, there's happy hour at Kelly's, and I am addicted to that shit. They serve three different beers for $2 a glass. Not quite a pint, but probably 12-14 ounces. It's a square deal in my book. Then, of course, they have wings. If I am drinking beer at a bar, I am going to be tempted to order wings. So I do.

Overall, I will grade myself an 8/10. I could improve the booze and chicken wing intake, but my daytime eating habits have been positively off the charts. As evidence, I am feeling great.

Spending:

It is no secret that I have been inspired by the writings of Mr. Money Mustache. Even in the areas of diet and exercise he has a lot to say. (Also he loves bicycles.) I am considering the advice that I read there, and finding ways that it can improve my life. There are about half a dozen articles there that I refer back to. Simple formulas are explained with math. For example: Do you want to know how much money you need to effectively retire? Figure out what your yearly spending is, and multiply it by 25. If you spend less, the number you need gets smaller.

Nearly all expensive things are stupid. There is a lower cost version of almost everything. (For example, the van that I live in was approximately cheap as fuck.)

I don't know what my average daily spending is. Starting in 2017, I aim to find out. I have a spreadsheet to track every expense. It is easy to maintain, because I do not spend much.

Exercising Muscles:

I could ride a bicycle until I fly off the Earth and smash a hole through the moon. In spirit, that is true. But my arms are noodles, and I'm a little bit flabby. It's only a matter of time until my back gets pulled.

I don't know how to properly work out. It is my mission to get informed. I am starting with pushups and situps. You have to start somewhere. There are easy apps which promise to get me up to speed.

Today I did 59 pushups, with minute-and-a-half rests between smaller digestible sets. It doesn't sound like much, but I struggled and sweated and groaned. "Holy crap!" I exclaimed in my brain... "This should not be!"

Skull Muscle Improvement:

Finally, I have a general desire to properly appreciate the present tense. My brain fills up with thousands of ideas and needs. The days are short, and I am not an adept taskmaster. The worries pop up like weeds. That's no way to live a life, man! You can't do every single thing in one day.

This is by far the area where I will need the most patience and persistence. To simply lay on my back and listen to crickets is at once beautiful, healing, and nearly impossible to maintain. The ideas and screams keep jamming up the airwaves.

But --- "That's ok!" The meditation apps and the people who I've spoken to about this tell me it is ok. I am trying my best to practice meditation. I am abysmal, but that is ok. I am listening to breathing and crickets and distant air conditioners. I am laying down on concrete and looking up at stars. I am laughing and grinning a lot these days. I am doing that because my life at this moment is so unbelievably great.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Parking in Key West.

I am mostly finished with feeling lonely. I am establishing patterns and settling in. I know this island and it feels like home. I am full of love for this place.

This is why I am in Key West:

1) It is a tropical island.
2) You can drive to it.

I need no additional incentive to be here. I am here to find summer when winter is everywhere else. It is merely a bonus that the island is full of weirdness and friendly people. The island could be far shittier and I would still drive here to park.

I drive to my daytime spot. Doors and windows open! Vents and curtains up! I cook a little breakfast and watch cruise ships glide into port. I wear a tank top instead of a t-shirt; sandals instead of shoes.

I drive to my nighttime spot. Bottle and laptop open! Curtains and volume down! I drink $3 Pinot Grigio and text with some friends. A light breeze rustles palm fronds above my open vents.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Feeling predictably alone.

I woke up in a mild state of confusion and disrepair. How much rum was in that punch? It was an amount. Of that is all I am sure. I sat up and drank water. The sun had access to the full surface area of the van. I had work to do - a little bit at least. So between that, and at the insistence of the sun, I decided to start my day.

The creeping feeling of loneliness returned. "Absurd!" I told myself. "I was at a party last night!"

I remember meeting people in years past. I had friends from pedaling pedicab, and from working at the bicycle shop. Another year I met Nick and Lael, who are now busy conquering the globe. We lived together for a spell, and it was wonderful. I've been down here once with a girlfriend and another time with a wife. Well, I suppose to be honest, I don't miss that a whole bunch...

Social instincts kick in when I wander away from home base. Failing instincts, a desire for interaction sets in. Today I felt alone. I took a look at phone apps, since technology can generally fix everything. Alas - the island is small, my friends. The Meetup app and Craigslist are almost useless. Either I'm the goon or they are. And I am even less confident of my luck in the wild.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's in Key West.

I woke up in my medium-quality parking location, and felt alive and refreshed. I acquired minor supplies, and proceeded to the grassy gravel lot where cruise ships pass on their way toward Mallory Square. I lifted the curtains and opened my doors toward the water. A month. I will be spending a month here. That seems easy. Right now this is home.

I took out my camp stove and set it on my little folding yellow table. I took my dented little camping pot and poured in a puddle of oil. I dropped three eggs in the hot oil and stirred it with a plastic fork. I transferred breakfast to a cheap dish that works as a plate and a bowl. I cleaned everything with one paper towel while it was still warm. I seasoned the eggs, and cut an avocado. I had a handful of almonds on the side.

I spent the day riding a bicycle and paying some bills. My plan was to drop in on Duval Street later at night for a round of the old gawk and squawk.

I returned to my van for sunset and dinner snacking. I was super fucking relieved when a text message buzzed my phone.

My friend Eddie still lives here, and he invited me over to his boat. I'd been sending short messages in his direction - one per day on my way here. I was glad to see him pop up on my phone. Eddie's boat is his home, where he lives with his wife and son. He's docked on the gulf side. He works on another boat shuttling tourists out in the water. He shoots fish with a spear gun while he's out there. He catches stone crabs in some traps. I was impressed to see the size of the claws. He fried up a grouper, and I was happy to pick at it with a fork. This was all far better than what I had planned. I cannot state that enough.

More people arrived. The gathering was verging on a party. Before long, it made the grade. Maybe a dozen people were there, and half were under sixty. Everyone was cool as shit. I had rum punch, talked a little bit, and enjoyed the vantage point very much. A handful of people ate mushrooms. I was also offered drugs, but fuck it. I've tripped dozens of times, and I'm running low on epiphanies. I'm happier now to simply be around.

I left at nearly four in the morning. I was grinning heavily, and I was almost as tuned up as my bike. I cruised back to my van where you're not supposed to park. But nobody gets a ticket on New Year's. The law has both hands full tonight.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Successful arrival in Key West.

I woke up in a parking lot speckled with palm trees. I wanted to hit the gas, but thought it prudent to stock up on certain supplies. This will be the last Wal-Mart I see for a month. Certain commodities ought to be getting got.

Wine is $2.96. There is nothing wrong with it. It even has a cork. I haven't had booze in a couple days, but I'm not totaling any tea. I got four bottles, and some gas for my stove. I got some buttwipes for the upcoming public restrooms, but left their nasty avocados alone.

South Florida is a fucking shitshow. The weather is beautiful, but I despise that drive. I got as close as ever to road rage, and had several what-the-fucking-fucks.

I wanted to be in Key West in time to ride my bicycle in the sun. Unfortunately there were as many fatal accidents as lanes. I crawled peacefully along in no hurry. I merged slowly and listened to podcasts. I blared old skate punk and rolled down the road.

By the time I arrived, darkness had fallen. I went to my go-to-always-works spot and parallel parked between two other crusty Dodge vans. I clicked off the engine, and felt terribly alone.

The air was a frigid 65 degrees with high winds. Weather I would have killed for a few days ago. My chest filled with anxiety, so I texted everyone I know. Feeling lonely and anxious is not scary. It is not without precedent. It is to be expected, which I already know.

I went under the front curtain, and entered the section of the van that is home. I pulled the cork out of a bottle Oak Leaf, and got to work with my phone. I texted Rochelle in Philadelphia - the more recent one who I know. I chatted with Lisa in Georgia, who I met on the Appalachian Trail. I texted Dave, and I heard from my sister and Mom. I do have some people. I wish one of them were here.

An hour later, everything was better. I had some wine and some weed and enjoyed an excellent movie. I have a fantastic van with everything I need.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

South of the Border to Port St. Lucie, FL

I woke up at South of the Border. The night was cold, but with daytime came temperatures of up to sixty degrees. I switched to shorts for the foreseeable future. I used a horrendous restroom, and moved on.

The sky was gray, and light rains became heavy throughout the day. Traffic was a factor, but I have an abundance of time. I ate food that I brought with me, and ignored the attempts of billboards to swipe a dollar here and there.

I arrived at a Wal-Mart outside of Port St. Lucie, Florida. I did a loop of the parking lot, and came to a rest near the other dirtbag vans. Rolling equipment ranged from homemade to frankly fucking expensive. Us liveaboard folks run the gamut from too many dollars to almost none. I am in the happy medium. My income is far outpacing my spending. My goal for 2017 is to expand that gap as far as it will go. I am putting money away for more sunny days.

I entered the Wal-Mart for minor supplies. I got some crispy tostadas and cheese. I had a little cookout in the van, and listened to This American Life.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

TOWARD KEY WEST >> South of the Border for sleep.

I woke up in a blurry state and prepared to hit the highway. First I stopped at home base to say goodbye to Mom and Dad. I cooked three eggs in a puddle of oil and we watched the news while I ate. Mom assembled two turkey sandwiches for the road. She put them in an empty bread bag with three oranges and two pieces of pie. I love my parents. It has been easy and comfortable staying here. I can't imagine how difficult my life might be without them. I am blessed to have such support.

I backed down the driveway, cued up some music, and drove to Route 1. I met I-95 in Maryland. Between there and South Carolina, I only stopped for gas and an oil change. I stuck to the food bag, and spent no additional dollars.

South of the Border is a purely ridiculous attraction. Built in 1949, and presumably not updated since. Fiberglass figures stand tall, and you cannot miss the lights from the road. By the time I arrived, it was late at night. I backed into a parking spot, went underneath the curtain, and made myself at home.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Final preparations and salutations.

The inline fuse holder arrived in mid-afternoon. I had the solar setup wired and running by the time of the sun's final light. I'm ready.

I spent the morning loading up. I tried to erase the evidence of my presence at my folks' place to at least a reasonable degree. I packed up my clothing and some business equipment. I brought the components for a simple kitchen. I loaded up more than I thought I would, but I still have room to spare. Everything I need is there. Clothing for any temperature. Electronics for any need.

I am ready.

After the sun went down, it was nearly time to visit Kat for the last time this season. We were invited to dinner in Oxford with a couple who she is friends with. An excellent couple. The girl was her college roommate, and her dude teaches wilderness survival. They live in Utah. The live in a fucking yurt. He wears some beat down flipflops regardless of situation. I imagine that more often his feet wear nothing at all.

I drank. Kat drove. I had an excellent time, but by the time we left I was smashed. We stayed up a little bit later. Driving was out of the question. I laid down on the couch and crashed.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Fixing the curtain situation for free.

No parts arrived, so today I prepared my van in other minor ways. I screwed the solar charge controller to the new section of beadboard wall.

Flashback:

I was riding my bicycle a few months ago, and something caught my eye from the side of the road. It turned out to be a piece of heavy canvas or vinyl material that had been used as a painter's tarp. It probably flew out of a pickup truck. I picked it up, and I can't remember why. It looked generally useful, so I stuffed it in the milk crate on my rack and continued on my way home.

Flash forward: 

Today I needed an additional piece of cloth for the van's front curtain. You can see a little bit of light through the current setup, and that will not do. The found cloth was an excellent size. No cutting needed - I just clipped it up to the roll bar. Now the curtain situation is thick enough so nobody can tell if I'm inside the van watching movies or reading a book.

If one improved curtain isn't enough to celebrate, then I'll share info on a second one: I'd misplaced my big homemade tie dye tapestry. I didn't make it, but I found it for a buck. It was at a church yard sale in Key West years ago, and it has a huge weed leaf that amuses me. The current side curtain was solid black, which made the van feel small, dark, and impersonal. I clipped up this goofy piece of cloth, and now it feels exactly like home.