Wednesday, 16 July 2014

First Impressions

I now have a few full days under my belt. Here are my first impressions:

Location: Finding a place to stay - this isn't very difficult, I'm starting to realize there are numerous options:
  1. Stealth mode: parking in a suburb after dark and leaving before anyone realizes what I'm up to. I've done this twice with no real issues.
    Worst case scenario: I am asked to move along. This is the reason I wasn't interested in recreational vehicles, they are easy to spot. My soccer mom mobile blends in nicely.
  2. Boondocking (aka Camping without hook ups): I did this the third night on the Chilliwack River. Definitely the most picturesque. The downside being, I had to drive a fair distance out of town to find a suitable's also tricky finding a spot if you don't have local knowledge.
    Worst case scenario: A vehicle out in the middle of nowhere might attract unwanted attention.
  3. Walmart/Reststops: I did this last night. Abbotsford recently made the news about going after people living in vans (Abby isn't known for being tolerant). I didn't feel like dealing with that, so I stayed legally at a rest area just out of town. The benefit is toilets/water etc (very clean in this case)
    Worst case scenario: There are other transients and travelers - which means the likely hood of running into weirdos is high.  
Sleep: I am actually enjoying sleeping in the back of Walden. I am using an ultralight thermorest (3/4) length and a small inflatable it's not for everyone. So far, I have been waking at first light and feel very refreshed (especially after quick run and dunk in the river!).  One thing is that it's HOT. So far, I've been sleeping in a silk sleeping bag liner.  I don't need my sleeping bag until later (I open it and use it like a blanket).

Work: nothing has changed...if anything, I'm working more (I described my work situation in the previous post).

Hygiene: This is a big question for people. So far, even with sweating my balls off during the hasn't been a huge issue. I took a shower my first night at a friends (thanks Darren) but since then, I've been using lakes and rivers to rinse (usually twice a day). I put on pit stick (I normally don't wear it but feel I'd be treading into hippy territory without it). I brush my teeth at whatever bathrooms I encounter - usually at Starbucks (as with doing my business).
I haven't shaved yet but I plan to. For a proper wash, I'll be hitting up a rec center or gym every once in a while and plan to do laundry at laundromats.

Eating: My main concern is getting what I need vs how I get it. Seeing as I'm trying to keep things economical, I'm transitioning from eating out to cooking my own meals whenever possible. So far I've had sandwhiches, soup, oatmeal and chef boyardee -  so there is room for improvement on that front (even by my standards). I'm currently limited by my camp pots...and am considering a cheap frying pan from Value Village or something. One benefit for eating everything out of one pot is it makes doing dishes easy! ;-)

Exercise: This is essential as eating for me. Running and orienteering are my go to's....though I found myself enjoying swimming last night at Albert Dyck park. The main issue with running is how much I sweat - I am drenched when finished (especially in this heat), so I need to plan ahead on where I'm going to rinse. Finding suitable trails to run is a little tricky - as local knowledge is essential.
I'm trying to remember to walk instead of drive - it's very tempting just to roll around in Walden but obviously with gas prices it is better to park and walk. If I were to do this on a more permanent basis, I would get a folding bike which would both provide exercise and cut costs.

Entertainment: I'm currently reading Endurance - a book on Shackleton's expedition in the Antarctic.

Costs: So far, other than the initial purchase/insurance ($74/month) - my main expenditure has be gas. Walden has a 3.8L and isn't a I am driving conservatively. I don't have to be anywhere (more on this in the next paragraph) I can take my time. At the moment I have the impulse to keep moving, as that is what one does with a vehicle (a hammer in hand...).

On strategy I'm looking into, is posting on ride share on Craigslist for longer trips...

Feelings: One thing I'm struggling with (if you will) - is not having anywhere to be. This might be a product of literally sitting in the drivers seat and having no destination ("Where DO I want to go today?"). Working for myself - online - on my own time has always made me feel a little disconnected from normal society. I lost track of what day it was long ago and don't really keep regular hours. Now that I don't have a permanent residence or a place I feel I need to be - it really exaggerates the feeling of drifting. I feel sonder while driving alone on the highway as people whiz by me.

Something to consider: Homelessness is a conscious choice for me. I can easily afford to rent a place. I remember reading about the 'hidden homeless' a while back. Basically people doing what I am, because they have no other option (who aren't the classic homeless panhandler etc). I've been thinking about that a lot, especially during my stay in Abbotsford. The municipal gov is going after said demographic - which is being taken to the supreme court (Something similar happened in LA). This has some pretty big ramifications.  I found a report about it from England but I'm sure it applies to North America too. You can read it here.

Perhaps the fact that this demographic exists in the first place should be addressed.

TLDR: That all said. Obviously, this lifestyle isn't for everyone - I'm not sure if it'll wear smooth yet - but so far so good. It appeals to the spartan/minimalist in me.

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