SOLO FEMALE Chooses Moves into a VAN to Connect with The Wild

When I first got to Canada, I was on this tiny island between Vancouver
Island and the Sunshine Cove. I lived in a tent for six weeks. I was volunteering on a
whale-watching camp. This island was like 2 kilometers long by one kilometer and
there were wolves, black bears, grizzly bears, like everything just in the area and
I was so excited about it. I was right basically on the beach like just
a few meters back from the beach. You’d hear humpback whales coming up for
breath like right next to me. I’d wake up because *pfff noise* like it was just the most amazing thing. And the first 3 nights I think I slept like an hour each night. A
squirrel in the forest sounds like a bear and on like my third day there when
I was finally like, “this is fine”, and getting used to it like, “nothing’s gonna eat me”, like
ignore the bear poo, like everything’s fine…a mountain lion walked right past
my tent whilst I was asleep inside of it. I remember waking up and hearing these
crows just going mad and like “Why? I’ve just fell asleep like an hour
ago”, and then I got up and two of the guests were like, “oh look what we just
saw and took a picture of” and it’s this mountain lion just just sat on the beach
like 2 meters in front of my tent whilst I was in it and I finally convinced myself
that there was no wildlife around that would hurt me and then I was like,
“great.” I got on the boat back and back to Vancouver Island which is still like
amazing. As soon as I moved into the staff housing where I was working I just
I couldn’t sleep for like a week. The noises, it’s like being in a cell. There’s no stimulation for your brain at all and
it’s going back to easy living like I was using an outhouse and stuff before
and like dealing with all the practicalities of that and you know, cooking
outside. Just doing everything outside and I just realized how happy I was just
in my tent with my few possessions like I had a book, a headlamp, and that
was it and I was so happy and then to go to being from that to being really unhappy I was like, “something’s missing and I have to fix it”, so I started looking and I
found it again because I can wake up in places like this and be like, “I’m stoked!”. This is my 31 year old GMC Vandura, 1986.
364,000 kilometers for 2100 Canadian dollars. And it’s a getaway van! People always like to make the joke when I break down like, “oh
you can’t get away in your get away van” and I’m like, “you’re like the 70th person that’s said that.” I don’t use the awning. It does work, but I’m never really in one place
for long enough and it’s never really that rainy. This slides out. There was a
mesh bug net on the inside which let air in, which is a really nice way cause things
can’t, don’t tend to climb in too much up through there. This
opens out. This one the side is locked shut which is great. The other side is
super easy to break into. Whenever I lock my keys in which is at
least once a week. This is like the coldest part of the van in the winter
like so much air gets into here no matter how much caulking I use. The ladder is fine, it’s missing a rung but just hop on up. That’s got like caulking all around it for
like just air leaks and water leaks. I had a mold issue in April where I had to basically
gut the whole thing and de-mold it and so I’m like super on like sealing everything
where moisture could get in. A bird flew into my van and I was really sad about
it and it broke this and I had to pull it out of my engine, but I buried it.
Poor guy. I ripped out all of the floor under here
put new wooden did a beautiful job installing carpet. This which used to be
a big space, got some bookshelves. I’ve got like two rows of books, this is just the
front row and I’m running out of space rapidly for more. My main, my easy to
go to stove for cooking. I would just pop out like on a picnic table or something
but then for camping, if I’m going backpacking or just want to treat myself
I’ve got my MSR stove too. I just like to cook outside, it’s way more fun and
if I burn something it smells like burnt for a long time so. Face wipes, emergency coffee. I’ve got like 10,000 flasks so I would
never need to buy a coffee cup again in my life. My clothes are down here. This is
my wardrobe. It all fits in this bag. Got my ski gear that’s
buried in like the depths of the rest of my van. That’s definitely a downsize
from what I used to have. I used to have like three wardrobes full of clothes I never wore so that’s exciting. My shoes here. My mom’s slippers, thank mom. So the bed actually
all folds back. The mattress is super heavy. I got it from the reuse it center
here and it would all fold back on itself to be compacting. There’s two bench
seats here and there’s two sets of seat belts on either side, but actually my
friends have worked out that you can sit on the bed and the seat belts come all
the way out so you can just lay in the bed and you’ve still got your seat belt on. I like to have
my bed out all the time. I’m just moving around so much. I don’t want it to take an
hour for me to get from A to B because I’ve got to go through all my van so I have
it out. I’ve storage on the side there on top of the bench seat and storage
underneath and those bench seats are also massive like boxes where I can keep
things that I just wouldn’t need like in the summertime. Got my own garden. I’ve
been working on here. I decided I didn’t really use the sink that much or enough
to warrant just having that space and so I’ve got some peppermint,
some rosemary, and this bad boy, my air plant, which doesn’t need any water, it
just lives off of the air. Honey nut cheerios, the emergency cereal. This little thing is the best thing ever. It’s a 10 liter
collapsible. It was like nine bucks from Home Hardware. Water tank. I got this from like the 1940’s, it’s a picture of a
cougar. I felt like I should have it because of my mountain lion incident
when I first got to Canada. Essentials. Headlamp…girls get this. This is what you need. One of these multi-tools, best thing my dad ever gave me. Dishes here, different things. These things are amazing cause
they’re all different sizes. This thing you can drink out of as a mug or you can
cook out of it. I’ve got a big old pan. I’ve got an omelet maker, bowls, you know
how it is. A mosquito net head bag which is as cool as it sounds for when the
insects are getting too bad, this is how I sleep. Sleeping mat for outside sleeping.
Camping chair, skateboard, trying to learn how to skate. My friends always say this is like a Mary Poppins van, there’s just stuff everywhere. This is a basket which is a Yoda head which I got
for two dollars. Toiletries, camera gear. Everything I own fits into dry bags. I have so many dry bags. What’s in here? Oooh, okay few beers. Me and the brewery are on very good terms in this town. Kettle, beans and stuff, that’s a solid thing, a good staple food like chickpeas and kidney beans. Old
juice bottles and stuff filled with rice or in this one there’s nuts, seeds. Stuff you
can just cook up with some water and some spices. This is like the, “we don’t
really ever go in here”, it’s got all my winter stuff. You could fit like
a person in that, there’s so much space. Quick access stuff: matches, flask, oil, bear spray. Sounds stupid but it’s super
important when you’re here anyway. Clif bar, instant noodles, water purification
tablets. So that does that and you have to pull the seat belt up and around so that it’s not in your face. There you go. So I like to do
this when I’m like chilling and I’m feeling a little bit cramped and I just
come move my curtain around and I can just sit and chill and I’ve got all the space in the
world. Who needs more space than this? I didn’t realize. I did it by accident because
I kicked it one day and it just swiveled and I was like, “Oh! How exciting.”
My drivers chair did it for a while but that’s gotten fixed now because it
wasn’t supposed to be doing that. People say like, “oh, just think about
what you need to be happy”. I think you really have to experience it. I say go
and try like maybe a long-term camping trip or something or if you know
someone, everyone seems to know someone now, that’s got a van. Just think about
all the material things that you have and how much money you could save if you
didn’t have them if they didn’t require constant upkeep. Think about how much
time you spend where you live. Do you get up and go to work at 6:00 in the morning
and come back at 9 o’clock at night and you’re basically just there to sleep
and you’re paying $1,000 a month for it? When I first moved into I realized like
how much time I spent like watching Netflix or just like doing nothing on my
laptop just like scrolling constantly. That’s a great part about it. I make most
of my time. One thing I will say is that van life doesn’t come with a warm
Instagram filter. Also like it’s not this dreamy like woodsy guy and really hot
girl like sprawled out on like this amazing blanket with the ocean in the back. Van life is about sand in every nook and cranny and just being
constantly dirty and just loving every second of it, but it’s not
easy. That’s why I like it. Existing was just too easy before like it was
just like nothing was stimulating and it’s hard & it’s good and it’s fun cuz
it’s hard because you’re like, “oh my”. When something goes wrong you have to think
about so much. When you’re living in like a small spaces in your tent or in a van like you are really face-to-face with like reality like
people sometimes I hear people say like “oh you’re not living in the real world” and I’m like, “I am! I’m face-to-face like with the trash that I produce, like when I need
the bathroom it’s right there in your face so I actually see how much
impact I have and since I’ve been in the van, I probably reduced my waste by 80%. Don’t underestimate what you can do. You
just learn what’s important and what’s not and it falls into place and you’ll be happy.

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