Yes, I know I’ve mashed two sayings together quite badly here, but that’s the point. That’s pretty much been my life since March 24, when I woke up to a smoke alarm alerting me that my apartment was on fire. Nothing has gone according to my previous plan since that point. The funny thing is that we’ve actually ended up more or less where we intended to be anyway.
For three months before the fire, we’d been building a camper van. Progress had been slow, because New England winters are awful and I have very little tolerance of the cold. When we suddenly found ourselves without a home, the plan we could execute the most quickly was to finish the van build ASAP.
Despite having done basically no mechanical work to the van since I bought it, not even an oil change, because it wasn’t supposed to be on the road yet, it handled the trip from New Hampshire to Indiana perfectly (where I gave it that much needed oil change). There’s a rattling sound that I think is a universal joint in the driveshaft wearing out, but beyond that, it’s running like a champ, and so much better than its rustbucket appearance would have you believe.
The build did not turn out as we’d originally intended. In some ways, particularly the custom woodwork on our cabinets, it turned out better than we’d ever hoped. My battery monitor may be lying because I set it up incorrectly, but it’s possible that I may have seriously overengineered our electrical system, both in capacity and charging ability. The Black Widow motorcycle carrier has already hauled my Kawasaki KLR650 almost 2,000 miles with no hitch except the one it’s bolted into. We still have some small projects to finish and others to redo that weren’t done quite right in the rush, but overall, this van life thing is actually working.
Today, driving from Raleigh, NC to Myrtle Beach, SC, we selected the “avoid highways” option on the GPS. This took us down state and US highways rather than the interstate, though nearly all marked with a 55mph speed limit. That’s almost as fast as I’d be driving on the interstate anyway, though with much less traffic, less stress, and fewer crosswinds throwing the van around.
On a whim, while driving through a pretty area, we stopped at Jones Lake State Park, cooked up a lunch, and had an enjoyable scenic stop. Later we parked on a side road in Myrtle Beach, and Trisha went swimming. (I felt too cold for a swim myself, but she’s like a fish in water and loves it.) She found a great place for dinner, and now we’re parked at Chateau Walmart, where we have a great chat with a family of fellow van dwellers parked nearby. Tomorrow we’ll shop for supplies, then continue a slow roll toward Florida to establish domicile and residency. I’ll have to work so I’m trying to limit how much time I spend driving each day during the week, but if all goes well we’ll get to the Escapees RV park on Friday. I booked the following week there so we can get stuff done.
The fire broke a bunch of eggs. It left us in a huge mess. In the end, though, we actually have the lemonade we’ve been wanting all along. In fact I’m drinking a glass of it right now, saved from the apartment refrigerator after the fire and still good inside our van fridge. We didn’t get here the way we wanted to, but thanks to some help from our friends, a little money, and a lot of luck and perseverance, we’re here, living the van life and enjoying it. We’re not only surviving, we’re thriving.