As I am writing this, it has been a full ten days that we have been on the road. If you are awesome and follow us on Instagram, then you can see that we covered a lot of ground and quickly.
You see, leaving from Minneapolis, we were all jacked up on the prospect of sunshine and warm weather. Little did we know, the south and southwest regions of the U.S. we're experiencing quite a cold front, and we didn't do our homework. We booked it through Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and ultimately settled in Yuma, AZ for four days; it’s the warmest place we could find. We stopped for an occasional Wal Mart slumber party, an oil change off of Rte. 66, and a lot of rest stops; we couldn't take sitting for so long. After Yuma, we headed to our current location, which is a campground about 40 minutes outside of San Diego. We’ve spent the past four days working rigorously on so many different things.
Now that the stage has been set for our first week, I’d like to share a list of what we’ve learned so far. So here we go!
1. It’s not warm in the south all the time.
As I mentioned before, we weren't the most prepared. We have always planned on chasing warm weather and didn't exactly have a heating source. While driving to Arizona, most nights dropped below freezing. All we could do was stay underneath our cocoon of blankets, and huddle around the one natural heat source we had: Snoop.
2. Snoop does not like to sit in back.
Our refrigerator lives between the driver and passenger seat. We planned to set up Snoop’s bed behind it so he would have literally the entire van to himself. This was insulting to him. How dare we not let him up into the front with us? How could he lay on top of us with a fridge separating us? Jerk humans. So he retaliated; every chance he had, he tried to sneak onto the fridge to sit with us. But he doesn’t understand that he is an 87 lb pit bull, and he is not subtle. Being the softies we are, he spent a lot of time laying on the lap of whoever was in the passenger seat.
3. Diesel costs a lot of money.
We are lucky that our bulky, extra long van gets about 22 miles to the gallon on the highway, but fuel really does add up. We plan on spending more time in a single location in the future, but it definitely made it obvious that we needed to make money. Which leads me to our next lesson..
4. MONEY: You may not need a lot, but you definitely need some.
Our first night in Yuma, we had what some might call a “freak out session”. We had always said, “we’ll do migrant work and other odd jobs while we work on our bigger, long-term projects”, but how do you find those jobs? Have we really zeroed in on the goals of our projects? Can we even make them happen if we don't make some cash and soon? WHAT ARE WE DOING?! Some real freak-out-sesh type questions were being thrown around like a game of “hot potato”. But we were able to ground ourselves, used that energy to set some goals, and took action. Since taking massive action, we have seen so much progress, and I even got a remote writing tutor job for at least a little consistent money.
Okay, so those lessons were a little heavy. Here are some more simple lessons we’ve learned.
5. Finding a good, fairly priced campsite can be tough. Take time to call around to different sites, especially if you want to stay there for a while. Some campsites only allow you to stay a certain amount of days.
6. Treat every shower as if it is your last.
7. When you only have a porta-potty and your house rule is “no number 2”, you WILL have to poop in the woods. It’s an acquired skill, so start practicing.
8. Put avocados in a drawer or on a shelf. When you put them in a fruit hammock, they’ll smack against the window and explode.
9. Empty your gray water jug frequently, or else your very tiny home will start to smell exactly like a mixture of coffee, toothpaste, and rotting vegetables.
10. When living as a couple in a van, develop a “getting ready” and “cooking dinner” dance routine. One partner leads while the other twirls and bends so as to not completely collide with the other.
11. When you’ve listened to two peoples’ entire library of music twice through, just freestyle rap.
This list makes it seem like a freaking terrible week now that I’ve read it back. But the great part is that these “lessons” are really just things that make us laugh, and love this lifestyle even more. I’d rather poop outside and work endlessly towards projects I’m passionate about than be in one permanent spot. From my view, I’m riding shotgun with the most loving and intelligent dog on my lap, while the love of my life drives us in our traveling home to a new destination where new adventures await.
Doesn’t seem too bad, does it?