Sunday, September 19, 2010

So, You're Going to be Homeless - Part 3 - Hitting The Road (Continued)

   Once you've scoped out a couple of good places for the night, take advantage of the daylight hours to scope out a few Saturday day-time spots for the rest of today, and for next Saturday. There may be areas and facilities available on a Saturday, that may not be suitable or available on a Sunday. Take the rest of Saturday "off" - if it's a nice day, go check out your local public park, or beach - stretch your legs, do a little walking or jogging, clear your head, relax, and enjoy the day, the free time, the fresh air, and yes, even your newly-nomadic situation.  Think about what you are going to have for dinner tonight.  Will you eat out?  Get take-out?  Drive-through at a fast-food joint?  Get a cold hero for later?  Some snacks for later?  And think about what you're going to do for entertainment this evening - read by candlelight, Coleman-type lantern or battery operated light?  Perhaps rent a DVD and watch it on your portable player - hopefully, having had the foresight to use a car-adapter to charge it and your other small electronic devices while you were driving around earlier, running the engine *anyway*..

   It's Saturday evening, you're off from work tomorrow, and it's going to be your First Night in the van, so treat yourself tonight, indulge a little - it'll lift your spirits and make you more comfortable with your new situation, and bolster your confidence that you can definitely "do this", even for an extended period - *months*, NOT weeks - and that living in your van does not have to be a miserable, unhappy existence. To the contrary, with today's modern electronics and cellular and wi-fi networks, you not only can keep yourself entertained, but engaged and connected with others.  Granted, you're not in the best of situations right now, but it's only temporary (unless you LET it become permanent), but making the best of the situation you're in, will go a long way towards keeping up your morale, your sense of "normalcy' and your ability to function in, and later, transition back to the "normal" world.

  At this point, I want to touch on a cautionary note regarding electronic devices, car-chargers, inverters, and your van's battery. First and foremost, you do NOT want to have to call "Road Service" because you ran the battery down in your vehicle.  It can be expensive, inconvenient, embarrassing and even revealing(<--<< in a negative way) when you need to summon someone to come give you  jump, in the middle of nowhere, because you fscked-up and surfed the `Net too long, losing track of your vehicle's battery capacity in the interim.  The last thing you need, is to have to get someone to give you a jump.  Not only can it be expensive and seriously inconvenient, it also can, depending on where you are when that happens, bring unwanted attention upon you and your van, quite possibly, from the Wrong People.  If you can afford to spend $75 bucks or so, the ultimate protection against your needing anyone to come give you a jump, would be to pick up one of those portable, self-contained jump-thingies they sell at auto-parts stores - just make sure you buy one that can be charged off of your cigarette-lighter socket, and not just via battery-cable or home 110v AC. Having one of these, will allow you to get yourself out of jam, should you accidentally run your vehicle's battery too far down.

   Avoid using inverters (12v DC - to - 110v AC) as they can quickly drain your battery, and tend to put a substantial load on your alternator if you're running your vehicle to power whatever 110v device you happen to be using.  Much better to stick to electronic devices that were designed for low-voltage DC use to begin with.  In other words, don't try and run a small 110v AC TV in your van off an inverter.  Instead, get a TV that was made for battery/12v DC usage to begin with.  The same goes for computers, DVD players, ect.
Whatever you run, keep the volume to a minimum or use headphones - you want your parked van to look like,..well, a parked van, and not a residence. 

   Another caveat: as night approaches, you may feel like having a few beers - after all, it'll help you sleep and relax a bit,.especially since this is your first night as a mobile professional.  Totally understandable, IMHO, especially since you figure you're parked for the night and won't be driving anywhere until the morning.  But I would strongly advise against it for a couple of reasons:   you really DON'T know if you'll have to move on later that night or in the wee hours of the morning.   If a cop rousts you and tells you to move on, and you have enough alcohol in your system to the point where passing a breathalyzer is not a given, you would either have to take the chance and hope the cop doesn't notice you aren't quite sober, (or worse yet, DOES notice and simply waits until you get in the driver's seat and start the engine before making an arrest), *or* you'd have to admit you are probably still a bit too buzzed to drive safely, in which case the cop may decide to ticket you for having open containers of alcohol in your vehicle(if you didn't dispose of all the empties before hitting the sack).  Then, there is the matter of you driving around, late at night, half asleep and not quite sober, hoping to get to your alternate parking spot without getting pulled over by another cop,...and that's assuming you simply drove off after being told to move by the first cop.

   The last thing you need, is a DUI, a ticket for open containers, or worse, getting your vehicle impounded. It may be your new temporary residence, but in most cases, the law is not on your side.  In fact, the laws are stacked against you from the git go - from that little physical address problem, to your living in a non-RV vehicle, to issues of expectations of privacy while in public,...because the law views your van no different than any regular car or truck.  RVs, however, are a different matter.  IIRC, once an RV is "encamped" (parked for the night, evidenced by things such as having it's leveling jacks down, being plugged-in to electric, water hooked-up, ect, ect), it is perfectly legal to get soused and pile up empty beer cans or booze bottles inside, to your heart's content.  Additionally, one can make the argument that the RV *IS* one's HOME (as evidenced by a full-timer's RV insurance policy,(and therefor, subject to the same privacy protections and legal protection against searches without a warrant - at least, while encamped anyway), and probably prevail in court, should it ever come down to that.  The takeaway here is, realize you're vulnerable, and act accordingly - an ounce of prevention and all that.

   Of course, you could add a small travel-trailer to your "rig", and be in a better place, both legal-wise and comfort-wise, but that still won't do much for you as long as you rely on employing the guerrilla-parkings and boon docking method as your daily routine.  At some point, you want to secure yourself a more semi-permanent arrangement with at least some rudimentary electricity, and I'll get into that in a later chapter in this series, but for now, It's just you and your van against the world ;-)

   Now where were we? Oh, yeah,...ok...you turn-in for the night, and have a bit of beginner's luck - no one bothered you all night, and you actually got a decent night's sleep.  Between that little schwiggy of Nyquil, you took, the steady rythym of the traffic on the highway a half mile or so away and the realization that you don't have to worry about coming up with the rent next month, you were able to finally relax and drift off to sleep.  Not surprising, since the stress of the last couple of days had left you exhausted.  It's Sunday morning, and you head out for breakfast, choosing a place you know has a decent restroom so you can kill several birds with one stone. 

   This might be a good time, to review your intended paking spots for the night(keeping in mind that, come Monday morning, your surroundings could change considerably), and maybe do a dry-run to work, if you're not sure how long it will take you in the morning.  You might also want to pick up any "loose ends"-type stuff that you forgot or didn't realize you needed when you left your apartment that day.  A small mirror, a manual can-openener. any needed shaving supplies, candles, a few batteries, something to read in the evening (if you're so inclined), ect.  You might also wnt to pick up some inexpensive canned goods that you can eat cold, such as baked beans, ravioli, spam, tuna, fruit cocktail, pineapple slices, and small cans of chicken and ham.  For now, you'll want to avoid buying any perishables, or at least, any more perishables than you would consume in one sitting, or would consume before it goes bad.  Try to eat healthy - I know it's not easy, especially in your present circumstances, but try and avoid high-salt, high-fat, high-cholesterol types of food as much as you can.

   As Sunday draws to a close, and darkness starts to fall, decide wether you want to hit the shower at your gym club now, or wait until the morning, and set your alarm (wind-up clock or cellphone-alarm) accordingly. Heck, you might even actually hit the treadmill while you're there - not only does that help make you appear just another "normal" gym-club client, it also helps you keep fit and counterbalance some of the damage living in a cramped van and eating not-so-good take-out and canned food may be doing to your physique.  After you get cleaned up, you head for your Sunday night parking spot, not being able to remember that last time you were SO looking forward, to going to work in the morning.  The routine and normalcy will be good for you, and a welcome change from the previous 2 days.

   Next up:  Keeping Up Appearances

                                                                         Stay tuned,
                                                                           Scoob

2 comments:

  1. I started out in a truck camper some ten plus years ago. parked at my work where i drove truck at the time. Weekends spend touring and camping out of town. I finally got told by my boss to move out, and then found a campground in town not too far from my work.

    I moved into that campground, and it was a real good feeling to have my own spot. A place to come home too. Felt like I was settled. That started my life in campgrounds and its been almost 15 years now.

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  2. Hi, Coal! I had initially lived in my employer's parking lot when I first set out from my last "normal" residential rental for the last time, and went to work (for lack of a better place to go;), but my problem quickly became not one of not being wanted around by my boss, but rather, my boss taking advantage and pressuring me to work 7 days a week, about 12 hours a day, even on days when there wasn't enough business to justify putting me on (it was commission-based, so no incentive to put in unproductive hours). I felt like a slave on a plantation, lol! This, however, motivated me to GTFO ASAP, so as to regain control over my working hours and more of my day to day life.

    I had only the small 19' motorhome and the requisite "other vehicle" (a moped) at the time, and while I quickly lucked out and found a cheap fenced-in storage yard right nearby where I could store it(but not live in it), I needed to buy yet another vehicle (a van), that I could actually sleep in and use to drive around, before I could take advantage of storing the motorhome off my employer's property
    and get out from under his thumb.

    There's actually quite a bit more to this story, but I'll save it for a future blog post.
    I've fallen behind just posting on the 2 ongoing entries here that are long overdue for additional chapters.

    Scoob

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