Dealing with it. 

In my last article I wrote about taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Sometimes they look like disadvantages until I spin them into advantages. 

My work Railroaded me again. I guess it comes with the territory. I wrote about riding my motorcycle home to Utah from Washington. I left my van in Hermiston Oregon. It’s sits on the Columbia River Gorge. The border of Washington USA. I received a Text from the Forman mid off cycle. “We will not meet in Hermiston OR next week. We will meet in Alamogordo NM.” Can’t be much farther apart. My van is on the Border of Washington I’m in Utah and I have to be near the border of Texas in five days. Most would see a problem with this but my mind starts to see potential. 
My wife and I have needed some time away. She likes roadtrips. So we climbed in the Kia and she drove me to the van. 

We left hungry so we had to stop in the tiny town of Tremonton UT. Not being familiar, we decided to drive through town, then decide where to go. It was 11:30 and every where had empty parking lots. I was not feeling inspired. Until we found the edge of town and a Mexican food bus. A few cars parked around and we New we found the gem. 

Very cool concept. It was parked by a river. They also owned the building on the lot so you could eat in a brick and mortar. If you felt better about it or you could sit inside and experience the adventure. 

The food was alright. I wish I could say it was incredible but it was a bit bland honestly. The experience was awesome though. A little girl came in with her family. She was maybe 6 years old. She enters and says “Wow its fancy in here”. It was cool. It really felt like Old Mexico. 
We made a few more stops on the way. Including this awesome bridge. 

Once we arrived in Hermiston I dropped the trailer parked the car and we jumped into the van. Of to the river we went.Where I got to spoil my bride with a vanhome cooked meal. She also got a breakfast the next morning before we started the wild ride home. 

After we ate breakfast we hooked up the trailer and she followed me back through the Blue mountains in Oregon. We decided a detour to Idaho Falls where her Sister lived was in order. 
What a beautiful state Idaho is. The scenic road we took, Highway 20 from Mountain Home to Idaho Falls, was incredible. 

The best part was suddenly we had landed on the moon. 

It was a volcano and the lava was still preserved. Extremely harsh environment. Temps upwards of 150 degrees in the summer and deep snow in the winter. Jagged rock formations everywhere and the vegetation had just begun to grow again. 

My wife had work in the morning and my son had drivers ed at 6:00 am. With all our detours I wasn’t going to make it home that night. So we stopped at another historic point. Caught 3 hrs of sleep and finished the drive landing home right in time. 5:45am. Just enough time to gather my son and get him to school. 

Luckily I had the day to regroup before I had to continue on to New Mexico. That will be a couple more stories. As for now I will bid you farewell. Tomorrow I might tell you more. 

How a successful man comes to live in a van. Part 3

I’m thinking it’s time for a little background. In order to understand how I ended up living in a van. You need to understand my past a bit. I call this blog Roadtovanlife. It’s about living on the road in a van. It’s also about how I got here. I haven’t written about the how for a long time so let’s begin again. 

The greatest thing happened to me in my first couple of years being alive. My parents (Diana and Jim) got divorced! Ya I’m sure it sucked for them but it worked out pretty good for me. My Mom met a guy (Brad) and married him. He has been the greatest man I’ve ever known. My Dad (Jim) has stuck around through everything. He has been the greatest man I’ve ever known. Yep I said that twice. They are completely different in attitude and physicality. Completely different goals and expectations. Completely incredible men in there own ways. 

My mother (Diana) had two more kids. My sister (Brooke) first. The meanest person I have ever met. She showed me girls are scary. I was so scared I didn’t get married until my mid twenties. But really she has always stood by me and loved me no matter what I did. She has always been my Fan. She has the biggest heart I’ve ever experienced. She loves on a level I will never understand. I’m not sure why but I think I’m the only person she has ever been mean to. 

My mother (Diana) also had my little Brother (Parker). He is incredible. No matter how many times I let him down. He has always been there. Somehow standing above me with his hand out picking me up. Believe me his arms must be tired. He might be the only other person that would agree with me about Brooke being mean. 

My Dad (Jim) found a lady (Maurine) as well. She had a kid (Matt) already. I knew him. He was older then me but we ruled the preschool. We would put all the trikes in a pile and ride circles around them so no one else could have one. He dared me to kiss a girl. My first was in preschool. How my Dad (Jim) found his Mom (Maurine) I still don’t know but way cool that they did. 

My Dad (Jim) had two kids in eleven months with his new wife. My New Mom (Maurine). First my little Bro (Nic). A real life Hero. That’s his story to tell though. 

Second was my little sis (Dana). Poor thing always got left out. To many boys and no girls. She is beautiful and kind and everything a girl supposed to be. 

There was now three other kids around when I got to visit my Dad (Jim) And two more kids at home. For an only child I was being surrounded by siblings. 

Then… the worst thing in my life happened. I was young so it didn’t effect me as much as my older brother (Matt). Mom died! My new Mom. Dads new wife (Maurine). She died terribly violent too. It changed everything for my older brother (Matt). My Dad (Jim) adopted him. So glad I got to keep him. The two little ones (Nic and Dana) where so young and no longer had a mom. It was bad. Still is really. 

It took a lot of years for my Dad (Jim) to get right again. His third wife my next Mom (Ruth) took on all of that Challenge. Knowing she could never be Maurine she just tried to be Mom. She had an older daughter (Kim). She was older then all of us. She had my older brother (Matt) by two years and she was HOT!!! Still is really. She showed me that girls had a lot more to be scared of then just being mean. She was awesome. I could ask her anything and she was real. She always told me the truth. 

I was a late bloomer. In eighth grade I was still a kid. Hell I can barely grow a beard and I’m almost 40. 

I was walking the hall and out of no where this tall beautiful blond girl walks right up to me and says hey your Kris right? Now I’m shaking. I stumbled over a shy yes. 

She continues unfazed “Ya, I know your sister.” 

I’m thinking it has to be Kim the other two are to young. 

I ask which one?

 “Jenny” she says. 

My heart fell out. She was talking to the wrong Kris. 

I let her know and expected to walk away with my tail tucked when she said “Your brother is Matt right?” 

“Yes, how do you know” I said. 

“Because Jenny is Matt’s sister.”

Now remember I know girls are mean. I didn’t believe her but after a while she just knew to much. 

That night I called my dad (Jim). 

He then told me that “Maurine had two children Matt, my brother, and Jenny. 

Jenny had been adopted before Maurine’s divorce with Matts dad. 

I had a sister that everyone knew about but me. How the hell could that be.

You would think after all that my Dad (Jim) would have had enough. Nope! Later my dad and his third wife (Ruth) adopted my youngest brother (Jesse). He is a real life American Bad Ass. He too is a hero. His story is still being played out. I pray for his saftey. As he continues to protect us all. 

You can see that growing up I was all twisted. Pulling everywhere. People where crying while others had complete joy. I had to learn that having compassion meant joy for some at the same time as sorrow for others. I learned the way everyone else lives isn’t my life. I started out of the box and never felt comfortable inside one. 
I have more family then anyone I know. 

I learned that not seeing them daily was ok. 

I had to many homes to know homesickness. 

I can wander the world and live all over still knowing my roots are always under me. 

Home truly is where the heart is. 

My heart just happens to be everywhere. 

Winning With Solar 

Let’s talk power! I have owned this class B RV for 16 months. It’s a sprinter Van. I’ve spent 288 nights living in it and 55,000 miles. 
My biggest struggle is the electricity. Of all the nights I’ve stayed in the RV, I’ve been plugged in maybe a dozen. If I stay in the same spot for more then three days at a time, my Blue Top Optima 55 amp hr battery will be Dead! Dead! Dead! I’m surprised it still works. Honestly it shouldn’t. I highly recommend it. 

My favorite way of living is to find a great place to park the van and commute to work, the gym, groceries and so on with my Motorcycle.
I found that it was almost impossible though. After three days I had to drive the van around just to get some battery juice. I didn’t have enough miles mid work cycle to get a good charge on the system. So it became a real hassle. 
I do have an onboard 2000w Onan generator. For some odd reason it would take hours to get just enough charge to last through the night. I was using all the propane and again I was driving anyway to fill my propane tanks. 
I decided I wanted solar. I had heard great things. So I started rummaging through the still uncertain info all over the World Wide Web. It was a lot of math and a lot of reading in another language, electrical. Best I could come up with was add everything you have together and then divide it. That equaled a lot. Never would everything run all at once, Nor would it ever be the same combination. By the math, I would need 10,000 watts of solar. It was never going to happen. 
I put on my common sense cap, turned it backwards and got to thinking. If my battery has always lasted 24hrs then I just need enough solar to recharge that battery in a few hours. That way if the sky feels moody or if I’m using some power during the day my system would have plenty of time to charge my battery by night. 
Suddenly I only needed 100w. My mind drifted back to an old man living on the banks of the Columbia River Gorge in a little camp site called Sand Station. He said to me. “All these young kids are always getting so many panels. They don’t need that much. It’s a waste. All a person needs is 100 watts. It’s plenty.” 
I found the Renogy 100 watt plug and play system. The price was on point, the 700+ reviews with 4.5 stars was definitely on point. The fact that, if the old man was incorrect, I could add another 300 watts to it was on point. 
So I gambled. Knowing nothing but, I know not what I’m doing. I closed my eyes and click. I sent it to my dad for his opinion. Yes I’m almost 40 but he is my dad. He will always have good advise for me. 

He text me back. “To late. You will have to spend your birthday money on something else.” With a picture of the order screen and shipping info. He bought it for me. YA! Now I really had nothing to lose. 
It arrived three days later. I was so excited I opened it then and there. It was very well packaged. I was shocked at the quality as well. 

I figured I would put the brackets on real quick. Next thing I knew the ladder was out I was standing on my van panel in hand trying to figure out where I was going to mount it. I had a bunch of ideas before I had received it. In hand they weren’t making sense. So right in the middle it went. Holes were drilled, wires were fed, screws got screwed. Silicon got messy. It really was so simple. All that worry and fear not knowing if I could do it my self just lifted away. It was a cake walk. 

Bam! 2 hours later with the help of my other Dad, I had power. Ya I’m lucky, God gave me two great fathers and many Grandfathers to look up too. I didn’t know how much power though. I drove around for 6 days working. It was a different situation and I really had to drive every day. So I couldn’t tell what my panel was doing. 

Finally I got my scheduled days off so I left the van in my driveway unplugged, the fridge on, the furnace thermostat normal. Just like a regular day. Three days later the battery was fully charged. Ya it is working. 
I needed to know how well though. So first light the next day I turned the Fantastic Fan on high. It would usually kill the battery in three hours. It was rainy and overcast. Three hours later all four LED lights for battery condition are still lit. 6 hours still lit. It took ten hours to drain the battery down to the last LED. Fan and fridge running. Now I was impressed. 
I kept the fridge going that night and the furnace on just so I could make sure the battery was drained by the morning. Yes I know this is bad for my battery. I couldn’t tell you the amount of times it had died already though. That is why I was going down the whole solar path in the first place. 
That next morning I went out 2 hours after first light. Again it had been raining all morning and there was a lot of cloud cover. But all four LEDs were lit. It charged in two hours. Again I was impressed!
The website said it would charge a 50 amp hr battery in three hours with optimal sun light. My light was poor and it charged them In two. 
I can’t wait to take my bike and new solar equipped van back to Sand Station again next week. I can’t wait to use it for real and see if my tests were correct in telling me I have more power then I need. Maybe that old man will be there again too. I would like to tell him he was right. 

Surprise in the Mojave Desert. 

More of perk 4

Living in a van while working allows me to better understand the places my company sends me to work. While my coworkers live in hotels I’m out discovering this world. Every place has its own bit of history. It’s own secret that is well loved within its community. 
Mojave is no different. I found a nice lady on a web site I’ve decided to join. I wrote about it in my previous article. “New Friends In Many Places.” The Site is called Boondockers Welcome


I’m staying on her property for 7 nights. I work during the day. 1 day I was instructed to take off due to federal DOT hours of service. 
The lady I was staying with has one of her sons living in another house on her property. He takes care of her. 
This man invited me to go to the local Exotic Cat House with him. I thought exactly what you are thinking. Um, no thanks, it’s not really my thing. He laughed and replied “it’s not like that. They have a bunch of Lions, Lepards, Lynx and Tigers. They are all species that are going extinct. The place is trying to breed them and reintroduce them back into the wild.” It’s called EFBC’s Feline Conservation Center
Of course I had to take advantage. It was very cool. Surprisingly we were greeted by Peacocks as we entered the park. Very pretty!  
The place was small but had a lot of cats and there Habitats weren’t terrible. Especially knowing that it’s not a zoo. It operates mainly on donations and volunteers. They are just hoping to save some animals for future generations to know. 
Again I got to experience something most never would. I am very grateful to live in a van.

More of Perk 4

Having opportunitys to experience the secrets of the world. 

Perk 8 status

          A lot of life is hardships. People die, get hurt, become impaired. These are in my opinion some of the hardest points in life. We as People have added another hardship that seems to be fading finally. STATUS!!! For centuries this world has put such an importance on who a person is. Meaning what there last name is or where they came from or who raised them or what they own. The world has focused on things in a way that makes little sense. It is true that the people around us define who we become as much as the things we experience. But it is us as individuals that perceive life’s lessons and that perception is what builds us. I like to think that many countries are leaving the STATUS factor in history. I am still trying to experience this world farther and haven’t spent enough time abroad to know. What I am witnessing here in the States is that we have stumbled again on a movement trying to destroy STATUS. Along the way we have fought this battle. We created Unions so that any person would be treated fairly in the work place. Now those are being dismantled. The hippies of the ’60s tried to argue that “Love is the answer.” I think we have learned that is the case but tend to love what we know without accepting what we don’t know. A great King lead a movement that changed the views of the world about race. We have fought for women’s rights. Leading the world in these notions that all people are created equal. There have been so many great accomplishments that we have undertaken yet we still have this strange desire to have STATUS. To be that person that is admired by everyone. To be the one that all think is the best. We work consistently to gather material belongings. To prove that we have more, or did something better, or know a better system. Meaning we must be better. Fighting for a life that isn’t fulfilling while we abandon the parts of Life we say we are living for. I have found a new reality that has been around for decades but is now starting to find mainstream movement. MINIMALISM!!! It’s grabbing hold. We are starting to see worth in not having, but experiencing. Not being bogged down so we are free to move and see this world. The Tiny house movement and RV living, my favorite the Vanlife, allow people freedoms that we haven’t had while being bogged down with the American dream. No longer do we want white picket fences. No longer do we want a plot to grow old on. No longer do we want to own others and the world. We have become a society that wants to wander and see and create and experience what life has to offer. We have info at our fingertips literally. We have the ability to find whatever, wherever and have it anywhere. So life has changed and with it another discrimination has a chance to fade away. People that don’t understand see the new Hippies as a confused people. How can they want less. How can they want to be homeless or live in such a small way. Where do they keep the important things much less the day to day necessities. The truth is with less everything becomes less. There are fewer necessities, fewer responsibilities leading to less stress and a greater experience. With less I’m finding more chances for experience. More ability to give my children life instead of things. I live both lives currently. While I struggle to hold onto the dream I am living out of a van. I leave my family in my home bogged down with STATUS while I travel for work and my life becomes entirely simple. Don’t misunderstand me. It’s not easy just simple. Suddenly what I need is clear. It’s not confused as much with what I want. In fact what I used to want I no longer do. To the point I hope my children aren’t plagued with the desire of STATUS. Instead I want them to have more, live more, help more, and become a better part of this society. By having less. I hope they become the example of a better world. STATUS FREE 
PERK 8 

In a van STATUS is lost and life becomes reality. 

The Reflection 

It’s been over a year now since I bought my class B Van. Best decision I’ve ever made. Well, next to my family. Sure beats sleeping in the Pontiac Grand Am. Truth be told though? The Ram Van I built in between was something else. It was mine. My wife and I put our hearts and souls into it. I guess it showed because we put 50,000 miles on it and still sold it for $1,000 more then we had into it. It was hard not having a bathroom though. Especially after some very good jalapeños. So a Class B was bought. It is exactly what you would expect. Completely comfortable. Completely affordable, when your not paying rent. Gives the allure of greatness. Best off all I can be free. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t all rainbows and glitter farts. Especially when you have to empty the tanks. I’ll tell ya that glitter builds up and turns to something entirely different. I think the best by far has been the memories. Having a fridge I decided to get crazy. I started buying Magnets. That’s right little tokens of my travels. So I can reflect on the last year. Mexico, Canada, Yellowstone NP, Glacier NP, Yosemite NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Banff NP, Jasper NP, Lassen NP, Grand Teton NP, Crater Lake NP. Catalina Island. Ok the island and Mexico I technically took a boat. A Big boat but the Van brought us to the port and after… Up the Pacific Coast from L.A. through Big Sur to San Francisco. To name a few. It’s been an incredible ride and not just because the seats are soft and squishy like me. My stress has dropped dramatically. I know longer wonder so much about what motel is going to gouge my eyeballs out with $$$ at check out. Or if I was going to bring some crazy bug or sickness home to my family. Now it’s just my own bugs and they already now all about my sickness. The life I’ve lived on and off since I was eighteen finally makes sense. Even my mom sees that it works. In fact she went and a bought a van too. I guess the Gypse soul might travel far in miles but never gets very far from the heart. Keep reading friends. I hope to bring much inspiration and entertainment. For now Good Night. 

Is living in a van worth it?

As all my readers know I own two homes. 1: My sprinter van. It’s an older class b motorhome. 2: My vacation home that my family lives in. It’s tucked into the Utah mountains. You may think this is backwards but in fact I live in the van more then my house. So I refer to my van as my permanent residence. I’m on a kick lately blogging about the Perks of living in a van. 1-6 have been posted. If you are curious go check it out. I’m about to rave about #7… COST!!! Besides the bottom line. Which is simple. Homes across the United States cost well into $200,000. If you want a nice home in a good suburban area with space, a yard, parking and good schools your looking well into the $3-400,000 range. Ok schools might be a stretch for this topic but really good schools mean great neighborhoods. A new top of the line amazing trouble free van. Equipped to handle life is $150,000. I bought a used one. Like most people buy homes. For $27,000. Find a home for that price. I get to choose my neighborhood daily. If I don’t like it tomorrow I move. Let’s face it home loans are for 30 years. Come on folks most marriages don’t last that long anymore. You think your neighbor you’ve never met is a 30 year match. Ok let’s move on to maintenance. Let’s suppose you bought a condo downtown. Your commute is on foot. Your cost is at that $150,000 mark. We will forget the cost of monthly dues. We will call them security, warm and fuzzy, someone else’s problem dues. This year I have repaired my furnace, my entire kitchen from an ice damn, my A/C, sprinklers, planted plants, installed gravel, replaced a water heater. I’m looking at a new roof in the next couple years. In my van I replaced break pads, fuel filters, air filter, battery’s. It’s ten years old. It’s the same age as my house. My furnace is fine. I do need another water heater. Not because this one failed but because it sucks. Ok now compare… I know your smart. It doesn’t. I am in California in a parking lot brake pads are worn to nothing. I’m thinking I am putting money in this again. Then I remember it’s the cheap house. My kid just broke a window. My brake pads $25. My window will be hundreds. I know your are saying a roof on a condo is part of the dues, yes but the water heater isn’t nor is the furnace, A/C or broken window. Now you say where is your yard and space. Well $80 and I got a National Parks pass. Is your yard as big as the Grand Canyon or as cool as Mount Rushmore or as pretty as Zion. If you’re trying to say well I have to stick around for my job. Well do you get the weekends off? Because you don’t have a lawn to mow any more. Go find bliss. I advise anyone thinking about this. If it’s even remotely doable, DO IT!!!Perk 7: cost!!!!!!!

Off again

Hello again. I’ve had some time off of work. Mandatory vacation. I had to use up my vacation time or it would be scheduled for me. I chose fall break because my kids had more time out of school and for the first time in years I was home for Halloween. It was amazing! This has been one of the best falls I’ve enjoyed in years. The colors have been incredible. The weather has been warm for the most part. There have been a few storms. Just enough to remind me that winter is coming. I love the winter so it’s putting a smile on my face. My vacation home sits just into the Utah mountains in a low valley. We get enough snow to play but nothing like the skier infested peaks that surround us. Of course I call it my vacation home because it is where I spend my days away from work. I live in my van while at work. This makes me a “Vandweller” for just over half the year. I consider it full time since I spend more time in the van then my conventional home. As the days fly by and my time at home with my family dwindles to a crisp end. I find myself antsy. I have no desire in going back to work. Don’t get me wrong I love my job but it is a job none the less. I love my home as well but I am a gypse soul. I desire travel, adventure, exploration. I need to see the world around me and being cooped up for days gets me feeling restless. I’m excited to get back in my van and spread my wings. I can’t wait until I retire and get to chose where I take myself. I hope my wife joins me for more adventures at that point. Now she stays at home and takes care of my life while I’m away. I couldn’t do this without her and I appreciate how understanding she is. So tomorrow I will climb back into my tiny home and drive away again. Sacramento California is the destination this time. I hope to see some family that live in the surrounding area but with the long hours I work probably not. I’m so close to so many amazing places while in Sacramento but will not have the time to visit. It’s such a tease. That is why I can’t wait to retire. If I get the chance to find some fun. I will make sure I update my blog and let you all know. Enjoy life friends and keep living or you will start dying. 

The other side. Perk 5

Well it’s been a while since my last blog. Sometimes the “Van Life” can get a little boring. Honestly I’ve had trouble thinking of way to engage my followers. You see the last two months I have been staying in the same spot in the same parking lot at the same motel in the same city, state, country. Its become mundane. Because my job is the reasons I travel I don’t have the luxury most free spirited van dwellers have. I can’t go where I want when I want. I’m lucky in the fact that I have work. A lot of the people I communicate with to learn tricks and tips don’t have steady incomes. Some in fact struggle to eat day to day. I found these people to be an absolute gold mine for info. More then a company involved in my project. I think that if the world spent a little more time talking to the people that are living out of the box they would gather a wealth of info that pertains to all walks, even themselves. For those that have been following my blog from the beginning. You know that I am a product of this life. As a stubborn, entitled young teen I chose to live amongst the people you may walk around daily afraid of what might happen. I chose to live in the depths of darkness. I was intrigued by the pain and hustle of the streets. It took me many years and honestly if it wasn’t for my strong roots and loving family. (How they still loved me I’m not sure) I would have died a long time ago. The fact is most of these people are great! Amazingly smart, hard working, loving and full of life. They understand that giving is more important then receiving. That is why the free forums and social media pages exist. All the free you tube videos you watch amazed that no matter what, someone was kind enough to tell you how to do what you need for free. I can only hope as our world transfers from the Industrial Age to the communication age we learn to love more as these people are paving the way to life lived not wasted. The next product you need tested or reviewed find someone who really needs it not a journalist but a real living person in need. Give them what you have. Let them use it. Give you advise on tweaking it for real working situations and let them tell you how to make it better. A good journalist can take all that and right your story later. Van Life perk 5: you will engage with people you never thought of before. And will be blessed like never before.

Van life perk 3

If you have read my other stories you know that I live in my van about 20 days a month. Some more, some less. Lately I have been leaving my van all alone in Northern California while a couple of co-workers give me a ride to and from my “vacation home” where my family lives. It saves quite a bit of money on gas and maintenance for sure but takes a major part of “Vandwelling” out of the equation. Sure my room is mine and comfortable while I’m on the road. It’s mobile so I can still choose to have or not have neighbors. But the adventure of the drive and what can be seen on the way has been eliminated recently. I usually try to find a new route. A new place to stop and watch the sun rise while I wake up. A new view of something or somewhere I have never seen before. In a van any old parking spot can do but I’m always looking for that EPIC spot I’ve never seen before. National Parks are always a good bet. Sometimes it’s the same spot and one of Gods creatures walk by or stop to play. That can be even better. I’m excited to be home in my van again. Although I do miss the adventure part of my van life, I will be missing my family more. I think one more round trip without my “View Finder” (the name I gave my van) next week will be tough but worth the chance to make my family’s life amazing. Fall has sprung and I am missing the colors. Luckily my wife is beautiful enough to make up for everything I miss. As soon as I get my eyes on her again.
Perk 3. In a van adventure can happen at the drop of a hat when life becomes to mundane.