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. 

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. 

New friends in many places. 

     With all of the traveling I do and all the trouble I deal with finding places to park. I decided to try out a website I have been watching for the last three months called Boondockers Welcome

     It’s based on the premise that RV owners host other RV owners at no expense. The registration costs $25 a year if you don’t host and $20 a year if you do. Once your signed up you have the opportunity to message, via the site, over 800 hosts throughout the world. Mainly in the United States. 

     Hosts describe what they have available. Parking, size, power, water, sewer, wifi, etc.. they also leave a bit of info so you can see what kind of people they may be. Picture are also available for most host places. 

     A bio is also required for guests so the host can get a feel if they are willing to entertain. 

     Then it’s all about the reviews. Hosts and guest get to build a reputation. The better the host the better discount they can earn for future years membership. The better the guest the more likely you will find a host. 

     I was a bit Leary because I don’t get to choose where I’m going. So I watched the map for a few months to see if it would even work for me. This week I decided that $25 could be spent in worse ways, so I took the plunge. 

     I Contacted the nearest host to my work site, 14 miles away. She ended up being an elderly lady that has a bit of property and a lot of life lived to share. It took about 24 hrs for her to respond and I had a place to park including power and water. To my surprise after arrival I was also offered WIFI at no expense. That wasn’t in the bio. 

        If it doesn’t work out the rest of the year, I’m sure this week will be worth the entire $25 fee alone. Thank you Boondockers Welcome and thank you to my knew friend Lois. 

The Struggle Can Be Real

When a person decides to live in a vehicle life can be turned upside down in an instant. There are so many things that can derail the sweet harmonic balance that life has when it’s simple. Like a mechanical failure. It’s nice that things are typically cheaper living on the road. If you choose the right vehicle. A breakdown will ultimately handicap you though. I am working in Los Angles California and my van has become ill. Sprinter owners listen up this article is for you. CHANGE THE HARMONIC BALLANCER PULLEY BEFORE 100,000 miles. My rig has 111,000 and I hear a little vibration under the hood. Now I’m a pretty crappy mechanic but I can and will turn wrenches a lot more than I want to admit. So I decide since my serpentine belt is wearing a bit I will change it and and check the pulleys to find which is vibrating. My guess is the idler pulley. I open the hood and it’s as tight as I remember. I can’t really see in well enough to figure out how to use the tensioner pulley. I know it’s a lot of pulling going on right now. If your not getting it bare with me. So after about an hour of talking with a complete stranger. Offering advise for no reason. I decide I gotta go. So I close the hood and leave the O’rileys auto parts store. New belt in the back instead of spinning in delight under my hood. In LA it’s illegal to live in your vehicle. Ya you can pitch a tent on the sidewalk but can’t live in your car, go figure. So I’m staying at a Camping World parking lot under my Good Sam membership about 18 miles (1 hour) from the job site. When I arrive at my pavement paradise I open the hood again and get some chain lube that I keep on hand for my Motorcycle chain. I was missing the bike pretty bad but glad to have the lube. I crawl under the motor and start spraying. The noise goes away WHALA. It’s a pulley for sure. Ok, good, easy fix. So I create an amazing meal and find some sleep hidden in the bed I keep inside the van. I get up in the morning, drive to work. No noise, awesome. I watch some You Tube and find out I need a tool (torques wrench) for the tensioner pulley. So after work back to O’rileys I go, buy the tool and as easy as landing on the moon the belt is off. Whew now for the squeaky wheel. As I say “the squeaky wheel gets… replaced!” But they are all great. I can’t check the Harmonic pulley though because it’s attached directly to the motor. So I wiggle and turn but the pulley doesn’t. So without the belt on I start the motor. To my surprise the rattle is still there CRAP! So it may not be a pulley. Now I’m thinking to my self am I going crazy? Has it always sounded like this? Am I just now noticing it? I climb under again and spray a real lubricating penetration spray on the harmonic pulley. It goes quite. Ok I flip the new belt on and ya baby back in business. Off to the parking lot of campers I go. Luckily that sleep was still hiding under my pillow. I woke, drove to work and the rattle was back. So Google I go. To read horror story after horror story of $6,000-$10,000 repair bills if this noisy pulley falls off. I guess it’s a for sure thing too. As well as a pretty good story about a guy that knew a lot more then me trying to change it himself on the road. Well needless to say I didn’t leave work that night. In fact I stayed for 3 more days working and trying to find a shop, $387 labor, the part $243, a tow $587 for 13 miles. WHAT! No way. So I looked into options. AAA wanted around $200 for 2 tows a year at 200 miles. My insurance doesn’t provide towing on the RV policy. Good to know now. Neither does the Verizon roadside assistance I have. So I called my Good Sam peeps. They told me that if I pay $89 for a new member deal I could get unlimited tows for unlimited miles to the nearest shop plus lockout, gas, tire, and road side mechanic. And it would be active in 24hrs from payment. Well cool I said while I busted out the crowbar and went to town on my wallet slipping my debit card out again. I had to find sleep two more nights anyway (my day job was not done). I was hoping that sleep was still hiding in my covers. As laid my self down to rest I found it in plenty. So now I get to leave my humble home to some strangers in a wild city while they muck around her inner workings. I hope they treat her with respect as she is a wonderful home. Luckily I get the opportunity to fly off to my vacation home and see my loving family while my home is being repaired. If I was a man living in his van at all times I can’t imagine where else this story would go from here. I hope it’s the end of this one so I bid you farewell and sleep tight. 

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. 

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!!!!!!!

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.

Weed at the base of Mt. Shasta. 

 My work sent me to an interesting little town in Northern California. At the base of Mt Shasta sits Weed. It is 54 miles south of the Oregon border on hwy 97 or 50 miles on I-5. All over the town are little gift shops displaying signs that read “got weed?” And “I love weed.” Every store has souvenirs and t-shirts displaying the catchy phrases. Turns out it’s a Boondocking haven. Free camping all over. Vandwellers dwelling everywhere. Hippies and Punks literally crawling out of the wood works. Funny thing I never did see any weed. Granted I didn’t look to hard and I’m sure it’s readily available if you need to fix your headache or Glaucoma. What I did find on the other hand was incredible. The Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture. This is a non-profit Organization that is preserving our nations rail history in a way I’ve never witnessed. Sure they have cabooses, signals, passenger cars and box cars. Yes they are old! Some dating back to 1888. They are preserving them and transforming them into library’s, chill spaces, stages and even homes. They have a great shop, garden, a green house, a massive out door kitchen and a private pond from a nearby natural spring. They do great things to keep them selves afloat not making any money for profit. Using donations from places like Indiegogo.com They continually try to put all funds into the center. So they recycle and reuse there waste. Even the human waste or poop. They have a comlplicated system of composting that I have seen in other communities during my travels. But the Materials of the past aren’t the only thing they are trying to preserve. The culture that the Rail industry created through history is also important to these folks. The Hobo style of living. Jumping on a train just to see where it will take you. The ins and outs of living not to work but to experience. Their library is full of books on this topic. And if you’ve ever wondered where the hobos went. Go to the little town of Weed and experience some real American culture.