A van, down by the river

“Down by the river … I parked my Chevy. …”

You (OK, I) might have been thinking to yourself (or myself): “Man, a van, down by the river. That would be the thing right about now. Fresh air, solitude, no cootie-carrying COVID Charlies popping in and out, sneezing on everything. Get tired of this place, move to that place. Living the dream, baby.”

Not so much, it seems. Kylie Mohr chatted up a few van-life types and found that this livin’ off the road is gettin’ kinda old given current conditions.

Says full-time van-lifer Matthew Tufts:

“While thinking I’m living quite independently, I’m actually reliant on far more public places than the person with a home who fulfills a lot of those little daily tasks and activities from their residence. It sounds idyllic to weather this storm in rural locales and on the road, as if mobile living makes you immune to the issues currently plaguing most of society. But in reality, living on the road isn’t in the best interest of the greater population. …”

Happily, as in other corners of society, the nomads are taking care of each other, providing parking spaces, spare rooms, even apartments. Says one good Samaritan, Aileen Gardner:

“I definitely feel like we had a responsibility to take care of the people who are currently living on the road. The van-life community is honestly half the reason why people do van life. We take care of each other.”

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25 Responses to “A van, down by the river”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Cripple Creek! Man that song has a great groove. If you listen to that and your foot doesn’t start tapping and shoulders start swaying, you better check your pulse.

    Our old house had a RV gate and 30 amp hookup. Here in Wrinklehaven, RVs are not allowed.

  2. SAO' Says:

    Probably says more about me than them, but for whatever reason, I keep running into folks who are fed up, aren’t going to take it any more, and who check out. Some have sold everything and moved to Hawaii. (Some … I think I know at least a dozen.) Some to Central America. (Maybe half a dozen.) And some sold everything and bought an RV.

    Without exception, guess where every single one of them wound up after about a year?

    Oddly, the folks I know who said, chuck it, and moved to Alaska pretty much stayed up there. But they were mostly running from the law, so not sure they count in the same category.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hard to balance romance and reality on The Great Teeter-Totter of Life Its Ownself.

      You think you’re shedding complications when you put wheels on your house, but actually you’re just trading the ones you have for some new ones. Who wants to drive a Greydog everywhere, and who wants to live full time in anything much smaller? Batteries and fluid tanks and where and how do I park this sumbitch and holy hell is that black ice up ahead on the downside of Wolf Creek Pass o Lawdy Sweet Jeebus hep me hep me hep me.

  3. carl duellman Says:

    i had a 1970 vw van that was set up for camping but didn’t run. it was good for taking naps in the garage. when i finally got it running my gf made me sell it for reasons that still make my stomach hurt. now i have a toyota sienna that is much more better than the pos vw. i’ve got a bed i can put in it which i’ve used a few times. as much as it is appealing to just run away, i doubt i could live in a van for very long. it’s fun to think about though. i just watch foresty forest on youtube to get my vanlife fix.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeh, I’m not organized enough for van life. You should see the Subaru after a week of tent camping. I’m lucky if I can find the steering wheel.

      I’ve thought about a Sienna or Honda Odyssey but that would just exacerbate my organizational issues. More space, more shit.

  4. Shawn in the Gorge Says:

    Heck I have a hard time sleeping by myself on a queen size bed so there’s no way I could adapt to living indeterminently in a domicile as small as a van or small bus. Besides I like my stuff. I suppose if I were to buy a piece of land in a location where building permits are not required or are minimal (Alaska outside of the reach of the city limits), then I could see building a pole barn and parking my van, bus, etc. under it and stretching out a bit more. I’d also need some hot water so either a solar shower setup or a snorkel stove hot tub would be a requirement. Oh yeah…, and an ice machine like in the Mosquito Coast (just kidding). As for the Alaska living thing, two points make doing this “rough”: the frikken cold weather and those goddam mosquitos. Alaska is not a paradise, it is a tough adventure to experience with preparation and wisdom.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I don’t even like driving all that much anymore. Not even in an itty-bitty Subie Furster with almost no blind spots and OK gas mileage. I think the motoring around in even a smallish deal like the Mercedes Weekender — especially with those tiny mirrors — would give me the ya-yas.

      And of course the organizational issues remain. It would look like a very expensive hobo boxcar in five to seven working days.

  5. khal spencer Says:

    Holy jeebus. Moving from the 2100 sq foot house in Bombtown to the 1250 sq foot house in Fanta Se seemed to me like moving into an RV. Its been a painful transition.

    My better half tried to talk us into buying a used RV from a friend who was really old and didn’t want to do the road trips any more. It was a custom job, a really nice one, I think class C, built on a big F series Ford pickup body. Got 8-9 mpg with a V-8 half the size of a small car. I thought about it and said “you know, for the 20k he wants for it, the storage in town, and all the upkeep, insurance, and gas money, we could rent a lot of really nice hotel rooms plus, drive a reasonable car rather than pilot a behemoth and oh, darling, are you willing to share the driving?”.

    That was that.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      That’s the winning card right there. How many $200-a-night motels add up to one RV? For the price of a Mercedes Weekender you could spend a year in the Fanta Se Hilton, if that’s your idea of a good time.

      And nobody ever wrecked a motel room (unless they’re Hunter S. Thompson or Van Halen or some shit).

      • khal spencer Says:

        Yep. And you pay someone to clean the toilet rather than having to drive up to one of those unmentionables and hook up the big hose.

        Not to mention, when I see those RV parks out this way all I can think of is the Duck Dynasty. Hey Maw, hold my coffee cup and pass the shotgun.

  6. John A Levy Says:

    I hauled my late mother-in-laws 25 foot travel trailer from Phoenix to Kalispell Montana 3 times and back. the conveinence does not make up for the time and fuel wasted. If I was going to spend 3 or 4 months in the southwest for the winter maybe just maybe a trailer or van would be worth it. Other wise they are like boats ” a hole in the water you throw money into.” The time maintaining those suckers is time you lose in life.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Fo’ troo. My little 1978 Toyota Chinook was a hole into the road into which I threw money. The purchase provided more proof (as if any were needed) that I would never be smart.

      • Tim Walls Says:

        Gentle people, I am astounded by the wisdom I’ve seen here. All pitfalls remembered and foreseen here have been experienced by me, made more complex by a dog, a cat, and a wife who did not want to participate in the ‘adventure’. How could so many things disappear so fast in such a small space?

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