Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Minimalism again

What is minimalism? I wrote the below on another blog in answer to this very question.
Minimalism is the art of freeing oneself from the connection of “things” as happiness. Things should be the tools we use in “what” makes us happy. Not clutter nor dust nor some structure that ties us down to become an excuse for not living out our dreams. Minimalism is letting go of the past to make room for the future, letting go of the ties that block dreams from becoming reality. Its a giant metaphor for the opposite of excuses, when we stop saying, I can’t but start saying I CAN, the true mantra of success and those that will be remembered not for what they owned but what lessons they left behind.

And so I am getting down to the last days before I leave the rental room behind. I decided to place a cat with a friend where I can visit her and she can have the room to run and stability she desires. My other girl is more laid back. I realized stealth, her dominance and general activity level weren't going to work in the van. Eventually, I might bring in a second kitten that can grow up on the road and learn from my older girl once I achieve full financial stability and more space. Its a sad part but I am thinking of her happiness as well. So now its just me and my black girl. And even with not so many belongings its still overwhelming but thats soon over. I spent 20 + years getting stuff and over 2 years getting rid of it.
Word of advice, planning on downsizing, start early it takes far longer than you think both physically and emotionally.

And with that I have been going through more things, my entire past and thinking on the future. Its my goal to eventually have a small plot of land that I can have a small toy hauler (with minimal shower/portable toilet, stove/sink, bed and small office) 4 wheel drive vehicle/daily driver (small homemade camper) and van (main camper van). Add a scooter and mountain bike, life is good.

Then if I need to move my home, 4 WD hauls toy hauler w/ motorcycle and mountain bike. Bigger van (or current mini van) is mostly a guest house and storage and backup in case something happens to vehicle #1.

I have learned there are two things that need backups, vehicles and laptops. Vehicles because when you don't have a home base and your miles from someone to stay with someone and it happens to break down, you are now screwed. Ask me recently how I know (back running for now).

So the plan: Use van for backup and storage (food extras, spare bed ect) once second vehicle is added.

Buy an Element with Ursa Minor Conversion or similar 4x4 vehicle with good layout for SUV camper conversion and pop top (MUST HAVE for standing up and bed on top).

Buy a toy hauler trailer (small) that can be hauled by both 4WD and van for those conventional with hookups campground/race track visits with the amenities of home and portable garage (tools, scooter and bike). Livin Lite makes the best so far. And the pop out extensions are great for extra beds if needed and don't have to be used if I don't want too.

So what I have learned from the van:
All that room originally planned in the layout, still feels cluttered. What is next to nothing in even a closet is all of a van.
Plan the bed to be permanent and multi use, plastic tubs and duffel bags or anything foldable or collapsable is my best friend.
Living with a cat in a back of a van is interesting and will make for velcro kitty and a serious look at reorganizing my entire life. But I don't regret it.
Having a roof vent is mandatory as well as enough entertainment and power.
Some say living in a van is just sleeping in it. NOT TRUE!!! You will still need to eat, stay clean, sleep, change clothes, have a place for dirty clothes, have a potty and tools to accomplish this. You will want to have entertainment and toys and tools to make the ride more comfortable.
Having pets requires some serious alterations. Roof vent is mandatory. Don't plan on seeing movies or doing things in the heat of the day.
Plan on Plan B and have a backup vehicle with a roof vent as all else can be added.
Coolers are great, fridges require being level. Too much work.
My work schedule doesn't have to be as full, expenses are cheaper and during warm weather, I don't get out much to places the cat can't go. Winter is easy.
Overall, great experience minus the laundry mats.
Invest in a quality laptop and backup lots. Its everything entertainment, TV/computer/internet/music/movies and more.
Gas mileage matters less and wind drag and weight are more. But standing up is mandatory for me but a high top with wind drag is a big no go. The element should at least during the day at parks allow for easier movement and provide lots of ventilation.
Trailers are a great amenity for parking in one spot for a while but horrid for long term travel or getting through a drive through.
Being able to parkk, fit in and not be rousted is priceless.
Worrying becomes less the more you do it.
So for now finish going through stuff (when you tape off the van in a room, suddenly you needed becomes don't want) and buy element is project one.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bed updates and other construction thoughts

It is finally getting down to summers end, with all its heat and need for a rental room. Of course then comes the fun of finding places to park that I will be able to get out of and still not be in the way of snow plows but one issue at a time. The van is in the shop today but now having spent quite a bit of time in it, I can better assess my needs. I am 6 months into planning for vanning and 2 months into actually being mostly a full timer. Still spend about 10 percent of my time in the rental room due to heat but that will change eventually.

Its a balance between making sure I am prepared and have the financial backing for some traveling and making sure the van is a good home. I don't see a new van right now so for now, for the next year or so, I am looking at life in my minivan. I want to be comfortable and settled, as well as have all my belongings with me in the van and my cats be happy AND being organized. Finding hookups or not (stealth and minimal expense are my ultimate goals) and other cargo options is next but one thing at a time.

Here is another thought: I am a minimalist for sure, and took that design to my van for the past 6 months, not wanting to cut into the van to bolt things down, wanting to be able to take everything out in an instant and still having the comforts of home. I am not a good builder on my own so I am looking at conventional RV and boat stuff. Its been like an extended camping trip for the past 2 months which is fine if I were camping, but I am living and that means a little more comfort. Plus sides of a mini van, everyone has one and they are roomy with proper design.

So as I have been working on getting together my blueprints for the bed frame that will come out when the van is retired along with the installation of the roof vent, I have come to the conclusion that time and expense make it more worth while to get a "jackknife" bed like used in travel trailers. Its a couch that slides out to a bed. This gives me the ability to have both a sitting area and and a middle "hallway" in the van and a simple slide out at night which means a bigger bed (something important to me). I can then leave the bottom open for storage.

Along that notion, a bedside organizer, shelving and organizers are key. more to come...