Monday, October 4, 2010

Some product reviews and things I use that go anywhere

Okay so I am wintering like a grizzly bear at the moment. I had 3 days off of work and decided to just chill in my apartment watching movies, playing with the cat and thinking. I love to travel but there are times when sitting back and doing nothing is good as well. I was thinking on my drive home from work on Friday about the things I needed to do, and got home.... there wasn't much to do as far as chores.

Let me elaborate. In June 2009 I decided to finish the downsize process to go on the road. In Oct 2009, that process finished and for over a year now, I haven't owned a conventional bed or dresser. This was due to several moves I had made and moving was not enjoyable. So by owning less knick nacks and clutter, I actually can make about 5 trips to the van and we are packed up and ready to go. Now after van dwelling on a part time and then full time basis for the past 6 months, I can fit everything I own in the back of the mini van with room to spare. Now granted before the downsize, I didn't choose to own heavy hard to move furniture but I had LOTS of clothes and childhood memory items that I finally took a picture of and donated to someone else I knew would care and enjoy them as I did for many years.

And of course the old van died and so I have been in an apartment (cheap nice and no complaints for the moment lol) for the past few weeks. Winter is coming and the new van is not going to work as a full time home so I have to be realistic although my stuff still fits, its easy to pack and it works for those trips away... I am glad when I chose gear for the van, I chose gear that would be good for visiting people, for van dwelling and camping/backpacking.

So the beauty of this lifestyle:
  I realized on the drive home on Friday there would be no cleaning needed aside from the litter box and a few dishes because laundry was done during the week, bills are automatically deducted and I do most of my cooking on one burner or the microwave so little mess to speak of. I love simplicity, I can clean and keep in that way in under 10 minutes a day. It used to take me days to dust and clean and get everything done when I first had the house and after the downsize 2 hours with mopping included. Life is too short to spend it cleaning constantly and I use to be very lazy about cleaning as I went so Friday came and it was a bear. Life in a van will teach you to stay organized, clean up as you go and find multiple uses for the things you do have as well as staying away from getting more stuff. If something comes in something goes out.

With that thought, I didn't want to buy more stuff to furnish the apt as said previously so I just simply leave my sleeping bag, mat, pillow bundled in the van as well as clothes for the day, coleman one burner stove and porti potty. So here are my list of portable items that are absolutely priceless for travel. Some of which I would pack for a trip to go on a flight.

My wal mart Straight Talk cell phone is priceless. I can check my email, surf the basics of google, check maps, make calls and take simple pics. Its not high end like the android and similar services but I pay 30 or 45 dollars a month without a contract. Its simple, gives me talk, text, 911 access, info access and the internet when needed. You can't watch youtube videos but it does work on verizons network so I get good service coverage for the domestic US. I get my service cards from wal mart although you can get them online or have it deducted from your credit card (which I don't have or use).

Phone pictured is from This is the Samsung LG 620G which is what I have. I will be upgrading soon to the Samsung T401G as I want a qwerty keyboard. Its simple and nice.

Camera, my 8.1 megapixel camera from Canon and my 12.1 camera also from Canon are my friends. My cell phone offers a reasonable useage as well especially for wireless uploads. The 8.1 has a powerful zoom and focus. It does a good job with light as well and its quick. The 12.1 is nice for still shots and details but the flash is a little slower than I would prefer. Both are sturdy offering decent battery life. Both store pics on a SD card. I used them for my summer wildlife adventures as well as pet photos for the adventurous ones.

And finally my computer which is decent but its a desktop and time for an upgrade. I am selling my desktop for a laptop soon. Its good for pics storage and music but I store most of that on flash drives and a backup harddrive that could easily move to a laptop. I do extensive work on publisher, dreamweaver, frontpage and photoshop so thats the lull in finding a laptop. I need one that is powerful enough to handle the beefy programs, can handle some gaming and has multiple outlets for USB as well as wifi and bluetooth capable.  I have considered getting a mini processor and netbook or a powerful laptop with decent battery life and a smaller 12V computer. There are some options on the table and I will share those as I get going.

My computer gives me cheap communication, banking, website, research and maps. As a person, I  value my time on earth and sifting through several guide books, traveling the entire newspaper in each town for one section, and visiting the post office or bank constantly doesn't seem a good use of time. So I methodically can do all of the above in about an hour once or twice a week.

There are those who boondock without a computer and it works for them, those who take an arsenal and those of us who are somewhere down the middle. For some vandwelling and being mobile is merely sleeping in the van. For me, its an extension of my home and should do everything I can do at home. Its meant to have the entertainment, cooking, toileting and sleeping options with reasonable comfort and plan B. So as I look at what I do have, I have come to realize in my time in the van my gadgets could be better streamlined, backed up and more energy efficient. It is my eventual goal to go agency in my career field and work 9 months and winter or travel for the other 3.

I am not a monk and as much as I live a somewhat Spartan lifestyle in the way of belongings, it doesn't mean trying to go crazy. So lets elaborate.
Entertainment- computer for music, reading, research ect as mentioned above. Small enough to travel and big enough to do practical applications. On a rainy day, movies and music are needed. Music for working out and reading because its fun. I used to have TONS of books but now I read a few and trade them in and do most of my reading online in the way of blogs and research. Plus these items pay for themselves as going to the movies and plays is expensive. Also, I play cello and am learning guitar. My flash drive holds lots of songs, how toos, and exercises.

Cooking - going out to eat is expensive and time consuming. I would rather cook at "home" with minimal prep time and max flavor. One drawer in a plastic 3 drawer bin from wal mart holds the essentials plus a camping kit in my rucksack. I also have a 12V refrigerator for drinks and 5 day cooler for food.
Toileting: well since I lack plumbing, my thetford porti potty is priceless.

Sleeping- some make a bed platform which I have considered for the storage underneath but I lose so much useable floor space for everything else like playing the cello or walking down the aisle way in the day ect. So my tri fold bed works great. It also is great for transfering from the apt to the van and friends as I come with my own sleeping arrangement. Its quick, out of the way and I know where its been.

Clothing, a month of under clothes and 1 week warm weather and 1 week cold weather works great. 2 duffles hold all my clothes with 2 suits for nice occasions as well stored either in the closet or the hook in the van.

Perhaps the key to simplicity is to have one set of things that can move with you as needed and not one setup for house, one for van, one for this and that, it becomes clutter. Its working well here and I have LOTS of floor space in my apartment.
And with so few things I really enjoy my non dusty living (major allergy to dust) quick clean, time to relax and enjoy life and room to move with the smell of incense and pretty art (lightweight and some on a digital photo holder). Afterall, a clean environment leads to a free mind that can explore and can be inspired.

No comments:

Post a Comment