About chelsearoberson

adventurer and photographer.

a new project.

For those that might still have this blog in a feed generator or check it every once in a while, I figured I’d post a quick update on my newest project that you can follow along.

I now live in Colorado and just recently purchased an old ambulance with my boyfriend to convert into a camper. We are set to pick it up this week in Ohio and will be blogging and documenting our travels and projects along the way.

Follow along at: www.campbulance.com

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saying goodbye.

I finally said goodbye to The Beast on Saturday.

In true form and fashion, my last morning with her was a doozy. Included in the last repairs I opted to do before Jade and Leah took possession of her was replacing the transmission pan gasket that had been leaking for quite some time. My neighbor (who also happens to be my landlord’s dad) is a skilled handyman in every sense of the word, and did all the work for me. (I know…I’m spoiled!) The only hiccup is that the van was sitting on a sloped driveway, so filling the transmission fluid up to the correct spot required waiting until I pulled her up onto the road the day J&L came to get her. What could possibly be difficult about that, you ask? Well, leave it to me to choose the wrong spot to fill with transmission fluid. First, it was the power steering fluid. Luckily, it was already full and overflowed immediately, alerting me to the mistake I’d made. Not wanting to chose any more wrong orifices to fill, I called the neighbor to come supervise.

In a blinding moment of equal stupidity, we uncapped the oil tube and poured the transmission fluid (all gallon and a half!) into the oil. It took only a second for the realization to sink in, but we had a chuckle and I texted the girls to tell them of the delay before we flushed the whole system and filled both the oil and transmission tanks with brand new fluids.

My last morning with The Beast wouldn’t have been complete without some mild disaster occurring, so I couldn’t really be upset. Besides…it gave me a few extra minutes with The Beast before her new parents came to get her.

Jade&LeahBeast

Jade&LeahDriving

DrivingAway

Seeing them drive off with her was bittersweet. I was relieved to know that I no longer had to worry about keeping up with the project, but after living in her for a year, I had gotten pretty attached. Knowing I’d gotten to choose the most perfect new owners for her gave me some relief. Had I seen her drive off with anyone else, I might have been led to sob in the fetal position on my bed all day.

It was time to let go. I’ll never forget or regret my time with The Beast. I learned so much about myself and living a minimalistic lifestyle and I couldn’t be more thankful for the perspective it granted me. I’m so excited to see where it takes Jade and Leah on their new adventure.

Jade and Leah said they’ll be starting a blog to document their life with The Beast as well, so whenever they make that happen, I’ll pass the info onto you folks so you can continue to follow the adventures!

Until then, if you’d still like to have some sort of peek into my life, I have a separate photo blog you can follow:

http://chelsearoberson.wordpress.com/

selling the beast.

TheBeastListing

My experience trying to sell The Beast on Craigslist has been fairly unpleasant, to say the least. One guy that called me an idiot and told me she wasn’t worth more than $500 and to call him when I was ready to be reasonable (yeah right). Then there was this creeper who contacted me to tell me I was hot, but then also add that the color scheme of The Beast was horrendous and that he couldn’t really see why I liked it. Some people had no interest in buying the van whatsoever and emailed simply to berate and bully me about nit-picky details regarding it. I was appalled at the sheer amount of people that took the time to email me seemingly only to make me feel bad.

Then there were the flakes. The so-called “very interested” buyers that would bug me and bug me to set up a time to see it only to not show up and never be heard from again.

In the midst of all of this mess of flakes and jerks, there was Leah and Jade. They were some of the first responders to my ad and were not only incredibly excited about The Beast, but very honest and up front about their inability to afford it. They’d hoped that maybe if I still had it later this summer that they might somehow be able to make it happen.

A week or so after receiving that email, I was working on my food truck at a gathering when a nice gal ordered something and then added, “This is kind of a strange question, but are you the girl selling The Beast?” It was Jade. She and Leah had recognized me from my ad and blog, which they’d subsequently found in a quick search after my reply. They gushed about how much they loved the ad and how awesome the van looked, but added again that it was out of their price range.

Fast forward to about a week ago and guess who showed up at the window of the food truck again…good ol’ Jade and Leah! They asked about The Beast again and reiterated their love for it and also their regret that they still couldn’t buy it.

A few days ago I’d finally reached my limit of dealing with the lowlifes that my ad had seemed to attract. I realized that I no longer cared about getting the most money I could out of the sale. The stress of dealing with all the jerks had infiltrated my subconscious to the extent that I’d even started having bad dreams about it. I was over it.

After a few minutes of mulling it over, I decided right then and there that I wanted Jade and Leah to have The Beast. Not only had they been the nicest people I’d dealt with thus far, they’d also been the most excited about my van. I know you can’t always let nostalgia and attachment steer your decisions when selling something of importance, but in this case, I just felt like they were the ones that deserved to get The Beast and I wanted to help make it happen.

I contacted them immediately and cut my price down to something they wouldn’t have to bat an eye at (or so I’d hoped) and waited anxiously for a response. Thankfully, they were as excited about the offer as I’d been to make it, so we set up a time for them to finally come see her in person and finalize all the details.

I feel incredibly lucky that I’m in the position to be selling The Beast to someone I chose instead of the highest bidder. I wanted the person that bought it to have the butterflies that I did when I first saw it and sat inside thinking of all the possibilities, and I was able to find them.

If I can find the time this week, I’ll be finishing up a few minor projects and repairs on The Beast and then Jade and Leah will pick her up. I couldn’t be happier about her new home.

a busted battery and a new parking spot.

Did you know that batteries can blow up? I think I maybe did, but the possibility hadn’t ever really crossed my mind.

Knowing I’d be moving The Beast this week, I went to crank her up and she wouldn’t start. After my experience months ago with letting the battery die and then having a starter that sticks, I’ve been running her about once a week to keep her going and haven’t had a problem…until now.

I popped the hood and pulled my car over to jump start the engine. After I’d hooked it up and got it charging, I glanced over to the deep cycle battery (the one that powers the lights on the inside) and noticed something was off. Upon closer inspection, I realized it had blown up. Pieces of the plastic were strewn about and acid had leaked down around it, corroding anything it had touched.

I just stood there with my mouth gaping open for a while before pulling the connections off and getting the battery out. I never did get the engine to crank, but hooked it up to a trickle charger overnight and kept my fingers crossed. Lucky for me, she started on the first try the next day and I hurriedly got the plumbing system put back together (I’ll definitely have to redo that rush job later) and readied her to move the next day.

I was able to drive The Beast to her new parking spot yesterday and was delighted at how well she handled. I’ve got an issue with the transmission fluid leaking, but it’s a simple fix with a new seal, so I’m not worried. I was going to park it on the property behind where my apartment will be, but due to some unforeseen hazards (gopher holes!), they opted to stick me in the driveway (fine by me…there’s a far less chance I’ll be coated in spiderwebs during my walk from the van to the house now).

(Loulou the road warrior, checking out the scenery on our way to the new parking spot.)

I thought I’d only be spending a few more nights in the van and then transfer into the apartment, but they decided that they’d like to do some pretty major renovations to the studio before it’s ready for human habitation.

This means a few things for me:

  1. I get to live in The Beast longer! (Still not sure what the timeline is on this, but I’m guessing maybe another month or more depending on what they decide to do with the studio.)
  2. I get more time to fix the remaining things I wanted to finish and actually do right before putting The Beast on the market.
  3. I’m going to get to help out in the renovations and learn some cool construction stuff…which is always useful.
  4. I get to live in The Beast longer!

As nice as it will eventually be to live in an apartment and have the creature comforts that come with it, I really am attached to living in a van and had the goal of making it at least a year. As I said, I’m not sure what the exact timeline with the studio being done is, but at this rate, I’m getting very close to that 365 day mark.

Since I’ve been allotted more time in The Beast, I’ll be keeping you posted on the projects I’m going to continue working on and might even do some before/after shots of the studio as well.

*Side Note* If anyone might know of a place I can freely and safely dispose of my busted deep cycle battery, please let me know. I’ve tried three auto shops and none will take it because it’s considered hazardous waste. The closest solution I’ve gotten is taking it to a landfill where I will have to pay upwards of $100 to dispose of it properly. I want to be environmentally friendly, but I can’t afford to pay almost as much as it will cost to replace the battery just to dispose of it.

motorcycle rack for sale.

When I bought The Beast, I also purchased a trailer hitch motorcycle rack to carry my lovely bike Sasha with me on my travels. I can see myself finding it useful somewhere down the line, but right now, it’s just one more thing I won’t be needing, so I’ve decided to put it up for sale. If anyone is in need of something like this and is in the vicinity of San Diego or knows someone who is, please let me know. I’m asking $150 obo.

Here’s the Craigslist ad: http://sandiego.craigslist.org/esd/mcy/3073582949.html

 

back to the grid.

Well friends, I’m sad to announce that my time in The Beast is coming to a close. There are a lot of reasons, but the big ones are that I decided to commit to my new job (meaning staying in San Diego a lot longer than I ever intended), and the backyard I am living in is no longer being made available to me. I also had never intended to just live on the streets in the van and stay in one place…it was always about the traveling aspect. After spending almost a year living in it and never having even trekked up the coast, I can see that it’s time to move on for the moment.

The Beast was the perfect van for full-time van dwelling, and I’ll miss it dearly, but I’ve also decided I am going to put it up for sale. My new job is commission-based and I don’t have a lot of wiggle room right now to store the van (and keep it up and running and probably continue work on it) on top of paying rent. There’s a few more things I need to finish tweeking on it before I hand her over to someone else, but she looks and runs better than ever, and I have high hopes that someone else will love her just as much as I do.

I’ll be moving into a tiny little studio apartment beneath some friends’ house, in which I’m already daunted by the task of filling it up. When all the furniture you own is bolted inside a van, you realize how very little you have to work with as far as filling an apartment goes. I’m thankful for it’s small size and hope to just find a bed and a big comfy chair or love-seat online, but I want to draw the line there. For someone that’s gone down the minimalist path, the idea of having to procure more belongings after having successfully purged most of them is intimidating to say the least.

If any of you knows someone in the Southern California region that might be on the lookout for a van worthy of dwelling in, please feel free to point them in my direction. Until then, I’ll be savoring my last moments in her belly and brainstorming my next big adventure. (I’m thinking I’ll eventually want to do a van conversion from scratch!)

summer in the van.

One of the big debates I’ve had with myself since making the decision to stay in San Diego was what to do about my living situation. I absolutely love living in my van, but one of the agreements when I moved to my current location, was that The Beast and I would be leaving in April. Part of this was so that I wouldn’t overstay my welcome, but the other, and far more important reason, was that it will be getting extremely hot since it’s quite a ways inland from the coast. I’m not concerned for myself regarding the heat since I am gone almost every day for work, but taking into account my cat’s wellbeing is another story. Even with all the windows and vents open and the fact that my van is parked in the shade, I was worried the heat could get to be too much for her.

For a few weeks, I was slowly resigning to the fact that I’d have to give up van-dwelling for a brick-and-mortar apartment…at least for the summer. As much as having unlimited access to a shower sounded tempting to me, I felt like I was somehow giving up or failing. Upon the realization that I might be getting an apartment, an anxiety began to build inside of me. I was worried I’d be tempted to start acquiring stuff again. A couch, a nightstand…some more pots and pans. The more I thought about it, the more distraught and worried I became. Money was also a huge factor, seeing as I haven’t made any in a while as I acquire more experience and slowly work with more and more buyers at my new job.

After accepting my fate and deciding to try to rent a studio below a friend’s home, my boss and his housemate unexpectedly told me that I was welcome to stay as long as I wanted. As a fix for the concern of baking my poor cat Loulou in the summer heat, we’ve been taking her inside the house to get her acclimated to new surroundings and their two pets (a cat named Socks and a dog named Bella). She’s adapted really well and now goes inside the house for “play-dates” with Socks every day while I’m at work. With that problem solved, there isn’t any other reason for me to consider giving up van-dwelling, so I’ve been able to sigh a breath of relief knowing I’m safe and sound in my minimalist lifestyle on wheels for at least a little while longer.

at a standstill.

You’ve probably noticed I haven’t posted in a while. There’s good reason for that…not a lot has been going on with the van as of late. As some of you know, I have multiple jobs. While this keeps things interesting, it also means I sometimes (fairly often) have to work a lot and hop between all of them to keep myself afloat financially.

One of my jobs recently led into a new job opportunity at a yacht brokerage to be a yacht salesperson. Pretty cool, right? Never the one to turn down new and fun opportunities, I accepted immediately and have spent the last month or so transitioning into my new position. The only major downside at the moment is that because it’s a sales job and commission based, I’ve also not been making money at it while I train and learn the ropes.

I know that down the line this will all have been well worth my time and effort, but at the moment, it means that every extra cent I have goes towards gas and basic living needs and not the van. It’s a real shame too, because I’ve just ripped out the water tank to redo the water system and *hopefully* build a hand-pump system in which I manually pump the water from my main tank to a smaller holding tank above the sink and use it as a gravity tank. Sounds fancy, but it should be pretty simple. I hope.

In other news related to my job, I’ve decided (with painstaking deliberation) to stay in San Diego for at least the summer. In short, it’s because this is the first job I’ve ever gotten with real potential for growth. It’s also a job that one doesn’t just “fall” into as I seem to have. Usually, it’s older men with a lot of boating industry experience under their belt. To pass up the opportunity to learn this job and industry and have something far more substantial to put on my resume as well as a possible fall-back job at some point down the line would be pretty irresponsible of me. As much as I’d like to remain a vagabonding free spirit forever, I know well enough that the older I get the harder it will be to come by odd jobs that make ends meet.

Everything is up in the air concerning where my location will be this summer, but once I get that worked out and start selling some boats, work on the van will undoubtedly resume.

Until then, I’m so sorry for the brief hiatus. I’ll do my best to get the water system project going and post photos of that soon.

a life-changing discovery.

I’m not one to tout specific items very often (or at all for that matter), so the fact that I’m writing an entire blog post about one means that I’m truly convinced that this is a magical product.

Given my recent move and subsequent limited shower access, I’ve found only one thing to really bother me when I have to go more than a day or two without…unwashed hair. I have fairly thin hair that’s just short enough not to put in a ponytail, so a day or two without a shower means I’ve got an oily mess of hair sticking up in all directions and absolutely no way to salvage it without the use of a hat or bandana. Unfortunately, I’m not at all a hat or bandana person, so when it’s been without wash for a few days, it’s extremely evident.

To help with this problem, I turned to a generic beauty supply store in search of dry shampoo. (Before someone comments telling me that baby powder works just as well…for me, it doesn’t. I end up looking like I’m wearing a freshly powdered wig of an 18th century royal and smelling like a [freshly diapered] baby’s behind.)

I located the dry shampoo (curiously packaged in an aerosol can), but noticed a bottle right next to it called No-Rinse Shampoo. After examining the bottle thoroughly, I decided to give them both a try and bought one of each, satisfied with the fact that they both cost about the same as a bottle of decent shampoo or conditioner would have anyway.

In a pinch, the dry shampoo will work. I’d say it’s best for those last-minute rushes to get ready when you’ve missed your alarm and haven’t the time to style your hair in any way. I’d argue that it’s more effective than baby powder, but that might just be me. After spraying my hair, it wasn’t oily, but did have a bit of a powdery/product-filled feeling to it. Regardless, I’d feel much better going out in public with this in my hair than not, so I’ll keep it around as a last resort

.

Now let’s talk about this No-Rinse Shampoo. This stuff is pure magic in a bottle. It’s really watery, so you just apply it to your hair until it’s soaked through…lather it up a bit…then towel off as if you’ve gone through your normal shampoo/condition/rinse procedure in the shower. I blow-dried my hair afterward, and despite it feeling a bit like I had some product in my hair (similar to that feeling after you’ve gotten a haircut and they insist on putting something in your hair despite your arguments that you don’t use it), I felt absolutely wonderful afterwards. I’ve used it twice, but I’m still managing to shower often enough not to warrant full dependency on it quite yet. However, I’m quite certain it will come in handy when I’m on the road this summer.