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

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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.

an update.

I’ve been meaning to update my blog for a while, but upon some urging by a few folks, I’m finally getting around to it. I’ll try to be better about keeping up with it even when nothing too exciting is going on at the moment.

Things have been going well in the van, despite working so much lately that I haven’t had a whole lot of time to make much progress on all the projects looming. I can’t complain though, because this time last year, both my jobs experienced a huge slump and I was strapped for cash in the worst way. It’s been a wonderful blessing to find myself overwhelmed by the amount of work I’m getting instead of the other way around.

We recently went through a really cold spell here in San Diego, with nighttime temperatures dropping well below freezing for about five consecutive nights. This prompted me to purchase a sleeping bag rated for 20 degrees F. It was the best purchase I’ve made in a while. Not only has it kept me warm at night, but Loulou absolutely adores it and I find her curled up inside it during the day when it’s a bit chillier as well.

I took a six day trip up to Canada in November and came home to a solid corner of my mattress soaked through after we got some crazy rainstorms while I was gone. After inspecting the windows around the van, I realized the sealant on all of them was well beyond its expiration and knew I’d need to redo that before the next storms rolled in. Lucky for me, I had one day off before they started again, so I went about resealing them in preparation. Due to the lack of daylight and dawdling just a bit too much, I rushed through the job and will probably want to go back at some point and redo it so it’s cleaner, but they’re definitely sealed now and the past two days of rain haven’t touched the inside of the van.

I think the thing I’ve discovered that I hate the most about living in the van is getting up on a particularly cold morning. Living in a metal casing with a floor made of plywood topped with laminate makes for some painfully cold first steps in the morning. A few folks have asked how cold it gets in the van at night and I usually just compare it to camping in a tent. The Beast keeps out the wind and rain, but the temperatures drop just as low as the outside, so seeing my breath is a common occurrence.

Now that I’m writing this update, I realize there’s quite a few other things I can add in, but I’ll save those for some followup posts over the next few days.

the plan.

I get asked what my long-term plan for living in the van is on a regular basis. As with most aspects of my life, I’ve got all sorts of wonderful over-the-top ideas and thoughts as to what those plans will be, but I certainly can’t predict which of those will actually come to fruition.

Until I’d picked The Beast up with a clean bill of health from her last visit to the mechanic a little over a week ago, I wasn’t entirely sure she’d ever even make it out of Southern California. Luckily, that wasn’t the case, so I can [hopefully] assume that some form of the plans I’m about to outline in this post will happen in the not-too-distant future.

I like to move. A lot. Since graduating college in the spring of 2007, I’ve lived in Greece, Shepherdstown WV, Philadelphia PA, Columbia MD and Imperial Beach, CA. Since moving to Imperial Beach in 2010, I’ve lived in a total of six different places (this includes The Beast). If I stay settled too long, I’m known to get extremely anxious and unhappy.

Unfortunately, my insatiable desire to constantly move is a very expensive habit, so it only made sense to graduate to a house with wheels to avoid the hefty relocation costs I was incurring on a regular basis.

My initial plans were as follows:

  1. Decide to finally buy a camper van.
  2. Figure out where to park said camper van if I were to buy one.
  3. Find camper van.
  4. Buy camper van.
  5. Live in camper van.
  6. Eventually drive camper van to some new location (preferably by a river) and live in it there.

Planning too far in advance usually means I’m setting myself and everyone else up for exhausting amounts of revisions, so I tend to avoid long-term thinking. The only safe bet on me following through with my plans is to wait until I’ve actually put them in motion…until that point, I can guarantee nothing. Even then I can derail quite easily from my path and find a new direction without warning. That being said, I do have a few ideas for what I’d like to happen in the next year with The Beast…

  • Save money and spend the winter in San Diego
  • Leave no earlier than the spring to drive up the coast
  • Take as long as I’d like working my way up the coast and WWOOF along the way
  • End up in Portland and stay for a while on some land recently purchased by a couple friends of mine while I find a job to work and save some more money
  • Leave at some point
  • WWOOF some more while I enjoy driving around the country…maybe hit up Canada for while and see where The Beast came from (have I mentioned she’s Canadian?)

[For those of you unfamiliar with WWOOFing…it’s World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It’s an organization that you can join for a small yearly fee and then have access to a network of organic farms around the world that accept seasonal volunteers and apprentices. Most of the farms provide some sort of work exchange situation where you can either camp on the property or they provide rooms for you to stay in while you work on the farm. Though it’s usually volunteer, some farms will even provide a monetary stipend. Free food is almost always included in the trade, but each situation varies from farm to farm.]

I’ve wanted to do this for years, but having a cat limits my ability to camp or stay in spare rooms and dorm-style settings with other people. Now that I have The Beast, I can just park it on the property that I’m WWOOFing on and not have to worry about the details of where my cat will stay.

So there’s “the plan” in all of it’s open-ended and revision-ready glory. We’ll see how the next few months and year pans out, but hopefully I’ll be able to revisit this list later and check at least a few things off as completed.

the current setup.

Yesterday marked my full-time transition into living in The Beast. After a few hectic days of moving/loading/organizing, I emptied the room at my current house, handed the keys  over to my landlord and (with a sigh of relief that she started on the first try) drove off in my van. I drove exactly one mile and parked it happily in the backyard of a friend of mine that recently purchased a house with an ideal spot to park my van.

It all started when I decided making my dream of living in a van was something that needed to be done sooner than later. I knew I wouldn’t want or be able to immediately hit the road due to financial reasons and wanting to make sure whatever vehicle I got was in road-ready condition, so I’d need a place to keep it until then.

Enter J [names will be shortened to first letters in the interest of privacy, blah blah blah, etc.]:

Surprisingly enough, J was more than open to the idea, so The Beast and I are now residing happily in her backyard while I customize/restore her and continue to purge belongings.

It’s a pretty cushy setup if I do say myself. I’ve got a full backyard to myself along with a nice covered porch to utilize as storage/sorting space for my remaining belongings as I purge. While I live here I’ll have access to laundry facilities and a bathroom so I don’t have to go full-time roughing-it quite yet. Regardless, I can’t help but look forward to the day that I do get to start living on the road.