Van Life Adventures. Three Months In.

As beginning Van Lifers, we sure feel like we are becoming pros at the lifestyle. Sure, we still forget to turn off the water pump sometimes and I still want to watch a lot of movies, causing our solar powered house battery to run down.

However, after over 60 days of living the van life, we know how to find free boondocking spots like pros, can cook a complete meal, with homemade desserts in the vanabus. And we, have not used a mechanic since we were in Kansas. See our video of our trip home, Van Life. The 2,000 mile test drive home.

San Diego Cheers

Our van life was coming to a head and we agree, the last month was probably our favorite. We took a lot of time to be alone the last month, really growing together and figuring out our next steps in the vanabus and in life. Sometimes, that meant arguments, other times it meant deep conversation over a few beers and beautiful sunsets. This is just the first part of the last month of our adventure. Stay tuned for our last blog on this 90 day van life adventure.

Van Life Day 61:

The laundry is done, the repairs are complete. We are ready to get out of the abomination that is Arizona. Or, so we think. Damien turns the vanabus over and she starts like a charm. We head out and onto the road and, although we can tell she is no longer so shaky, we can tell something is still awry.

Serendipity was acting like she had no power. We pulled back into the overflow lot in town, thinking it may be our new home for the next few days.

Damien and I have been diagnosing and repairing the vanabus the entire trip. We haven’t had a mechanic work on her since we left Kansas last September. We have manuals downloaded, a parts catalog for our specific coach as well as the original manual. Generally, we have a signal so we can YouTube and Google things as well. (Yep, I used those words like that!)

This day, Damien re-did the other header gasket. We took her for a test drive. She still had no power. Next, we got new spark plugs and 2 new fuel filters, a total of 25 bucks. Quite unsure this would work, we took her for a drive up the hill toward the highway. Next would be a compression test.

Up the hill she went, no problems. Okay, next let’s take her for a spin on the highway. Off she went like a champ. Sometimes, I forget we have everything we need with us. Sometimes, I think, “Wait, we left our luggage at the hotel.” Then, I remember, there is no hotel. Your luggage is in the closet in the backseat. The WAY backseat, but it’s back there!

Onto the Cali line it was! Just 2 hours down the road. We would be out of Arizona.

About an hour in, we smelled something. We couldn’t figure out what it was because it didn’t seem like it was coming from the engine area at all. It finally got so strong, we had to pull over near Aguila, in the Arizona desert. The pull offs in Arizona are something to talk about. There was somewhere to pull off and camp every mile or so. People obviously partied their asses off out here.

Arizona sunset with cactusWe got out of the coach to see the back wheel smoking like crazy. It was the brake. We let it cool while we explored and seshed on some dank Arizona bud to the tune of the sunset of oranges and yellows mixed with the cloudless blue of the still day light stricken sky. Another serendipitous moment.

Damien sprayed the wheel with some WD-40 and we were on our way. I kept an eye on the wheel from my mirror. We barreled on to the Cali line.

Van Life Day 62:

Today started just a mile from the California border. Excited to get there, we drove right on over.

Welcome to California signWhen we get to the border, we have started to do a new thing. It started quite by accident when we drove into Arizona. I want to stop to take a picture with the sign, but it is sometimes scary on the huge highways, cars tearing by. So, I asked Damien to pull up to the sign, so we could see it through the windshield. I set up my camera with a self-timer and run to my seat. Both of us point at the sign in the window and smile! These shots are so fun, moreover, we don’t have to leave the “safety” of the coach. (I put that in quotations because I hear it is actually safer to get out of your vehicle if you are stranded on the side of the road.)

Some days are full of exciting things. Like today. Damien found a great break spot for our late morning stop. Down a dirt road the vanabus went, she was a champ! The one brake seems like it is still a little warmer than the others.

Empire papers We rolled up a benny joint from Empire Papers and took a hike. With our tops off! I often feel like hiking nude and still haven’t completely. The more we delve into van life though and the opportunities to be really alone increase, the more I feel like it could actually happen. Such a freeing experience.

There was an RV Park right on Lake Havasu, the California side (thank goodness). It is run by the Chemehuevi people and the land is beautiful. The women in the office were the shit. Quite the opposite of the last RV Park. (Hey, I know we said we weren’t going to do them, but we have been finding some really unique ones along the way that are still pretty cheap.) The two joked around with us as we got checked in, even mentioning munchies!

They helped us pick the best spot right on the water. Leaving our blinds open for the night, we enjoyed the aquatic scene til our eyelids fell with the weight of the day.

Havasu Lake, California

Van Life Day 63:

Deciding to stay another day, we took our longboards over to Lake Havasu on the ferry. We skated all along the boardwalk, watching college kids and old men party it up. It was Sunday, the end of one Spring Break weekend.

Continuing on to the skate park, we watched bikers and scooter-ers play on the hilly surface. I didn’t once think about taking my board down the steep incline. I just don’t see what a longboard does in a skate park. Instead, we took to the parking lot and set up the Go-Pro to watch us work on tricks.

After 2, the boardwalk was dead. Kind of unimpressive, we grabbed some ice cream before heading back on the ferry.

Before we went home, we went up to the town grocery. At the market, everyone knew everyone else and the conversation flowed throughout the shopping experience. This little town made us feel quite at home.

Van Life Day 64:

Next up was Needles. We were there just to pick up some weed and head on. Unfortunately, you can’t get weed in Needles unless the address on your Cali license is from Cali. That isn’t the case.

So, we were on to Laughlin. Just an hour up the road. A new city for us both! We didn’t stay long though.

We pulled in, picked up some flowers and had lunch while planning our next move.

Damien’s research before the trip led us to a perfect boondocking spot for the night or the next 7, if we so chose.

The road ahead was steep and rocky. We pursued. So did Serendipity. Over 2 miles of steep and winding roads put us in the most beautiful cove, surrounded by hills and mountains. Telephone Cove was a picturesque spot in the middle of nowhere.

 

Van Life Day 65:

I discovered a new fear today. We took a hike into the canyon. Damien and Booger ran ahead while I walked up the wash. Suddenly, there was rock almost completely surrounding me and I started to panic. What if all the rocks fell? What if I couldn’t get out? I was getting claustrophobic. My anxiety was through the roof. I was thinking of turning around and heading home.

But, I didn’t. I called Damien and continued walking. Each time I got a jolt of sheer fear, I called him again. 10 minutes later, the three of us were walking back together. I’d made it!

It was our last night here, so we took advantage of it by doing another night shoot with the vanabus. This is only our second, but the pictures are amazing! We went to bed super late, with a nice little buzz.

Night shoot outside Laughlin

Van Life Day 66:

Vegas baby! The first place we stopped wouldn’t let us stay. I don’t think they wanted to do the paperwork. The lady asks, “Well, how long are you staying?”

“Just the one night,” Damien replies.

She looks at the other woman. The other woman, thinks about it and says, “Oh, well, how long are you?”

“26 feet.”

“Hmm, okay. Well, what year is your RV?”

“1973.”

Relieved, “Yeah, we don’t allow anything over 10 years old.”

It was cool. We were off to the strip. Lots of the casinos allow you to boondock in their parking lot. Circus Circus makes your pay their resort fee (like $30 a night), but others just allow you to park. We wanted to plug in though, so we went to Main Street Station. It was like $25 a night, not bad.

Damien made some of the best fettuccini alfredo ever and we slept with the A/C on.

Van Life Day 67 and 68:

Sometimes, the need for a little downtime becomes a must. I didn’t feel like going anywhere these days. I just wanted to stay in. I got a blog up and went to the hotel to renew our RV spot for another night.

The next day we checked into a hotel, hoping to refresh my spirit. It worked. I still didn’t feel like going anywhere, but it was nice to order in and watch the Vegas skyline. To turn on the TV and the shower, to flush the toilet without thinking about dumping.

Van Life Day 69:

Enjoying a second day at the hotel went something like this. We went to the coach in the morning, smoked two loud bowls. Leashed our pup and took him for a walk. Came back to the vanabus for another fat bowl. Or two. Changed my clothes. Had a cup of coffee. Went back into the hotel. It was now passed noon.

We seshed in the room with perfumed scented toilet paper, stuffed into the end of the toilet paper roll.

Van Life Day 70:

It was Easter Sunday, so the time had come to hit the strip. I was finally out of my slump. We searched for Cadbury eggs to celebrate the day. We walked through a couple of casinos before beginning the search for a great brunch. After gorging on the best foods in Vegas at the Aria Resort and Casino, we booked a room at MGM Grand.

The room was beautiful and spacious with colorful art on the walls. The vanabus stayed in the parking lot of Tropicana. Luckily, we weren’t towed. You have to have a permit to park there (and we had no idea). They left a note within a couple of hours of us leaving. We didn’t come back for almost 2 days. Whew!

Van Life Day 71:

We skated over to the vanabus upon check out and sat for a bowl before heading out. An SUV pulled in the lot pretty fast and parked a few spots down from us for a couple of minutes. He then skirted up to the building, backing in.

Another guy comes out with this huge spot light, so big it has its own stand on wheels. He wheels it out and the two somehow get it up the few stairs to the back of the waiting SUV. They get the light itself in, but they can’t get the stand in. It is too big to fit into their SUV.

They look like they are in a rush and rather guilty of something. I ask Damien if he thinks they are stealing this thing. He says, “hell yes!” Another guy comes out of the building with a white button up shirt and slacks on, looking very official. He says something to the two guys. They drop what they are doing.

I turn my camera on just in time to watch them jump into the SUV, thrust it into drive and drop the spotlight onto the pavement and sidewalk as they high tail it out of there. With the tailgate wide open. It was nuts.

The guy in the white button up calls some other guys to pick up the spot light and take it back inside. The police were never even called. Guess they deal with stuff like this all the time. Again, it was crazy!

We continued our day with a drive to Cali, stopping in Baker for the night, just a ¼ mile down a dirt road (we are getting pretty notorious for conquering dirt roads) behind a gas station. A cool desert night began to sink in. The wind blew my hair as I took some shots through the doorway. It felt like Cali, that’s for sure.

Van Life Day 72:

Waking up early has become part of the journey. Doing anything other than working in the vanabus isn’t guaranteed though until sometime after noon. I generally wake up by 6 in the morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for the day ahead. We look out of our blinds, load a bowl, make some coffee and get on our phones or computers.

 

Sometimes, Damien watches YouTube to catch up on politics. We will chat about the current events and get dressed for the day. Our bed is 6×7 feet which folds up into 2 separate couches during the day. So, we put one or both of them up then put our blankets and pillows away.

Today was just like any other. We are beyond excited to get to San Diego. So excited that we left by 11 that morning. We stopped in Hesperia for a break in the afternoon, before continuing on. I fell asleep on the last part of our drive and Damien pulled us into South San Diego as the moon began to shine.

San Diego 1st picWalking to the beach felt unreal. P-Moe was out of his mind with excitement as he began to realize where we were. He darted down the sand, rubbing his face in the hard granules. Damien and I held hands and walked along the beach just taking it all in. We’d made it!

Van Life Day 73:

Mexico was less than 2 miles away. Our silly selves forgot our passports. Yep, both of us. Deciding it was best to have them if we wanted to cross, we stayed in the states.

Back to the beach for some dabs before heading to Mission Beach. Damien found this boondocking spot. Our coach was parked about 15 feet from the water. A short rocky hill was perfect for fishing. On the other side was a huge sandy lot with a beach at the bottom. Coupled with perfect weather and we were in heaven.

We took our Round Towel to the beach and laid around in the sand, collecting sea shells and doing solar rips with our handy Buddie Burners magnifying glass.

Van Life Day 74:

Another beach day! Damien has found a free dump spot here in San Diego. It is less than 10 minutes from Mission Beach. He is such a smarty pants!

I told our pup that we would go to the beach for at least 7 days while we are here. Today was his day. We went to Dog Beach in San Diego, one of the best dog parks in the U.S. There were dogs everywhere and Booger was delighted. He ran all over the place, keeping us busy in the large park.

As the sun set and our hunger kicked in, I made cheesecake and took some night pictures of us in the vanabus, palms trees lighting up our windshield.

Van Life Day 75:

Old town San Diego was on our list of things to check out, so we headed over in the vanabus to see what there was to see.

 

Much to our surprise, it was nothing like any other old towns we had been to. When I think of old towns, I think of older buildings with new businesses inside. This old town had a portion that was run just like it was in the 1800’s. People wore a traditional wardrobe. There were museums in every other store front. Super fun place! We had lunch, walked around a bunch, took some pictures, participated in a chocolate tasting and even got a little souvenir for the vanabus. Pretty touristy day overall.

Van Life Day 76:

There’s no denying that Booger knows where we are. This pup can lounge around all day when I have work to do. As long as he gets his potty break(s) in there, he is a chill guy. That is until we got to the beach. He wakes up in the morning and looks outside to double check we are still here and then goes straight to the door and whines.

San Diego Mission BayToday we packed up and headed to the beach before 10 am. It almost didn’t count as getting out “early” because the beach is now our backyard. But, hey we were there. We walked the beach with Boogie and noticed a guy with this plumber’s tool. He was sticking it into the beach and sucking out a bunch of sand. Every so often, he would bend down, pick something up and put it in his bucket. Clams, I guessed.

When we got close enough I looked right into his bucket. Those weren’t clams at all. “What are those?” I inquired.

“Ghost Shrimp,” he replied. “They live under the sand and I use them for bait.”

 

Very cool, I thought. He went on to tell us that there were also clams, but if he found those he would throw them back in. Another guy came up, inquiring about his tool and we wandered off.

We finally got our pup to be still and we laid out our round Yin-Yang towel and proceeded to chill through lunch.

San Diego, Oceanside

Back to the vanabus to freshen up and enjoy another sesh before putting Booger to bed for a bit. We wanted to go to the Boardwalk. Unfortunately, pups aren’t allowed. We walked the beach until we found a sidewalk, then took out our longboards and skated the rest of the way. We went through a little park and across one street before arriving.

There were beach front houses, restaurants and a little grocery. We laid in the sand some more; while Damien read, I took pictures and played on my phone. A perfectly beachy afternoon.

San Diego beach

As our 90 day van life adventure closes, we realize it is going to end on the weekend of 4/20. Like the name of our vanabus, it seemed quite serendipitous. We began making plans for the holiday and were excited to be in SoCal for it. The High Times Cup was high on our list of places to be on 4/20. Would we go?

Hang with us on Instagram  and Facebook  too. We enjoy sharing our exciting adventures in the vanabus and appreciate all of your support as we continue along our way.

 

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