Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Some links to the right


I'm posting links I find to the right under "Vandweller Links"

There's a couple to other blogs I read, to forums, and the like. I just found one for Winterizing your van to be in over the winter. Have a read.

Testing posting from my mobile device

Just testing to see if this actually works. If it does, then you will get more updates!


Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just a small update

Hey there readers, I'm still alive. I haven't posted in a bit as I currently don't live in the van. It's winter time now, and although I can get the furnace started, I can't keep the pilot lit right now, so I need to get it repaired.

It's currently -30C/-22F outside, and then there's a windchill to boot. Without a functional furnance, life in there will be no fun, and very dangerous. I am currently holed up renting a room, and the van is parked outside, blocked in by the snow plows, and a foot of snow on the roof. Great insulation I'm sure... and this renting a room when I have a perfectly good home outside is costly...

Once I get that silly furnance running, I'll certainly post to let you know how it's going!

Stay tuned!!


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ahhh Warmth!

So the other day, I finally got the furnace running, and I can happily say it kicks out a LOT of heat. The van warms up in about 5-10 minutes from really cold, to cooking hot. Comfort is important when living in a van, and it will be interesting to see what the winter brings.

Canadian winter's a renowned for how cold they are, but here in Calgary, Alberta, our winters are usually a bit milder thanks to our proximity to the Rocky mountains. Southern Alberta, and more specifically the Calgary area is the only place in the world that gets Chinooks. These Chinooks can bring a -30C/-22F day to +10C/50F in a matter of a couple hours, and then hold that temperature for a week or more.

The plan for the van's heating is to install a digital thermometer, and set it to keep the van at about 10C/50F while I am away at work, and jump to 21C/70F about 15 minutes before I'm scheduled to come home. This way I save money on propane, and don't freeze my water tank either. I know that I'll be spending far more money on propane over the winter than during the summer, and next year I'll make sure to save up "winter money".

I've read many blogs where other vandwellers head south for the winter, but as a vandweller with a stable career, I do not have that luxury. I have yet to read of anyone else attempting to winter in Canada.

This will be interesting.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Seasonal Affective Disorder

It's been raining for over a week now, and I haen't seen the sun. My SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is actually affecting me earlier than normal as well. Usually, I get affected by the disorder starting in about January, and the worst in February where I get to the point of not getting out of bed, missing work, and using up all my sick days. Over this past weekend, getting out of bed before noon was a struggle, and that doesn't normally happen for a couple more months... I suppose all the stresses of this past year have pushed my depression into overdrive...

I'm currently staying in a friends place as I can't seem to get the furnace running on the van, and may not be able to. The weather is getting very cold and it hasn't reached above 8C in a week. We're actually expecting some snow tonight according to the Weather Network.

I wonder about others living in their vans, and motorhomes, and how many have SAD, and what they do to combat it?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Housesitting, and future roommates?

Starting tonight, I'll be housesitting for a friend that is leaving for a week to Montreal, and needs her fish and dogs cared for. It should be a nice change to sleep indoors where it's still warm in the mornings, but we shall see. Lots of things are happening that may throw the proverbial wrench in the machine for me.

Some wonderful friends, who I've been spending time with, and were the plan for the winter, just lost a roommate with three days notice. Basically, they need a roommate now, or lose the place. Now what to do? Guess I move in, and park the van until next spring. We shall see once I do the math, and determine if it's financially viable. Not what I was wanting, but sometimes, it's what needs to be done.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Grand Tour

Well, I finally got ahold of a camera. I have no idea what I did with mine, and presume it is in storage somewhere. I took some pictures of the inside of my home, and here you are, a little tour. :)

On a side note, I tried to start my furnace yesterday, and I think it needs to be serviced as it wouldn't start. I can only hope that it's not too expensive!

On to the Tour!

This is the inside of my home from the front seat

Still looking back:

My counter, with laptop

My bed. It pulls out into a double, and is quite comfy with two people on it

My closet which only hold six shirts well, and more if I cram. The drawers, I bought at Walmart. The top three are for clothes, and the bottom three are for food. The bucket behind with the mesh bag is my laundry basket.

The front of the van from the back. As you can see, I use the top bunk for storage.

I bought this magnetic rack from a home supply shop

Range and furnace. You can see the blue water tank peeking out as well.

Storage under the bed

Pots and pans cupboards

A sink, with hand pump. I have a cover here as well, and that's where my laptop sits.

A little modification I made so that I don't have to connect my phone and inverter into the front cigarette lighter. My phone is my alarm clock so having it up front is annoying

One of my trickle charger solar panels wired into the deep cycle battery

Hope you liked my home! I know it's not a conversion, and it certainly isn't stealth, but I have never had an issue, and I've slept all over the city.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Insulating the van for the coming winter

This morning was the second very cool morning in a row. In fact, today was freezing. I had to turn on the range to get some warmth at about 530am. Today, I'll be turning the furnace on for tonight. It only got to about 6C over night but it was cold enough that I don't want to wake up to that again.

There are not many "vanliving in a Canadian Winter" sites out there. I'm assuming that's because most people are either snowbirds because they're retired, and can travel to warmer climates for six months every year, or they're just not crazy enough to try it. I don't even know if I'm crazy enough to try it, but what the heck.

So I've been doing some research, and one thing that comes to mind is that my van, being built in 1978 is going to have crummy insulation, made in 1978. The space between the metal and the wood panelling is not exactly large, and conpressing fiberglass isn't good, so I need an alternative. I found Reflectix. This is a type of insulation that is basically bubblewrap with aluminum foil. Here's the description in case you're reading this years down the road, and the link I provided no longer works:

Reflectix Small Project Rolls address specific needs not possible with traditional insulations such as recreational vehicles, camping, household, plumbing and ductwork. Two outer layers of aluminum foil reflect 97% of radiant heat. Each layer of foil is bonded to a tough layer of polyethylene for strength. Two inner layers of insulating bubbles resist conductive heat flow, while a center layer of polyethylene give Reflectix high reliability and strength.
Reflects 97 percent of radiant energy.
Does not require protective gear to install.


Sounds perfect for summer and winter, help keep things cool in the summer by reflecting heat out, and warm by keeing heat in. We shall see how it works when I pick the Reflectix up and install it.

Does anyone have other material that they use?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cool Morning Signals The Coming Fall

I woke up this morning to a chill in the van that made me not want to get out of my comfy bed. The days are getting shorter, and it's no longer as bright out at 6am as it was a month ago. I suspect that I'll be getting the furnace running sooner than I had planned if I get a week of cool mornings, but the smoke cover from the fires in British Columbia have kept the days cool, and it's supposed to warm up over the next few.

I only have a 20 gallon propane tank which with only the fridge running off it takes about a month to empty, but the furnace will certainly comsume more, and be a waste during the time I'm not in the van. So, I've come up with a plan...

The van has a standard themostat on the wall, and I can replace it with an electronic one that I can set times for. Replacing it will allow me to set it to keep at 10C (or lower) when I'm not there, and start up the furnace on my way home so it's nice and warm when I get home, or when waking up.

To solve the water tank issue, I can also install a small aquarium heater into the tank and wire it into the inverter for the battery. I haven't set up the battery bank yet, but it's on the "To Do" list.

For now, I have a really warm blanket and a really high metabolism to keep me warm!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Passing the Time

I work a full time job five days a week, and at the end of the day, I am often visiting friends. During my down time when I am sitting at home, and it's not quite bedtime yet, I like to pass the time.

I personally play games. I play on my laptop "regular" video games when I can't pick up WiFi, and I play a couple browser based games as well. Check them out. I play OGame, a space game where you run a planet, build defenses, and ships, and go to war with other players. I also play NationStates, a political game where I run my own country they way I want to. I'm classified as a "Father knows Best State", and I am a benevolent Dictator. You can find me in a region called Gatesville, I am Arathi Basin there, the Gatesville Enlistment Advocate and member of the Imperial Council on our forums. My job is simple, recruit new nations to Gatesville in order to become the most powerful player created region in the game, and defeat the World Assembly.

It's important to be able to entertain yourself when living in a van. I watch movies as well, but I don't have TV. Nor did I watch TV prior to moving into my van, but some people do. A suggestion for other van-dwellers, or anyone with a laptop for that matter. If you are looking for a way to watch TV, but don't have a TV, or internet connection to stream. There are adapters that you can buy at any Best Buy or Future Shop that allow you to grab TV from airwaves. Check this one out: Hauppauge Win TV HVR USB Stick

I watch a lot of movies as well, and it's great to sit back, watch a movie and have a beer. For someone like me, I have a lot of DVD's from when I was in a stick built. Obviously, holding onto a couple hundred DVD's in a small space is silly. What I do is rip to AVI, it's my backup copy which legally can be made. I use Xillisoft DVD Ripper which works awesome, and is worth every penny. I store the DVD's on an external hard drive that gets its power directly from the laptop via two USB connections. I still own the DVD's, and they are packed up in storage. Everytime I buy a new DVD, I rip it, and store my original copy. I don't share them, I believe in supporting the movie industry. If I buy a movie, and it sucks, I don't rip it, and I get rid of the DVD. I usually will trade it at a pawn shop or movie store for something else.

I borrow TV Boxsets as well, watching Dexter and True Blood currently. Love both those shows!

What do you do to pass the time?

Monday, August 16, 2010

The cool mornings

As summer begins to fade away, the sun starts coming up later, going down sooner, and that brings with it cooler weather here in Canada. Last night, I could actually see my breath a little. It made snuggling up all the better though. It wasn't a huge amount of breath, just enough that at first you think you're seeing things, and have to concentrate on the breath.

I like my bed. It is a very comfortable bed for even two people which in the last couple weeks has been shared with a wonderful girl who somehow actually likes the fact that I have this van. Many people, although they think it's neat, would not want to sleep over I'm sure.

But I digress...

I have to start looking into the heating options I have for the coming winter. I don't know if I will choose to be in the van over the winter or rent a room, some days I want both. Paying the bills is easy, and although not being paid as fast as I had originally predicted, they are getting paid. I'm no longer overdrawn on the credit cards, and I'll be hammering the debt down. Another reason I'm thinking about the winter. Renting a room will cost more than living in the van, and I want to get everything paid off.

Winters have been getting milder and milder every year, and it may help keep me in the van well into December when the snow finally stays. January and February have always been the harsh months here, and thankfully, we get Chinooks. Warm winds for those who do not know, warm winds that can raise the temperature outside by a significant amount for a week.

I've been looking into a few different options, and one is to hurry my butt up and get the solar panels, and electrical system complete so I can plug in. I may be looking at redoing the insulation as well as there are a few places where I don't think it's too well done. This thing is old after-all!

Well, that's the little quip for today. Just my thoughts


Friday, August 13, 2010

Vandwelling - Not just for the down and trodden

Hey there, my name is Arathi. I live in a campervan by choice, not because the economy put me there, although several factors this year have brought me to where I am now.

First, I really enjoy living in my van. I don't have some crummy van that I converted into a living area. I have an actual campervan. A 1978 Chevy Vandura to be exact. I have a sink, stove, furnace, and fridge built in from the manufacturer. I have a futon bed, water tank with a hand pump, and plent of storage. I can stand up in my van, and walk around. Which is great as I have the habit of pacing while on the phone.

I decided to start this blog for a couple reasons. My biggest reason was that nearly all the stories I find out there are about people who live in a van because they had no other choice. The proble with society is that we are all brainwashed into thinking that we have no worth unless we have a stick-built home. Now, in today's economy, buying a house is almost impossible unless you are married, and bringing in a combined income of $100,000 or more. I'm single, and bring in half that.

My van cost me $500, everything works. To insure it, I needed to replace the muffler, and the brakes. A month later I changed out the alternator as the original was putting out 11 volts rather than the 13 it should, so it wasn't charging my batteries. Otherwise, everything has been fantastic.

What I love the most about my little home on wheels is that I can go anywhere and visit anyone. On a whim, I decided to head out to a lake I had never been to before, and didn't even have to pack. In fact, the choice was made while sitting at a red light. I never have to pack to go camping, I can stay out late and not have to think about the 30 minute drive home. I can go to a bar, and drink till I can't see, and go to sleep, not that I do that, but it's an option.

Now, for my reasons...
In February 2010, the love of my life suddenly, and unexpectedly left me. To this day I don't know why, and we, I believed, were happy only two days prior, considering we were talking about starting a family. I gave up on everything in my life, and nearly lost my job as well. It's been 7 months since that fateful day, and I have been in my van for the past 2 months. I live a simple life without too much waste as I cannot afford to take up space in my van with "stuff".
I have a laptop that I use for all my entertainment purposes. It cost me $400 at Wal-Mart, and was a fantastic find. I bought and installed a new stereo for the van that has an auxillary port on it, and a USB port. The USB charges my iPhone, and the auxillary port connects my laptop sound to the van stereo system to provide me with surround sound while watching movies, playing video games, or listening to music!
I don't use the laptop for music anymore than to sync my iPhone. It's a 16GB 3G iPhone, and holds all of my music. It connects to my stereo via the USB plug and plays my music that way. Less draw on power.
I currently have two trickle charge solar panels connected to my deep-cycle battery. I have two batteries, one for starting, and one for the van. I plan on adding at least 4 more batteries, and some large solar panels. This will give me more freedom to run electric items longer. Basically, my laptop is the only real draw of power I have, and on hot days a small fan. Propane runs the fridge, and I don't cook often as I make enough food for the week, and package it and store it in the fridge.
When cooking, you really need to make sure that you don't cook more than you need for a few days to a week max, otherwise you are wasting, and that's stupid.
One thing I thought when I moved into my van was that everything I read others having concerns about were going to be a problem for me. So many talked about "steath", and honestly... I have a huge van that is quite obviously a camper. I have been living in it for a couple months, and have parked just about everywhere. I have never been bothered by anyone. When it gets dark, it's late, and I'm going to bed as I have a job. I've parked on the street, in parking lots, alleys... I can see attracting attention if you never move, or are obvious about being in the van, otherwise, people don't care.
I move my van daily, as I need to drive to the train station, and park to go to work. Afterwork, I sit back, watch a movie and wait for rush hour to go away, then I move on. I visit friends, and utilize their showers and laundry. I live in a van, and I am always clean. On hot days where I'm sweating, and can't have my door open, I wipe down occasionally with a damp hand towel, then have a shower later.
I have storage under the bed, and above the cabin, as well as a small closet to hang my work wear. I bought a couple plastic dressers from Wal-Mart and use the top one for clothes, and the bottom one for dry or canned food goods. I use a small hand broom to sweep the carpeted floor, and I have a small basket that I use for dirty clothes with a mesh bag inside to carry the clothes in.
Above my stove, I bought a magnetic strip to put my silverware on rather than use the drawer, so I could store other stuff in it.
The only thing that my van doesn't have it a bathroom. That's a little crummy, but I can buy a porta-potty if I choose. I don't because I do my business at work, and if I need to pee, I can use a jug, I'm a guy after all.
Another reason for moving into the van is to save money. I have a debt load thanks to my ex, and I want it GONE. This helps. I live off about $1000 a month personal, and the rest goes into bills. It helps pay down the debt quickly, but you need to make sacrafices as well. I quit smoking, as it was costing me $300 a month that I could be putting towards other things. This is a good idea for anyone, not just a vandweller. Smoking is bad, no matter how good it seems.
I surf the net when I find open WiFi, which there is getting to be less and less of these days, and the ones that are open like to restrict you from doing so much. I play Ogame, and some WiFi block it for gaming. It's a website, not streaming. I click a button, and wait. One day I might get a Rogers Rocket stick. It's a USB connection to the internet anywhere, anytime. It would be useful, but I get most my surfing in during the day, and I don't surf much. I work in IT, and would rather be visiting my friends in my off time. If I do need to get online, I have my iPhone, it keeps me connected to Facebook, and email. The two main things I would use the computer for anyways which really cuts down the pc usage.
One thing I was concerned about was peoples perception of me when I chose this lifestyle, but I made sure from the get go to note that I am doing it primarily to save money, and I actually wanted to do it. Everyone seems to understand, and some think it's really cool. I still get the "down by the river" gag but I laugh, because that would be great. I met someone through a friend, and she actually prefers to crash with me in the van than in the friends house. Her and I are just friends, and no sex is involved, so I know it has nothing to do with that. She digs it apparently, and says it's really comfortable.
Anyways, more to come later.