Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Winter seems to show the slow down of blogging

I just went through the list of blogs I follow, and I have only about four that have posted in the past month, and then others that have not posted in five months or more, and two that, while still being listed, no longer exist.

It got me thinking, someone posted anonymously something along the lines of, "Another blog bites the dust." a few weeks back, but only thought about looking into it now. My blog, gentle readers will not be biting the dust anytime soon, just slower posts because I am not in the van, but I do hope to get it upgraded soon... or buy a RoadTrek. Honestly, reading Glenn's Blog, and also seeing the RoadTrek vans really make me want to think everything over, and plan properly, and wait.

The van as it is now, is in use, but I kinda want it back so I can do a little winter camping with the family, and go out to the mountains. Eventually. My friend should (hopefully) be able to get into city housing December 1st, but as of right now, he is mobile.

Curiosity strikes me, those who read this that are blogging about similar things, do you slow down in the winter because you find a stick built for the winter, or do you slow down because you're out being a snowbird somewhere and don't have access to the Internet? Or are you giving up on the dream? Or maybe like me, and bideing your time to upgrade?

Monday, November 7, 2011

First report back from my friend

So, I mentioned earlier that a friend is currently living in the van. Just to give you an idea, it is currently -3°C / 27°F here in Calgary at 9am, and obviously cooler at night. It's not even winter yet. Due to living in the house, and all that, I just have not had the time or the money to do my updates to the van. Besides, I'm saving my pennies for a downpayment on a RoadTrek 210-Versatile, or whatever comes out that's better by the time I have the cash. While living vicariously through Glenn's blog over at To Simplify... So without further adeau.... (My friend never wrote this out, so I am giving you what he has told me, and writing it as he said it.)

Well, first off, thank you so much for letting me use the van Arathi! (No, he didn't call me Arathi, but that's how you know me.) I chaged out the starter battery for one I have that has 800 Cold Cranking Amps since the other was getting weak, and you can keep it as a thanks for letting me use the van. I got the furnace running, but it's annoying right now because there is something wrong with it, and the pilot light won't stay lit after it shuts off, but it'll run all night in this weather. I did find that the furnace will drain the house battery completely if running all night, so I might wire in a second one that I have in storage, just to get that extra power, and also find a place to park at night where I can plug in.

I'm learning that I need to pay more attention to how I drive in it, otherwise things fall off the counter. Everything except where that mesh is. (I had removed some to use in the house) It's like driving a limo, you turn to make sure you're not spilling the persons glass of wine. I'm liking that I basically have no rent, and I can cook a meal in the parking lot of Tim Horton's if I want. hahaha!

I hooked up a new stereo so I have tunes. (Mine burnt out last trip for some reason...) but I'm so busy, I don't spend more than travel and sleep in the van for the most part. You should get the van back soon, as I have a job lined up working on the railway up north, which should give me some good money, and being out in camp will keep me from spending it all as well.

And there you have it, he was short and sweet with what he told me, I did remove the more personal stuff that we had spoken about as well, it's person strife for him, and the reason he's living in my van right now. Unlike me, and many of us vehicle dwellers out there, he fell on very hard times, and is in the van because it's better than a shelter. I chose to be in the van, he had little choice. It's just a good thing I never chose to sell the van.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I may not be in the van but a friend is

So, I've been super busy as of late with the new family, and new home. The van has sat patiently waiting for me to do the few things I need to it, and we have not been able to get out for some camping at all. I am currently working several diffeent contracts and it keeps me busy every day of the week.

A few days ago, a friend asked if he could borrow the van as he has recently come across hard times, and is homeless. He's in the van, and taking care of business so to speak. lol I'm going to try to get him to give me updates on how eveything is going so I can post here. It's November, and that means cold. Very cold. He got the furnace running I believe, but I am not too sure right now. Poor guy just found out that the stereo is broken, so no tunes while he's in there.

Hopefully I can get everything fixed, and running in there soon, it would be nice for him, but maybe I'll buy the reflectix and get him to install it.

Anyways, that's my short update on the van :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Been AFK... Sorry!

Hey there folks,

For my faithful followers, I apologize! I have been very AFK for some time, and I haven't been posting, nor doing any work to the van.

Lots has occurred in the past while, and it all has me settled even firmer into my life in a stick built. My son is back, and I need to provide the best, most stable environment for him in order to make sure that his neglectful mother doesn't end up with him again. Okay, bear with me, I know this will have nothing to do with this blog, but....

My kids mother is awful. She dropped him off on my doorstep two years ago, and has talked to him in total about 12 times in two years. Usually, every few months, she will send me a Facebook message telling me how she wants to talk to him, and how she never gets to, etc. I (yet again) tell her the number he can be reached at, and the best times to call. Then... nothing...

The last time here was August 28th. She asks what a good number to call is. Well, she has my cell, and as we were moving, there was no other number, but I suggest to her that she can use Skype if she is concerned about the cost of talking to her own son, but that we would have a new number on the first. She responds with, "I don't have Skype." I reply back with, "It's a free download."

We haven't heard from her since. I have told my son that he can call her if he wants, he says, "I know", and never does. He's ten.

What kind of mother does that?

Anyways, DD is happily parked on our front pad, and ready for winter. I never did get the chance to check out the furnance this summer, but I'll be looking into it perhaps next spring. I still want to use this for other things. Hunting with it would be good. Not needing to be chilly, and actually cook some food. Oh yeah. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Terminology around the world

I was just googling "campervan living", and I was surprised to see that almost every link was for places outside North America. If you google "vandweller", mostly links in North America.

As I was reading, I noticed a couple other things, such as how we say "boondocking", or "dry camping", they say "wild camping".

There is so much information out there all over the world that can help people out, but it's all in how the writer words it. Strange honestly. It kinda makes me want to create a resource. I've seen several sites that have some information, but I have yet to locate a site dedicated to a Canadian (I'm Canadian, so I would like some Canadian content!). I would love to find out just how many of the mobile masses are really living up in Canada. I know of a couple people, but nothing in a high number like in the states. The tips and tricks a person can learn are amazing...

Thinking about it right now, there's another forum that I used to read quite a bit. I think you, my fellow readers might get a kick out of it. It's about this hisband and wife who are trying to get their Canadian citizenship (They're American), and actually live in a floathouse. Yes, a house that is floating on a lake.

Check it out! While not quite like what we do, it's still pretty amazing.

Powell River Books Blog

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Home after the trip

Well, the trip was long, and gas is expensive. Driving 5 hours straight north would be nice if it wasn't a straight trip with stops only for gas, and bathroom breaks. We finally got to our destination, and found ourselves a great little spot right near the edge of the grounds overlooking the North Saskatchewan River. Sadly, that river starts near the mountains and meanders through a lot of agricultural land, so it begins to look like a giant mud slide only a short distance from where it starts. I used to swim in this river when I was a kid living in Edmonton, it was cheaper than going to the pool, and you could skinny dip with the girls.

The new girlfriend, who was iffy on the van for the weekend, ended up loving it, and can't wait until we get out again. She's not one for living in the van, but loves the excursions. We used my parent's generator to charge up the house battery, and I discovered a fatal flaw in the wiring of the van as well. I had been lead to believe that everything had been moved off the starter battery, and over to the house battery. As it turns out, the cigarette lighter in the front, had never been. Now I know why the starter battery died this past winter. I drained it a few times, and that's a bad thing for them. We ended up using the modified ports in the living area for watching a couple movies, it was great, now I just need to get a couple more house batteries, and some solar panels.

Things I did learn from this trip.

Always, always, always have a volt meter in your vehicle. My wiring doesn't show positive or negative, so I had to run around trying to borrow one off someone to rehook up the wires. I did make the error of touching the wrong wires to the wrong posts and killed my stereo. Very sad. The fuse blew, which we found a replacement for, but no sound any longer. Folks, make sure you have a meter to measure Ohms and DC at a bare minimum.

Better curtains will be a blessing, especially when your girlfriend will wake up to the sun rising at 5am, and can't get back to sleep. This means I am going to be investing in blackout curtains, and making sure that I can get the van nice and dark. This will also add privacy for when you have snooping family, and you both like to sleep nude.

If you have a pet, do not forget the tie down and rope. Nothing is more annoying that having to hold the leash everywhere you go. Thankfully, a cousin had a long chain, and we hooked it up to the bumper of the van.

Tools. Always have tools. At the very least, make up a small kit that will allow you access to do work on a few things. On our way home, the tread blew off one of the back tires, while not popping the tire. I had to change the tire. I pulled out the jack, and crowbar, jacked up the van, removed the tire, and them uncovered the spare. Uh oh... Those bolts are NOT the same size that are holding this thing in place. I had nothing to get those bolts off with me. Thankfully, I am a resourceful (read: MacGyver) type of person. I wondered across the highway to this old abandoned farm, which made flashes of The Hills Have Eyes run through my head, and searched the out buildings. What did I find? Nothing that would make life easier. But I did however find an old gardening tool for weeding, and a door hinge. I used those to tap the bolts loose. It took forever, but my girlfriend now calls me a hero. :)

When the temperature outside hits the 30's (90's for you Imperial system folk), time to get a fan. I've been wanting to get an Automatic Roof Vent for some time. After the sweltering heat this past weekend, I think it's time I save up for it. Asap.

If you have some idiotic kid fill your propane, make sure he knows how to do it. Not only did this kid fill my tank 100% of it's capacity (which then vented down to 80%), he somehow managed to cause the vent cap in the intake to jostle a bit, and create a small escape for the propane. If this happens folks, all is not lost. Use something long, and preferably not metal to give that intake valve a push a couple times until it reseats itself where it should be. I used a chopstick, and stopped leaking propane right away.

If possible, plan for a long trip to take a day or two, just so that you are not exhausted getting to your destination. After only a few hours sleep, I had to drive for 5 hours staright, and fell asleep, and missed out on most of the fun.

When your speedometer breaks, an smartphone can become your best friend. Mine has been broken since I bought the van, but I usually meander, and never drive too fast because I honestly have no where to be in a hurry. I downloaded a free "Speedometer" app, and it is very accurate. I was able to determine my speed at all times as it was running.

Well, there you have it, a few things to keep in mind when getting out on the open road.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Taking the van out for the weekend - Finally!

So, I get to take the van out this weekend. My grandparents are having their 50th wedding anniversary, and it's a four hour drive north with my girlfriend. It should be interesting to say the least. My family gets to see the van, and I get to see what the gf thinks of it. Something tells me that she wouldn't be on board for living in it, but with her possibly moving in with me, our combined incomes will make life a whole lot easier on both of us, and I can really get to work on my upgrades to the van. That way it's easier to use for hunting and such as well.

This weekend will be my first long distance trip, as the last couple trips have only been about an hours drive away. I'll be four hours one way this weekend, here's hoping that DD is happy to make the trip!

I think that by the fall, I should at the very least have the reflectix installed, and the furnace fixed. Purchasing and wiring a couple new house batteries will be next after that. I want to make this trip as comfortable for her as possible so that she can see that travelling in a van for vacations would be great rather than flying, and hotels. Especially on the way to Alaska.

However, we're planning a trip in January for her birthday to Dominican Republic, and the van couldn't drive there! lol

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Outdoor Camp Oven 2 Burner Range and Stove

You've always wanted an oven when camping - Now you can with the Outdoor Camp Oven. Don't let its compact size fool you. The Outdoor Camp Oven features over 18,000 total BTU's, the twin burners and spacious oven have plenty of power to get your cooking/baking done right. This stove's folding lid is designed with portability in mind. This camp oven is loaded with features. It is just perfect for your cabin, summer camping, or RV.
Perfect for muffins, cookies, casseroles, and Dutch oven dishes. Simplify your life with the Outdoor Camp Oven.

Well, well, well. For those of us that didn't get an oven built into our little mobile homes, it looks like this is ideal. Not only does it come as an oven to cook, there's a range on top.

How about that! I like that I have a three burner range, but sometimes, I'd like to bake something, and I can't. Well, this has been added to my wish list!

A portable, propane powered oven and stove. I love that. It's the little things that make living in anything other than a conventional home more civilized, and let you see that you CAN have the nice things. The thing I like about this over having it built in, is that on those hot days when I still want to cook, I take it outside and cook, rather than heating up the van even more. Talk about convenience! Try and do that in a house!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mobile Technology and Mobile Living

Ashley, over at The Tuckerbag Blog, brought up a good post, inspired in part by a comment I made about technology really making the mobile life easier. As I started to comment about one little piece of technology that I just couldn't live without, I felt that it really deserves it's own post.
Naturally, I'm talking about my iPhone4. Now, I understand that everyone has their own views, and hey, if you love your Nokia, or your Android, fantastic, write about it so we can get some great ideas and make educated decisions on which phone to grab! I can only write about my experiences with the iPhone. (If you want, write me at thevandweller (at), and I'll post your review of your phone in this post! I'd love to get more viewpoints!)
One of the most difficult things to do in a mobile situation, whether it be in a car, a van, or a 40' Class A motorhome, is have room (and power) for a lot of tools that are just about a necessity. I got my first iPhone 3G, a couple years ago, and I loved it. In fact, you can see it on the counter in a couple photo's in my grand tour. When my iPhone 3G started acting up a bit, I opted to grab the iPhone4, and I have never been happier.

This phone has everything. It's a phone, it's an iPod, it's a half decent 5Mp camera (both still and video), it's mobile internet, it has GPS, and accesses maps to provide me with directions. I have a digital compass in it. I have the YellowPages apps, and can look up businesses, and people. I can turn it into a mobile hub, and tether my laptop to it, surfing the web on my laptop through my iPhone4's data plan.

I have games on it, music, movies, pictures, I can blog from it while sitting in a chair overlooking the lake. I even have an app that turns the flash, into a flashlight, and let me tell you, that light is very bright. I've had to use it a time or two in the past in areas that I needed light, and did not have a flashlight.

This one little device that fits in the palm of my hand, and sips power, is by far, the best technological purchase I have ever made. It replaces so many devices that would fill up my little van, and eat up all my power in no time at all. I have the world at my fingers because I never go anywhere without my phone.

I am fully connected to the world, no matter where I go. Well, there was this one place in the mountains where no one had service that I got a little dissconnected, and freaked out that I couldn't tell the world about the beauty of what I was seeing with a picture to share until I got back into a serviceable area, and by then, the rush was gone.

My suggestion, is unless you enjoy tinkering, and really need to mess around with open source, stick with the Apple iPhone over Android. I've noticed in my work place, that Android users seem to be as smug towards iPhone users, as MAC users are towards Windows users. Guys, no one is better than anyone else. Relax. You like to build your own apps, I like them to simply work right away. It's all about preference, and I'm not you. Don't be a hater! haha :)

Here's a quick breakdown of the iPhone4. For full specifications, check out Apple's site here.

Size and weight
Height: 4.5 inches (115.2 mm)
Width: 2.31 inches (58.6 mm)
Depth: 0.37 inch (9.3 mm)
Weight: 4.8 ounces (137 grams)

16GB or 32GB flash drive

Assisted GPS
Digital compass

Power and battery
Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Charging via USB to computer system or power adapter
Talk time: Up to 7 hours on 3G Up to 14 hours on 2G (GSM model only)
Standby time: Up to 300 hours
Internet use: Up to 6 hours on 3G Up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi
Video playback: Up to 10 hours
Audio playback: Up to 40 hours

Camera, photos, and video
Video recording, HD (720p) up to 30 frames per second with audio 5-megapixel still camera
VGA-quality photos and video at up to 30 frames per second with the front camera
Tap to focus video or still images
LED flash
Photo and video geotagging

Monday, July 11, 2011

Came so close, so very very close...

To packing up over the weekend, and driving away. There is something about those little stresses in life that make you wonder what it is that you are doing in life. As I have noted before, I really miss my van, and the freedom that it offered me.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to live a more simple life, and just get out of the rat race. Seriously. It started with reading a book when I was in grade 5, a book that I still have to this day, and have patched it up a couple times (The covers are held onto the book with duct tape...)

The book is My Side of the Mountain (Of course, mine is much older with no colour or pictures that were not hand drawn to it). It's about a boy who runs away from home, and lives in a tree in the Catskills. It's written like a diary, and it inspired me. Whenever stresses get to that breaking point, I start thinking about that. If you have never read the book, I highly recommend it. (Once I figure out which addon allows me to link to Amazon to get a penny or two from anyone buying the book, I'll add that in.)

This past weekend was a downer for me. I have a week left until payday, and I am tapped out of cash. It's a pain. I had rent, and bills which all together came to over $1200 off my cheque, and even though I tried putting a bit away on the last cheque, I had to dip into it some, and that means I had to use more on this one. My monthly bills last year when I was in the van were insurance at $90, perhaps $100 for gas, and $14 for propane. A whopping (roughly) $200 a month, with no stress like I have now.
Reading Glenn's blog probably doesn't help my state of mind either. haha He is living the life I want.

Now, to find a way to make money on the road with the skillset I have... Probably not going to happen. Time for a career change?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Canadian Winter Vandwelling

This has been a topic that I touch on every now and again, and it's one that I have not really been able to get the information that I am looking for on. You see, most the blogs out there are about American Vandwellers, and not only that, but usually retired snowbirds. No matter where they are, they move on down to warmer climates when the mercury starts to dip.

As much as I love these blogs, and the information I read on them, they do not quite apply to someone like me. Someone who is a young professional, with a fantastic, well paying job that he doesn't really want to leave. At least not for a while. That's who this blog is for. The guy or gal who chooses to live in an unconventional dwelling like a van, when they can afford to live in a stick built with ease.

I am locked into my location here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada year round. The summers are hot, the winters are cold. Recently, a forum post that I started and never got a response on (for good reason, no full timing Canadians on the board in a climate like mine), recently got a response from a new member who happens to live in Ontario (Their winters may be "milder", but are brutally cold because of the humidity there, I'm blessed with dry cold). Wealth of information so far from this gentleman. It appears that he's done it. He has lived in a vehicle in the Canadian Winter, and was fine. This brings me hope!

I still need to update the insulation, but finances have been less than ideal trying to get debt down while living in this awful stickbuilt. All in All, I'm paying close to $1000 a month to live in my place, including utilities, but not food. Then, I have food, internet, car/home insurance, life insurance, savings, etc eating up most the rest. I miss living in the van, and rent WAS my car insurance (and gas).

Looks like there could be hope for me yet!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


It's officially the first day of summer, and soon, my child will be moving home, I'll be doing the fatherly thing, and making sure I keep a roof over his head and food in his belly, all the while trying to get the van set up.

I have been thinking about this over the past few days, and I'm curious about what you think...

My van is old, but comfortable to one person fulltime, or a couple for camping. If I do a few of the updates, and try to sell it, in order to try and upgrade to something a bit larger like this. Would it be something feasible? A young couple who wants to go camping more often would welcome a cheaper van that is capable of keeping them out camping the eintire weekend, while keeping them warm and dry on those days and nights that the sky unexpectedly opens up.

There have been some suggestions that others have home schooled their children while on the road. I want to be able to see more of this beautiful country I am in. Homeschooling him could be a good idea, and since he seems to be a dealbreaker for every woman out there except one with 4 kids of her own (One a year younger than my ex-girlfriend...), who is outside of my age range, I'm pretty much going to be a single father for good so why worry about trying to find that happiness in an intimate love which would be impossible anyways with a kid in the van.

Having a look online for used ones shows tonnes in the states, and not much up here in Canada. So it's going to be interesting trying to find something. I may be taking on a second job soon in order to dump every penny made from it into a downpayment on a newer van. I guess I'll have to wait and see what the Fates have in store.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Thoughts on the future

I started this blog with the purpose of documenting my journey in vandwelling. Here in Canada, winters are harsh, and vandwelling really might not be practical unless you live on Vancouver Island, or along the coast somewhere. I live in Alberta, just west of the Rocky Mountains. It can get cold here.
I read constantly about others who are living in vans, RV's, cars, etc, and every single one of them are able to do so, mostly because they live in some warm climate in the United States, or they retired, and became snowbirds, or are free to travel all over because they can work 100% remotely. I have so many bills to pay right now, a child that is now moving back in with me, and a full time job that while I can certainly do the work from home, the company would prefer to spend the money on an office for me to sit here.
If I could move back into my van right now, it would solve the bills issue. It would solve the debt issue, I make decent money, but I am struggling under the weight of debt and bills, and paying rent somewhere I really don't need to be for myself. It keeps me under the government foot. My son is 10 years old, has a mother that abandoned him, and a van is no where for a child to grow up. Hell, even a Class A RV might be pushing it (Not that I could afford one).
It really has me trying to find ways to live sustainably here in Canada, while also living cheaply, and comfortably for my child. I cannot become mobile as he'll need stability. It's kind of ironic that the people who need to save money the most are parents, yet they are the ones that almost every door is closed to. Almost every way out there is about living frugally by yourself.
I started looking into tumbleweed houses today. Something that I can park on a little plot of land somewhere, the only one that seems to be viable could be done, but it's still so little space for a child. I can't seem to find any information on rules regarding that type of thing.
This blog may start to take a new direction on living simply while with a child. It may become a very slow process, but a process nonetheless. Once he grows old enough to move out on his own, then, well, I'm sure that I'll be able to get back to looking into a van live again.
Keep in mind that I will still be updating the van to be liveable. It'll just become more of a bugout van and camping for now. So, something of a part-time vandweller now.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

To Simplify - A blog

Well, I have been steadily reading for two days now about a musician who took to the roads in 2009, and still blogs near-daily. Great read, and some of the posts are fantastic, so much so that I want to direct my fellow readers over to them as well.

This guy Glenn, writes well, and posts lots of pictures of his travels. I really like that. I've been looking for ages for a blog or website, anything really, that really detailed the life of a vandweller. Now, his home is far superior to mine, and having seen the inside of his old van in this post, I think I want to gut mine, and revamp it. I can't possibly afford to buy a new one, or even a used one right now, as I have exactly zero funds, and none to save up for the foreseeable future either. Modifying mine van is my best option, unless I get lucky.

One question I get a lot from people I meet is a common question to anyone who fulltimes in a van, car, rv, etc. "Where do you park at night?"

Glenn also sees things in a similar perspective to myself in regards to living stealth, or being an obvious RV.

And finally, a nice little post about those jokes I always get about living down by the river.

The Falcon (Glenns van) is longer than mine, but the way it's set up, it looks as though the bathroom takes up that extra space, but the van still appears to have a more spaciuos feel to it. Yes, it's a given that things will have changed between 1978 and 1993, but still. I was thinking about doing a revamp prior to finding his blog, and now I really want to get renovating.

Sadly, the follwer widget seems to be messed up for me, and I can't follow his blog as the template he's using has killed those nifty little options at the top that you see on my blog (and almost everyone elses). I did have one blog template that did the same, and changed because I didn't like that I couldn't click the "new post" at the top right.

Plenty more reading to do, but for now, it's my weekend starting right away, and I want to enjoy it. Have a great weekend all!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Heh... Paypal

I've been thinking. I need to survive, and maybe as time goes on, I can make a dollar or two from people who want to help donate a dollar to the starving vandweller fund. lol I wonder if I'll get any hits. The link is to the right! Just under my profile.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ugh... ex's....

Not a vandwelling post, but I need to get this out of my head, and writing is the best way to do it.

I have this ex, she's perfect in many ways, but she's promiscuous, and an attention seeker as well. I have discovered that this could very well be attributed to her Borderline Personality Disorder. We were off and on throughout our entire relationship, and she drove me crazy but I love her, and that makes it all the more difficult. We chose to remain friends, but she's all over the map, and sometimes, it's difficult to handle her.

Being the type of person I am, I am always there for those I care about, and this holds true for her as well. In fact, I have been learning recently, that I have basically been the only constant in her life outside of her family. The guys that she meets, are for lack of a better words, pigs. They are not interested in hanging out with her unless she puts out, and thus she's getting ditched a lot by these guys. Now, this is partially her fault, because she gives them the impression that she is an easy conquest, but when it comes time to hang out, that's all she wants. Go for a coffee, and stay in public.

Is it wrong for me to be a little happy about her getting ditched? For all her craziness, and the craziness that she got in me which made me do some things I am not proud of. Ashamed of actually. I still want her. I still want to be there for her, and still want to have a real relationship with her. I still want to be there for her whenever she needs me. We haven't done anything more than text this past month, and I have been going out on dates as well (Only stood up once, but that was resolved with a new date set). I'm not really looking for a relationship, but some good friends, and they're all aware of that. If something comes from it, then so be it. I don't talk about her to anyone, and as far as everyone is concerned, she's a distant memory.

I'd love to just be over her, and move on with my life, but damn. I just can't. I fell for this girl. Hard. Now I can only try to be supportive of her, and hope that eventually, she'll figure out that I've been the only one to want her for her, not just her body. I was there for some really bad times of depression from her, I would even take time off work to be with her (which is easy to do since I can work from home) when she needed me.

I don't know, maybe I'm a fool...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Hydrogen Generator

Surfing this forum that I am on, someone asked about HHO Conversions for a vehicle. There's not a lot of information out there on these, and everone seems to be selling kits, or really expensive How-To's. I decided once when I came across it to buy one with some money I had sitting in my PayPal account from a couple years back, and it was a $10 buy for a really really basic Hydrogen generator. It's composed of a couple mason jars, and assortment of other stuff to get it running. I don't know if it'll work or not, and I have to build and test it out yet.

The idea (of this one at least) is that the generator produces Hydrogen, which is pumped into the engine through vacumn lines as you need to hook this up to existing vacumn lines going into your engine. This would be pretty useless in a place where winter is often below freezing, but you could save money in the spring, summer, and fall (if it actually works).

I'm curious, has anyone ever built a Hydrogen Generator? How did it work for you? Did it actually help save gas? Living in a van, you can consume a lot of fuel, and with the cost of gas going up to near unaffordable prices these days, every bit counts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blogger Stats - Actually rather interesting

So I was mucking about on the blog since all I can do is post. Have been unable to log in. Well, I can log into the dashboard, but if I go to view a blog (including my own) I'm not logged in. The forums are showing many people are having the same issue. Anyways, I clicked on the "Stats" button for this blog, and was surprised to find that I have readers in Russia and Ukraine (I'm second generation Canadian, but my family comes from Ukraine), and even China! I also have had hits from iPhone, and Playstation 3. Very cool. People are checking me out from unconventional devices :)

It's so facinating to see what brings people to your blog. Several hit from google searches, so I checked out one of the searches "Canadian Van Dwellers", and I'm #7 on the list currently. That's a very cool thing to me. In order to bring up my stats, I want to start blogging more about the van, and upgrades that are moving along.

As an FYI, stay tuned. Next month I'll be picking up a couple things, and starting to update the van :)

Thought I would share since I found it so interesting.

Pageviews by Countries
United States 697
Canada 315
United Kingdom 176
Australia 43
China 20
Germany 16
Ukraine 15
Russia 14
Sweden 10
Ireland 8

Pageviews by Operating Systems
Windows 1,163 (84%)
Macintosh 154 (11%)
iPhone 27 (1%)
Other Unix 15 (1%)
Linux 10 (<1%)

Rain Rain Go Away!

It has been raining the entire weekend, and with the province wide fire ban, made for a lousy May Long weekend. The rain is supposed to continue straight through this week and into next weekend as well. Thankfully, the van is nice and sealed, with no leaks.

I can't imagine what camping would have been like this past weekend for those without a van, tent trailer, or motorhome. I have heat, and electricity. I can sit back, watch a movie, and entertain a few people while cooking a nice meal. Cooking isn't something that tent campers really could do aside from a propane stove.

On another note, I met with a financial advisor recently, and should be able to get the finances under control, and a plan in place to get out of this debt I have. Apparently, $16,000 in debt isn't that much. It's huge to me.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Turning your friends onto the idea of Vandwelling

What the? Three posts in ONE day??? haha, I have plenty to say today I suppose.

So I was chatting with a friend of mine about this May Long weekend, how it's supposed to rain all weekend, AND the area he's going camping at has a fireban. Well, that's where a van comes in great use. If the weather is crappy, and you can't have a fire, you're going to be cold, miserable, and hungry in a tent. In a van, you can cook your meal, turn on the furnace to stay warm, and sit back watching a movie under the covers with your partner. Why do that when you can do it at home you ask? Because it's NOT at home, you get up, look out your window and see wilderness. That's why.

This friend has partied with me before in my van with some other friends when we went out to the bar for karaoke. We all partied, and pre-drank in the van listening to music and socializing and saving money on booze. Afterwards, I went to bed parked outside the bar, got up in the morning, and headed off. My friends, while making the customary "down by the river" joke, love the van. Some may never actually want to live in one, but they are also stuck on the stick-built mentality.

This friend has expressed a passing interest in what I had been doing (living in the van) last summer, and while he says he'd love to do something like that, he can't because he is living with someone right now. That's totally fine. I tell him that doesn't stop him from getting a campervan, outfitting it, and using it for camping. It also becomes that emergency shelter for things such as doing something that puts him in the doghouse, or if there's a fire and now has no where to live, or worst case scenario; the dreaded break up.

Even if you don't plan on living in a van, it can be a wonderful backup plan for the "just in case" scenarios. The "I want to camp all weekend away from people and campgrounds, but still have power" scenarios, and even the, "I want to actually go to a bar, drink my face off, and not drive or cab home 9because the cab driver always takes the long way home)" scenarios.

Just because this blog is written about living in a van, doesn't mean that anyone stumbling across it can't simply do a similar setup just to have weekends away. The freedom is still there, you just plan a bit differently. I never have to pack, or think about buying food for the trip. I have it all there, but a weekend warrior will have to think of what to bring for the weather, and what to buy for food.

The van can also serve (for the more paranoid) as a "bug out" van. You know, the war is coming, and you "bug out" of town, away from people, and hopefully hostility along the way. There are a myriad of reasons to just have one of these babies parked out back. You may not use it daily, or even weekly, but it's there. It's your safety net.

So what are you waiting for fellow readers?

Consolidated Links (aka The Wish List)

I realized that I am posting about many things that I want to do to upgrade the van, and make life more liveable in it. As I do this, the previous posts with links will eventually slide down out of sight, and what happens when I have been blogging for years? This is the solution. I may blog about a certain product, and how it's working, but I will also update the link in this post, with a link to the post about it. To the right is the Page for it. Same title as this post. :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Swampy Cooler

Well, here I am posting again yet another great little product that I think I will be buying. I'm keeping my eyes open on, craigslist, ebay, and bargain finder for this.

The MightyKool 3-Speed Personal Cooler sounds like it'll be perfect for my van. Last year, it would get so hot in the van, that I couldn't wear pretty much anything, and would have to find places that I could have the side door open to get a breeze through. I didn't much care for that, especially when trying to sleep at night, or have a nap during the day.
Brand new, this thing is pricey. $337 USD to ship to Canada. I'm sure I could get it delivered to somewhere on the other side of the border, and then pick it up but that'll only knock off about $45. Still, $45 is $45.

Best best is to hopefully find one for cheap on the classified ad sites.
I think with all these products that I list here, I might get a widget that will give me that referral bonus for those that click through and buy. Maybe I can make just enough money to start buying these things myself as well!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Automatic Roof Vent? Oh Yes!

One thing I hated last year was sleeping, and it's so warm in the van that it's near unbearable, but I can't have the door open, and not enough power to be running a fan all night (See post about dead battery). Then there was having the roof vent open, which was great, until it started to rain in the middle of the night, and I'd get little drops hitting me in the face, waking me up, and disrupting my sleep, as I am now awake, have to get out of bed, and close the vent. Falling back asleep for me is difficult once I'm out of bed, and then there's the sound of rain, which is nice and I want to listen to it.
This fan appears to be a great solution to those issues: FanTastic Model 6000
It for one, has a fan, which I don't have right now, so already a bonus. This fan though, is the top of the line it appears. There are others on the site, so have a look for what suits you. This one is the one I need. Aside from just being a vent with a fan, it's a vent with a fan that can either pull air in, or push air out, has variable speeds so you don't need to make it a wind tunnel in your van. It has a both temperature and rain sensors. The temperature sensor will monitor the temp inside the van, and open and close the vent, turn on the fan, and keep a constant temperature inside. The rain sensor will close the vent so you don't get water damage inside.
That whole getting out of bed to open and close the vent? A thing of the past, this beauty even comes with a remote.
How cool is that? (No pun intended)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A 12v Freezer

So, scouring the forums here, I came across a post about freezers. I don't have a lot of space in my van, and the fridge has a "freezer" in it that is large enough to keep a bag of mixed veggies cold, nothing more really. I need a freezer.

Now, this one, is expensive, but the reviews all seem to be good, except for one guy whose unit broke down, but I'm sure he could get it replaced under warrenty.

For the price, I wonder if the free shipping and handling is only for USA, or for Canada as well. I guess I could always get it delivered somewhere in the States, and pick it up. Maybe on the other side in Montana. I hear that some people near the border run a service to allow you to send stuff to them, and pay $20 when you pick it up.

So much to do, so little time. I need to get my butt back in the van, and actually live my life.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Depression, and the open road

There are times in a persons life when they need to stop and look inwards. I'm coming up to that time now, and I don't know if I like what I see. I have all these responsibilities that are preventing me from being able to get myself in that right place. I currently am living in a stick built while I try to slowly get the van back to a condition that will allow me to live in it full time again, and with many of the troubles in my personal life, I find that I need to get away.
I miss the freedom that being in the van offered me, and I feel that even though there was an insurmountable amount of heartache for me last year, being in the van helped me be a bit happier. I find that I am still down, and it causes me to do some crazy things that I would never have even dreamed of once.

Living in the stick built has caused me to be more anti-social, and I don't really visit anymore. I don't know why, I just don't feel up to it, and that could be a part of this depression I am in. Decided this morning that I would most likely sell off everything I own, and get back in the van asap. I also decided that a counsellor would be a great idea, and possibly anti-depressants even though I have always been against taking medication.

After amking those decisions, I find out today that the company I work for (I work for an IT Staffing company) won't be getting it's contract renewed for the Service Desk at the company that we are contracted to. Now, I'm not currently in the Service Desk, but I am on a project for another team. Once that project is complete, if they choose to not hold onto me, I would be back at the Service Desk, and facing no job by years end. Fun times.

Things keep adding up, and they pile on top of eachother until I am swimming in an ocean of worries, pain, and regrets. I need out of my place, and back into freedom. I find that I want to drop off the radar for a while, and just focus on healing myself, but with all this stuff, I can't. I could lose everything, and then have nothing. If I can manage to sell off everything, I can start looking into getting away for a time, and trying to heal myself. Having only the van to worry about as a possession, would be far better than the stick built with all my stuff.
I can work anywhere, and just live. I came across a website today on that talked about organic farming, and volunteer work. I can travel and volunteer, which in turn gives me food, and a place to stay. Well, park my van in my case. Leave the lodging to those without a home on wheels. The site, forthose who would like to know, is (.com for USA). Have a peek, it's interesting. I want to get myself to a spot where I can be happy again, and I have to do the things that make me happy. No restrictions made me happy.

Has anyone else ever suffered the depression, and been in the van? How was it? What were your experiences?

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I was reading about homesteading just now, and I have to say that I think it would be a brilliant idea. Technically, I would only need an acre, perhaps less, and access to water. A spotto park, and the rest of the land would be used for growing food, and keeping livestock such as rabbits and chickens. I'm thinking about the possibility of posting an ad to see if there are any farms nearby here in Calgary that would be willing to offer up a small area of unused land in the corner of their property that I could use, or buy for a small fee. Park the van, and get a cheaper car. Being close to the city would be beneficial as I am trying to save money of course, and still work at my full time job downtown.

Has anyone done this before where you are not a full time traveller of the roads? I have a stable job that pays well, but all my money goes into bills right now, so I am almost always broke, and just trying to get by. Calgary doesn't allow chickens to be kept in the city, but there is an organization that is fighting the bylaw. I can keep rabbits, but nothing else. Having a permanent area to keep the rabbits is what I really need if I can't get a small plot of land, far enough away from other people. I like my privacy as well.

With the recent updates to the iPhone 4, I can now use it to gain internet from my laptop, so I would be able to still be connected, and that is really my only other concern.


Something happened when I tried to post the other day, and I lost my entire post. I'm rather annoyed about that, as I had a lot of information. So I will try again, and attempt to capture what I had written then...
I have been pouring over websites, forums, and everything else I could get my hands on without spending a dime. I can't be bothered with paying for anything right now. I have too much else to pay for.

I have previously posted my "To Do" list of improvements for the van, but I feel I need to focus on a couple different things right off the bat. This is my "To do before the To Do list

New batteries. Last year, my "house battery", would only really provide me about 2 hours of laptop time before cutting out. Not knowing anything about them then, I assumed that was normal, but the more I read, the more I realize that it is not normal. I then discovered this winter that both batteries (starter, and house) were dead, and frozen. As it turns out, the isolator is shot, and one of the batteries was too, thus draining the good one, and killing it. I now need to replace both starter battery, and house. I am planning on purcahsing three new "house" batteries. One will sit under the hood, and the other two inside the van under the seats. Now before anyone gets upset, they will be in battery boxes, and a hole to the outside drilled to allow for the hydrogen gas to be vented.

I have a large space under each seat in the front of the van that I believe will house the batteries just fine. With three house batteries, I should be able to go without charging for days according to many sources, based on my power usage. Once a week, I could plug in and charge them.

As for charging, I need the following:
Smart Charger: These are designed for deep cycle batteries, and will, as the description reads, "Automatically switches from full charge to maintenance mode to maintain batteries during prolonged periods of storage without overcharging or damaging the battery". Now, mine won't always be in storage, but charging the entire day and night, you're going to want them to not over charge. With three batteries that would need to be charged, I think I will need three of these chargers to permanently hook up. What do you think?

To prevent that annoying "drain the starter battery" issue ever again, I am going to spend the extra cash, and install something better than an isolator...

The continuous duty solenoid: What happens is that when you turn on the key, power goes to the solenoid which activates a magnet inside it. The magnet lifts a bar which makes a connection between the two large posts, allowing charging current to flow from the starting battery to the house battery. When you turn the key off, current no longer flows to the solenoid, the magnet turns off, the bar falls and there is no longer a connection between house and starting battery. That means that if the engine is running, the house battery is being charged, and if it is off, the house battery can not run down the starting battery. The best of both worlds! Absolutely no drawbacks.

I was talking about solar panels previously, but two issues currently for me. First the cost, they are pricey, and second, my rook if molded fiberglass, with nothing really supporting it. I am looking into building a new roof for the van with the assistance of a welder friend of mine, and having better support (braces, etc) which will allow not only for me to walk up there, but also hook up panels, batteries, storage, or whatever.

Having new batteries, the solenoid, and chargers, my power issues should go away. If I set it up correctly, I should be able to even route the chargers through to the plug in the front of the van, and plug in during the winter, keep the block heater running, and batteries charging. That is something of a "wish", not a "to do" though.

What are your thoughts on the above?

Monday, April 25, 2011


I hate Yahoo! Groups. I hate that I can never find information, and I get bombarded by emails from very single person who coughs in one of those groups.

Forums have the ability of organizing all the information you need, and still allowing you to socialize. Without irritating other members. I don't know why those groups are still being used...

There is a forum out there, and I think that more of us should be getting on it, and away from that awful Yahoo garbage.

Check it out!


I found another forum which is very active, so I want to post it here. The forum could use some work in how it's laid out, but lots of good information, and more active than the other. :)

When will the winter end?

Well, winter has lasted longer than I was hoping, and who knows how much longer it'll be...

I've moved into a new job that looks like it just might become permanent from the project work I have been doing on it. This will afford me more money to really get the van to where I want it for this coming winter (It's never too early to start thinking about the winter).

First things first, I'll be getting that new insulation into the walls, and will post on it for you! Going to take a bit of time, as I have to pay some other bills as well.

EDIT: Ahh, there was a problem. Click here to read

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring is in the air

The long and arduous winter is coming to a close. Snow is starting to melt, the birds are beginning to sing, and the temperature is staying above freezing for the most part. This winter has been particularily taxing. It was an extremely cold winter, and my batteries actually froze and bulged. Now I need to purchase new ones for the van, and begin my upgrading soon as well to insulate, and self-contain the old girl. On the list for this year:

  • New isolator. It turns out the current one is no good, one battery drained, froze, and drained the other which then froze.

  • New batteries

  • Insulation

  • Furnace Repair

  • Tune up

  • New Upholstery (I really don't care for the 70's look)

  • Better curtains for blocking out the light

  • Build a permanent drawer system to house both clothing and food

  • Look ito increasing the size of the "closet" to hold more than 4 or 5 shirts

  • Solar Panels

  • Battery Bank

  • Paint the interior so I stop looking at all that brown

  • Insulate the underside of the floor (Thinking so sort of spray foam)

  • Build a cage onto the back door to house propane and water

  • Fix the cupboard that has detached itself from the ceiling in one corner
Fanciful Ideas:

  • I'd love to get a completely new roof. One that isn't made out of fiberglass that can break because it is so flimsy. That way I can get the solar panels up on it and not worry that they'll come crashing through the roof. Been trying to think of something that could be done. Being able to support the weight of a human would be great. Any ideas on what would be good material to use? I basically want to use the current roof as a mold, and build something stronger, yet professional looking.

  • It would be nice to paint the van outside as well. Make it look a bit more modern. I apologise for the long delay in posting the next blog post, but I did warn you it would happen! The blog postings should start getting more frequent now that it's getting warmer.