I am taking a detour away from my doom-and-gloom to talk about my search for Skippy. Skippy is what I have decided to name whatever I convert into a house-on-wheels.
I say ‘whatever I convert’ because my original plan of converting a Dodge Pro-Master van is proving to be more of a challenge, mainly the possibility of finding one in my price-range even on the used market. So I have broadened my horizons and am now beginning a search for alternatives, namely mini busses and small shuttle vans. Why? Well, I want something with windows (and if I have too many windows I can always board them up). Two, these things are coming up in auto auctions for prices I may have a shot at. Now of course finding one in decent shape that might not be out of state…, well this is what the internet is for.
A few years ago I came up with an idea that some people seemed to feel a need to caution me against- buying a used rv and living out of it. I was cautioned against this because of things like, how I would know how to fix stuff, empty water tanks, and other things. I said nothing at that time but now I will say this: I can ask, find someone to help me, or turn to the internet. Any of those options will not kill me nor bring about the end of the world.
I’m going to stop right and talk briefly about this naysaying that I don’t know what I’m doing and can’t figure things out or get help bullshit. For some reason that I will never figure out, nor do I want to, there are people in this world who think that I will fall apart if I am faced with something that breaks, goes wrong, or whatever. I don’t ever recall running away screaming from shit like this in my life. Yeah, I’ve gotten pissed off at shit breaking but so has everyone else. And yes, maybe I’ve, GASP, had to ask for help, or figure it out for myself.
So as I broaden my search for my future-baby Skippy, I am also beginning in earnest preparations for converting it. I have the interior layout in head and have had that for a long time. There are amazing things I’ve been finding online for this, like this really cool mini fridge I saw on Amazon a couple of days ago that was a nice compact design with a clever layout inside and also energy efficient. I also saw this shower and toilet combo that was fiberglass and easy to install. In addition, I’ve also begun to figure out storage options because space is at a premium in such a small house on wheels. Also, with a former school bus or shuttle bus I would have a lot of windows and I want a set of herbs at my kitchen area and maybe a small tomato plant.
I’ve learned a lot by reading not just about van life as it’s called, but especially a lot from the boondockers. Boondockers go off-road in their vans and some of the stuff they’ve come up with is fantastic. They recommend solar panels you pull out and deploy on the ground instead of bolting them to your van’s roof so you can catch the sun wherever you need to. I’ve even read about some of them carrying a collapsible rain barrel and having a portable water filtration system because water is always at a premium.
So I will begin to build a spreadsheet and fill it in with items and numbers. Yes, I know how to use Excel in that simple way. In addition, I’ll be visiting places like Lowe’s Home Improvement to look at certain materials to see which ones I want to work with and also Ikea because a lot of van life-people recommend their stuff because it’s lightweight and easy-to-assemble.
I know I’ll need help with stuff and I know I can find people and work out a deal with them, though my only non-negotiable point is that I am present when all the work is being done so I can see what is being done and how, and ask a hundred questions about what to do if something breaks or goes caca.
And one last thing, if I get a old mini school bus, I won’t paint it gray and call it the ‘Barn Burner’ because I wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a crazy storm chaser. (it was what the character Dusty, played by the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the movie, ‘Twister’).