It’s been a few months since my last post, and so much has changed. I moved to Los Angeles with pie-in-the-sky ideals – that I would land that perfect gig, find that perfect tiny spot and life would be just grand. Well, not so fast.
Fast forward 2 months and I now find myself once again rubber tramping – this time in Marina del Rey. According to my new friends and acquaintances, this is the vehicle-living capitol of the country. I sure can see why. It is absolutely beautiful here, and the vibe and energy are amazing. It’s a common sight here to see all ages and walks of life residing in everything from a compact car to a Mercedes Benz Sprinter. Talk about coming full circle.
The journey has not been an easy one. I stayed with family upon my arrival in southern California. While that was a good resting point for me, and very much appreciated, it was time to move on and find my place. I initially took a “long term” position in Hermosa Beach, CA, which included my room and board. That situation did not last due to unforeseen circumstances. I found myself panicking, and with funds and resources extremely low and running out quickly, I almost threw in the towel – almost.
Then, the most amazing thing happened. I saw a craigslist ad posted by a gentleman who rents out vans on a month to month basis – They call him the Venice Vanlord. The rent and deposit are super cheap (only a few hundred bucks). This guy bought a bunch of vans, cleaned them up and began to rent them to people who either need short/long term affordable shelter, or people that are just transitioning while looking for an apartment. They come with a bed. You don’t get a key to the ignition, only the door, which means I am not currently sailing, but docked in a slip. They are parked in perfectly legal spots, in perfectly clean, comfortable areas. They are scattered around the area from Marina del Rey to Venice. My Vanlord has managed to keep this going for the last 2+ years. He’s a genius, and also super nice.
I can walk to the Marina in 10 minutes flat. Another 10 minutes north on the walking trails and I am at Venice Fishing Pier. I can continue all along the beach to the Venice Beach Boardwalk, and all the way up to Santa Monica Pier if I want to.
I recently obtained a part time job within walking distance and I am interviewing for another one as I write this – I need all the income I can get. I am confidant that within a few short weeks, I will be in a much more balanced place, and I can then continue on my journey of saving every penny and purchasing a Eurovan to customize and make my own.
In the meantime, all is right with the world. It feels amazing to be back in the saddle again – and I am grateful.
You know the saying…”when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”. In my case, I haven’t really been handed lemons per se, but life sometimes veers off on its own course. However, veering does not mean you won’t reach your destination. It means destination diverted for now.
7 months ago I traveled here to the San Juan Islands in search of experiences, and boy did I get them. I was able to land a very nice job as a County Appraiser. This position allowed me to explore many islands that otherwise I would not have been able to get to. Some you can only reach by boat, and others you can only fly to. I have also been able to step on property that even lifelong islanders have never been to. What an opportunity, and I am forever grateful. Being able to fly in a tiny plane, or on a County boat a few days a week to outer islands for my JOB…well it sounds exactly how it is – amazing!
Many events have occurred since I arrived in Friday Harbor, WA. I have made lovely friends, explored beautiful places and allowed myself time and silence to reflect on my current path. I have made a recent decision to leave this place and head to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, CA. You heard me right – LA, Tinsletown, LaLa Land, Hollywood – It’s time to hit the road.
After much reflection, I decided that I want to be around some family there. I also want to have more opportunities to pursue those things that I am most passionate about. Los Angeles feels right, and so I will be traveling there at the end of August, 2017.
My goal is to purchase a Eurovan to remodel and create my next tiny home adventure. I have sorely missed living out of my Jeep. I want that freedom back. So, while things here on San Juan Island didn’t go exactly as i’d hoped, I’ve been able to have the luxury of time, and to try some of the best lemonade I’ve ever had!
After 5 months of living out of my Jeep (ok…147 days), I have taken a huge leap to the next step in my quest for off-grid tiny living. While a 60 sq ft jeep is off-grid tiny living in its own right (right?), I made a decision several weeks ago to further my plan.
I recently left Colorado for the San Juan Islands off the Pacific Northwest coast of Washington.
I gave notice to my employer well before I found a job or a place to sleep. I also did not know a soul on the island (of course that has now changed). One of the reasons I chose this place was because of its quieter, small town living, but also because the island has few restrictions on tiny homes – and let’s face it – major eye candy for this girl with roots along the Maine coast.
There is not one traffic signal here, and the speed limit through most of town is 25 mph (goodbye I-25 insanity, Arapahoe Road’s perpetual sea of brake-lights and general mind numbing commutes ). I have been warned that the spring/summer tourist traffic may turn into frustration as the Ferry vehicles get the right-of-way all day, everyday, but I can live with that. It’s a good thing that I can walk the 4 blocks to my job, and to downtown. Believe me, I’ll adjust.
Before I secured a room to rent, I was completely planning to continue my Rubber Tramp ways. However, I am now well aware that it may not have been feasible in a small town population. You can successfully “hide” in plain site in a large Metropolitan area – much less so in a small coastal village where “everybody knows your name..” (c’mon sing it with me now). Much sooner, rather than later, people would begin to ask themselves what the Jeep with Colorado plates is doing parked all over town…. so much for anonymity.
It’s a bit strange to have a room now, with a bed. I have woken up more than once these past few weeks with that “where the hell am I?” feeling. But, I am getting used to it. As luck would have it, I had a job interview by phone a week or so before I left Denver, and subsequently secured a room to rent in a large home in town. While I was not offered the job during said phone interview, I was given the position 2 days after my arrival when I met with the employer in person. It’s amazing how things just effortlessly work out sometimes.
There is much to explore here on San Juan Island. I am looking forward to doing as much of it as I can on a regular basis. It is quite beautiful and pastoral. The forest areas are dense and thick with black , rich soil and vivid green moss growing everywhere, and I mean everywhere – sidewalks, tree trunks, roofs…..
It really is just like the scenes we’ve all watched in the Twilight movies. Super tall trees, moist air, gorgeous meadows tucked away and unbelievable driftwood strewn coastlines. I recently hiked about 4 hours in the woods near an historical area and it was breathtaking (literally, up steep wooded slopes and to the English Camp graveyard).
I kept wishing Carlisle Cullen would show up and offer to have me over for dinner – HAHA just kidding (but not really).
Since I drove the 1,466 miles through over 100 miles of fog (I thought I was going to disappear completely in Wyoming), 2 blizzards, 3 icy mountain passes (Idaho and Oregon) and a Ferry ride to this place, it all makes perfect sense as to why I came here. I didn’t come here because I could, I came here because I wanted to.
Stayed tuned for the release of my guidebook/memoir “Rubber Tramp – The Art of Sleeping Around (in your vehicle)” available on Amazon Books March, 2017.
“please come and visit – stay as long as you want”
Hi guys. It’s been too long since my last post but so much has been going on the last several weeks that I haven’t had a chance to give an update.
I am now officially 4 months in to living out of my Jeep! I can’t believe that I have come this far. Since my last post, I have sat-house for 3 of my friends. My first gig was with Anna and lasted 5 days. I took care of her new home and her precious pooch, Roxie. The second time was for my friend Mary and lasted 4 days over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I also took care of her darling dog Abbey. This latest time is as we speak – I am taking care of my friend Deb’s home and her rabbit for 9 days, until January 2.
It’s interesting to “live” in a home for these short periods of time. It is a comfort, as in “creature” comfort: warm shower, laundry when I need it, sleeping in a bed, cooking and watching TV at my leisure. You know, the stuff we all do living the normal life. But, the strange thing is, while I have very much enjoyed and appreciate these small respites, I realize I actually miss my Jeep during these times. I appreciate my vehicle and all of my belongings so much more. It’s not that I don’t miss living in a home, it’s that I don’t miss all that goes with it. The utility bills, the knick-knacks, the storage of items, the furniture to dust, the dishes to do, the bathrooms to clean… It was tough going through the first real Holiday season with out my kids. No dinner to cook, no tree to decorate and no presents to proudly display beneath it. Bittersweet is the only word I can think of to describe it. It is a big ending in a way, but also a big beginning for me.
I recently made a huge life decision – one that scares the shit out of me, but also feels right. I am leaving my high-paying, thankless job and moving to the Pacific Northwest. I have no employment lined up yet, but I do have some prospects. What money I have saved should give me about 2 months to make this happen. I don’t know what kind of job I will get, but I am not worried about it. I do not know a soul where I am going, but I am not worried about that either. I feel like I am on this giant cliff, and it’s time to take a swan-dive. I thought living in my vehicle was venturing off into the unknown, but this decision is far more uncertain, and honestly quite exciting.
I will be leaving the beautiful Rocky Mountains on January 14, and making the 22 hour drive up to Bellingham, WA. There I will drive onto a ferry, and drive off on San Juan Island. I really can’t explain why I chose this spot, but my gut tells me to go. I will post during my trip and also share some videos along the way. I really hope you have had a fabulous Holiday Season and cheers to the New Year!
I have read a lot of blogs and articles about living out of your vehicle, and the one question that seems to be ever-elusive (like the answer to the $64,000 question, or what your oldest brother really does for a living -yes YOU Bob) is how, and where do you go to the bathroom when you can’t get to a toilet?
Well, gather ’round and listen close because I have decided to spill the beans ( I’m picturing all of us around a camp fire right now…in the forest). The good, the bad and the not so pretty. As a self-inflicted disclaimer, I am aware that I may lose friends, loved ones and respect. But, if you know me, you know that, well.. I don’t care. Letting you in on this secret gives me much more pleasure that ruining friendships, or potential future romantic relationships.
So, here goes….
I make a point to sleep close to either a gas station or a 24 hour business during the week. My routine is to use the facilities before I go to bed and just for the record, I always purchase something so as not to “use” said establishment for my own personal needs. This also works well for when I wake up, as most of us need to use the bathroom first thing in the morning. There are times, however, when I have woken up at 2 am and I really have to pee, or y’know….or on weekends when I am tramping all over creation or in rural areas with no gas station or rest stop in sight. So, I keep what I call my own personal port-o potty in my Jeep. It consists of the following:
Toilet paper, scented (yes, you heard right) garbage bags, a large water bottle (disposable), a device called “GoGirl”, a coffee can with cat litter and baby wipes.
The coffee can is for obvious reasons. I have a small scented garbage bag inside, filled with a few inches of cat litter and a lid on. I have toilet paper and wipes at the ready. If I have to use this particular item, I can just do my business and clean up and tie up the bag afterwards for disposal. It’s no different than when you walk your pet and have to pick up after them (let’s keep comments to thyselves). The GoGirl device is specifically for urinating. It allows women to “pee” standing up like a guy, and into a container if so desired. In my case, I don’t stand up in my vehicle, but it allows me the use of a bottle with no spill, splatter or mess to clean up afterwards. It also allows me the same freedom if I have to stop on the side of the road (c’mon, you’ve had to do that more than once) and I don’t have to squat. It’s a beautiful thing. It is used by hikers, climbers and even concert go-ers when the lines to the bathrooms are just too much to handle. It’s ten bucks at Walmart (camping section).
So there, I’ve said it. I have let you in on a secret that only those who don’t rubber-tramp or travel all over the place in their vehicle want to know. I have not had to resort to these options often, but knowing that I have them helps me sleep even better at night, and gives me comfort when I am out on the open road. I hope that you have enjoyed this insider information. It’s a great tip for anyone, rubber-tramp or not.
A few months ago when I made the decision to dwell in my Jeep, instead of continuing to pay high rent and utilities, I did not really know what impact this choice would have on my life.
It’s funny how “living in your car” can conjure up all kinds of images for many people, running the gamut from a crazy person to a rebel. For me personally, it’s a little bit of both with a lot in between.
What I have come to learn from choosing this lifestyle is that I don’t actually “live” in my vehicle – I sleep in it. This way of life has become a way to actually live.
I have been able to save money, travel, visit family and venture into the surrounding beauty of the Rocky Mountains and explore places I’ve always been curious about. While I work full-time, my weekends can take me wherever I want to go. I have woken up to some of the most breathtaking views: from rolling open plains, to a forest with a river running through it. I have also met some amazing people along the way.
During the week, however, I make a deliberate choice to stay as close to my employment as possible. I have found a secluded trailhead (my favorite) that is tucked away in a nice residential neighborhood. I have a few friends that allow me to park outside their home (I always let them know when I do that), and there is a particular big box retailer that has no issue with letting folks park overnight. These locations so far have worked perfectly for me.
I have, on a few occasions, chosen to pay for a tent site at the State Park in my area. My mother gave me an annual State Park Pass for my birthday recently, and that takes care of the cost of the entrance fee. Staying at the campground gives me a nice opportunity to relax a little, use my culinary skills around the campfire, and just BE.
Throughout this experience of sleeping in my Jeep, I have not had anyone approach me, nor have I had any authorities knock on my window in the middle of the night. While it may happen at some point, I try to be very aware and conscientious of my surroundings. This also helps me to feel more comfortable and in turn I sleep well. I am getting used to this wonderfully simple life every single day. It has allowed me to become more and more who I am at heart. Like I stated before, I sleep in my vehicle, but I live my life. I have no plans to return to the expected, status-quo lifestyle anytime soon.
-The Aspahlt Ocean
Happy October everyone! With this month comes some exciting things this time of year. The leaves are changing in all corners of the US, but because I tramp in Colorado, the Rocky Mountains are my colorful, autumn back yard. Last weekend (September 24) I drove through Golden Gate Canyon State Park. I had never been up there, and I will tell you it is miles and miles of breathtaking nature, views and turning leaves. I highly recommend.
This weekend marks not only heading deep into fall, but also heading toward my most beloved holiday ( i know, i know) – Halloween! So, I have decided to dedicate the next 4 weekends traveling to mostly unknown areas to explore more obscure, possibly, maybe, totally lesser-known haunted places in Colorado.
My first choice is the Central City Masonic Cemetery located just on the outskirts of this historic town. Central City, Colorado boasts many Casinos, Victorian buildings, wild wild west mining saloons and more antique shops than I have seen in a long time. Previous brothels and hotels from the old days, mostly kept in their original state, line the streets and steep hills of this once thriving mining town-turned-gambling mecca in the most beautiful of settings.
The drive up off of I-70 is a bit of a nail-biter but the views are hard to put into words, and well worth it. As I got closer to Central City, which is 8 miles of winding, hair-pin turns, all I could think was how did these people manage to build these thriving, mining towns, literally in the middle of the Rocky Mountains? Perseverance and lots of gold, silver and the potential for vast wealth was my own answer to that question.
I followed my GPS to the location of the cemetery. However, each entrance I tried ultimately did not bring me to it directly (surprise). I waved a few people down in the area to ask them where the entrance was, but no one seemed to know, so I took my chances and parked in what looked like an abandoned parking lot just below the cemetery, as I was able to see a small, weathered building with the Masonic symbol at the top.
I hiked up to the fence line. As I got to the building I struck gold (so to speak) as I realized – this is it!
This is the resting place of John Edward Cameron.
The story is that John and his family had moved to Central City when he was just 7 years old with his father Robert, and his mother Catherine. His father, like many, came out here to mine gold. I was not able to f ind information on where they were originally from. As John grew up, he became a well respected member of the community and had even served with the towns fire department. On November 1, 1887 he mysteriously died at the age of 28 from a heart ailment that was possibly brought on by poisoning. While unmarried at the time, people in the town had observed a young lady, dressed in black silk, visiting his grave site. Everyday from November 1 to late June of 1888, she would be seen at his tombstone and on one occasion, planting a yellow flower. The visits by this mysterious girl suddenly stopped, and she reportedly was not seen again for a few years. Then, on November 1, 1890, she re-appeared at John’s grave and laid a bouquet of flowers before gliding away. Some people began to speculate that the latest sightings of her must mean that she had passed away, and that it was now her ghost that was observed on that day. This “visits” continued until 1899, when a group of people staked out the cemetery in order to find out who this woman was. The towns people had observed her at John’s grave and they said that she was young, and beautiful. However, they noted that her clothing seemed outdated and old-fashioned (even at that time). When she left the cemetery and wandered up the hill toward Bald Mountain, they followed her. But, as she crested the hill, she then disappeared into thin air, and no one could find her anywhere.
Every November 1st it is said that she can be seen visiting John Cameron, who many in the area came to believe to be her lover, in life. She continues to walk the Cemetery every year, and to this day her identity is unknown.
I had to hike up steep trails and across very rocky terrain and ultimately climb under a wire fence to get into the graveyard. It was breathtaking, yet a little sad at the same time. The site is situated on top of a mesa like field that gives you a sweeping, panoramic view of the area. While being very observant and very careful not to tread on any of the graves, I did see some headstones that broke my heart. Little Beulah Parenteau, who only lived for 11 months and 15 days
and baby Florence Druscel Lean (Our Darling), daughter of Olive and William, didn’t make it past 6 months and 2 days in November, 1894.
Many children in these mining towns died before the age of 2 or 3. Many of these deaths were due to harsh winters, dysentery and the fact that there was not adequate medical care at that time in these remote areas. One interesting thing I learned is that baby Florence had a brother born the following June, 1895 named William. He married (Anne Anderson) and had 3 daughters. As of 1940, William Arundel Lean was living in Denver, Colorado with his family, working as a custodian at a public school. He passed away on March 4, 1963 just shy of his 68th birthday.
So, fellow travelers and tramps, this begins my month-long research and adventure to haunted Colorado in the spirit of the Halloween Season. I hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed the adventure. Who knows? You might be able to find me on Halloween at midnight skulking around the Central City Masonic Cemetery – I’d really like to ask the young lady in black her name.
I decided to start this blog as a way to not only document this chosen adventure, but to hopefully offer advice/tips to others that are currently rubber tramping, or thinking about it.
I have in the past used the term “sea of stucco” in describing the masses of housing developments that have popped up all over the country in the last decade or so. I came up with “Asphalt Ocean” as a play on that term to simply describe my new lifestyle. I must have some sort of seafarer gene in my DNA.
I will write mostly about the good, not so good and realities of living in your vehicle by choice. I will include things like where to sleep, bathroom issues, staying clean, cleaning your house and how to navigate with so few possessions, and so much promise.
I have watched many videos and read numerous articles of others who live in their vehicle. My ‘aha’ moment occurred when I realized my lease was up for renewal, and my last child moved out to start her life. Why not? I asked myself. What do I (really) have to lose? Besides, it gels quite nicely with how I would like to live my life: testing my mettle, pushing myself, following my heart and having a much desired, much simpler life for how ever long that may be.
So, while I begin rolling around wherever my Jeep takes me, it’s ultimately to transition to the mother-ship (aka La Petite Abode). If I play my cards right, I’ll be sailing for a long time to come.