(I’m on the road in some remote locations with very poor internet. My posts will probably be off schedule, but I will post whenever I can. I’m writing this from Mexican Hat, Utah which has a 1x cell signal and it is slower than molasses!! So I will probably be late answering your comments or they may not get answered at all. I love being on the road, I don’t know why I put it off for so long!! It’s also my first time traveling with a group and so far I’m enjoying it too!! The picture below shows why the town is called Mexican hat:)
I believe most humans have two mutually contradictory needs:
- The need for home, place and community.
- The need for adventure and wandering.
We developed those genetic needs because for a million years we lived in small hunter-gatherer groups that were deeply connected to each and to a general place, but at the same time were mostly nomadic. So while we moved often, we were deeply focused on a small group of individuals and on a particular part of the country. Then suddenly 10,000 years ago we abandoned that life and developed agriculture and settled down to one place, becoming immobile; which inevitably gave rise to civilization. All of us still have both of those genetic needs, but it seems like the majority have lost touch with it.
I don’t believe it’s gone though, I believe it is suppressed and dormant, waiting to make a comeback. We vandwellers are people for whom the balance has shifted back to a more natural state of longing for adventure, travel and connection to nature and has become so strong that we have no choice but to obey it. Society may scoff and mock us, but society be damned! Our feet itch and we have to move! Or as the great John Muir said:
The mountains are calling and I must go. ~~John Muir
My natural tendency is to be homebody, I like having a home with a place for everything and everything in its place; and I really like being in that home! Moving too much becomes a burden. I know that sounds bizarre coming from a guy who does everything he can to encourage others to live a mobile life. But once you understand our genetic history, I don’t see a contradiction at all. Like all other humans for a million years before, I have itchy feet–just not all that itchy! Staying at the same place for 2-3 months feels good to me. It gives me a sense of home and I get to know the area. But after a few months it stops feeling like “home” and starts to feel suffocating. That’s when I know it is time to move! Plus, if I stay in one spot too long the weather will give me the kick in the butt that I need to get moving. That’s something vandwellers have in common with our ancient ancestors: moving with the weather.
A few years ago I moved into a trailer with the specific goal in mind to meet these two seemingly opposite needs: 1) the need to have a home to be attached to 2) the need to wander and meander. The idea was that I would live in the trailer 8-10 months of the year and wander in the van the others. It sounds like a great idea, but I haven’t done it up till now. I do know that the trailer is working perfectly as a home. It’s only 6×10 but it feels huge to me and I am snug as a bug in a rug in it. I love it! And it is easily portable, the longest I have stayed in one spot with it is 3 months (I’m not counting the six months I spent in my campground as a campground host).
What I don’t know is if I will like traveling in a van. I’ve lived in vehicle for 11 years now but none of them was a plain, low-top van. My first vehicle was a box van which was huge and had a high-top. The second vehicle I lived in was my home-built camper on my F150 4×4. It was only 6×7 foot but I could stand up in it. The third vehicle I’ve lived in is the trailer, which also has a high-top, so this is my first time living in a standard van. I’ve never liked having to bend over in a van so I’m interested to see if I can live with it for an extended period. Only time will tell, and that time is now!
I’ve been in the Kaibab National Forest for 3 months now and the weather is turning cold. We are waking up to hard frost every morning (overnight lows in the 20s) so it’s time to move. I’ve been planning a fall road trip into Utah for a while now and then when I saw my friend Forrest was offering Jeep tours into the Colorado Mountains, I couldn’t resist. My itchy feet demanded to be on the road again!
So I found a storage yard in Flagstaff that would take the trailer for $35 a month and no lease required (I could leave it there for a month, a year or a decade). On October 1, 2014 I dropped it off and hit the road! The first day we drove up to Goosenecks State Park in Utah where I am writing this. We passed by Monument Valley but it was late in the day and no one wanted to stop just then. We may go back tomorrow. There are three others with me so far, Judy in a Chevy Express van, Al in a Chevy Express van and we met up with Victoria in Goosenecks. She is driving a Jeep Compass SUV.
It’s only my second night in the van and everything is cluttered and just thrown in so it is much too early for me to give a fair report. But, this is as bad as it will get and it is still okay. Every day I will get things put away and a little better and more organized. It’s ironic that I constantly preach the need to be organized and here I am just moved into a van and it’s disorganized and confused. I guess it is a case of “Do as I say and not as I do”! But everything I know about vandwelling I’ve learned the hard way from doing things wrong then getting them right. I think this is going to be one of those things!
Everyone is loving it here so we will stay at least one more day. Our next stop from here is in Mule Canyon in Utah to see the House on Fire Native American Ruins. I’ll keep you posted as the trip progresses.