November 18, 2017 marked the 90th day of Team JUsT living in The Prairie Schooner.
While the first few days were quite the learning curve, with a few harrowing experiences, we both think that this is absolutely the best choice for our Next Chapter!
The dogs are still enjoying the never-ending car ride. The old dog is still hanging in there! The new dog has adapted readily to van life.
We survived the 110°F August heat. And we have endured a few nights in the 30°F range.
November in South Texas is the epitome of fall! Glorious days in the mid-70s, and brisk nights in the 50s! Perfect sleeping weather!
August was tough. While we had done plenty of research, the reality of living in a van is nothing like the pictures of beautiful sunsets, and sparkling cocktails, on a lakeside.
It’s tough, no climate controll, and we are perpetually inundated by dust, sand, sandburs, fire ants, dog hair, gnats, mosquitoes, flies, bees, etc.
It is also glorious! as we are surrounded by and much more closely attuned to nature and the rhythm of the seasons and days!
As it gets dark, we wind down our day, only spending a couple hours reading with the lights on after dark. We go to bed much earlier than ~Before~.
Our circadian rhythms have reset. We awake shortly after dawn, with sunshine streaming through the vent fan on the roof above our bed. This little skylight gives us a glimpse of the day”s weather, before we even stir. Through our little dorsal-hole view of the sky, we catch a glimpse a beautiful blue sky, the occasional poof of white cloud, the glowering of a thunderhead glaring down upon our little van… all of Weather peers in our little vent at us.
I’ve discovered that Days are very similar to the changing of seasons. Overnight is the dark, cool Winter of the day. Dusk and dawn are the Spring and Fall. And high-noon is the Summer of each day.
The sound of rain on a tin roof, is the identical sound that a little metal van creates in a thunderstorm! We have been lulled to sleep by the pitter patter of rain on our little “tin roof”…
One of the best decisions that we made was to use a conventional mattress across the back of the van! Being able to get a good night’s sleep, fully stretched out, seems to have been a saving grace! We have slept better and longer in the last 90 days then we did ~Before~!
Or one Achilles’ heel is water. In a sticks and bricks house you simply turn the tap, or flush the toilet. When living in The Prairie Schooner, getting water is an event that we have to do every third day or so. We also have to dump the little potty every fourth day or so. So we are much more in tune with our intake, and output! Another aspect of Nature…
We didn’t plan very well on the cooking aspect of living in the van. Somehow we imagined cooking gourmet meals, and were foresightful enough to purchase a wonderful stove and oven, however we didn’t plan very well on where the stove would reside. And it got stuffed under the bed. Behind several other things… Which makes it a major pain in the ass to dig it out. Which means we haven’t cooked very often.
The immediate remedy is that I dug my emergency bag out, retrieved my Sterno camping stove, and we have used the Sterno much more than we have the little propane stove and oven. Every morning I make coffee on a Sterno!
We have drafted plans to remedy the inaccessible stove in the near future.
The benefit to that little SNAFU, is that we eat much more fresh food, raw food, and wholesome food! When you don’t have the ability to bake lasagna, you might be relegated to eating salad. LOL!
Getting up in the morning and walking into the local Walmart to purchase a pint of milk and two peaches, is a much better breakfast than stumbling out to the kitchen and dropping a set of PopTarts into the toaster!
Overall we’ve done quite well! Our budget took quite a ding the first month, but the second and third months we have settled into a steady rhythm. While our grocery budget line item is still larger than we would like, we both actually feel much better for having eaten a much higher quality of food over the last couple months.
We’ve mastered where to get water, and how often we will need it. We’ve mastered where to dump our little piddle pot. We have lost the reluctance to urinate in close proximity to each other; however, we both still are shy enough that we require that the other turn their back and plug their ears! LOL! We have gotten the dogs in a routine of being walked three or four times a day, and they are now efficient at performing their “doggy duty “in a reasonable amount of time, and while on a lead. We found the places that allow Rock to get to work with the least harried commute, and the least distance. We’ve discovered that on weekends, we can camp in his work parking lot, because nobody else is there… And he works the weekend shift! And weekends are the time that we do not want to be in a Walmart, Home Depot, grocery store parking lot… That’s when everybody wants to be doing their shopping! During the week the city and county parks are empty, and I seem to have them almost to myself —To air out the dog blanket, wipe down the van, purge and re-organize, and a myriad of other little chores that seem to invent themselves!
We have escaped a couple of times out of the city, since Rock works four days on and three days off. With our grocery budget continuing to run over, we have not been able to escape the city as much as we would like. We are still addressing this… And hope to have a few more photographs that include sunsets over a lake with a sparkling cocktail! 🙂
In the meantime, The one final obstacle that we seem to struggle with is finding sufficient Wi-Fi to use. While it was hot, I was unable to leave the dogs in the van and go hang out in the library… It would be very cruel to cook the dogs, while I’m lounging in the air conditioning. However when we all cook together, I did not feel quite so bad as I could pour water in the fur of the old dog to help keep him cool.
We will continue to address the Wi-Fi situation, but have not quite come up with a solution worthy of sharing… It’s pretty much what you’ve heard, pull up close to the Starbucks.
Overall, we’re very pleased. 90% of our research and planning has turned out exactly as we envisioned. With very few glitches and many benefits to our streamlined and minimal life!
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