Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How I tend to camp and some final words on the subject of the van

Before I wrap up this whole long-winded thesis packed with information of questionable value, (Again, I did warn you!) a quick word about how I travel in general.

Basically there are three distinct modes.

The first is getting down the road and covering miles. This gets me from point A to a distant point B quickly. I use this most often when going between where I live and where I grew up (And my family still resides.) some 1300 miles away. I get an early start, (Not a chore since I’m a morning person.) take leisurely breaks, and tend to keep going until bed time. If I stopped earlier I’d just be sitting around reading a book or trying to watch bad TV so I might as well just sit in the driver’s seat and knock off a few more miles. On these occasions the far corners of truck-stops and rest areas are my stop of choice and this is where I use my stealth curtain instead of the window covers. If I put the window covers in place it’s pretty obvious that I’m sleeping in there whereas when I hang the curtain just behind the front seats it looks like the divider many vans have between the driving and cargo compartments. This is also where the ear-plugs come in. Rest areas and truck-stops can be noisy places, really noisy!

The second mode of travel is bopping along taking in the sights, stopping at museums, hiking trails, driving scenic routes and stuff like that. My primary stopping place for these kinds of travel days are private campgrounds. They are easy to locate, simple to get in and out of and pretty much always have showers and laundry facilities. However, you do end up paying an average of about $30 a night.

The third mode, and frankly one I am still learning to use after a lifetime of deadlines, appointments, meetings and lists of things that have to be accomplished, is finding a good place with nice scenery, maybe an assortment of nearby trails, and just chilling out for a few days. BLM land, (In the west anyway.) national forests, state forests, state parks, even the occasional lightly used national park, and yes, there are some of those, are all great places for this type of camping. Generally these run from free to $20 a night.

So that’s it. While it may not have all the ‘amenities’ of a McMansion, my van is versatile, provides a comfortable home, and works quite well for me, thank you very much. On top of that it’s a comfortable ride, handles easily and, all things considered, quite economical to operate. Over the 30k+ miles I’ve driven it as of this writing I have averaged right at 20 miles to the gallon which is pretty good for a motor home! (Yes, I have recorded every single mile and gallon since I picked her up at the factory! I can be a little OCD that way.) Other than making sure I have 9’8” of vertical clearance I don’t have to be concerned about taking it on the kind of roads that make your toes tingle and would twist a larger rig into a pretzel, and at 19.5’ long it fits into any standard parking space. (But stay out of parking garages!! Not enough height.) I feel all warm and fuzzy when I climb into her at the beginning of a trip and have still felt that way at the end of a 45 day, 6700 mile journey.

What more could I ask of my rambling van? So let’s go camping!

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