It’s Been A While…

I have not posted in a while. It is a new semester and winter has shown its frigid face a few times, but over all this season has been pretty tame. I have not been living in my van. It is in no shape to be lived in let alone driven long distances in my climate. Actually, I take that back, it does fine when driving, it’s the getting it started that sometimes causes me to stress. Sometimes it starts right up, other times it takes a few tries, but sometimes it takes 10 minutes or so – this is when I walk away and try again later. The lack of heater is also a big reason as to why I am not occupying it currently.
The van has been parked in my grandma’s backyard while I save up some money and attend school. School should be my primary focus for the time being anyway. I have been spending lots of time with my x-girlfriend. We are attempting to work on issues that caused us to part. Sometimes things are wonderful… other times I remember exactly why we split.
I need to get back to work on a few papers that are due in a day or so. I have a paper on the Yanomami and Chagnon I need to write by Sunday at midnight and a abstract for a student run commune due Tuesday. I also really need to get to reading out my Norton Anthology for early American Literature. Sometimes I just feel academics isn’t for me, but to do anything I really want to do requires copious amounts of money… or a sugar daddy/mama. Who wants to donate to the “Buy Max A 100 Acres In The Country” fund? I would greatly appreciate it. If you donate, you may be able to come visit once in a while.
So I think the budget idea may be on hold for the moment. Perhaps I’ll try again come March. I could post the data for November I collected, but that’s as far as I rally got. I need something that keeps me interested, keeps me going. I have lost my lust for life.


It rained for probably 24 hours straight. I finally got to use my yellow poncho. The storm made for some wonderful sleep last night. As the raindrops ran down the windows they caught the lot lights behind them. They appeared on the glass as if slow moving sparks showering the ground. I am nearly positive the fiberglass top does not leak. The driver and passenger door on the other hand… The passenger door has a visible gap above it and I can hear air rushing in the driver side door when I drive. During the down pour last night I could see water droplets forming on the inside of the door frames.

Everything felt pretty grimy when the morning came. My thermometer and humidity meter read 60 degrees F and 80 (high) humidity. Later in the afternoon the humidity meter was off the scale. Is this what living in a cloud would feel like? The roof had/has a has thin layer of filth that was made noticeable due to the condensation layer. A heat source should fix or at least help, right? Right. Right…

One last thought: The velcro strips I bought suck. Perhaps the surfaces I adhered them to weren’t that clean. I’ll judgement (too late?) for a while longer. Hopefully this weekend I can clean out the van again and maybe strip off some of the wood panelling. Good bye, 1970s! (I’ll miss you.)

An Extremely Rainy Day

It poured all night. I didn’t want to get up this morning. I took a nap between classes today. I considered sleeping through till work. My shift was short this evening. I ate three sandwiches today, one was a peanut butter, grape jelly, and chocolate chip cookie sandwich. Today really wasn’t that noteworthy.

Yesterday, however, has some substance. I went to the local big box hardware store and bought a role of reflective foil insulation and some velcro strips to block out my windows from outside light, particularly the lot lights at night. There is a dome light in the back that used to test the foil transparency – totally opaque. Now to get a curtain arranged between the cab and the rear area to prevent light and spying from that cabs side windows. Correction: I had a dome light, it stopped working this afternoon. Perhaps the bulb broke.

As noted in the first line of the entry, it poured last night. The interior of the van was completely dry except for the the driver side floor board. Not entirely sure how it got in. Probably from the doors rubber seal.

Post 6

The past two nights have been cold. Well, rather, the mornings have been cold. A friend of mine donated this awesome two person sleeping bag in support of my lifestyle choice. I’ve had the bag for over a month now but just finally used it for the first time. Until now the weather did not necessitate its use. The bag works very well, in fact it works too well at times.

I haven’t been sleeping very well. This is probably due to a few things: sleeping in a Ford Taurus for months, stress from class, among other factors. I think I figured out the optimum sleeping position for maximum stretchability – this can only help my sleep. I also need to do something about the windows/ lot lamps and headlights at night.

The friend mentioned above is pursuing sculpture as his major and desires to create furniture and the like for a living. He has expressed an interest in helping me remodel the interior with a custom set of cabinets for my belongings. He was able to take a look at the van for the first time today. He is envious.

I took the van to the garage I found. The heater core will cost around $60 (I’m cool with that), two gallons of coolant will cost $34 (alright, understandable), the projected five hours of labor is set at $400 (le sigh). Looks like I will be with a heater core for a while. In the mean time I will have to figure out an alternate heat source.

On the note of money, I have started tracking what I make and what I spend. I made a simple spreadsheet and punched in all the things I have spent money on as of a few days ago. I am also keeping track of all the money put into the van and its millage; I want to know what kind of miles per gallon this thing is getting. Let’s call it a “Budget”, a link can be found at the top of the page in the “Menu”.

One of the art clubs on my campus has a small space where they hold small gallery shows. The space holds about seven 11″x17″‘s. The most recent and final show for the semester is themed “things that can kill you.” I threw together a last minute submission last night before bed. I like the way it turned out, but my watercolors could be more vibrant – I have a problem with heavy pigment; hell, I keep an F pencil as my primary in my sketch book.

I set a goal to find new music some time ago and I think I have found something! The band is called Acid King. I’ve only listened to the album once and straight through. My first impression is that I like it. I’m not even sure what to classify them as. What’s in a label anyway?

The Blustery Day

Last night was my second night sleeping in the van. The weather wasn’t nearly as cold, in fact it was quite warm. There were no strange lights peering in through windows. It was a good night.

Today was extremely windy. There was a 40% chance of a storm, instead we got a beautiful Autumn day, amazing clouds, and some of the strongest winds than I can remember.

I found a garage in town with a mechanic that likes to work on the older vehicles. I have an appointment Friday to have the heater core looked at. The lady at the desk was very excited when I told her the year of my van. If only I can find a female my own age with her lust for such a relic.


First Night of Sleeping

Last night was freezing. I wore all my clothes (including socks), gloves, and my hoodie. I also had a blanket. I needed to pee, I was thirsty, and my phone was almost dead (I woke this morning with 3% remaining). Around 1:30 AM I could hear an engine running nearby. Soon there was the beam of a flashlight penetrating the cab windows. I hid under my blankets (as I was mostly doing before hand to stay warm). There was never a knock so I didn’t feel it necessary to make my presence absolutely known. A friend of mine suggested it may have been a thief (there have been thefts in the parking lot on a regular basis). It was literally the vans first night of being on campus. Is this how it’s going to be?

Last night was something like a field test. I knew ahead of time there were many small things that needed addressed – such as darker curtains. I had a few other thoughts pertaining to a possible layout – desk, dresser, kickstand (the van sways seemingly with the smallest movement). The benches that fold into a bed was actually quite comfortable. The weather is getting cold fast. I had planned on having the van prepared for winter months ago but nothing ever goes quite as planned.

I crossed into 98,100+ miles on the odometer today. I wonder how long it will take me to roll it all over.

The First Day Out of Town

Up until now the van has not left its town of purchase. It was first sent to a dealership that was literally one storefront away, then it was off to the tire-shop for five new tires, then finally off to another garage because I didn’t trust the dealership actually did anything (or wanted to for that matter). I picked up the van this morning from the garage. The mechanic changed the oil, tightened some belts, and refilled the antifreeze – otherwise he said the van is good to go with no obvious problems.

I  drove back to my car and started transferring items over.  When I placed my backpack in the passenger seat I noticed a lot of liquid on the floor mat. Turns out all the antifreeze put in was leaking into the cab. I headed back to the garage to tell him and see what he could do about it. On the way there, on the final stretch of road, I noticed my windshield start to fog on the inside followed shortly by white smoke pouring into the cab from somewhere. The return of the white smoke pleased me … sorta. You may be asking “the return?”, yes, the return. It was a couple of weeks ago when I was taking it in for new tires. I had just parked and walked away maybe 20 feet when I hear an engine start up. I was still unfamiliar with the sound of my new engine but it directionally the sound was coming from the van. When I get back to my van it is running and white smoke is pouring into the cab. I get in it, put the key in,  start it up, and abruptly shut it back down. That stopped the smoke. I assumed I had left the key slightly turned too far one way or the other. I had commented on the smoke when I dropped it off at the garage (and the tire-shop for that matter) but no one seemed to have any idea what caused it. Turns out the heater core is bad and thus spilling/evaporating antifreeze.

The mechanic confessed little knowledge of working on older model vehicles nor did he have the necessary part in stock.. He did offer a workaround that takes the heater core out of the loop while keeping antifreeze in the system. I accepted the workaround at the cost of no heat. He suggested the city I was traveling to may have some garages with experience working on such a model. After the workaround the van drove great – no more white smoke. I got it up to 70 MPH on the highway with very little shaking. Now I need to find a mechanic that knows how and wants to work on it – between work and class this may be difficult.

A Lot About the Van, A Little About Me

As I mentioned before, I bought a van. It is a 1972 Chevy G20. I was looking for something stealthy, in good condition, and cheap. As Meatloaf would say, “two out of three ain’t bad.” This G20 is straight out of the 1970’s. The van has an aftermarket conversion done by the company Sundial Camper. The conversion adds lots of headroom, a loft, a table and benches that convert to a bed, drawers, a gravity powered sink, a cooler, wood paneling, and a dash shag green carpet. The side windows consist of two narrow panes that crank out. While its is rather dusty inside, its dry, and comes with all the fixing expected of a 1970’s era vehicle: crank widows, pushbutton radio (I’m not sure if its AM/FM or both…), manual locks, and a full size spare tire.

The van was owned by an old car collector (He as was old and so were the cars he collected). He specialized in car literature, but owned a small building (an old Chevy dealership) that was filled with all things cars: hubcaps, license plates, models. signs, Ford Edsel’s, a Mustang, a Woody, A Model-T, an glass topped gas pump, and of course piles and piles of car manuals, magazines, and advertisements.  There was so much in there, there was even a small box of glass insulators and a four Fire-King mugs with perfect gold rims. He use to drive it back and forth between swap meets filled to the brim with stuff. It got used for a while, then it got put away.

Noted above, the van is a 1972 Chevy G20, It has a V8, and had 98,007 miles when I purchased it for less than a $1000. It’s last inspection was conducted in 1997 and has been sitting in a garage for nearly all that time. Fun Fact: there was a disastrous snowstorm some years back. The van was in a garage with two others, one of which was a convertible. The roof collapsed covering the two cars in snow but creating a barrier around the van. So far I have gotten the van inspected and insured, two new windshield wipers, five new white wall tires, a tank of gas, and the interior hand washed. Currently it is the garage one last time for tune-up and to see about any potentially major problems. The few times I’ve really driven it, it drives as good as I could ask, and sounds better than most cars I have owned. I use to drive a minivan (a 1995 Ford Windstar to be exact) so a large vehicle isn’t terribly foreign to me, but this van is noticeably larger and will require a few adjustments to my style of driving and where I drive.

Now, I know nothing about engines. This was a fairly blind purchase and is going to take some getting use to. It was bought with a purpose and as long as it runs, it shall serve that purpose. I am told they are cheap to fix; I hope that offsets that cost of fuel that goes into it. I would like to think I am fairly handy if I put my mind to it. I would like to learn how to basic maintenance and repairs. With that mind, I was fortunate enough to find a book titled “Auto Repair” published in 1977.  I am enthusiastic and nervous about this purchase and my future.

The First Post

I bought a van.