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Archive for May, 2017: Trying to keep Tabs on my finances
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Archive for May, 2017


May 28th, 2017 at 09:26 pm

Wow, the parks sure are busy. Memorials Day weekend and all that I guess. I'm typing here at the park that's fairly packed

Edit: Wow, how did this picture end up upside down? It's hilarious though so I'm just going to leave it.

Just wanted to chime in that I am still here and still working on transitioning to my new lifestyle. I am at a point where things are starting to become routine. The novelty has worn off, and now it's just a matter of learning as I go with what I should be doing each step of the way.

I guess something like this need practice too.

The mind of a dweller

May 23rd, 2017 at 07:17 am

Hey gang. Hope you'll pardon me if I haven't updated recently. Thing is, I caught some kind of bug or something, and have been coughing quite a bit lately. All I know is that the car's air conditioner makes the cough worse, so I've been spend the last couple of nights sleeping at home.

I am still living mostly out of my car though, if nothing else because I am getting used to it.
Everything I need or mostly want is packed into the car already. It is super convenient to basically have everything with me wherever I go, and know where to find it.

I am still experimenting with various sites around town to see how well it works for me throughout the day and night. For example, for some reason I have never visited the biggest park in the city before, so I decided to make that a priority. Here's a quick picture I snapped of it.

I tell you, it was somehow prettier in person than what the picture is showing. There is a very calming quality about being surrounded by all these trees and green leaves....

Unfortunately, I am also getting a greater exposure to the weather and insects, and that's not always pleasant. With my cough and a large bug bite on my neck that still hasn't fully healed, it's tempting to just keep living in a house.

However, this exposure is to be expected. I am still determined to make this lifestyle transition, or at least give it my very best shot. Why? Well, if nothing else, I guess you could say that I can be a rather stubborn person when I want to be.

There's a fine line between determination and stubbornness though, and I think where that line lies depends on how one answers the question, "Does the benefit of continuing this path still out-weigh the cost?" For now, it still does.

Taking this line of thought a step further, I have often wondered exactly how other vandwellers do it. How do they cope when they struggling?

Naturally, I suspect many of them love traveling to begin with. However, many that do it only out of wanderlust don't always do it full time. They travel as much as they can, but ultimately, these are seasonal part-timers.

Some are perhaps like me; just pig headed enough to try to make it work and maybe they managed to surmount the teething process.

However, I think the majority of people that ultimately end up being a full-time lifers... I think they live this way because they have no choice. Like, for whatever reason, it's simply not a choice that is available to them, or at least it's not a choice in their minds.

If you look at a lot of their interviews and videos, you'll see that many didn't start out this lifestyle by choice. Some will come straight out and say that too. Life dealt them a harsh hand somehow, and they ended up in their car or van simply because they had nowhere else to go.

To be fair, many will tell you that they actually prefer this lifestyle, but even so, I can say with certainty that this is not an easy lifestyle to transition to. Doubly so if you are not doing this by choice.

The reason why I am pointing this out is because I've raised this question to them before. I've asked the full time community just why they continue to do this, and how do they cope. I asked that because I was intrigued by their mindset, and I also wanted to glean wisdom that may help me cope with my own transition as well.

Unfortunately, I find that while some were quite polite and answered thoughtfully, by and large, they were also very defensive about their lifestyle. It was as though I had stepped into something unpleasant that they would prefer that I do not question.

They didn't say this, but after some rumination, I suspect that they probably think I am a lucky fool haha. You know, because I am doing this by choice, and have a safety net to fall back on, I therefore could never fully understand the depth of hardship that they've had to endure. To be perfectly fair, they are probably right. I am, in many ways, a lucky man.

It's not that they don't include me. Quite the opposite in fact, but I think when you dig deep down, this is the mind of a true dweller. Not some hippy who is doing this seasonally or by choice (like me). Rather, it's growing community of scrappy, sometimes disenfranchised group of mostly decent people, living on the fringe, not always by choice, but trying their best to make their way through life.

Travel update #2

May 18th, 2017 at 05:17 am

Ok, I am finally back at my house, and am able to update the day's events. There isn't much to tell, but I'll try to recall what I can.

As promised, I gave the parks in Asheville another shot. During the day, it was quite pretty indeed. I saw people generally strolling about and having picnics. Unfortunately, many of their areas, especially their buildings, don't allow guns, so I decided to just turn around and head back out.

On my way back, I did get very sleepy at one point. I drove to yet another rest area, and just went ahead and set up shop to sleep there. So far, I really love how I can just roll right over into my bed and sleep. I guess I was more tired than I thought, having stayed up late night driving all over the mountains. By the time I got up, the sun was about to set. I did feel very refreshed though, for what it was worth.

When I got up, I also realized that my car has been exposed to direct sunlight, and my car's AC was just struggling for all it's worth to keep up. I do park in the shade, but in this case, enough time has passed where the shade moved away.

When I got back to town, I went straight to the gym, mostly because it was the closest destination, but also because it's bad enough to go nearly two days without showering, but I also didn't want to go nearly two days without working out. I did a quick one, then came home to shower. I didn't do it at the gym because there was a bunch of people there and I didn't want to hog the entire bathroom for myself.

So, here I am, a quick experiment and road trip complete, and what have I learned? Well first and foremost, I am proud to report that I really do think I can do this. It did not go as well as I had hoped, but I think sometimes, I get stricken with the Han Solo effect, where I would run headlong into something thinking of course it's going to work, but with the added instruction, "Never tell me the odds." Haha. But if you consider the fact that I spent nearly two days out without having to pay for a single motel room, and I didn't feel as though I was suffering or anything, I would say that is a success.

However, when it's all said and done, I don't think this will work for me. Again, for a road trip and a personal experiment that I've never tried before, I think it was worth the experience. Now that I've done it though, I've decided that it's going to get really old really fast if I had to do this regularly, and I don't care for the wear and tear on the car either.

So here I am, back a day earlier than planned, but the upside is that there is still one more idea I haven't fully tried, and I can do this with the extra day I now have. I'll report back later with more details.

Travel update

May 17th, 2017 at 05:28 pm

Ok, so let me see if I can remember from the beginning how things are going so far.

So I left yesterday morning I think. I remember seeing big gaps in not just my cellphone data reception, but even on occasion, my regular phone reception. Clearly, T-Mobile's coverage isn't as good outside my city. The reception situation only worsened as I approached the mountains, where I even have trouble picking up regular radio stations.

Let's see, I went to Boone first, because it had the coolest weather, and between that and Asheville, it was also the closest destination.

Ok, so before I got there, I stopped at a rest area, and I was so shocked at how nice it was. It wasn't just a rest area, it was also some kind of nature conservatory? For like Monarch butterflies? Anyways, I took a picture of one of its small trails here:

When I got to Boone, the first stop I made was to the fitness gym that I am a member of. Alas, my card didn't work for some reason, but I got there so late that the staff had already left. However, as I was trying my card, someone just left and opened the door, allowing me to step in and take a real quick look:

During the late night, I stumbled on the internet that there was a park that was actually open 24 hours. I was like wow I've never heard of that before. So I decided that, hey, it's 1am but I am not sleepy, and this thing is open 24 hours, and I am going to go check it out.

Bad idea. The entire place, and the roads leading up to it were completely unlit, winding, and luckily that I was wide awake because, if I wasn't, I could have also easily had an accident or rolled off a hill or something out there. When I got there, I had zero cellphone reception, no lights except from my own car, and two sketchy looking cars parked mysteriously out there. The place looked more look a horror movie location than anything to me. Literally, here's a picture of said "park":

I decided to leave and try another rest area, because that last one was so nice. I went to another one on the way to Asheville, and it turned out to be almost as nice. You know, I feel like maybe I could get away with living in rest areas. Is that crazy of me to think that? Or am I already so way over the crazy line that this doesn't surprise you guys?

Anyways, I slept there, and by the time it was late morning, I rolled out again, making it into Asheville proper. The first stop here was, once again, a local gym that I am supposedly a member of. This time, a staff was present, and he explained to me that in order to be able to access gyms nationally, I have to wait for something like a full month before "reciprocity" kicks in. Ah.

However, as I type this at a local Starbucks in Asheville, I think all this effort is rather excessive and would get dull to do on a regular basis. Some may love this life on the road, but to me, it feels more like a giant commute of some kind. I will say that Boone was certainly much cooler, and I could probably make it work on that nice temperature alone.

When I get back though, I have another idea in mind that I think will hopefully work just as well. If successful, this will eliminate me having to travel anywhere at all.

I will be coming home sooner than expected, on the account that I haven't showered last night, and I won't be able to do so tonight either due to "recipropcity". So I might as well wrap it up and come home tonight. But before I do, I'm going to give those horror mountains one more try, except this time, during the day.

Adventure time!

May 16th, 2017 at 04:23 pm

The projected temperature for today, tomorrow, and Thursday is suppose to be 87, 93, and 90. Also, my schedule has finally cleared up enough that I can head out for a little road trip. I think I am also prepared enough at this point to give this a shot. So... I guess it's that time!

But where to? Well, I've spoken about Asheville before, but when I googled the coldest place in NC, the result consistently came up with Boone. The projected temperature for Asheville for the next three days is 86, 85, and 83. However, Boone is projected to be 78, 78, and 74. Even better! As an added bonus, Boone is also an hour shorter drive from where I am than Asheville.

Overall, I am not sure about putting literally hundreds of miles on the car, each way, just so I can get a little bit of heat relief. Quite the opposite, I would like to put as little miles on my car as possible.

However, when you are just roasting in heat and humidity, it's hard to describe how motivated one can become just to get away from the sticky, itchy, uncomfortably hot heat. Anyway, it's just a little road trip and personal experiment.

I've never been to Boone before, but as planned from before, there is a 24 hour gym there that I have membership access to, so I figure that's a place to start, and explore out from there.

Ok so let me finish my packing, and I'm heading out! The day has finally come! I'll share anything interesting I find with you guys. Oh, and if you guys think of any last minute advice or whatever, please let me know as soon as possible so I can go, "Oh, I wish I thought of that before I left!" Hahaha.

Shoes and stuff

May 10th, 2017 at 12:28 am

So I've been trying the idea that you guys recommended with the swimming or beach shoes in the shower. As far as shoes go, they are actually quite affordable. First, I just want to say it feels weird walking into a shower stall with your shoes on. I just want to say that. It's a very seriously weird feeling haha. Also, it feels very weird to let it get soaking wet on purpose.

However, I do like the part that it is very grippy since these showers don't have those seashell or starfish stickers on the bottom to prevent slipping... what?

Now, when they get wet, they get... completely wet, and they don't dry well overnight in the car. In fact, it introduces a lot of moisture that condenses on the windshield that makes it hard for me to drive in the mornings.

So, now I am having to put the shoes outside of the car, but under my front driver's side and that seems to work. You know, the more I do this mobile lifestyle, the weirder I realize my life is becoming. Just so many things I would have never imagined.. even just a year ago, that I would end up doing.

Anyways, I am pleased to report that the shoes are working out great. So, I want to thank you guys for this recommendation. In fact, I have ordered a second pair, so I can rotate the two. It takes roughly half a day for them to dry out, and I hate having to walk around wearing them while they are still cold and wet. This would be especially bad during winter time.

On another note, I haven't left town yet, although I was planning to soon. Things keep popping up so I am staying put for now... and to wait for my second pair of shoes. That and the temperature lately have been surprisingly cool anyways, so that's a welcome change.

Oh, and finally, I tried super, super hard last night to hypermile and see just how high I can get my MPG to. Here's what I ended up with:

I was so pleasantly surprised and pleased by the result. The only problem is that this is not something I can do realistically as I had to drive way, way below speed limit. But since I was driving around late last night, with mostly no traffic around, I could get away with that.

My life is weird. Why am I so weird?

I like petrichor

May 5th, 2017 at 01:08 pm

Ok, maybe I should write this in chronological order, so my thoughts are not scattered all over the place.

Yesterday was my baby step out into trying to stay in my car full time. Up until now, I've always made pit stops at home or my mom's house because I forgot to get something, wanted to use the bathroom at home, and what not. This time, I'm going to try to stay out almost a full 24 hour if I can help it.

I'll still be hanging around town for this one, and won't actually go out of town until next week.

So I was wardriving last night. It's like the last thing on my list, because this one was highly optional, and even if successful, seems rather extravagant.

Then I headed off to the gym to work out. According to Google, the gym is the least busiest between the hours of midnight to 3am. That's what I decided to try out their shower, mostly because there is actually only one large bathroom (with the shower) at my current facility in town. So, I didn't want to try to hog the bathroom and shower when there are lots of other people around that may need the bathroom. That and it seemed like a good idea to be able to shower before sleep.

Well, the shower experience was... very uncomfortable. Everything felt disorganized. It was kind of dark, I didn't know what I was doing. Did I even pack extra set of clothes? Where do I put the dirty ones?

In all, I didn't like it haha. However, I do think I will eventually get the hang of it. This, despite all the horror stories I've read and seen online about people finding all kind of nasty messes in gym bathrooms. Needless to say, I was reluctant to step barefoot in there... but I guess I need to get over all that.

Another thing worth noting is that I've read that it's not a good idea to workout right before sleep and I think I can agree with that. I would feel sleepy, go work out, and somehow, that sleepy feeling seemed to go away.

Also, after every workout, I always drink a protein shake, and that requires water to gulp down. Unfortunately, the result of that is that I would wake up the next morning with a very angry bladder. This would be OK if I was at home, but it's a serious issue out and about. So, I will need to resolve this scheduling conflict somehow as well.

Sleep last night was actually not as well as I had hoped. It was raining hard last night, and the sound from the rain was loud enough that it even woke me up with my earplugs in. However, I didn't mind it too much, and this morning smells real nice, so that's a plus.

Because I had to pee so bad, I decided to run into a nearby sandwich shop from where I was parked to use their bathroom. Then I felt morally obligated to buy something from them. That and they also had free WiFi, so I was like OK, but I know I can not and will not be doing this every morning. This is simply too expensive and is just not going to work.

Still though, for today's purposes, here's what I hope is an instagram-worthy pic of my morning escapade, thanks to sandwich WiFi.

Despite of it all, I do feel quite well right now. Hoping it will hold for the rest of the day.


May 5th, 2017 at 03:05 am

This post is being written from a WiFi access point found on the road. Hi mom!

Edit: I want to clarify that this is highly optional on my to-do list, and in fact, is rather extravagant.

While it is possible for me to access SA and blog through my phone, the screen is very small, and requires a separate bluetooth keyboard hook up. I also needed to find a way to hold up the phone while I type. In all, the setup is far from ideal.

Instead, I decided to drive around town and look for any possible WiFi hotspots to use with my little laptop. This turned out to be far more difficult than I expected, if nothing else because it would seem most businesses have either faulty hotspots, or they are somehow locked down. And of course, I don't intend to hack any of them.

Finally, I found one and well, here I am.

For what it's worth, my gym membership also includes WiFi access at their locations, which makes its monthly cost much easier to swallow.

Ok, I'm rambling, but I figure maybe you guys might want to see what I see, so here's a grainy night photo I took not long ago.


May 4th, 2017 at 01:33 am

I've discovered a small puddle of water in the plastic bins near my water dispenser. No doubt, some water accidentally spilled at some point, so now I am having to take everything out and air it.

Luckily, the bins worked as intended-- as a fail safe in case of spills-- so my car batteries were unaffected.

While I was airing everything out, I thought you guys might be interested in a photo of what my current inventory looks like:

The items in the picture are wet wipes, garlic salt, a spray bottle of distilled vinegar, a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol, scissors, spatula, can opener, small cutting knife, car window netting, clothes pins, a couple of scrubbers, some plastic knives that I mostly use as stirrers, cooking oil, make-shift clothes line, some sporks, and my remote for the Christmas lights. Last but not least is the pack of ziploc bags that I am using for many of these items.

This isn't an exhaustive list of all the items I have in the car, but it's a good chunk of it.

I've got gas

May 3rd, 2017 at 04:08 pm

Just wanted to make a quick post about my MPG usage, now that I am regularly sleeping in the car.

Even at night, the temperature is hot enough that I have to leave AC on in order to sleep well. I am generally a very light sleeper, and so temperature is critical. In fact, I had major doubts about this working actually.

Thankfully, work it did, and for the most part, I am sleeping as well as in my regular house bed. Better actually, since there is a lot less distractions in there once I lie down so I basically just sleep like I am suppose to. In fact, it's working so well that I am not running my house AC very much at all, so I am hoping to see a reduced electric bill in the coming summer months.

However, my car gas bill will skyrocket for sure. Well, I have been experimenting with the temperature settings to see how little in usage I can get and still be comfortable, and for right now, I use roughly around $0.50 worth of gas every night.

With the car now fully loaded with most of the gear, I am no longer able to hyper-mile as high as 70 mpg on the road. However, I am still getting a very realistic 50+ mpg, which I think is just great.

Mixing that in with the car sitting idle and running AC all night, it reduces the overall MPG further down to roughly 38.5 MPG, which is what I saw right before before filling up gas again.

A total of 38.5 MPG... I can live with that. However, the higher I can push my MPG, the more money I can save overall, so I will continue my effort to find ways to get that figure up.

I'm a member

May 2nd, 2017 at 08:12 pm

Finally finished signing up for my gym membership. At $36.50 per month, it was more than I wanted to pay, but it's also the only gym that's available in all the destinations that I am thinking about going to. Still beats the pants off of even a single night at a motel.

I also signed up for AAA. I think given my situation, this one is self-explanatory. I signed up for the basic package, which is their lowest service. but I think that's all I need really anyways, and it costs less than $50 a year.

It was raining last night. Rain on a car produces more of a tin can sound than the more soothing thuds that you hear in a house. It's a bit louder too. I don't think I've ever noticed it before simply because I was busy driving, but just lying in a car listening to this, well it certainly does seem much more noticeable. Luckily, if it ever bugs me, ear plugs will solve that minor quibble.

The building phase is almost done. At this point, I am only ironing out minor details, such as if I want to add some kind of a clothes line to dry my clothes for a bit. I will experiment with that some more tonight. Minor stuff though.

I have to plan how I am going to roll out and do things. I sure hope I don't forget anything. I probably will though. This is an completely different way of life than what I am used to so far.