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  • Jamey

Day 18: Home On Wheels

When my alarm went off it was way too cold to get up. Thought I hit snooze but accidentally turned it off. This meant I kept sleeping until the hot sun heated up my tent and woke me up. The first time I was actually warm when I got out of the tent!


It was 8am and I was behind schedule. I wanted to leave by 7:30am so that I could try to ride the 30 miles to the highway which would take me to Silverton. Hurried and hit the trail at 8:30am.


Today there were lots of ups and downs. Nothing huge but it added up over time. Plus the trail was either too rocky or bumpy to ride so walked a good chunk of it.


Passed right next to a big patch of snow so had to stop, took some photos and made a snowball. I only saw one guy today running the opposite direction and one family towards the end setting up camp.


Today I thought a lot about my current lifestyle and how I'm currently homeless. Well I take that back. I do have a home it just has four wheels (plus a few unicycles) so I can take it anyway. It's a Chevy Astro Conversion Van and I absolutely LOVE IT.


My dad found it for me a few months ago for super cheap, only $1300 and it had low mileage, 83k. The catch was it had front end damage. But my dad is an expert auto mechanic and has his own shop so he helped me fix it and make it new again. Only $400 in parts, paints and lumber to make a bed in the back. $1700 all up for a house is a pretty damn good deal if you ask me especially since our rent  in CA I was paying was $2500 a month.


Originally my friends kinda made fun of me that I was living in a van. But I had to travel a lot over the summer to work at different festivals and it worked out slick plus I saved so much money not having to pay rent nor having to pay for a hotel.


Personally I love this van more than anything right now. I think it has to do with the freedom it brings. I can literally go anywhere I want with it. Do I want to van camp in Yellowstone, Yosemite, Joshua Tree or the Grand Canyon? OK. Do I want to go to Canada for a month to work? Sure. Or go visit family and friends in MN? On my way. Freedom is priceless. It reminds me of this adventure and how every day I'm in the middle of the mountains and free to go wherever I want.


So a few answers to some questions you may have... I always make sure to go to the bathroom before parking and going to bed. This way I never have to go during the night and when I wake up I just find a local coffee shop to get a cappuccino and use their restroom. Worst case I use a wide mouth Gatorade bottle for wee wee. WiFi is free at public libraries and most coffee shops or restaurants.


I haven't had any issues with finding a place to shower. I know a lot of family, friends and unicyclers so I usually know someone in town who lets me use their shower. Some festivals have free billets or the organizers help me out. Then there are always other options like public or hotel swimming pools, 24 hour gyms, lakes, rivers, oceans, truck stop showers, etc.


Where do I park? Anywhere I want to as long as the street signs don't say anything about no parking. The van doesn't look like a camper van so it doesn't look obvious that anyone is sleeping in it. I usually just park on residential streets and make sure not to stay in one place more than a few days. I also park in parking lots. Walmart's are the best as they encourage it as they know campers will go inside to use the restroom and end up buying food or supplies. Some of them even have free WiFi in the parking lots!


So ya, I thought a lot about my lifestyle and how happy I am at this moment. I love my job and I kinda like the fact I don't have to pay rent as my house is on wheels. I'm sure it will get old and I'll get sick of it sometime in the near future but for now it works. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: "Not all those who wander are lost" -J. R. R. Tolkien


I eventually made it to the huge downhill. Nearly 4,000 feet in 9 miles. I was so looking forward to this part as I thought I could just cruise down and it would be a lot of fun. Not.  


Turns out it was beautiful but way to steep, loose and rocky to ride. Huge let down but at least I didn't have to climb up it. This slowed me down and I knew I wouldn't make it to the highway before dark. So I took my time and tried to enjoy the journey.


Along the way I came around a corner and scared this huge animal that ran away. I'm not 100% sure what it was but I think it was a moose without a rack if there is such a thing.


Seemed like it took ages to reach the bottom but finally made it to the railroad tracks and Animas River. There were campsites nearby but I didn't want to drink water from that river due to a big mining spill a month ago so I kept going to the next stream.


Filled up my water and went a bit further until I found a kinda flat but a bit rocky area to put my tent at mile 406.3. It was almost 8pm and by the time I was eating dinner it was dark. I could see the stars which was cool but it's a bit scary being outside in the pitch black so I made it into my tent as soon as I could.

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