"New Destinations, Old Friends, and the Latest Addition to Our Crew"
"The Ever-Stressful Departing Process"
Now'a days, I'm more so in my element while on the road then during the in-between points. Transition somehow becomes a fixed state of mind, and when none of your surroundings are familiar, you can at least cling to that mindset for a warm sense of consistency. If an object in motion tends to stay in motion, then that same object inert is probably somewhat restless, right? Needless to say, this makes the process of departure overwhelming to me time and time again. There's simply nothing you can do to remedy yourself of the inevitable feeling of unpreparedness, except leave sooner.
You can never truly be ready for whatever it is you'll come across, so you bring the basics, and deal with things as they come. Improvisational decision making becomes the norm, and all of the sudden, you realize that planning anything ahead of time is the only real way for you to potentially fail. "Expect absolutely nothing, always, and life will always, absolutely surpass your expectations--" a morose sort of philosophy that perhaps Buddha and Curt Cobain would have come up with together at a show in heaven for a Cranberries cover band. Yes, Curt Cobain and Buddha are both in heaven, which does exist, and yes, a Cranberries cover band is playing when they come up with this ludicrous quote about life and expectations. I digress…
Anyhow, even knowing this conundrum intimately can't save you from the stress you will ultimately create for yourself, so unsurprisingly, my departure after a short two week stay in Milwaukee was no different. I turned the majority of my short time into a theoretical game of "what if" road scenarios. Hell, I even came up with lists of things we might need, simply so I could fail to provide them and then beat myself up for it in the end. The whole ordeal for me is less then fun, and with the added stress of having to be the veteran among our small group of three, I was just eager to hit the road and deal with tangible problems as opposed to imagined catastrophes. As you might guess, my imagination is a powerful force to compete with, even for me.
"Logistical Concerns and Blah Blah Blah..."
This time around, we set ourselves up in a grand scheme to screw ourselves over by leaving in a vehicle that we knew we were riding to the ground. Pretty smart, eh? When the absolute best-case-scenario for your vehicle is to go out in a blaze of glory, it's probably just best to not think about the worst case scenario.
That said, among my rust-tinged history of beat-to-hell vehicles, there has also been discernible cases of triumph against all odds. Champions have risen among the titles of salvage and wreck. Tried and true relationships based on trust, reliability, and integrity have been forged between myself and the seemingly foul machines I have been led to buy through miscellaneous circumstance and cut-and-dry pennilessness. Now, as a budding young adult at the height of my deficiency in the "net worth" department, I had to ask myself: is it really time to start second guessing that fleeting glimmer of hope in a lost old Buick's headlamp? I decided it wasn't.
And with nearly as senseless of an ideal, and a complete lack of concern for simple mechanical probabilities and/or worthy advice, we decided to pack the old Buick up to the brim and see what we could make of it. Against all odds, as usual. We figured the whole conquest of the vehicle was in the spirit of the journey, and if the thing broke down we'd either fix it, or sell it. The Buick had gotten Chassy around Milwaukee while I was in Washington, then it got her to North Dakota several months later to meet me, and it even mustered up the might to get us both back to Milwaukee. At the very least, the car deserved one last "hurah" we decided.
Anyhow, you pack as best you can for the lifestyle you are geared up for, which in this case, was a very broad definition of car camping. We wanted to be able to comfortably stay as long as we needed on the Texas beaches or in the parks, but we also wanted to be able to chase whatever sort of opportunities we might come across in cities along the way. Maybe I'd come across some art opportunities in Austin, or maybe we'd all get jobs catering in Corpus Christie for a bit-- hell, if I could land a job on a boat sorting mussels or something, who knows what kinds of characters I might get to meet! The point I'm getting at, is that when your living this open ended sort of lifestyle, you want to let the opportunities steer you from place to place, and to do that, you need to be ready for whatever comes at you. The last thing you want, is to have to be making decisions based on your gear.
Anyone can compartmentalize their excessive pile of needs, fit it into a trunk, and bring it with them on vacation- but when the material weight they bear is equal to the amount of space that they have to fill with unnecessary shit, then what is a person really getting away from? Car, home, tent, backpack; they are all just places for a person to store their things. I've come to terms with the fact that my material needs will always require a significant portion of my attention, even if I can limit them to a backpack or two. The more you have, the more you have to lose in materials; and the less you have, the less you have to gain in opportunities. No matter how much or how little you bring, it seems inevitable that you'll be a slave to it, so my suggestion is to choose wisely.
The main trick to being able to live out of a car in the city, is that you need to pack light enough where you can fit everything into the trunk so your car looks empty. I emphasize this firstly, because as sad as it may seem, my cameras, laptop, hard drive, and backpack are just about the only worldly possessions I have to lose. I also mention it because if you are living out of your car, a crucial order of your daily business is in constantly making it look like you are NOT living out of your car. This goes for clothing, personal hygiene, and the interior of your lovely home on wheels. Not only will this help you out at an interview, but it will discourage any local law from hassling you, raising eyebrows, or keeping tabs on your vehicle.
|In San Francisco, they go so far as to post signs about not inhabiting your vehicle. Pfff, like I'm going to listen to a sign...|
|In the first leg of this trip, me and The Great B.O. had no issues sleeping in the old Safari van in the NoDa district of Charlotte, NC... You just can't really sleep in...|
"On the Road Again!"
Despite my ever present pre-departure concerns, Me, Chassy, and Staz managed to get everything together in good timing and make our break for it. After a three month stint of working 80 hour weeks as both a cabinet maker and cook in the frigid oil boom-town of Minot, North Dakota, I was ready for a serious change of scenery. Me and Chassy had worked and saved as much as we could, and it was finally time to head South, dodge the rest of the winter, and make some serious plans to ensure that the final legs of this epic American journey were packed to the brim.
Once we were back on the road, and everything I needed in life was contained within the lavish red interior of our Buick Park Avenue, I began to feel at home once again. I leaned back in comfort as a great weight lifted from my shoulders, and a new chapter began.