Living in a van makes you acutely aware of the resources you consume. You find yourself keeping track of odd things like how long the overhead fan has been on or whether you really need the interior lights to be on full intensity right now. Power usage is a major concern. My battery holds 125 AHr of charge, but draining the battery to less than 50% will damage it, so it’s effectively only 62.5 AHr. To put this in perspective, my fridge draws about 1A of current, which means that I can run the fridge for 62.5 hours (about 2 and half days) with no additional charge from the solar panels. Of course this is assuming that I’m only running the fridge and that I don’t turn the fan on, or the lights, or charge my laptop, etc. And so I find myself asking questions that I’ve never considered before. That parking spot near the tree may look nice and secluded, but in a few hours it may be shady and that’s no bueno! Maybe I can move later?
Choosing the right parking spot is a delicate art. Besides the issue I just mentioned, there other things to consider. The flatness of the ground is perhaps the most obvious, but there are more subtle concerns as well. Morning sun is always a welcome friend, so I try to park with the sliding door facing East. Sometimes this means that the front of the van will be facing the highway or some well lit buildings. Even with my privacy screens this can attract unwanted attention, so I like to park facing the trees if possible, or at least away from the flow of traffic. There’s often a trade-off between each of these factors and the parking space cost/benefit analysis has become a nightly ritual.
Here’s another musing I had recently. At first it may seem foolish for someone without an income to pay a monthly subscription fee of $10/mo for YouTube Red, but consider this, Verizon charges me $4.50 per Gigabyte of data. I tend to watch a lot of YouTube, which means I burn a lot of my data on ads. Do I waste 2GB of data streaming ads? Probably. So if I reduce my data plan by $10/mo and give that money to Google, then I could save myself from watching yet another HomeDepot ad for wood-printed-tile!
Without a permanent address, buying things online has gotten much more difficult. Amazon.com must be freaking out right now since my online spending has dropped to nearly zero. When I do buy things online, it’s important to know where you will be relative to the UPS distribution centers. If I buy this thing and it takes a week to ship, but I will be in east-bum-fuck all next week, how the hell am I going to get it?! Also note that UPS distro centers don’t open their customer windows until 2:30pm, WTF!
My relationship to HomeDepot is a constant source of torment. On the one hand HD is chocked full of useful goodies, on the other hand it’s a man-made hell on Earth. I’ve been to HomeDepot’s in almost every state between MA and CA and each one is different in subtle ways. I’m convinced they do this on purpose just to fuck with you. The staff are constantly running around and looking self-important, but when you actually need help, it’s guaranteed that there will be no one around. And when you finally do find someone, it’s that new guy at the front of the store who’s glaring perplexedly at the floor plan, willing the answers from the page. Avoid him at all costs, friends, I tried once and regretted the decision. An hour passes, then two. Still haven’t found that thing I’m looking for. Aisle 35? Where the fuck is that? Aisle 30 is right here and aisle 40 is over there, but where in God’s name is aisle 35?! By the time I finally find the item I’m looking for I’ve lost all interest in buying it. $29.95?! But it’s only $19.95 on Amazon (see rant in previous paragraph). Turn head. Cough. Such is life at the depot.