The Van Plan

I spent the past few days loafing around Victoria, no plan, just seeing the city and being back in the relative comfort of civilization for a few days. And being overwhelmed by it. It's hard to find a place to park the van for the entire day, so a lot of the day is just moving the van from one parking spot to another, especially since it is so long that it is more difficult to park, although for some reason, I can parallel park it and back it into a parking spot fairly easily. Sleeping in the van in nice neighborhoods like Fernwood feels furtive and uncomfortable and my ocean side pad had specific "No overnight parking or sleeping" signs plastered everywhere. It's hard to find a good place to set up and pull out the camp stove and boil water for coffee or heat up my food, and the foot traffic outside the van and the flood lights and the constant lowkey worry of a knock on the window and a 'Move along," don't allow for a wonderful sleep. The carburetor is temperamental a and starting the van for the first time in the morning is an adventure, especially if you're in busy downtown Victoria and have to stop almost immediately at an intersection where you stall out in front of a line of right turning traffic and frantically have to pull the choke out and feather the gas pedal with your foot while saying "There, there!" to either yourself, or the van. I scavved a shower at Crystal Pool and had a swim at the same time, as there's no Husky with showers available anywhere nearby.

I went out for beers with a dear friend from first year of treeplant at the Fernwood Inn. God bless those of us living our lives on our own terms. She's off to India next month for an indeterminate period of time, and if I didn't have the dog, I probably wouldn't be living the van life and would likely be bopping around somewhere abroad as well. These friendships are such a wonderful thing. They fill me with awe and the kind of joy that's so sharp it verges on sorrow. My treeplant family and I have shared some of the most intense, crazy experiences together, I'm closer to many of them than friends I've known for years, and the way we disperse and come back together in the most random corners of the world is exciting and sad all at once. I've been inspired by those who have traveled and lived in caravans and who taught me to sleep on the grass soccer fields in the dead quiet nights of summer, those with gold teeth that glitter in the Pacific sunshine and the vagabonds I love and miss who point me toward island beaches and hippie havens and the elusive dream of a place where we'll be happy and full until the next season of planting begins.

I have no intentions of this turning into a 'van life' blog, but it's all still so new and there's so much happening that its at the forefront of my thoughts these days for sure. I'm writing this from a rest stop outside of Nanaimo where I slept my first night in the van, my laptop is fully charged from my morning at the Greater Victoria Public Library, where I was publicly shamed for trying to take a photo of a Monty Python quote on the balustrade, and my phone is plugged into the laptop to charge. I spent the day bopping around Habitat for Humanity Restores, thrift stores downtown, Canadian Tire and Home Depot, gathering supplies. There's a lot of work to be done on the van and it can be difficult to prioritize where to start. It's easy to freeze. I'd like a mattress, I'd like to decorate, I'd like storage solutions and power and I must insulate for the winter and get body work done and get a leaky antifreeze line looked at, as well as a fanbelt replaced and the carburetor checked out. Today, I scored some storage solutions and started the list of prioritizing, biting the bullet and buying everything I need to get 'er insulated. I'll likely need to borrow some tools from either a tool library or a nice neighbor but I'm on my way to Poole's Land, an anarchist hippy commune outside of Tofino, and I think I'll find it a good place to work. I left Vic for the time being out of a combination of being overwhelmed by the city and the need to have space to work on the van. When you're drifting about the city streets and various parking lots, it is nearly impossible to find a workspace to cut templates and glue and paint and scrape and spray foam and remove all the van fixtures to lay down new laminate flooring. So the plan for the immediate future is to hit Tofino and get the insulating done. 

As a few small comforts, I got clean sheets, pillow cases and material to make curtains today from the VV Boutique. My lantern is equipped with fresh batteries and I treated myself, with my dwindling cash supply, to a string of unicorn lights from Dollarama. I'd like to get a new camp stove, a two burner guy, to be able to make more intensive meals, so that's added to the wishlist along with an entire solar system to power a mini-fridge and to be able to charge laptop, phone, etc, as well as maybe a fan/electric heater as necessary, or a nice lamp. As a short term measure to be able to keep my phone charged without having to spend multiple hours at libraries and Tim Hortons (which frustratingly, sometimes don't have outlets, an unpleasant surprise as I stand there poking around with the tea I didn't really want), I replaced a bunch of old fuses in the van, but it seems to be a bigger problem to fix. The BCM may be blown and a relatively expensive fix at this point in the game, with a quick online estimate of $350 for the part and the labor. I'm unsure if it makes more sense to sink the money into that fix or to start building an auxiliary power system that can eventually be hooked up to the solar when I can afford to install that. For the time being, it's Tim's and libraries, and surviving without data, Spotify and aimless Instagram browsing. Probably for the best for my productivity...

My goals for the winter include learning the tin flute, fucking finally, working on my conversational French and assembling a collection of poetry for publication, as well as completing the rough draft of The Treeplant Cookbook. 

Jude will be here with me in seventeen days, requiring a trip back to the Okanagan to snag the cranky old dog man, so I'm hoping to hustle through the basics of the van renos and start scoping out the work situation for the next few months.

Now, to enjoy the first television I've watched since April! An episode of RuPaul's Drag Race on the spotty Wi-Fi coming from an undetermined point near the rest stop, and a night's sleep under the bright lights with the soothing roar of steady traffic on the Trans Canada as a lullaby. I'm hoping to get up (and get the van started) early enough tomorrow to head to Pipers Lagoon, a large oceanfront park in Nanaimo, for the end of low tide and the sunrise. Swimming in the ocean may not be for me- too many sea creatures- but looking at the jellyfish like discarded condoms and the starfish and the scuttling crabs and bickering seagulls gives me great joy.

With love from some cozy afghans and floral print pillowcases that are making the van feel like home,
Xoxo Bex


Mill bay views

vancouver island 2018