Archive for August, 2007

Finally LIVING in the van and tatting in the park.

 | August 27, 2007 11:18 pm

I mentioned earlier to some friends that I didn’t really feel like I was living in the van, just sleeping in it, because I’d been spending so much time at work. (One friend asked if I actually felt like I’d been LIVING in my apartment, which is a very good point.)

Well, I started feeling settled into the van about three or four weeks ago, (something I think would probably have happened sooner if I hadn’t had so many 15 hour work days in a row), but thanks to some actual time off this week I’m starting to feel like I’m finally living in the van. Or rather living just outside the van. I had a very lovely Sunday morning and early afternoon spent at Woodley park in the valley, part of a couple of parks next to each other that I just discovered. (It reminded me of a Minnesota park actually, if you ignore the white noise of the 405 freeway 100 yards away, and the lack of sweltering humidity and swarms of bugs.)

I laid out on my brand new KJAZZ blanket and read a book on California history, nothing exciting to read about (as usual), but was great to be getting out. If I still had an apartment I’d probably would have spent the morning inside. True, I probably still would have been reading the same book, but it’s more exciting to me to know it’s being done in a park I never would have discovered otherwise.

I heard a guy once say that he loved road trips with his dog because his dog helped him meet other people. Well, tatting is my dog. I suppose it’s somewhat the same with knitting and crocheting in public. You always meet up with another crafter who wants to see what you’re working on. Tatting I think is sometimes even better because people can’t figure out what you’re doing without asking or without me noticing their interest and volunteering the information. Occasionally I meet someone who knows what it is, but I have yet to randomly run into another tatter.

The other day I was at Palisades Park in Santa Monica, when a group of women I’m calling the Armenian grandmothers sat down next to me and one asked me what I was doing. Not in English, but you can get the gist of tatting just by watching so slowed down and pointed out exactly what I was doing and got to use some of the eight words of Russian that I remember. Eventually another woman came who spoke better English and we talked for a while about how she came to the US.

That represents one of the things I’m looking for in this trip. I could just travel around the US and visit all the places listed in the guide books, but I’d be missing out on a lot. Tatting I think will work out as an excellent ambassador.

I suppose I could also spend a year sitting at Palisades Park tatting and meeting the people who stop to ask me what I’m doing, but I DO want to see the places in the guide book too. :)

Last minute packing in San Diego

 | August 23, 2007 10:29 am

A few hours left here at my parents home before I head back up to LA.

I came down on Monday for jury duty, (which I suspect I got out of because I expressed my belief in the importance of probable cause for the police to do a search of a stopped vehicle), but stayed till today to take advantage of the air conditioner, a kitchen, (made a chocolate souffle), and of course my parents company. :)

While down here I sorted through the boxes that sit in the spare bedroom and managed to empty seven of them. I quite pleased with this progress though only about a third of these things are leaving the house for good. Another third was redistributed throughout the house to be used (and hopefully used up) and rest is a success story of creative repacking and remains in the bedroom, but much more compact.

I did not even begin to deal with the boxes of yarn and crafting supplies which was my original goal. I had to go through the rest to even get to them. So they will remain for the next trip down to San Diego.

While at it I did a great deal of organizing what’s left managing to sort of separate the rest into what I will take with me when I leave southern CA at the end of October and what will stay. I gathered books during the two years I volunteered/worked at NPR and had access to their shelves and shelves of free books (sent by publishers for review) and put many aside for my trip. Some history books, some of regional interest. Anything that had a geographical tie-in to some place I might visit on my trip got put aside and now as I look at the boxes of books and have a fair idea of the size of the van I’m slightly concerned. But I’m going to continue to ignore it now and will only worry about it when I am getting ready to leave southern CA.

It’s been interesting while living in the van to see how few things I use on a daily basis. I’m sure I’ll be writing more on this later, but I have always enjoyed getting rid of things. There’s a joy in saying to yourself, “There. This is now gone and I never have to think about it again.” This is at odds with the fact that I’m still a bit of a packrat. But I think the packrat-i-ness comes from not wanting to throw things away. I want to get rid of them, but I want to know they’re being put to some use. Or at least that they’re sitting in the back of somebody else’s closet rather than in a dump.

I’m so stealthy I might be a terrorist!

 | August 17, 2007 11:09 pm

Yesterday when dropping a friend off at the airport the police had me pull aside for a “random” car check.

I think it’s because it’s a van with darkened windows.

They let us go after a quick look in the windows which made my friend very happy. She had visions of missing her plane while my house was spread out all over side of the road, picked though by the cops.

I had no where to go. I would have been amused.

And I would have had a better story from it. :)

 | August 8, 2007 10:12 am

Time I got around to posting this. It’s my start of a map of “unapparent reasons” for my trip. (Click on it to go to the google maps page for it and see details.) It’s not finished. But I suppose it won’t ever be finished. Pink markers are food related things to visit. A wise traveler, (Alicia), once told me while in Italy, “all travel is really just a glorified food tour.”

I’m always looking for suggestions. Canada’s looking quite empty at the moment. I may not necessarily hit all these places, and there’s a lot that I know I want to go to, but haven’t put on here yet.

Like I said, this is the start. Give me some suggestions.


 | August 5, 2007 5:20 pm

I did some remodeling of the van while I was down in San Diego last week. I had three main concerns. 1) Taking out the back seat to make more room and putting in a drawer for clothes. 2) The bed tilted downward towards the back of the van. 3) Generally just sorting though the van and taking out the things I don’t need while I’m in LA.

Before pictures:
(With stuff in it)

The shockingly bright white blob on the right is my pillow. The shockingly bright right blob on the left is a box of various travel-related articles I’ve been collecting, but have yet to go through. (It’s on the to-do list for next weekend.) It’s hard to tell, but there’s clothes hanging from hooks on both sides of the van. It works, but not as well as I thought it would. The hooks come out so far that the clothes seem to take up more room than they should.

Same view, emptied out:

The “bed” (more on this later) rests on the back seat and a board attached to it. Here’s a picture from the left back door:

That thing blocking your view of the bottom of the legs is the most annoying thing about this van since it blocks access to most of the space under the bed from the inside. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to take it out easily.

The first step now was to get the back seat out. Or rather half of it. Without the backseat that the bed is part of I’d have to build something else to let the bed rest on. It’d be possible, but not enough of a gain in storage space to worry about it right now. The bottom of the van comes up there so it’s not actually a huge improvement. So just half came out.

A break was taken in the remodeling process at this point for lunch, cleaning the van, and a trip to Target for a new plastic drawer.

The bottom is screwed into the fabric on the floor and I made two latches to keep it from flying around while I’m driving. I am very pleased with the drawer. Ridiculously pleased. It fits into the space just perfectly.

Now onto the bed.

The big problem with the bed was that it tilted down towards the back. Ok if I park on a hill, but it’s easier not to have to insist on a hill. Originally, I was going to fix this by taking out the back seats and building a whole new bed. Instead, I found a quicker and easier solution in the garage.

Dad bought a new piece of foam for the back of the Prius so he can lie down in there. Luckily for me there was a piece left over that I could use for the downhill half of the bed. Another piece dad cut (with a crazy big straight edge razor) tapered to transition from foam to the board.

Next the foam the stretches the full length, (that’s my camping chair underneath it), and then the sheepskin. Very comfy and (now) quite flat.

The third thing on the list was to take out all the stuff I’m not using. No campgrounds, so no camping gear. So that is all sitting in a box in my parents’ garage waiting for when I get out of LA. Between that and the new drawer I’ve got most of the stuff that was floating around the van put away.

No more clothes hanging from the hooks. The first night I slept back in the van the space seemed so huge. :) So strange to have nothing hanging there.

Of course, I could also leave out a bunch of stuff because I’ll be back down to San Diego in just three weeks for jury duty. So really it’s just a short trip back up to LA. But in three months I go out on my own and can’t be leaving stuff down at my parents’ anymore. Well, nothing I might need anyway. I’ve already got lots of stuff that will stay there while I’m traveling. But I’m hoping to sort though the stuff down there and getting rid of even more in the next three months. I’m enjoying getting rid of stuff.

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