So I am settling into my new life as a nomadic van-dweller; I’m three days in, and already I had to overcome a few minor challenges !
For one thing, as Murphy’s law dictated, the day I moved into the camper also heralded the beginning of a cold snap here – the last few nights were clear, and very frosty. Temperatures plunged to well below zero, really testing my winter preparedness, and the fact that I chose a parking spot up in the hills certainly didn’t help. This is where some of the disadvantages of living in a really old camper begin to show – the habitation unit in my ancient Elddis Autoquest is not insulated in any way, so when I got up the last two mornings, the indoor temperature had naturally equalised to the outdoor one, being below zero. Even the water in my drinking bottle had a film of ice on top ! Truth be told I was rather concerned about my plumbing systems at that point, in particular the water pump, so I did not operate it until having run the heater for a while, just in case. And going forward, I will sleep with two pairs of pants, and my parka on !
On the subject of heating, the Truma space heater installed in the camper works very well, particular when augmented with short bursts of lighting the hob – the latter is of course to be done with caution, due to the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, but if done for only minutes at a time I think the risk is acceptable ( and the CO alarm didn’t go off ); it really does help in heating the place up after a particularly cold night. The main problem here is once again not generating the heat, but rather retaining it, due to the lack of insulation in the habitation unit. I think as a long term project, I might consider installing a small wood burning stove – but not this season. Also, that is something that I will need to get done professionally, as I am very hesitant to do anything that involves cutting through the roof. When you live in a camper, water ingress is pretty much the worst that can happen to you, in terms of maintenance issues.
Speaking of maintenance, when you choose this lifestyle, you have to be able to think on your feet, as I found out rather sooner than I had anticipated. As I set down for dinner last night, the water pump suddenly kicked on ( which is clearly audible in my camper ) – at first I thought nothing of it, as it does this sometimes to maintain pressure in the system. But this time it didn’t stop, it just kept running, in spite of all taps being closed. Concerned, I stepped outside for a quick visual inspection, only to discover a veritable waterfall from the kitchen vent – I had sprung a major leak ! So I took apart the plumbing in my kitchen – I had to take out the sink and all ( which isn’t so easy ), only to find the water hose running to my tap having rubbed through on a metal part that had rusted and fallen behind the sink. I will eventually have to replace that water hose, but, being in the middle of nowhere on a bank holiday, I had no choice but to MacGyver up an ad-hoc solution involving duct tape, zip ties ( seriously, whoever invented these needs to be put forward for a Nobel prize !! ), and liquid sealant. Certainly not pretty, but it will do the job until I can replace that hose, which also won’t be easy as it is in a hard-to-reach and altogether very awkward spot. But I’ll figure something out – it is precisely these challenges which make this life interesting ! Self-sufficiency and ingenuity are the name of the game here.
Despite the challenges, I am already completely and utterly in love with this lifestyle, even after only three days in; it just feels so much more genuine. I open my door, and I am right out there in nature; the cold, clear weather also brought me the most amazing starry sky and night; and the sun rising over the frosty landscape, with fog rolling down in the valleys, was an awe-inspiring sight beyond any comparison. The hot, steaming, bitter cup of coffee after a freezing night, doing my morning practices in crisp cold air, and eating a dinner of vegetables and sweet potato while listening to the birds sing – all these things make me the richest man on earth, even after giving up all material comforts. I really wouldn’t want to have it any other way again, and, even after this short time, I can tell already that there will be no way back for me, ever. And just as a test particle falling into a region of geodesic incompleteness under the influence of gravity has no way to return ( I’m a nerd like that lol ), so there will be no way back for me either from this lifestyle. For that reason, I have decided to christen my campervan the “Event Horizon”.
Stay tuned for more updates, as the journey continues 🙂