How I got upside down in the above photograph: Last weekend, Kristin, my now-girlfriend and then-ex-girlfriend (I know, it’s usually the other way around) met me in Raleigh at 11 pm. She lives across the state, so we often meet in the middle. We were planning to spend the weekend together, and we were planning to do something awesome, although “planning” is a bit of a stretch. Meet in Raleigh, we said, and go from there- spontaneity at its finest.
She got to Raleigh a little before I did and worked on a paper at Helios, a hipsterish (Raleigh people: hipsterish, you agree? no?) coffee shop & bar downtown until I showed up. We tossed around the idea of going up to Virginia, maybe Busch Gardens, but the weather forecast proved that unwise. Low on inspiration, we loaded up Google maps, and the first thing to catch my eye from the satellite summary of the southeast was the Outer Banks. The fringe of the state. Kitty Hawk’s name stuck out, so I suggested it and we agreed. We ate a well-priced (read: cheap) meal and had an odd beer at an urban-feeling, charmingly run-down cafe down the street, dropped her car off at my parents place, loaded ourselves securely into the van, and at around 1 AM Saturday morning, began the 3.5 hour drive to Kitty Hawk.
She slept most of the way down, though she refused to sleep in the bed in the back. I fought to keep my eyes open, but we survived and at around 5 AM, crossed into Kitty Hawk. The GPS on my phone, having been given only the town’s name as a destination, lead us to a surprisingly residential area and decided its job was done. I steered the van around some back roads, eyes out for a place to sleep, but eventually we found our way back to civilization and parked in a lot. Helpful hint for you aspiring van-dwellers: in an unfamiliar town, look for a Walmart. You should have no problems sleeping the night in their lot. If that fails, as it did in Kitty Hawk, a big parking lot for a store that’s un-mall-like is a good runner-up. A grocery store would probably work nicely. Couldn’t hurt to have a store that opens later in the morning, so if you do get kicked out, you at least get to sleep in a little first. If you can find one that has commercial vehicles, that ought to do you well, because it won’t be unusual to see vehicles parked there overnight. I found a furniture store that had several branded vans parked in a row at the edge of the lot. We just joined the pack, a couple spots down, like the estranged cousin of the van family. It was raining and a little chilly- perfect. We blocked out all the windows and slept comfortably, instantly, and for a long time.
The weekend was awesome. A couple highlights in pictures:
Things we did: climbed a lighthouse, ran around on the beach, filled every crevice of our bodies with sand jumping off the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge, ate cheap breakfasts and an expensive dinner, went to a nut store called Try My Nuts, tried their nuts, introduced music to each other, watched The Lion King in a theater, and officially, and with a touch of ceremony, reestablished our relationship.
On another note, Friends, I have potentially upsetting news. I am casually home hunting. I love living in the van, but I miss having a place to work, like on music or writing or programming, and the van isn’t quite big enough to accommodate that. I haven’t decided if and when I’ll stop vanliving, but I am actively looking for a more stable (read: immobile) home. Don’t worry- it may be months before I move out, so there will plenty more vanliving posts to come. I’ve also, on the advice of a friend, decided to try and update this thing once a week on Sundays. So check back this upcoming Sunday for what I did the weekend after the one described in this post. Teaser: it has hot videos of me shirtless… haha. NoButSeriously.