It was a warm and grey Las Vegas morning.
The customary dryness in the air was replaced with an unusual humidity. Me, Mike and our friend Josh had decided to take a break from rock climbing for the day and go searching for a hot spring we’d heard about near the Hoover Dam. Supposedly a bunch of miners had blown a hole in the wall decades ago in search of some precious earthy substance, when they eventually struck hot water. This human made hot spring was a literal hole in the wall, but the views looked excellent and we thought it might be an adventure.
In my experience, building yourself a cage doesn’t happen all at once. It happens slowly. Piece by piece.
6 years ago I met someone. He had brown eyes, brown hair, a sweet smile and a great laugh. We fell in love, we learned to climb together, we built a life around each other. We were children. As we grew up we decided to move into a van. We sweat and bled and cried and covered our life in saw dust and duct tape. In the end, we had a tiny house on four wheels that we hoped would become our home.
It’s a great story. It was an amazing journey.
And of course it is not that simple.
The fist time I had something to drink I was 12 years old.
I stole two beers from the cooler at my dads 40th birthday party, a Heineken and a Corona, ducked away from the adults at the party, ran around the side of the house and up the ladder waiting for me to the rooftop. My two best friends were waiting for me.
So, today I’m going to get a bit more serious with y’all, as you might have guessed from the title of this video. I want to talk about loneliness.
I’ve been living in the van for over two years now, and when I started making these videos and answering questions people had, I kept seeing the question ‘How are you not alone?’ Or ‘how do you make friends on the road?’ And at first I was like ‘psh thats not a real problem people have, don’t worry about it!’
And then I started to think about it, and I thought back to the very first week I spent in my van alone.
Walking around the valley floor on my first day of being a climber steward, a guy in a black Prius speeds up to the cross walk and tears around the corner.
He never slowed or even looked at me as I crossed the crosswalk, I was inches from his bumper as he sped through.
City driving and no city in sight.
The truth is, solo female travel is the schrodingers cat of safety.
You both are, and are not safe the entire time you are traveling, and you only know which one it ends up being at the end of your trip. The risk being, you’ll either be totally fine, or you’ll be dead.
The best day of climbing I ever had, the air was on fire.
It was summertime in Squamish, a small town just north of Vancouver in British Columbia Canada. This town, up until recently had been known as a sleepy kiteboarding destination and—to those who cared— a place where you could find some of the best bouldering in the world.
At 7:00 each morning my alarm goes off.
‘World Spins Madly On’ by The Weepies plays through the blown out speakers on my iPhone. The accompanying rattle and buzz of the vibrating phone alarm against my wooden countertop can be felt more so than heard through my pillow.
I roll over and flap my hand in the direction of the sound until the alarm stops. Mike makes sleepy puppy noises next to me as I slowly sit up and get ready to make coffee.
It did pretty well, but I looked at it again this year and I have a lot more useful things to add to that list, so here is my Christmas gifts for Vanlifers 2018! Enjoy and make a vanlifer in your world happy this holiday season.
I’m a digital nomad!
I’ve been working as a freelancer since 2014 doing social media marketing, which you can learn more about here and one of the things I get asked a lot is ‘what about internet?’
So, this is pretty easy to answer. When I’m in town or a city I go to coffee shops, libraries, laundromats or just friends houses for wifi.
Vanlife isn't always a vacation, sometimes it's just a financial reality
Get an address
The first thing you should do if you know you are going to be in a city full time for a while is get a PO box! This is essential because you can have an address in the city for all your important documents to get delivered to. Post office boxes can cost between $19-$75 a month depending on the size and location of the box.
Being comfortable in your van
The first thing you should do is lock your door every time you leave your van, put up your blinds and hide your valuables. Fortunately for me my van kind of looks like a piece of shit from the outside and I’ve never had anyone try to break into it, but I do know a few girls who have been sleeping in their cars/vans and woken up to the sound of someone trying to break in!
Livin' in a van in a city actually kinda sucks.
There are a lot of benefits to living in a van, and I know many people who chose to do the vanlife thing in a city. It's great for them! But in my experience, it kinda sucks. That's why, after getting stuck in Grand Junction Colorado for a week and then getting even more stranded back in Santa Cruz for a few weeks, I decided to put together a little guide for staying happy and sane in the van in a city/town. Hopefully this will help y'all out if you have to hang out in a mechanics shop for a bit longer than you would have liked.
If you've been following me for a long time you KNOW I have been meaning to do this for a while. If you haven't been following me for a long time, then welcome! This is the DIY hangboard set up for my 2006 Dodge Sprinter Van.
I get this question ALL THE TIME. So I decided to start tracking all of my expenses.
I’ve also compared my expenses to the national average because I like data and numbers.
Average Rent in America: $959
My Average Rent: $198.49-$378.49
Car Insurance: $128.49
Kate and I are cruising down highway 191 headed back to Indian Creek after getting rained out of Castle Valley.
We had been planning on climbing the North Face of Castleton and Fine Jade, two excellent (and challenging) climbs, but the weather decided otherwise.
I've been living in a van for two years as of today! Yay!
It's been a really crazy two years, and one of the most recent challenges for me has been managing my personal health and well being.
When I first met Kate, she was in her standard post climbing attire.
Sundress, spandex shorts, Birkenstocks. We were hanging out at a dirtbag potluck, which is basically just a bunch of climbers hanging out in a parking lot and sharing food together. I was instantly drawn to her bubbly attitude and her impressive list of badass climbs she had been ticking off in Squamish. Kate wasn't afraid to go for it.
I was lying in my bed, half asleep, when I heard the first knock.
It wasn’t so much of a knock as a bang. Someone was pounding on the side of my house. In the large metal box that is my van, it reverberated around the small space and startled me awake.
I had been half asleep when it happened. Just in that place before sleep, where you aren’t quite awake but you can still sense what’s happening around you. My heart rate skyrocketed.
Hey Kaya! Can you make a video about hitting the road as a climber? How skilled were you when you started? Is it better to be a fully competent trad climber before starting? How often do you climb with knowledgeable climbers and how often are you taking novices? And most importantly, how do you not get in over your head?!