In addition to raging for several days in a row, hanging out with some great humans, and experiencing a water slide that goes through a shark aquarium, the trip was a good chance to get a hands on idea of what van life was going to be like and how we could make it more enjoyable. While our friends were sleeping in gloriously air conditioned hotel rooms, chain smoking indoors and making use of a complimentary mini fridge that was brought up to store someone's imaginary insulin, Evan and I camped out in the van in a parking lot that only cost us $5/night. I was a little worried that someone would realize we were actually staying in the van and would kick us out, but no one ever said anything.
Some things we learned:
1. We definitely need to fix our gas gauge. Unexpectedly running out of gas in some hot, ugly town in Southern California is no fun. After some research, it looks like we may need a whole new fuel pump, which is gonna set us back $150 or so.
2. Never be in traffic ever. The van does great (a little over 20mpg, it seems) when we can cruise at a nice speed on the freeway, but any traffic at all will literally swallow all our gas in under an hour. Perks of being a roving turtle unit - if traffic gets bad we can basically stop wherever we want and find something to do until it clears up.
3. We need a sunlight cover and hopefully some sort of fan. Even when we rolled down all our windows and put a floor mat over the sky light we'd wake up by 9am drenched in sweat. Granted, Las Vegas is hot as hell, and hopefully our trajectory will avoid that kind of heat (except at Burning Man), but damn.
4. Having a pee funnel (yup, we splurged) doesn't actually reduce the awkwardness of public urination that much — if anything it feels extra weird to be a woman in a dress peeing standing up, and a little like you might pee all over yourself. We have some elaborate pee-disposal ideas in the works.
5. We should probably get a folding table of some sort. Trying to set up your camp stove to make dinner on the ground in some random parking lot is amusing once, but also rather impractical.
Anyway, we have just a tiny bit over a week until our fundraiser ends and we (hopefully!) depart. Of course, we're more than willing to take your money any ol' time, but if you've been meaning to contribute (and get some sweet snail mail as we travel!) the time is now!
Huge, huge thank yous to John Archibald, Emily Clayton, Allen Conner, João Igor of Coolfarm, Louis & Karen McKenzie of Twin Palms Ranch, Ceiba, the Hoegermans, the Murphy family AND the Murphey family, Jim & Jan MacInnis, Joe Dryden! So many amazing humans!
Aaaaaand, last but not least, CONGRATS to my baby girl and co-adventurer, the luminous, the fabulous, my favorite, Kelsey Murphey, for graduating from Sac State with her photography degree!