Friday, January 24, 2014

Twiddling my thumbs: Entertainment in the van.

There have been a few people in the past months that have asked how I keep myself occupied in a cold dark van when I’m not working. While it can be a bit tricky finding entertainment after the sun has dropped behind the horizon it hasn’t been a deal breaker, or really even as much of an issue has I would have guessed before moving into the van. I think that the van has not drastically changed my entertainment patterns beyond the fact that I certainly watch more movies this time of year.
Books are one of my staples, they require no energy, they’ll survive if they get wet/damp, they’re accessible, cheap and varied. One moment I can be on the edge of my sleeping bag with Bilbo riddling away with Gollum, the next evening I can try and put myself in the position of ancient civilizations facing the end of their way of life. And that variety is a pretty nice way to mentally remove one’s self from a cold, dark van. The down side to books is that they tend to take up a fair bit of space, your hands will get cold while reading for extended periods of time and it’s a bummer when they get wrinkly from the damp.

Taking a break from my home entertainment
system and checking on the outside world.
Photo by Kevin Hadfield
Movie watching, like I said, definitely goes through the roof during the winter as it’s easy to put on a DVD on the laptop before falling asleep, especially since a warm computer feels great on my legs. However, the problem with electronics as a whole is that when they become cold their battery life is markedly reduced so you might not get to see Bilbo get eaten by Smaug at the end (I’ll admit I have been on a hobbit kick with the book and movies lately and so you’ll have to forgive the references) and will instead have to wait until it’s warmer or you’ve recharged to finish your movie.

Snow sports require increased motivation and psyche but are not completely unrealistic in the dark. I was saying to a co-worker and friend the other day that about 50% of the time that I say I’m going to get up early or stay out late skinning by myself I actually follow through with those plans. It is without a doubt tricky to get pumped up to walk uphill in the dark by yourself for a few turns before or after a 10 hour work day. So, my recommendation is to find a buddy(s) that will hold you to your commitments and is stoked to go adventuring with you in the cold and dark. I’d say company bumps the plan follow through percentage up to at least 80% if you’ve made definite plans.

Sitting and thinking is a wonderfully time consuming activity that is great for winter down time in the van. I read somewhere that sitting quietly and being present or reflecting is a great way to start and end the day as it can be calming and focusing, both nice for waking up and emptying the ol’ noggin before sleeping. The other nice features of sitting and thinking include: the low energy commitment, you get to say in your warm bed for a few extra minutes, it gives you time to thoroughly plan out the to-do list for your next rest day, you can plan out/day dream about the next trip/adventure that’s on the books, invent new van projects and improvements and meal planning for as far into the future as you want. I have found that hot beverage drinking compliments sitting and thinking nicely and would recommend it to house and van dwellers alike.

Podcasts, boom! They’re awesome, if you have not been exposed to the podcast universe you should. For anyone not familiar with podcasts, they’re basically internet radio programs on a nearly infinite number of subjects that can range from 10 minutes long to 5+ hours long (which I think borders on the audio book). They can be a great way to unwind and have a few laughs or to further your knowledge base on…everything. A few of the podcasts that are on my Ipod that I’ve been enjoying include but are not limited to: 99% Invisible (about architecture and design), Hardcore History, The Enormocast (climbing/interview based content), NPR’s Science Friday, Religion and Ethics and Car Talk. I would highly recommend all of the above for some though provoking topics and a few laughs.

Chris has stickers too! The Enormocast is the place for climbing
related interviews.
Lastly, perhaps the least fun but maybe the most productive form of entertainment can be cleaning and organizing, which might shock those of you that know me well. But, a bit of cleaning obviously reduces clutter and keeps things easily found. It also provides the opportunity to find stuff that you can sell/give away for a little freeganism promotion or you might come across that nifty little doodad that you misplaced and have been looking for for weeks (recently it was a warm hat that fit this description). My favorite part of the van to organize is, in my opinion, my food zone. Oh man, stumbling across some candied ginger or Reeses or some potentially delicious dinner ingredients can take the stoke level off the charts.

If you have the room in your van for it board games and guests
are obviously a great way to spend an evening.
Photo by  Justin Mages

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