Saturday, August 30, 2014

Living in a Van during the Summer

In response to the uber popular winter tips and tricks post here is a summer themed one!

A friend of mine used to say with some frequency that sometimes living the dream ain't so dreamy. Which can sometimes certainly be the case for van life in the winter but I think is even more true in the summa' time.

Location, location, location.
It has been my experience that unless you have a friend's house that you're able to park at or are willing to rent a campsite the summer can be troublesome to a dirtbag as the added camping crowds heighten the awareness of campsite poaching (not paying for an established campsite or camping in a turnout) as dirtbags and respectable folk alike are attempting this. And then with all the regular people looking to enjoy the outdoors, there is tremendous competition for free camping close to town.

Getting an early start on a high country mountain bike ride,
enjoying the blankets of wildflowers. Picture by John Fleury
If you choose to stay within city limits, there is certainly a risk of having a chat with police officers at 2AM about where you are living and sleeping that isn't the most fun thing to do at that hour. It also means that unless you have a driveway to sleep in it's best to keep moving locations to keep a low profile, which is a surprisingly exhausting endeavor.

Food and the heat.
You definitely have to be a bit more aware of food going bad in the heat as refrigeration is a luxury of more sedentary folk. That being said it's not hard to toss a wet towel or shirt on the cooler for some evaporation cooling and taking advantage of freezers when possible, either freezing food or water bottles to put in the cooler. Also, I have found that I just shop more frequently for fresh fruits and vegetables during summers in the van just to minimize the frequency of food being wasted.

All of the pros.

-Daylight Hours They're long and glorious, allowing you to get out and play in off(ish) the grid locations, sleep there and cruise back to town with the early rising sun. It can make for long days but I also personally love rising and falling asleep with the sun.

-Not Cold enough said right? You're not cold while you sleep, while you dress in the morning etc. While I prefer to sleep cold, there is something to be said for being comfortable all the time.

Just doing a little sorting in the park.
-Van Organization is Made Easy it's easy to spend 30 minutes at a park on a fine summer day, unload you're worldly possessions and pack them back just they way you would like to with out worrying about them getting wet, snowy blown away etc.
-More Naps what better way to beat the heat than to sleep through it to awake refreshed and ready to enjoy the extended daylight hours of the summer.

-No Moisture Issues No need to worry about rust, mildew or any other excessive moisture issues as the summer heat should evaporate any condensation that does accrue overnight. This evaporation as previously mentioned, when is does occur can be coolly harnessed for your benefit.

-Easier Night Time Activities if you're not exhausted at the end of your day it is so much easier to get out and enjoy the great outdoors or other night time activities when the nighttime temperatures are pleasant and conducive to not hanging out in your vehicle reading or listening to podcasts.

-Bathing in Rivers is best done in less populated areas to minimize the likelihood of offense; but is an easy way to feel like a badass as well as not mooching a shower off of friends and coworkers. It's also great for getting in touch, literally, with nature and checking out the next great fishing hole! Remember to pack a biodegradable soap like campsuds or Dr. Bronners, I've been pretty psyched on Bronner's citrus orange and classic peppermint scents!

Monday, August 18, 2014

What the heck is beer anyways?

Over the past few weeks I have had quite a few very similar discussions with several different people. Sometimes it's occurred over the consumption of a couple of cold ones, and once it happened in the context of creating a couple cold ones.

The discussion has been based around the question: 'What is beer and how's it different from ale?' Now, full disclaimer I am by no means an expert and after these discussions I have done a cursory search of the all-mighty interwebz, which has neither confirmed or denied what I have said in the discussions.

Photo from:
Now you might be wondering why is this important and what if I don't drink beer. Well this is important because what other fun facts are you going to throw around while drinking beers with friends? That a fully grown male grizzly can run up to 35 MPH and swim up to 15MPH (I don't know how many knots that is) or that giraffes sometimes eat bones to maintain their freakishly large skeletal structure, no that's just silly. And if you don't drink, well surely you will at some point meet someone that does or even better is drinking a beer and in that situation you can teach them a little something about what they're ingesting and pat yourself on the back for bustin' out some fun facts.

So, based on my limited research and the conversations that I have had...

Beer is a fermented beverage where the sugars are provided by a grain or cereal base; hops, fruits and other nice tasting things are often added to make it more palatable.

Ale is often times a beer brewed with a specific strain of yeast, an ale yeast which does best in warmer temperatures and can have a higher alcohol tolerance than other yeast strains.

The tricky bit that has led to discussions is: 'What about ginger ales like this one?' You may notice that there are no grains present in the recipe but the suggested yeast is indeed an ale yeast. So, I argue that the aforementioned ginger ale is not a beer but it is indeed an ale because of the yeast strain.

A root beer, in the traditional sense, is NOT a beer though because it is neither fermented, nor does it have a grain base. Similarly, ginger ale that you get at the supermarket, I argue is not really ginger ale but a ginger soda or ginger drink, anything but an ale/beer.

What do you guys think? Any other caveats that you can think of or anything you disagree with?

Additional resources (sources from my quick googling):
l - This one kind of confirms my argument

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The latest post is not here...

It's here:\

Here's a quick run down on some of the finances of van living. If you guys have any further questions or want specifics I'm happy to do so!

Next post should be all about beer and brewing so get ready!