IMG_20170326_173450The Stew Wagon is a 1999 Ford Explorer. It is my home, most of the time. There’s a meadow in the White River National Forest, where I park, sleep, and spend a lot of my free time. There is no WiFi, cell signal, cable, or communication of any kind. I’m off the grid.

Yesterday, after working at the mill, I drove down to the meadow, opened up the doors and lay down on my bed. Listening to the stream and the birds, it was easy to drift off into a peaceful nap. When I woke up, I stayed there. I moved my head to the other end of the bed, hugged a pillow, and just gazed out at that beautiful place.

I used to say, “I live in my vehicle”. That isnt really true. There’s a difference between living “in” it, and living “out of” it. One means that it’s where I spend my time. The other means that it’s where I keep my things and sleep. Is living out of the Stew Wagon a hardship? Yes and no.

The challenges that come along with this lifestyle are certainly different from those you encounter in a more traditional living space. In a house or apartment, you dont usually have to think about where you’re going to shower, or pee. Also, the kitchen is the kitchen. There’s a refrigerator, stove, sink, etc. Most of the time, you have a furnace of some sort. In a 1999 Explorer? Not likely.

Apart from the things listed above, the very first thing you have to deal with is sleeping. Some people are able to curl up in the back seat. Others can lay down some seats into a bed, of sorts. I have chosen to remove the back seats and install a sleeping platform, with a memory foam mattress for comfort. (This presented new, unanticipated issues, as well.) Another thing is privacy. There isnt much of that when you’re surrounded by windows. Then there are the Signal problems. In a vehicle, you wont have cable, or (until recently) WiFi, and no cell signal in the meadow.

Vehicle dwelling also presents obstacles when it comes to entertaining. There isnt much room for dinner parties. In mine, visitors are pretty much limited to the passenger seat. Still, there are lots of places to gather, so socializing isnt as difficult as you might think.

On balance, the opportunity to discover and experience new places, cultures and people is always there. If I want to go to Albuquerque or Chugwater, I dont have to figure out how that will fit into my budget. There’s no worry about where to sleep, either. My bed is just as comfortable in those places as it is in the meadow.

Life in the Stew Wagon has led me to see myself in a different light. Things I was very proud of, before, seem insignificant now, while things I might have scoffed at have become powerful sources of joy. A comfortable bed, for example, is something I give thanks for every night and morning. There have been times in this journey, when I didnt have one. I’m more capable than I’d ever realized. What people think bothers me less than it once did. I’ve not lost my pride, I’m just proud for different reasons.

Despite the image that I sometimes project, I am not a patient person. I tend to deal with things immediately (without considering the consequences), rather than waiting to see how they might develop, if let alone. Sometimes, it’s fine. It has also cost me a lot of money and time that I could have saved, if I’d only waited. That’s something I’m working on.

Also, I really dont need a lot of people in my life. While a good conversation is always enjoyable, and I love to meet new people, solitude is a strong need, for me. Having a home on wheels definitely provides for that, and I’m learning to cherish my time alone.

Yes, there are challenges, but every day, I wake up in the peaceful place that other people imagine. There are trees, deer, moose, foxes, a singing stream. My list of experiences is growing, as the list of things I want to do shrinks. I’m doing things that other people dream about, and I know that I’ll do the things I dream about, as well.

Having said all that, let me add one more thing. I wouldnt recommend this lifestyle to anyone. It’s something that is either thrust upon you by unfortunate circumstance, or you choose it because it fits who you are.

For now, that’s all I have to say about that. Thanks for following, liking and sharing.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living.

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