After purchasing my burgundy beauty I had to put in a habitable condition. The following renovations were made over this past weekend.
My first order of business was to remove the middle “pilot chairs” to create more space. I found a local on craigslist with some extra storage space in her garage for my seats (I figured if I ever wanted to sell the van, I ought to have all the seats in there or the value would plummet). I paid her $30.
I was going to take the rear seat out as well but I found a strange button in the back which--much to my jubilation--turns the seat into a bed. Why the car manufacturers didn't install 70's porn music to play as the seat unfolded is beyond me.. Consequently, I left seat-turned-bed as it was.
I had a whole bunch of junk and lots of food and no where to put it all so I bought a small 3-drawered plastic storage container from Wal-Mart for $15. After making a cautious left-hand turn out of the parking lot, I realized that, after all the crap I just put in the container spilled out, I needed to make it more secure. I bought a few bungee cords at K-Mart for $3, which work wonderfully.
I had my own sleeping bag, which is rated to -20˚ F, which I bought from a friend several years ago for $40. That sleeping bag has kept me warm many a night, but I thought I’d get some linens just in case I ever needed extra warmth; plus it makes the back look neater. I bought a blanket and bedspread as well as a small waste basket and a pot and pan from The Salvation Army for $10.
One of the problems that I identified early was that I had no place to hang my clothes. I'm not one to spurn a shirt because of a few wrinkles, but I knew I’d have to find a job immediately and surely I needed to appear professional. To do so, I bought a $1 hook from Walmart. I tried to manually screw it into a thin wooden panel on the ceiling but I ended up cracking the panel. Instead, I screwed it into the plastic on the side window frame and it supports 6-7 shirts and pants quite easily. All my other clothes stay folded in my suitcase which I store underneath the bed.
I also bought a $2 coat hook from K-Mart. Every time I use it I can't help but laugh.
Lastly, I screwed some hooks into the ceiling so I could hang a piece of cloth behind my front seats so that nobody could see me and to ensure “stealth”—as the vandwellers call it. The van also has blinds and the windows are tinted, so even when I’m in the middle of a parking lot I feel as if I have as much privacy as I need.
I bought a black piece of cloth from Wal-Mart for $4.50. I probably could have devised something more ingenious (like movable curtains on a shower rod) but I had no more time, since I had to be on campus the next day.
I’ve slept in my van for four nights now and haven’t had anything more than minor problems (where should I put my smelly socks, how can I cook at night without attracting the attention of campus security). But all in all, things have gone smoothly, and I think radical living will be a success.