Monday, March 1, 2010

A picture tour

Ever since my article published, I've been giving lots of tours. For those of you unable to make it to Durham to see the van for yourself, this picture tour will have to suffice. I published my first "tour entry" way back in January of 2009.

Here's the dash. The van was bought a little over a year ago for $1,500. I've put about 1,000-2,000 miles on it (about 122,000 overall). Unbelievably, I haven't had a problem with it yet. Even the cruise control still works.

This is the area in front of the passenger seat. I'm not sure what was in the hollow space before.

This is my 12-disc CD changer under the passenger seat. I didn't realize it came with the van until I conducted a thorough inspection after my purchase. Some musicians therein: Tallest Man on Earth, Arcade Fire, Pearl Jam, Bob Seger, Iron and Wine, Eddie Vedder, Gordon Lightfoot, and my beloved Neil Young.

The van came with Alan Jackson's "Superhits" that was found in one of the front door storage pockets. I've yet to give it a listen.

Automatic and fully-functioning doors and locks.

This is a shot of the van's rear. I use this space to store cereal boxes, camping equipment, extra books, laundry detergent, etc.

I also have a "hitch" feature, and some electrical socket that I assume I could use at campgrounds.

I wear my gray sweatpants (pushing 10 years old) and long-sleeve-tee to bed. If it gets really cold, I'll put on my gloves and a hat, though I've only had to do that once or twice this winter. I also have two pairs of thermal underwear. I've only had to use them a couple times this winter as well.

I use a bag of spare winter clothes (thermal underwear, extra gloves, etc.) for my pillow.

Windows are tinted and have shades. I have three large windows that I can open like this one below.

I bought this cutting board from the salvation army for $1.50 to tie the room together.

My tupperware. Sometimes I cook extra food to take to campus.

Here's my TV and VCR. I've turned it on once just to see if it works. It does.

I splurged about $45 for this headlamp. It was an excellent investment. When I turn it onto its "low" setting, I can read and cook in the van with little threat of people noticing the light from the outside. Three triple-A batteries last a ridiculous amount of time; something like 250-300 hours. Why fill a room with light when you can only see in front of you?

A knife I got from a skilled knifemaker in Ontario, Canada when I went on a canoe voyage across the province. I keep it with me for protection from car thieves who I've yet to have a problem with.

I lost my old waterbottle so I bought this one from Rite-Aid for $3. I fill it up every 4 or 5 days.

Here's the suitcase I brought to Durham with me. It now houses all my clothes, except for those that I hang up.

This is a converter I can plug into the cigarette lighter. Only works when I have the car running, so I've rarely used it.

Feel free to visit for a real tour!


My Frugal Miser said...

Thanks for the tour. This is my first post, but I really find your blog inspiring and motivational. Whenever I get stumped by how I can be a better miser, I look to you for inspiration. What are your plans after you finish school?


I also use a AAA headlamp in my van all the time... and I've got a Stonyfield yogurt "tupperware container" too.. so funny. So nice to have found your page (thru Romana's blog), mind if I post a link to it on my site, Sonja

Ken said...

Frugal miser-- thanks. I probably could be more frugal, myself. I'd really like to have my own little garden on the lawn outside my van so I could grow my own vegetables and live a bit more sustainably. Duke, I suspect, will have none of that, though. Food bill is pretty much the only thing I'd like to have more control over at this point. Things like insurance, cell phone, and the little bit of gas I use are all relatively cheap. My food bill was $4.34/a day my first semester. But it's probably more like $6 since I don't want to buy shitty food at Kroger, favoring the slightly more expensive and slightly more ethical food at Whole Foods instead. As for plans, I have many. I may have a book deal, so I hope to spend one year doing that after school (graduation date is May '11). Then I'd either like to do some hardcore, long-term traveling, or begin my next experiment. I'm thinking about calling it "Preparing for the Apocalypse" where I educate myself in various what-I-deem-fundamental fields that I have little-to-no knowledge of: farming, cabin construction, hunting, carpentry, mechanics, etc., climaxing with me building my own place perhaps somewhere in my beloved arctic. But this is far from certain, because I have a thousand and one ideas and so little time to do them all. Also near the top of that list is adapting "Walden" into a film and reintroducing the buffalo into the greater Buffalo metropolitan area. Anyways, normally my responses are never this long, but you asked a good question, and I'm doing everything I can to procrastinate some hw I really don't want to do.

Sonja--I've been on your blog several times. Great stuff. Bob thought my story would fit on his site nicely, too. And yes, please do link my site. I'll mention yours if I ever do an entry of that sort.

Anonymous said...

The holes in the dash look about the right size and shape for mounting two speakers.

Anonymous said...

Great Blog...Love your writing style...I could read it all day.

I have owned two full size Ford Conversion vans, both purchased brand new. They were the best, and I hope to own another one someday

The electrical jack with your trailer hitch is for hooking up the lights on a trailer. PLEASE do not connect it to anything in a campground

Chris said...

Wow Kenny, you haven't mentioned a book deal before. Thats awesome! Hey when is spring break and do you plan to travel to the Jesz Abode this year?

-- Rob said...

"Tieing the room together?" I almost spit coffee all over the self important, I mean, aspiring screenwriter on the coffe-house sofa beside me.

Martha's got nothing on you, brother.

Ken said...

Anon--speakers sounds about right.

Anon--Ah... thanks for the warning. It makes sense about the hitch. I won't be plugging anything into it.

Chris--Ah, I'd love to, but Josh and I are on a tight schedule. We're doing 5 days of the AT through the Smokies. No time for a visit though. :(

Driven--glad you didn't spit up your coffee. I wouldn't mind a little beautifying advice from Martha, though.

VJP said...

Ken, you're missing out on some useful storage space where the speakers used to be. I'm thinking towels or toiletries. Or perhaps pens & stamps for those thank you notes.
Martha [aka Vivian].

Anonymous said...

I think you're already prepping for Apocalypse with that cereal count! And if you start following Martha I'll have to officially end our friendship.

Ken said...

Vivian/Martha--surprisingly, I never thought of using it for storage. Then again, to store stuff you have to have stuff. Look forward to plotting your "wall garden" idea with you.

SF-- You're right, I do have an absurd amount of cereal. I buy it all at once so I don't have to drive the van two miles to the supermarket every week. In regards to Martha, I wouldn't worry too much about our friendship ending.

Anonymous said...

Re your comment to Frugal miser and plans for the future:

Ken said...

Anon-- thanks for the blog. I guess this means I'll have to change the name of my "project." For the record, I'm no conspiracy theorist and sincerely doubt that the world will end or that markets will break beyond repair. I merely want to learn those things because I'm uncomfortable with being so detached from what keeps me alive, and I think a life in fields and farms and woods would be a fine way to fill my years.

Anonymous said...

I happen to agree with you there Ken. Follow your heart and you will always be happy. Keep up the good work! Anon

Fabian said...

This is a really inspiring life you are leading. With everybody talking about minimalism and frugality today, this is a great approach beyond the chit-chat. Looking forward to seeing your other plans made real… they sound quite interesting.