Urban Van Life

As a general rule, I tend to stay away from major cities. But when one of my best friends from high school is less than 90 minutes away, and has a safe place to park my van and trailer, I make an exception. It was a short, easy drive to Knoxville to hang out with Chris for the weekend. We were two of the outcast nerds back in the day, so we ended up hanging out a lot back then, sharing our love of computers and science fiction of all kinds.

Even though we hadn’t seen each other in over 20 years, some things never change. We spent much of the weekend catching me up on Doctor Who, which I haven’t been able to keep up with as it’s broadcast because it’s not on any of the streaming services I have access to. Not only does Chris have it, but he also got me hooked up with Plex and gave me access to his personal server. Since we share the same tastes in entertainment, finding interesting TV and movies to watch should never be a problem for me again. If he doesn’t already have it, he can and will get it for me.

The only one who was a bit less happy with this arrangement was Lister since he didn’t get as much outside time. Even with my motorcycle adventures, he’s been pretty spoiled at the campground, roaming around anytime I’m there and there’s daylight (and it’s light until after 9:00 pm these days on the western edge of the time zone). Temperatures have been moderate, barely touching a high of 80, and of course, he has ventilation in the van, so he won’t be uncomfortable inside. He just gets a little bit grumpy when he doesn’t get to play outside all day. And he still gets to spend all night with me, though he seems to spend more time on the passenger seat these days, even when we’re not driving. He uses that seat even more than I do in the rear-facing recliner position. When I took us out for Mexican food, he rode in Chris’s lap. The food was excellent, by the way. I have high standards for Mexican food after spending so much time in Arizona, where authentic Mexican food is everywhere thanks to all the authentic Mexicans there. But the fajitas here were amazing. Always trust the local’s recommendation.

While Chris doesn’t live in a particularly busy area, Monday morning traffic passing through the neighborhood woke me up early, since I’m parked pretty much next to the road. I’ve kept the curtains closed while I’ve been parked here just so the whole neighborhood and everyone passing by can’t see that I live in here. I had no trouble whatsoever. The only excitement was hearing the distinct sound of a car crash at the intersection next to me while I was making lunch yesterday. Nobody was hurt, and there were already plenty of people around helping. Since I didn’t actually see the crash, I couldn’t give the police a witness statement, so I kept to myself and let everyone else handle it. Normally I try to help in situations like this, but in this case, I really couldn’t, and it was helpful to maintain my low profile and not attract any attention to myself. Last year a high-profile law was passed in Tennessee making it illegal to camp on public property outside of a campground. (I imagine dispersed camping in National Forests would be an exception, because that’s federal land, not state.) Some have incorrectly interpreted this law as making it illegal to live in a vehicle, no matter where you are. Parking on private property with permission and sleeping in my van is perfectly legal, but for all I know, others in the neighborhood might not see it that way, and try to raise a stink.

I’ve gotten a bit of work done already this morning, even though it’s only 9:30 am as I’m typing this. Behold, the power of coffee. I’ll do a bit more work, grab a shower inside because I can, and then make my way down the road. Today’s destination is just a Chateau Walmart (in Virginia, avoiding potential issues with the Tennessee law interpretation), nothing exciting. But I’m strategically pre-staging close to tomorrow’s adventure, which should be a good time.

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