Urban Vamping, Vol. I: Santa Cruz
Because we haven't yet set out on our van adventure into the wilderness, we're still in the big, bad city most of the time. Or at least really close to it.
This means that most of the time, we're not alone. Or even if we're close to being alone, chances are there's someone within a 1-mile radius who could stumble upon us and bother us.
On our first night sleeping with our new dimmable lights in the Santa Cruz area, this turned out to be pretty true.
We drove for a while out into the woods and found a pretty nice spot out in a quiet redwood gulch near Aptos. As we were brushing our teeth in the doorway, I heard a bike spinning toward us from the darkness, no lights whatsoever to guide him. He passed us without a word and then stopped about twenty feet. Still nothing. The two of us slowly turned to eachother, exchanging a glance of discomfort because, needless to say, we were a bit creeped out. And it's not like the moonlight had any chance of penetrating the thick redwood branches above us. There was no light. Zero, zip, none. Just the glowing light of our van, illuminating us and putting all else in shadow. Eek.
We immediately decided to book it, and we had to move a couple of times to find the right place! All in all, it definitely wasn't the best sleep we've had but hey, we're learning. This is what #vanlife is like when you're not stealth. Oh, and when you have dimmable lights, those will always get attention. We're working on that.
Here are some key takeaways though:
Find a good industrial area to blend into, it's way less creepy for everyone, being that big, white van in the suburbs...parents in certain places get concerned. Don't blame 'em.
Get to your ideal campground early, before sunset at least (especially in urban areas). They fill up fast!
Get your curtains up faster, we're being too slow about it for sure (my fault).
Try not to brush your teeth and get all prepared in the same place that you're sleeping if it's a bit sketchy. Have a prep spot and a sleep spot.
Just generally be prepared before seeking out a spot! We relied heavily on satellite view to find less dense areas, but in the end it was my familiarity with a certain area of town that lead us to the best place.
Again, these are just a few things, but we have so much more to learn about urban van dwelling before we get out into less populated areas!
Have any tips gathered from your own experiences living a van? Please leave them below! :)