Don't give up, it's not supposed to be easy.
We moved back into the van last week and let me tell you. It wasn’t all that glamorous at first. We decided to go to Flagstaff, Arizona to play in the snow. We geared up with some snow chains, fixed up our van to be move in ready, stocked up on food, and set off.
Upon arriving a huge storm was coming in for the weekend, but we figured hey…we have chains, we have good heating, and we are stocked up. No biggie. The first night we were there we went to a bar called Rendezvous. We had a few beers and enjoyed the evening thinking we could just stealth camp in the town on one of the lesser used roads.
We were wrong. The entire city had an ordinance that said between 12am-7am there was no parking allowed on city streets. This was a complete bust. It was dark, the snow was coming down pretty hard, the roads were getting icy..so we decided to park in a hotel parking lot for the night and hoped no one would notice.
Luckily in the morning we were fine, we slept in a little due to our beer headaches, and we got out of the lot fine with no chains. We’ve got this, today will be a great day…or so we thought.
We started the day with a workout at a local gym and took a shower..it was off to a decent start. Next we had to get some work done, so we tried to find a coffee shop. Every single coffee shop either had no wifi, no wall plugins available, or just was too crowded to even sit down. The Starbucks’s were all closed due to weather conditions. By this point in the day we had been driving all over searching for somewhere to park and use internet for hours and it was getting dark already; we were over it.
We thought, now that its getting dark.we need to find somewhere to sleep for the night. We discovered on the city website there were a few streets you could park on so we found that street and parked. The snow was really coming down, so we said lets give up on this day and watch a movie. It was 18 degrees out, so pretty cold. We felt defeated…so we made some spaghetti, and watched Kubo and The Two Strings. It was a cozy night, we’d just leave in the morning and get out of the winter weather.
The next morning we were covered in about a foot of snow but the road which was plowed was only a few feet away. We decided that we wanted to get the hell out of there and that Sedona, Arizona would be much better. So we backed up and three seconds later, you guess it….we got stuck in the ice/snow pack. The snow was plowed but the snow pack on the road was so thick and it was about 20 degrees out. Our tires just could not get enough traction to move any further. Our van was halfway in the road and the parking space..blocking the road. Luckily it wasn’t a busy street.
We grabbed our chains, but quickly realized the truck chains we purchased had to be driven over to put them on, the issue was that our van was completely unable to move forward or backwards. Cody started digging and trying to put chains on and I called AAA to come help us. They told us that it would take hours before someone could come because tons of people were in the same situation as us.
We felt so defeated, ready to give up completely. Over it.
At this point we just had to sit there, in silence..and recuperate ourselves. About 20 minutes later we grabbed our hammer and axe, our floor mats and chiseled away at the ice around our tires. Then we shoved the floor mats underneath them and put the chains on. The broken up ice and floor mats allowed our tires to get the traction needed to move forward enough to install our chains!
We did it. Got out of there by 12PM. But first, we stopped to grab a slice of pizza and then set off for Sedona.
Pretty shitty start to the first couple days back in our van. The whole time I was in a negative spiral thinking "Why am I even doing this?, is this even worth it? It’d be so much easier to live in an apartment. It would be easier to live like normal people."
On our way to Sedona after we got out of the situation we were in, I felt pretty good and reminded myself - I never decided to live in a van because I thought it would make my life easier. I decided to do it to grow as a person, to travel and see more of the world, to challenge myself to do something different each day. I never thought this would be extremely easy, but now that I look back on the times we got stuck, or the times we had bad luck..I feel extremely thankful that I went through those hard times. Because now I can say that I know how to get a vehicle out of snow/ice/sand you name it. I also feel like it helped me grow as a person because It makes me realize that anything that happens in life is how you make it. You can make a shitty situation worse by feeling bad about it, or you can come out of it feeling like you’ve grown and learned something new.
Those are the stories that you look back on and remember, those difficult times that you made it out alive. In one piece.
Basically the moral of this whole story is, van life isn’t a piece of cake. Life isn’t a piece of cake. Things aren’t supposed to be easy. Life throws stuff at you all the time. But these obstacles are put in your way to help you grow, to help you become ready for the next step in life. To prepare you for whats next. Don’t give up. Just keep trying something new until it works.
Now we are happily van dwelling in Sedona, Arizona. We’ve got a nice setup here and will be here for the next couple weeks!