If I were a car, I would probably be a minivan. Sensibly designed with just enough flash to make me interesting. Ferrari’s are exciting, but if you need to get the job done you hop into a reliable and roomy Honda Odyssey.
Are you a person who likes to fly by the seat of your pants? I don’t fit into that category, I’m a planner and a tester.
A few months back my friend Tom and I installed a mains power port on the side of my campervan, and in the weeks afterward I created a simple power distribution system for the vehicle. However, I never operated it.
Dear readers, a Midwest October is upon me; perfect to do a little van exploration. With nighttime temperatures in the high 20s (-2C) it was time to test several different camper systems.
Early yesterday I pulled out the 30 Amp extension cord from the camper’s storage bin and attempted to connect it to the van’s receptacle. Crap! It wouldn’t go in. The pins on this type of plug are circular, and with some study, I was able to determine that they were slightly out of alignment. A little bending with my multi-tool and the plug slid in and mounted.
I went back into my van’s storage and located the $16 Walmart electric heater that I had purchased a few weeks earlier. I plugged it in, turned it on and… it worked! I was then off to the basement to find my 25-year-old sleeping bag. It is old and flattened, but it is also extra-long and thereby perfect for my 6’3” frame.
With heater and bag in place, I was ready to do a test run. The wilds of a National Park, you may ask? No, my driveway, of course! When I told Julie about my plans to sleep in the driveway, she nodded in acknowledgment. After 25 years of marriage, she didn’t feel it necessary to comment on the absurdity of my vision. My more adventurous friend Tom thought that I should try to sleep in the cold with the heater turned off. Likely, as some sort of manly exercise. It should be noted that Tom possesses an ultra high quality and very warm REI sleeping bag, as opposed to my 25-year-old “pancake.”
As bedtime approached, I gathered my camping essentials: water bottle, laptop, and iPhone. I traversed the 30 feet from my front door to the camper and entered with anticipation. It was cold! On went the electric heater powered by my garage’s outlet. I reached down and powered up the van’s 12V power system, and then flipped on its interior lights.
The heater seemed anemic, and I thought I would be spending the night freezing. But, in short order the van warmed up. I settled in my sleeping bag, fully dressed including a stocking cap. Like any other wilderness he-man, I opened up my laptop and checked Facebook, braving a weaker wifi signal from my house.
I worried that I wouldn’t fall asleep, as I fell asleep. Comfortable, warm, sleeping in a van parked in my driveway Silly for Dr. Mike, a 65-year-old physician, exciting for the 9-year-old Michael inside of me.
The outside temperature dropped to 29 degrees, but my little heater plugged on. In fact, I had to turn it to low in the middle of the night because I was getting too hot.
I write this the next morning after following my tradition of walking to Starbucks. Here I sit at my usual table, typing and sipping coffee. Mission accomplished.
My adventure may seem childish to you, or it may not. However, it was fun and informative for me. I tested out several of my camper’s systems and felt the security of reassurance. I had a “backyard” camping adventure. I had a good time.
Dear reader, so often we get locked into doing only “appropriate” behaviors. We don’t allow ourselves simple pleasures because we have deemed them childish. We criticize our children, “You are too old to do that.”
I am here to tell you that it is OK to explore the child in you because that is the part of you that still possesses wonderment. I challenge you to rediscover that aspect of you. I believe that you will grow just a little bit more in the process.