Sometime in 1980 I got an itch to roam free and live out of a small delivery van. I did some searching and found a slightly used Chevy high cube van at a dealer’s lot in Pacifica south of San Francisco. While not my van this image is a close approximation of what it looked like on the outside except mine had a wind deflector on the cab roof and enough yellow running lights to make a 16 wheeler envious : )
My rig’s box was about 12ft from cab divider to rear wall and 8ft wide x 7ft tall inside. It was a perfect size for a young guy with a desire to park where ever he could get away with it. Back then there were really no issues parking on side streets or in mall parking lots overnight. Nobody cared. Well at least no one I ran into during the ~18 months I lived full time in it.
Inside I had equipped it with a simple day bed with storage under, a workbench/counter area where I prepared simple mostly-raw meals (my preferred mode back then, and even now when my wife’s not cooking me yummy meals). The area also doubled as a hobby-table where I built many an RC Glider. I was quite active in the local RC Slope Glider scene on the cliffs south of S.F. back then.
While i did have a porta-potty of sorts in the rig i showered at a local health club most every morning after a round of racket ball that was popular in the clubs back then. For the ~$30 a month fee it was a great deal for keeping personal hygiene in check as i was managing a record shop in a San Francisco area Mall. Parking in the mall’s lot nearly every night without a worry. The mall cops would occasionally check on me in the mornings and i even had donuts and coffee to share on my day’s off before heading to the cliffs to fly or salt flats near Redwood City to sail my Manta Landsailor. Fun & simple times!
Of the time spent in the rig I only had one encounter and even that was I think just an innocent prank. One night while reading inside the rig while parked in a Sacramento area mall’s parking lot I heard a car pull up next to the street side. A door opened, I then heard voices cheering someone on to grab the gas cap…they did and off they sped. Never realizing I was on the other side of the metal wall. No harm done. I figured it was some club initiation of sorts. . . i went over to the auto store and bought a locking cap.
One of the funnier things that took place during this season in my young 20’s was word got around with my employer (The Musicland Group ~700+ record shops at that time) that i could be at a location in the time it took me to walk out to the parking lot and drive to the next location. And over the course of the ~18 months i lived in the van i transferred to 3 other locations in northern California. I was basically living on nothing. I’d paid cash for the rig, the interior was a month of weekend day’s to set up. No space rent, no big fuel bill as i had all i needed within ~30 miles of where ever i worked back then.
Would i do it again? You bet! This time of course my dear wife would happily be along. She is totally into the idea. Though for right now our current Van has way to much trail-bling to ever get away with any type of stealth camping…
So we don’t even try. . . but that rig is another post : )