Sheltering in place in The Escape Pod.
The Universe stuck me and the pod in one place and hasn’t released its grip, although it is giving signs that it might finally do so soon enough. I’ve been parked in the same spot for about seven years. I know that this is ridiculous. It’s not lost on me. But here I am.
During the time that I’ve been stuck, I’ve had to deal with myself. My wants. My desires. How I thought my life was going to be. How I thought vanlife was going to be. The fact that the hour is late – there are quite a few years behind me now – I never thought I would be stuck anywhere as an older person.
During this time, meditation has helped a lot. Beginning to understand that it doesn’t matter where I am, really, only the quality of the person I’ve become really matters in the end. That is so true. The being stuck in limbo for so long gave me the opportunity to just let go. I like to think that I grew into that, that I came upon that myself, but actually, the Universe forced me to let go – of a lot of things, both internal and external. It wasn’t easy. Some of it was damned difficult. Because of that it was constant work to see the good that came out of every day. Every night before I fell asleep I would list the things that I was grateful for that day. I still do.
In some ways I’ve been sheltering in place for quite some time. And that’s the point of the story. Sheltering in place doesn’t come easy. But if you are open to the shifts – in perspective, in attitude, in the day-to-day routines – you might find yourself to be a better person when you arrive on the other side of it.
One thing I know for sure: the faster you shift your mindset, do your inner work, the faster you can move on to the next episode of your life.
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Over the past seven years I’ve gotten to know my neighbors fairly well. We all look out for each other. I am the neighborhood eccentric. They’ve totally gotten it that I am living van life by choice. Even so they’ve made sure that during the past two months of sheltering in place that I am ok. In the thick of it, I realize how lucky I am to have them and that maybe, just maybe, this was the perfect place for sheltering in place.
Good neighbors they are.
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I am by nature a happy person. I work on being positive, and seeing the positive in each situation. I’m also jaded as fuck. But that just means that I am well balanced, I think. I deal with situations as they come along. And that has helped me considerably in this global sheltering in place situation. I am working on making sure that I am fine in the day-to-day – I’m wearing a mask when I’m outside, I wash my hands a lot, I social distance – and keeping a positive attitude, in the hopes that if I take care of myself, everyone else will be taken care of too.
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Details, details …
So when the shelter in place order came down in California, I spent a day or two prepping for what we were initially told would be a two week stay at home, and for me, that meant two weeks in The Escape Pod.
Two weeks holed up in a VW bus tin-top.
The question in those first twenty-four hours for me was: How holed up was I going to have to be?
At first I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to go outside at all. But that has not been the case. I spend a lot of time during my days outside, enjoying the sunshine, and walking.
The Ford had been totally prepped for a situation such as this. As a matter of fact, my plan should the SHTF was to hightail it out to nature under some trees somewhere and wait it out. But all of my survival gear had been stolen last year, along with the comfy Ford, so during that first day or two during SIP, I had to think rather quickly about what it was that I was going to need.
The two things on the top of my list were a way to boil water and a port-a-potty – both of which I did not have. A stash of water was third on my list, and then a few weeks worth of food. I had no budget for this and storage rent was due. But in hindsight I made the right choice and spent the rent money on supplies.
I ordered a little one-burner dual-fuel stove, not knowing really how I was going to use it given the amount of space I had in the pod.
The stove found a place to work on a board wedged onto the front seat. It gets put together before and taken apart after each use and stowed away and I try to use it only once a day. Propane during the shelter in place has been a bit of a bug. I’m going through more than I’d like to, and those little green canisters, which are all I have room for, are not recyclable.
My original stash of food lasted exactly as expected – two weeks. I now replenish it as often as possible. I go to one of the grocery stores daily to use the restroom in the morning (it’s pretty clean and I feel ok about it) and while I am there I will pick something up for lunch and also something to stash.
Boy, do I miss my daily salad bar …
One of my neighbors gave me access to their back yard and an electrical outlet in their basement so that I could work on projects, sit outside, and recharge the batteries in my tech. That’s been working out well – I’ve been able to sit in the sun and work for a few hours a day. Sometimes the other neighbors are out too so it’s good to see other people from a safe distance.
When I first moved back into The Escape Pod last year, I made a medicine box with the basics: bandaids, antibacterial ointment, cortisone cream, bottles of rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, aspirin, ibuprofen, tylenol, tape, scissors, emergency space blankets, rubber gloves, and a box of masks left over from last year’s fire season.
During SIP I’ve used about half of the items in my medicine box.
I know you all want to know how I deal with this. It’s one of the most asked questions I get. Usually I won’t answer it just because, eww, figure it out yourself.
In the before time, I only used public restrooms.
For sheltering in place, I made a port-a-potty out of a short paint bucket (2.5 gallon instead of 5) and got a stash of plastic bags and litter for that. I wanted to use sawdust, but couldn’t find any during that first day, so I opted for litter. It’s good enough for cats, is my thinking. The purpose of the port-a-potty was to have something to use only in case of an emergency, in case all the public restrooms closed, or in case I caught this virus and couldn’t leave the pod because I was too ill. Luckily it’s still stashed under the bed, just taking up space.
I also have a little chamber pee-pot that I empty responsibly every morning.
During the before time, there were about seven public restrooms that I could walk to – a few at cafes, a few at grocery stores, one at the hospital two blocks away, a one at the neighborhood park. In the now time, there are two close by, the one at the park and the one at my neighborhood grocery. There are three grocery stores that are further away but still within walking distance. Even though the one at the hospital is really close to where I park, I stay far away from there – for obvious reasons.
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In the before time I spent my days entirely out in public – working online in cafes and the library. During SIP I spend a lot of time in The Pod. I feel a lot freer now. I don’t hesitate to use my lights after dark, stream the downloads I have saved and watch them without earbuds, boil water when I need it …
Normally when I would be out camping, I would open my sliding door, set up my camp kitchen outside, spread out a little, and sleep inside at night.
With shelter in place, I have to do everything inside. No open doors. No cooking outside. While I feel a bit freer in some ways, it’s also a bit of a bitch given the amount of space I have, but I am ever so grateful that I have it!
How are you dealing with sheltering in place?