Stories From the Road: Marquita on Never Giving Up!

"Fine. I won't give up but I will cuss the entire time."

My name is Marquita #nomadicnana. I have this story to tell you about my experience and journey to #vanlife. Keep this statement in mind: "Fine. I won't give up but I will cuss the entire time." 

I, as many others, discovered vanlife during the search for a more lean and simple lifestyle. I have been following the tiny house and offgrid movements for years. As my children are now grown and blazing their own trails, it's time for ma to spread her wings and live the dreams of travel and nomadic adventures.

After much research and surfing the web, I came across with Bob Wells. The very first page of the website brought tears to my eyes, tears of joy. I have found my community. And even at that point I had no idea how it would fulfill the desires deep within me I had been searching for most of my adult life. Any of my friends or acquaintances could attest to my constant confession, "If I won the lottery, I would buy a Winnebago and hit the road." I would soon find out that I wouldn't need to win the lottery to live my dreams. I set out to find my van.

I moved in with a co-worker to minimize my expenses, also helping her with her situation, then start saving money to purchase a van. I shared my vision with a few close friends with only a warm understanding of the lifestyle and the perfect fit for me. I came to my own understanding that #vanlife is understood by vanlife seekers and nomadic-minded dwellers. It's not for everyone.

In late January 2019 I found the van I wanted. In a few weeks time, I purchased the van at a very affordable price with plans to gut and build to my comfort and desired amenities. Well, here in lies the true adventure of my first #vanlife experience.

Her name is Beatrice. 1996 Ford E150 conversion van. She was rough around the edges, needed a few mechanical repairs and was already seatless and ready to be renewed. I set out to do this myself. "I can do this on my own if no one else is interested in helping me." I'm still tickled by the conviction that drove me and still have a few bruises to remind me of my efforts. This was a task to be reckoned with. As I considered myself a pretty good judge of my DIY abilities, I was challenged by far to an edge unknown.

This is the point where I clung tight to the vandwelling community. Being a member of the Van Life: Dwellers, Nomads & Vagabonds fb group, I sought comfort from the everso compassionate members who were there to give guidance, instructions, suggestions and on many occasions provided the encouragement I needed to push through, dry my tears and not give up. It was a tough time during my build. Outside of having my powersource and lights wired and Maxxair fan installed by someone else, I did the rest. I managed a bit of insulation, flooring, part of the ceiling and completed the bed frame. At this point I was in need of the reality of living in the van. I had given my roommate a particular date that I would be moving out and there were plans for my room so I moved into Beatrice the third week of May 2019.

My plan was to park at Walmarts, Pilots and rest areas in the surrounding city. And as the experience continued, my plans weren't panning out and the universe had other plans. Beatrice was still in need of a major mechanical repair, such that it limited me on the distance I could travel. She also didn't have a/c and living in SWFL in the summer without a/c is excruciating. After struggling with the condition of the van and the heat, something had to give. I am a woman in the second stage of life and the heat was becoming a health hazard. Needless to say we gave it a good run.

I was in constant contact with my BFF and it was clear that I needed to make some changes. I chose to cut my loses with the van. I wasn't in a financial position to make the repairs and no option to return to the sticks and bricks I had left. That negative voice said, "you failed", but that all mighty powerful spirit said, "I am so proud of you and your efforts, there is something better for you".

I am grateful and thankful for the 3 1/2 weeks I spent in Beatrice. I stepped out of the "norm" and created a space for my dreams. There hasn't been any point since I moved out of the van and to another city where I am hosted by beautiful friends and women of faith (I call them my band of sisters), that I ever regret my van experience. It was such a beautiful lesson of knowledge and determination of my own abilities that I will encourage anyone starting or even currently living in their van not to give up #cantstopwontstop.

As it stands, the plans to be full-time on the road heading west is January or February 2020. My new rig search is an older model class B camper van and I am prepared to wait and take my time to find the right one. #Vanlife is defined in many ways by many that live it. The one that holds true for me, is freedom. The journey continues.