Friday, August 8, 2008

It's my Van in a Box

I had a van for a while. But no more.

It was a bigt 1980s Chevy, a solid beast of a machine pulled by 360 horses. I had it for less than two years, but in that time is was both a grand experiment and a great teacher. But it also wasn't very practical -- expensive to drive and bulky to keep parked around neighborhood when it wasn't being driven. Which was most of the time. It had to go.

What I miss most about it, though, was the great escape at my fingertips it offered. I called it the RaVan, to honor the philosophy I acquired it to dabble in -- a raven-like philosophy, since I see a raven as a creature that has managed to stay wild yet be fully adapted to the world's modern circumstances. I used the RaVan to explore how feral I could become right here in the modern world, in my modern world -- out there, yet right there in my daily life with house and family and work.

What the RaVan offered was the ability to jump in and go. I mean "go" as more than just "go somewhere" -- I mean "go" as a philosophy in an of itself, an attitude, as a skill. To go, even if it's just over the hill for the night, or up some nearby Forest Service road, or on some scenic turnout that includes my own house and town in the scene. With the RaVan, I always had a tin tipi ready to go.

I remembered how cool this had been the other day when the kids and I elected to go. We decided to jump in the car and head down to Navajo Reservoir, camping along the remote north end of the impoundment, near where the still-wild San Juan enters its temporary pooling.

I remembered when I went to pack for our quick little foray to this neat little piece of nearby faraway and found that the packing was not quick. Since we do a lot of river trips, our camping gear is generally pretty together, still, it took me some three hours to gather all our crap and get it packaged and packed in the back of the truck. So much for just jumping in and just going ...

And I remembered then how much we used to do this kind of thing when the RaVan was there because it was always ready to go. Because we didn't have to spend hours rallying to go, we did just go because we could just go. And I remembered how healthy that going had been and still could be -- especially with the kids, still. Because they need it, too. Because I want to teach the skill of go onto them, too.

Well, I can't afford a van right now (even though a friend of mine just got a lovely 1988 VW Vanagon, giving me a major case of van envy), but I can still be ravenesque about this. So all the time on our venture to Navajo Reservoir, while my kids and I were lounging by the waterside, or inside the car riding out a vicious thunderstorm (another far more comfortable experience with a van), or sitting in our camp under that stars or laying in my sleeping bag in our tent (other chores that aren't necessary with a van ...), I was chewing on how to adapt to these circumstances today ... how to further develop those skills at go ...

And that's how I came up with my newest experiment. Call it, Van in a Box. I thought that if we were able to pretty much throw and go, then I and/or we would just go a lot more -- maybe not in the RaVan days, but certainly more than we do right now -- for just quick jaunts to those many nearby faraways we have right here, right around us. So ...

Taking our river kitchen dry box, and a big wooden footlocker left over my our kids' days at Colvig Silver Camps, I set up what is actually a Van in Two Boxes:

Food and cookware ready to go in the dry box. The dry box itself can also function as a workspace.

In the footlocker are:
  • sleeping bags (our small summer bags),
  • a tarp (for makeshift canopy or ground cloth),
  • rain gear, gloves, hats,
  • maps,
  • cards and games,
  • paper and pens,
  • dog food, a bowl, and a leash
  • a lantern and our headlamps, a set of maps for the area, and a potty shovel and t.p. (with matches in the paper to burn it in the hole).
Stacked next to those in my garage and also ready to throw in are the other essentials to quick and equipped going:

  • A stove and gas bottle,
  • a portable table,
  • a set of fold-up chairs,
  • the tent,
  • sleeping pads (if you're not gonna have a van, you gotta have Paco Pads),
  • fishing gear,
  • a water jug (one of those five-gallon barrel-like one with the push-button spout at the bottom).
Hey, it ain't a van. But it is in the spirit of the van, the raven spirit, the RaVan spirit. And it is a movement in that direction -- doing what I can with what I have.

And that, too, is going, no?

This blog was also posted on my other blog, The Backyard Frontline.

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