Battle diary 3/25 – 4/6

An van lifer's private account of the ongoing battle with mother nature.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The bugs continue to attack, and our bodies are covered in itching, battle wounds. We researched a defense system, but budget restraints prevent us from a turnkey solution. We must take stock of our supplies and build our own defenses.

While working on our bug defenses another foe appeared – a burning ball of fire on the horizon. Airstream Annie occupies the spot next to the garage, leaving Mark vulnerable. Without the protection of the garage, the sun’s rays bathe over Mark and shoot straight through the sliding door, baking him like a potato. The laminate floor got so hot it expanded and bowed upwards. Something must be done to protect Mark. Planning for Operation Sunfire is underway.

So far no foes have attempted to take us by water, even when the moon is bright to aid in an attack.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Thankfully, this afternoon, Annie moved, relinquishing the coveted spot by the garage to Mark. With the garage as our ally, shielding us from the sun’s fire, I can return my focus to the bug battle. Supplies for Operation Bugout have been located and inventoried.

The threat of hairy water damage to the butcherblock countertop has been neutralized by applying more mineral oil and conditioner.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

I took my husband and battle buddy to catch air transport. He’s taking emergency leave to tend to my father. I wanted to go, but with the worldwide virus battle underway, the threat is more than my weak lungs can handle. Travel is far too dangerous for me. Jeremy is stronger and better suited for this mission. I will continue to protect Mark.

Oreo’s attempts to leave the protection of Mark to wander the battlefield persists. I suspended Operation Bugout temporarily to construct a barrier to keep her safe in the van.

Trial and error with the latrine yielded a satisfactory workaround. I must use my pee funnel sans tubing to properly direct the flow.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The barrier did not work. Today I had to let Oreo roam free on the battlegrounds. I fear for her safety, but she is a strong cat. The emotional whirlwind of this weekend has caused me to suspend Operation Bugout for yet another day while I mentally recover.

With her newfound freedom Oreo has assumed the night watch, resting in the van during the day and patrolling the battlefield at night like a panther.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Yesterday Phase 1 of Operation Bugout, the back-door bug screen, commenced and much progress was made. Today Phase 1 was completed! With that defense in place I felt we were gaining ground, and I requisitioned supplies for Operation Sunfire to construct a sliding door awning. Tomorrow I will set my sights on starting Phase 2 of Operation Bugout, the sliding door screen.

Wanting to take advantage of the new defense, I left the back doors open as I prepared for bed. A friend turned foe devastated my plans.

My humans removed me from my large sanctuary and trapped me in this van like a kidnapping victim. They allow to me leave, but only when chained up like Rae in Black Snake Moan. After days of attempting to escape, they give me freedom! The outside is glorious! But at nightfall, the human locks me up again until the sun rises. Wait, what is this?! It is night, yet I smell and see the outside. I walk towards the seemingly open back doors only to encounter a barrier. This barrier appears weak and is no match for Oreo the Advanture Kitty! I shall attack!

The drone has been deployed to aid in surveillance.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Last night, Oreo started her very own battle – for freedom. After sensing freedom that fateful evening, even with the back doors closed she pawed at the screen as if getting through it would cause the back doors to magically open and give her access to the battlefield.

To keep her from destroying the rear bug defense, she needs outside access with the screen in place and the other doors secured. I have two options. Commence work on the sliding door screen which could allow the Murder Mittens access while simultaneously battling the bugs, or build her a “cat door”?

While the sliding door screen possibly meets two objectives, I find it to only be a warm weather solution. A year-round solution will be more beneficial in the long term because the battle of the cold is inevitable. I shall direct my attention to the cat door. The burning ball of fire retreated some, leaving cooler temperatures in its wake. Intel reports indicate the milder temperatures have slowed the enemy bugs, giving me time for this side mission.

My battle buddy had my back even from across the country and reminded me to form the nose piece to my face for maximum protection.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Wanting to commence construction of the cat door as soon as possible, I could not wait for the supply truck to arrive with needed parts. Though dangerous, I went on a supply run to the Depot equipped with protective gear.

Friday, April 3, 2020

I did another run today, this time for medical and mess supplies. Work on the cat door project is slow because of the level of detail and required dry times for the protective wood coatings. The time between coats affords me R&R with the family inside the fortress.

Materials at the ready for seam sealing of the awning tarp.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Out of nowhere, dark clouds stormed in and fired bullets of rain upon us. With his doors open to keep him cool, Mark didn’t stand a chance. I ran from my sewing station to close him up and protect him from the onslaught. Another foe.

Operation Sunfire has been updated to include the new enemy and renamed Operation Waterfire with the sliding door awning as Phase 1. The status of Phase 1 was deemed mission-critical and work began. The project primarily consisted of making a lightweight, waterproof tarp. While the tarp itself is quite large, about 10′ x 10′, the task itself was relatively simple. It is complete save for waterproofing a seam. Within a few days it should be ready to deploy.

Monday, April 6, 2020

While the seam sealant on the tarp for the sliding door awning dried, I continued working on the cat door. The original plan of attack included a vertical piece with an actual cat door that filled the open window. After building the “windowsill” and “shelf” for the cat door, I lost momentum, getting distracted by other battles at my doorstep. Oreo has her way in and out, and with this foe returned to friend I will turn my attention to the other battles.

Oreo’s ticket to unrestricted battlefield access.


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I served 11 years in the Navy, and in 2014 I thru hiked the Appalachian Trail. These experiences helped prepare me for vanlife. My husband and I now live in our self-converted van, Mark.

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About Us

We left “normal” life behind and now live in our self-converted van, Mark. Our time in the military and backpacking adventures made vanlife an easy choice. The leap into vanlife and a self-conversion can be exciting yet daunting. We want to share our experiences and provide resources to give you vanlife your way, and the highway.

jeremy and christina at sunset

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