Wiping off the new

Day one of fully living in Mark.

Yesterday marked a lot of “first times” in Mark since completing him (except for the doors, yes, it bugs me that they’re still not done). Upon waking I put water on the stove to boil for coffee. First time using the stove. Then I plugged in the coffee grinder and got the coffee ready for the French press. First time using the outlet in the kitchen. Jeremy and I shared a cup of coffee as best as two people can while maintaining six feet between them. It’s nice to have him back, even if we can’t make out.

Feeling my bladder pulse, I opted to use the composting toilet we built instead of going in the house. First time using the commode. Let’s just say not all my pee went into the urine diverter, and it’s a good thing I made the toilet box waterproof. I consulted my dear friends with a toilet of the same design and was informed I should “pee more forward.” In addition to this, I also moved the diverter back a bit. Round two yielded better but still undesirable results with more pee in the laundry detergent bottle than the toilet box. Tiring of cleaning up my own urine, I decided to put off the peeing even more forward test for another day.

What a fiasco. And it was raining at the time so everything had to stay in the van while I cleaned.

For lunch I made a simple potato hash with onions and eggs. First time using the countertop for something other than storage. Cooking in Mark isn’t much different from cooking in our recently vacated structure. Because Jeremy and I aren’t the best at putting things away when living in a house, our kitchen counters were riddled with miscellany, leaving us about a two-foot section of useable counter space. In Mark, when the hinged countertop over the stove is down, we have nearly twice the useable counter space as we did in the house!

Washing dishes is a whole other story. First time washing dishes.

The water system for the sink was kind of a last-minute thing. I don’t know diddly about water pumps or faucets, so I bought what I thought would work and threw it in. And it does work, if you don’t mind a jet stream of water blasting out of the faucet and water ricocheting off every surface it hits and showering the butcherblock countertop every time you turn the water on. I mind; however, there’s not much I can do about it with replacing a bunch of stuff. One day. Maybe.

I made a cute, little food hammock to utilize some unused space in the upper kitchen cabinet.

Although I oiled and conditioned the crap out of the butcherblock and wiped up the water within a minute, the grain of the wood still raised up. To stave off a hairy feeling countertop, I turned into a frantic water-wiping psychopath. Clearly the water is far cleverer than I because new hairy spots appeared each time I used the sink, regardless of how manically I wiped. Fine, water, you win.

In the evening, while I wildly swatted no-see-ums away from my entire body, I recognized my neurosis. Mark is our home. He is supposed to be lived in. That means the countertop isn’t going to look showroom perfect forever. As much as I’d love to keep Mark looking just as shiny and new as he did when we first built him, it’s impossible if we live in him. Just gotta wipe off the new.

My favorite poster doesn’t match Mark’s decor. I think it makes the cab look homey, though Oreo doesn’t look impressed.

Mark doesn’t have a shower, not even an outside one. What he does have is a fine cupboard to store a black water bladder that can be used as a solar shower. While toiling on Mark-related projects and sweating in the Georgia heat, the water bag sat in the sun, warming itself, patiently waiting for me. I turned the underside of my niece’s treehouse into a fine shower, using a pallet to stand on with a tapestry and some bushes for privacy. First van shower. Feeling clean and fresh, I settled into Mark to relax and continued my battle with the no-see-ums.

My humble shower with a great view.

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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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