My First Solo Vancamping Trip

It’s been my dream to work remotely for as long as I have known that remote work was a thing – long before I ever had a job where it was possible. When I was offered the opportunity to work from home in my last position, I jumped at it and took to it immediately – working from home was everything I had hoped it would be, and it turned out that I was good at it, too. But that wasn’t quite enough: I wanted to work from somewhere else, too. So I started house and pet sitting, and soon I was traveling to . Would I really housesitting jobs and working from wherever I was. I had not yet started to roam internationally, though, when my fulltime job ended, and the next job I got – the one I have now – didn’t have a WFH option. It was really hard to go back to the office after almost two years working from wherever there was an internet connection, and I often complained about that. It was the only thing I complained about, in fact. I loved my job – except for the fact that I had to be in the office five days a week. “I just wish I could work remotely,” was my (too) frequent lament. “It would be the perfect job.”

Then the pandemic came, and we all went home. My wish had come true, although at a hell of a price.

My office buddy

It was a bit chaotic for awhile, as they decided what exactly “remote work” was going to look like: were we going to be required to come in to the office halftime? Was remote work going to be a permanent thing? It went back and forth for awhile, and meanwhile I had made a home office and Adam and I had purchased a used campervan. I was ready, when the decision came down – and trying to be mentally prepared if they made the “wrong” one – would I really look for another job or would I go back to the nine-five office routine that I had so despised? Thankfully they finally settled on us having to be in only two “anchor days” a month, and said it was a permanent thing – and I started making plans.

And now, here I am on my first solo trip in Van Morrison, the campervan Adam and I got last year.

The view out the side door.

It’s been a long road to get here. The van had sat in the shop for three months right after we got it (repairs we had known it needed when we bought it, but that supply chain issues made into a lot bigger ordeal than anticipated.) K and I got to take it out several times over the fall and winter after that, and we learned a LOT about winter camping in it, but as soon as Adam and I took it out for the first time in the spring, it landed in the shop again. It was there all through this spring and summer (again!) but finally parts came in, repairs were made, and the van came home.

I knew when we bought it that I was going to try to work remotely from it. I knew it would be a stretch for me – there’s so much to learn, to know, to remember! And I needed to be sure that I *could* work remotely that way, that I had the right equipment and capability to do so, without endangering my job. I had to be able to drive it and use it safely by myself, to set up the equipment I needed, to cook and be comfortable no matter the weather, to troubleshoot and problem solve on my own. So much experimenting, trial and error and adjusting!

I also know my own challenges: my lack of confidence at times, my struggles to feel capable in areas other people take for granted. It’s one of the reasons I push myself to do the very things that make me anxious and fearful – to prove to myself that I can. I had let fear keep me from doing the things I wanted to do too often as a child and then as a young adult – somewhere along the line I made the decision not to live my life that way any longer, and my world changed – and I changed with it.

So. Finally I was ready for a first trial. Adam and I took a trip last weekend to try out the remote wifi router and antennas I got, and to make sure I had hands-on experience with everything. And then this weekend I went out on my own, to a state park about three hours from home.

I woke up to see I had almost run into the stone wall around the parking spot.

It’s been a bit up and down as I’ve figured things out. I arrived at the campground well after dark – definitely not the best situation. The campground host met me when I arrived and escorted me to my site, though, which I very much appreciated. It would have been hard to see in the pitch black. He also helped me back into the space, though I did a piss poor job even with his assistance and had to reposition the van in the morning.

It was also too dark and I was too rattled to figure out the electric hookups, so instead of cooking my first solo dinner in the van, relaxing in the a/c and having a nice wank in my comfy little nest, my first night was hot and stuffy and dinner that night was a fruit cup followed by a vodka and seltzer. Doubts and anxieties plagued me: had I bitten off more than I could chew? Why oh why was I like this, compelled to throw myself at every hard thing? To top it off, there was no cell service, so other than a brief text to let them know I had arrived safely, I was pretty much cut off from comms with the guys. I was grateful for the van’s solar energy to run the cooler, lights, and a small fan, but still, I felt uncomfortable with no internet or cell service. It’s weird how deeply entrenched instantaneous communication is in our lives; how adrift I felt without it. And I had no idea what that would mean for my plans to work remotely on Monday. Would I be headed home early, my first solo trip a failure? Me a failure?

It was lovely waking up in the van, though, with the early morning sun streaming through the pine trees and peeking through the back windows. I was glad I had taken the window coverings down the night before and I felt renewed as I faced the day.

But I was to discover that no matter where I positioned the antennas for my remote wifi device, I could not get the cell service that the wifi device ran on. I dithered back and forth all morning – and doubted every decision I had made. Maybe I really wasn’t cut out for this. Maybe I should give up, or at least stick with less remote areas. Make my world smaller, shrink my dreams, make them more “manageable.” Make myself smaller.

I texted the guys, told them I might be home early.

Pasta dinner! Not just hotdogs and deli sandwiches, lol

Then I gave myself a mental slap: what the hell! I would not give up that easily. Yes, I might have to move to another spot. Maybe another campground. But isn’t that what this maiden voyage was about? Learning and adapting? And so I did. I packed back up and drove around until I found a spot in the other campground where I have connection, and it’s perfect. Once I had ascertained that it was going to work, I changed my reservation and settled in. I set the van up with electric so I can brew coffee and cook, and I hung screens on the side and back doors so I could have a breeze while I worked. I took a nap while it rained, loving the smell and sound, and the feeling of being completely isolated (there’s not one other person here except the camp host at the far side of the campground.) I made a yummy dinner – actually cooked in the van, another mental hurdle – and had myself a good wank. I read a book and listened to a podcast and took a walk. I texted with the guys here and there, and I felt … content. Wonderfully content.

Maybe my dreams aren’t so outlandish after all.

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