I am a lowly weekend warrior

I’m not a full-time vandweller. I am only a weekend warrior dreaming of a more fulfilling and purpose-driven lifestyle independent of modern shackles. I want to be able to leave and drive anywhere on a whim anytime especially if SHTF, and I wish to be able to do it comfortably in my own dwelling for weeks at a time fully self-contained and off the grid.

I recently enjoyed a weekend getaway at Red Top Mountain State Park, Etowah Indian Mounds, and Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia. We camped in my campervan, and a tent.

RV or van? That is the question. I decided that I needed elements of both, so I weighed the pros and cons and came to the conclusion that I would transfer my Chevy Express Cargo Van into a rolling home away from home on wheels. I eventually decided against an RV because of several things like the lack of steathiness and parking. I live in a subdivision, and I have no where to park an RV. I would be force to pay to park it at a local storage facility. This would amount to an additional monthly fees.

About that van thing? It’s the best of both worlds. I have took my time converting it as time permits and money dictates. I named her Sojourner because she is liberating in so many ways. I am in love with Sojourner. She and I will journey to places near and far. I will relax and unwind within her hallowed walls. I will cook tiny and healthy culinary meals inside her tiny galley. Stay tuned for more news and updates on Sojourner. I can’t wait to introduce you to her sidekick Harriet.

#vanlife, #blackvanlife, #blacknomad, #vandweller, #vanner, #weekendwarrior, #nomad

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My visit to Georgia Renaissance Festival #garenfest

I was taken back in time to the medieval period when I recently visited the Georgia Renaissance Festival in Fairburn, GA.

My grandkids and I had so much fun as we scrolled the massive festival grounds gazing as if we were seeing the characters from 10th Kingdom.

Disney boasts out being a magic kingdom; however, this place was just as transformative. If the notion of princesses, kings, knights, elves, fairies, gypsies, and pirates tickles your fancy and speaks to your heart, then be prepared to be delighted around every corner. From jousting to jugglers, turkey legs and cold brew along with the authentic feel of a pre-16th century English village there was just so much to see and do. There were so many arts and crafts and food vendors. We were filled with laughter and to us the highlight was the communal Ancient drumming that we participated in at the end of the day. #garenfest

This will certainly become one of our annual events that we will attend next time in full costume. #vanlife #blackvanlife #vandwellers

There are various Renaissance themed festivals held at different times throughout the year in the US and Canada. So vanlifers grab a costume, gas up and go https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Renaissance_fairs

Dear White People

It is considered very rude to stare at the black people setting up camp across from you. We also love camping.

I recently had a short one night weekend camping trip with my grandchildren and a few guests that stop by for a day visit during the evening at a nearby GA state Park. We found ourselves being watched by our camp neighbors.

Of course it is normal to observe your fellow campers and neighbors. It is wise to be aware. What I am attempting to describe is a persistent and prolonged uncomfortable and unfriendly gaze like you would expect from a stalker.

If you are that interested or amazed, then dare do something to break the ice so everyone can feel comfortable. You might consider a big howdy and wave, or even come over and give a pleasant welcome and introduce yourself. I am not suggested that you have to come offer us a camp casserole or invite us over to sing Kumbaya around your campfire Do anything but look at us in a prolonged and freaking weird way. No one likes being treated like they are on display and being examined.

And as I was breaking camp, one of the men walks his dog and comes close enough to my campsite affording me the opportunity to engage him in a hi, I’m from Alabama, where are you all from? This opened the door for him to say, “looks like all of your help left you.” I laughed and said, “it always happen, but I do it anyway.” One of the ear hustling females in their party yells out from across their campsite, “you have worked so hard and haven’t sat down the whole time.” So, I guess I wasn’t being paranoid. Their eyes were watching! Hey but as I drove off, they all gave me a big warm wave goodbye.

Camping is an outdoor activity that many black people are experiencing more and more. There are groups like #NAARVA -NATIONAL AFRICAN-AMERICAN RV’ers ASSOCIATION, INC that have tens of thousands of members and local chapters and smaller facebook groups like #AARVC -African-Americans That RV and Camp or African American Campers (Black people who love to camp) that are paving the way and providing a face for black campers. Most #blackcampers are just simple and basic car tent campers minding their own business out there in America’s heartland. Expect to see more of us enjoying this fun and affordable way to eat, relax, and play and have fun with our families.

Please do not get me wrong I am not claiming that all white people do this, I am just saying if one does it, then it really is one too many. We all can get along and enjoy camping together.

PSA: Is your van too heavy?

PSA: Your van may be too heavy for a standard tow truck. Yesterday I had a breakdown and needed to call AAA for a tow. After giving them the details and all, I was sent an ETA text within minutes with a detailed tracking map. The driver called to confirm my exact location and size of van. After confirming that my van was a 2000 Chevy Express 3500 cargo , he apologized and explained that his company would not allow him to tow anything heavier than a 3/4 ton or 2500. He did offer to come pick me up and take me to a safe location to which I declined. I called AAA back and after 3 hours back and forth, they finally located a service they could dispatch that was going to take another 90 minutes. I told them I could not wait this much longer. My friend a mechanic came along and found me chilling out.
#vandweller #vanlife #blackvanlife#cargovanconversion #campervan#solowomenvandwellers #overgroundrailroad#blackcampers #aarvc #sojournerchronicles

Black History Month Vanlife Quest

Black History Month Vanlife Quest
Food Culture Heritage and Tradition

Food Culture Tradition & Heritage

I was inspired to celebrate Black History Month by recently preparing an African-themed Southern Sunday dinner. The menu included Steamed rice, black eyed peas, okra and tomatoes, Domada-a Gambian chicken stew simmered with peanut butter and pumpkin, whole fried red snapper in a red sauce, cornbread stuffing, collard greens, and homemade baked not fried sweet potato and peach turnovers. I had a few family members to go around the table and share what black history month meant to them.

I am on a quest to discover from whom and from which I came. It is indeed noble to celebrate great black leaders who helped shape recent history, but I want to go deeper to find and document the untold stories of everyday people who did their best to live and thrive despite oppression, hardship and tribulations. I wish to memorialize and honor those strong men and women of African ancestry that survived the transatlantic slave trade bound and shackled. They arrived without nothing in a foreign land but held the culture and traditions of Mother Africa within their heart and soul. My goal is to travel along the path of the Underground Railroad meeting descendants and visiting the places they lived and worked to experience their historical culture by attending festivals and touring churches, schools, cemeteries, parks, and museums throughout the country. Unbeknownst to their captures and oppressors were a peculiar taste of exotic cuisine, elaborate costumes and garments, celebratory and festive dance and music, infectious laughter, enduring courage and strength, and sheer will and determination that is present throughout many facets of the black community. No doubt these enslaved people who were forced to toil the fields in this strange new world from sun up to sun down must have been tormented to look up and gaze at the same beautiful blue sky and piercing radiant sun of their distant homeland. Then to look down feeling hopelessness, longing, and despair through tear-filled eyes with tired hands and feet, aching backs, and weary souls at their masters widespread land and flourishing crops before them with no end in sight. I can not imagine waking up each day with no relief and without recompense. I know without a doubt that with each subsequent generation, hope remained. This hope fueled their desires and dreams that one day they would be set free. The words to “Follow the drinking gourd” was a message directing and challenging the enslaved to go North towards freedom. I wholeheartedly embrace the message of this old narrative. Today, I apply the principles of my faith and trust the process in knowing that my needs will be met; and I will be led safely down the road to self fulfillment, enlightenment, and discovery. I declare, “I will not leave like I came. I will be forgiving of the past and pray it never repeats!”

It is with this spirit that I anxiously await the opportunity to fulfill my destiny. I anticipate the moment when I shall meet a distance relative who shares my same passion and equal drive. He or she will pat a seat and say to me, “Come, I have been waiting to meet you too. Let us share and learn from one another.”

No matter where this journey takes me, I will never forget my rich Southern heritage that gave me an appreciation of great food and people and a desire to create extraordinary dishes from the simplest and most basic ingredients. I absolutely love cooking and plan to cook in and out of my van as much as possible. I am going to use a small 12 volt refrigerator and medium sized cooler to keep my items cold. I will try to plan my meals so that I’m not wasting food, and I will be buying fresh meat and vegetables and cooking on my 2-burner propane stove. From what I have read, there are some people in this lifestyle who have reportedly lost weight and look and feel healthier than ever.

If our paths should cross along this vanlife as I chronicle my genealogical journey, you are invited to sit down at my table to chat and share a meal and laughter with me. Perhaps you might be interested in attending one of my hosted sponsored-events.

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Do Black People Camp?

Yes, a few do. Many have ventured outside of their comfort zone and are enjoying outdoor camping activities with friends and family other than the boy scouting, tailgating, or cooking out. I believe the main reason more do not consider camping is primal fear. Many imagine Big Foot coming out at night to attack and eat them or a large snake slithering up beside them. Others have conjured images of a crazed mass murderer wheeling a chainsaw and chopping them up during the middle of the night. I will admit that I shared some of these same fears. Mainly I feared being surrounded by a group of angry racists questioning why I thought I could just come and encroach on their territory. Whether they want to admit it or not, this fear is common among black people harkening back to lynching days.

For those courageous black people that have or plan to one day overcome the fear factor and actually go camping, the question is what type of camping would you do? I have found that the answer to this question varies depending on the type of camping. There are many that shudder at the mere thought of sleeping outside in a tent on the ground. For these people, tent camping probably would never happen. Then you have those that insist that they would consider camping only if it was in a cabin filled with modern home-like conveniences. And of course, you will find the recreational vehicle group. For this group, the choice would depend on the type of rig. These people may opt to camp in small pop-up tents that can be pulled with a car, truck or SUV. These easy to pull behind popup tents are affordable and relatively easy to set up and take down. This is a step up from a tent because it gets you off the ground, has a door, and usually has a kitchen inside. Next comes the moderately priced travel trailer that is mostly pulled with a truck or SUV. They are enclosed with four hard side walls and windows and will have features like a full bathroom and kitchen thereby providing more comfort and safety. And because they are self-contained, there is virtually no set up aside from parking and leveling. Then you have the more expensive motorhomes that can be as small as a van or as large as a commercial bus. Many because of size may require a special driver’s license in some states. These are like a home on wheels simply hop in and go. They can be rented for an opportunity to try before you buy. Most are not cheap; but if you shop around, you will find them at various price points depending on size, make, model, year, features, and condition.

I have always dreamt of owning a big coach to travel across the country with my family. Well until that day comes, I still can enjoy what I have right now. I want to encourage more black people to get out and camp. Explore the great outdoors with your family and friends. Camping does not have to be in the middle of a wilderness. I personally prefer to make reservations for a weekend getaway at a nearby state park that offers basic amenities like electric, water, and clean bathrooms and showers. They also have the security of a locked gate at night.

For first time campers I recommend buying the newer inexpensive easy pop-up tents that can be setup within 10 minutes by one person. Next, I recommend buying a small camp stove and air mattress. Depending on the weather, just bring bedding and pillows from home. Of course you want to bring a small cooler of food and drinks, a radio, laptop or portable DVD player, and DVDs. Keep clothing to a minimal and bring sneakers. Mainly, you do not want to think to hard, just do it. If you feel it necessary, find and print a camping checklist. After your first trip, you will find what it is you do and do not need. Oh and do not forget the Smores kit. Camping can also be a fun and safe activity for solo females and single mothers. So until you graduate to that next big tent or RV, take the time to enjoy today and live in the moment. You can do this. I do not want to be the only one out there. This land is your land; this land is my land…

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Low budget no-build van conversion

 

I got inside the back of my van today. It’s a 2000 Chevy express cargo van. For one of the first times in my life, I felt tall. I am still amazed by how people live in their vans. The space seemed so small. I removed some of my junk and sat down on the spare tire and turned around to examine the space. I immediately started feeling more comfortable as ideas started flowing. Sure it would be nice to have a little more head room, but I know I can do this. The small space feels a little confined, but I know I can do this. The table takes up a lot of room, but I know that I want to be able to use it for everything from eating, working, and socializing.

It will be important for me to utilize all the side walls for storage and organization. I plan to use hanging storage. I shouldn’t have to buy much of anything.

I will need to buy linoleum for the walls and ceiling. I plan to keep the black rubber floor in, but I will use the large girly rug to help soften things up a bit.

I started thinking about things I have that I can use inside the van.

– swing out conversion table

– black rolling TV stand

– 2 small black rolling carts

– flip down medical office locking cabinet

– black filing cabinet

I also have various camping supplies that I plan to use.

I gathered some basic supplies and my notebook, tape measure, pencil, and paper and began writing my ideas down on this inside van diagram I found online. I need to be able to visualize my plan before I actually start it.

So I invite you to come along on this journey with me as I venture and learn.

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