The Panty Explosion and other lessons learned on our first long road trip

Last week, we took the van out on its first big adventure: one week in the North Cascades National Park. While our feet put in a lot of miles (36 to be exact!), the van put in a lot of miles as well. To be expected, there were some lessons learned.

  1. The brakes work great. Thanks to an overzealous deer, we now know that our brakes can stop on a dime – on a dirt road too!
  2. Also thanks to said deer, we know we need to install some form of shelving and floor boards to prevent our rubbermaid bins from going wild. When we slammed on the brakes, everything we owned came flying to the front. And I do mean flying. My clothes bin took the brunt of it and we found underwear in places of the van we didn’t even know existed yet. It was a true panty explosion. (Note: the alcohol bin, miraculously, survived with no injuries, thank God).

    pre panty explosion
    All of this. Everywhere.
  3. Creek “showers” are more than fine for Colin – and refreshing!

    VanLife Shower
    How refreshing.
  4. My feet do NOT like and cannot handle glacial water (I know I’m not alone here) so creek showers are in limited supply for me. Solar showers are so far the best at keeping me happy and my hair clean.
  5. The van crushed it at off-roading! There was one pothole that was super gnarly that we had read about in trip reports. We passed a few sedans and a Jeep that had parked right before the pot hole of death where the owners surely said “F this, I’d rather walk the extra few miles to the trail head”. Thankfully, the good old van (and Colin) succeeded!
  6. When it comes to off-road driving, when I am driving, I find it very stressful with my hands white knuckled at “10 and 2”. When Colin is driving, he finds it very fun. “Lisa, either start having fun or let me drive!”

    vanlife views
    I gladly snapped a photo of our gorgeous scenery once the road calmed down.
  7. Off-road driving can have what one might call a “gaseous” effect on our intestinal systems.
  8. On a similar note, our days with Mountain House meals are probably numbered. We plan on cooking a lot more with our newfound dehydrated food packets. Bonus: because it’s just individual packets of a variety of dehydrated food, it doesn’t have a shit-ton of sodium like Mountain House.

    vanlife meal
    So many cooking options! We definitely need to do more recipe research here.
  9. Don’t let Drunk Colin cook. While an excellent chef while sober, Drunk Colin is more… experimental. On our “Mac and Cheese” night, after consuming a fair share of our Trader Joe’s boxed Sauv Blanc, Colin decided he didn’t want regular macaroni and cheese. In my infinite wisdom, after the basic recipe was complete and ready for consumption, I scooped out my half and munched along happily while enjoying the show.First, Colin began digging through our dehydrated food packets, and selected spinach, jalapeño, and “beefish” chunks. He sprinkled hearty amounts into the mac n cheese and added about 1/3 cup more milk. Note, dehydrated foods need a fair amount of water to rehydrate: one part food, two parts water. They also need 10-15 minutes boiling in said water before they’re ready to eat. But ten minutes can feel like a lifetime, can’t it? So, with only five minutes under its belt and no where near enough water to plumpen up the food, Colin dug in. Me:

“I’ve made a mistake.” -Colin

Yes, yes indeed. But to his credit (or detriment, I’m not sure), Colin finished every last bite of it. Because we live in a van now. Waste not!

Author: Lisa

Over one year in van life and loving it. Hiker, rock climber, novice mountain biker, and professional napper. Official “documenter” of our time with Vaniel. Favorite podcast: Stuff You Should Know.

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