Speaking of Valentines…
I’m in love with my van!
And this year, I’m choosing to love parts of my life I’ve found challenging or incongruent in the past.
One thing I’ve come to love is the sweetness of the traveling physical therapy gig I’ve been taking each winter. I’m spending this winter in eastern North Carolina, in the area known as the coastal plain.
I miss my mountains terribly. But I do love getting to know new things. And ferry rides.
How Can You Afford This?
When I was hiking the AT in 2017, one of my most-asked questions* was, “How can you afford to take six months off to hike?”
I don’t fit the usual hiker demographic…too young to be retired, too old for a gap year. Most people my age are working their careers, counting the years till retirement.
I figured out a different way that works for me and makes use of one of my college degrees. Go figure.
I work four or five months each winter as a traveling physical therapist. That gives me seven or eight months to play and to work on my own creative projects. Besides the gift of this freedom to roam, this setup has given me the gift of learning to appreciate, and even like, my day job. Let’s just say I’ve come a long way from my early PT days when I cried every morning before going to work.
Turns out, I like having an escape hatch, an end date, a contract that ends.
Van Life 101…Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Living in a van makes my real job seem like less of a job and more of an adventure. But living in a van has its downsides, too. Some things are just harder without indoor plumbing or reliable electricity.
I love my van, though, in all its minimalist glory. I love the stealth factor of a somewhat nondescript van that looks like I might be delivering baked goods. Or auto parts.
I also love a good night’s sleep.
And access to free amenities.
That’s why I have a new favorite thing in van life…
Hospitals are great resources if you’re passing through a place. Or even if you’re staying a few nights.
Here’s what they have to offer:
A safe, quiet, hassle free place to park. The trick to getting a good night’s sleep is to park somewhere where other cars are parked overnight, but where there’s not too much coming and going…no endlessly slamming doors or cars speeding past in the night. Hospital parking lots are well-lit and quiet at night. Unless you park near the helipad. That could get rowdy.
Plugs. Endless plugs in waiting rooms, in the cafeteria, in the main lobby. Charge up, people!
Free Wi-Fi, usually pretty good. Get your email on, y’all.
A microwave and/or a cafeteria with okay food that’s usually cheap. Most hospitals have salad bars, at least, if you’re craving leafy greens. Some even have Starbucks carts. You might even get lucky on a holiday and get a free turkey and dressing dinner.
Flush toilets. Enough said.
My favorite hospital parking lots are the small ones that serve more rural communities, like Lillington or New Bern or Clayton, all in North Carolina.
Whether I’m headed out for the weekend or taking a long cross country road trip, I’ll always veer off the path just far enough to find the local hospital. Never mind the sick people. I just need a good night’s sleep.
*For the record, the most-asked question on the AT was, “Do you carry a gun?” No other question came close. Silly, fearful humans we are.
*Also for the record, the answer was and always will be “No.”