Last Update: 9/29/2017

Mud Bogging on Mesa de Cuba

Boggy mud puddle on Cuba Mesa, FR 88
Ol’ Vanholio got stuck twice atop a mesa in Cuba, N.M. This time his troubles was more ignorance than poor decision-makin’. At least, that’s what I tells myself!

A friend, seein’ that photo at top, had another view. He said, "Ya just keep tempting the gods of getting stuck, don't ya?" Maybe I do, maybe I do …

Well, here's what happened ...

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!



Cuba Mesa Is a Great Camping Spot


This was my second time up at Cuba Mesa (aka Mesa de Cuba), a nice little hill outside, you guessed it, Cuba, N.M.

I like it 'cause ya got a little tree shade. It's 7,000 ft. altitude, so not too hot. It's also 15 minutes inta town for supplies, and ya got full bars on Verizon 3G and 4G. Oh, and this time a year, not too many weekend campers or hunters, so it's kinda quiet.

The dirt forest road in ain't too bad neither. Not even for my front-wheel drive, stree tired, low clearance Promaster City.  At least, not when it's dry …

Now, I did notice big ruts here'n there. But as the road was so firm and Vanholio read the soil as sandy, I figured they was leftovers from spring melt. But Vanholio was wrong – R-O-N-G wrong!

But Rain Turns Cuba Mesa Roads Into Slick Clay Mud


Tuesday night, a thunderstorm rolled it. It were a biggun, rained all night.

Wednesday mornin', Vanholio set out on his way. Didn't notice no problem drivin'. Then he came to that bog ya see in the top photo.

Them clay ruts is bigger'n ya think!
Why, I figured it'd be OK, so long as I hooked sideways ta make sure one a my tires had grab outside a puddle. But that's when I discovered the "sandy" soild up there actually is good part clay.

The van slipped, and the tires slid right down inta puddly tracks of them that went before.

I made it a ways, then lost momentum and traction. Wasn't lookin' good.

But did Vanholio panic? No, no, no! He tried doin' the forward-reverse rock. Almost made it out. But as I didn't, I didn't push the trick too far. That just digs your tires in.

Unlike the time I got stuck for three days on the big sand dune, there's was lots a good sticks around. So I took 20-30 minutes and made myself a traction bridge. That got my outta that puddle.

Then I Got Stuck Again – Taking That Top Photo!


Well, bein' a man who must tell his tale, I stopped the van to take that photo of the bog. The one at top a this post.

When I got back in the van – it's street tire tread full a clay – I couldn't make no purchase on forward. Just started diggin' myself a new hole, until the van's front bumper was hittin' straight mud!

So I got out AGAIN, dug the mud outta my way with my hand-pick. Then shoved some more sticks under the front tire. That got me goin' again.

Thankfully, I was pointin' downhill! Otherwise, I doubt it woulda worked!

Fishtailed My Way Off That Mesa – Like a Pro


Once I got movin', damnit, I sure as fuck didn't stop again. No sireee!  Nah, instead, I took it fast and slippery down the rest of the mesa, fishtailin' the whole way.

I kid you not, that damn van's back end was slippin' out near 30 degrees at times! Near as bad as drivin' on ice. And the whole fuckin' time, I was workin' to keep slippin' back inta others' ruts and the drainage ditches.

Made it off with no more problems. But I tell you what, it was a close fuckin' shave! Vanholio deserves some kinda performance drivin' award!

Bottom Line on Boondocking Mesa de Cuba?


Great place to camp. But if there's rain, stay down by the highway! Unless ya gotta 4WD and like mud boggin', that is.


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Last Update: 9/26/2017

#Vanlife – The Song

Two dirty hippies sitting in their fucking vw bus!
Just found this song, "#Vanlife" by Guilty Subconscious, posted in the Promaster Forum. Vanholio is speechless. Must watch!

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!



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Last Update: 9/22/2017

Work Less and Save the World!

chimpanzee lounging on his back, his tongue stuck out

Today, I ain’t doing shit but sleepin' in my van and writing. It’s my solution to nearly everything – all the big problems. Why? ‘Cause busybodies fucked us up!

We need to go to a four-hour work day OR LESS. How would that help? Look at our fucking problems in this country and on this Earth …

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

Unemployment and underemployment? — Job sharing lets more people have jobs, good jobs, not bullshit jobs.

Poor physical and mental health? — Less work per person means more time to sleep, chill, enjoy hobbies, socialize, and build strong families.

Pollution and habitat loss? — Valuing leisure and others over money and things means each person will buy less shit. Everything you buy, even services, takes resources out of the Earth.

Political tyranny? — Folks with more time on their hands can organize to fuck The Man!

Overworked moms? — Woman now get behind because they end up balancing jobs with family. With a four-hour workday, they’re not handicapped. And men can damned well do more at home!

The list goes on. I should start a global campaign for the four-hour workday!

But you see, Children, that would be counter-fucking-productive. I heard tell that the Japanese government put together a board in the ‘80s to get their people to use more leisure time. It worked 90+ hours a damned week to find a solution! … That might just be an urban legend, but it points out the problem of busybody solutions.

So I live in a van. My costs of living are tiny, so I don’t have to work all the damn time. This very day, I'm up on a mountain, waitin' for the rain to com in. Got no where to be, and nothin' pressin. So fuck it!

What Am I NOT Doing Today?


I’m not burnin' gas. I’m not using energy to heat or cool a house I don’t have. I’m not goin' out to eat or to the movies. I’m wearin' old clothes. I ain’t doing shit but sleepin', eating cheap, and writin' this post.

I’m a failure as an American consumer. But that means I am cuttin' down my carbon footprint and not sucking hard at Earth’s teat. Don’t even need to invade an oil-rich country today!

We could all live the life of fuckin' leisure if we just worked less.

And with all our automation, we should be able to work on average four hours a day (20 hours per week). Economists predicted it a century ago.

So what happened? Who stole the four-hour workday? Read this VICE article to find out. Then watch the video below about how exactly the four-hour workday is going to pull our collective asses out of the fire.



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Last Update: 9/19/2017

Bathing in Creeks, Rivers, and Lakes – #Vanlife Bonus!

Gunnison River Water Park, where Vanholio took a bath in the cold, cold Gunnison River — No SOAP!
Vanholio loves natural bathing in natural water. It’s free, for one thing. For another, it’s fun. It’s one a his favorite parts of the van nomad lifestyle – least in warmish weather.

Don’t matter to me none if the water is cold. Breath deep, relax, and you get used to it. Pumps up your metabolism, too, keepin’ warm!

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

Skip the Soap and Shampoo!


Not much advice on the subject, ‘cept don’t use soap and shampoo. Ya don’t need it, and it fucks up the water. Believe me, swim a bit, an’ you’ll come out fresh as rain. Even if that water looks a bit dirty.

(Vanholio’s momma always used ta make him shower after swimmin’ in the creek. Don’t know what that shit was all about. Think she was just a clean freak.)

What?, you say, But my soap is "biodegradable"! Yeah, well it’s a poison to water critters and plants until it does biodegrade. That shit just don’t belong there. Besides, humans lived millions a years without no soap. Fuck Johnson & Johnson!

Swimsuit or Nekkid Is Fine


Vanholio usually jumps in with swim trunks. But au naturale certainly adds a certain somethin’ ta the experience. ‘Specially if ya got that special someone (or someones) with ya. If ya wanna skinny dip and have a hippie orgie, Vanholio supports you 110%!

Worst case, some kids see ya nekkid. Good for them! Brats oughta learn that homely folks get sexy too! It’s their future. TV and movies lie!
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Last Update: 9/15/2017

Buying a Used Van When You Don't Know Shit 'Bout Cars

ink-drawing style photo of the back of a used van for sale
You're ready to launch into van life, but ya gotta go cheap and used. If ya ain't a mechanic, how you find a good deal on a reliable used van? Here's how!

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

Al Christensen at The Rolling Steel Tent wrote the best damn advice for regular folks buyin' used that Vanholio ever read! "Are You About to Buy a Gem or Junk?" You need to read it. I mean NEED.

He don't try to make you a mechanic. His approach is all about usin' your current knowledge as a driver, car owner, and human being. It's intuitive: If the seller, the situation, or the drive experience don't feel write, don't buy.

I'd also add that you should Google for the common problems of the particular model you're lookin' at. Owner forums are great. That'll help you with one or all of the followin':


  1. Keep an eye out for those particular problems when you look at the van.
  2. Make sure the mechanic looks for those particular problems.
  3. Add to the pros and cons on decidin' whether to buy.
  4. If you buy, help you notice the problems quick if they come up.


Again, check out Al's article!

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Last Update: 9/12/2017

21 Cheap and Cash-Free Food Sources

guy dumpster diving, but you can only see his legs sticking out of the dumpster
How can a vandweller stretch their food budget? By exploiting ALL the fuckin' resources in their damn environment, like a nomad. Here are 21 alternative food sources (in no particular order.)

1. Gleaning – Farmers will sometimes let you forage after the harvest for food left in the field.

2. Hunting/Fishing/Trapping
– Many states have free or cheap education programs to teach you how. Licenses are usually much goddamn cheaper for state residents.

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

3. Wild Foraging – Learn to gather wild plant and non-game animal foods. Check local laws. National forests rock for this! (See eattheweeds.com)

4. Urban Foraging – Produce from domesticated plants in yards are often let to rot, e.g., apples, mulberries, and pecans. This happens everywhere from the inner cities to abandoned farmlands. Don’t let that food rot like every other dipwad!

5. Roadkill – Gatherin' roadkill is legal in most states, and there’s lots of info online about how to do this smart'n safe. Vanholio's done eaten roadkill hisself!

6. Charity/Entitlements – If you’re truly hard up, try soup kitchens, food pantries, food stamps (EBT), even beggin'. Fuck pride!

7. Events – Some organizations, especially churches, will give you free food to hear their pitch. You don’t need to come to Jeezus after!

8. Gardening – Can you participate in a community garden? Do you have friends or relatives who’ll let you garden in their yard? Grow your own!

9. Guerrilla Gardening – Why not garden on a vacant lot? In that bit of grass behind a warehouse? On the sly, you can also care for already growing trees and plants, domesticated and wild, to produce a better harvest.

10. Intentional Communities – Many intentional communities farm. See if you can help with the harvest for room and board, and for some food to take with you. If you want to garden or farm yourself, this is a great way to learn. You might even make friends.

11. Dumpster Diving
– Business and households all over the country throw out megatons of food. It's fucking shameful. But their asswipery is your gold. Lots of info on the web.

12. Surplus Food – Ask restaurants, bakeries, donut shops, grocery stores, etc. for food they’re going to throw out. Get it before the dumpster does.

13. Party Leftovers – Don’t be shy about taking leftovers from parties and other events at work, friends’ houses, church, wherever.

14. Grocery Stores – Default option. Look for generics, sales, and clearances.

15. Big Box Stores – Stock up on bulk staples, if you have room to carry them.

16. Ethnic Grocers – Indian and East Asian grocery stores often have amazing deals and cheap, fresh vegetables.

17. Farmers’ Markets – These aren’t always cheaper, and sometimes the “local” produce is really off the wholesale truck. But it’s worth looking. Some states have programs for SNAP to get 2-for-1 on fresh produce at farmers' markets!

18. Farmer Direct
– Buy fresh eggs and produce from side of the road. Consider buying meat, even a whole animals direct; you can always dry excess meat into jerky over a campfire.

19. Samples
– Visit food stores on the days they have free samples, then fill up!

20. Scamming – Lots of info online about how to scam restaurants into giving you free meals. Just saying …

21. Mooching – You *can* always mooch meals off your friends and family. At least till they get tired of you.

How’s that for a goddamn list of alternative food sources?! Vanholio miss any?



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Last Update: 9/08/2017

Close That Vault Toilet Lid, Dammit!

typical forest service vault toilet
This is a Public Service Announcement: When you leave up seat in a vault toilet and open the door, you're doing the opposite of helpin'. Close them up! Here's why ...

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

See, your vault toilets – the kind ya find these days in U.S. Forest Service campgrounds, rec sites, etc. – is much more than your ol' stinky latrine. That's good to know, 'cause in van life, you're gonna be usin' these a bunch!

3 Ways Vault Toilets Stink Less


  1. The concrete vault (the shit pit) keeps out varmints. Plus bio-hazardous shit don't leach into the groundwater.
  2. The vent chimney uses passing breezes and the sun's heat ta vent the stink out up high'n away.
  3. The vault and chimney are screened off from flies (except for the shitter seat hole).


Now, all them three factors depend on you puttin' down the toilet seat when you're done. And closing the door helps too, plus keeps out the bigger varmints from makin' a mess in there.

If you even *think* that leavin' the seat up and openin' the door is gonna freshen things out, you're just plain wrong. You're invitin' more flies and suckin' that stink up into the throne room. Plus, you're an asshole.



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Last Update: 9/06/2017

Need 4WD for Van Life Backwoods Boondocking?

Old orange VW bus with huge suspension lift and offroad tires
Americans love big trucks and 4WD offroad rigs. But do you need all that shit just to camp off the dirt roads in public lands? Vanholio gives a qualified "no."

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

Regular Vehicles Handle Most Dirt, Gravel Roads


For the last couple years, I been goin' all over the national forests and BLM lands in a Promaster City, a mini-cargo-van with street tires, front-wheel drive, and only 5.1 inches a clearance. That's the same clearance as a fuckin' Prius!

I'd say that with that low-slung van a mine, I been able to get into 80% or more a the places I wanted to go. No problem. #vanlife

That said, I gotta be careful and pick my way. Dirt and gravel forest roads are smooth for the most part. But in some places, usually on steep parts where they get washed out, they ain't. You can drive 15 miles back in smoothness, then come to a rough patch. That's when ya put your tires atop the rocks and straddle the gullies.

Offroad Tires and True Spare Help Van Life Bunches


Vanholio's only been stuck three times, once each in snow, mud, and sand. That last was 'cause he was a fuckin' idiot. He also caused some under-damage the first year, but experience has tempered him a bit. Ain't been fuckin' that up lately.

No, biggest problem I faced was punctured tires. In the last two years, I gone through 6-7 tires that couldn't be fixed. Either the gash was too big to patch, or the puncture was in the sidewall. Rough rocks'll do that! Expensive and a pain in the ass!

The Promaster City come with a Slime and pump kit, but now I got me a true spare. And next month, I'm gettin' a lift and offroad tires. The lift ain't high, 1.25 inch (though every bit helps), but the offroad tires'll be a longterm savings – money and hassles.

Tire traction mats and a somethin' ta dig with is probably a smart idea, too. Don't know that a winch is all that. Maybe a tow rope or strap, though. (See video and links at bottom for more tips.)

Exceptions to This Backroad Van Life Advice?


Sure! If ya wanna get up that other 20% a roads, or even go offroad, you'd be better off with high clearance an' a 4WD or AWD.

That don't need to be fancy none, though. Some's out there got old Astro AWD Astro vans with lifts and good tires. Also look at the Subaru Outback with AWD and 8.7 inches clearance! Or maybe a Ford F150 with camper top. (Thanks ihatemybike and Al Christensen for the Astro and Outback recommends!)

And if you're gonna frequent areas with a lot a mud and/or snow and ice, yeah, 4WD and more clearance is best. Plus that winch!



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Last Update: 9/01/2017

Lady Luck Favored Vanholio! This Week!

Top of New Mexico Lottery MegaMillions ticket
Can’t believe my good fortune last Tuesday! Nothin’ like this ever happened to ol’ Vanholio before. It was if Loki hisself kissed my unworthy ass!

This is a tale of shipments misdirected and redeemed. An all too frequent hassle in van life.

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

Vanholio’s been tryin’ out Soylent again. Generally, they deliver via FedEx Ground, which presents some challenges to a nomadic vandweller. What I tried to do was have it sent to me ℅ the FedEx Ship Center in Las Cruces, N.M., where I had some biz this week.

About 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, FedEx showed the package as out for delivery on a truck from Santa Teresa, N.M., a suburb of El Paso, Texas. But I stopped by the FedEx Ship Center in Las Cruces anyway, hopin’ it was bangin’ around the warehouse somewhere, waitin’ to get signed in.

It wasn’t. Worse, turns out that the Ship Centers won’t accept a FedEx Ground package at all ‘cause they don’t have a way for recipients to sign for delivery. Shit. Woman there said I’d probably have to pick it up in Santa Teresa next day. Goddamit!

First off, I wanted to get the hell out of hellish hot Las Cruces and up to the cool mountains. Second, I didn’t wanna drive down to Santa Teresa next day. It ain’t far, but stayin’ overnight, then drivin’ there and back’d be just a waste a my fuckin’ time. Which Vanholio got lots of, true, but he still cares how he spends it.

I left the FedEx Ship Center and pulled into the TA Travel Stop around the corner to gas up, pee, and get a drink. Whole time, I was consternatin’ on where to spend the night, whether to just leave the Soylent an’ let it go back to the company, etc., etc.

But as I were pullin’ outta the TA Travel Stop, I saw a FedEx Ground delivery truck headin’ down Motel Blvd. "Vanholio," I says to myself, "Whattya wanna bet this truck came from the Ship Center or is headin’ there in a bit? Whattya wanna bet it’s got your Soylent on board?"

So I followed that delivery truck up to some government buildin’, where it pulled up to the dock. Parked and walked up to the dock, waitin’ outside till the driver come back out.

"Say," I said, "This is gonna sound weird, but see, I don’t suppose you have my package …" And I quickly told him the whole sorted tale.

And wouldn’t ya know it, he knew just the package! Handed it to me, and I signed for it right there! Then got the hell outta Dodge up to them mountains ASAP! Damn! Even a blind hog gets an acorn once in awhile!

Now, what’s all this got ta do with the MegaMillions ticket in the photo? Well, I felt so lucky after gettin’ my package that I bought a lottery ticket. And guess what? Vanholio didn’t win shit. ‘Cause there ain’t really no such thing as luck.
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