Dave Lives in a Van.com
The motor home culture is dominated by the likes of “Bob and Marge from Toledo“. These Middle American Walmart shoppers roam North America like migrating bison and herd together in crowded campgrounds and Walmart parking lots. I typically steer clear of them and the campgrounds they populate.
I’m a back of the bar type of camper, a lone wolf on the prowl for adventure and great stories. I prefer to mix urban camping and partying, with retreats into wilderness sanctuaries. I am admittedly an odd breed of RVer.
But this past week, I crossed paths with a member of my tribe. He is a true digital vagabond who, like me, lives on the road and makes his living on his laptop, while sharing his travels online at www.LivesinaVan.com
Yes, Dave truly “lives in a Van”, though not always down by the river. I was a groupie from the moment I saw his Lives in a Van website and his disheveled Billy Bob Thortonesque photo and read about his “Vantagonize Therapy“.
Dave’s therapy subjects misbehaving brats to a full sensory behavior modification experience, complete with a leaking colostomy bag and his life story culminating with ending up in a van. In short, it’s much like the “scared straight” program where convicts talk about the dangers of bending over for soap. Dave’s facetious and sarcastic writing almost burst my bladder.
In an endless universe of travel blogs that document what their authors had for breakfast, Dave’s travel site is an oasis of inspired living and writing. Dave was a guy worth tracking down and meeting.
As luck would have it, Dave was in Colorado when I was heading up from New Mexico to Colorado. We rendezvoused in the middle of the mountains in Colorado and camped out near Twin Lakes. We compared notes on everything from finding water, dump stations and WIFI hot spots to the art and philosophy of living and writing travel stories.
Dave believes in not just finding the story but making it. Like the circus coming to town, Dave does advance publicity by posting requests on Craigslist.com for ideas for oddball stories and people to feature on his travel blog.
In Denver his Craigslist posting uncovered Elliot and the secret, yet public, world of “padding”. According to Dave’s account on his website (see “Imposters Among Us“):
“A padder is one whose outfit makes them look like a morbidly obese person. With practice, a padder can develop a natural looking, super-paunchy profile by layering customized water bags and other padding under exceptionally large clothing. Elliot has been perfecting his craft for years now.”
Apparently Dave spent a night in Denver following Elliot around nightclubs and hot spots to immerse himself in the life of a padder. The photos and insights he gathered are presented on his website as “Imposters Among Us“. I love Dave’s facetious style of pseudo sociological journalism, which some how has more truth and certainly more entertainment value than “real” journalism. Perhaps Dave has invented a new genre of writing?
However, Dave’s writing sufferers from a serious handicap. His mother reads his blog as if reading his progress reports from grade school. Thus every story he posts is mom friendly and his most outrageous stories, which are certainly not mom friendly, remain offline. But it’s not just his mom. His old girl friends also monitor his blog like a staff of unofficial editors for a communist newspaper.
Fortunately my mother only has a vague idea that the Internet exists and so she can’t even find the front door to this site. As for my old girl friends, I don’t think they care enough to check to make sure I’m alive let alone what I’m writing.
My advice to Dave is to refer to his “My Rules of Writing“, specifically rules one and nine:
Rule #1 - Take risks and write about uncomfortable subjects. Embarrass myself.
Rule #9 - Choose revelation over ego. Write for strangers not friends.
If necessary I suggest he create a secret “backdoor” address for his website for people like me and probably you who didn’t give birth to him or date him. I look forward to being a long time back door reader of Dave’s blog. I truly admire his talent for living, writing and photography. I hope and expect that Dave and I cross paths on and offline for years to come.
To read Dave’s blog about our encounter visit “Day 198: Brotherhood of the Digital Vagabonds” and “Day 203: Open Books and Their Covers“. My comments at the bottom of his blog posts hopefully will set the record straight.
Epilogue – In December of 2008, one year after he began his epic road trip in Philadelphia, Dave was lost to the on the road community. As sometimes happens to rambling men, Dave fell in love with San Fransisco and a spirited woman named Stacy. They are now living happily ever after in North Beach and Dave is writing his first novel. Dave’s story book adventure and happy ending was featured in the January 2009 issue of Men’s Journal in “Leave it all behind“.
Next Stop – Dave and Pat take on Jet Set Aspen