The alarm in my phone goes off at six fifteen because I have to be at school at seven thirty. I am buried under layers of down piled snug against the ceiling. It was a major effort last night to wedge myself between the blankets and the bed. I reach out for my phone, still beeping, and my hand gets tangled in the icy tendrils of my hair. I canâ€™t reach the phone. Bro is laying on my shoulder, which heâ€™s determined to be the most logical place now that most of the bed is jam packed to the ceiling with warm blankets.
â€œBro,â€ I tell him, â€œits morning. You have to move so I can get the alarm. Donâ€™t step on my hair, it’ll break.â€
He scoots over, reluctantly, and I grab the phone. The numbers on it have gone all fuzzy from the cold, and when I hit snooze it takes a few seconds to stop beeping. This is my main problem in the cold: electronics. The laptop doesnâ€™t work, the phone is fuzzy, and the batteries have all died.
Under the blankets I am sweaty and hot. I know when I roll out of bed the cold will seem refreshing, and I know that if I donâ€™t cover up quickly my sweat will freeze and I’ll be chilled the whole day.
I roll out of bed and land on a chunk of ice with my bare foot. The cold air is refreshing, but I pull my long underwear out from under the blankets and pull them on quickly, and then the clothes I was wearing yesterday and a coat. Outside Iâ€™m still warm, but I make Bro jog down to the end of the road with my anyways before I feed him breakfast.
Once heâ€™s got food I grab some clothes and my frozen water jugs and head into my momâ€™s house. The thermometer on the porch reads five below. Iâ€™ve got most of my food stashed in here where it stays warm, and thereâ€™s instant warm water at the flick of a faucet, or I would have a lot bigger problems.
Iâ€™ve given up on heating the van. It was a futile effort. Plus, with all these down comforters, who needs heat? I drink lots of ginger tea that keeps me extra warm before bed, and I try to wear lots of layers and keep active so I donâ€™t get chilled. Also itâ€™s very convenient to park in peopleâ€™s driveways so you can use their house for your cold computer and stuff.
So, fellow van dwellers, hereâ€™s what Iâ€™ve learned so far about living in a van in cold weather:
– Stay healthy. If you get sick, youâ€™ll get cold and it will suck.
– Cold prevention is easier than cold remediation.
– Drink fresh ginger tea to keep the blood going to your fingers and toes.
– Go to bed warm. If you are cold run the van a little to warm it up and go for a jog to warm your body up before you get in bed. Never go to bed cold.
– Down is the answer. Really. You can find lots of old down feather beds at thrift stores, and if you layer them all inside a duvet cover they make a big warm blanket. The less youâ€™re wearing under the down, the warmer youâ€™ll be.
– Keep some clothes under the covers with you.
– First thing in the morning get moving and get your blood pumping, even if you arenâ€™t cold yet. Wear lots of layers. Wool socks are essential.
– If youâ€™re just sitting around get up and get moving every hour or so and drink ginger tea, itâ€™ll make a big difference.
Iâ€™m going to start experimenting with an oil pan heater to keep water and stuff melted. Iâ€™ll report back soon.