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Life as a Van Dweller in San Diego

After a month in San Diego, I couldn’t help but compare myself with the homeless population. It’s touted perfect weather seems to have a draw of it’s own for those lacking shelter. When moving from city to city in our van, we’re used to lying low and maintaining a stealthy cover. But when there’s someone sleeping literally right outside your door every night, lying low is literally an impossibility.  

As van dwellers, we’re used to being unique. Vagabonds and nomads on a journey of which most cannot comprehend. We lie low because people are not used to seeing someone live out of their van. It never crosses their mind that we might. In California, there is an astounding van dwelling population. Most of which seem to have been forced into it by hard times, judging by their looks and local license plate. In Southern California, we seemed to be regarded as yet a couple more members of the ever-growing homeless population. There’s no magic and no surprise.

Most of our time spent in downtown San Diego was directly in the flight path of the planes whisking their way into the San Diego Airport. Some found the ear crushing noise of the jet engines to be a constant irritant as they pierce their way through any form of communication, forcing one to stop what they’re saying and simply wait… or perhaps yank one from a peaceful night’s slumber. While trying to lie low at night, I found this deafening 5 seconds to be a blessing… a momentary reprieve in which any noise made could not be heard by a soul. A moment’s peace to roll over in bed or simply allow the internal noise created by this stealthy stress to be sweetly stifled.

Overall, we found San Diego to be a bit busy for our taste. Everyone always seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere and everything, from parking to beach bodies, seemed to be a competition. We struggled to adapt to this fast-paced plastic paradise lifestyle, but ultimately, it became apparent that there were few places where we felt we fit in. So most of our time was spent observing this vibrant Southern California city from an “outsider’s” perspective. And believe me, this city was full of many interesting creatures and sites, both human and otherwise.

But it wasn’t ALL that grim...

We had the opportunity to reconnect with our good friend from St. Louis, Phouc. Phouc went to extraordinary lengths to show us a good time and ensure that we experienced many of the good thing San Diego had to offer. We were able venture out onto San Diego’s mission bay in kayaks, relishing in the chance to get some much needed exercise and experience a bit of Southern California’s wildlife. We also took a harbor tour around the San Diego bay. Usually things of such a touristic nature don’t fit our preferences, but it was an opportunity for Meisha to board the biggest boat she’s ever been on. We were rewarded with unique views of the city, the bay, and the Coronado bridge.

Now that our time in San Diego has been spent and we approach a new month with a fresh gas budget, it’s time to move on. Where? North is what we know for now. Fate and intuition will decide the rest...

Watching a pelican swoop in to join the crowd in La Jolla
Admiring the ropes on our cruise ship
Chilling on the back of the boat during our harbor cruise
The fountain in balboa park
Military exercises near Coronado
Sails on the embarcadero
Getting stared down by a Naval Officer on our cruise
A rare view of the Coronado Bridge... from underneath
Evening view of the running path on Harbor Drive
Staring down a hallway in Balboa Park
Checking out the barriers to Naval boat parking
The trees in a park on Harbor Drive
Our evening view from our van-dweller friendly perch on Shelter Island
Our friend Phouc showing a seagull how to do the crane
We earned a little extra travel money filming a Kickstarter video while in San Diego
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