Baja Van Life

A Solo Trip Exploring the Peninsula for five months in an old Dodge van with two dogs and little else: Part One

Prologue
 
 
I don’t hate people. 
I don’t. I just prefer to travel alone. Usually. Now though? 
I can’t do this. I’m drained, still so bloody angry, and have no strength left. I can’t imagine driving through Baja, Mexico on my own, not now, I don’t have it in me. Do I?

 
Prep: 
 
Get vehicle Insurance online
Download iOverlander app
Get Benchmark atlas for Baja 
Get paper maps for Mexico
Withdraw $1500 in cash
Get FMM online/ Pay/Print out FMM and receipt
Inform banks I’ll be using cards in Mexico
Look at budget and sigh
 
 
Pack: 
 
Too much
 

Leaving New Mexico

October 2021

Exhausted. I’ve spent so much already. How? Why? I’ve let my money stuff slip, it’s out of control. Mostly on good things, quality of life, accessories, stuff I’ve not been able to buy before now, before I sold my cabin and land in New Mexico last May. A small solar panel and power bank for the van. All for the van, I suppose. I don’t have a home, anything else but this 2003 Dodge B1500 2wd conversion van. Mi casa rodanta? A rolling home? Something like that…the list includes bedding, new sheets that is, a pair of decent boots, trousers and shirts and sweatshirts, a jacket that rolls up into its own pocket, a DC fridge, a new-to-me laptop, plastic containers to keep all my camping odds and ends together.  Yet so much is gone this summer. Lost to me. Not fully by choice but it had to be done. Selling the homestead. I had to. The court case had been in my favor but that fuck up of a neighbor was allowed more dogs and that had been my line in the sand. They, those men at the courts, in the neighborhood, they crossed it, with smiles and confidence. Home for sale. Home sold. Back into the van. One that’s taken my from New Mexico to Maine, to Washington and Oregon, through the Rockies, and around the Southwest. Over 45,000 miles together. The van, my pets, my writing.

I left Santa Fe on Friday, drove to Truth or Consequences. It seemed appropriate.

I slept badly. I do these days. I drink too much. Take gummies. Eat poorly. I’ve not been doing well, that’s for sure. Harold was struggling too, wobbly with the new anti-seizure meds. I’d decided to give them another week or two and if after that he was still a mess, time for a vet to help. Whatever that meant. 

I’d been thinking of winter as a five-month writing retreat. To make the most of my time in Baja, in the van, with no external deadlines but our own. Harold and Billie, the one-year-old collie hound mix had claimed their routines within a day, Harry in the front seat, Billie on the bed, walks upon sunrise, breakfast, Billie needs another walk while Harry takes an old man’s nap. Doable. Very much in keeping with my own rhythms of walking and writing. 

The night was chilly. 

After a night in Truth or Consequences, I took the plunge. Drove towards Mexico. Trusted I could do this despite a crappy few years, losing so much and too fast. I knew that I had it in me, somewhere, that it might take a while to get back into my comfort zone. Either way, I was about to cross the border and head south with my two dogs, Old Harold and Little Billie. It was time for me to embrace another stint of ‘Solo Van Life’ in Baja California, or as Katie insists, camping


A weekly installment from Baja Van Life, a new digital book available here on Sundays. Sign up for the latest chapter: Next up, Arizona and across to Mexicali.

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