Why are you such a dirtbag?

When your van takes you everywhere, the occasional fluid check & fill is mandatory.

When your van takes you everywhere, the occasional fluid check & fill is mandatory.

WHILE SOME PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE DIRTBAG LIFESTYLE, MOST DO NOT. IF I HAD A DOLLAR FOR EVERY TIME I’VE BEEN ASKED WHY I CHOOSE TO LIVE IN A TIN-CAN ON WHEELS, I’D HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO BUY A VAN THAT’S BIG ENOUGH TO ACTUALLY STAND UP IN.

Rather than make a big, boring click-bait style list of reasons to be a voluntary adventure bum, I’ll just simply tell you why I live this way.

Plain and simple: conventional, or “normal,” life is boring. I get bored easily with the same ol’ routine, day-in and day-out. Not that the conventional, or “normal,” way of life is a bad thing, it really just comes down to the fact that I get bored easily with doing the same routine over and over again. The idea of waking up and going to sleep with the same schedule in-between those two times gives me a weird feeling in my stomach.

Remember when you were younger and your parents bought a new refrigerator? Any good parent would turn the box over to their children so they could build a little fort in until it got wet from rain and too soggy for the kids to have fun in. Do you remember that feeling of having a blank space to build a living space in, all to yourself, that pretty much ended up in your ownership with no work or prior obligations to acquire it? Well, somewhere along your teenage years you were probably brainwashed into the idea that you needed to go to college and make money to buy a house that was made of wood, brick or any material that was sturdier than cardboard. Within that time, you forgot about the feeling you had with the refrigerator box.

Years later, after tumbling down that brainwash tunnel myself, I was on my way to saving money to buy a home. Luckily, the cardboard box feeling returned to me just before I pulled the trigger on spending money that I didn’t have, for a house that I didn’t want. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I managed to escape falling into the hole of debt just as I was standing near the edge of the mortgage pit. I literally ran away from the brainwashing. I packed up my car and moved 2,200 miles away to the Pacific Northwest, all while chasing the dream of those magical cardboard box feelings.  

IT WAS HERE IN THE PNW THAT I WAS SHOWN THE WAYS OF THE VAN LIFE.

When you live in a van, the world around you transforms into such a different place. Areas that you would usually just pass through become your new backyard for as long as you wish.

Now, van life is currently a bit of an “Instagram fame” type of lifestyle, often showcasing a bearded man and his girlfriend with a pierced nose drinking espresso with the back doors open, overlooking a beach. And again, living like that isn’t a bad thing, it’s just not my style. I built up my Ford Econoline in two weeks with the bare essentials: a lofted bed, a little kitchenette and a mini fridge to keep fresh foods fresh. I can’t stand up in it, but I have a super comfy foam mattress to sleep on after a hard day’s bike ride, and a stovetop to cook up a hefty omelet to power me through the next day once I’m rested up and ready to shred again. I don’t have a bathroom, but I have paper towels and rubbing alcohol to clean my torn-up flesh after a gnarly tomahawk through the woods after catching a pedal on a stump or overshooting a jump.

I LIVE GNARLY. THAT’S JUST THE WAY I LIVE, AND THAT’S JUST HOW IT’S GOING TO BE.

I don’t have any worries other than paying for gas, insurance for the van and my body and a cell phone mainly used for the GPS to get me from point A-to-Z.This isn’t the “Instagram fame” type of van life you’ll see, but this is a true, hardcore way of living that I not only respect, but live myself day-to-day.

Setting up camp sure is easy when your bed is already set up and ready to go. Simply search for that perfect parking spot and enjoy the night. 

Setting up camp sure is easy when your bed is already set up and ready to go. Simply search for that perfect parking spot and enjoy the night. 

By Mike Randol, professional dirtbag at Mister Lost's Dirtbag Society

Campfire StoriesMister Lost