After making our way down from Phoenix we decided to stop off in Tucson, our last major city before crossing the border, to make sure we got all our last minute stuff done with the van and any last minute shopping of things we need to get.
We took care of our taxes, making copies of documents, cleaning Houdini, getting an oil change, and adding some extra security features as well.
While working on the van in the middle of Reid Park, a man walked over and started talking to us (he reminded me very much of The Dude from the movie The Big Lebowski). He lived in his van, which was parked only a few spots from us, and was excited to talk to other van dwellers. He has been living in his van for the past nine years!!! He occasionally works as a host at various parks to make some money and the rest of the time he just has fun working on his drawings.
We didn’t get to talk too much because we had a bunch of work to get done before meeting our next wonderful Couchsurfing host…but it’s always great to meet other Rubbertramps.
We continued working on our van, getting rid of some stuff that we don’t think we’ll need, putting away our winter clothes and just trying to optimize the room in the van.
We then headed over to Emily’s apartment. Another extremely trusting Couchsurfer who needed to head out soon after we got there, so we hung out briefly, before she handed us her keys and left us alone in her apartment. As usual, the first thing we did was take showers. After that we just did some stuff online before meeting up with her at a bar where she and some of her classmates were reading their work.
Emily is in a masters writing program so this gathering is where people in the program go to read their work in front of peers. We made it there just at the tail end. We spent the rest of the evening hanging out with Emily and some of her friends and we must say…she has to be one of the funniest people we have ever met. She is an absolute wealth of information when it comes to traveling websites and has done a ton of things for traveling. She has spent time teaching people English while living in Japan, worked as part of a crew on a privately owned boat, and worked on a farm in Mexico. She had so many great stories and most of the night the three of us were just cracking up.
The next day, we hung out for a bit in the morning and then headed back to the park to get back to work but Emily was nice enough to invite us to stay another night, even though she had some other Couchsurfers coming to stay as well.
After working on Houdini, we went back to her place and she cooked a delicious dinner and had some friends over and it turned into a bit of a party. We spent most of the night getting to know the other Couchsurfers, fellow van dwellers, Miriam and Paul.
Miriam and Paul are traveling around the US and Canada in their minivan. We spent the night discussing different websites for travel and traveling experiences etc., and eventually trying to convince Emily to join the ranks of the rubbertramps. We didn’t do a great job however, because she’s not convinced.
When morning came we all shared some mate before giving tours of the vans, and of course, them signing our van. After that it was time to start heading south to our last stop before finally crossing the border.
We’re a bit scared to leave the familiarity of the U.S. It has been surprisingly easy to live in a van and travel the country, and the unfamiliar seems a bit scary, but we are certainly looking forward to it.