Alas!, the little weasels of change clung to my face incessantly, forcing me to once again uproot myself and journey in search of distant and different surroundings. Faith!, this search will no doubt be hard with these weasels on my face. I have tried everything to appease them. I have sold my 300zx to raise cash for the trip, I have purchased a massive van to in which to tour the United States, and I have weeded my belongings down yet further to try and lighten my carbon footprint. However, it would prove that only actually getting in my van and driving for extended periods of time in one direction would give me the strength needed to pry these critters off my face, knock them unconscious against my drivers door, and hurl them under the tires of the speeding tractor-trailer illegally passing me on my right. Look out, Mr. Speeding-Truck-Driver-From-Utah-erson, I have your 1-800 number. And you have dead weasel on your treads. And yes, I do drive with my passenger-side window down.
As you have probably gathered, things have changed. I no longer am employed; in fact quite the opposite. I am rather proudly un-employed. I have taken it upon myself to explore the USA as it was meant to be experienced- by driving across it. I will do this in this behemoth (pronounced ba-hwee-mith). No really. Deciding on a name for it was quite a chore. My friend Joe suggested calling it the Shaggin' Wagon', but I found that rather cliche. Being the 1337 person that I am, I expounded upon that and came up with a name entirely new and rather unpronounceable to the untrained: Sh4g'n' W4g'n'. This will be pronounced Sha-four-gan Wah-four-gan. I think that it's an epic name fit for an epic motor carriage.
As you can see, I can fit a full-size couch in the back of the van. I had to take out one of the captains chairs to do this, but it was certainly worth it. The van has shag carpeting (even on the ceiling!) and has little red lights lining the wood panelling all the way along the rear of the van. The previous owner used the van to haul his and his buddies' dirt bikes on the weekends, so they gutted the back of the van, leaving just bare metal floor and plywood siding to protect the windows. One free beanbag chair, one free couch (Craigslist!), and one red $20 Wal-Mart carpet later, I have a stylin' rear seatin' section.
The van came with a stereo headunit, but the speaker wires fried, leaving the driver (um, me) without the capability to listen to the radio or cassette tapes. Seeing as I will be driving this van a lot, that situation had to be rectified. I purchased a power converter that plugs into my cigarette lighter, off of which I run a set of desktop speakers. It's a 2.1 piece setup; the woofer goes on the floor, and the speakers fit nicely in the pouches behind the two front seats, respectively. This allows me to plug my iPod directly into the speakers, giving me 18 (marketing) hours of music. I believe closer to 14 hours is actually feasible. I do, however have to be careful what music I play in it. It being a road-tripping van and all, certain music selections may be much poorer choices than others. Playing Boston, Journey, or Springsteen, for instance, would create an instant black hole consuming everything related to highway travel instantly. This would cause me to potentially lose friends if not totally succumb to the ultimate of cliches. Let's start off with some Satriani instead.
One downside to the van is, of course, gas. The Sh4g'n' W4g'n' gets between 10-15 miles to the gallon, and it holds at least 30 gallons (one 15 gallon tank, one 17(?) gallon). At today's gas prices ($4.15 a gallon), it would cost me about $124 to fill the tank completely. Average that with the MPG, and I calculate it costs me about $18/hour to run the van. Yikes.
I cannot worry about gas, however. After all, I'm sure people always considered gas to be expensive, and this is probably the only time that I will have in my life to have an adventure of this magnitude. And I intend to have plenty of adventures, my friends!