Now those of you who live in our warmer climes won’t get much from this one, but maybe a few from the colder areas just might. The particulars of how and why are irrelevant, but after a long discussion of the viability of an automobile as a semi-permanent alternative to a tent as a shelter, a friend of mine challenged me to live in my car from about dinner time on a Friday to Sunday morning at 10 AM, or about 29 hours. I was to use nothing but what my vehicle carries in it for a winter emergency kit, and the things I carry into it on an everyday basis. No added food or drink was to be allowed. He obviously thought that this would be a challenge, I on the other hand thought it would be at worst perhaps a bit boring. I was not limited to sitting there all day long, I could go about normal daily outdoors activities but forgo any indoors activities.
In this exercise I am probably better prepared than most as my semi-retirement gig is a special needs school bus driver. I spend from about 5:30 AM to 5 PM either at the bus yard sitting in my car or driving the bus, approx. 6 hours of this is spent pre-tripping and driving the bus the rest is spent in the car with it normally off. I do this because I dislike the seating in the garage, and driving back and forth to home would be way to expensive. My car is set up for my comfort, limited meals and also has an extensive emergency kit, in effect for about 5 plus hours a day I live in my vehicle. I often run the car for maybe 10 minutes each break, or 30 minutes total for 3 breaks to take off the initial edge while I eat something quick.
To make it a bit challenging I did this over a weekend in Christmas break, in the midst of a cold snap where the high temps were in single digits and the lows down to close to minus double digits. Overall, I have to say I was right, the experience helped me work out some things with my car and GHB kits but nothing serious. The first thing I did was prepare to spend a long cold night, I started up one of two Zippo handwarmers I keep and use almost daily. Then put two of the frozen water bottles from my supplies in to thaw. I had several thawed bottles in my lunch bag. I took off my boots and put on wool boot pacs liners from the two pair in my emergency stores, for “slippers” which are warmer and less constrictive than my boots for long periods. To keep this from being too long will just mention things I had available to use.
Available for use are 2 different weight coats, in addition to the wool shirt jack I normally wear and two different vests along with several weight gloves and hats including a wool navy watch cap. I have a quilt I usually wrap up in during the day along with a warm neck pillow. But also in my emergency kit are several wool blankets and two dual density “space blankets” which reflect back heat. I have a canteen kit which can be used to melt water if needs be and various other tools and emergency items.
Food items vary according to desires but currently my “snacks”, breakfast and lunch items include a box of mini slimjims, bags of various jerky’s, oatmeal cookies, dry cereal, peanuts, fruit snacks and fruit “leather” along with a large bag of Hershey miniatures’ for a treat. A case of water bottles is available as is instant coffee and a plug-in water heater coil for coffee in my canteen cup.
Entertainment includes a bag of reading material, cell phone charger and a plug in mini DVD player with movies. Yes, before anyone says it my car is indeed full, but, it is that way for a reason, it is lived in 5 days a week. Sleeping is usually done in the front seat just reclined but for this I pulled down the back seats and used the larger more open space. Lighting after dark is provided by small LED pushbutton puck lights.
Overall it was a very successful weekend. Cold, yes, a bit but overall, I was very comfortable. The water thawing worked but was slower than I had planned, adding the second hand warmer would have speeded things up a lot. And a warm meal would have been nice, that will be remedied with some MREs.