I was not expecting this so soon…..Life in The Element has retired for now

I was not expecting “Life in the Element” to suddenly come to a hault. For some reason, after my last road trip, I felt that God wanted me to stop and move to the next chapter in life. I don’t know why all of a sudden I had a change of heart, but I felt that it was the right thing to do. I was expecting to do “Life in the Element” for at least 2 years. With that being said, there was nothing that all of a sudden happened to me and I was forced to quit living in the Element. Nothing happened, but a feeling that I needed to move on. When I look back at this whole adventure of living out of my Element, I wish I could of started it sooner in life. Living out of my Element was so practical and simple. For me and the lifestyle that I choose to live, it just made sense.

So you might be wondering, what now? Where will you live? Will you keep the Element? It turns out that I have sold my Element and moved into a small studio in downtown Seattle. My last night in the Element was January 19th 2014. I still can’t believe this has happened so fast. Like I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t expecting for “Life in the Element” to end so soon. I ended up finding a local buyer for my Element and sold it the same day I moved into my tiny studio. As I am writing this blog entry, it still feels that I own and have the Element. I guess when you have been living in your vehicle for about 1.5yrs, you somewhat become attached in someway.

I believe that memories and experiences in the Element, will always be treasured and looked back upon. I have learned so much about myself as a person and what it really means to live a simple but basic life. I truly believe anyone can live inside a vehicle, it comes down to a matter of choice. To say you can’t would be false, to say you can would be true. Are you willing to challenge yourself in this life? What if you go outside of your comfort zone and truly go into the unknown. What will happen? What will people think of you? I think that’s the beauty of doing something totally outside of the norm. If you ask any normal person living in the USA, they would not choose to live inside of a vehicle for the sake of adventure. Now I am not saying the people need to live inside a vehicle to experience life or adventure. What I am saying is to get outside of your comfort zone and experience your crazy ideas or daydreams. Stop thinking what other people might say and grab courage and be bold in your adventures. Who knows, you might have a life changing experience that will benefit you in the long run.

So what’s next for myself? Well for starters, I have decided to try something new and different. Since I just recently moved into a studio, I decided that I would like to dedicate my studio for couchsurfing. I am looking to host as many couchsurfing people that I possibly can this year. So far, I am happy to say that I have hosted 6 people so far. If anyone cares to follow me on my next adventure, I will be starting another blog called couchsurf307. I will also have a hashtag #couchsurf307 on Instagram under my username DLSNAPSHOT if anyone cares to follow me.

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It’s about time I get the ball rolling again!

Hey everyone, I finally decided that my silence was long enough and that “Life in the Element” needed an update. As I finished up fall quarter last year with school, I decided that I needed to head out on an epic road trip with the Element. My plan for this road trip was to complete 3,000 miles in less than a week. When all said and done, I left Seattle Dec. 18th 2013 right when I got off work. My first destination to reach with non-stop driving was Sacramento, California. Once I reached Sacramento, I contacted my friend Amarili and crashed at her place for the night. It was nice to be given a bed and a place to sleep for the night. Thank you Amarili for your hospitality. The next morning, my next destination was Yosemite National Park. For those who have never visited Yosemite before, it is a must sight to see. Although I didn’t stay for a super long period of time at Yosemite, just the opportunity to visit the park was incredible. The park is still open with lots of touristy people snapping pictures along the way. I also thought it would be a good idea to attach my GoPro Hero cam onto the front bumper for some nice wide angle photographs along the way.

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After leaving Yosemite in the afternoon, my next goal was to reach Zion National Park in Utah. Since being on this road trip meant long hours of driving, I was finally able to put my Element to the MPG test again. Before I took off from Seattle to begin this road trip, I decided I would remove my cargo box from my roof rack system to achieve the best MPG. As a result, I am happy to announce that I have achieved an all-time high of 30.27 mpg with my Element. For fuel, I used regular unleaded gas from Chevron. I was able to get 366 miles to a full tank. Since I was only able to accomplish this 30 mpg feat once, it made me super excited to know that it is possible to achieve over 30 mpg in a Honda Element. With that being said, the right conditions really have to be at hand. My goal on the road trip was to set the cruise between 60-65 mph to see what kind of gas mileage I would get. Since hitting 30 mpg was rare, my most consistent mpg with the Element was about 27 mpg. Not bad for an SUV that is shaped like a box going down the road.

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Upon reaching Zion National Park, I stopped to eat breakfast just before entering the park Saturday morning. I have never visited Zion Park before, so it extremely excited to see the nature beauty this place had to offer. The pictures speak for themselves….

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As I finished my short time at Zion National Park, I decided to make my way towards Coral Pink Sand Dunes. I have never visited a sand dunes before and was interested to see what it was going to be like. With temperatures dropping, I made my way to the sand dunes and stopped to take some pictures of the place. If you are wondering, the orange/pink colored sand is pretty awesome.

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After snapping some pictures of the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, I started to make my way towards Bryce Canyon. With nightfall approaching, I decided I would spend the night in a hotel, simply because I wanted to take a shower and clean up. Upon waking up the next morning, I checked out of the hotel and started walking towards my Element. I reached my Element and noticed that it was covered with fuzzy frost.

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As I scraped the ice off my windows and warmed up the Element, I made my way towards Bryce Canyon. Since it was still winter, there wasn’t as many people on the road or tourists flooding the national parks. I reach Bryce Canyon and was simply blown away with its stunning view.

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As I looked at my clock, I figured it was best to start heading home. I wish I could travel the country longer, but responsibilities and work awaits me back in Seattle. This road trip with the Element was simply amazing. The Element performed flawless with no issues to address. If anyone is considering to purchase a vehicle for road trips, I would hands down recommend the Element to anyone looking for great MPG’s, dependability, and lots of cargo room.

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Back in School

As fall just started to surface into our forecast here in Seattle, I have decided to continue to stay in school fall quarter at Bellevue College. With school now in session, I will continue to do “Life in the Element.” At this point in my journey of living simple, I still find it super convenient to continue to live out of my Element. Most people by now, would probably argue that this lifestyle has to end someday. And I agree, someday “Life in the Element” will cease to exist. But until that day, I will stretch myself to live simple and enjoy what comes my way.

With summer now back in my memories, I found myself every weekend either hiking or going on road trips. The big highlights of my hiking adventures would include hiking the Seven Lakes Basin loop in the Olympic Mountains and hiking the Wonderland Trail loop around Mount Rainier. With all the photobombing I do on Instagram, some friends think I live in the wilderness with all the nature images I post.

As far as my Element goes, I haven’t had any really issues arise from a mechanical point of view. The Honda just keeps running with the basic oil changes and fuel it continues to consume by the gallon. I found myself hitting an all-time new MPG record at 26.54 mpg on Chevron regular unleaded. Keep in mind that the Element is driven with a Thule Skybox cargo box at all times. One of these weekends, I am going to remove the roof rack and see what kind of gas mileage I am going to achieve. I am hoping my Element will hit at least 28 mpg.

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One Year Anniversary

Well, today marks my 1 year anniversary since I start my journey of doing “Life in the Element.” What can say, time flys when your living life on the road. To celebrate this special moment in time, I ended up having pizza delivered my Element. I parked myself right in front of Kerry Park, with an amazing view of Seattle in the background and simply ordered myself a small Greek pizza for delivery.

So as I am about to place my order order, the employee as me for an address. I tell him that won’t be necessary, you can simply deliver it to my car. I am parked right in front of Kerry Park here in Queen Anne. A little be confused, he asks what cross street is that. As I tell him the cross street, he continues to take my order. Now if you were on the other line receiving this pizza order, what would you be thinking when a guy wants his pizza delivered to his car?

As I finished my order, the guy tells me it will take about 30mins. In the meantime, I step out of the Element and take in the amazing view of downtown Seattle from Kerry Park. As time was winding down, I get back into my Element and wait patiently for the pizza. In just a few minutes, my pizza finally arrives. I turn on my side marker lights, as the pizza guy walks towards me. I roll down my window, the guy hands me the pizza and I sign my receipt. As the pizza guy starts to walk away, he tells me nice view and great idea.

With a fresh box of Greek pizza and a can of Pepsi, I sit back in my drivers seat as I reflect on the year of living in the Element. It’s been an amazing year while doing “Life in the Element.” As I am texting friends & family about my 1 year Anniversary achievement, I start to ponder about how long I will continue to do life in the Element. While trying to get into a Nursing program, I have decided I would continue “Life in the Element,” until I finish nursing school. As the moment stands, I don’t have a specific date in mind, but feel that “Life in the Element” will continue for the time being.

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200k under my belt

It’s official, I finally reached the 200K mile club on my Element. I wasn’t at all surprised with my Element achieving this kind of mileage, its a Honda after all. As for a quick update on the Element, everything things seems to be running fine with no major hiccups. The only thing that I need to do on the Element is change the brakes and adjust the emergency brake. I am also considering getting a full interior custom carpet for the Element. There is a company in California that makes a pretty neat full front/back carpet set. The company is called South Coast Accessories. The price is a bit steep at about $279.00 for a deluxe full carpet set.

With summer in full swing, I am getting closer to my 1 year Anniversary when I first started “Life in the Element.” I still can’t believe its been almost 1 year. After all this time, I am still digging living out of my Element, it simply works and fits my lifestyle. The longer I have been continuing this Element life journey, there is one question that I keep getting asked by people. The most common question I continue to get asked is, “Where do you live?” It’s a pretty straight forward question, but when asked, I sometimes hesitate to answer because my living situation is not a normal way of life here in America. So to keep my answer simple and to the point, I simply tell people I live life on the road. How would you guys answer when meeting someone for the first time? I remember getting asked this question when I went out with this one girl. Now from my understanding, when you tell a girl you live in your car it then becomes a bit awkward, especially on a first date. So when the question was asked, I simply told this girl, my living situation is a bit different….you should check out my blog to understand what I am talking about. It was at this point, that she became very curious to what my living arrangement consisted of and started to ask more questions.

Long story short, I ended up explaining to her that it’s best if you read my blog first to understand why it might be awkward to tell you this on our first date. At the end of our date, we said our goodbyes and soon afterwards I texted her the address to my blog. For all those that are curious to what she said, let just say, that she wasn’t at all that surprised about my living situation. She was more interested in how I spent my days and how I managed to life in a car in Seattle.

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Average Gas Consumption

I thought I would let you guys know how much I drive the Element on a monthly average. With summer just around the corner, here is what I have typically been consuming on a monthly basis:

For the month of May-

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With that being said, the best MPG that I have achieved with strictly highway driving was 26.27 mpg. Take into consideration that I also have my cargo box on the Element at all times. With 26.27 mpg being my best, I am looking to experiment with what kind of MPG I would get without my cargo box and roof rack on my Element. I am hoping I get close to 28 mpg. I will maintain 60-65 mph and solely stay on the highway with very little stops in between.

Lady of the Night approaches the Element

So its May 30th on a Thursday night, roughly around 10:30pm. The next morning, I got to wake up, rent a lens from Glazers camera, and head down to Portland to shoot a wedding for the weekend. I am there sitting in my drivers seat browsing Craigslist, looking for some new camera equipment. As I am surfing the web, I glace up and notice a lady standing on the corner of the street in front of me.  My first thought is that she must be waiting for a ride or something. But the more I watch her, I start to notice that see is acting a bit strange. This Lady of the Night, starts pacing back and forth looking around like she has lost something. She then starts to take off her jacket and throws it around her shoulder. Now I am thinking, what is she doing taking of her jacket, it must be a bit nippily outside in just a tanktop. It is at this point that she starts to make her way towards me Element.

As I am sitting there watching her, I can’t help but think she is lost or something and might need some directions. So as she is just about to pass by my Element, she says something towards me which I couldn’t understand. So being me, I roll down my passenger window and ask if she was lost. The Lady of the Night then makes the move and approaches my window and says, “No, I am working…I am a Ho!” Then she asks me what are you doing sitting in your car? Hmmm….How should I answer this question? If I tell this promiscuous women that I live in my Element, then this whole situation might just get a bit more awkward. Instead of telling her my living situation, I simply tell her, “I am looking for some camera equipment, I am a photographer.” Now I don’t know what she was thinking when I gave her my response, but I was trying to play it safe and keep her from asking me more personal questions.

A few months ago, I attended a sex trafficking seminar about how women get into the sex industry. It was at that seminar that I heard for the first time an ex-prostitute share he story of how she entered the business and how after 7 years she finally escaped this horrific sex industry. They say that girls as early as 13 years old start to enter the sex industry of prostitution here in the city of Seattle. It’s so crazy and sad to see what our world has come to, where men are buying sex from under age girls. So as I reflected back on my experience from the sex trafficking seminar, I ask this lady outside my Element, “How long have you been doing this?” In reply, she states about 5 years. The way that she responded to my question, seemed that she enjoyed what she was doing for a living. How can one be excited and trilled about selling oneself for sex?

The Lady of the Night then asks me, “Do you want me to get in, so we can talk?” Now upon hearing this question, a man has two options: The first would be to let this prostitute enter my Element and go from there…The second would be to say no thanks, I am not interested! Now if we look at the statistics here in America, the average percent of men that have bought sex at least once in there life is about 15-20% in the country. Although these numbers seem low, I did not want to be apart of this kind of insane statistic. The temptation is at hand, how would I respond? In return, I looked at this woman and told her that would not be a good idea. Upon hearing my response, she was a bit taken of guard. For some reason, she wasn’t expecting me to refuse her business. She quickly took my response and said that if I change my mind that she would be on the corner where I could find her.

When I look back at this whole situation, I can only praise God for protecting me of such a corrupt lifestyle. Sure I could of let this Lady of the Night enter my Element and simply have a conversation with her, but who knows where that conversation would have gone. As bad as I wanted to help this woman get out of the sex industry, I made the right decision and refused her business. As the Lady of the Night walked away from my Element, I quickly jump on internet and tried to find the number to REST to give to her. The seminar that I mentioned earlier about the sex industry, was put on by a non-profit organization called REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade). This organization was created to take action against the commercial sexual exploitation of girls and young women in Seattle, WA. They work to provide a path to freedom, safety and hope for victims of sex trafficking and people involved in the sex trade. For anyone reading this blog article, if you know anyone involved in the sex trade and would like to help them in some way, please have them call the hotline 206-451-REST (7378) or a local resource in your area that help women escape the sex industry.

Officially ECAMPER :)

It’s finally official, I managed to get my Washington State license plate to read ECAMPER. I figured the plate would go nice along with my blog. Although I don’t have the official ECAMPER conversion done on my Element yet, I can start to save for the $5k project in the near future. For those interested to see what an ECAMPER conversion looks like on the Element, I have attached a picture of the same color Element I found on the web:

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This May 13th will mark the 9 month journey with “Life in the Element.” As the days are getting warmer, I have decided to put away my summer sleeping bag and simply use a blanket I bought on my recent trip in Scotland last October. I find myself these days traveling a lot more on the weekends and exploring the state of Washington. As of now, my Element’s odometer currently reads about 193k miles.

New Carpet

When I first purchased my Element back in 2012, I decided I wanted some type of carpet for the rear cargo area. The best option at the time that I found was green AstroTurf carpet. I ended up purchasing a roll of AstroTurf from Home Depot. In order to get an exact fitment for the carpet, I had to create a cardboard template. In the pictures below, you will see the steps I took to complete my custom carpet for the Element:

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After almost 8 months of “Life in the Element,” I started to notice that the AstroTurf backing of the carpet started to make a white powder mess all over the Element floor. The AstroTurf  was a great idea at the time, but I have now decided I would change out the carpet with one that is mess-free. With Spring in full swing, I decided I would remove the AstroTurf carpet today and replace it a new Smoke Gray all-purpose carpet that I purchased from Home Depot. This time, the new carpet came in a 6’8′ length roll. I repeated the same steps as before with the exception of the cardboard template. I basically took the new carpet and traced the old AstroTurf on it for the template guide.

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Sleeping Layout

Hey everyone, I finally got back to blogging “Life in the Element.” I just recently finished my winter quarter at Bellevue College. As I now sit and wait to hear back from a nursing program in Eastern Washington, I have decided to do a little spring cleaning in my Element. For starters, I am putting away my zero degree down sleeping bag and pulling out my 20 degree REI Sub-Kilo down bag. I thought it would be a good idea to show everyone how my basic but simple sleeping arrangement is setup. As you can see in the photos below, I currently use a REI self-inflating sleeping pad. I purchased the sleeping pad for about $18 at the Seattle REI used gear sale.

Since I am slightly under 5’7″ in height, I have plenty of room sleeping on one side of the Element. With the right rear seat folded upright, my sleeping pad fits perfectly on the ground. To rest my head, I used a normal size pillow I kept from the studio I left last August. To keep warm, I have decided to unzip my sleeping bag completely and use it more like a blanket. As you can also see in the pictures, I have 3 stacked durable plastic drawers I purchased from Fred Meyers for about $14 each. These sliding drawers have really been useful to keep my clothes nicely organized. If your wondering, all of the clothes I own fit in these drawers. With that being said, I still think I have too many clothes and will probably donate a few more clothes to Goodwill.

Just this past weekend on Easter morning, some theft wandering the streets of Seattle decide to go ahead and steal my roof antenna off my Element. I woke up around 2am to the sound of some noise outside my Element. As I jumped up from my sleeping bag and turned around, I noticed a bystander departing from my Element. At first I didn’t know what to make of the situation and thought that the person was trying to shove something in through my flip-up sunroof. So I laid back down and thought, let me peak through the opening of the sunroof to see if this person caused any damage to the roof of my Element. As I got back up to inspect, I looked out the tiny opening of the sunroof and saw no damage but then notice that my roof antenna was missing.

Why in the world would someone take my roof antenna?…..I thought to myself. By the time I noticed my antenna missing, the theft was long gone. With my bear mace and 9mm at arms reach, I decide to ignore the situation and go back to sleep. With almost 8 months of living in the Element, I have only had 2 encounters of people causing harm to the Element. The first was the criminals who busted my passenger window with a rock, to now a theft who decided to steal a $20 antenna.

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