Marcus & Shana Tackle, “Go Big or Go Tiny Home?”

Hello, everyone!

If you are like us, then you know the summer months can be a serious pain in the traveling world. We have a 45-foot fifth wheel trailer, and parking it anywhere is a difficult task even for the most experienced of us all.

When the pandemic hit, families everywhere ran out and purchased campers and RVs in hopes of being able to have a much-needed family vacation away from everything, which tied up hundreds—if not thousands—of campsites, unexpectedly, while doubling and sometimes tripling the typical rates.

So, what do you do when you cannot park anywhere? You find a way to park everywhere!

The Gift of Black Betty

Meet Black Betty.

She is a 1996 Ford Econoline 250 Van. In her early years she served as a forensic processing van for the Eureka police department in California. Black Betty is named after the world-renowned song by Ram Jam, which just so happens to be one of Marcus’s favorite songs. If you care to look it up, we suggest watching this amazing YouTube video (that’s a peek, below).

Black Betty was an emergency purchase for our daughter back in 2018, after we dropped her off for college at Humboldt State University. Shortly after we got her all settled into her new place for her first semester and left, she decided to abort her college launch sequence and backpack the coast. She set out on an adventure that would be one of the bravest things we could imagine.

During her time backpacking, she fully integrated herself into the “homeless” culture and thrived while she slept in the forest.  One evening as she was walking into the Redwood Forest looking for a suitable spot to slumber, she came across a shadow. This shadow approached her and stood close enough for her to feel its hot breath as it roared in her face. Slowly backing out of the area, she realized that the forest is home for the creatures that were there before her.

When her mom told her she was lucky to be alive, she replied with, “I was lucky to have had the experience.”  Bless her sweet, precious soul.  This is the moment she began to sleep behind dumpsters.  

Our daughter selling her art on Pacific Beach

No surprise that Mom did not feel the same way about this experience, whatsoever. Off we go on Labor Day weekend, flying out to California to meet with our loving offspring to talk some sense into her. After two long days of begging her to return to her apartment and stop all this nonsense, we reached an accord, and she allowed us to buy her a van to sleep in and get off the streets.

On the Sunday before Labor Day, we found a “buy here/pay here” lot and bought Black Betty with an American Express credit card, kissed our baby girl goodbye, and returned home. 

After our daughter returned to college, we took possession of Black Betty so we could turn her into a camper van to gift back to her upon graduation, which is quickly approaching us, in March, 2023.  

Our Turn with Betty

When you cannot park your 45-footer anywhere, you go tiny and park your van everywhere! Yes, our friends, we are officially stealth campers! What a “cool change” it’s been for us.

Anywhere you go, if you know what to look for, you will find “stealth campers.” (Stealth camping is camping without being noticed). Some people do this in urban areas, while some venture into wild locations. Sometimes the camping is considered legal, while other times it’s illegal (which we don’t recommend!). Many people do it thinking it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. We like to stay on the legal side of things as to avoid imprisonment; we hear its no bueno

The coast of California is a stealth camper’s dream. If you know the street sweeping schedule and keep your commotion down, you can cozy up to the beach for free.

We are retrofitting Black Betty with all the creature comforts needed, to include a toilet (for emergencies only, Shana), refrigerator, microwave, and solar power to run it all as we stealth camp fully in it.

While forced down this path by circumstance, we have noticed several advantages to this tinier living and are doing some serious debating about staying small.

And what better way to test the waters than doing a tiny van belly flop in the middle of Mission Beach, California?

For instance, every day we get to watch a class of 6 year olds learn how to sail. It’s our very favorite thing to witness.

While we pivot to this tinier way of camping, we will keep you all informed along the journey to even more sweet freedom. 

Shana And Marcus

We are a post-pandemic retired duo who decided society was too much of a crazy breed. We bought an RV, then a tent, and took off on the road so we could get back to nature, reflect on the beauty that goes unnoticed and focus on recreation. (For more posts by these authors, click on their names, above.)

2 thoughts to “Marcus & Shana Tackle, “Go Big or Go Tiny Home?””

  1. I’m going to have that song going around in my head all day now. But only the chorus because I don’t know most of the lyrics 😁

    The relief in parking our small car after driving our big (for NZ) pickup truck and having to take up 1.5 spaces at the supermarket is huge so I can well imagine the joy of a van vs an even bigger vehicle!