A California native with a long-standing interest in tiny houses, Michael Heid dreamed of leaving his tech job to embrace van life full-time. With his adventure dog Moxie at his side, Michael made the leap and has been touring in his Ascent for six months. Continue reading for his story below!
Time for a change
Several years ago, I started dreaming of leaving my tech job to relocate to a state with a lower cost of living. I was interested in Florida and Tennessee, but I wasn’t familiar with either area. So, I decided to indulge my fascination with full-time van life to explore. Living in a van allows me to revisit my favorite towns year-round and take as long as I needed to settle down again.
I knew I would need a companion on my adventure, so a couple of years prior to transitioning to van life, I bought an 8-week old Australian Cattle Dog. I spent the following 2 years training her to be my adventure dog. I sold my home, put my belongings in storage, purchased my Ascent, and set off with Moxie. We have been full-timing for 6 months now.
Exploring from the comfort of home.
To be honest, I’ve always been a bit of a homebody. That said, I do enjoy history and nature, so living in my Ascent has allowed me to explore my interests with Moxie. With the exception of taking long showers, I have all the same comforts I had in my bricks-and-sticks home, just in a smaller footprint. In fact, I have yet to use a fire ring, picnic table, or camping chair. I enjoy glamping inside my Ascent when I’m not hiking or exploring. It feels like home now.
A deep dive into Class B’s.
During my dive into the Class B market research, I refined what would best suit my needs. I didn’t know exactly which features or layout I wanted. So, I decided on a touring van with creature comforts. I looked for an outfitter with a good reputation and a long track record in the consumer market. For those reasons, I was leaning towards a Pleasure-Way motorhome. I was convinced after watching the factory tour video on Ultramobility’s YouTube channel.
I have all the same comforts I had in my bricks-and-sticks home, just in a smaller footprint.
The Ascent makes it so easy to move around in cities, fit in regular parking spots when running errands, and even fit into any campsite, including some sites intended for tent camping. With campgrounds fuller than usual, the size of the Ascent offers me more options than any other type of RV class.
I have done just about everything… boondocking via Harvest Host/Boondockers Welcome. Stealth camping on residential streets, RV parks, mooch docking, Cracker Barrels, and city/county/state/federal campgrounds. I drove across the country from California to Florida, I’ve done a couple of counterclockwise loops through Charlotte, into Tennessee, and then back into Florida. I also did a trip into the Florida Keys and visited historic cities in other states like Charleston, Birmingham, and Savannah.
I am a natural introvert. Between the van and Moxie, endless opportunities present themselves for conversations with people who express an interest in one, the other, or both. Traveling in the Ascent has allowed me to come out of my shell and meet a variety of people. The experience has certainly been a positive one for me in terms of personal development.
Jungle campground? Olive oil farm? There’s a destination for everyone!
There are so many places we’ve explored. Here are a few of my favorites:
- For a campground, the jungle campground of Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, near Jacksonville, is within walking distance to nice beaches on the Atlantic.
- For dispersed camping experiences, there were several wineries and an olive oil farm in Paso Robles, California. Fantastically peaceful and scenic.
- For history, St. Augustine.
- For an activity, Townsend, Tennessee.
- Finally, any place that is fun for Moxie. We enjoy her meeting other animals including dolphins and a wide variety of farm and zoo animals.
With campgrounds fuller than usual, the size of the Ascent offers me more options than any other type of RV class.
What I’ve learned.
Emptying the grey and black tanks. I have it down to a science now.
My bit of advice.
Join the Pleasure-Way RV Group and Pleasure-Way Owners and Wannabees Facebook groups. Those resources are amazing for learning and troubleshooting. That is also where you will find more practical tips and helpful ideas beyond the owner’s manual. More than I could possibly enumerate here!
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