Home Sweet Van
"No way." Foam blocks, 39x22x3” are right there on the bottom shelf of the home goods store. This is a huge score.
It was Eileen's idea to rent a van and sleep in it. We had already committed to the premise of not bringing sleeping bags, so instead we confirmed the existence of home goods stores in the vicinity bag in February, when we booked.
It was always a bit of a gamble. I assumed we'd have to sleep on cheap duvets folded over, hip bones pressing into the floor of the commercial van's closed-in back. But here, though they're only about two by three feet, are much better mattresses.
We grab two foam pads and add them to our haul: a duvet apiece, a bundle deal of two pillows, a couple of £99p face cloths we'll use for towels if any of our campgrounds have showers.
For £85, we're now prepared to sleep comfortably (well, we'll see) in a van for the next week.
Transit has served us well in Wales so far. Google has some but not all of the details right on bus schedules, but the app Traveline Cymru (Cymru = Wales, in Welsh) is pretty reliable.
Bus and train service was sparse (usually temporally, sometimes spatially) but reasonably convenient with a bit of planning all over Anglesey and Snowdonia. Out walking, we'd sometimes get enough phone service to refigure our pickup points on the fly, shortening or lengthening a hike by identifying a different bus stop in Google, checking the times in Traveline, and confirming trails on Gaia- a three-app system, but effective.
But not everything is bus-accessible. Locals have been taken aback to learn we have been traveling car-free; it's not what they would do.
More to the point, getting to Pembrokeshire (next week) from Snowdonia (last week) would be a convoluted seven and a half hour overnight train ride that wouldn't quite get us where we're going. And that train only runs on Thursdays.
Personally, I would not have rented a car in Wales, much less a commercial van. I wouldn't want to deal with the left-side driving, much less the two-way traffic on one-car roads that's prevalent here. I'm a bit surprised Eileen is up for it, but it is a clever solution. The cost to rent a van for a week was the same as a car for the day, so now it's a road trip.
Eileen drives slowly and jumpily on the skinny Llyn Peninsula roads. She pulls over every time there's an oncoming car, and often when there are cars behind us. Between her nerves and the traffic circles, it's no less stressful from the navigator's seat, but at least I don't have to drive.
I am discovering that Wales can consistently produce the spectacular, several times in a day. Even on the day we pick up the van and outfit it, we also hike to a hundred-foot waterfall, explore inside a 4,500 year-old burial chamber, and walk through flower meadows to a lighthouse on a dramatic sand-beach island accessible only at low tide. That's a benefit of the van too: without bus schedules, there's no curfew. For once, we stay out until the sun is starting to set.
When night comes, I stitch the bottom of my duvet into more of a sleeping bag shape. We put our backpacks under our pillows and our extra clothes under our feet, and close ourselves into the windowless compartment for sleep.
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