Keeping Things Cold on the Road

Sooner or later, some kind of a solution is needed for keeping food, soda, water, insulin, etc. at a reasonable temperature.  For the first few weeks of camping, I relied on a little handheld cooler to maintain cold beverages…  Eventually, you end up spilling water or forgetting to replace the ice and the result is the worst case scenario:  Warm soda pop.  OMG!  Worse yet, due to a bit of water, I slipped and fell, banging my arm and knee on the way down.

After reading about someone who uses a five day cooler in his/her van, I decided to do the same in mine.  I had purchased a rolling 5 day cooler (Coleman, I think) at Wally World (Wal-Mart) some time back.  After a couple of days, it sloshed a lot as water accumulated from melting ice.  I don’t know this to be a fact, but I assumed all that cold water helped melt the remaining ice… Ick.

The Coleman cooler came with a little draincock on the back side of it in a most annoying place.  A lot of people bitched about the drain location but it turned out to be perfect for my needs.  *smile*  I took off the draincock and attached a piece of clear 5/8″ tubing (59 cents a foot) from the local hardware store.  The next part was not for the faint of heart.  Using a hole saw, I cut a hold in the floorboard to accommodate the drain hose.  The cooler is turned sideways to allow me to open it from the driver’s seat so the hose is near the passenger’s seat – right over a clear area under the floorboard.  If you don’t mind a puddle on the ground everywhere you go, this drain is a nice way to eliminate excess water and keep the items cool.

Okay, so now you are thinking I’m spending a fortune on ice.  Not so… Since I am in the city, it seems I have to go to the store for this or that all the time.  I just take a pop cup and mooch a 52 ounce cup of ice.  Also, I help out at a friend’s restaurant for free food and they let me fill my coolers any time I want.  There are free sources of ice if you are crafty.  There is also a cheap motel nearby which I plan to visit in the night to see if I can snitch some ice… (not recommended)

 Having managed a gas station, I know how much profit there is in selling bags of ice.  If you can snitch some with the blessing of a pimple faced college kid at the local fuel stop (most only care about booze, girls, and weed), you can save some bucks.  As long as you buy something (and are friendly), most convenience store clerks won’t complain if you fill YOUR OWN cup.  (Don’t expect to get a free cup with your ice – cups are expensive and c-store people find it rude if you just take shit without paying for anything!).  Be respectful and resist the tempation to take too much of anything free and you’ll keep the door open for others.  End of lecture.  LOL.

Have a fun day!

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

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