BY SAMMY CAIOLA | CAPITAL PUBLIC RADIO
A young man in a black windbreaker perches on the roof of his Dodge Sprinter van, looks out at the sunlit creek, and thinks about getting dinner started.
The 31-year-old, who goes by Travis Wild, has been living out of the van for the last three years, ticking off daily to-do lists in his tiny household between long stretches of road. He’s not a trucker or a fugitive, just a new brand of nomad wandering the Golden State under the “van life” banner, seeking a different California dream than the previous generation.
Inside the Sprinter, which Wild has repaneled with glossy pine, he rummages through tucked-away compartments for a bowl, a pot and a strainer. He grabs a metal knife from a magnetic strip on the wall — a space saver in the vehicle’s 105-square-foot interior.
His sleeping platform sits a few feet above the bamboo floor, tucked between rows of bolted-in bookshelves that make the van feel like a secret attic. Its back doors open to whatever Wild calls a backyard for the day. Tonight it’s a narrow strip of the South Yuba River flanked by smooth gray stones and tall, dry grass.
“I’m really fortunate, I’ve gotten to live a really interesting life,” he says. “I’m never bored. I’m always a bit stressed about it.”
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