I can’t believe I’m actually writing up living in a van. Yes, I did it. I should say- ‘we did it’. Because unlike most van livers, we were a family of 4 living in 100 square feet. Our family consisted of my husband, Ike, my nine year old son Gavin, and my wiener dog – Prim.
Living in a van is considered by some ‘the new American dream.’ Freedom of the open road, freedom from a mortgage, freedom from the monotonous day to day life of getting up, going to work, coming home and going to bed. We began pondering this. We loved travel, we loved adventure. I am a photographer, he is a renaissance man of sorts. We can do our jobs remotely. It will be fun we thought!
A Brief History
Ike and I met in 2011, and were instantly infatuated with each other. We liked the same music, we liked the same food. We loved drinking wine and watching movies together. When he picked me up on our first date, he pulled up in a Chevy Silverado pick up truck. It was a sign from heaven above that we were meant to be together.
At the same time that we were falling madly in love with each other, we were facing a very real dilemma. Ike had 4 kids and I have 3. We both had ex spouses that were not easy to get along with at all. As luck would have it though, Ike and I shared the same idea of a big family unit. Regardless of whose kids were whose, and what it actually meant to form that family- we were willing to give it a try.
Our Wedding Day
So, in May 2013- we got married. We vowed to eachother and we vowed to our seven beautiful children that we would do everything we could to provide a safe and structured place for them and love them unconditionally.
Flash forward to the beginning of 2017.
We decided to sell the house in January 2017, once we decided this everything started to shift. We began getting rid of so much stuff that we no longer needed in order to make the house more ‘sell able.’ This was probably a pretty big breakthrough for us. We lived in a huge Victorian house, full of our stuff. Once we started packing stuff and donating it to thrift stores, we almost couldn’t stop. Getting rid of stuff felt really really good. Empty spaces, clean spaces- all these things felt great. So we just kept going.. and going and going..
Mid Spring, a decision was made, partly by Ike’s children and their wants and partly by us that they would spend the summer with their mom. She had recently moved to Seattle, and we really felt like the children needed to see their mom and spend time with her. (This was a very hard and difficult time for all of us. Words cannot express the feeling around being a step mom, maybe someday I will blog about that!)
In May 2017, we got an accepted offer on the house. .
Baby Steps Towards Living in a Van
As all great stories go, we had a few hiccups towards the road to camper van living greatness. We knew we weren’t getting much from the sale of our home. And because one of our major goals was to be debt free, we really wanted an economical way to live on the road.
First, we bought a Yakima tent that fit on the top of our GMC Yukon. We loved the idea of sleeping on the roof of our vehicle. How efficient is that? But, we barely got it on top of our vehicle when we learned that it leaked very badly.
Our first option was a Yakima tent that fit on the top of the yukon
We decided that maybe we could build a structure onto the back of Ike’s truck. This was the beginning and end of this particular idea.
The beginning and endings of building a truck camper.
Next, we bought a truck bed camper for Ike’s truck. This was a fairly solid investment for $700. In hindsight, maybe we got a little ripped off. But it was clean, it was dry and it worked. After the sale of our house, we traveled in it for 2 or 3 weeks.
Right Before we Left
The Open Road
The First Two Weeks
The open road right from the get go wasn’t exactly as we had expected. First off, there was Gavin. My nine year old son who developed a deep rooted hatred for anything that had to with hiking. He, out of all the children, is probably the most difficult to convince to do anything. And boy did he prove it. We got stopped on the Canadian border and were searched. We were eaten alive by mosquitoes one night because of a small tear in a vent. It rained a ton. And, we missed our home and our lives.
The Snake Pit- where we were eaten alive by mosquitoes all night.
We were driving through Manitoba July 2nd, 2017 when we came across a 1979 Okanagan camper van for sale. We test drove it and we loved it. We were on an adventure and this was all part of it. We knew it had a large engine and got horrible gas mileage. We were headed to Montana anyways, but we knew now that we would each have to drive a vehicle 900 miles now. The first time I drove it, I started to cry. These were not tears of happiness. Thus, the van life started.
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