Friday, February 19, 2010

Our Home on Wheels

The first leg of this journey that Heidi and are embarking on is a three-month over-the-road tour of the United States, and perhaps a glance into our neighboring countries. Originally, we planned to take my pickup and sleep in the bed, which is capped with a standard fiberglass topper. However, after much consternation, and research on the topic of Vandwelling, we chose to buy a conversion van. You see, in order to save money we plan to spend a number of nights simply sleeping in the back of the van, whether in a national forest while engaging in dispersed camping, or stealthily parking on a city street only to retire to the convertible bed in the back.

As Heidi can attest, I have been all but obsessed about this conversion van situation ever since I got it in my head that we may want to get one. Originally, I wanted to go with something like a VW Eurovan or one of those RV-style conversion vans, with a toilet, sink and stove all cramped in the back. But, after checking one out, we decided it was too cramped...and Heidi detested the idea of having the smell of my poo linger into our sleeping quarters all night (not that I blame her). So, we picked up this baby in Colfax, WI.

She is a 1994 Chevy G20 Conversion with a High top. It came from Georgia a couple of years ago, so the thing is rust-free and the underside of the vehicle is immaculate. Its got just under 100K miles and came with a CD player with XM radio, a TV/DVD player, 12-volt outlets, removable captains chairs and a rear bench that folds into a bed. It's basically a hotel on wheels and that's how we plan to use it. Add a cooler and a camp stove and we can do everything we need in there...except heed nature's call.

All in all the thing seems pretty clean and I think it was a good buy. The A/C isn't blowing cold, which could prove unbearable for Heidi in the peak of summer, but hopefully the van just needs a recharge, and nothing expensive like a new compressor.

Although it cost about $3K, I think it was worth the investment. Not only will we save on hotel rooms, but there is some added convenience my truck could not provide. For example, we could pull up on a residential city street, park, hop in the back of the van and go to sleep without ever getting out of the vehicle, thus drawing less attention to us. Moreover, all of our stuff will be in the same compartment as us, and not separated between the cab and the bed, as would be the case with a pickup. Lastly, if a hungry bear starts harassing our vehicle in the dead of the night we can climb into the driver's seat and drive away (which Heidi pointed out). If we were in the bed of the truck we'd be at the mercy of the bear, or other threat.

So, this is the ride we plan to see the USA with. Gas mileage ain't great and the carbon footprint on this puppy is significant, but our lifestyle on the road should offset that tremendously.