Well here she is! After almost a year of saving, scouring Craigslist & Facebook Marketplace ads, and test driving more van’s than we can remember, she’s finally ours!
We started out with a budget of about $1000 almost a year ago with the intent on purchasing something that would be a total project, from the ground up. After test driving vans in that price range, we determined that it may be wise to continue to save and get something a bit nicer. Around November we started looking really hard again and found a van that was a little bit higher than our new budget, but would have worked great. On a Tuesday evening we met up with the seller, took it for a test drive, and made him an offer. The seller rejected our offer and sold it to another couple the next day, only for a couple hundred more than what we offered.
After this blow to moral, Allie and I determined that, yet again, we should try and save some more to get the “perfect” van. At the beginning of the New Year I made an “ISO” post on Facebook stating that the two of us were interested in purchasing a Class B Camper Van. Not but 10 minutes later I had a woman message me saying she had one that used to belong to her father, and that she hasn’t been trying to sell it, but for the right price she’d let it go. She and her husband agreed to let Allie and I come check it out and take it for a test drive that weekend.
It was love at first sight. They expressed to us that they hadn’t driven it much, and the low milage on the odometer was not only accurate, but they had all the paperwork to match it. After a short test drive, we knew this was the one. When we arrived back to their house, we made them an offer. They stated they were looking for a little bit more than what we offered, so we asked if they would give us a few weeks to come up with the money. This was right after I lost my job and told our landlords we would be moving out of our home at the end of the month. Things worked out well because we had already set aside a good chunk of money for an extra month’s rent, just in case, and I had a few severance checks coming to help out. On Monday afternoon, Allie received the last chunk we needed so we asked if could come pick it up.
It definitely wasn’t brand new perfect condition, but for our budget, it was a great find. We need something big enough for the 2 dogs, baby, and Allie & I, as well as our gear.The overhead bed area is going to make a great bed/play area for Olin, plus she’ll have amazing views of the night sky. We’ll also be able to store her Burley Trailer up there while driving, which is a huge plus. The couch flips down into a bed big enough for both Allie & I to sleep on, we’ll have to see how it works with the dogs…
Our 1986 GMC Rally Wagon sports a 5.0L Chevy 305 V8 Engine and a Fiesta camper conversion. In the main living room area there is a small couch/pull out bed, a sink, stove, and a fridge. The rear of the vehicle features a toilet as well as a shower with a small, sit-down bathtub. Right off the bat I have to reattach the recently rebuilt water pump and propane valves & hoses, this will allow us to have hot & cold running water, a hot stove, and a cold fridge, as well as heat via furnace. The van also has a shore power connection, as well as a backup battery so that we can do some stealth & off the grid camping.
After the water & propane are hooked up, and the van is mechanically sound, we plan on reupholstering and baby proofing Olin’s “room”, replacing the carpet with a vinyl or laminate, and installing a 2” receiver so we can haul our bikes. Unfortunately I already had to do some upholstery work on the driver’s seat after ripping a small hole in it when trying to unfold the bed last night.
The goal is to have the van completed, and ready to live out of by the first week of May, and from there...well we’ll just have to wait and see!
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Most people keep track of anniversaries like their wedding date, the day they signed on their first house, or making it a year without smoking cigarettes (which is great and should be celebrated).
"Holy knights of Columbus, I'm in BANFF!!!"
Everywhere I looked stood huge snow covered peaks. I pulled over on the side of the road to read the map and figure out where in the heck I even was, as it turned out to be a sweet ski town called Fernie. And out of the blue, there was water streaming down the mountain with locals filling up their water bottles and jugs. I hopped out of the car, filled up the dogs water bowl, and filled up my Nalgene with indubitably the best drinking water I have ever tasted in my entire 26 years- nectar of the gods!
"Keep Dreamin' even if it breaks your heart."
I fell in love three years ago with a country that has a landscape to die for. The heartbreak that comes with travel is that you want to stay and leave at the same time in many of the places you visit, because each place steals a bit of your heart. The experience I took from these mountains is irreplaceable, and the beauty I will never forget. I will return to Canada, and the next time I won't be alone.
There’s something great about playing guitar outside, and you don’t miss it until it’s too cold to do it. Unfortunately this is something I’ve only recently discovered in the past few years. I was always afraid of being viewed as “that guy” who brings a guitar with him to a bonfire and insists on fumbling his way through Wonderwall or Wagon Wheel.
While living in Driggs, Idaho I started to play on the front porch after work. I think, as cliche as it sounds, playing in with a mountain view was a bit more inspiring. When I first arrived in Teton Valley I had a cheap, beat up brown Squire Stratacoustic that sounded literally like a plastic box with strings. It was a guitar I purchased from a friend for $100 in Highschool and from there it survived college dorm life. Not only did it lack a warm, embracing sound, it was god awful to play. After dragging it across the country, I got the bug to sell/trade it to purchase an Ovation. I listed it on Facebook Marketplace and a few hours later I received a message from a guy with an Ovation Celebrity in Jackson Hole that said he would trade straight up. We met at the top of the Teton Pass that evening and made the switch. I was absolutely stoked. I snapped a photo of the new guitar to send my dad and headed back down to Driggs.
My dad accidentally started a tradition when my sister and I were born where he would buy a guitar each time he had a child. He is a huge Jimmy Page fan, and is the one that introduced me to Zeppelin at a very young age. When I was born he bought an all black Les Paul Custom, like Jimmy would play in studio. My sister was born in 1995, right after Jimmy Page & Robert Plant wrapped up their unplugged No Quarter tour. Jimmy was playing a black Ovation Celebrity Deluxe on this tour, so guess which guitar he went out and bought next…
I learned to play guitar from a combination of my dad and playing bass in Orchestra. Actually, the whole reason I joined Orchestra in 6th grade was because it was essentially free music theory & guitar lessons while dad was teaching me chords at home. Throughout the years I’ve owned a lot of different guitars myself. My most recent, current favorite, and the one I’ve played more than any other guitar I’ve owned has been my Martin DRS2. I decided to keep my dad’s tradition going just before Olin was born in by purchasing this guitar in February of 2017. For as long as I can remember I have wanted a Martin dreadnought, with a D28 being my dream guitar (it still is). After spending a few hours playing different Martin’s in my budget, the DRS2 was ultimately the one for me. Especially because this guitar is sustainable wood certified.
As I stated earlier, I’ve not only played this guitar more than any of my other guitars, but it’s found more time out of the house than any of my previous guitars. My favorite place to play, without any doubt, is in the mountains. Roan Mountain & Beauty Spot, both mountains that lie on the border between Tennessee & North Carolina. What makes these great places to play are their ease of accessibility and being surrounded by mountains. Playing outside for the sake of playing, not in front of people, not to get a pretty girl’s attention, not at a campfire, and not to get photos for Instagram, it’s just fun.
I decided to part with my Ovation after watching it collect dust in the months since I brought my Martin home. My dad had a Martin Backpacker that he won a number of years ago and I convinced him to trade my Ovation for it. Although the sound is a bit shallow, although somehow better than the old Stratacoustic, the best part about the Backpacker is its durability. This guitar has survived camping trips, being stuffed in the back of our Ford Escape between two dogs & a baby, and (unfortunately) may have fallen over in the closet a time or two. If you’ve ever played a Backpacker you’re immediately familiar with how awkward they are to play due to the narrow design. Where most guitars have a nice contour that pockets your leg, the Backpacker slips around like a fish out of water. For a mere $30 you can fix this problem with the Kraftboy Compadre, I recommend this to anyone that has a Backpacker, or is thinking about purchasing a Backpacker. It totally transforms it into an enjoyable to play guitar.
One of my biggest regrets is that in the two summers I lived in Driggs, I never took my guitar to the top of Grand Targhee to bask in Teton views. In fact, the thought never even crossed my mind. WTF, Right?
Over the past few months, I’ve been making it a habit to bring a guitar on our travels, and as more adventures start to unfold in 2018 they will definitely see more mountain time!
Dogs & Diapers