Laura and her boyfriend, Shane, bought a Ford Transit van for their weekend adventure mobile a few months back. Since then, they’ve balanced a DIY buildout, lots of excursions, and weekday jobs. The end product will be a camper van tailored to their needs. This interview goes out to the weekend adventurer in all of us!
Learn more about the process from Laura in the interview, after the jump.
Photos (C) 2015 Laura Hughes
Meet Industrious, Active Laura:
Why did you and your boyfriend Shane decide on a Ford Transit van for camper conversion?
Once we decided that a van conversion was in our near future, we did quite a bit of looking and discovered that a Transit 250 felt like the best option for us because they fit easily into regular-sized parking spots and still have plenty of space to stand comfortably. Transits also have great gas mileage (ours gets 22 miles to the gallon), which doesn’t hurt when you’re on the road. Now that we’ve been getting some miles on Vanna White, we’re very happy with our decision and feel like we have so many more options when we travel!
What has been the biggest challenge in converting the van while still working your 9-5 jobs?
For two people who love to be outside and have limited time to go exploring, the challenge really is balancing when we work on the conversion, and when we devote our weekend to traveling in the van. It’s hard to say ‘yes’ to spending precious free time on a build-out project when the sun is shining in the Pacific Northwest! Thus, sometimes the smaller projects happen at night after we get home. In fact, it’s pretty common to see us running to and from our place with large pieces of wood or hard foam insulation. Our neighbors probably have some questions about that. 🙂
What stage of the remodel are you in currently [January 18, 2015]?
We are still in the structural stage of things. The van is insulated, and so now we’re installing the floor and wall panels. It’s an exciting time where we are really seeing things come together! I’ve sometimes been kept awake by butterflies the night before we’re going to work on the van. I love seeing the progress we’ve made and that we’re building something uniquely us.
What will the van look like when you are complete?
Our main goal with the conversion is to stay clean, eat healthy, be warm, and have room to stretch out. For us, this means that our adventuremobile will have a large utility sink, raised bed with storage underneath, and finished interior. If things go to plan, we are hoping to have most of the main conversion complete by the summer. At some point down the road, we will also be installing a battery, fridge, solar panels, and a roof rack for our kayaks. We already think that heading out in the van is pretty rad, so we can’t even imagine how we will feel about it when it’s that much more special.
Where is the best place your van has taken you thus far?
One of my favorite weekend trips with Vanna to date has been to the Mountain Loop Highway, which is just east of Granite, Washington and full of natural magic. We spent the weekend hiking out to the Big Four Mountain Ice Caves, trekking up to Gothic Basin (a killer trail with incredible views!), and taking in our meals riverside. You can’t beat the enjoyment of sipping tea while watching the fog roll in.
What have you learned about Shane that you might not have without this project?
Not everyone in our lives understands why we’re so passionate about converting a van into something we can live out of. I’ve learned, more than anything, that Shane is an incredibly authentic person– which is something I really value in a partner. Our quest to adventure might not be something everyone thinks is accessible, comfortable, or sane– but it’s our quest to take on, and I’m thankful for a partner who is as committed to it as I am! I have also gotten to learn that Shane is incredibly effective in almost anything he puts his mind to. He has been leading the van conversion build out, and is always the first to walk through things thoroughly and logically. He’s even a man of few, concise words. Being the more verbal, crafty one myself– it’s safe to say that we balance one another out!
Name your most epic view in your van’s life time.
After a long hike off of Chuckanut Drive (just outside Bellingham, Washington), we drove the van to an overlook of the bay to take in the sunset. It was early fall– the best time of year to see the natural beauty of the area. We had the side door wide open, colors in the sky, and warm air on our skin. That was the moment I really got inspired to keep traveling with Vanna.
Take a photo of your five must-haves for van travel.
- Instant film camera: Instant film = instant souvenir. Plus– it’s a fun break if your medium is typically DSLR.
- Scarf: Or your favorite ‘it keeps me warm’ object.
- Northwest Forest Pass: Park and forest passes are essential to get to the good stuff.
- Lantern: I love lamp. And we hang this one up in Vanna at night.
- Nutella: Because cheap, high-calorie treats are even more excellent post-hike.
What’s your preferred campsite type? Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forest, State, Walmart, Friend’s driveway?
For the adventure: BLM. For the morning view: National Forest. For the hugs: friend’s driveway.
Where’s your next weekend adventure?
We’ve been taking a lot of trips up North recently, so our next drive is going to be down to Oregon to do some hiking and beach-perusing around Astoria. We’re also quite charmed by Portland, so we plan to stop through there as well for the breweries, cafes, and food trucks– Vanna will fit right in. 🙂
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