So the van sold, she's gone. Some guy in Ohio wanted to drive around the country and explore... a fitting owner I'd say.
I still don't know what to make of it, I guess the original thought when I got her was that it'd be a forever kinda deal, especially considering she had only 8,000 miles (the bus idea just put away far in the back of my head). Well now there's no chance with that. Many friends have had a front row seat to my constant struggle or debate on selling. It seemed like every other week whether I was driving the 4runner or the van I heard "Yo wheres the van?? You sell her yet?"
"Dude, you can't sell her, way too many memories!" "I just can't see you selling the van man"
I guess I did hold off for a while, setting a high price knowing she was worth a lot and thinking to myself that when the right person comes along they'll know what she's worth. But it seemed like a weekly struggle, one week I was over it... "I need a 4-wheel drive pickup!!!" then the next week... "A bus is forsure the way to go, then I can really fit everybody for these trips" and the next week... "The vans already built out and barely has any miles...when will I have the tools & time again to build out a bus?" "But the van just isn't the best commuter if I'm movin in with the boys in southern California..."
ENOUGH OF THIS. She is gone now.
SO, what a ride it was. I can't begin to describe all that I learned but I'll give it a shot. Thanks for stickin in there thus far, here's to a reflection on a couple years of epic trips!
Where do I begin? I feel like there are too many stories to condense! So maybe thats what this could/should be...refection now on what it all seems to mean and then if some folks are into it, I'm considering a little blog series that highlights a few stories from around the country...break downs...struggle and worry...hitchhikers...trouble...cold beers and sunsets...capers....lets see how this first bit goes.
I would say the BIGGEST thing I'm taking away from time spent with the van is the value for travel with people. It seemed like however hard I tried to play the solitude card, it wouldn't be but a few days before there were folks joining me for traveling. I still think it's important to highlight the beauty and value for solo trips and experiences, some of those were still incredible, and very shaping. But that being said... looking back I constantly loved inviting people into sharing these experiences, whether that was the first drive west with 2 college brothers Julien & Steve, or spending a few weeks traveling up the west coast with Hannah and Sydney, or the thanksgiving break Utah trip with Cody, Chandler, Benton, Cousin Jake, and Daniel, or the classic spring break trip with Chandler, Danny, Alex, Chicken Joe, Steve, Julien, Terrell, and Benton, or this last summer going back to a lot of places with another crew of graduating friends Chicken Joe, Tyler, Robby, Brooke, and Dan.
Or those quick day trips, the weekend charging or overnight jaunts... regardless. The fact of the matter is, I can't describe the joy felt when experiencing these places with others. It is cliche sure, but theres truth in that concluding thought Christopher McCandless came to as he passed away in Alaska (Into The Wild). "Happiness only real when shared."
I found that over the years some of the most amazing sights and breathtaking views were that much greater when experienced with other people. That also goes for our late night Thanksgiving dinner in Arches national park where the 5 of us resorted to straining pasta noodles through their cardboard box and frying up summer sausage all to be washed down with those tiny Kool-Aide bottles with the twist off top. That'll be a memory that will forever stick with me, and honestly one of the best parts about that one is there is no picture outside of the star shot with the van and mountain and boys in a circle (pictured above). A shot that took an hour to get right and a lot of me yelling across the parking lot "Ok uh shut off your headlamp after like 7 seconds this time...ok everybody count outloud....3....2....1...."
Below I linked a video that I had the pleasure to shoot that first summer I picked up the camera and went west, it's a little all over the place but I hope from it you get to witness a piece of what van life was like.
So I look back and it was one wild ride. Many remarkable memories. And while it was a great time, the pictures show good times, I would want the record to show that I'm not gonna jump right out and say vanlifes the way to go and its the beez kneez. To be real, it honestly is difficult. I've watched the gas meter tick and that number climb higher wondering how many extra hours I'll need to work when I get back as I already broke budget, falling asleep on the beach shooting the crew surfing in Baja, Mexico an coming back to the van remembering I accidentally left it unlocked and finding out my wallet and all of Grants camera gear were stolen, loneliness...hour after hour on the road where podcasts and music blend together and dull, OCD I never knew I had when a friend will not pick up their socks in the middle of the kitchen/living room, losing the brakes in the middle of California traffic and having to coast into someones driveway as I don't want to drive off the nearing Laguna Beach cliff...only to have the person living there come out and start screaming at me that they're gonna call the cops while I'm laying flustered under the engine with smoke pouring from the brake calipers trying to figure out what the hells happening. Ahh the memories. It was the hard times that shaped and bred growth in me all the more. To those I am so grateful. But I just have to disclose that its rarely if not never what you see on the Vanlife instagram pages, truth be told I've staged things a time or two to try an get a feature on there, if anything I learned through that process that I don't always want to just show the highlights and edited photos.
Nevertheless, please find the time to get some friends together and throw your own road trip together. Spontaneous or fully planned I don't think it could ever be something you'll regret, regardless of the arguments or breakdowns, even furthermore its when things aren't really even scheduled that you can strike gold. Honestly keep things open and God finds a way to show us things we never could have thunk up ourselves, both breathtaking and challenging. But truly beautiful nonetheless.