Van Build – Everyday I’m Vannin’

“But all this was out here, huge landscapes to stare out into and scratch my chin and scribble notes on paper, the mountains and desert canyons that made my heart drop in my chest, and the creeks bouncing morning light around the rocks in their beds, and maybe I should do it while I can. Because if you could live anywhere, wouldn’t you want to live everywhere? For as long as you could? I mean, really, what is a life, and what is the American Dream, and what is a “home”? The best thing you can do with those questions is keep trying to find the answers, not actually find the answers, and tell yourself you have it all figured out…

– Brendan Leonard in The New American Road Trip Mixtape

I am happy to report that we’ve made lots of progress since my last post! I hinted in my last post that things had been busy for me and that has only become more true. In addition to trying to build my new van home, making some money, and enjoying my time seeing folks in Michigan while still around, I’ve also started up my online graduate courses again and have been doing some onboarding paperwork for my upcoming term with the Utah Conservation Corps. Yikes.

On to the good stuff though…

Ronnie and I have now undertaken two adventures to Northern Michigan. The first of these was to Kalkaska and the second was to the Traverse City/Leelanau Peninsula area. Both outings were very successful. On the first of these I even got brave enough to practice a trial run of sleeping outside in the freezing temperatures. I sort of cheated by taking a -30 Degree Fahrenheit rated sleeping bag that will not be going along with me, but I also didn’t have a heater of any kind, which is something (after realizing the need for it from this) I hope to have along….

Here’s Ronnie parked at Inspiration Point overlooking Glen Lake.

As far as new modification/additions to the van, here are a few

I added some oak trim pieces along the flooring at the side and rear doors. Then, coated with Polyurethane so as to match the laminate flooring.

Installed a backrest for the couch that also hinges to allow access to a secret hidey space behind

The two things I’m most excited about though are getting the cabinet built and installed (for the most part) and getting the couch/bed cushions that I purchased cut to size and also fitted with some sewn covers! These tasks were only accomplished with help from the home team of Super Seamstress Sheryl and Dave H Master Van Builder. Just like for my PCT journey, they’ve both been big supporters of this new opportunity.

Still quite a few things to do, but getting closer. I have an idea in my head of where I want to be at before leaving and we’re quickly knocking off the different items on the list!

A few more tidbits…

  • I sadly busted off Veronica’s antenna going through the car wash (hoping to fix soon)
  • A bearing or something busted in my side door roller hinge (hoping to fix soon)
  • I’ve checked gas mileage twice now. First time was 17.5 mpg, second was 19.5 mpg. Both of those were with quite a bit of highway miles. Hoping to get above 20!
  • I’ve acquired and been gifted more cassette tapes! I’m excited to share these gems during my travels.
  • Not one single failed start since that first Saturday.
  • Less than two weeks til I head West!

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