Living In A Van Down By The River
Somehow I missed this SNL sketch. To be honest, I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live in, well, I have no idea how long. But my RV searches always seemed to turn up this skit, so I figured I had to share it.
So, those of you who are connected to me on facebook, etc., have no doubt seen some chatter about getting an RV. I’m thinking less about world travel at the moment and more about a little wandering here. I don’t know for sure that will stick, but if I should find the right RV, it would be more likely. I figured I’d test the powers of crowdsourcing and pass along what I’m generally thinking about and if some magic people out there connect me to the right deal, well then it was meant to be.
It’s actually been a sort of evolution of searching. It started out with great interest in small portable houses like these:
That’s a Tumbleweed Tiny House on the move down the Highway. They are designed by an architect who first lived in an Airstream trailer before he began designing and building houses on small trailers. I still love them, but for me personally, I don’t want a trailer and big tow vehicle. I want something more all in one. They are also not per se cheap, but you can buy the plans and build them yourselves and you would be literally amazed at how many blogs I’m following where people are doing just that. I’m sure the numbers are still cultish but it’s quite interesting to follow. But imagine a home that costs what an upscale American SUV costs and you can understand the appeal to some.
For a time I considered a very small travel trailer.
There are two lines of thinking with the RV life, one that a travel trailer (or camper shell) and a tow vehicle are the perfect fit since you can leave your “home” behind at a campsite and have a vehicle for getting around at your destination. Then there are the people who would rather not have to deal with trailers and towing and all that. I can see both sides of the equation but I find I come down on the side of just wanting one vehicle where I can turn around from my drivers seat and wander a few steps to bed. For some reason, that variation makes me happiest. Still, feel free to convince me that I can make do with a used fiberglass egg and my old blazer. I’m not past discussion.
The next phase, however, was finding the little Toyota based campers that exist out there. Long out of production, but some are as small as 17 feet long! Wow!
So, that was the next phase of thought. It may not be entirely eliminated from thought but it’s less favored now.
I discovered the world of camper vans. At least that’s what I’d call them. Where the above is a “Class C” RV, a camper van is a “Class B” RV. They are built out of a van of course, but some have all the amenities, just much smaller.
Believe it or not, these little camper vans have full-time beds (rather than a dinette that folds down or a sofa that folds down as many RVs do. I discovered an older model than this on Ebay that I watched with interest. And believe it or not, I found a newer one (1983) for sale in South Carolina that I went to see with my Dad this past Thursday. It was not the one, but I did like it conceptually. I like that they are low profile little creatures and were I to take off my traveling shoes it wouldn’t be a chore to store it if I didn’t want to divest myself of it. I think I would still want to hold onto it for weekends and vacations no matter what. I haven’t entirely written off the larger B’s like this:
There are actually quite a few variants on this design, but this particular one is a Ford van converted by Intervec. Pretty much all the companies that made this design like Intervec are defunct. None of these have full time beds. There are variations, but likely if you could peer in, you’d see a pull-out sofa and up above a slide out full bed with a ladder – sleeping in the bubble at the top. I like the design, but I’m not convinced I’d like having a 10 foot tall van. Most of these do have a separate seated tub/shower where-as the ones like the Dodge above tend to be a wet bath where the bath is the shower and all in one. I’ve experienced this phenomenon in a hotel once – it’s maybe not the most convenient set-up in the world but not the end of the world. Anytime you combine everything a house would have into something the size of a van, there will be trade-offs and it’s a matter of finding those you can live with. I’d likely give up a separate shower (but not a shower altogether) for a full-time bed so that I didn’t have to close up my bed over and over. I lived with a futon in a one room cabin for two years of college, I know about having to fold away my bed over and over.
So, that’s where I am now, thinking pretty seriously about making the leap if I can find the right vehicle at the right price. Hence why I’m looking at used! There are people all over living on the road full time, not just retired folks, either. I’m amazed that every day I encounter more people following that lifestyle.
Just a few examples of others who have tried to do something outside the norm. I don’t think I could mentally commit to what those folks are doing, but I think I could commit some of my “wander” time, my “career break” or “gap year” as it would be known in other parts of the world, to time in an RV. If I saw I could make such a life work full time, awesome, but for now, I just want the chance to sample it.
So, as to the crowdsourcing part, it took me long enough to get there. If you happen to know someone with a not outrageously priced class B (or TINY class C), I’d love to hear about it. I really prefer the B’s because they are not so blatantly RVs.
It should either be in the southeast (a day trip from central Georgia) or it can be further if the vehicle/owner is someone you know well enough that I wouldn’t go see it and discover it didn’t remotely match the description. That was the problem in some regards to the one I saw the other day. I wouldn’t say the guy was remotely lying about things, but the photos weren’t that great and the description not thorough. I was glad I got to see it just to see what one was like, but it wasn’t the one for me. Reasonably priced , check, he actually sold it for $3k, but felt like its needs were beyond me. It needed a paint job in my opinion pronto – visible rust in a few places. I’m handy enough I could do a lot of repairs and replacements as needed in the coach part, but repainting a van is outside my repertoire. Actually, doing odd updates around the coach part of an RV is just fine. That’s my speed. The little Dodge also had a few mechanical ticks. Nothing major, actually if that had been all it needed, I might be driving it now. But when you added up those things, the paint, new upholstery… You get the picture, I’d rather just pay more for something in less need of attention, than to buy it and sink in the equivalent in cash after.
So, my army of friends and associates, you know something not so far away, let me know. You know something far away but you would reasonably expect the person wanting rid of it to be on the up and up, let me know. I’m looking at 21 feet long and below for either variant.
In the interim, hope you are all enjoying the photos from past travels that have been showing up lately. Hopefully not so terribly long before they are coming from new travels. Best wishes to all from a potential future guy living in a van down by the river.