To put it frankly, our first trip in our self-made home was a learning experience. I had planned a trip to Florida with my mom and sister a few months earlier so we saw this as the perfect opportunity to test out our build so far. Also, Pete’s friend Brandon is from the Midwest and, like Pete, has a love for surfing. So, we thought it would be fun to have him come along on our first adventure.
We left from Dodgeville, WI the first week of December. We were about 30 minutes into the drive when we hit some exceptionally winding country roads and we learned our first lesson: magnets aren’t strong enough to keep drawers and cabinets closed. Bread and mugs were falling from the sky. The sound of drawers opening and closing with every sharp turn was so obnoxious, all we could do was laugh. We used painter’s tape to keep them closed which effectively lowered the aesthetics of our beautiful hand-crafted furniture.
So the three of us made our descent south; alternating who had to sit in the lawn chair between the driver and passenger seat and playing heated name games to stay awake. We went through Nashville and were excited to drive through the Great Smokey Mountains. I had driven through them on a family trip with I was a kid and I remembered how stunning and grandiose they looked. Which leads me to lesson two: timing is everything. As we approached the Smokey Mountains it was about 5:30 PM…in December…and we couldn’t see a thing. We didn’t want to stop for the night to see them the next day, so we persevered.
The next morning we arrived in Charleston, South Carolina. There was no surf and Pete and Brandon were disappointed. But we managed to have some fun gawking at beautiful beach homes and running around on the sacred ocean sand that we hardly got to see.
Our first stop in Florida was St. Augustine which was followed by a long stream of visits to small beach towns along the east coast. One day we were driving between Ormond Beach and Port Orange on A1A. I was sitting on the benches in the back while Pete and Brandon occupied the cockpit. The sun was bright, music was playing loud, windows were down, and I was watching the waves break as we drove along the ocean. I thought to myself, “This feels like a movie.” I smiled when I reminded myself that this wasn’t a movie, this is life; my life.
The rest of the days were a beautiful collage of the boys surfing, running on the beach, showering in public (with biodegradable soap of course), cooking in parks, teaching Brandon how to play the ukulele, and giving many tours of our van. It was so inspiring to see how many people wanted to see the van and talk to us about it.
So for the sake of making things brief, I’ll sum up a few other things I learned on our first trip:
Lesson three: anticipate sand, lots of sand, all the time. I tried very hard to keep the van “sandless” on a beach, and of course I failed. As a clean freak, I stressed about it at first and by the end of the trip I had to accept the fact that my new life will include sleeping in sand.
Lesson four: it’s hard to live in a van with three people. It’s a weird thing to pee in a tiny van porta potty in front of your boyfriend’s best friend. That’s all I’ll say about that.
Lesson five: learn from lesson two damn it! We missed the Smokey Mountains on the way home too.
Lesson six: a rack and pinion are a very important part of a van. Ours had to be replaced and it seriously affected our travel plans and bank accounts. We’ll go into detail about this in another post
Lesson seven: nothing with go exactly as planned, and that’s the best part. “The quality of our lives is directly related to the amount of uncertainty we can live with comfortably.” –Tony Robbins.
So as I previously mentioned, our first trip truly was a learning experience. It was just a small taste of what our lives will be when we hit the road full-time at the end of January 2017. We can’t wait to share our stories from the road and the lessons we’ve learned with our readers. So subscribe and come with us! We hope to see you out there on the road too!