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*Almost* Final Van Pics

July 14, 2017 Freewheeling No Comments

The adventure is underway! And unless you follow me on Instagram, you may be thinking that we’ve been living in a half-built van. I assure you that we are not.

These pics were taken in April and so much has been done since then. But alas, here’s what it looked like at ~85% done:

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The back of the van now has a ladder on the left door for access to the roof rack, skylight, and solar panel.

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The garage is built to store two mountain bikes and two road bikes, each in a separate drawer that pulls out for access. On the far right wall is storage for four sets of skis (two downhill skis, two XC skis). There is a cubby beneath the skis for miscellaneous items like ski boots, cycling gear, hoses, etc. To the left of the bikes is where Miles’ crate goes, with an inflatable kayak nestled inside. Other miscellaneous gear gets tucked into the open spaces.

It’s not shown in this picture, but Greg built two storage bins just under the bed platform on the left. These bins hold ski poles, kayak paddles, and ski chairs. He’s done a great job of maximizing the space in the garage, which is complete with overhead lighting.

Also not shown, Greg affixed two rows of those over-the-door shoe pockets on the lower half of both doors. Perfect for small tools, cycling gear, shower supplies, etc. If you zoom in on the right side of the garage, you’ll see a water pump and hose that we use to wash the dog, any messy gear, and will be used for our showers. Yes, it is equipped with hot water. It isn’t there in the above picture, but Greg has since installed a clamp above the window on the right side to give us hands-free showering. There’s a pop-up “cubicle” for privacy (though it’s likely we’ll just shower in our bathing suits).

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This is the view from the sliding side door. The couch wasn’t finished when I took these pictures. Greg bought new leather captain’s chairs and ordered fabric that matches it for the couch. Greg did the carpentry on the couch frame and we had a local upholsterer make the cushions. The seat of the couch opens up for storage.

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We have storage in the space above the window that’s above the couch. This is open storage that we have put small bins in for holding stuff we access most often: dog bags and Chuck-It balls, head lamps, chargers, etc.IMG_1023

The new leather seats look so much better than these, and they are way more comfortable — except for the head rests. They’re too far back for actually resting your head if you’re driving. Greg also thinks the arm rests are too short, but we usually have a dog there acting as an arm rest anyway. Greg built a platform for Miles that puts him seat-level with us; otherwise, he’d be sitting on my lap the whole time. It’s sweet and I love him, but 80 pounds gets to be too much.

The battery pack and the inverter are underneath the seats. More on this in another post later (probably/hopefully). Greg installed the swivel seat bases, which really does make the “living room” feel spacious. Humor me. I realize that we are living in approximately 50 square feet and “spacious” is a relative term!

We ordered the van with the most basic trim packages, knowing we’d be swapping things out. Greg also took out the factory radio system shown in the above pic and installed a custom touch screen with Bluetooth integration to his phone and navigation programs.

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The kitchen features a two-burner gas stove and small sink, complete with soap dispenser (custom-installed, of course). That glass lid folds down to be flush with the countertop when not in use. Just below the sink/stove, there is a panel of switches with controls for lighting, a USB outlet, and on/off switches for the water pump and refrigerator.

The three drawers hold stuff like kitchen utensils, cookware, and a few tools. The cabinet under the sink has a custom-built garbage+recycling bin, the circuit panel for the switches, the on-demand water heater, and the water pump. Oh, and a fire extinguisher. On the floor behind the large wooden panel is our 40-gallon water tank and propane heater. Above the water tank is deep storage (our pantry), accessed through a trap door in the countertop.

Speaking of the countertop, it’s aluminum. We really wanted stainless steel, but getting it flush-cut to fit exactly proved to be too much work and/or expense, so we went with the next best option. I love how it turned out!

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Across from the sink/stove is an upper storage cupboard (probably for bathroom essentials), the refrigerator, a spice cabinet, and storage for the toilet. The toilet slides out of that little cubby and then slides back in to be out of sight and mind. Not shown, we also have a toaster oven that is bolted on top of the storage cabinet. Don’t worry — Greg took it apart to add fireproof insulation and it’s safe!

The vertical part of aluminum (that acts kind of like a backsplash) is actually the foot of the bed. We bought a queen size foam+latex mattress from IKEA and cut ~14″ off the foot of the bed, then cut that in half width-wise and had an upholsterer cover those two “cushions” with duck cloth. When it’s time for bed, we fold down the backsplash, place the cushions, and pull the bed linens over the cushions. When not in use for sleeping, one cushion is used for Miles’ platform in between us in the cockpit, and the bed turns into a seated lounge area with the other cushion and bed pillows as a back rest. You can see a little bit of how that works in the above picture, but I’ll get better photos when we get the van back.

Closets

Our closets are next to the bed. Greg gets the far left one, I get the middle one, and we share the far right one for hanging clothes. Each cubby is equipped with a light (switch on the far right of the pic). The tambour doors slide up and down and look really sharp when they’re closed.

That’s it! I’ll get updated pictures (and hopefully a video tour) posted when I can. I do plan to post more of the in-progress photos and notes for others who are interested in seeing everything that went into this build-out. I know more people are interested in what we’re doing now as we travel, so it will be a balancing act. If you have any specific questions about what we’ve done, please post a comment and I’ll get back to you.

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This is a picture my mom took as we were getting ready to roll out of Lenox. Don’t look too closely, as both Miles and Greg are blinking. Ha!

While we had done a couple of quick recon missions over to the coast to test out the van, it definitely got the acid test when we headed out on a 3000+ mile adventure across the country. Things were packed in there haphazardly because we knew we’d be taking some stuff with us for the interim time between dropping it off in Baltimore and picking it up in Antwerp. Some things were thrown in there “just in case” and/or because we didn’t know what else to do with them. We packed along a lot of food items that we were either able to get through or give away on our journey.

Regardless of things being disorganized, we were able to avoid eating at restaurants, sleep comfortably for free, and get a feel for how things will be when we’re living vanlife full-time. We’ve been apart from the van for two weeks now and we are really missing it!

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Oh Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers!

May 27, 2017 Fear, Freewheeling, Fun 1 Comment

We are nothing if not adventurous, Greg and I. Booze and snacks aside, I’d say that adventure is somewhat of a defining quality in our relationship. From running and kayaking (and faulty spray tans!) on our first date, to SCUBA diving the day before our wedding in Belize, to our triathlon escapades, to pretty much every trip in the van. Who am I kidding? Relaxing in our backyard hot tub turns into an adventure around here.

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10 years of adventure: 2003 – 2013

It’s something I really like about us. Greg has brought out the adventure in me, and I like myself more because of it. It requires one to have the “I’m up for anything” mentality, which is sometimes hard to come by. Finding happiness in being up for anything requires that you not let yourself attach too much expectation to the outcome. I think that’s where people get hung up.

Remember how fun this was? Me either.

Remember how fun this was? Me either.

I was feeling stale with things at the end of 2015. Everything seemed to be the same-old without any big prospects on the horizon. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t looking to sign up for another Ironman or have kids or anything crazy like that. I was considering volunteer opportunities. I was considering learning a foreign language. I was considering looking for a new job.

I mentioned my feelings to Greg and he confessed to feeling the same way. I shared my ideas and he introduced another: taking a year off to travel. I paused and spent about 23 seconds to consider all of the possibilities before yelling, “AREYOUFUCKINGKIDDINGME?!?!? YESSSSSS!”

And then I remembered who I was dealing with. So I reined it in, like, “I mean, that would be fun. If you think so. I’d be game. I don’t know. I mean…”
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His first idea was to buy a boat and sail the Mediterranean, but we quickly abandoned that plan and opted for traveling around Europe in a new, custom-built (by him) campervan. He said it was something he’d been giving some thought to for a while. He was about to celebrate a milestone birthday and it might be a fun way to shake things up.  It would take a lot of work, a lot of planning, but could really be fun. I think I cried happy tears, then I started making lists.

The adventure has begun, as you have seen with the new van being built. We’re also riding the documentation roller coaster with having our birth certificates and marriage license apostilled, trying to finagle a long-term visa without a residence/address, getting all of our adventure gear over there (four bikes, four sets of skis, kayaks, necessary clothing/helmets for these sports, etc.), and making sure Miles has the appropriate authorization. We’ve said from the very beginning: If Miles doesn’t go, we don’t go.

And then there’s the adventure of what to do with the house while we’re gone — to rent or to sell? We’ve decided to rent and are working to find renters within our network (rather than the scary Craigslist universe). Things look promising after calling upon my Facebook network for help.

Everything is falling into place, as it tends to do when you research and plan like crazy. After more than a year of scheming, it feels surreal that it’s actually happening. We bought three one-way tickets to Germany today.

Here we go!
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Nonstarter (almost)

August 22, 2012 Fear, Freewheeling No Comments

ROAD TRIP!!

Greg and I love a road trip even in a “normal” vehicle so we have been looking forward to the 1000-mile trek to Ironman Canada in The Van, perhaps even more than the race itself. (Why? The driving will take ~19 hours and will be done over two days. My race will take ~14 hours and has to be done all in one shot.)

Greg has worked tirelessly getting The Van ready, and most of the work has been done expressly for this trip. It’s our first long over-the-road trip in it and he wanted things to be as comfortable as possible. He thought of so many details and everything came together. Load ‘er up!

We had the bikes mounted last night, the cabinets and fridge full, and our clothes + race gear packed and ready to be loaded first thing this morning. The plan was to be on the road within 30 minutes of waking. Around 10 PM last night, Greg remembered that he needed to add a power supply for his phone in the new mount system. So, electrical engineer that he is, he went to work to quickly take care of this issue. In order to get to the wiring, he had to have the key in the On position and the transmission in Neutral. He completed the task of wiring power to the phone holster and started putting things back together. Done and done. When he went to turn the key off and lock everything up, the situation took a turn for the worse.

The key wouldn’t move. He couldn’t turn the engine over, he couldn’t turn it off. He frantically went to work searching the Sprinter forums, the owner’s manual, the error code reader he installed on his computer. Nothing turned up. He had to disconnect the battery as not to drain it while he continued troubleshooting. He came to bed defeated.

At this point, Greg was convinced that The Van was a DNF for Ironman Canada. He told me to start loading everything into his car — a Honda Element. Ummmm, there’s no way everything we had packed food-wise, clothes-wise, and gear-wise was going to fit in the Element. Add a big dog and it was a laughable thought.

Or it would have been laughable, if it weren’t so devastating.

I refused to believe we were not going to find a solution and be on our merry way. I tried calling my German car mechanic, but couldn’t get in touch with him. I called my dad, but he didn’t have any other suggestions than the ones Greg had already tried. Greg finally got in touch with the “lead tech” on the Sprinter forum he follows and that guy said that it wasn’t some fancy computer switch or anything, so it was probably the tumbler in the lock cylinder. He suggested we try a locksmith.

I was encouraged by this, though Greg kept saying there was no way he could fix anything in time. We’d be better off loading up the other car and going, the sooner the better. Undeterred, I called a local locksmith. He said we’d have to call a mechanic. All the while, Greg was still fiddling with the key in the ignition. Confident in knowing it wasn’t a computer issue, he applied a little elbow grease to the key while poking his needle-nose pliers in to create a little more space.

VOILA! The key came out!

With trepidation, he sprayed WD-40 into the key hole and inserted the key again. He was able to turn it over and turn it off repeatedly. We were back in business! By this time, it was 9:15 AM or so. I hustled to get all of the last minute stuff loaded while Greg took care of his few final chores. We pulled out of the house at 10:25.

I think the lesson learned here, which just became my mantra for Sunday, is DON’T STOP BELIEVING. (Plus, it comes with its own theme song… You’re welcome.)

IRONMAN CANADA OR BUST!! 

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Freewheeling: Skylight

May 25, 2012 Freewheeling 3 Comments

So, what else is new in the van? Pretty much everything. Greg figures out what he wants to accomplish, does his research on the Sprinter van foums, writes out all his plans/diagrams/sketches, procures the supplies, and begins work. Midway through, he figures out a better way to do it and starts over. Doesn’t that sound rewarding?

The skylight is no different, but he hasn’t started over… yet. This took too much time (and money) for him to scrap it. And honestly, it’s pretty much awesome so we should enjoy it for awhile.

Before showing you the new windows, we left off with the sleeping quarters finally being finished. Remember?

But before he could sound-proof it and do all the finish work, he had to build the skylight. You can see here where he’s left a space to cut it out:

Greg designed the skylight, then welded together the frame and figured out how all the hydraulics will work (WAIT FOR IT). He had the Plexiglass custom-cut for the job.

And then he checked his plans a bazillion times. And then he measured. And measured again. And measured again, just for good measure (<— I’m funny!). And then he cut a hole in the fiberglass top.

Gearing up to cut

First cuts

He installed the frame that he designed and welded.

And then installed the final piece of “bubbled” Plexiglass.

Meanwhile, he was upholstering the entire topper area to make it nice and cozy.

The man is nothing if not detail-oriented. He stands 6’3″ and spent many, many hours in that sleeping cubby making things perfect. Here’s how it looks when the bed is folded up:

And here’s our view from the first night we slept up there (on our way to Tahoe one weekend):

Pretty great, right? It really is quite comfortable. I did hit my head on the hydraulic arms in the night a time or two, but it only hurt a little. And honestly, when you have something as awesome as this, who cares about a bump on the head?

For the utmost convenience, the skylight works with a remote control. Although it’s a little loud (he has a replacement in the works, naturally), it really is a great solution to add a little light and keep the air moving in the back of the van.

Stay tuned for all he’s done to enhance the interior. So many amenities, we are considering selling our house! (I kid… kind of)

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Running In Circles

April 25, 2012 Fitness No Comments

“Okay team – we’re going to run to Casey’s and back as our warm-up today.”

These were the dreaded words from Coach Schneider on the first day of track season (and many other days following that one). The Casey’s General Store was 0.7 miles away from the high school, making it a 1.4 mile warm-up. For me, a sprinter, it was the worst part of the whole day.

Being dramatic for my HS track photo

The rest of the short distance runners’ workout was various combinations of sprinting for 100, 200, or 400 yards at a time. Maybe he’d throw an occasional 800 in there, just to make our legs really burn. Fine by me. The whole idea of “I can do anything for 2 minutes” was born in high school. What I could not do was imagine running anything over the 1.4 miles to/from Casey’s. The distance runners had to go all the way to the golf course and back. Oh, the horror!!

My, how things have changed.

After high school, I pretty much quit running unless I was being chased (which was seldom). I mean, no one goes on a 400 yard run and calls it a workout, right? I did other things to stay “active.” I played intramural volleyball for a season in college. My roommate and I would do exercises with hand weights in our dorm rooms watching Must See TV every Thursday night. I took ballroom dancing and water aerobics as my physical education electives. Not exactly an Ironman in training, eh?

Fast forward 10 years and 2000 miles. California! Greg is an avid runner and introduced me to things that helped me embrace it: trail running, looking at the San Francisco Bay or Pacific Ocean as scenery, and near-perfect weather all year long. Gradually, I built up my endurance (both mental and physical) for longer runs. These days, I won’t even go out for a run if it’s under 2 miles. And I almost never run with music.

Some things never change

Fast forward another 9 years (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!?) and what I dread now is a track workout. As part of my triathlon training, I have to do a speed workout on a local track once a week. This usually involves a half mile warm-up and then various combinations of sprinting 200, 400, or 800 yards. I despise this workout. I will run steadily for 10 miles if I have to.

Just don’t make me run in a circle as fast as I possibly can.

Actual track workout from 2 weeks ago

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Freewheeling: Exterior Aesthetics

February 17, 2011 Freewheeling 1 Comment

The work has not all been behind the scenes. Greg has taken care of a few aesthetics as well.

The big ticket item: NEW WHEELS! When six new rims + six new tires arrived on the doorstep one day, I instant-messaged Greg to say, “How much did these cost??” and he said, “Probably too much, but they’re here now!” The reason they were too much is because the van had perfectly good wheels and new tires on it. But these aren’t just six pretty faces — they are also more efficient. Cruising down the highway at 70 mph with the old wheels, the RPMs were at 3300. With the new wheels, the RPMs come down to 2700. The diesel engine is burning less fuel, and noise is also reduced. All good!

He’s planning to sell the old ones and recoup some of the cost. Anyone need any 15″ dually rims off of a 3500 Sprinter? The tire size is 195/70 R 15.

Wheels BEFORE

Greg got them installed the next day and beamed as he drove home. “It really looks like an urban assault vehicle now, doesn’t it?” What do you think?

It doesn’t matter what any of us thinks; Greg is happy! We took ‘er out for a joy ride with Argus, just for the fun of it.

Wheels - AFTER

He also replaced the branding elements on the car, indicating ONCE AND FOR ALL that this is not a Dodge product. It’s a Mercedes! These markings are what a “normal” Sprinter coming off the line in Germany would look like. Greg has basically reverted to its original style. I like it!

Hood Emblems

Door Emblem

Rear Detailing

And here’s a sneak peek at the “homework” he did to make sure the big structural changes I mentioned are going to look aesthetically pleasing:

I am glad he decided to outsource this part of the project!

You may also be interested in:

Freewheeling: The Adventure Begins
Freewheeling: Sound Effects
Freewheeling: Under the Hood

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Freewheeling: Under The Hood

February 16, 2011 Freewheeling 1 Comment

A van update!

We are on the cusp of some big changes. STRUCTURAL CHANGES. In the meantime, Greg has been working on small projects to pass the time. Thank goodness I’m so secure in myself and our relationship that I am not upset about him coming home from work and immediately going to the garage until he’s called for dinner. Then going back out to the garage until he stumbles to bed, exhausted and smelling of auto parts.

Secure = I also like my own space. And my own TV shows.

What has he been working on?

There has been additional soundproofing. Greg removed the hood and worked his magic by applying a sound absorption foam (0.5″ thick) to reduce engine noise:

Sprinter Van Hood - As Is

Sprinter Van Hood - Protection Removed

Applying Soundproofing

Soundproofing Finished

Ready To Re-install

While the hood was off, he took it upon himself to become acquainted with the engine compartment. Note his care for the landscaping…

A critical project was to replace the hoses responsible for the turbo air circuit. These were leaking and he was able to fix the problem. The good news was that everything else looked to be in good condition, and he has familiarized himself with the lay of the land.

He also did his first oil and transmission fluid changes:

I hope his next project is to fix the door to the garage, which is being supported by that car jack and a 2×4…

You may also be interested in:

Freewheeling: The Adventure Begins
Freewheeling: Sound Effects

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Freewheeling: Sound Effects

January 10, 2011 Freewheeling 2 Comments

Progress on the Sprinter Van continues, though not as quickly as Greg would probably like. Perhaps you recall that we are treating our dog for cancer? That shit is expensive, even if students are doing the work. Oh, and Greg left the area for about four weeks (five days with family in North Carolina, three weeks in Malaysia for work). That will slow production right down… Also, you can take back your negative thoughts: it’s not that he doesn’t trust me with power tools! This is his project and it would take away from his fun if I were doing the [unsupervised] work.

Ahem.

But Greg isn’t disheartened with the slow progress. A lot of the up-front work is behind-the-scenes anyway. Like soundproofing. That’s what all the ruckus has been about around here lately. It’s the stuff like this — the stuff you can’t see and won’t think about once it’s done — that separates the true McGyvers from the McGrubers. I’ve got a McGyver.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of riding in an empty Sprinter van, let me be the first to tell you IT IS LOUD. It’s a tin can that reverberates all the engine noise and road noise and radio noise and talking. The kind of noise that drives you crazy after only a short time. I don’t know about you, but if I can’t hear myself think, I just talk more. And no one wants that. Especially Greg.

Hence, the soundproofing.

He removed the subfloor and began his work. The metal floor of the van is corrugated, so Greg started with this sound-deadening butyl rubber product called “RattleTrap.” It was a tedious process for him to adhere this to every groove, around the wheel wells and in the cockpit area.

Admittedly, I thought he was done once that stuff was installed. Many years ago, he did the same thing with his Element and that was that! I was sorely mistaken. He removed the paneling from the sliding door and began an experiment. You know that Great Stuff you can use to fill holes and otherwise make cool things with? Yeah. That stuff. He wanted to see if he could use it as soundproofing material in the well of the door.

Turns out, he can! And it works well!

Again, after the door project, I thought he was done. Again, I was wrong. The next step was to put a 3/8″ neoprene foam filler in each of the corrugates on the van floor.

This is the definition of tedious:

Then he custom-cut his own plywood subfloor, under direct supervision of Argus. Note the ear and eye protection. Safety first!

The work is not yet done. Not even close. The next step was to install L-track, of course. What were you thinking? The sandwich made of tracks, plywood, and soundproofing was bolted to the floor using 1/4″ bolts and riv nuts. Look closely at the below pictures. Those riv nuts were a bitch to install. The purpose of the L-tracks is to tie down cargo while driving. Begin with the end in mind!

And yet more soundproofing… Greg removed the liner covering the van walls and began the work of filling them in with Great Stuff.

Realizing there was something missing, he built a perch for the Project Supervisor:

This is a long and drawn-out process, for sure. But in between work on the van, work at Job #1, Job #2, and keeping a wife like me happy (!!), we enjoyed happy hour in the van at sunset. You can just see Greg working out the next round of plans: the sleeping quarters!

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Uncharted Territory

November 21, 2010 Fido 1 Comment

We are settling into a routine and I don’t feel so utterly helpless (or hopeless). While things certainly feel more like our new “normal” now, I wouldn’t say I’m comfortable just yet. Things will feel even less comfortable when Greg leaves to spend Thanksgiving with his family in North Carolina. Starting Tuesday, I’ll be a single parent to a handicapped child and I’m not looking forward to it. Greg comes home on Black Friday and then leaves again on Monday to spend 2-3 weeks in Malaysia for work. The timing for these two trips could not have been worse. We’re both taking one for the team to keep our family up and running and doing what we can to support each other.

I’m just going to throw this out there… Is anyone interested in buying the rights to our story and making an Animal Planet Movie of the Week? Anyone?

Every day brings a new learning curve for us to navigate. Wednesday night was the crying. Thanks to everyone who either commented here or otherwise contacted me letting me know that crying can be a side effect of the strong pain medication! The last two nights, it has been excessive panting. It seems like he is under a lot of stress and we again have no idea what to do. Yesterday, we took his Fentanyl pain patch off as instructed and we wondered if the panting was an effect of withdrawal. He seemed to settle in the night and we were thankful that the panting didn’t turn into crying. Today, Argus was shivering a lot. I am mothering him and keeping a blanket wrapped around him whenever he is not moving. The shaved area and his remaining front paw have felt cold to my touch a few times, so I am doing my best to keep him covered. Now, he’s panting excessively again. Does anyone have insight on these changing symptoms/side effects?

As much of an adjustment as it has been and will be for us bipeds, Argus has certainly had his own learning curve in figuring out how to get along more independently. I can’t believe his progress! This video was taken this morning, 5 days post-surgery:

Argus was the one leading us farther away from home. He gets about three houses down before we turn him around, knowing he’ll get too tired to make the return trip. Our neighbors came by with Thanksgiving goodies this afternoon and Argus greeted them on the porch, soaking up some sunshine.

Around dusk, we took the Sprinter Van out for its inaugural run as a family. We did our usual Sunday afternoon thing and headed over to the Bay Trail to sniff around a bit. It was Argus’ idea, actually! He stood outside the van until I finally opened it up and helped him in. Who could turn down this face?

Also, you’ll notice Argus is sporting a new T-shirt. Ryan and Mandy sent this totally thoughtful and totally useful “keepsake” and it works like a charm to keep him warm(er) and stop him from licking his wounds. A big thanks to the Resslers for being the first to recognize that Argus is, in fact, a Tri-dog Extraordinaire!

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Freewheeling: The Adventure Begins

November 12, 2010 Freewheeling 3 Comments

Greg is making one of his dreams come true.

Here it is:

How jealous are you?!

Yep, Greg has been coveting others’ Sprinter Vans for several years now and he finally found one that met all his needs (including price — and they ain’t cheap no matter how you look at it). He has been doing a nationwide search of eBay and Craigslist for over a year and was lucky enough to find this one just outside of Sacramento.

I got to take ‘er out for a very short joy ride last week! My car is a VW Cabrio so Greg predicted that it would take me a few backs-and-forths to get it out of our tight driveway, but I did it the first time! Not wanting to risk the van or my car or our neighbors’ cars, I didn’t even attempt getting it back into our driveway and opted to park it a half-block away on a long stretch of curb.

This year’s winter project is to transform this box of tin into “Base Camp.” G has very detailed plans (his Visio diagrams are password-protected) that will pimp this ride into mobile living quarters.

Admittedly, I was reluctant at first. My only experience with a “recreational vehicle” is the 35-foot luxury behemoth his parents own that seems entirely excessive for our needs. Are we really going to be a three-car family? (answer: not for long, I should prepare to part with the Cabrio) Where will we park it? (answer: thank goodness for a 70-foot long driveway) What kind of mileage does it get? (answer: 21-23 mpg, and it’s diesel so we can use biofuel)

Once Greg showed me his grand plans and expertly explained all of its customized features, I was sold. We really cringe at spending money on hotels when traveling to races or when camping isn’t an option. DISCLAIMER: we do take hotel-based vacations, too. I love a road trip and there’s a certain amount of freedom by traveling with everything we need. Greg did a great job with the Element (remember the Death Ride?), so I am confident that this will be even better –AND this will accommodate a couple of additional passengers as well.

I’ll keep you updated as we go. This promises to be a fun process to watch!

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