Our new-to-us Ford Transit van lived up to its description. Nice and tall (Marty is 6’4”), long enough to build out into a cozy escape, bare walled and empty of everything except the driver and passenger captain’s chairs – basically a steel box on wheels.
We’d traveled to Dallas,Texas, on New Year’s Eve to buy it. December in Dallas is pleasant – low 70s and dry. After picking up the van we plotted the 2,049-mile drive home to Oregon. Driving for 8-10 hours a day, we figured we could get home in about three days.
We had tucked our warm-weather sleeping bags into our carry-ons and just needed an air mattress and some food. But what food would be suitable for the trip? We had no refrigeration (or so we thought), no stove and two very different ideas of “suitable.” After two hours in the grocery store, I had enough snacks for me and eight kids. Marty had decided on a Lara Bar and some coconut water. We were on our way back home and kind of living in a van.
Driving through Texas and into New Mexico was a breeze. We had the AC going (but that’s another story) and Spotify’s “road trip” playlist on repeat. As we were driving through New Mexico we noticed the temperature dropping, which surprised us. We had assumed New Mexico was like Old Mexico – warm all the time. But. No. When we settled in to sleep it was about 40 degrees. When we woke up there was ice on our windshield and frost on the interior steel walls of the van. And it was snowing. Why hadn’t we stocked up on ice cream?
We stopped and purchased a heater that worked in the parking lot of Home Depot and then never again, took a “shortcut” that…well, wasn’t short, and learned for certain that a big, empty, two-wheel drive van is not great on snowy passes. We managed to not freeze to death as we navigated our way through the snowstorms and mountains of Colorado, Utah and Idaho and eased our way into the familiar and welcome rainy gray skies of Oregon.
A new year had just begun, we were motivated and in the mood to get things done. Without a doubt we’d have this rig outfitted and be #livinginavan.