Well, if some of you follow my instagram page you will notice a ton fo van photos being posted. Well, that’s because I bought a van, an adventure van. “Vanny Devito” as it has been named was purchased for 1900.00 dollars with a few miles on it. The body of the van is in almost perfect condition so even if I have to throw a new engine in it I would still be ahead. Vanny is a 2003 Ford E250 3/4ton cargo van. It is in great condition.
Now, the first words out of my friends mouths would “Free Candy” Pedi-van, creeper van. I is true, it is a typical white windowless van with the creepy stock hubcaps. So it would like a little creepish to some. The very first trip home Vanny started the sticker treatment. Putting gear stickers and other decals on it in an attempt to take away from that look. The first day I drove it to work I installed a set of Yakima bars to it and stuck my paddleboard on the roof. Instant SUP Adventure van. Minus the bed, the kitchen and all the other cool ideas I have for it. We are shooting for a full paddle theme with lots of kayak and sup parts to repurpose as decor and storage options. There is a ton of unique vans out there and I am shooting for something never really seen.
My plan was to use as much reclaimed material as possible, things like pallets from work, barn wood, consignment flooring, wooden military crates as cabinet etc…. We are even using kayak dry hatches for cabinet doors and storage and sections of cut up kayaks as a little decor. I have always wanted to do something like this, turn a van into livable art and good function and comfort. It has always been a dream to live in a van for some crazy reason. Most people think if you live in a van your a homeless bum or a lazy outdoorsy person who does not want to work. Truth be known, any full time van dweller or “van lifer” for the most part work their asses off. Some are web designers, some are in marketing where you can work from home “or on the shore of a beach”. Some make videos on how to live in a van and build tutorials. The list is endless, without doing the math I could say about 90% of people who live in a van have normal business jobs but have the ability to do it remotely leaving them time to drive around and explore. I do not have the ability to live on the road however, I do have the ability to take little adventures and spend trips saving money on hotel rooms and having the ability to do more in the areas I plan to travel.
Vanny DeVito is coming together very fast. The beautiful part about what and how I am doing it is pretty funny. I don’t have any plans wrote down, no measurements for certain things. I am just making things work. I coined a new slogan “If it ain’t straight, don’t fix it”. I started with a bed frame, I did not want to make it super high so I do lose some storage under the bed but, I am still able to put bins under it for tools and camping supplies etc… Under the Front of the bed, I am going to use 40-liter drybags as the storage bins instead of the typical plastic ones. These will be for My clothes and my wife’s clothes and then a 3rd will hold clean bedding and towels and more. Not only will this work at adding to the float trip theme, it will make life easier. We load our own bags with clothes for the trip, we roll the bag up and stuff them under the bed. we have two more dry bags that will carry wet clothes and things that get an odar after a couple days. When our trip is over we grab our bags, wash items in the bag, roll and repeat.
I am literally putting the interior together like a puzzle. There is no straight lines, warped wood makes for bowed shelves, cabinets with gabs etc… Pretty much what you would see in a forest cabin.
Many van dwellers or adventure van owners will say you should do it this way, or that way and this is how you are supposed to do it, well, it’s not. Its, however, fits you and your personality. Once the build is done I am slowly starting to see things that I should have changed or done differently, but, this is the way I want it. My idea for my van was to keep it simple, cheap and functional. I need a space to sleep, cook and keep my clothes but I also needed ways to store my gear like paddles and PFD’S and repair kits. I decided to use the gear I needed to store AS the decor.
Now I might be bias but my paddle theme is dedicated to Aqua bound and Bending Branches. This company was a huge part in getting me on the water and moving during my lifestyle change. It’s pretty cool representing a company that emotionally supports the events I have been part of the MR340 and much more. The interior will be littered with everything from curtain rods made from broken paddles to displaying my current lineup of paddles on the ceiling.
My goal is to have 90% of the main build done by next week, then I will start running electrical for lighting and power sources. In the long run, the van will be a continuous piece of rolling Paddling Art. My blueprints are in my head and some things look far worse than if a contractor built it however, Its proud work and even though round objects roll off the counter and doors creak and rattle but, with all these noises for some reason I tend to look back and smile at what is being created by my own hands how it transitions from simple cargo van to fully pimped out adventure van.
In the following days, I will be doing short progress blog posts to show you all the process. Its going to be a fun ride and project.