We are so stinking excited about this first post and that our blog is up and running! Probably because it feels like our road trip adventure is really gonna happen. Like, seriously. We’re gonna do it. It still feels like a dream, but it is real. We’re gonna live in a van
down by the river for 2 months. Whaaat?! (More on that here.)
We spent nearly 3 months searching Craigslist for the perfect van to get us across the country.
Of course an Airstream or a new VW bus would’ve been awesome but they didn’t quite fit within our $3000 or less budget. (Plus we would’ve had to buy a truck or SUV to pull the Airstream and I don’t think the new buses are camper-friendly…I think they’re like minivans.)
An old VW camper bus is a beauty in our eyes, but let’s face it, we’ve all heard too many stories of people using them to travel these days, only to find themselves in a junk yard looking for parts all along the way. Through Painted Deserts anyone?
That’s when we came across this website. We realized a conversion van would be the perfect size and completely do-able and fun. So we introduced ourselves to these guys – although not all of them are technically “conversion” vans, we thought we’d check out all of our options. (I apologize for the rough looking snapshots…hopefully Ben will be the one with the camera from now on.)
Meet Unicorn (a ’99 Dodge Conversion Van):
We liked the look of this one. It was a great size and in the price range ($2800), but when we took it around for a spin it just didn’t feel right. The seats sat noticeably too close to the doors and comfort would be crucial for long hours in these bad boys. Although it had pretty good mileage (129k), good tires and cold AC, comfort was our determining factor. We did love it’s owner though. This guys was hilarious and before we could turn the video camera on to capture this, he pulls out a ridiculous looking unicorn buckle and says, “This comes with the van!” Bahahaha. That ALMOST sold us.
Meet Big Ugly (a ’00 Ford Econoline):
The picture explains it all. This thing was way too large and in charge for us to feel comfortable driving. You kind of don’t wanna feel like your vehicle can do anything at any minute just to piss you off. They wanted $3000, but the AC was broken, the tires were bald and there wasn’t any windows in the back (which hindered our driving ability). We realized this would be a decent deal for someone else. Perhaps a construction worker, painter or amusement park owner – just not for us. Plus this thing was DISGUSTING. I’m pretty sure there was a dirty diaper in the back of it.
Meet Mr. Clean (a ’01 Ford Econoline):
We absolutely loved the color of this old dry-cleaning company van and the size was perfect. Not too big and clean (yay, clean!). But, we didn’t dig the fact that the service engine light was on, the front windshield was cracked and the AC only had a “low” setting. And 188,000 miles scared us a little since we plan to put about 10,000 miles in 2 months on our van.
Then, after a trip back from the mountains one cool, fall afternoon, there he was. Buddy (a ’97 Ford Econoline with a Conversion top).
We named it in honor of the previous owner who was a super cool/nice guy.
Not only was he a traveler who lit up after we told him our plans, but he also came down on the price so after the title/tag/taxes, we stayed right under our $3000 budget.
So, after hours/days/months of searching, we had found the right van. Perfect in size, lots of windows, only 117,000 miles with a lot of cool features that you’ll see in tomorrow’s virtual tour.