Questions That Never Crossed Our Mind

On our FAQ page, we tried to answer of all the questions we thought people would ask. You know, where we’re going, how we’re traveling, etc.

Turns out that the two most-asked questions never crossed our minds — “So, how will you use the bathroom or shower?”

Hmm…this has the potential of being a very awkward post. Kind of like the end of our very first virtual tour before we took the toilet out of the van. Haha.

Even though we’re both very much the let’s-wing-it types, we do actually have a plan for these crucial matters (and who knew that people wanted to know?).

Using the bathroom —

Ever since we ripped out the sure-to-cause-privacy-issues toilet that came with the van, we’ve been thinking of options of using the bathroom if we’re ever away from a Rest Area, gas station, etc.

We’ve thought about these $5 IKEA potties for emergency situations,

adult diapers (but only for a split second, although friends of ours have told us these work), but wouldn’t you rather just dig a hole out in nature or hold it until the next stop (or even ring the doorbell of a complete stranger) to use the bathroom?

Besides digging a hole and knocking on random doors, here’s what we decided on (sorry for those of you who asked the question, but never meant to really know the details…we’ll try to be as discreet as possible):

A bottle. One that doesn’t look like our nalgenes is preferable (so we’re not easily confused which one to drink out of in the dark…can you imagine? Sick! We just watched 127 Hours so…).
A female urination device. (Yeah, I know it sounds creepy, but just imagine being able to stand up in disgusting bathrooms or being able to use it while camping. Genius, I tell you.)

This clear bottle is only two bucks on Amazon. And here’s the female device.

I feel so creepy typing this, but this thing is amazing. I was sold on this Go Girl version because of its price (only $9.99 on Amazon), comfort, and to be honest, its packaging (it can fold down to fit inside the tube).

Look how much more comfortable Go Girl looks than a SheWee, plus a SheWee, are you kidding me? That name is too awkward for me (as if this wasn’t awkward enough).

In the end, we won’t know what works for us until we experience it. It may be that we end up using the bathroom and showering in ways we never thought we would, but let’s hope not.

Stay tuned for details on our solar shower and how we plan to stay clean on the road…

Just another day of training for our adventure. Completely. Normal.

We actually thought this would look like I was kayaking down a river. Turns out that the trees are suppose to move behind you and apparently river water doesn’t come at you like a hose pipe. It was pretty funny slash embarrassing when our new roommates came home to find us like this. Great way to look like weirdos.

This was the epitome of typical weekends for us — hard work, drama and a little hands-on update to the van.

The Good —

• We made some dough! I waitressed every night this weekend and Ben second-shot a wedding!

• We were given a case of Lance crackers that Ben’s teacher friend gave us for our trip. Just look at all its glory.

How sweet is that?

• I met my girlfriends for breakfast at Cracker Barrel to catch up before I (and another girl) would be gone this summer.

• God didn’t come back to the tune of some noise a guy made.

The Bad —

We lost some dough! We woke up Saturday morning to a call from our bank. Our identity had been stolen and all that hard work to save money for the trip brought us to see “Available Balance: $1.00”. So we had a brief freak-out with thoughts that our trip wouldn’t happen after all.

Luckily, the bank knew about it before we did and was already on top of things. We got our money back and just have to replace our debit cards (and make sure we don’t have any new credit cards opened up in our name).

Oh life, you sure are funny slash annoying sometimes.

The Crafty —

• I got my craft on and made something to hang up in the van.

I picked out thread that I thought would look good with our new rug.

Then flipped some text backwards in Illustrator and printed it out.

I used the light from a window to trace the words onto fabric that I had in place by a wooden embroidery loop (which I also plan to use as a frame of sorts).

And here it is.

This cheery little guy will keep us smiling on our trip and reminded that our crazy weekends are over and have paid off! (Knock on wood).

I found the billboard image on facebook. I’m not sure where it originated, hence no credit was given.

Remember my Interior Inspiration post and how I wanted to DIY something like the letterpress poster below? (Nevermind the magnetic spice tins).

Well, here it is!

I printed out a vintage frame that I found online, traced it, then used an exact-o knife to cut out the shapes.

And it looks pretty great with the rug and bedding (see it peaking out from the left?)! Just one of a few crafty projects I’ve been doing lately. Why does it feel like I’m nesting for this trip? Hmmm, I guess because planning for this has been our baby lately.

Remember the before and after video of our vans floor?

Well, last week it got even better. Because the floor was metal and bumpy, we decided to use some of Ben’s old foam tiles to cover it.

It’s so much more comfortable under our feet now.

It went from this…

to this…

THEN, since the space was exactly 3’x5′, I got a rug from Urban Outfitters (with an online coupon) and it went from this…

to this…

I loooove this rug so much and we plan to use it in our house after our travels. It’s not identical to the color scheme we decided on, but it’s close.

With all this color, our “mobile home” is starting to look really fun. Definitely better than this.

So, we’re floored! Get it? (Cuz we gotta new floor and floored means shocked and it’s a play on words?) Haha just kidding, but seriously, do you get it?

Ben and I both have little brothers and well, lately we’ve been thinking about how they don’t seem so little anymore. Of course, our age differences are only 2-4 years and the older you get, the less different that is.

We’ve also been thinking about our brothers because they’ve both recently begun two very different life-changing experiences — one just got married and one’s hiking the entire Appalachian Trail!

We have never felt so proud of them. Let us introduce you…

Meet Weston (Lauren’s brother) —

He is seriously the funniest guy you will ever meet and if anyone knows Lauren and her humor, it’s pretty similar. Last weekend Wes married a beautiful girl who fits his personality, compliments him perfectly and is super sweet. We can’t wait to get to know her better.

They are one good looking couple.

Wes and Brittany also just bought a house. Talk about growing up. Geesh. I can’t even believe it.

Ben and I couldn’t be happier for them. Their wedding last weekend was beautiful and I know their marriage will be the same.

Meet Reese (Ben’s brother) —

Often referred to as The Bearded Man, Reese shares our adventure thirst.

Not only is he hiking the entire AT (which will take about 6 months), but before he left he built an amazing teardrop trailer that’s sure to be taken on many more adventures.

We are so happy Reese gets a chance to experience the AT and we can’t wait to swap travel stories when he gets back.

Check out his trail journal here.

Aren’t Reese and Ben cute?

Anyway, just a little virtual shout out to our brothers. We love you guys so much!

A couple of weeks ago we made a trek to Charlotte to purchase a new toy for Ben – a Canon 60D – and, of course, turned it into a day-o-fun (Swedish meatballs and all) at IKEA.

We wanted a few things for the van and here are our findings —

These magnetic storage tins will be perfect for little things we’ll need to take on the trip (i.e. ear plugs, spices, Lauren’s jewelry, cotton balls, whatever).

These plastic containers were just a buck a piece and screwing them to either side of our bed will allow us to keep our phones (and tasers) close (more on that later).

They can also hold small books, notebooks, pens, flash lights, etc. We’ll probably attach another one to the inside of the cabinet door below the sink where we’ll keep dish soup, a sponge or other random things.

The function of this broom is obvious and although we’ll have a rug, I’m sure there will be times when beach sand takes over and we’ll need to do a clean sweep of the place. And, it matches our color scheme.

We also picked up a set of thicker, charcoal curtain panels to use behind our seats — for privacy and to keep light out at night.

Little velcro pieces help hold the curtains close to the sides of the van.

Lastly, we picked up a couple of white, $2 curtain rods that we used to hang our curtains that Lauren made.

We’re excited about these last finishing touches!

When I came across this pom pom fringe at Hobby Lobby the other month, I was completely inspired for the curtains in our van. Our windows are tinted now so no one can sneak-a-peak during the day, but at night if we had a light on, we’d still be in full view.

My mother is brilliant when it comes to sewing. She use to own an interior design business and made custom pillows, comforters, etc. Lucky for me, I inherited her sewing machines but not her skills…yet! So with a little bit of love, a lot of hate and my mother’s instructions, here’s what I tried.

(Oh sure, I look happy now.)

Mom’s amazingly detailed instuctions (that I could not follow due to problems that would surface later):

Sewing simple panels, like the ones I made for our home kitchen, are super easy…

BUT, I’ve never attempted roman shades for a van. I mean, have you?

I’ve been assured that normal roman shades are easy with a little practice, but here’s the problems I encountered while trying to make them fit in the van.

A – Since roman shades typically hang inside the window, like this example*, I needed to reuse the original curtain rod from the van (because it was already a custom fit).

Problem was, after I took them down, I forgot to check to see if they snap back in place again. They don’t.

Why, why did I not keep these you ask? Well, don’t. I just might scream.

I mean, look at all this effort. And for a useless rod that I’ll soon discover.

I won’t get this time in my life back. Depressing.

B – I wanted bright curtains to make the van feel bigger. Problem was, I didn’t double line them so when the weighted rod went in for the folds in the roman shades to fold nicely, you could see it through the fabric.

C – Well, there isn’t a C, just a reiteration of A. THE RODS DON’T GO BACK IN THE VAN!

At this point, with the many hours under my belt, I was cursing. This was just ridiculously not fun and slightly too extravagant for what we needed, I realized. I mean, I could’ve just left everything alone. But I had a vision, you know. That’s when I decided to snag some cheap-o IKEA curtain rods, sew top pockets on the panels, rig them up with gray fabric straps and call it a day (slash a month).

At least I got one thing right in the easy department.

I glued the fringe on with fabric tape and an iron.

It felt really good to finally cross this off our to-do list and luckily the damage was only $22 and 22 days of my life (practically).

To download my mother’s full roman shades instructions, if and only if you’re not making them for a van, click here.

*image from

Part 1 showed you how we installed the cabinet and cut a hole out for our sink. Now we have a rad new counter top and sink pump system — a modern version of the classic camper kitchenette.

Tunes by Jenny & Tyler. Thanks guys!

Amidst working ’round the clock to either A – turn our van into a home or B – reach our financial goals before the trip by waitressing and/or picking up after-school program shifts and photography gigs, we feel like we’ve had little or no time to enjoy life. You know, just the simple pleasures that make you take in a deep breath of gratitude. For us to function sanely, we typically need a good dose of creation. We feel more fully connected to God and our adventurous side when we’re balancing life well — taking Sunday afternoon naps in our backyard, kayaking down the river or slacklining in the park.

Finally, last week we made ourselves make time for creation. It was 10:30 at night and really late for a school teacher, but we saw a beautiful lightening storm happening some distance away and decided to find it. Soooo glad we did. I can’t even wait for all the amazing wonders of the world that we’re about to see on our trip!

See what I mean?

And p.s., this happened on 5/3, not 4/3. :/ AND we actually slowed it down to 70% so you can imagine how crazy beautiful this was.