An ode to Van Life

My parents owned a 1987 Volkswagen Westfalia and I’m sad to admit that in 1998, when I had to take my drivers test in “The Bus”, I was pissed.

I wanted nothing more than to be, “Spoiled with a Sportage” as a fellow teenager’s Kia license plate cover read. I scoured the newspaper every weekend, looking for used Geo Trackers and Izuzu Amigos for sale, dreaming that my minimum-wage job at the burrito shop would have paid for more than just the gas.

I passed my drivers test and sometimes, on Fridays when my mom didn’t need to be anywhere, I would get to drive The Bus to school. I remember trying to decide what was more embarrassing  – driving The Bus or waiting on the curb for my mom to pick me up in it.

It was my sophomore or junior year of college when my parents announced that they had sold The Bus and it felt like we had parted with a family heirloom. I hated that stupid, slow bus that I had to use the e-break with on every hill because I was paranoid I would roll back and hit the car behind me. “Go ahead,” I would wave people around me. The air conditioning never worked. And driving a 10-year-old camper van to school was weird.

But as much as I hated it, I loved it. The Bus was our family vacation. Growing up, we would take The Bus everywhere. My family didn’t actually travel together on a plane until my senior year of college. Our magic bus took us to Yosemite every year, down the central California coast, up to Crater Lake, and all the way to Yellowstone one summer where we very nearly hit a moose. I’ll always remember the Spin Doctors playing in the background and that one time my dad let me drive down Priest Grade. (If you want to have a panic attack similar to what I’m sure my mom was having in the backseat, watch this video of a dude skateboarding it. Unreal.)

So, when I see photos like the one above of Nash and Kim of The Nomadic People, (@kispiration) I can’t help but swoon a little and feel nostalgic for that time in high school when I didn’t appreciate what I had.

***

Inspiration is everywhere. Everyone has a different source of harnessing their own. When I would find myself chained to my desk, I looked for inspiration through social media.

Hashtags like #sheexplores, #girlgetoutside, #andshesdopetoo, #keepexploring #findyourselfoutdoors, and then my own holy grail, #vanlife sponsored my day dreams just as Cabin Porn did (and continues to) for Jim. Through these hashtags, I found some amazing people to follow and inspiration to boot.

What I’ve found is this sub culture of “van lifers”, people ditching the conventional for a true life adventure, taking work on the road, like @wheresmyofficenow and @live.work.wander.

And while this lifestyle is a bit out of the question for us at the moment, it’s lovely to follow along and get the extra dose of encouragement to continue to take on as many adventures as we can. Maybe one day we’ll have a van (VW, not a Sprinter, Jim) of our own to embarrass our own daughters in… because after all, tradition is the richest inheritance.

4 thoughts on “An ode to Van Life

  1. I have so many memories of your van and think of you every time I see one. I remember you trying to teach me how to drive a stick by letting me shift while you were driving and blasting (lol) down the blvd after school to Steve’s. Good times. xo!

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  2. Lovely Blog Post. Thanks for helping us to remember to appreciate every minute of our Nomadic Van Life. I loved reading your story and I can only imagine your feeling to drive an old VW bus to school. Now people would envy you for such an awesome ride. Stay inspired and thanks for the love

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  3. Somehow, I cannot help but think of Meg Ryan typing to TomHanks in “You’ve Got Mail”. Very fun to read your blog…very talented.

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