Saturday, July 26, 2014

On your mark, get set, go...

Here we are, in our early 70's and ready to launch a new adventure by downsizing-in-the-extreme to live and roam in our Sprinter Westfalia van, Thistle.  A friend of ours, Josh, owner of the Moonraker Bookstore in Langley, WA, once told us she and her husband, Glen, were going on a thistle vacation.  When we asked what a thistle vacation was, Josh replied, "Where we get stuck,  we stay."  This image delighted us enough that throughout the years we never forgot the idea of a thistle vacation.  So now, with our new van named Thistle, we are about to begin a new adventure.

Thistle is a 2005 van, imported from Germany by Airstream.    Airstream imported 250 vans in 2005 and our Thistle was the 214th.  We had been looking at newer Sprinters but were not impressed with the layouts or the materials used in the conversions.  We wanted an honest use of materials and a  more contemporary design.  We wanted a wise use of space and efficient design throughout.  No wasted space for us.   No fake wood for us.

We stepped into Thistle and couldn't believe our eyes.  It was perfect!  Every inch was used effectively.  The layout made sense.  Good ventilation, workable kitchen, functional and pleasing bathroom, bug screens as well as privacy covers for the windows, would sleep four and buckle up four so we could invite another couple to join us from time-to-time, and so on.  Our son, Brad, had seen this van on Craigslist and it was nearby.  We called immediately and you know the rest of the story.   Here are a few photographs of the interior.

Looking from front to back.  The two doors open into bath and wardrobe



Dining with driver's seat and passenger seat turned around
to create the dining area

Our van, although it is a 2005, had only 35,000 miles and looked new.  The previous owners had taken superb care of it, including making improvements with new tires, new sky light, and other upgrades they thought important.  We are delighted.  Although we were not going to purchase our travel van before selling our home, this van changed our minds.  It was almost too good to be true so we took the leap.

Now, of course, the challenge is figuring out how to spend the next 10 years, or so, with so few possessions, as we travel.  Our goals are to ride as many Rails to Trails and visit as many National Parks as we can.  We also want to spend time near major trails so we can be trail angels and do some hiking ourselves.  We think we might stop from time-to-time to volunteer in the parks, or other public places that need a helping hand.  We don't want to feel any absence of purpose in our wanderings.

Both Ed and I have our hearts set on reading, writing, exercising, helping others and learning.  We plan to add solar panels so we won't be stuck on a concrete pad "hooked up" and so we can keep our computers humming.  Traveling the back roads is our desire, avoiding all interstates whenever possible.  We also want to eat well, meaning interesting and healthy meals, so shopping and cooking will be an important part of each day.

As we look at our Thistle, we wonder how we will squeeze our "necessities" into the limited spaces.  Then we think of our son, Brad, who traveled for a year and walked 5,000 miles with a 30 lb. pack.  If he could do that surely we can squeeze into an eighteen foot van.  Having a van that would fit into a regular parking place was one of our goals, and not having it too wide for easy navigation was important as well.  It is both narrow and short for a travel vehicle, but eleven feet tall.  The height keeps it from feeling too claustrophobic without adding to the space it occupies in a lane of traffic.

This is the very first posting marking the beginning of our travel adventure.  We will not take any big trips until our home sells, but we will be headed out this summer for some shake down trips and a spell on a section of the PCT in Washington to be trail angels.


"Life if not waiting for the storm to pass…it's about dancing in the rain."  ~ Vivian Greene