I’ve had a lot of adversity in my life. More than some, much less than others. But without adversity, I know I wouldn’t be where I’m at today, Today I am happy, strong, courageous, curious, thankful, welcoming, empathetic, and even selfish. Yes, I have my insecurities, my bad days, my doubts… I’m still human, and I hope to always have balance, even if it’s a balance of positivity and struggles.
I’ve had failed relationships, but I believe in love and I will work hard for it.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I’m not afraid to try something new.
I’ve lost a lot, but without the loss I might not have learned to appreciate what I have.
I’ve felt sorrow to my bones, but without that I may not have realized when I felt love in my soul.
I’ve had dreams broken and shattered, but where those pieces landed created the beautiful mosaic image that is my life now. It might even be a masterpiece… certainly something to look upon with wonder, seeing how all those shards came together into something so amazing.
I’m not going to lie – this global pandemic has been a kick in the ass. My mosaic masterpiece may have been rearranged again with yet another earth-shattering collapse and realignment. As usual, without knowing at the time I think it was a good thing, and worth the pangs. I’m a pretty simple person, I don’t need or want a lot of things. I like having time in solitude. But this year has been fucking ridiculous. It made me reassess what I really wanted and needed.
Per my previous blog entry, I’d been looking into this “van life” thing for a long time. I work remote, we have the technology to be connected to work from anywhere there’s cell reception, and let’s be honest… I’m kinda the perfect candidate for this lifestyle!
With nothing better to do in quarantine, I was obsessively scrolling through Instagram, looking at other people’s van builds, tips, trips, and mapping out possibilities in my head. I don’t even know where it originated, but someone I follow on Instagram posted the YouTube video by Jarrod Tocci of the van tour to this (now my) van. All I remember is seeing the woodwork. My heart skipped a beat. My Dad is a woodworker. I grew up watching him build, carve, and craft mind blowing things from all types of timber. I immediately noticed the continuous grain of the cabinets… do you realize if there’s ONE mistake, you have to start all over? It’s not like you can just chop up another 2×4 to fix your mistake. Everything has to be perfect. I recognized that, and it made me smile, remembering all the hours I spent watching my dad sand down masterpieces to perfection.
I watched the video, and I watched it again… I paused and zoomed in to the details of the cabinetry. The owner of the van, Dave (and owner of Pacific Crest Vans), was honest, matter-of-fact about the build, and didn’t seem too excited about being in front of a camera. I could relate. Typically people with that artistic ability like to create, not show their work.
Timing was off. I was still months out from my lease being up. I couldn’t afford to buy a built-out van outright. Vans like this are hard to finance. But this van inspired me to reach for the stars. I didn’t think I could make it work, but I wanted Dave to know his work is amazing, and I appreciated it. I sent him a super awkward note via Instagram, sharing that his van reminded me of my dad and I wanted him to know I saw the value of his craftsmanship. He was gracious, we exchanged a few messages, and then I left him alone not wanting to end up with “creepy stalker status” stamped to my Instagram profile.
I did, however, stalk the YouTube video waiting for him to share the link of where he was posting it for sale…. if you checked Google analytics for his posting I bet it got more clicks per day from my IP address than everyone else put together. I started doing a ton of research on financing custom converted vans. One thing I’ve learned is that it doesn’t hurt to ask questions. So I started asking questions until I got the answer I wanted. I sent every person I connected with the link to this van, telling them “this one isn’t going to work out, but I’m shooting for the stars and this is what it looks like.”
I had a few people laugh. Some gasped with awe. Some were silent, and all I heard was clicking away as they were IMing their manager asking if “they did this type of thing”. Meantime I kept looking for other vans so I would be prepared with an alternative. Nothing (for sale) compared. Everything looked steril. Manufactued. Cookie-cutter. They didn’t check the boxes I’d set in my head. I even looked at one locally, and although I was impressed, I just kept thinking of everything I would want to change immediately.
Then it happened. I was pre-aproved. Everything was contingent on an appraisal of whatever van I wanted. Everything was “no guarantees” but “if the manager accepts the appraisal” I was told “we might be able to finance you”….
So I sent an email Dave. I assumed he sold the van already and I was too late. I figured he would laugh at me and not be interested in waiting an extra 1-2 weeks to find out if I could make things work. Turns out he was tired showing his van and paused for a bit. He wanted his van to go to someone who appreciated it and understood the effort that went into the build…
The first time I saw the van in person was the same day I had scheduled an appraisal for it. I was confident the appraisal would be good. I told Dave I was willing to take the chance and lose the money, if my financing didn’t go through, he’d end up with a cool piece of paper that showed what his van is worth. I would rather have tried and had it not work out, then not tried at all and always wondered.
During the tour we were chatting and I mentioned my dog, Snow. Dave did a double take and asked what I said my dog’s name was… turns out, his dog’s name is Yuki, which means “snow” in Japanese…. we both said “that’s weird” at the same time… maybe meant to be?
The appraiser showed up in the parking lot an hour after I got the in-person tour. I had sent him photos and the specs of the van, so he knew what to expect. He was still mind blown, and said the van was even more amazing that he expected.
After the appraisal, I learned it’s a thing to name your van. Dave named his van “Broken Dreams” as a joke. Apparently everything that could have gone wrong while living in a van, building it, with a new puppy, did go wrong. He laughed when he told me the name, and when I asked if it’s customary for a van to keep the name it was given originally, I was told that was completely up to me…
Long story shortened a bit, the appraisal came through, my financing went through, and before I knew it, I was driving to Bend, OR in Dave’s brand new Sprinter van straight off the semi truck (another fun story) to pick up my van. MY VAN. I’m still in shock.
Another walk through, new plates, a suggested destination for my first night, and off I drove, for the first time, in my van. I didn’t even test drive the van when I saw it for the first time – I was worried that would make it too real, and I would get my hopes up for something that wouldn’t work out.
My first night in the van was near a trailhead. Snow and I woke up early and literally stepped out the door onto trails for a morning run. It was bliss. I’m well aware not every morning will be like this, but even if only a third of my mornings are like this, it will still be more than what I’ve had.
Since then I’ve been on some more adventures, tested things out, and confirmed that this is perfect for me right now. Broken Dreams brought me here, parked by a lake, with my Beau, Snow, snoring next to me as I write this draft for my blog. Tomorrow we will hopefully hop on a paddle board for a while, relax in the woods, and make plans to head back towards cell service by Monday so I can work another week. I’m looking forward to more of this.
Broken Dreams brought me here, but I don’t feel like my dreams are broken anymore. For the first time in my life I’ve made a decision to move forward only for me, with no influence of anyone else. Broken Dreams brought me here, but my dreams alone will propel me forward on this journey. I’m not broken anymore.
Thus, my van has been dubbed simply with the name “Dreams”. Keeping part of the past, moving into the future with a blank slate and nothing but curiosity to fuel us.
I’m looking forward to sharing the adventures of Sierra and Snow, chaperoned by our Dreams.