So one of the themes of this Blog is the fact that before the start of any journey, there is always a journey to get to the journey. Theres always preparation, trying different ideas and a continual change of plans. One of the things I decided to do in 2014, was buy a camper van, fix it up, and see what it was like living in a combined space for a year. My family thought I was a little crazy, my friends laughed and joked, but I pressed on. I was set to prove that you could live comfortable in a small space for a year and also live hygienically. The last point was what I really wanted to prove because over the years I had seen too many dirty hippy vans and about the same amount of dirty hippies. I think I more than proved how easy it is to stay clean while living out of a vehicle. Yes it takes a little creativity for sure, but the practice isn’t hard at all.
I moved out of the van last fall (2016) and rented a little suite from some really close friends. I was sure happy I did that for the winter because, while coastal BC winters aren’t typically that bad, we got slammed with snow this year and it threw a lot of municipalities off guard. The van was parked just across the driveway, I could look at it every day still and recount all the incredible memories but I knew its time in my hands was short as another idea was forming. How small could you go? How small of a vehicle could be comfortable? I let the idea hang around in my brain and bounced different ideas around for the winter. I had lots of time to think after all. The snow was brutal!
After the snow was gone, I got the van started up, moved it to my shop and started to unpack the year I spent in it. Not sure I could ever recount the memories I had in there in a single blog post. I cleaned it out, wiped it down, washed it and put it up for sale. A price that suggested I didn’t actually want to sell it. Truthfully, I didn’t because I loved that van, and I was also going back to Kelowna and wanted to bring it on the journey again while I would be completing my 3rd year for my mechanics apprenticeship. It was a perfect home each of the times I was away at school. Well it sold, in less then a week, a nice guy and his son came to pick it up. Now what, my home was gone I had six weeks before I was going to be at school again and the thought of renting a place while I was away just didn’t work with my brain. The only thing left to do was to jump in feet first into my next crazy dream. I kept this one a secret until the last minute though, because even though family and friends were now used to my different pursuits of life, I knew the idea of living out of a car would kind of give a few of them some intense, mental contortions.
A station wagon. That’s what I started to look for. Preferable an old volvo 245 wagon as I’ve owned them before and feel comfortable with them. No one can deny they’re built like tanks though and thats another reason to purchase one. I just couldn’t seem to find what I was looking for though as I really wanted something that looked nice, wasn’t rusty and would be a lot more stealth then the camper van was. I wanted to be able to park anywhere almost without raising a question. As with most things in life, if you wait a little, the perfect situation will always show up.
One of the mechanics I work with, purchased a rather broken car, off a customer who couldn’t afford to fix it, with the idea that he would sell it to fund his dream of purchasing a travel trailer. I missed purchasing the car myself because it was on my day off. I came into work the following day, saw the car there and was like “WHO’S IS THAT”. Now at first I was a little sad that I missed the deal but it didn’t matter, I was going to get to see the internals of this car as it was being fixed by my work colleague. Soon the car was fixed and I didn’t hesitate to purchase it.
A 1987 Toyota Camry wagon, rust free, clean interior and a decently well running engine. I knew it would be exactly what I needed and quickly called it the “MicroLander”. I love overland vehicles and dream of the overland lifestyle but its not a truck, so microlander seemed really appropriate. Overlanding on the small after all. It needed just a few extra things to be perfect. The rear seats taken out and a platform built to provide space for a bed and some interior storage. A set of roof racks to hold a roof top cargo box (yakima) and whatever else I could imagine putting up there. Canoe? Bikes? adventure gear?
I had to do one quick trip with the van and test to make sure it was worthy of the modifications. A bi-anuall camping trip I often go to was the perfect test. Test the car on the backroads and test the car for sleeping. It passed both test with flying colours running smooth and quietly even down a dirt road and sleeping me almost comfortably. It was a little cramped and I knew I was going to have to remove the rear seat entirely to get the room I needed for sleeping. This is why we test things. Testing brings improvements, and many improvements makes things very functional.
In no time, I had mental plans for what I wanted and a good friend ( @beneaththebarkstudio on instagram) who was keen to help out! He has the carpentry tools I don’t have and I’ll end up helping him with mechanical things in the future, so a trade in work you could say.
It took one evening a couple beer, and we had all the interior modifications made. My friends wife, was there along with my sister and her boyfriend. We laughed, sawed, laughed, sanded wood, laughed, fastened it together, and had a great time. We even finished with a fire and a hot dog roast.
Now I’m not cheap, I’m willing to pay for a good quality product but if I can find something lightly used, I will always take that option over purchasing brand new. I found a set of roof racks that fit my car perfectly, but could not find a roof top cargo box. Well, the one I did find was far to much money for what the age of it and the shape it was in. It just turned out, that one of my parts suppliers for work, Lordco, sells Yakima brand products and had exactly what I needed sitting on their shelf in the store. I was more then happy to purchase a brand new one because I knew it would make its way on to other vehicles I have in the future.
Well that completes the car, I have a comfortable bed, all the storage I need, an interior spot for my guitar, a reliable car thats also economical, what more could I ask for. Well, I guess a new set of tires. thats that last thing on my list but I’ll see what kind of deal I can get. I have five days before I have to be on my way to Kelowna BC so that should be enough time to find something suitable for my vehicle.
Until next time, Keep exploring, keep dreaming, and don’t stop!