Over two years ago we began converting one of John’s Chevy Cargo work vans into a camper. Though we still need to install the kitchen, it was good to go that we felt it would serve our needs. We lovingly refer to her as our “vamper” and also named her Second Chance.
After the 2008 recession we had to make some tough financial decisions, like I know many others did, too. We thought traveling wouldn’t be part of our future…until we discovered a whole world of others converting vans to campers, whether to live in full time, or like us, to travel and explore on a budget!
Recently, we took Second Chance out on her first big excursion! Our plan was to visit South Carolina for six days, then head home through Virginia with a day or two stop in Charlotte, North Carolina. But as our weather here with the unusual snowstorm and cold, in the Carolina’s we encountered everything from flurries, sleet, a severe thunderstorm (which made for one muddy campsite!), followed by the low 80’s for one day to plunging to 34 degrees and crazy wind the following day.
The one day in low 80’s in Columbia, SC
I share with you a few things I learned while living in 84 sqt. ft. with my hubby, John and our ten pound dachshund, Gidget.
Gidget hanging out inside the vamper watching as I get ready in the morning. Always the inspector!
- I’m going to start with the most important lesson and not leave you in suspense…my most important takeaway was to be open to adapt. Adapting meaning that when circumstances are less than favorable I had a choice to be frustrated, or go with the flow. Hmmm, how interesting that coincides with understanding when one is going through a transitional period in ones life – something part of my mission is about – and one I swear I’m tested on more times than I wish, and especially on our last stop before we headed home. Our last night in Indianapolis, we came to find out they had a record of ten inches of snow the day before, with about four inches still on the ground when we arrived at the campsite.
Making the best of it. Wine helped!
- Being in a “hotel” that is on wheels meant being able to adapt quite nicely and travel to a warmer climate, which we did when we had chilly weather in the Carolina’s, even though it meant we had to backtrack and to a different state to visit was not planned. But we had set the intention that this was going to be an adventure – and that it was!
In Madison, GA outside historic home, Rose Cottage. Hugging Crape Myrtle tree over 150 years old!
- The blessing of not so favorable weather in the Carolina’s landed us in Georgia. Here we fell in love with the quaint historic towns of Greensboro and Madison. Not to mention the KOA campground we stayed in on Lake Oconee. It was gorgeous! While I’m not a big shopper, we discovered some eclectic, artsy and unique shops. I came home with some lovely treasures that make me smile when I look at them because of the memories I now have from our trip.
And this…made the backtracking so worth it. Sunset on Lake Oconee.
- I realized even more what a wonderful man I’m married to. I swear John’s patience has gotten better over the years, while mine lacks more than I care to admit at times (I blame it on hormones!). But I soon came to realize how thoughtful John was about my morning routine. Without saying a word, he just adjusted to allow me space in our teeny tiny temporary home. I had more than one heart swoon for his tenderness of attention during our time away.
My Prince Charming having fun by a waterfall in Madison, GA (and he was okay with me snapping and sharing this shot!)
- I overcame my fear of tinkling outside! Being in my mid-50s, my bladder not what it used to be, plus one campsite where the bathroom was far, far away, I learned quickly the value of having a porta-potty along. My once shy kidney was more than relieved (no pun intended!) to have this option even if it meant tinkling out behind the vamper. Well…as long as it was very, very dark. In other cases, John lovingly placed one said commode inside the vamper, closed the doors, and allowed me my privacy (worthy of another heart swoon!).
- Lastly, but most special, we were able to pay tribute to our dear, sweet Kylie, who as you may remember, we laid to rest the day after Thanksgiving 2017. We planned to scatter part of her ashes in Tennessee as that is where we brought her home from over twelve years ago. Traveling by van meant we could follow our intuition and find just the right place that called to us to scatter her ashes. And that we did. The backdrop to where we released her? The Great Smoky Mountains.
Great Smoky Mountains
Looking forward more adventures ahead!
Other Blog Posts About Our Van Conversion