Adventure: VanLife, But Don’t Worry

I don’t own a drone. “Not yet,” says a friend. But I do own a van. Why on Earth I did not own a van going back to my first car I do not know. I have no good explanation. Simply put, there is life before driving a van and life after. The van is self-contained, allows me to stand up inside, and has two work stations where I can produce my award-winning, life-changing, mind-bending content.

“Plata,” the van. Named after the famous Escobar question “Plata or Plomo?”

I think back to the Chevy S10 Blazer, the Mustang 5.0, and Landcruiser FJ60, the Civics, Prius, and even my Kodak machine-a black Pontiac Grand Prix with a bad electrical system- and I can’t believe I never settled on a van. My goal is to make up for lost time and for lost adventures.

DO NOT think for one second I will fall into the “VanLife” crowd and suddenly barrage you with posts about my van build and how I dance in backlit mountain meadows because my life is perfect and “blessed.” My life is a total mess, as is the inside of the van, but who cares? The van is about where you go and what you do and NOT about the van. A 2019, Dodge Promaster with Wayfarer kit.

Mr. or Mrs. Hawk looking for their morning fur covered snack.

My goal, if I can somehow make this work, which is a total long shot at this point, is to spend three days a week in the van, out and about, creating work. Motion, stills, audio, and copy. In addition, I will be making publications and films about all of it. Again, the van is a metal box with pointy parts here and there. It’s 2×2 but is now sporting BFG KO2’s, which I got JUST in the nick of time which brings me to this post. ADVENTURE. Short but sweet.

Continuing with tradition. Have had these tires on every 4×4 I’ve ever owned.

We KNEW how bad it would be if we ventured to the woods on a summer weekend. But it was still entirely shocking to see how Americans interface with nature. Imagine an incredible mountain valley. Imagine elk, deer, hawks, and endless songbirds. And now imagine burning it all to the ground with massive RV’s, huge parties, quads, Razor’s, dirt bikes and huge amounts of garbage being throw in what’s left of the river. You know those films about people clubbing harp seals with boat oars. Ya, that’s how I feel when I see Americans in nature.

Ah yes, now something dies.

On this particular day, we ended up driving for about six hours, searching for spaces without city dwellers, at one point driving forty miles of rough road into a remote section of backcountry only to find every single campsite overrun with what looked like extras from The Road Warrior. (The tires were awesome, and even with them I was pushing the van to the limit.)

Eventually, after nightfall and almost blasting into an elk at 50mph, we found our little piece of paradise. (Note to install a bull bar on the front of the van or roo bar for my Aussie amigos.)Not a single person around. Elk, deer, hawks, and endless songbirds in valley semi-recently scarred by fire. Up early, coffee in the van, filming and snapping as hawks hunted the valley. A sunrise hike up into the burn.

Wind and Fire, a reminder to reread “Young Men and Fire,” by Norman McClean.

12 Comments on “Adventure: VanLife, But Don’t Worry”

  1. As I sit n my back garden in London, I envy the space in which you roam. I hear domesticated pets howling for attention and inappropriate food, aeroplanes overhead en route to LHR. I hear the roar of thrashed motorbikes and endless emergency vehicles, panicking through the early evening light. I hear domestic confrontations and general city grief…. your indulgence in nature makes me wonder why I tread the path of city life. I used to think the urban vibes spawned creative, a smorgasbord of visual stimulation. These last few months has focused sharply on ones environment. It’s an interesting question: what environment is most conducive to creative thought?

    1. Neil,
      I grew up country, then went city and am now back to country and don’t imagine I will ever return to a large city. At least to live. I just from my house outside of town across the entire width of Santa Fe and it was less than 20 minutes and not once, even at 4:30 PM was I in traffic. Makes my years in LA seems like they belong to someone else.

  2. BFG KO2? I thought a BFG was a Big Friendly Giant? (Roald Dahl).

    Like Neil, I envy your space: I don’t have the city vibes, just the traffic.

    1. Mike,
      Yep, we are VERY fortunate to live here. Not perfect but interesting. These are GIANT tires.

  3. Congrats on your first van, Dan! It’ll be so fun for us to follow your road trip adventures . . . .

    1. Sarah,
      The van is so much fun. I can’t believe I didn’t have one thirty years ago. And ours is small enough to work as a normal car.

  4. I have a van that I use to travel around Australia, sometimes just a long weekend, other times a month or two. Then at 51 I had a son who is now 6 months old, the same age as the increasing layers of dust on my dormant van!.

    1. Chris,
      Pack that little jelly ball up and get his butt in the van. Strap him to the dash so he can see!

  5. I was born city, and grew through teenage years in the deep countryside, on a farm in fact. I’ve now been back in the city for more than 20 years. I now feel it’s time to move back to the peace. The grass is always greener, fresher and more sweet smelling!

    1. Neil,
      Can always visit the city. My wife and I go now and we marvel at how we could have ever lived in a place like LA.

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