Cozied up for the night in what I suspect – but can't prove – is an illegal though absolutely lush spot overlooking the Willapa Bay, two things come to mind. One, that asking for forgiveness instead of permission is always the preferred route in these situations, provided you're the kind of zero-impact camper that I am. Yes, it takes some balls, but chances are that if you're bold enough to live this far outside the box, balls aren't in short supply. Might as well use them from time to time.
And two, that the last time the van was in this great state of Washington, precisely 21 months ago yesterday, it looked, well, different. In a rather impressive display of prescience, I now see that my exact words were, "it'll look pretty different by the time I realize my vision."
Of course, I had no idea what the hell I was talking about at the time, and was probably just speaking from a state of shock after having irretrievably pulled the trigger on this insane project. Again with the balls. Though I did plunk down several thousand dollars on an engine conversion kit long before I even owned a van, and some would point to that as the very definition of balls.
Either way, here I am, having returned a mere 21 months later, which even includes more than a year of living full-time in the above palace. Amazing. The fruits of that epic build remain, as the many trials and tribulations recede into distant memory, their rough edges smoothed over with each passing day thanks to the time-honored effects of nostalgia.
Staring out at the Willapa this evening, fittingly in a remote spot that I never would have managed to reach in either of my two previous rigs, it does feel like quite the return – downright MacArthurian even. If anyone had told me it would be this triumphant, I don't know that I would have believed them.
What's the larger lesson here? Balls. More specifically, if you've got a vision – some sort of project that compels you in a way that you just can't ignore, then no matter who says you've lost your mind – yourself included, no matter how unlikely the odds, and no matter how scary it may seem, you gotta go for it. Because your 95 year old self will be proud that you at least tried. And better still, the 45 year old you could end up feeling even more so.