to simplify     notes from the open road

Monday, April 18, 2016


It all came to me in a relative flash – five or ten minutes tops – way up in Wyoming early last September.

Earlier today in the Mojave Desert – not Wyoming
I had been casually toying with the idea of installing a hightop on the van for some time, and while camped one evening not far outside of Laramie, I tried visualizing the dream setup that a hightop would enable in a Vanagon. Cost and man-hours be damned, and taking into account all that I had learned from over two years of living out of the bed-lined goodness.

Eureka, I thought – I could put the bed upstairs...which would create space for a permanent music desk where the sofa bed is...I'd have a cavernous upstairs front storage area...and while I'm at it, why not put in a forced air furnace for more cold weather camping options?...and a swivel seat base under the passenger seat now that the catalytic heater would be gone...a front-loading and smaller fridge to create more cabinet space...gas stove to replace the induction power hog...a much more modest and streamlined solar setup using flexible panels...and on it went.

It all sounded perfect, and I guess I knew then and there that it was going to happen. Better yet, I figured the earnings from the six week band tour I had coming up at the time would just about cover the costs. Fast forward to today, eight months and a whole lot of sweat later, and that vision is now a reality – far exceeding my wildest expectations. 

Really, it's amazing what you can accomplish by just sort of plodding along one step at a time and not dwelling too much on just how freaking much work there is left to do. Days turn into weeks turn into months, and then all of a sudden one day, you're...finished. For anyone out there who's neck deep in their own build and wondering just what the hell you've gotten yourself into, I'm living proof that these things do eventually come to an end. Hang in there and it'll all be worth it.

I figured out recently that I've now collectively spent a solid year of full-time effort building this van. And I don't mean full time like Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. I mean near maximum daylight hours seven days a week, along with a fair number of non-daylight hours. Totally insane, probably, but it's over now, and as that long slog fades into distant memory, I'll be busy enjoying the fruits of all that labor for a good long while. 

So at last, I fired up the ol' Bostig this morning, hung a right, and headed back out on the open road. East this time, as I've got twelve days to make it to New York in time for a rehearsal on the 30th. That's quite a bit more compressed then my usual coast to coast crawls, but I don't care. It just feels good to be in motion once again.