Van Day!

Thursday morning I woke up feeling nervous. It was the day we were to pick up our van and, theoretically, start the trip that we thought we would have started a month ago.

Since deciding to take this trip we’ve learned a lot about how to ship a vehicle overseas. First we had to decide whether to do a Roll-On Roll-Off (or RORO), which means we hand over our vehicle and our keys at the dock, and then our vehicle takes a glorified ferry ride to our destination and we pick it up and hope that the person we handed our keys to didn’t call his cousins to come down and strip our vehicle of everything down to the copper wiring. Since we had hoped to load the van up with everything from camping equipment, to a spare tire, dishes, tools… we weren’t all that keen on providing the shipping company employees with complimentary access to all our worldly belongings. So, we decided against a RORO shipping option and instead chose to send our precious cargo in a 20 foot shipping container which would allow us to lock up the van and hold onto the keys until it reached Chile, presumably with all our stuff inside. A bit more expensive, but we thought it would be well worth it to arrive somewhat self-sufficient and with a few comforts from home.

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the beginning…

One day over breakfast, Wolf started cultivating the idea of a road trip, through the Americas, in a Westy – the classic Volkswagen Vanagon camper vans you might imagine living in down by a river somewhere…

At the time it seemed funny. And fun. So we kept joking about it.

And then we started reading about other people who were doing something similar. Because, you know, it was just fun.

And then we casually checked Craigslist to see what kind of vans were even out there. Just because we were curious. And that, my friends, was the beginning of the end.

From there, it escalated into an all-out, full-speed-ahead, take-no-prisoners onslaught of all Westy, all the time, laser-focused search mode. Our life slowly evolved from fun observers of Westy culture, into hourly scouring of Craigslist ads, obsessive evaluation of mechanical attributes, and evening-long debates about Subaru conversions. We learned about the cult following, and the resultant exorbitant price one pays for a 25+ year old vehicle, and somehow we kept on looking because… it’s a disease. And we are a real life cautionary tale.

Because one fateful day in July 2014, we bought our very own Westy:

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And it was awesome.

And then… we realized what we were getting ourselves into.