Saturday, January 18, 2014

The long winded stuff begins

The next few posts that follow are a much longer, more complete and slightly – OK, maybe more than slightly – narcissistic description of the van I travel in, how it came to be, what I take with me on the journey, and a little bit of how I travel.

What it is not is a set of recommendations about what anyone else should travel in, take with them or how they should do it. Since each of us is different, and our wants and circumstances vary, what works for me will not necessarily work for anyone else.  So you’ve been forewarned; if you copy me and the results are unsatisfying, it’s on your head not mine. (And some would say; if you’re copying me you need that head examined anyway. . .)

And no part of this blog is to be taken as an expert’s advice because – well – my experience with ‘experts’ has been varied, to put it politely, and frankly I would find it worrisome to be thought of as one myself, not to mention slightly insulted.  I like to think that I have learned enough from my years of exposure to so-called (Or is that self-called) experts to know that the best I can honestly hope for is to know just a little something about any given subject, which is a long ways from being an expert at any subject.

What you will find here is a discussion of what I have assembled for myself after a lifetime of camping and traveling and hiking and etc. And along the way I’m sure I’ll throw in some commentary as to why I’ve made the choices I have because – well – sometimes you just have to try and justify what you’ve done, no matter how stupid it might be.

As mentioned somewhere before, I’ve been camping all my life, starting out in tents, moving on up through pop-ups to travel trailers, back to tents (When I moved away from home and was forced to rely on my own means, which weren’t very abundant for many years thereafter!) and then through a succession of home built, intermingled with commercial built, pickup campers and motor-homes.

Isuzu Version 1

Isuzu version 2 & Ford van
A couple of the motorhomes (More like Van conversions, not the big motor homes you see at the dealers.) became pretty important during the last 10 years of my ‘working’ life. (I put quotes around working because though I have officially retired myself and left my professional career field far behind, there sure does seem to be a lot of work that I still need to do.) Anyway – back to those last ten years – Since I lived too far from the office to commute every day I camped out in the parking lot during the week. At first this was in a rig I built primarily for the type of relatively short camping trips holding down a career forces on you, which made some aspects of it less than optimal for more extended living. So during my weekends at home I built another rig a little more suitable for the part-time full-timing of living in a parking lot in the city.

Both of these rigs were sitting on the same little Isuzu N-series truck chassis. That Isuzu was a great little truck, tough and reliable, but in the end it just wasn’t well suited for long distance travel.  But having been there done that several times already and still working a full time job while trying to build a workshop and home on some remote property during my weekends, this time I did the design work for a new rig but had it built for me on a Ford van chassis by Sportsmobile out of Austin, TX. ( As hoped, this rig worked out well, it was practical, comfortable and reasonably drivable. (Those familiar with the suspension design on the Ford E350 vans know that in a cross-wind it actually handles like a pig!)

Between living at the office and the occasional trip, I spent over 250 nights a year for many years comfortably living in this van, but I also put some 93,000 miles on it and wanted to go into retirement with a fresher vehicle, one that could potentially last me the rest of my traveling days.  So once again I had Sportsmobile build one for me, this time on the Sprinter chassis.

During my professional career I designed and built many data centers, (Which is just a fancy way of saying computer rooms.) but no two of them are the same. This is because of a combination of advancing technology along with lessons learned along the way. The same holds true with my various rigs over the years. With each one I would get better, but never seemed to get it completely right. But as a testament to the design of the Ford based van, even if I am tooting my own horn just a bit, the Sprinter layout is virtually identical to that of the Ford, only some of the details are different.

Since, other than for purposes of my own nostalgia, which you aren’t interested in anyway, the Sprinter is the only one of my rigs that counts at the moment and that’s the one I’ll describe in excruciating detail over the next few posts.

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