Let me start by saying I have a lovely home in a lovely neighborhood that comes complete with a basketball goal, pump track and all of the plumbing problems that you can expect from home ownership. What I’m saying is, I have a place to sleep every night, so there’s no logical reason for me to lust after a camper van. But I’ve never been particularly logical, so last night I found myself wandering around the Van Life Rally, a collection of 50+ bad-ass miniature homes on wheels that had taken over the grassy field at a local bar. Every type of van you can imagine showed up for this rally, from the rare and almost mystical 4×4 Volskwagen Westfalias, to retrofitted Astro Vans, to pristine Sprinters that probably cost more than the house I mentioned earlier in this paragraph. And I wanted them all. Every single one of them.
You can probably trace my fascination with the van life back to all of those Kerouac books that I read during college. Those books did permanent damage on my psyche, damage that my wife and children have to pay for to this day. I’m constantly bombarding my family with my van life dreams—sending my wife links to inexpensive, half broken down vans that we could spend all of our money/time converting into a home on wheels that probably wouldn’t make it out of the nieghborhood. I show my kids pictures of sweet van build outs that I find online. Every time we pass a Westfalia, my kids will say, “there’s your van, Dad.” Then I sigh, and we carry on with our errands in my much more reasonable VW minivan.
I know the van life isn’t as romantic as I’m building it up to be in my head. For instance, I’ve grown accustomed to showers with hot water and shooting baskets in my driveway whenever I want. As we walked through the aisles of vans at the rally last night, my wife kept pointing out that none of the vans really have enough room for four people to sleep, and very few of them had any room for more than a single passenger.
“Where would our kids sit?” She asked, poking her head into a Sprinter with a deluxe kitchen, but no back seats.
I know the van life is impractical, particularly for people in our stage of life, but I can’t help it. I’m wooed by the ability to pull over at any Walmart in the country and take a nap. That’s freedom, baby. That’s the American Dream.