2021 Life Update – We bought a van!

August 20, 2021

Hello and welcome you wonderful human being!

I have some pretty exciting news

to share and I’ve been kinda keeping it under wraps for a second here.

Alex and I bought a van!!

A 2019 Mercedes Sprinter 170 extended van to be specific, and we’re converting it into a home on wheels. We’ve been looking forward to living out van life for a long time and it feels pretty surreal. We bought the van slightly used (less than 2000 miles) but it came with this weird carpeting that covers the entire interior of the van.

When I originally wrote this post, we had just started working on it. Now we’re a month into the build and we’re researching how to install our electrical.

The Beginning

Alex and I started thinking about living in a van almost as soon as we started dating. Weirdly enough, I vividly remember our first conversation about the possibility of buying a van and converting it.

We were driving on the blue ridge parkway, listening to Nathanial Rateliff and the Night Sweats, and dreaming about what it would be like to live out of a van. We dreamed of following the best weather, spending our summers up north in Acadia National Park and the PNW and our winters down south in Arizona and Utah. Of course, we’ll visit plenty of other places too, but our goal is to chase the good weather year round.

It wasn’t until a year and a half of dating that we finally pulled the trigger on van life.

The dinner to celebrate buying a van :’) This was taken an hour after hearing that the van was ours.

We started looking for vans to buy and very quickly realized that the van we wanted was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I had no freaking idea that the microchip shortage was going to be a problem until our friends told us how hard it was for them to buy a van.

The Van Search Begins

I started to constantly scrape the internet to find a van that met our specifications: a 170” length or longer, 4×4, with a high roof. Apparently, that’s what everyone wants in a van so as soon as I submitted an application for said van, there were already 30 other applications ahead of me.

It felt like we were just missing out on all of the good vans.

Then we found one. The van was perfect except for one detail- it was through a private seller. I didn’t think it was going to be an issue until Alex and I started talking to the banks about getting a personal loan for the van.

The problem is that during COVID, the value of these vans skyrocketed because everyone had the same idea as Alex and me. The bank didn’t want to give us a loan because they thought we were asking for more money than the van was worth when really the bank didn’t update their system with the new (and inflated) cost of these vans.

Waiting to pick up our new van (!!!)

We didn’t get the loan and we lost the van.

Alex and I felt pretty defeated after that and we resigned ourselves to getting a van we didn’t want so we could hit the road sooner than later. I fully accepted that it wasn’t the van I wanted, but we were going to make the best of a shitty situation.

Four to 5 months go by and we don’t have a build date for our van. In the van production world, there was a shortage of microchips that every van needed before they left the manufacturer. Well, Ford had a backed-up inventory of vans that prevented them from even beginning to manufacturing them. Ford had roughly 20,000 vans ready to leave the lot, but couldn’t because they were waiting on that dang chip.

So here we are with $3000 lost in deposits and not even a build date on our van. At this point in time, it’s already the beginning of summer and a month away from the 4th of July.

We had plans to take our van to the Grand Tetons for the 4th, but it’s looking pretty grim.

Alex and I were looking for other vans to purchase (and lose our deposit on our current van) and we were coming up short. So after we realized that it might be spring 2022 until we get a van, we decided to give up on looking for another van. 

But our friend, Mads, had other plans for us.

She found two, freaking TWO, vans that were perfect and through smaller dealerships. We placed a deposit on one as soon as she sent it to us and we started to go through with that sale. 

But then she found a third van that truly checked all the boxes.

We immediately called the dealership to inquire about the third van. We placed a deposit on it and started talking through financing options.

After a week of discussions and back-and-forth, we signed the paperwork and made it a done deal.

We have a van!

Alex and I picking up the van from the Chicago airport. This is the first time we saw it in person :’)
Celebrating (again) with Chicago pizza. Duh.

A few days after the check for the down payment cleared, Alex and I were on a plane to Chicago to pick up the van and drive it back down to Asheville. So instead of going to the Tetons for the 4th of July, we went to Chicago to pick up our future home. I’d say that’s a pretty good trade-off.

Now that we finally have the van, we can start building it out! Which means moving out of our current home and bouncing around between our friends’ and my parents’ houses while we build it out. But Asheville NC will always be my home base, so we’ll reside there when we’re not traveling around the country or renovating the van.

What does this mean for Blueberry Rocket Studios?

  1. My availability will be determined by a travel schedule! I’ll be posting and updating my travel schedule twice a year to include info about where I am and where I will be so you’re always in the loop
  1. If you book me in a location that I’m already at, I’ll throw in a complimentary couple’s session.

And that’s kind of the only changes you’ll see moving forward.

I’ll be keeping this journal up to date with the status of our van. It’ll be my way of documenting the build process, and while I’m posting this for personal reasons I hope you find it entertaining, educational, or whatever fits your fancy.

Stick around for more van life updates every other Friday!