Caravanning South to Overland Expo

And trying to get back to “normal”  

No question our friends Dan and Cindy completely saved us in terms of transportation to Overland Expo.  Trying to figure out how to get 3 different vans from Portland to AZ with only 2 people is a higher math equation that doesn’t work out very well... 

Richard and Ashley finally had to depart (but we knew we'd see the again in AZ), so we went heads down for another 2 days of work on Van2 and somewhere along the way Van3 showed up.

Wait, did I forget to mention Van3?  Don't worry, we almost missed it ourselves. A week or two ago we started doing the math on the vans and the profitability/success of our little business endeavor.  It wasn't good news.  Margins were small to begin with, trying to cover all the expenses/marketing/tools etc of a new business on only two vans- but then in order to buy out our business partners we had to sell our old van, which also left us without a home.

No problem, we just figured we would move into the second van... but that put all of the business expenses (and now the additional expense of buying out our partners) on the sale of a single van.  Even though we had now found a buyer for the first van (huge sigh of relief), it would leave us losing money in the end... which might be an okay proposition in some scenarios but as much time, effort, passion, blood, sweat and tears as we have already put into this... that just seemed heartbreaking and ridiculous.

We weren't sure what we could do and discussed buying another van to build out but were already keenly aware that all 4x4 sprinters for 2018 are already sold out/spoken for (as are most 2019s).  Oddly, we also got an email from an acquaintance we've never even met on the east coast who told tales of 4x4 sprinters (okay, just one) just sitting on lots on the east coast.  Timing couldn't have been better (or worse), and I responded literally as he was pulling into one of those dealerships.  By the end of the day we decided to go all in on this thing and were buying another van and arranging for shipping to Portland. The new van arrived just in time before we had to pull out of town for Flagstaff, and watching it unload seemed absolutely laughable.  This idea will prove to be either genius or absurd... but we aren't exactly solid poker players so I honestly cant tell you yet which that will be.

Luckily, Van1 is already on a truck to Flagstaff... but that still leaves 2 vans (one maybe 80% complete and one literally just rolling off a truck) to get 1200 miles away to AZ.

When our friends (okay, friends may actually have been an understatement at the beginning of this trip... we literally met at expo last year and have only seen each other once since- but that somehow didn't deter them from going completely out of their way to volunteer and completely save us again and again on this trip) reached out and offered to drive a van and camp with us along the way we couldn’t have been more ecstatic. 

Sadly, when they arrived in portland we were still very much in project mode and wrapping up last minute details (as we have been for the past week) on the vans… so it proved hard for us to focus when we wanted to entertain and show them how happy we were for their arrival (and for bailing us out).

We finally had to admit that whatever was finished was finished and left the shop to go pack, load the vans and have a celebratory cocktail (though... we might have also gone back outside after they fell asleep to spend a few hours on the empty shell of a van - putting a quick bed/storage setup in so we could have a more comfortable trip south).  Not all-together bad for a few hours in the middle of the night!Pulling out in the morning felt so refreshing.  It was the first day we haven’t been waiting outside the shop to pull the van in to get working in WAY too long.  It didn’t take long on the highway before we were breathing a bit more deeply and beginning to talk again… sometimes even about things NOT related to vans!

We caught up with our friends south of Burns and pulled out on a forest road looking for camp and found a lovely spot under a tree.  Honestly…any nature right now would have done the trick and we far preferred to spend as much of our afternoon/evening catching up with them and enjoying nature than driving around searching for a more perfect spot.

We stood around the campfire, stared at the stars and soaked up what seemed to be the perfect cure for what ailed us. 

I remember when we first started this business talking about how we would build vans and kits and simply market our product/brand by living the lifestyle… by hanging out around the campfire and enjoying life (but also to do so in beautiful vans).  The last few months have seemed so very far away from that idea... but right now it feels like we're getting back to our roots and to those initial ideals.

In the morning we woke up, had a leisurely morning fire and coffee and then headed onward.  We still had a lot of territory to cover and knew the show wasn't going to wait on us.  It was a long day of driving but again followed by another perfect evening of campfire, friends and cocktails… This one was highlighted by an absolutely terrific sunset as we camped overlooking the town of Eureka, NV and Hwy 5 (the loneliest highway in america). 

We originally planned on stopping over in Vegas and had a room booked to ensure a leisurely stay and hot showers for everyone before the show... but the idea of more nature and simplicity/quiet quickly won out in a unanimous group vote and we couldn’t have been happier with that decision!

It's funny that we're only three days away from the shop and driving far faster (and way more hours a day) than we ever typically would on one of our trips... but the balance seems to be returning and we are feeling great again.  The old nature/campfire ratio proves yet again to be key to our happiness and balance!

Our last night on the road was spent in northern AZ and (other than starting to feel the crunch of getting ready for the show the following day) we had yet anther glorious night around the fire with friends... friends who by now we can actually claim as such.  Friends we have bonded with over campfires and deep conversations.  Friends we are getting to know on a much deeper level and with whom we share so many deep rooted goals and aspirations. 

Friends who (on this trip alone) we owe so very very much!