Sprintervan Builds - Final Push
working towards Overland Expo Back from our trip to the coast we started making a lot of lists. Lists of lists. List of those lists. The things left for us to do before our deadline are nothing short of impossible. They might have been before, but now there's half as many of us to do them. Regardless...there's only one path to completion in this case and that's lots of hard work...so we got to it.
In all honestly, our lifestyle these days is nothing short of laughable. 2 people trying to move 3 vans around the city would be funny enough, but two people who also need to mostly live in one (at least) of those vans and have no real home or driveway to store the vans in... there's gotta be a movie deal in there somewhere (and it's a comedy, bordering on a tragedy, that hopefully ends in an inspirational success story... but for now- we'll just go with comedy).
Every few days we have to put all shop work on hold to drop a van off for a roof/rack awning install or to make a trip back to our old business partners' place to pickup another load of materials/tools from the buyout and then things get really sloppy. Where do all the components inside the van go while we go pick those things up? Where does our mattress and belongings go during the day while we're working on the van? Where do we park 3 vans overnight? Pretty sure these are the normal questions new business owners/entrepreneurs ask themselves... right?
The DWP event may have been the best and the worst thing we could have done. On one hand it pushed us to get things to a point where we could take appraisal of where we stood... but tearing the vans back apart was nothing short of painful. We tried to figure out what we could do to avoid it or how we could leave them together, but the simple fact is that changes still needed to be made and as we dove deeper and deeper in and removed more and more of the kit, and then the panels came out. and we were finally left with little more than the shell we started with before the show. Ouch.
Outlets and plugs were wired in, plumbing added to the first van, and much work done to try and bring the second van up to the same point of completion. We wake up every morning from wherever we are sleeping and make our way to the shop before they open the doors and are there every night we are there until they forcibly kick us out so they can go home. Many days that means we spend a few more hours working in the parking lot to wrap up whatever project is at hand... and we crash hard at the end of the day.
The last seek we even called in/hired some shop friends for help with finishing/sealing and tried to knock out as many of the items from the list as we possibly could. Near the end of our push I did the math (almost wish I wouldn't have) and other than the day we took to run away to the coast, we are at over 90days straight of 15+hour days in the shop...and that doesn't even begin to account for the work, emails, marketing, etc before and after the shop. That is a ridiculous number of hours... for anyone, much less in that short of a timespan. And for us- people who have become very accustomed to a very slow moving and stress-free mode of existence- it's horrible. Just horrible.
Stress has been running high and time has been running shorter and shorter, but we kept it together as well as could be expected (I guess). In these times it's always tough to remember, but we both try to focus intently on our softness/kindness to one another and remembering that we're a team in this and that if anything it's us against the world never us against one another. Also...we always try to remember to eat. Hanger is a very real struggle and it never ends well. If history has proven anything...as long as we are on the same page, communicating well and working as a team I honestly believe there's nothing we cant accomplish together.
All of that said- the question of whether any of this is worth it remains very much on the table. We agreed a long time ago to not make decisions for money. We didn't start this business for money, that was an easy decision. It was one based upon something we had a passion for, what sounded like a fun way to combine our passion and lifestyle into something more. But now- now it all feels so skewed and we're working so hard to work our way out of what feels like a very deep hole.
No question when we have a chance to take some deep breaths and contemplate the last few months I'm going to have to be very reflective about exactly how and why I keep getting us into these types of circumstances.
Last week before the show and everything has been moving at full tilt. We were trying to manage the guys helping out with whatever hours they had after their day jobs, we were having to pick and choose our projects/battles before the show and we cant even seem to remember how to slow down when the day comes to an end. Everything is happening at 100miles per hour. We realized things weren't going well when jen walked into the shop kitchen to wash her hands and instead of pumping the soap dispenser found herself with a handful of hot coffee.
We finally counted down the hours before the first van got picked up and shipped to flagstaff. It was almost a relief that it was gone so we were forced to focus on only one van. We also had our good friends richard and ash stop in town on their way from BC to flagstaff. We felt horrible that we couldn't give them more attention and time, but it was awesome to wrap up each day with an excuse to relax- by enjoying a cocktail with them and sharing travel stories to take our mind off the current push.
Richard had planned to take photos on Tuesday... but by the time thursday rolled around they were planning on leaving and we decided it was now or never. We setup a camera on timelapse and got to work putting the second van together. What was intended to be a refined photo shoot of a finished van two days earlier quickly turned into a series of action shots as jen and I installed wall panels and cabinetry into the second build. Obviously our "behind the scenes" prep work was done, but it was actually pretty fun to see the van go from just insulation and wiring to finished van with all walls, ceiling slats and cabinets in less than an hour. Even we were pretty impressed to go back and look at the start/stop time on the camera!
You'll notice the images below are higher quality than our norm... That's because they were all taken by Richard. In case you have a need... he and his amazing photo skills also happen to be available for hire!