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Van Life? Really?

Do I really want to travel in a van around this Great Nation of ours? Do I really want to sleep in a Van? Do I really want to stay in a Van for 6 months out of the year with very little comfort? The answer to all these questions is YES!! I want to travel across the United States while living in a Van. I want to travel as cheap as I can and stay in a place then move on. I bought a 1997 E350 Ford passenger van in November. I found the van on Facebook Marketplace. It was a church van from Bay Manette, Alabama. I got in touch with them and they told me it had some issues. Someone had stolen the catalytic converter. I mean crawled under the van and cut it out. The driver side window doesn't work, its got a little shimmy at 65 MPH, the cruise don't work and something is drawing the battery down. The Church wanted $1500 which I thought was a great price even with the issues. I've owned several commercial trucks and I know how to hunt and repair these type of minor issues. I told them I wanted it without even seeing the van other than the photos online. I asked them if they could take it to a local shop and have a new catalytic converter installed and have the oil changed. They were gracious enough to do that. So, I took a 4 hour road trip (one way) to buy a van that I've never seen or drove. Check out the road trip here https://youtu.be/fRFvPMDX5-w . I was rolling the dice and a little worried if the van would make it back home. Its been sitting for along time. When I arrived at the church, it wouldn't crank even though Wilson(member of the church) had charged the battery all night. Wilson jumped it off with his pickup. The engine sounded great. I gave them $2080 cash. That was the $1500 for the van and the other was the cost of the repairs. I went and bought a battery at Oreilly's after getting both the battery and alternator checked at the same shop that installed the catalytic converter. The shop didn't have a battery and they didn't charge me for performing the test. The van only has 62K original miles. The van had brand new tires, new rotors and the body and seats are in great shape. It does have a shimmy about 65 MPH. Wilson said "they done everything and can't figure it out". Thats why the new tires and rotors. They thought that would fix the problem. The shimmy is not that bad at all, just aggravating especially on a long trip. I'll find it! Anyway, thats the story of me buying the van. It made it home and averaged 17 MPG on the way.

I have experience living out of a vehicle. In the Marine Corps I hauled Ammo for 155 howitzers. I was Motor T and attached to INDIA Battery 3rd Battalion 10th Marines. ARTILLERY! Every time I went to the field whether state side or overseas I slept in my 5 ton ammo truck. The longest was for 6 months while serving in operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. It was a humbling experience. I had to scrounge for water and eat MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat). The MRE's were warmed with a heat tab under my canteen cup. For the bathroom, I had a wooden ammo crate with duck tape on the top of it for padding. When needed, I would use it and yes it was in front of everyone. There was no where to hide except for and occasional sand dune tall enough. The ammo crate toilet rode on my front bumper. Everything I owned and used on a daily basis was in this 5 ton Truck. The truck number was 310. I'll never forget that truck. Sometimes while sleeping I dream about staying in the truck and can still smell the burning oil wells. At the time I thought it was a terrible time in my life, but since i've gotten older I realize that it was one of the most intriguing experiences I ever had. I saw so much chaos, death and destruction. Its kind of weird, but I miss the misery of living out of that truck. I miss the freedom of it. We traveled all over northern Saudi Arabia, all through Kuwait and in Southern Iraq. I've also went on two Mediterranean floats(lived on two different ships for 6 months each time -USS Saipan and the USS Whidbey Island). I've driven and lived out of my 5-Ton truck in France, Spain, Italy, Israel, Creete and Greece. I saw some very interesting things while traveling in my "HOME". I want to do that again! I want to take this van and travel...see the wonders of OUR GREAT NATION. The greatest nation on Earth. I want to travel around, stealth camp, stay in State Camp Grounds, eat and cook out of a van. I want to experience the FREEDOM of the open road again.

"Not all those who wander are lost" - JRR Tolkien.



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