Life is a Long Preparation

Three months ago, when a broker promised to find me a van within two weeks, I bought a top-notch fan for the roof of my van. I planned to install the fan the day I got the van, which I was convinced would be soon. I wanted to hit the ground running! Like this guy, who converted his van in seven days! According to my estimates, I’d be done with the entire conversion by mid-July.

It’s mid-July. After two weeks of van ownership, I have yet to install the fan. I’m beginning to realize that the first step of a van conversion is to prepare for the van conversion. Preparation. I’ve never been good at it. I just want to write, not generate story ideas and prepare pitches. I just want to climb, not wash sunblock and grime off my climbing rope in a bathtub (and then wash the bathtub and then myself). I just want to run my vacuum in long, satisfying lines, not get down on all fours and scrape my bedroom carpet with my fingernails in an effort to collect the long hairs that clog the vacuum’s brush. I theorize that you become an adult only once you accept that every fun thing in life is preceded by preparation (and followed by even more bullshit, cleaning up). Continue reading “Life is a Long Preparation”

The Drive Home

A couple hours after purchasing my van in Texas, I began to hear a squeaking coming from the engine. What I did next only makes sense if you understand that how I deal with a problem depends entirely on how whoever I’m with is dealing with the problem. If they’re crying, I’m a pillar of strength. If they’re chill, I’m crying. If I’m alone, I’m pretending the problem doesn’t exist. Continue reading “The Drive Home”

The Van I Bought

After losing Cindy’s Nebraska van, I went back to Craigslist. Also Google Maps. I made a list of all major cities within 1,000 miles of me that I could fly to for less than $100. Then I narrowed that list down to cities that had 1) a rust-averse climate, 2) a reasonably low cost of living, and 3) a population that wasn’t obsessed with converting cargo vans into campers (that eliminated all of my home state, Colorado). Some cities that made my final list: Tulsa, Oklahoma; Wichita, Kansas; Des Moines, Iowa.

And Dallas, Texas. On the Dallas Craigslist page, I immediately found five Connects that rivaled Cindy’s. All had a little over 100,000 miles and cost around $6,000. But the van I really wanted had only 59,000 miles and was listed for $9,000. In Colorado, this same van would go for at least $11,000. The ad had already been up for two weeks, so I figured I could probably talk the seller down to $8,000. Continue reading “The Van I Bought”

Five Vans I Did Not Buy


After a couple weeks of unsuccessfully searching for a van on Craigslist, I found a local broker who promised me everything I wanted — a 2010, 2011, or 2013 Transit Connect with rear door windows, minimal rust, and less than 50,000 miles, all for under $10K. The broker said I was having a hard time finding a van on Craigslist because buying a van is different than buying a sedan. Most cargo vans are business vehicles, and many businesses sell through auction sites, which only certified brokers have access to. I paid the broker $400. He said he’d find a van within a couple weeks.

Two months later, the broker found a van. It had more miles than he’d promised, 88,000, and was $9,200. My partner, Mike, and I drove over to see it. But before the broker showed us the van, he hurriedly handed me a bill of sale to sign and said that a personal check would be fine. I put down my pen. Mike and I went out to look at the van. Its undercarriage was flaky. Rust, rust, rust, everywhere. Continue reading “Five Vans I Did Not Buy”