As a lot of you know, Dave and I are living in a van for the entirety of the Ocean Rescue Run. Dave lives in the van full-time when he’s not working at the mine up by the BC/Yukon border or in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.  Living in a van provides reduced living costs that will allow him to spend as much time on Friendly Drifter initiatives as possible. Since this is our home, and we spend a lot of time in it, I thought I should give you details on how we live!

door westy
beachside westy

Our 1985 Volkswagen Westfalia Vanagon is perfectly suited to our needs, especially on this run, and for that we are both very grateful. This being said, she hasn’t been without her issues. For several months before the run we spent many a day wondering if she would start up when we turned the ignition and many other days were spent at auto shops. It was difficult to pinpoint what exactly was the issue and I’m still not sure that we know. However, after fixing a lot of things that could potentially have been the problem we are happy to say that she has been running beautifully. This has been a huge load off of our minds as I need to meet up with Dave every hour or hour and a half and van trouble would make this a real challenge.  Dave believes the warmer weather south has contributed to her running more smoothly.

There are a bunch of reasons why the Westy is prefect for our trip:

  1. It has enough room for both Dave’s and my personal items:

My things take up way more space than his do which is to be expected. I was gently forced to pare down a bunch of what I had planned to take but I still managed to wrangle in a lot considering and it’s fit swimmingly.

  1. It allows us to save money:

Obviously the savings on hotels/motel stays is huge! Gas is one of the larger expenses but it still would be even if we were staying somewhere other than the van. By necessity I do all the laundry by hand and this saves us money too.

  1. It has a perfect recovery space for Dave on his breaks and at night:

The bench pulls out into a bed and I keep it out throughout the day. When I meet up with Dave at break time he is able to lie down, stretch out, and we elevate his legs and do stretching or massage as needed.

  1. It has a cooking space for me to use:

It’s nice that I have a space in which to prepare meals and snacks. This helps by cutting down on the amount of times we go out to eat as I am able to prepare a lot in the van. We do have a heating element but I haven’t gotten around to using it yet.

  1. It has enough space for all of the items Dave needs specifically for the run:

We had to bring a lot of additional items for the trip such as a first aid kit, all of Dave’s running gear, and a bunch of food that we were lucky enough to have donated to us for Dave by Choices Markets in South Surrey, BC; because of all the storage we were able to comfortably carry all of this with us.

  1. It’s comfy, cozy and feels like we are camping every night:

I like the van because it’s fun and different. Sometimes I do miss the comforts of my little apartment but it feels like such an adventure to camp out every night and be able to sleep in a different location pretty much wherever we want. When else are you able to go to sleep watching the sunset or wake up to the sounds of crashing waves?

A few cons:

  1. I continually hit my head on one of the compartments attached to the roof; and hard. After being accustomed to the van for about 6 months now you would think I would have learned how to gracefully avoid this danger but it doesn’t seem like that is the case; at least not for now.
  2. The lack of a bathroom. I won’t go into detail about this…
  3. No shower. I have navigated this and come up with a bit of a system but oh how I miss hot showers.
  4. Not being able to have my full array of spices and cooking supplies. I do well enough and I am always pleasantly surprised how little I need to create a good meal but I do miss having options sometimes.
  5. Hot tea/coffee every morning only 5 feet away. Enough said.

Despite these cons there really isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be. It’s fun to see how everyone who owns a Westy down here is so friendly. They are quite popular and I see them fairly often. It feels like you’ve joined a little club when you have one, and even though she’s not mine I feel a part of it.

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