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Julie at van

After our amazing camper van adventures in southern Utah earlier this year Julie and I started to think an owned van might be in our future. We would casually talk about key features, timing, possible purchase options. Our leading contenders were the Storyteller Mode vans, the Winnebago Revel, and the new kid on the block Alpine Vans custom sprinters. Then we got a text message from my niece and nephew: their uncle (their dad is my sister’s ex) has a camper van that he wants to unload quickly and is willing to make a good deal for family and friends. Two months later, after a lot of research and help from my nephew, we became owners of a 2020 Airstream Interstate 19 Tommy Bahama Relax Edition. Mouthful huh?

This isn’t really the van we want, but it is the one we have now and we think it will serve us well for the winter season of roaming. We are learning so much from our adventures so far that it should help us refine our long term strategy.

Rainy load out

We departed Wednesday morning last week after a very rainy load out. Turns out the lake levels at Keuka rose so high in the 24 hours since we left that our docks and boats were in danger of floating away. Our destination: Napa CA and Jacob and Kaitlin wedding v2.0, reception edition. We canceled all our flights and hotel bookings once we got the van in our hands. Rental cars are super expensive right now so that’s a big savings. Plus, as you know if you’ve read my posts over the years, we love doing the drive from NY to/from CA or OR.

Usie by Lake Michigan

We are doing a mix of paid campgrounds with full hookups and dry camping (aka boondocking or dispersed camping) on this trip. Our first stop was in Portage, IN near the Indiana Dunes national park where we found a great sunset lakeside walkway and a visitor lodge with local microbrews for sale. That was a 10+ hour day of driving because of some traffic and freeway closures in northern Ohio.

Chris teeing off at Wild Horse

Next stop was Gothenburg NE for a golf adventure for me. I played 18 holes at Wild Horse early Friday morning. The course was incredible and might become a routine stop for me. There’s a pleasant city owned RV park about 5 minutes from the course. I took advantage of the shower facility after my round and we were on our way to Wyoming.

Dispersed camping

Just past Cheyenne we went in search for a paid site at the Vedauwoo area but struck out. So we continued on the forest service road and eventually found a nice spot for some stealth overnight dispersed camping. One nice thing about a van like this is that we can usually hang out overnight at a trailhead as long as we keep a low profile.

Flaming Gorge view

Yesterday we kept our drive short to allow time to explore a bit in Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Our campground was so-so: crowded and a bit noisy and without much scenery. We are definitely more in favor of remote camping rather than the busy RV neighborhood. We got an early start today to allow for a visit and short hike at the Red Canyon Visitor Center. Beautiful views along the canyon rim.

Tonight we are in Elko, NV and will conclude our first stage of driving as we land in Napa CA for a weeklong visit starting tomorrow. More adventures ahead though once we had north to Oregon.