Retiree in Action: Part 1: Buy A Cargo Van? You May Ask Why?

October 2021, still a Covid world! Damn! My frustration in not traveling internationally was taking a toll on me. Nothing tremendously serious, but annoyingly confining. When will I be in Australia or Chile or Italy? Watching and reading the news left me asking how I could be outdoors exploring a world beyond Arizona. With friends and family on the east coast and a beautiful USA countryside, travel once again across the USA similar to my June 2021 trip was an option.

No, this adventure would be slightly different. No more cramped space within a Honda Element which had my home-made bed platform, space for a bicycle and camping gear, or rolling out of a tent each night! I was tired of climbing out of a tent or being hunched over in the Honda Element when moving around within it. This time a cargo van with space for all! I began to envision and affectionately call my new van idea a “glorified tent”! My two priorities: space and ease to get to my bicycle and a bed a few feet off the ground.

November 2021, I put money down on a van in San Juan Capistrano, California. I chose a Ram Dodge Promaster 1500, low roof, 118 inch wheelbase cargo van, sight unseen, since none were in the state of Arizona. Also, my Homeowner’s Association dictated no vehicle longer or with higher roof could park in the driveway. And since I do not have a recreational vehicle garage attached to my home, this van was my choice. You may recall supply chain issues, such as for electronic chips, and back log of shipping containers at our ports. As a result, my van was “in transit” according to the website, except it was still in Mexico according to the dealer’s phone call to find its location. 

January 2022, my 2021 cargo van arrives! Or so I think it will be mine. I still had to check it out with a test drive and to finalize a deal. After doing so, I traded-in my Honda Element, drove the van from California to Arizona, and now my sketches of what I wish to build in the van will become a reality in the upcoming weeks! I hope …

Yes, my goal is to convert the empty inside of my cargo van into something that will work comfortably for me. I have no woodworking skills, except to say thanks to my dad who taught me how to use a hand saw, screwdriver, and hammer. I am not spending tons of money on the conversion as I had seen other do on various blogs and You Tubes channels. I will not be living full-time in the van; I have a home to return to at all times. This van is with backpacker gear, no frills, no guarantee of right angles in the construction of it, low budget, reusing wood from the Honda Element bed platform, and thus I am creating my “glorified tent”. Now I can envision taking off in the early morning to see birds or staying later in the day somewhere to catch a sunset. In either case, no tent to take down or put up! No late night “office hours” in a passenger seat as I had done in my Honda Element. Now I could make my sketchy construction ideas a reality! Or so I hope; time will tell. I will let you know how I am doing, what I am learning, and for you to see the final work! Wish me luck!

4 thoughts on “Retiree in Action: Part 1: Buy A Cargo Van? You May Ask Why?

  1. Mary, great! If you get in our area stop in for help with ideas or building (dern – Rog sold table saw), extra wood, or whatever that we can contribute to the effort. Rog is half architect and an engineer, remember…

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