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The Adventure Van

I am a bad polyamorous person.

I'm not bad in the sense that I don't talk to my partners, or in the sense that I want to control my partners, or in the sense that I want to have veto over who my partners have sex with. I'm bad in the sense that there lives, deep within my breast, a deep and passionate love for tiny, wildly-impractical two-seat sports cars.

I have, for many years, owned nothing but tiny, wildly-impractical two-seat sports cars. It has created problems for me on more occasions than I can remember, where I needed to go somewhere with more than one of my partners and the only car available was a two-seat sports car.

This has been the background source of much relationship stress for rather a long time. Fate, it seems, has finally conspired to get me to do something about it.

It started with a trip to a friend's house to help her celebrate her birthday. We had the bad fortune to head out toward her place just as rush hour was starting on a Friday evening, and got to the interstate on-ramp to discover a parking lot.

Right next to the on-ramp is a used car place. In the parking lot of the used-car pace was a conversion van, with a sticker in the window advertising...

...the same Blue Book value of my Honda del Sol, a tiny, wildly-impractical two-seat sports car.

zaiah and I joked that it would make a much better poly vehicle than the del Sol. Then we joked about it again. Then we thought about it. Then we said "Hmm." Then we said "Hmm" again.

I will spare you the details, which I'm sure you can probably imagine, and cut straight to the chase: We pulled into the dealer's lot in a tiny, wildly-impractical two-seat sports car, and pulled out in a conversion van.

Which has, I feel compelled to say, a bed in the back.

All my life, I've always wanted to own a vehicle with a bed in the back. They don't make tiny, wildly-impractical two-seat sports cars with beds in them, so that deep desire has never been satisfied. Until now.

I've written about game-changing relationships before in this very blog. Swapping my del Sol for a conversion van has been a game-changing relationship.

Since making this exchange, zaiah and I have taken it camping twice. It has also been invaluable for my trips to see my sweetie Eve. In fact, it's safe to say that owning a conversion van makes a significant difference in one's quality of life in many ways.

Having a van makes camping a much more comfortable proposition, as it turns out. Not to diss on anyone who enjoys roughing it in the Great Outdoors, mind, but a queen-sized bed with a memory foam topper is actually a considerable step up from a sleeping bag in a tent in terms of creature comforts. Not to mention available positions for sex.

Not long after the exchange, we were invited by those very same friends whose party we were attending on that fateful evening to go sledding...or, as we call it in the language of my people, "Oh god oh god we're all going to die." (Kidding! I'm kidding! Nobody died. We ended the sledding with no more than a cracked rib and a mild concussion between us.) As it turns out, it's easier to fit sleds in a van than in a tiny sports car.

As it also turns out, sledding technology has advanced in leaps and bounds since I was a child, but sled steering technology has been all but lost.

I soon started personalizing the van. My friends DO kick ass. For the Brotherhood!

On our most recent trip, zaiah spotted the ruins of an old timber mill, long abandoned and turning to rust. We stopped, parked next to the "No Entry" sign, and I ducked under the "No Trespassing" and "Danger - Keep Out" signs to take photos photos, which I will likely be posting soon.

A lesson I've already learned from our adventures: Temperate coastal rainforests are soggy. Very, very soggy.

The Pacific Northwest doesn't really understand beaches.

I grew up in Florida. I know what beaches are. Beaches are endless vistas of glittering sand, over which the surf rolls constantly. Seagulls circle overhead. The sun beats down on sand castles and little brightly-colored canopy tents.

In the Pacific Northwest, they apparently heard that "beaches" are places where the ocean meets the shore, but they were a bit hazy on details beyond that. Beaches here are rocky, with enormous boulders standing among piles of small round pebbles, while the rough surf pounds anyone who dares venture too close into oblivion. Oh, and it's also bitterly cold.

So, not unlike the beaches I've seen in Great Britain, really.

One nice thing about camping in winter: you get the whole campground to yourself. Seriously, on our first trip, we were literally the only people there. Even the park ranger had the sense to be elsewhere. I woke thinking the Second Coming had happened and we'd somehow been missed. (It's an easy mistake to make. Angels pouring out their Seals, the armies of darkness sweeping over the land, the Final Judgment...there's a lot going on! It's surprising how easy it is to overlook a couple of yahoos out camping in a van in the dead of winter. Who camps in winter?)

Shh! We're hiding! Bet you can't see us!

A rest area late at night. It looks so homey! It's like a miniature house on wheels. A house without a bathroom. Or a kitchen. Or Internet access. But it has a bed! And that, by itself, means that when we're camping in it, our standard of living is probably higher than most of humanity for most of human history.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 18th, 2013 10:32 pm (UTC)
I have never in my life owned a tiny two-seat sports car. Mixing poly and a Toyota Corolla was bad enough, IMO. Love live the van!
Feb. 18th, 2013 10:33 pm (UTC)
Doh! I DID, just do that, didn't I? Must be Freudian.
Feb. 18th, 2013 11:19 pm (UTC)
When I was a wee child my Grandmother had a van, not a conversion van but a nice big blue van. A bed was installed in the back as well as a hand crafted loveseat made by my Great Uncle out of naga-hide and barrels. This was the age before EVERYONE WEAR SEATBELTS OR WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE! There were numerous fieldtrips my kindergarten class made in the back of that van. We also went camping out of that van. It was years before I actually camped in a tent. I still prefer car camping over uncomfortable tents any day.
Feb. 19th, 2013 01:20 am (UTC)
yay van!

i upgraded from a VW Beetle to a Toyota Land Cruiser (both classics; my Cruiser is an FJ 60; i am attached to bluntly mechanical vehicles...but you could just about park the VW inside the Cruiser). so much more poly friendly! five people fit in it! or three people and all of their camping gear and food for a week! and that's without using the roof rack. it sleeps three comfortably. :)
Feb. 19th, 2013 07:00 am (UTC)
I learned to drive in a Toyota Land Cruiser! It was red too! Learning how to operate a vehicle that size at age 12, when one can only barely see over the steering wheel actually taught me a lot of interesting life lessons in addition to just how to be a good driver. My dad and I would go hunting in it, leaving before sunrise, and I'd build a kid-sized nest in the back, amidst the guns and decoys and food to catch a couple more hours of sleep before we arrived.

I miss that truck.
Feb. 19th, 2013 04:12 pm (UTC)
awesome! what year? starting out on that, i bet you can drive anything.

i am completely in love with my truck. his name is Dietrich. :)
Feb. 19th, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
We originally had a '79 Land Cruiser, but by the time I started driving on it, my dad traded it in for an '81. I do like to think that I'm pretty proficient at driving most vehicles, thanks to that car. About 12 years ago, I also bought a 40-foot school bus and converted it to a motorhome and drove that around. I am particularly proud of the day I managed to parallel park it in a Home Depot parking lot on a Saturday afternoon!
Feb. 20th, 2013 02:25 am (UTC)
nice! Dietr is an '84, and i see older ones around sometimes.

parallel parking a bus in a busy lot: serious skillz! ;)
Feb. 19th, 2013 07:03 am (UTC)
I am a staunch supporter of large vehicles. With all of my housing problems in the last year, I'm sorely missing my old school bus. I'm currently contemplating how to turn my Ford Focus hatchback into a mobile sleeping space for me and the cats, and bitterly remembering how much easier that would have been with 40 linear feet of Detroit steel.
Feb. 19th, 2013 11:48 am (UTC)
I'm so bad at being poly I don't even own a car :-p I'm not sure whether a 2-seater is a step up or down from "no car" though; 'cos at least with "no car" one is never acting under the illusion that one can chauffeur people and/or cumbersome objects around.
Feb. 19th, 2013 12:47 pm (UTC)
What kind of mileage do you get in a giant conversion van like that?
Feb. 19th, 2013 08:03 pm (UTC)
Pretty crummy. It's the one thing I don't like about the van; it gets about 14 miles per gallon max. The van came with a 20-gallon fuel tank, and whoever did the conversion added an auxiliary 10-gallon tank, so it's eyewateringly expensive to fill.
Feb. 20th, 2013 02:12 am (UTC)
Ouch. That's pretty harsh, especially as a (smug) Prius driver who's used to 45.
Feb. 19th, 2013 06:58 pm (UTC)
I miss the living fuck out of my little bit red sports car ('89 Geo Metro LSi convertible, girl friends called it "the poor man's Miata"). But I've also driven that same model of conversion van (if it's the one I think it is), a slightly older model year, and yes, they're insanely practical. Tons of interior seating, tons of cargo space, excellent camping choice, and better gas mileage than SUVs that have a third to less interior space, and it was incredibly durable (until some kids stole it and wrecked it). It's not a bad car.

Invest in The Club or an equivalent highly-visible steering wheel lock, though. All GMC vans and trucks are easier to break into and start with a half-brick than they are to open and start with the original manufacturer's key, and most car thieves know this.
Feb. 19th, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
This one is actually a Ford F150, but the point still stands. I should definitely do that.
Feb. 27th, 2013 05:29 pm (UTC)
Fords eat fuel, even the 6 cylinder, if your not towing something you can probably change the rear gear ratio from 4.11 to something in the 3's.
I came to Florida by way of California and Arizona in a Chevy Star Craft conversion van towing a toybox with my skis, climbing gear, bicycle, Harley and tools and parked it on the Gandy beach when I first arrived. There were a few other vans, and we used to park them in a circle and have camp fires at night, it was a cool time to be in Florida in the 80's. Lido was a nude beach back then.
You can use solar showers and port-o-potties and a coleman type stove for weekenders. A good cooler with block ice will last a few days. You'll need to think about screening to keep the bugs out and still vent in the warmer climates, and if your traveling long distances you an always use truckstop showers and facilities.

Have fun!
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )