I had never gone camping until I met my husband. Our first camping trip together was a disaster. We went with a group. One couple was put in charge of food. Camping outdoors tends to work up an appetite in most people. Unfortunately, this couple didn’t understand that and brought a small bowl of chili; I mean, a really small bowl which was supposed to feed seven hungry campers. In addition to that, it got really cold that night; really cold. There was snow bowing down the roof of our tent in the morning. We had borrowed sleeping bags from the same couple who brought the food. They let their cats sleep on the them beforehand. My husband is highly allergic to cat fur. He had a severe asthma attack that night; upon which we learned we’d forgotten to bring his inhaler.
You might think that would have been our first and last camping trip together, but it wasn’t. You might think we would have gotten our act together the next few times we went camping, but we didn’t. We had several more really cold nights we suffered through until I learned that sleeping bags are rated for different temperatures. I was so happy when I learned that truth.
Eventually we upgraded to a tent trailer and then to a hard side camper. Nothing fancy. It was a 1978 Wilderness decorated in its original classic green and orange 1970’s colors. It was hideous, and I covered up the upholstery with blankets. I put up yellow and cherry colored French Provincial wallpaper in the kitchen area. Made new curtains. It was the backwoods meets French court kind of look. Maybe not the best, but it was better than 1970s green and orange. I hated the 70s. I really didn’t like the camper at first, but it grew on me. We had a lot of fun camping with our kids in it.
Our kids are grown now. Our sons are at that in-between stage when they come home from school for a few months while they are on break. The day is coming soon when our nest will be empty most of the time.
Our Wilderness camper was small to begin with and it would have been fine for just my husband and me to camp in. I never particularly liked pulling it behind our Suburban, hitching it up, unhitching, backing it into a camping spot, backing it into the driveway.
Then one day my husband came up with the idea of camping in a conversion van. I hadn’t really ever considered that, but I was willing to think about it. He began scouring classified ads for a used van. He found one in a nearby town and we drove down to look at it.
It was a 1999 GMC Savana. It really bugs me that Savana is spelled with one “n”. It was in fair condition for its age. I’d been told that the back seat could fold down into a queen size bed. So the first thing we did was ask the seller to fold down the back seat. If it was a queen size bed then it’s for a very small queen. No matter which direction we lay on the bed, our feet either hung over the edge or we had to bend our knees.
Well, that’s it for me; I’m done here. Let’s go back home and forget about conversion vans. That’s what I was going to say to my husband, but he was so darn excited. He didn’t care if he had to sleep in a fetal position. So we took it for a test drive. That was fine. It would give me time to break it to him slowly. I did not want that conversion van. Or any other van for that matter.
We drove around for about fifteen or twenty minutes. I suggested that we ask the seller to knock four hundred off the asking price. If she said no, that would be fine by me. When we took it back to the seller my husband enthusiastically told her we’d take it for one hundred dollars off the asking price. Despite my misgivings, he really wanted that van. I drove behind him in our car on the way back home fighting off the nausea brought on by the whole situation. The same words played over and over again in my mind: We own a van now. There’s no going back, we own a van. (suppress a scream)
(Part II of Action Van: Let’s Go! Part III to follow)