Let me introduce you to Shasta, the big blue 11-year-old 158-inch wheelbase Dodge Sprinter. I bought her in New Jersey after a job in D.C. and drove her diagonally South West to San Diego. She was a hot metal box with two aftermarket captains chairs and a bench seat that folded out into a "bed" (for four-foot tall people... way to help out the creepy stereotype) in the back. Her floor was an ugly brown composite wood with oil stains. She still had "East Coast Jet Pack" in big white stickers on the outside from her past life as a jet ski/water sport hauler and a half-painted white roof with a few more rust spots than is comfortable. Oh, and her check engine light came on in Ohio. I found coolant dripping out the bottom of the engine, it was every new-owner-of-23-hours dream.
First thing after getting her, I fixed the coolant situation (a water pump that needed replacing) as well as replacing all the glow plugs and glow plug module. Also, Shasta's back end is a bit big, and (right before the coolant situation in Ohio) I couldn't resist but back up into a nice new Jeep scraping a half-dollar sized area of paint from the bumper and popping a couple rivets. So, for $250 I had a backup camera installed (just 15% of what it cost in body work on the Jeep... Still kicking myself).
So to start, things were going swimmingly, but not all adventures start with smooth seas. Part of this was about taking a risk and sometimes when you take risks, things don't go as planned. I started to pour my heart, dreams, and bank account into renovating Shasta. now, the captains chairs along with the old companies branding are gone. I reinstalled one of the captains chairs, so the van rides three with seatbelts, so my married friends can bring their spouse on trips, or I can simply bring two single people. The ugly brown composite wood is covered with a moisture wicking base under bamboo flooring. The bench/bed has been ditched and upgraded to a full sized memory foam mattress on a bed raised 30 inches above the ground. My road bike fits snuggly underneath with my snowboard/camera/hiking/camping/fun gear. She's got two vent fans on her roof (if you want to feel super great about your questionable contracting skills, just cut two fourteen square inch holes in the ceiling of your vehicle) to circulate air through. On top of the vent fans, she's now fully insulated too, so you can no longer cook a pizza inside in the summer desert and stand a chance at keeping some heat in on chilly mountain nights.
I didn't want the inside to look like a 1960's sci-fi space ship, so I covered the silver insulation with pine paneling stained in a "candle light" with "Jacumba" stained trim. It's dark brown on light brown... I wanted dark brown on light brown. The initial idea of this tiny home was the thought that, in an ideal world, I would have a tiny beach house in San Diego with tiny cabins in Tahoe and Colorado. Shasta's design is both beachy and mountain-y.
More than anything, I've designed Shasta to be used. She's a mobile office, a place to write from and dream from and nervous-pace in. Mostly the nervous pacing, to be real. She's there for meals and friends and million dollar views. She's being built for people who need to go on a break and for people who can't, but need to see some beauty in our world they might otherwise miss. She's got an inverter, and I dream of giving men who are homeless haircuts or women who are homeless men's haircuts... I can really only do a fade. She's being made so I can film weddings in national parks, take more pictures at night, so I can visit all fifty states, bike the coast, become a distance athlete again, own something I take pride in, use something for what it's worth rather than in a way that keeps it shiny, read more books - so I can see and fall in love with the world over and over and over again.
If this sounds a bit dreamy, it's because it is. It's also anxiety inducing and makes me feel like a weird human, but the anxiety is just something new and the feeling of being a weird human is just being a little different, like anyone else is, except with less indoor plumbing.