The Birth of Van on the Run: Turning #vanlife into real life

You cannot have #vanlife without the van. Vincent Van-Go! under a Rocky Mountain full moon.

You cannot have #vanlife without the van. Vincent Van-Go! under a Rocky Mountain full moon.

Reaching the decision to explore our country’s great outdoors while living out of a Chevy Astrovan did not happen overnight.

The idea of using a van as a base camp to explore the backroads and backcountry of the American West and Pacific Northwest is not only a dream but a calling that I have been striving towards for years.

The first step towards #vanlife was leaving all that I knew behind. Fresh out of college, I accepted a cross-country job offer that would force me to move on from all that I had known and loved after living the first 22 years of my life in the same town. 

The job I landed was an entry-level position working for the grounds crew at a Colorado ski resort. Looking back when I took the job eight years ago, I probably would have taken any opportunity in Colorado that presented itself. No doubt, I could certainly play a ski bum for one season.  

This pretty much sums up my snowboarding days. This is an unique picture of me as I actually right side up in the snow. Typically I was face-down in what you can picture as a reverse snow angel pose.  #yardsalespecialist

This pretty much sums up my snowboarding days. This is an unique picture of me as I actually right side up in the snow. Typically I was face-down in what you can picture as a reverse snow angel pose.  #yardsalespecialist

Ultimately, this job left a lasting impression on who I am today. However, it was not the ski season pass, getting the opportunity to work in the outdoors all day, or living at the base of what some would deem one of the top resorts in all the US that would leave this last impression. It was my time out and about in the parking lots, walking amongst the ski-vans, VW Westfalias, RVs, and pickups with slide-in campers in the back that made my heart-rate increase and my eyes light up. This would be the ultimate launching pad for an epic journey. 

Ski-rigs, such as this  Sportsmobile  branded van above, were common eye sight in the various parking lots at the ski resort where I worked.  It was during these times patrolling the various parking lots where I dreamed of setting off on my own epic road trip one day.

Ski-rigs, such as this Sportsmobile branded van above, were common eye sight in the various parking lots at the ski resort where I worked.  It was during these times patrolling the various parking lots where I dreamed of setting off on my own epic road trip one day.

It was during those times, walking amongst the staggering assortment of vehicles in the parking lots and talking with the owners (many of whom had modified their own vehicles) that would become what I can now state was the central inspiration point for my upcoming journey. Walking through the various lots and seeing people congregated outside their vehicles eating warm chili in between ski-runs, drinking a cold beer after the lifts had closed for the day, even sleeping in their vehicles in the parking lot so they could grab first chair up early the next morning, it all made sense to me. These vehicles were a means to an end, a method to their (skiing and snowboarding) madness, a crafted mechanism towards fulfilling a passion for an outdoor lifestyle.

By the end of the season I was hooked, suprisingly not on skiing or snowboarding, but on this new method for enjoying the outdoors. Call it what you will: car-camping, glamping, or vanlife.  This was the birth of a new dream to me. Little did I know at the time but this was the birth of Van on the Run.