We are on our 3rd week of exploration and adventure as full-time vanlifers. This 90-day trial run will take us from Denver to San Diego, through 5 states, countless cities (okay, so we are keeping count) and an array of both natural and man-made wonders. Learn how it all got started HERE. We are Xennials on a mission to document responsible consumption and to live a luxuriously mindful existence in our vanabus. This is how the 3rd week went:
Van Life Day 16: We checked out of Santa Fe Skies RV Park and headed for the auto parts store. Damien worked on sealing off the leaky tank and adding a fuel line from the generator to the other tank to keep the generator gassed up. Around 2:00, he picked up an intake manifold gasket he had ordered the day before. It was time to change it. We weren’t sure how much further we would get.
So we tested it. We agreed that we could probably make the ride up the Santa Fe mountain to the state park, just 7 miles from the bottom. So, we tried it. We made it 6.4 miles before running out of gas, of all things, and parking with a portion of the vanabus still in the road.
With no cell service (I don’t mean we were roaming, I mean NO cell service), we hiked the .6 miles to Hyde State Park, in almost complete darkness. It was scary. And beautiful. Only a few people were around, as the park only has like 10 hookups. We found the camp host, Joe Joe, and he agreed to put us in the bed of his truck and to take us to a signal to call AAA.
AAA had no idea where we were. They attempted to send someone out to us and Joe Joe took us back to the vanabus. An hour or so passed and they never showed. But, Joe Joe did. He took Damien back to a signal to call again. After a couple of hours and a few more trips to a signal (thank you Joe Joe), they finally showed up. They had one gallon of gas.
JoJo, the AAA guy and Damien all thought it wouldn’t work. I, too, was skeptical. Guess what? It worked!
We chugged up to the RV Park, 6 hours after leaving Santa Fe, and plugged in right around midnight. Serendipity wasn’t going anywhere until she got some major attention and some gas.
Van Life Day 17: We took a well-deserved break after yesterday’s adventures. We seshed, had edibles and then went on a hike to look for a signal. Walking the winding mountain roads isn’t all that fun, it’s actually a little dangerous. We got off the road and found an animal trail with what looked like mountain lion prints before finding a man-made trail that took us up the mountain. We found a signal and got our Airbnb guests squared away then made our way back down to the vanabus. The rest of the day, we chilled hard.
Van Life Day 18: Today Damien took the engine apart while I held my breath. Some of our hoses are ancient and we are half way up a mountain with no extra hose. At this point, I am worried that we won’t be able to get back down in the vanabus. He has configured a way to hold the top of the engine up with a ladder, enabling him to take off the gasket and plugs underneath. Freaking genius!
So, we take a break in the late afternoon to go on another, as we start calling, 3G hike, with our hammock. The sun was strong and we didn’t need our big jackets when we got to the top. We hung the hammock and got nervous about both getting in it. Neither of us had hung a hammock before. It held us well though and we spent our time swaying with the trees and blazing up on some green, chatting lovingly and playing with our phones.
Van Life Day 19: Damien is ready to put the new gasket on. Hooray! As soon as he starts putting the sealer on, he knows we don’t have anywhere near enough. We need to go buy more. I am not up for an adventure this day. I am upset that we have to go back down the mountain without the vanabus.
Damien is still in a good mood and tries to get me to be in one too. We try to catch the bus about a mile down the road, but it only comes down one more time. We would have no way to get back up the mountain. So, we decide to walk back up and call it a day. Tomorrow we will go to town. And it will be a fun adventure. I am determined (and I am sorry I made the day less fun).
Van Life Day 20: We get up early to catch the bus into town. The bus drives all around town, picking skiers up and then brings them to the top around 9 a.m. We think if we see the bus heading up, we will have enough time to hike down to the stop and catch it on its way back. We discovered a trail that goes along the road the day before and take it at almost a sprint to ensure we don’t miss the bus.
We succeed and stand around waiting for about half an hour. We smoke a bowl as we wait. The bus driver probably doesn’t see many people heading down the hill in the morning and almost misses us as he pulls into the stop with a lurch. We get on and pay the $5 per person to get down the mountain. Another adventurer joins us at the next stop and lets us know how good we smell. We laugh and enjoy the ride down the hill together. Before getting off, he gives us a few buds and tells us about the genetics. Great start to an adventure!
We take another bus to the auto parts store and get the sealant. We find a great restaurant, Weck’s, and enjoyed another great brunch while on this adventure. If there’s one thing we almost always get right, it’s brunch.
Heading back to the mountain bus, Damien and I are madly on our phones, trying to catch up with our emails and other on-the-grid type duties before we lose our signal again. We hike back up the newly discovered trail, walking slowly, enjoying our surroundings and smoking bowls all along the way, not another person in sight. Another great day in the books of the travel and vanabus project.
Van Life Day 21: We were suddenly in no rush because it had snowed and the roads were not the best. We saw a coyote running down the road this morning out of the back window, making for some great snowy pictures. Damien did a little more work on the engine, then we killed time with daytime movies and naps. Damien made a great roast for dinner and played with my hair, while he watched a movie and I fell asleep.
Van Life Day 22: After all the sleeping yesterday, we were up super early. We opened all of the blinds and enjoyed the morning snow over a shared bowl. The flower supply is getting low, so we have been conserving a bit more. I am sure we will find some soon.
Damien got to work on the engine project again and I did a little cleaning. Being here so long without being able to move the vanabus has its ups and downs. It is super cozy and warm. Our electronics are always charged up, the microwave is always ready to zap a hot pocket and we can make coffee any time we want. However, we don’t have a dump hook-up here, which means our tanks are full. When the tanks are full, we can’t do dishes, take a shower, or take a poop! The park has a toilet, which is cool, but that is it.
We took another 3G hike today to call Damien’s family and to do some research on how to re-install the distributor properly. Getting back around lunchtime, we realize we are almost out of food. We have some beans and canned food, as well as a couple of things in the freezer, but it’s about time we go down.
Still working after 2:00 (check out time at all State parks in New Mexico), Damien decides to run down to the supply shop (about a tenth of a mile from where we broke down) to get change. His whole almost 2-mile trip took about 40 minutes. Looks like we are staying another night. Excited he brought back a Rice Krispie treat. It’s the little things sometimes. Love this guy.
Stay tuned to see if we make it back down the mountain in the vanabus, or if we have to get her towed down. Tell us below what you think will happen next and where you think we should go on our next big vanabus adventure.