Living the Van Life; Month 1 Conclusion

We have lived in our vanabus for a full 30 days this week. The last week of van life was spent on the side of the Santa Fe Mountain enjoying life without a constant connection to the outside world, instead focusing on the major mechanical task of replacing the intake manifold gasket. It was time to get off the mountain and enjoy the town of Santa Fe.


Van Life Day 23:

Damien got the vanabus started first thing this morning! What a great way to start the day. He turned her off and adjusted the distributor again, but she wouldn’t start. Freaking out a little, he went back to square one. About an hour later, he had her going again, sounding even better than before, once she was completely warmed up.

Still, it can be a little scary testing out a new mechanical job. Especially when that test drive is down a mountain. The vanabus held her own and we headed straight down to change her oil. Since our tanks were so full, we decided to plug in at an RV park, something we rarely do.

Privately owned RV parks generally cost more than twice the amount of State run parks. Plus, they aren’t always housing the most savory of characters. This park was okay though, it had water, sewer and a laundry room; all we needed to get our lives together from a long week without anything except electricity.

Van Life Day 24:


It was Valentine’s Day and we were finally down the mountain. After getting P-Moe groomed and all of our laundry washed, we were ready to celebrate a bit. So, we drove downtown and looked for the parking lot everyone talked about at the Santa Fe Visitor’s Center. But, we couldn’t find it. Instead, we found a delicious little chocolate shop, Kakawa Chocolate Shop with sipping chocolate.


We had a sweet time together, sipping chocolate and talking about our evening plans before heading to the Luxx Hotel.

I am sure I have said this before, but since I keep getting messages about this, we use the Hotel Tonight app for almost all of our bookings. This app has given us some of the most amazing deals the night, especially when we book last minute. (You can use code: MAPATTERSON27 for $25 off your first stay)

Spending the evening hanging out in the hot tub, smoking in the rain, soaking up each other’s good company was a great way to end a Valentine’s Day.


Van Life Day 25:

We were pretty ready to head toward Albuquerque, but we hadn’t been to the best place in town yet; Meow Wolf! We pulled the vanabus up to the play structure and seshed hard before going inside.

Meow Wolf and the vanabus

This art exhibit is the size of a bowling alley. I know this because it is in the old bowling alley I used to go to as a kid. The exhibit has a full story behind it, a mystery of sorts and we wanted to discover it.

Upon entering, there is a two-story, 3 bedroom home that looks as though it has been lived in for years. Not just TV’s and computers and such, but clothes in drawers, full junk drawers, notes on the fridge, unopened mail. It was mind blowing.

There were secret portals throughout the house that took you to, “other dimensions” which were all kinds of crazy! There are said to be two unopened rooms that the public has yet to find, so Damien and I spent about 3 hours looking for them. We didn’t find them.

We did find some more flower though and the bud was phenomenal! Thankful for the friends we have met (and the ones we have not yet met) through Instagram right now.

New Mexico CannabisWe stayed in the parking lot of a tap house for the night and were excited to head to Las Vegas in the morning.

Van Life Day 26:

After a quick stop at a coffee shop and a fill up on gas, we took the hour drive to Las Vegas, New Mexico. We found a state park near the town and parked pretty early. We noticed a sign that said the park closed its gates at 5 pm, so we didn’t do much after getting there. We hung in the vanabus, enjoying our new bud and watching movies. Pretty relaxing day on the road.

Van Life Day 27:

When I was in my late teens, we used to go to the hot springs in Las Vegas. They were always warm and no one was ever there. It was such a treat to be able to park off the side of the road and enjoy hot springs just yards away.

The backdrop was amazing too. We would always go at night and we could see the stunning Montezuma’s Castle. Every once in a while, we would trip on mushrooms out here and have fun in the 7 different hot springs that dot the area.

We would also sneak onto the property of the school and peer into the windows of the castle. At the time, they were doing a renovation of the place and there was scaffolding up that we would climb and delight in the round ballrooms, libraries and long ominous hallways.

I looked the castle up before arriving and found out they now give tours on Saturdays to the general public. I was so excited that we would get to really look into the castle. We showed up a little early and no one was at the guard gate, so we just drove the vanabus in.

The World College has had it’s campus there for decades, but the castle has only recently been renovated to the extent that students can live in it. We explored a little as we looked for the rest of the tour group.


The long hallways are now dorm rooms, the library a meeting room. Chihuly chandeliers stood out in the cafeteria. The bright yellow to green swirly pieces demanded the attention of the group. After being told it was one of the last pieces he was able to do himself, we understood why it was such a loud speaking piece.

We didn’t get to go upstairs at all, which was a real disappointment. That is where all the magic is, or so I believe. We were actually told that the 4th floor is still uninhabited and there are stories that it may even be haunted.

After the tour, we visited the downtown area and were astonished at how many of the buildings were empty and very few of the businesses that existed were even open. And it was Saturday. We grabbed a sixer and headed to the hot springs.

Pulling up, I was a bit surprised. There were a ton of people at the little, previously unknown hot springs. We walked among all of the springs and all of them were full of folks. We finally waited a few people out and found our place.

waking up with these two

We popped open our beers and leaned back into the hot water. What a relaxing moment. Within a few minutes, another group walked up and plopped themselves into the water next to us. So much for a quiet evening.

It was still a good time though and we met a few new people who were interesting enough. We puffed on our bowl and didn’t care what anyone thought. After getting our fill of the mineral filled waters, we headed back to the vanabus.

Driving another 30 minutes or so, we found a rest area and called it a night. Feeling nice and toasty with a good little buzz, we fell right off to sleep.

Van Life Day 28:

We stopped in Valencia to dump and kept going to Albuquerque. An Instagrammer was going to be bouldering in the Tijeras near town and invited us to go check it out. We stopped at a little café on the way and enjoyed a little brunch and coffee before heading into the mountains to meet David.


David ( has been bouldering for 4 years and is super good! We watched him and a few of his friends work on a few moves while P-Moe played with the pup that was there. After a good romp and some fun shots, we smoked a bowl against the beautiful backdrop before finding a good boondocking spot for the night.


Van Life Day 29:

‘I thought being able to go anywhere on a moment’s notice was going to be top. I was right! Getting into our everyday routines has taken sometime. We really didn’t quite know what a normal routine was going to be like while we were on the road. I think we are getting the hang of it now though.’

Waking up in the Tijera Mountains was nice. Damien enjoyed a run to the top before we packed up and headed down the hill. We stayed at a boondocking spot right by the Albuquerque airport that Damien found before we started our trip.

Van Life Day 30:

We went and parked at the mall today. We skated over to Target and picked up some munchies before heading over to the movies to see, “Black Panther.” This was a great movie, I’m sure everyone has said so. But, I really loved it. I love that there are super strong female roles and the fact that the super hero is African is beyond awesome!

We decided to take a few days to relax and reflect at Coronado Campground, just outside of Albuquerque. We hooked up and went into hibernation mode.

Sleep came first. Re-grouping, meeting some work deadlines and planning our next steps took over our hours.

Damien and I working in the vanabus

It felt like I had hardly blinked since we we left our Denver home to travel to the west coast. The experience still felt brand new. I was on a fresh, natural high almost every day (on top of the general good feels I get from cannabis use).

We have reveled in mountain top night shoots,  hung a hammock in the middle of a snowy forest, smoked at the Great Sand Dunes, dipped our toes into numerous hot springs and met new and interesting folks all along the way (like the guy on the bus who gave us some dank flower). The adventure wasn’t even halfway over. Missed last week’s adventures? Find them HERE or HERE.




Hang with us on Instagram  and Facebook  too. We enjoy sharing our exciting adventures in the vanabus and appreciate all of your remarks. The next blog, Vanabus Life, Month 2, will be out super soon. So please, stay tuned.


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