Birthing a Brain Child

Van Galley

A small 24 inch table creates a make-shift galley and cook space.

For the last two weeks I’ve been visiting family and working on my van in Portland. I purchased the van on my way out of town during my last visit and it had been patiently waiting for me to give it a thorough inspection and a little TLC.

My new home-on-wheels is a 1995 Gulfstream full-sized GMC van with a V8 Chevy 350 engine. I chose a van with a Chevy 350 engine and mid-90’s era body because both are very easy to work on. Parts are inexpensive and in-stock at just about any automotive store. Chilton manuals, YouTube videos, and automotive forums provide guidance on just about every possible maintenance task.

Van Desk

A desk and office chair create a mobile office. It even faces the window and provides a nice view, so long as I park in a picturesque scene.

Over the course of last week, my father and I removed two chairs, replaced the brakes and brake calipers on the front wheels, replaced the window motors in the doors, fixed a leak in the coolant system, replaced vacuum hoses, fixed a loose connection on the starter, checked the tire pressure, fixed the speedometer, and fixed a broken fiberglass step. I also got my hands on some free desks and cut them down to size.

The van is running great and is setup as a livable, mobile office. This weekend I’ll be installing 200 watts of solar panels as well as installing a Firefly carbon-foam battery to run my lights and laptop. I had my brother weld up a rack for the top of the van, which will contain a propane tank and backup generator. The propane tank will connect to a ceramic-catalytic propane heater, which has no problem keeping the inside of the van toasty.

Wedding Party

The best part of the ceremony was standing around the camp fire telling embarrassing stories of our friends.

I was distracted from my mechanical nirvana by my sister-in-law going into labor during the full moon – three weeks earlier than expected. Her water broke, but after 24 hours, her body still wasn’t going into labor. Concerned family dispersed and tried to go about their day as we waited for news that the baby was about to make his move. While my brother struggled with the potential birth of his son, I continued my struggles to give birth my brain child. I continued work on the van while staying close to the phone. It was eventually deemed a false alarm. Apparently several other women came in to the hospital on the night of the full moon with the same symptoms – ruptured water, but no labor. My nephew gets a few more precious weeks to incubate.

With the mechanical work done and the van outfitted with basic camping/galley equipment, I rallied down to Eugene, Oregon to celebrate a friend’s wedding. The van ran flawlessly and after celebrating a marriage under the swaying trees and a confetti of pine needles, I slept peacefully in a van, down by the river.

Now I’m taking it back north where a new job awaits me…

Old Growth

Enjoying a hike through the old growth as I camp in my van, down by the river.

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4 Responses to “Birthing a Brain Child”
  1. Kevin says:

    Looking good Chris!
    Where did you buy your Firefly?


    P.S. We are back over the road for the winter, saving up for next summer.

  2. Congrats on the van work and the new job. Can’t wait to hear more about it! In semi-related news, we had THREE does go into labor on the supermoon too! None of those were false alarms and we are knee deep in baby goats now. Any chance we’ll see you this weekend?

    – Katie and Mark

    • Chris says:

      I’m working hard to make it to the party this weekend, but I’m not sure how it’s going to play out. I’ve got a lot of balls in the air at the moment. Don’t be surprised if I roll up to your place on Sunday though.

      Baby goats! Yay!

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