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Outdoor Diary: A Van Remodel Update, and Maybe It’s Spring Now

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It’s remarkable how a single day of nice weather can impact attitudes — and Amy is no different. In this episode of the Humans Outside weekly Outdoor Diary, Amy considers the huge impact a swing towards warmer temperatures has had on her. She also updates us on the project to remodel the interior of their 1997 Ford Coachman conversion van.

Some of the good stuff:

[:30] The promise of spring

[1:36] Updates to the Vanimal

[4:00] National Parks Week Giveaways

[4:42] Where to find Humans Outside

Connect with this episode:

Register for our newsletter to win a decal: https://humansoutside.com/newsletter

Follow us on Instagram and share your outdoor life with the hashtag #humansoutside365.

Here’s an edited transcript of this installment of Amy’s Outdoor Diary. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

If you’ve been listening to my Outdoor Diary regularly, you know that it’s been cold in Alaska. That seems pretty normal, truthfully, but it’s also kind of sad. I am ready for it to no longer be cold. I am ready for it to be warm. And considering that it is mid-April at the time of this recording, I feel like that’s a completely reasonable request.

But this week? This week things went from the lows of -5 and a high of 15 to a glorious, magical low above freezing and highs in the 50s. And it was like my entire attitude was reborn. I sat on the porch in the sun, basking like a cat. I was full of hope and optimism. My attitude went from extremely poor to a person who felt full of possibilities in a matter of hours.

And that brings me to this: even after over 1,300 days of personally experiencing and documenting the various ways the outdoors impacts who I am and how I live, I am still frequently surprised by just how powerful it is. Maybe I shouldn’t be. But I am.

Snow melt or not, our big outdoor related project right now is getting the camper van, aka the Vanimal, ready to use for the summer. In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap. In late September 2020 we bought a Ford Econoline Coachman conversion van for way less than it’s actually worth here in Alaska. With seven seatbelts and beds for four to five people, we are excited to see how having this van extends the comfortable camping season here.

As it stands, it’s generally warm enough for comfortable tent camping sometime in mid-May, and pretty much too chilly for it after early September. I’m sure someone is listening to this scoffing, but just keep your mind on the words “comfortable tent camping.” OK then.

When we bought it we put some work into making sure the engine is good to go – and by “we put some work in,” I definitely mean we took it to a mechanic. With that in the bag, the next step was waiting for the weather to be nice enough for us to take a hard look at the interior, and at the least doing some aesthetic fixes with a little paint and replacing the curtains with something that doesn’t stink. We also want to repair the console – it currently does not have any power to the radio for an unknown reason – and repair the exterior passenger side mirror, which is road-worthy but not ideal.

Finally, we wanted to remove the toilet. Let me just say that a regular sized van with cabinets and seats and four people in it, is not a big enough space for a toilet. It’s, well, it’s a lot. And it’s not something we really need, so we’d rather get it out of there and use the space for storage.

The toilet was removed and capped off easily enough. But of course nothing is ever as simple as a little paint. In the process we discovered that the windows are leaking and need to be resealed, and that the leaking has resulted in water damage in the vinyl, the pressboard underneath it and the wood paneling underneath that. Luke has been a real van-repair hero and removed everything to prep for painting, and then removing all of the wood, cutting new wood and removing all of the interior stuff that needed to get out of there to make that happen.

We do have something of a time crunch, however. Luke has a class to attend and plans to live out of the van during it starting in just a few weeks. I think the thing that will take the longest is getting the paint to dry, so cross your fingers for some really nice days so we can get that to happen.

Meanwhile, we’re celebrating National Parks Week over here on Humans Outside with two giveaways over this month, including right now. First, we’re giving away a lovely, handmade binder and pages set from The Park Pages, which lets you log your national park experiences and collected cancelation stamps in a really unique way. I love what she makes over there, and I’m so happy she partnered with us to do a giveaway. You can find a link for the giveaway in our show notes, or a link at HumansOutside.com/links. And then, next, we’ll do a giveaway for a complete park cancelation Passport to Your National Parks starter kit with Eastern National. It has everything you need to get going, and honestly way more.

You’ve probably noticed I haven’t talked about an outdoor hero recently, and I’m taking a little break from doing that to focus more on, well, the outdoors. And as I do that, you can see at least one photo a day of all of my outdoor time at HumansOutside on Facebook and Instagram. Of course, I want you to share your outdoor time with me, too, if you’re willing — do it by tagging #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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