Van life & pilgrimage

Discussion in 'Coffee House' started by BrianK, Aug 23, 2019.

  1. BrianK

    BrianK Guest

    I’m taking a road trip next month from here in Massachusetts out to visit my oldest son frater Silvan at St. Michaels Norbertine Abbey in Silverado CA, and I’m leaving August 31st.

    I picked up an awd 2005 GMC Safari cargo van with 88,000 miles on it in June and I’m building it out as a mini camper. I found a hard shell James Baroud roof top tent (excellent unit, made in Australia for use in the outback) cheap on Craigslist so I can sleep “upstairs” or on a cot in the back of the van. My van already had a huge cargo rack on top but I had to add Thule racks to mount the roof top tent, again a Craigslist find.

    Friends are joining me at various times throughout this trip so I can easily sleep two people comfortably now with this mid size van. One friend is meeting me for a week on the shore at Assateague Island National Seashore below Ocean City MD, at the beginning of my trip, and another friend is meeting me for a week camping on Lake Wisconsin on my way back east in October.

    Last week I put down rigid insulation, subfloor and black indoor/outdoor carpet in the cargo area. I installed an RV electric roof vent/fan this past weekend (cutting a 14” square hole in your roof kinda means you can’t look back). It’s definitely a water tight installation- if not “pretty.”

    I applied white perforated nylon sheeting to the rear and side windows for daytime privacy and to reflect heat, and removed the donut spare and got the new full size spare hung back up underneath for this trip.

    Now the whole cargo area is cleaned out in preparation for applying insulation then cheap pine 6” ship lap planks for the walls and ceiling.

    I have a 12v fridge from a semi truck (Craigslist), 12v car fan (from my brother in law) and a long string of 12v LED lights (already in the van when I bought it) to install after the interior is finished. I found a Yeti Goal Zero 1000 lithium solar battery generator on Craigslist that the previous owner got as a birthday gift this winter but had no use for and never used. I’ll charge it with a 40”x40” 150w solar panel I found on Amazon that I’ve mounted on my van roof rack.

    I have a 5 gallon water jug I’ll use with a manual pump and a small sink with a 5 gallon tank for gray water, and a denatured alcohol sail boat stove to complete my kitchenette. A “Luggable Loo” as well as a shower tent with solar shower completes the KISS (keep it simple stupid) “bathroom”.

    Since I’m a volunteer I can take a sabbatical so I took off all of September and October so I can visit all the major parks out west as well as Catholic shrines, basilicas, etc.

    Should be an awesome adventure! 0777983F-8BC6-4CD1-AD2C-E1150553C198.jpeg





  2. BrianK

    BrianK Guest

    A friend just had a little fun with photoshop: FE585566-7014-431F-B6B4-886706C60A4B.jpeg
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  3. BrianK

    BrianK Guest

    I’d go camping with you @padraig but I don’t know how I’d get the van to Ireland!
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  4. Mary's child

    Mary's child Powers

    I am glad you included the photos Brian, this is way too cool! I can only ask that you continue to include us in your journey through prayers and photos. Thanks for sharing.
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  5. AED

    AED Powers

    Brian you are a genius! Have a wonderful trip. Keep us posted with pics and comments. God bless.
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  6. BrianK

    BrianK Guest

    Thanks! Not bad for an old disabled guy, huh?
  7. AED

    AED Powers

    I think you could write a book on how to travel and live off grid without spending a fortune. I marvel at your expertise. And your ingenuity. It makes me wonder about the years you spent in medicine. I'm wondering if your light was being hidden under a bushel so to speak. God works in very mysterious ways. I know you've suffered so much physical pain and emotional loss but Fr Hardon said in a talk I listened to recently " the amount of suffering God allows us is the measure of how holy He wants us to be." Much to ponder there. I suspect He is calling you to great holiness while opening up a whole new off beat career. Seriously, there is a book here to be written.
  8. Francine

    Francine Angels

    This is amazing and very encouraging! We live off grid and are always impressed with the ingenuity of humans KISS is a great motto for spiritual and physical life.

    Enjoy your amazing trip!! If you want a meal and fellowship, you can stop by our place! We are in the UP of Michigan so not too far from your camping in WI.
  9. HeavenlyHosts

    HeavenlyHosts Powers

    Key words: off beat:D:p:love:
    Brian, have a wonderful adventure off the beaten path!
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  10. BrianK

    BrianK Guest

    Honestly, there’s something about this that really captures folks’ imagination. I met a guy last week in the Home Depot parking lot, a retired evangelical pastor. When I told him my history, that my left arm and leg were paralyzed by 5 strokes in 2016 but I’d had a miraculous recovery, where I am now in the community in Massachusetts and how I’m building out this van for a trip to California to see my son in the abbey there, he said I needed to do a “vlog” of my journey, and on the spot wanted to know what I’d call it so he could subscribe.

    A friend here in the community asked me today if she could buy my van when I get back so she could go live in it!

    And another (close) friend, a doctor, wants me to write about it and do YouTube videos about it.

    Honestly though, I don’t feel compelled to do that, at least not now. I’d be stressed out trying to do all that on this trip.

    I just want this to be a sort of pilgrimage - both to God’s Natural Wonders (national parks) and His Temples (Catholic basilicas, cathedrals, shrines).

    Edit to add:

    I changed the title of the thread to emphasize this.

    The first week I’m spending at Assateague Island I’ll be joined by my spiritual director from back home, so it’s a good way to kick off this journey.
  11. BrianK

    BrianK Guest


    I’ll be coming back through your area in mid to late October so I’ll keep in touch!
  12. BrianK

    BrianK Guest

    My whole life seems to be off beat these days.

    I’m seriously considering setting my GPS to avoid tolls and interstate highways.
  13. AED

    AED Powers

    Yes indeed. Just right. The book/blog will be for those cold winter nights in the Berkshires when you are prayed up and the Holy Spirit is guiding you. There may never be a book but down the road after the trip and after you've had time to let it percolate who knows? God is working in this and through regardless of what becomes of it.

    On an entirely different note have you heard anything from Praetorian? Just concerned at the long silence.
  14. padraig

    padraig New Member

    It is wonderful to be handy like that Brian. It reminds me of Saint Joseph the Worker.:) Camping is such an adventure. I am off myself on Monday and will be camping beside a place called, 'The Fairy Glen'. :)

  15. BrianK

    BrianK Guest

    Sorry no, I haven’t heard from him. I was just talking about him with my friend in the community here who also knows him, from many years ago. He hadn’t heard from him either.
  16. HeavenlyHosts

    HeavenlyHosts Powers

    I have been thinking about Praetorian as well.
    Padraig, have a wonderful trip.
    Brian, you amaze us.
  17. padraig

    padraig New Member

    I was just thinking of Sean recently. I hope he is well.

    Prayers tonight.
  18. Mario

    Mario Powers

    Should be a swell time (40's lingo!). Godspeed in just a week!:ROFLMAO:

    Safe in the Father's Arms!
  19. SgCatholic

    SgCatholic Guest

    Maybe you could consider renting it out to people who plan to travel like you. Then it would be a potential source of income ;) and your efforts would be appreciated by many.
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  20. Mary's child

    Mary's child Powers

    Yes, so have I. He popped into my thoughts and prayers.
    Booklady, gracia, Mario and 2 others like this.

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