How did we get from our Honda Civic hatchback to a Mercedes Sprinter passenger van?
CD and I met in a medical clinic on a ski run in Colorado. It was Christmas Day. We were working. I was a physical therapist; he worked for ski patrol.
We were each in our thirties and living lives that we chose. Together, we skied, hiked, and went to burger night at the local pub. We were living our dream. Each May we headed West.
CD’s Honda Civic hatchback was our road warrior. The gas mileage was impressive. Our worldly possessions were an arms length away. We could unpack, take inventory, and re-pack in ten minutes flat. Then my biological clock started ticking. From there the story looks much the same and also much different.
Our inaugural camper van was purchased when I was eight months pregnant. It was a 1984 VW Vanagon. It came complete with a sorted history of rebuilt engines, solar panels, and a pop-top. The Vanagon dream spoke loudly to CD but the first mention of DIY car seat attachments caused me to panic.
We sold it in the midst of a summer heat wave. The twenty- something who bought it was not phased by the lack of safety features, absence of AC, or the fact that it broke down less than a mile from where we handed him the title. A moratorium on camper vans went into place.
Fast forwarding a bit: I accepted a nine month position at a university. We sold our second car and moved to Oregon. CD picked the kids and I up at the airport on New Year’s Eve 2016. I assumed that working a seasonal job would be like riding a bike.
Little did I know that it would be more like riding a broken down tandem with two kids trailers in tow. Despite this, we headed off to the Trans-Canada highway. Our Toyota Sienna proved itself worthy while making the trip, even with a U-Haul trailer in tow. The trailer was both horrible and genius. On one hand, we spent all of one morning looking for a suitable parking spot in Banff but on the other hand our minivan was free of clutter. Four bikes, hiking poles, and backpacks were easy to access; shoes and jackets were abundant.
Months later, I tossed out the idea of selling our minivan and replacing it with a Sprinter. We bike commute. The idea of a 15 passanger van as our daily driver didn’t seem unreasonable. CD had the same idea. The quest for an affordable Sprinter to meet our needs will need to be discussed an entirely different blog post. In any case, we found a van in California and the next week it was delivered to our door.
We headed off to Canada again. This time we were armed with a 2012 Mercesdes Sprinter, complete with the elusive low roof, the standard diesel engine, one bed, and our hopes and dreams. The kids stood tall inside the van as we had our first picnic an hour from home. I stood up with my head bent 45 degrees. The boys slept on the bed and the girls slept on camping pads on the floor. Each night, shoes, food, and countless other items moved from the floor to the front seat so we could build our second bed. We slept in our tent most of the time.
This plan was marginal at best. Our confidence was wavering.
Is it possible that a Mercedes Sprinter isn’t our golden ticket?
I suggested selling the van and getting another Sienna. The next week it was done. Six months later, we were wallowing in self doubt. How could we go on endless adventures while confined to the inside of a minivan? Our evenings and weekends became occupied by looking at teardrop trailers and discussing DIY camper trailer designs. Finally, we concluded that a newer Mercedes Sprinter was our best option.
This takes us to today’s Sprinter. It is a 2015 high roof complete with lane change alerts, rear AC, and cross-wind assist. It is superior to our first Sprinter in every way.
With this, our family of four committed to a Mercedes Sprinter DIY choose your own adventure: Sleeping 4 in a Sprinter 144.