The story of how a giant yellow Sprinter van became my home

From the moment Niko and I declared 2013 as our road trip year, we began dreaming of the vehicle that would serve as our home during our adventure. Living in a car is no simple subject, so naturally we explored multiple options.

The first “that’s the one!” idea was a Honda Element equipped with Ursa Minor’s E-Camper pop-up extension. It turned a standard adventure mobile into a livable space – perfect. I was able to play in the Jeep version during Overland Expo, and felt pretty smitten with the concept of turning it into my home for a year. But the price tag proved a bit too reachy.

And more importantly, we realized we needed some space. Niko and I are great at living together and sharing everything, but the idea of residing in a small car for an entire year started to feel a bit suffocating. I quickly realized that the more space we had, the higher the likelihood of us not wanting to throw each other off a cliff within the first two months of our Simply Adventure trip.

After storming up new ideas, being haunted by Niko’s proposal of living in his pick-up truck, and many conversations with Beth from 3Up Adventures, the choice was clear: We needed a Sprinter van.

Big, boxy, and good on gas mileage, the Dodge Sprinter is truly an ideal vehicle for the adventure lifestyle. The cargo set-up allowed us to create a functional space designed for our needs, but the diesel van still drives (relatively) easy. We agreed on the Sprinter, and quickly began our search.

Months of scouring the internet and local dealerships for used Sprinters led to two weeks in Miami to complete the search and purchase. After a handful of disappointing van visits, my father and I hopped on a one-way flight to Tampa, then drove out to Palm Harbor, to check out a big, yellow Sprinter that Niko had discovered in an eBay auction.

It was love at first sight.

Never mind that yellow is my absolutely favorite color of all time, or that I have an unusual tendency to affectionately personify inanimate objects – this Sprinter was the one. The dealership was closed during our initial visit, so we creeped on the van, and eagerly awaited the next day to (hopefully) finalize the purchase.

The waiting, haggling, and inspection process were absolutely agonizing.

We test drove the Sprinter first thing in the morning, and decided we liked what we saw. The next step was taking it to a mechanic at the Jerry Ulm Dodge dealership to get the lowdown on the van. I will forever be grateful for the extraordinary efforts by Brian Cummings to help me with my van buying process. He spent hours talking to us, offering honest advice, and ultimately suggesting that we should go for it and buy the van (even though it wasn’t being sold by his dealership). Brian, thank you a thousand times, you are absolutely wonderful!

Fast forward through some unsuccessful haggling, a “looks like we’ll have to walk away from the van” moment, a phone call saying “come back, we’ll take your offer,” and lots of paperwork – and suddenly I was driving my new yellow van from Tampa to Miami. Ain’t it a beauty?

Since purchasing my new home, we’ve driven from Tampa to Miami, and Miami to Tallahassee. This weekend we’re heading up to the Atlanta area for our first trail day with the Southeastern Climbers Coalition at Boat Rock – our first official Simply Adventure journey.

In the coming weeks, I’ll keep you updated as we outfit the Sprinter and transform it into a veritable home. It may have a shabby paint job, blown speakers, broken AC vents, and a busted headlight – but it’s our first home together, and we’re smitten. We’ve already gutted the interior; next up is tearing down the partition.

Soon, the blank interior space will be filled with a custom built bed, kitchen area, storage, and more. We can’t wait to show you our handiwork, so stay tuned! We’re also going to be holding a van naming contest soon, so start thinkin’ up some snazzy names for our glorious yellow van!

Want to help us make the Simply Adventure dream a reality? Check out our fundraiser, and DONATE to our mission to spread the good tidings of conservation, outdoor recreation, and climbing love across the country! 

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Categories: Simply Adventure

Author:Katie Boué

Katie Boué is the voice of - a travel lifestyle blog focusing on climbing, Airbnb life, and the outdoors.

24 Comments on “The story of how a giant yellow Sprinter van became my home”

  1. November 5, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Wow – I love it! Can’t wait to see what you do to the inside, Katie.

  2. November 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Sweet, I love van living and is looking forward to see how you settle in :-)

  3. November 5, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    now you need a name for it!

  4. November 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Love it…

  5. November 5, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    I am so glad that you finally found your new Adventure Mobile! I’m excited to see what you two have in store for it!

  6. November 5, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    Let me be the first to name it. Banana Bomber. You’re welcome. :)

    • November 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

      Hahaha that will definitely be a contender – I like it!

  7. Bob Rosenbaum
    November 7, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    is reminds me of nacho cheese! or spanish saffron rice or……..melted velveeta

    • November 7, 2012 at 9:02 am #

      Hahaha, this comment is giving me the munchies!

  8. Bob Rosenbaum
    November 7, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Fiery veleeta thunder palace….just coined the vans name

  9. November 7, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    I’m so jealous right now! I want to do that so badly but other great things are happening right now so it will have to be something in the future that I will do. Have so much fun!

  10. November 7, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    Maximus, or Max for short.

  11. November 8, 2012 at 5:34 am #

    Stoked for you guys! name suggestion: the yellow flasher

  12. November 8, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Big Bird

  13. November 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Have fun guys! Can’t wait to follow your adventures!

  14. November 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    The Crush Bus
    The Craggin’ Wagon

    • November 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

      THE CRAGGIN’ WAGON! Oh my god, genius.

  15. November 10, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    Congrats, can’t wait to see the inside!

  16. November 11, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    How awesome!! Sounds like a great choice. I don’t recall noticing a yellow Sprinter going through Atlanta last month… But I will keep my eyes peeled should you return!

  17. December 16, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    I would call it the super bee


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