OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABrian and I got a new van! Ever since the van vagabond dream began in 2009, I’ve wanted a Dodge (or Mercedes) Sprinter for better gas mileage and a higher roof which would allow me to stand up inside. We found the perfect Sprinter in Phoenix, Arizona, where we’re taking a break from sailing for the holidays.

So where is Vanifest, our beloved 4×4 Dodge Ram Van and former home?

Vanifest is stored in Alaska, lovingly wrapped in a large tarp and sitting at Brian’s family’s fish camp near Kenai. I miss Vanifest and a part of my heart is still up there in Alaska with it. We plan to fly to Alaska next summer to rendezvous with Vanifest for fun and adventure. We’ll leave Vanifest in Alaska and live in “Sprinterfest” in the lower 48.

The story of finding Sprinterfest is not as dramatic as the one of finding Vanifest (which I’m writing about in a book about my first year in a van), but I believe all van stories are worth telling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe bought the very first Sprinter we looked at. We knew we wanted as many windows as possible and a vehicle with low mileage. We also knew we had to have a Sprinter; no other van would do. We searched Craigslist and found exactly what we wanted. We test drove it around 10:30 am, took it to the mechanic that afternoon, gave the seller a cashier’s check and then went to the DMV for license plates. It was the day before Thanksgiving and the DMV clerks were in a festive mood. One of them wore a red ball cap topped with a comical turkey head bobbing around on a long neck. It would bounce around as she did her job, which we liked watching as we waited.

IMG_0729 (Large)Our new plates in hand, we went on a quest to find a new mattress for the Sprinter that evening. Vanifest has a full sized memory foam mattress and that is one of the things I like best about van life. I had my heart set on a nice bed and preferred to buy it before our canyoneering trip to Death Valley. We planned to leave the next morning. There is nothing better than sleeping on a nice bed at the end of a long day in a canyon. I know how soft that sounds but it’s true.

We drove around Phoenix until 9:00 pm looking for a mattress, down comforter, sheets and pillows. We finally found the perfect mattress at Ikea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next day, we tossed canyoneering gear into the Sprinter and drove it to Death Valley. We got 24 MPG, which is double Vanifest’s mileage! To the right is a photo of the new Sprinter in true canyon fest mode, shuttling our friends Louis and Everett back to their vehicle after a day of canyoneering. We love our new Sprinter. We plan to customize it over the next few weeks and make it a nice home with storage, solar panels, a stove and even a sink. I had a lot of fun writing about Vanifest’s customization here, and will do a similar write up about the Sprinter when it’s complete.


Lisa Hackett

About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, drive from Idaho to Alaska solo, live and work in a van in the wilderness and dodge encounters with wolves and bears. Seriously. More

4 Responses to Where’s Vanifest? Also, a Story About Our New Van

  1. raz says:

    a good bed. comfortable shoes. we spend 1/3 of our life in bed. more than that in shoes. we should look forward to both. when i say shoes i mean footwear.

    i like sprinters. i really like 24mpg. there ain’t no free lunch. more maintentance.

    sorry about spelling, but this is marthas apple and none of us knows where spellcheck is if there even is any.

    ice cream raz.

  2. Tim says:

    Love to hear or see how the new van is setup!

  3. cort says:

    I’ve been living out of a 4Runner – camping around for two years – and now I think its time for a van…Why was the Sprinter the only choice? Gas mileage? And how reliable has it been? Reliability is a priority for me.

  4. John says:

    Our 2005 extended sprinter gets 23 miles per gal and the diesel engine can get hundreds of thousands of miles before it dies. Keep in mind that the parts still have a normal life and need replacement before the engine dies.

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer.
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About the Van

Hi, I’m Vanifest. I’m a big, 4x4, off-the-grid van complete with solar panel for power. I'm a 2000 Dodge Ram Van and Lisa has had me since 2009. Read more about me here.


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