Unicorns Are Real

I realized my last blog post was nearly six months ago, and it was a bit of a cliffhanger for those of you who aren’t on social media to see how things have transpired.

As you might recall, my van died in January while Paco and I drove to Scottsdale, Arizona to meet a friend.

We’re still in Scottsdale now, but it isn’t because we’re stranded, it’s because I’ve been busily working to build out our new home.

I spent an agonizing two months scouring the internet looking for a replacement van – a search that left me overwhelmed, exhausted, disheartened, and wondering if I should just take it as a sign that it was time to hang up our van life hat and start a different journey.

Then, I found my unicorn.

I was searching nationwide and found a Craigslist ad from the Greater Portland, Oregon area. The original listing price greatly exceeded my budget, but I saved the link anyway. A few weeks later, I ran across the same van on Facebook Marketplace, and though the price had dropped, it was still far more than I could afford, but I saved that post, too.

While I pored over van ads and sent inquiries, I couldn’t get the unicorn van out of my mind. I decided to email the sellers with my best offer, which was considerably lower than what they were asking. I didn’t expect them to be excited by it, and I explained I wasn’t trying to undercut them, it was just my absolute max budget. I figured the worst that would happen would be they wouldn’t reply at all, or they’d tell me to get lost – but neither happen. Instead, their reply was fast, kind, and stated they weren’t ready to go that low yet – understandably – but they’d keep my information, which was far more than I’d expected.

I continued my search, and just when I was about to give up on it all, I got a message from the sellers – they were willing to accept my offer. I can’t begin to describe how overjoyed I was, along with the wave of relief and excitement and panic and wondering if it was financially more than I could bite off (it was a big bite!). My friend Sandy was here – it’s her house, after all – and she helped calm my nerves, helped me work through all scenarios, helped me look at it from the perspective of investing in a new home. Spending large sums of money always makes my stomach hurt, even if I know it’s the right thing, but I pushed forward.

Everything then fell into place like magic – which is exactly what I needed, because when that sort of easiness occurs, I can’t help but feel it’s because I’m on the right path.

I had frequent flyer points with Southwest Airlines that have been sitting in my account for nearly a decade. I didn’t expect them to still be valid, but was delighted they were, and I booked a one-way flight to Portland for the grand total of $5.60. It was perfect! Sandy was in town a few days longer and watched Paco while I headed to the Pacific Northwest.

As serendipity would have it, my dear friend Christa had texted the night before I’d received the message from the seller, to say she was visiting her family in southern Washington, and she’d look at vans in the area for me. Her parents live 45 minutes north from where the van was for sale, so once I booked my airfare, I reached out to Christa who picked me up from the airport, drove me to see the van, and I was able to stay with her and her parents that night. Another perfect arrangement! I didn’t have to spend a dime on a hotel or rental car, I got a delicious home-cooked meal, and had a chance to spend some time catching up with Christa and her parents too!

During the flight, I pulled out the sketchbook I’d been using to keep all van-related information and began to make lists. I flipped to the first page and found a list I’d titled “Unicorn Van”.

I’d written it in late January when I was at a pretty low point. I’d just gotten to Scottsdale and received word my van was beyond repair, then I got horribly ill and was literally in bed for a week – the first time I’d been sick in five years! I’d seen a great van for sale in the REI parking lot and it seemed like a perfect fit, but it was already sold by the time I called to inquire about it. I sat on the bedroom floor, weak with sickness, heavy with grief of losing my old van, feeling like the rug had been pulled from beneath me, overwhelmed by the search for a new home and everything that would entail, and I scrawled this list.

When I re-read it, I realized the van I was flying to see had every single thing on my list except for solar panels. Every. Single. Thing. – even what I’d written in the sub-category titled, “Ideal Add-Ons”. It was a physical manifestation of what I imagined to be the best van to continue our adventures in. 

My dad was right, it was love at first sight when Christa and I rounded the corner and there sat the van, hiding behind a giant hedge.

I drove it to Christa’s house that night, then beelined it back to Scottsdale the next day – MUCH faster than I normally travel, but I had to get back before Sandy left town.

I have never gotten as much attention while driving as I did during those two days. Men would race up beside me to honk and give thumbs up, or cheer and pump their fists in the air. Semi-trucks honked horns, blew kisses, and waved at me – the van is so high I’m up at their level. While in bumper-to-bumper traffic east of Los Angeles, multiple people pulled alongside me to verbalize their admiration for the van. One guy kept trying to get me to roll my window down, but he obviously didn’t understand my miming of physically rolling the window down since everything is manual and my arms couldn’t reach the passenger door. I’ll never know what he wanted to say.

She is a real beauty, though, and I know this van is going to take me on adventures I can’t even fathom, and introduce me to so many people as well – it already has, but I’ll leave that for the next post.

I’ve been relentlessly working on the interior since mid-March, and am nearly finished, which is WONDERFUL!

This post, though, is to introduce you to the van – I’ll write another post about all my hard work once we’re back out in the wild.

Keeping in line with all the other events that felt serendipitous, I sold my first van. It was parked in the driveway on top of an array of flattened cardboard boxes to catch the oil drips when a man knocked on the door to ask if it was for sale. I didn’t have a sign on it, I hadn’t posted it anywhere – the only effort I’d put into selling it was continuously telling myself I needed to list it and let it go. I guess the Universe decided to step in and rip that band-aid off because he paid cash for it as-is, and 45 minutes later, the van and I parted ways and began new adventures along different paths. It still makes me tear up to think about it, but I’m glad it went to a good home, and I know this is exactly what is meant to be.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out during this time, and who offered support. I am SO very grateful for each of you, and I can’t wait to share our new adventures with you!

1 Comment

  1. Dean Cooper

    Lisa B,
    Last I saw you was with my mom at Eye of the Dog, maybe December? I am so sorry your first van bit it. It is very surprising how the replacement van came along. That thing is Huge!! You may be able to jump rope in it? I am so happy for you young lady. I certainly felt horrible when I heard what happened. Yuck. Glad you made it all safely though. It is great to see some photos of you smiling out there and wonderful how your friends were available to help you out. I am happy to hear you are looking at making a home spot somewhere. If you are back in Texas at a show or running through somewhere please holler at me, and if my mom is available, we would like to see you again. I cant offer much but I will happily do what I can to help you on your adventures. Take care young lady. I will talk with you soon. Oh yea, I hope you were able to get some coffee brewed out there in the wilderness.


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