Visiting New York is always fun, add into the mix a high roof van and you have yourself an adventure. If you consider driving around a neighborhood for two hours hunting a space to park, that is. This may sound negative to you but for us it was filled with laughter. When you convert a 23 foot long, high roof van you quickly realize there are challenges around every corner. It is up to you to decide if those challenges will be exciting or dreadful. The thought had entered our minds to fly there and rent an AirBNB but why? We drive our AirBNB!
Our van started out at about 9' 4" tall, we added larger tires and a lift that raised it a few inches. Then we added a big roof rack that added a few more inches. We also put in a rooftop fan, a rooftop road shower and an awning that is attached to the roof rack. Now we are talking over 10 feet. The Brooklyn Bridge has 11 feet of clearance. As we crossed the bridge we kept our fingers and toes crossed that there were no bumps in the road. I felt like I could reach up and touch the bridge. The congestion in NY is over the top but in we went with high hopes and a positive attitude.
After a couple of hours of searching for a parking spot and deciphering the street signs we found a spot (see the video above) that we picked for the night. As expected we got a ticket so we moved and started the search again the next day. We found the spot pictured above and fully expected a ticket for being in the cross-walk. However, we lucked out and eventually the car that was behind us moved so we were able to back up out of it. No more tickets.
New York is a visual and eating extravaganza that should be experienced. We are always treated to sights, sounds and tastes that never disappoint. We decided to take the Staten Island Ferry for an impressive view of the Statue of Liberty and of the Manhattan skyline. As we were standing in line to board we were approached by a very friendly gentleman named Kirk who identified us immediately as tourists. He proceeded to direct us to where to stand on the ferry for the best views of the Statue on the way over and quickly ushered us off the first boat onto the next boat and told us where to stand for the return trip in order to see the full unobstructed skyline of Manhattan. Kirk is originally from Germany but has been in New York for 30+ years and gave us the quick rundown. He was a wonderful part of our day of adventuring.
In our previous post we mentioned the reason for our visit, Willow graduated St John's Law. She has been in New York for about four years now and may never leave. I mean, who can blame her!?!? She is young, smart and has a bright future ahead of her. The food alone is reason enough in my book. We had a girls' afternoon of shopping and she took us to a pier in Brooklyn for some fresh oysters on a boat. I forgot to photograph the oysters but here are the empty shells.
The weather can change quickly, we experienced a few rain storms and the afterglow over the city from Willow's apartment. Check out these views!
She gets the Manhattan Skyline, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge! With all this visual stimulus how did she study? Her graduation ceremony was awesome and basically ended our tour of New York for this trip. So bright and early the next day we began our trek home. My mom's van was sitting in our driveway waiting for it's makeover.
One stop I really wanted to make was in Ligonier, Indiana to check out Annie Oakley Perfumery. They are an all-American fragrance company that produces the best bug body spray I have ever used. Check them out HERE. Their customer service is top-notch, I felt like family greeted us at the door.
Considering the heat and the fact that we do not like heat we planned a quick northern route home. We drove ten-twelve hours per day to evade the higher temps and bypassed many places we will return to in cooler times. Our last night on the road was the best night, it dropped into the 40's in Utah - I love Utah! Here are some shots from the road on the way home.
Now about our house-guests and the van build. My mom is a great house sitter, but it is time to get home and meet my little brother at the airport. His flight was due in on Saturday night. Key word being 'was'. Savannah's weather had other plans and he was delayed which caused a missed flight and an overnight in the DFW airport. Thankfully he arrived the next morning.
Black Beauty, my mom's van, is next up on the list. While on our trip we discussed next steps and started back to work on it bright and early Monday morning. We knew we needed to pull the insulation off the ceiling and switch it out for something a tad thinner in order for the design to work. The denim insulation we chose comes in 2 different r-values and thicknesses. The design for the ceiling detail is specific and had to be right. The first few stages of a van conversion can be frustrating and visually boring due to the detail that is required for behind the walls and ceiling. Electrical is important to think out and strategically place for convenience and function. So, down came the bulky insulation and up went the proper thickness for the design. Then we place 1/16 inch black PVC sheets over the ceiling with curved detail at the corners and will place spaced white wood slats over that.
The roof rack will be custom built to hold the solar panels, apparently Ford doesn't make OEM roof rails, who knew? This is the first go/plan for the rack and guess what? It will change.
Please join us again to see where the magic begins to happen and the interior begins to take shape.
Don't forget to celebrate your Dad this weekend! I was blessed with two wonderful fathers and a fabulous father-in-law. All three have passed on and I think of them everyday. If yours is still with you, give him a call.
No matter where you are or travel to this summer, chances are you will get some warm weather. I highly recommend the brand 32 Degrees for most seasonal attire. In the summer you stay cool with moisture wicking fabrics and in the winter you can layer for added warmth.
Fun in the sun can be had by all near the water with the portable, inflatable paddle boards and Kayaks from Innova.
While you are on the water this summer, be sure to not wear your expensive sunglasses... they sink! However, Rheos is your friend and their fashionable sunglasses FLOAT!!
Staying hydrated is an absolute MUST! I like my beverage to stay at the optimal temp whether it is ice cold water or piping hot coffee!
Definitely keep the bugs at bay with the K.I.S.S. Airflow screens!
New to our store is this awesome Hammock with integrated mosquito net for true relaxation!