Nomad Life

Another year is coming to an end. As I look back through the years I realize that so much of my greatest moments came while living in my van.

It’s kinda cheating because about two years ago I upgraded to a Class B RV. If you’ve followed along then you know it has all the comforts of home in a Sprinter Van.

I will let the pics explain while I explain the pics. Here I am with The View Finder. I bought it used it needed a little work but that I could handle and it made the price affordable for me.

Look at that huge bed. It is so inviting. A couple mattress toppers and I sleep like a baby.

It fits in a regular old parking space. Very convenient!

My first night I slept in an industrial area. I had to work on that track in the back ground the next morning. Yep pretty rough commute that day.

I moved the next day about a mile away. It’s in an undeveloped area that has been preserved. Right next to the industrial area. If you know Reno/Sparks NV. Then it’s off the USA Parkway exit. Great quiet little hideaway.

My Father (Jim Hunsaker) and I were working near Yosemite National Park. We took a day and visited the park. We didn’t make it to the the valley that day but it was still awesome!

My wife and I went on a cruise from Long Beach. I drove down from Sacramento in the Van. She flew into Long Beach. After the cruise she came with me back up the coast and flew out of San Francisco. I went back to work in Sacramento. This was our spot overlooking Malibu Beach. Her first night ever sleeping in the van. We woke up to dolphins saying good morning during our coffee and breakfast.

We made it to Morro Bay next. The first pic is our lunch pull off. Then we slept at the famous Morro Bay Rock. It’s a bird refuge and a beautiful bay. Cool little tourist trap of a town too.

Next stop was Big Sur! This pic is of the Julia Pfeiffer Falls. The portal was cool too.

Our dining views in San Francisco were unheard of. We had a table that over looked the Bay. We could see the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco Skyline, Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge with its new dancing lights. There isn’t a restaurant any where that can give you that. I don’t care how much money you throw around. It was a perfect way to end an epic Trip!

Even while working the guys and I will take advantage of the van. A BBQ in the parking lot.

Not all the places I go are Glamorous. Some times iron Bars are welcomed. Bakersfield CA can get rough.

Because I travel with my home. I can travel a path less traveled. I don’t have to worry about where I will stay when night becomes to heavy. Little wonders are still all over this world. If you just fall of the interstate for a bit you will find them. This is by Moab UT. great little sleep over spot.

I built a little bunk for my boys to sleep. We took the van to Moon Lake UT. It was perfect!

Yuba Lake. Right off the beach we loaded the jet skis. No one wanted to ride them across the lake to the boat launch ramp. It was sun down and getting very cold.

I really do find amazing places to stay now that I’m free of the motel World. Idaho has a lot to offer in their BLM lands.

My wife came to work with me for our Anniversary. It was supposed to be a simple trip to Nampa ID. My work is never simple. They moved us to Kalamath Falls OR. Haha it turned into an amazing Road home. Crater Lake National Park, Lassen National Park, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park. We even saw Mark Twain’s Cabin featured in the pic.

Summer was coming to an end Arron, Shanna Amber and I were not about to let it slip away though. I know you have read the articles of Mason’s Big Adventure. If not get to it. A full week of insane road trip madness. Idaho Potato Museum, Flat Head Lake MT, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, The Royal Tyrell Musem, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole Wyoming. Ya busy week. Go check it out. in the middle of nowhere again this sculpture is in the salt flats between Salt Lake and Wendover. It’s the only thing for over a hundred miles.

some trips are so long I have to make many pit stops. This was a drive to Lordsburg New Mexico. I hit Arches, Canyon Lands, and Mesa Verde National Parks. Plus many pull outs.

More proof. Inside the van is cool too. The best food I can find. Restaurants can’t compare with the budget, health, or goodness.

Hermosa Beach CA. The parking can be difficult. Here you see I squished into compact parking.

Travels through Utah are amazing. Camp fires are a must at times. This was just a typical drive home from work. The top pic is in New Mexico BLM land. That was the starting point of my drive home.

Huntington OR is a tiny town on the border of Idaho. There is an article somewhere in here about this stay.

my wife got tired of me having all the fun. She and her Cousin Dea stole the View Finder. They drove through Lake Tahoe to San Francisco down PCH to Santa Monica Blvd. Traveling through Monterey Bay for the Fourth of July and Morro Bay. In Steamboat Springs Colorado. I picked wild flowers and took naps.

Denver I took advantage of one of my favorite go to sites. Boondockers Welcome. These great people gave me a place to park including free solar power.

Oakridge OR was incredibly moody. Made for amazing views even leaving the grocery store.

while in Portland OR I visited Silver Falls State Park. $5 will get you access to the most incredible waterfalls. The trails even go behind so you can feel the raw power.

last week I took advantage of a day off and visited Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Their Moro Rock allows for 360 degree views above the park.

I caught it a sunset. WOW!

As you can see having this van has really elevated my life. If you wonder if a van could make your life better. Just think of the experiences you could have in two years.


Mason’s big adventure! Day 3

We woke to a moody morning. The rain was lingering. Short shots of sprinkles. We could see our breath as we made breakfast. Everything that could be packed the night before was. Today we were bidding farewell to Flathead Lake. We had more adventure to find. We quickly ate, cleaned up, buttoned up tight. This was the first morning that we’ve had to put the tent trailer back into travel mode since the pulleys had been replaced from a Yuba Lake Fiasco earlier in the year. Although I have full faith in Aaron I was a bit Leary still. All for not though because it came down as it should and in great time. We were pulling out earlier then expected. This was a short shot. We decided that a trip through Glacier National Park on the famous “Going To The Sun Road” was perfect. We never did see the sun. The clouds stayed with us that entire day. As we left we remembered a few items that had been forgotten. We remembered a Walmart as we came into Flathead. So with a quick detour we restocked. Bought ice and filled the fuel for good measure. Every one was a lot more mellow today. We had settled in and were coasting on what was already a great time. The views were awesome. As we entered the park they became incredible!

Waterfalls right off the bat. We were attacking them with selfies and almost lost Mason. He was making his adventure wild already. We didn’t want to just drive through the parks. Even though they were just part of a drive to the Museum. We knew that we had a chance to experience something others dream of. So we wanted to take advantage of as much as possible. We found the perfect trail. It was called “Trail of the Cedars“.IMG_0307 It is a .8 mile loop with minimal elevation change. We found a parking spot. I think the rainy day gave us a break on the amount of people in the park. It was very busy still though. We pulled out the awning and BBQ and grilled some hamburgers. I grabbed a handful of garbage bags and started making rain ponchos for all. The food again was delicious. Something about being on vacation makes everything taste better. We cleaned up. Set the BBQ between rigs to cool down closed the awning and on to the trail we went. INCREDIBLE! Most of it was a boardwalk.

Very easy to hike. Waterfalls and rivers. Some spots were designed to hike around a bit. We played in rivers and crawled under a tree that was balancing over the river bank edge. Half of the root system exposed by corrosion creating a root cave.

These trees were massive and old.

The green foliage was thick and the wild flowers were beautiful. After many pics and every smile from ear to ear we climbed back in the rigs and continued through the park. Stopping every chance we could for more pictures. At one point the road climbed extremely high into the clouds. The visibility was poor. The speed was 10-25 mph. The curves were sharp and the grade was very steep. The road became very narrow with few turnouts. My wife Amber lost her mind. She took her seatbelt off and opened the sliding door to the van and hung out the door over the cliff edge to snap pic after pic all the while both my boys were screaming at her to put her seatbelt back on.

I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. Amber generally has to close her eyes on roads like this scared to bits. Today though she had gone mad. My oldest wanted to puke and my youngest couldn’t believe his eyes. We got through the worst part and started down the other side.

We stopped at the visitor center for souvenirs. Rolled into our camp ground at St. Mary’s with enough time to set up and cook in the light but had to walk to the showers at night. We went to sleep early. The next day we were headed to Canada. Banff and Jasper national parks. We had to get through both in one day. After glacier I wasn’t so sure it was possible.

Please feel free to fallow my blog and Instagram @roadtovanlife. This adventure isn’t even half over and many more adventure to talk about. I might even tell you about the Yuba fiasco one day. Leave comments and come back for more. Thank you for your time. I hope you are enjoying our story.

Masons big adventure! Day 2

imageWe woke that next morning ready to play in the lake. We had brought snorkel gear and all were ready to swim. We open our eyes, windows and doors to find… RAIN! It was cold, cloudy and not what our dreams consisted of.image We opened the awning and broke out the propane fire ring that we had thrown into the mix while packing.img_3840 I started some music. a Pandora radio station I love called a beautiful morning. We started building breakfast. imageEven though the world around us was gloomy our spirits were high. It was still gorgeous all around and it was a Side of the lake we had never seen in any of the pictures we saw while researchingimage. My wife Amber has dreamed of snorkeling in this lake for years. So after we ate and cleaned up breakfast she dove in anyway. Everyone followed. To our surprise it wasn’t that cold. The air around was chilly but the water was warm. We swam for a while and laughed like children again while the kids acted like fish. If you haven’t been swimming in the rain recently, do. It was amazing and my soul is better for it. We all dried of and started lunch. Just relaxing the rest of the day while the kids threw rocks into the lake.

We had been so busy the last months with life that we were exhausted. We knew our trip ahead wasn’t going to let up either. So we designed today to rest and play. The rain was a blessing because it forced us to just be and see. The next morning was an early start so after dinner we cleaned up packed all that we could and got ready to move on. imageOur next stop was Glacier National Park. Over the sun road and a night in Saint Mary’s campground on the east side of the Park. We all decided a trip back to Flathead was a must but the time we had was not a bust. Stay tuned. A string of National Parks in two country’s start in the morning.image

Mason’s big adventure. Day 1

I had arrived home from Weed CA not even 24 hours earlier. We had spent the last day rearranging the van to accommodate my family of four. My wife, two boys, Kyan(15), Tristen(9) and I. I also took on food, mostly dry goods and the cold stuff that we didn’t want to get wet from ice. We filled the 27 gallon fresh water tank and had enough food for 10 people for 8 days. Aaron had spent the last week prepping his trailer/truck to accommodate six. Two adults, two Teens, Katie(15), Austin(17), two boys, Aden(10) and of course Mason(8). This is Mason’s adventure after all. We put a table, BBQ, propane, three food coolers, one of which had frozen goods, (My wife and Shanna had spent the last few days prepping meals and freezing them) all under the trailer in the bed of the truck.
I guess I should tell you about Aaron’s rig. The roads we traveled don’t allow for a long rig. They are to windy and steep. The places we camped were filled with bears, wolves, mountain lions and all other wildlife. The camp spots were to short for a trailer. So after a while of engineering Aaron’s brilliant mind decided to buy a cheap pop up tent trailer and modify the frame, cut the tung, remove the axle and on top of his Dodge Mega Cab 2500 it went. Worked slick. We had plenty of room for the food and cookware to be enclosed in the bed under the trailer. He had created a huge Bear box. Aaron bought a hitch basket so we put a large cooler full of drinks and two 5 gallon water jugs on it. Easy access and the food stayed locked up and full of ice. We had no idea what to expect on our trip. We scheduled a lot of miles in between stops and a lot of things to see on the way. We had no idea about our camp sites. Never been to any of these places before. We didn’t even know what kind of food or supplies would be available on our route. I am an avid traveler. By myself I prefer to wing it. Find the local fair. But with ten people
6 of them being children
depending on us we were taking no chances. We were ready to dry camp for 8 days plus. I swear you could see the sides of both rigs bulging. At 7:00 am the neighbor came over and took a pic of us all in front of our rigs and we were off.
Flathead lake was our first destination. 592 miles, it was the largest jump on our trip. The kids were excited and couldn’t sit still. I turned the front passenger seat around to face the table. I put Aden, Mason and my son Tristen at the table and gave them Uno and War to play while I drove. They also had iPads and iPhones. They were having a blast. We designed a stop for lunch in Blackfoot Idaho. Of course not just any stop. It had to be great so we picked the Idaho Potato Museum. It did not disappoint. For the price it was fantastic. The boys ran, the teens stretched and got to release some sarcastic remarks. Everyone saw the largest Pringles chip in the world and we got a photo with the largest potato. My wife and Shanna made sandwiches and we were off. This time my wife took the wheel while I rode with Aaron, Shanna, Austin, Katie and my son Kyan in the truck. It was a great chance to see my van and watch how it handled. We had to stop and get fuel. Both rigs were thirsty after pushing 80mph loaded as heavy as they were. After we all stretched, used the restroom and filled our cubby holes with snacks, I took the wheel and finished the ride with my wife and boys in the van with me. We pulled into Finley Point State Park at Flathead Lake Montana. It was the closest camp sites I had ever seen. The spots were a parking lot space. And some beach behind. They were tight. I backed in for great views from the beds. And Aaron pulled in straight to line our doors up. We hugged the lines and gave our selves enough room for my awning and we Broke out the the stove and began to cook dinner. The kids threw rocks into the lake and we watched the sun set. Great night, great drive, great food and great company. We started out right and we were finally on vacation.