The tea kettle hisses. Jess takes the boiling water from the camping stove and fills two enamel cups. On it the writing “Happy Camper”. Their stomachs are rumbling – fresh air stimulates the appetite. A fresh salad and some bread is quickly served on a wooden table under some trees. As simple as the meal is, so rich is the Californian idyll of nature: Far and wide only birds can be heard and the quiet cracking of the forest floor with every step. In the distance, Lake Berryessa glistens in the evening sun. The perfect setting for Mike to create his daily work of art. Since the beginning of the journey, he has recorded each station on his blog with a colored drawing. Meanwhile he also produces customer requests. His wife Jess has already had her productive hours. She was busy writing e-mails and PR texts this morning.
A full-time nomadic life? The couple had never given it a thought. They lived in a row house in Baltimore. Mike was an architect and had just discovered his passion for drawing. Jess, a biochemist with a doctorate, worked in a PR agency as a communications consultant. However, everything changed two years ago during a trekking holiday through the Grand Teton National Park. At the roadside was a Sprinter with a for sale sign. “That was a great moment for us,” the two outdoor fans remember. “Even then we had the desire to live in a minimalist, conscious and free way. We wanted to experience something.” Less than a year later, they left their old life and set off in their dark blue Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 – towards adventure.
Mike and Jess have now visited 44 states. The former east coasters have a clear favorite: “Oregon took our breath away. The state is so incredibly beautiful. We spent a month there.”
Through deserts, mountains and forests – with every kilometer the certainty of having done the right thing grew. Until a moose suddenly crossed their path at full speed. Mike and Jess escaped with scratches, but the Sprinter was totaled – and so was their new home. “At first we were shocked. After all, we were homeless,” says Jess. “But we also realized that after the accident, our desire to live in the van was stronger than ever. That was an important realization for us and so we set about the conversion of a brand-new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter”.
After the accident, our desire to live in the van was stronger than ever. That was an important realization for us.
A small consolation with the work on the new van was that they now already had experience in van conversion. They took over the entire process, from design to implementation, by themselves – a familiar job for Mike as an experienced furniture maker. Soon the Sprinter had a toilet, electronics, solar panels, furniture and upholstery. The two sports fans left extra storage space under the bed for bicycles. Mike and Jess would like to share the experience they have gained: “We are starting a consulting service to help others convert their vans and make their dreams come true”.