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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
1,358 days a wanderin'

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Shake It! Don't Break It! It Took Us Over 9 Months To Make It

Apr 23, 2015
by John

It's inevitable, we'll be sliding into the last day all disheveled and haggard. My original timeline was all lollipops and rainbows, it included a month full of relaxation before taking off. In this world called reality, there are quite a few remaining details that need to be sorted and accomplished. Imminence pressing, eff it, some jaunts to shake things out were exactly what we've been needing.

The first was a week long trip to meet up with Mandi's family in Virginia, flanked on both sides by camping. Saying goodbye was extremely taxing, the functionality of the van a true joy. A major repacking session is in order, the first of many we presume. Everyone got a tour and everything we used in camp worked as intended, whew.

We chased the time with Mandi's family with a weekend camping with Ujoint Offroad and other 4x4 van owners. Everyone we met was absolutely wonderful. A highlight was Claude-Alain and his remarkable van, VivaLaVida. If he ever stops traveling he needs to start a van conversion business, just saying. The two nights we spent in the van were pure bliss, having breakfast with Brenton (Ruined Adventures) on Sunday capped off a great time.

That's not fog it's frost you pervert

That's not fog it's frost you pervert

During the ride home we realized that every remaining weekend in April was booked. We're no longer weekend warriors, more of afterhours frantic antics to hobble the last remaining pieces together. Things like curtains, mesh nets, and random cleats for bungees are, and will be, a work in progress. Making the rounds, meeting new and old before we set off, is the priority.

One of Mandi's sisters could not make Virginia so we headed her way the first weekend after we returned home. Apalachicola is very close to where she lives so we pirate camped on the waterfront to spend one last evening there. We wandered down to Bowery Station for great music and tonic. We had met the owners, Matt and Lisa, when we arranged to meet Sarah and Hani of Adventures in Skyhorse. They have created such a wonderful watering hole that should definitely be checked out if you're ever in the area.

Truthfully, our Apalachicola excursion was because we couldn't leave on our trip without one last visit to Café con Leche. We've traced the Pan-American seed, planted in our heads four years ago, back to this special place. Larger than life, passion greater than the universe, words cannot describe certain people that we have become fond of. The world is small indeed as we have met a mom (and mother-in-law) of Pan-Am veterans instead of the travelers themselves, one day Lost World Expedition, Luis and Lacey, we owe you a drink.

I don't joke when it comes to somebody's mama

I don't joke when it comes to somebody's mama

This past weekend, after many months of correspondence, we finally met Mike and Tiffany of You, me and the dogs, Barley and Peanut too. Once again, we are making the greatest of friends right before we set off, life seems to be a bit sadistic sometimes. It's hard to believe we (mostly Tiffany and me) just all chattered away the entire weekend. The detailed information that was shared will surely come in handy. We think the JaMvan has a bit of a crush on the Gopher Tortoise, oh overlanding vehicle parents' woes. The Tortoise is really badass, as are Mike and Tiffany, so we can see why, we suppose ; ). It was our second real "camping" trip in the van, a total success. Thanks again guys for a great time and for doing most of the cooking, what freeloaders we have become. We're sure the camp hosts converged to inspect our sites once we left, cursing those damned hippies in their homemade rigs.

One serious S.O.B.

One serious S.O.B.

Puppy love

Puppy love

Awww, true love. Even badasses have soft sides

Awww, true love. Even badasses have soft sides

Back home, back to work. The urgency of completing the remaining van tasks kind of waxes and wanes. I break out in mini freakouts, then somehow end them in nonchalant moods of c'est la vie (we don't know French either if you were wondering). Mandi has recently cranked out some new penthouse curtains so there's only a couple of semi-major things left to do like upholstering the front seat plastic trim, yuck.

We couldn't be happier with the performance of the van during our shakedown trips and are overwhelmed with the overlanding community. Embarking on a journey such as the Pan-Am is quite daunting. Knowing there are great people to help if it's ever needed really quells any doubts. We'll screw something up, break some key part, loose a critical document...no matter, we know our all encompassing family will be available to laugh it off and get us going. We have less than 10 days until we go, yikes!

 


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Say what? (3)
Apr 24, 2015 at 12:57 PM
Sounds like you're getting lots of great advice :) I'll be interested to see what you think of expo.. we went last year.... more excited than we'd imagined, and came away a bit disheartened. I have even avoided blogging about it because so many rave about the experience, and yet it was the real low point of our nearly 3 week roadtrip. Hope you have a remarkable time and hey.... that means you're really ON THE ROAD!!! Exciting stuff.
Apr 24, 2015 at 03:47 PM
Woohoo! Let the adventures begin. You'll no doubt catch up with us at some point, we are incredibly slow and will be in Colombia ~6 months, taking perhaps 2 yrs to get down the W side of S America. If you need anything or have any questions just ask, and I hope your van kicks ass, we love ours!
Apr 27, 2015 at 07:39 AM
Thanks guys!

We're attending Expo as a featured vehicle so all we'll be doing is sponging info off of other travelers. It'll be a great chance to hang with many of those we've read but haven't met yet.

We plan to go pretty slow ourselves so we may or may not catch you Josh. Who really knows though, once we have some miles behind us we'll have a better idea regarding our timeline. Our hope is to stretch it out as long as we can.
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