Just over a year ago, I made my first joint investment with my boyfriend, Chris, and together we (kinda, sorta, not really) started a family. I introduce to you…


On our way to San Elijo, we took the long way there for some sightseeing.

A 2010 Ford E250, originally purchased with 79,000 miles, we built her out to be a conversion van.

Fresh coffee made possible by the french press – low energy, coffee maker that is necessary for the van.

Chris has taught himself how to install electricity so we’re able to charge our devices, power a fan, and turn on lights. We have a small freezer that acts like a fridge (turning off when too cold, turning on when too warm), and the driver and passenger seat swivel like captain chairs. The counter opens up to access storage for clothes, I made a cabinet door out of refurbished pallet wood, and underneath the bed is big enough to fit our skis. Insulated with 3M Thinsulate and Reflectix, the walls are covered with tapestry and wood – mostly white to make it feel more spacious than it is.


Carrizo Plain, the end of the Superbloom in 2017

I purchased this van the summer before my senior year of college. Not expecting to purchase one right away, Chris and I took a look at our options to determine the vehicle we would get if we were to build a conversion van. Then we found too good of a deal to pass up. So here we are! Sophi and Chris living in just another shitty camper van.

Why did we have an interest in making a conversion van in the first place?

Well it wasn’t just to save on rent (with the astronomical price of living in the Bay Area, that’s just a perk), and it’s not to get away from the 9-5 and find a sense of freedom like most vandwellers. It just sounded fun.

Tahoe, Mammoth, Death Valley, Lassen, Portland, our friend’s house down the street, Monterey, next to school, next to work; the adventure of traveling and convenience of bringing everything we need wherever we go is what we enjoy about the van life. Plus, the beauty of waking up in a campsite and not having to pack up a tent before our next destination, or the convenience of sleeping right next to work and walking 100 meters to the office, or parking for free and then being able to walk to our bed after hitting a few breweries; that is what we do this for.

We do this because it sounded fun and we’re always up for a new challenge. Building a home – cutting wood, stringing wire, determining the choice of insulation, creating, designing and decorating it ourselves – as a software engineer and accountant, we were taking on something completely out of our element.


Who knew power tools would be so fun? We’ve both learned a lot; how to use a jigsaw or drill through metal, how to change the spark plugs or build a bed to support two people’s weight, but most importantly, however, we learned a lot about how to work (and live in such small quarters) with each other.

Building a van is frustrating as hell. The ultimate Ikea test, it never once really strained our relationship or friendship. Moving in with someone is a challenge for most relationships – they either make it or break it. Now imagine moving into an abnormal home with a fraction of the space that most houses have. As hard as it can be to live in a ten by five foot home on wheels, I think it has only brought us closer.

“We found a new solution, well my girlfriend did
Bought an E250, had the highest bid

Livin’ in a van, with my best friend and my mandolin 
You can find us by the sea or in the mountains and
Eating Indonesian in bougy, ol’ white folk land (saratoga!)
Yeah, we built this piece of shit by hand”

Livin’ In a Van, an original by Chris Cawdrey

The van is dope. Building the van is dope. Traveling in the van is dope. But it is made so dope because I get to do it with one of my favorite people in the world.

Wow, this was a post about the VanBaby, but it seemed to turn into a (way too) sappy post about Chris.

But, what can I say? He made a wifi repeater that allows us to get internet in the van, blocks away from the router. That means I’m cozying up, in a parking lot in the mountains, next to a creek, laying in bed, and I get Netflix – in HD . How can I not love him so much?

June 24th, 2016. The day we officially adopted VanBaby.



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