It all starts with a bee in your bonnet. An idea that takes hold and just won’t let go.

The Tin Man and I started casually looking at camper vans. There were specific requirements and a few skirmishes between the sexes on what constituted the correct vehicle.

1999 Sportmobile Camper Van

Blue Collar Traveler’s blue 1999 Sportmobile.

I’m not particularly risk adverse and can be quick to make a decision. The Tin Man: methodical, a deep researcher, and patient. When I became tired of waiting for Plan A and was willing to make a Plan B vehicle work, he was searching online for just the right van. And while I was trawling the Bay Area looking at junkers, the planets aligned for the Tin Man.

A closely watched eBay auction timed out on a vehicle that met almost all of our requirements. We checked it before bedtime and realized that none of the offered bids met the reserve. It probably hadn’t sold. Out of bed at 4 am, we called back east and soon became the owners of a 1999 Sportmobile camper van with less than 10,000 miles on it and in immaculate condition.

Not a chip in the paint (that still had its factory showroom shine) and the engine looked like you could eat off of it. The van is rugged with a Ford E350 5.4 liter V-8, and a class V hitch. Someone built her for serious outdoor play, but then kept her in a garage for 20 years.

This vehicle is SO clean it is almost too good to be true.

And so, at midnight on a Monday in early August, we hit the adventure button, rolled the dice, and jumped on a plane to New Jersey to pick her up. We gave ourselves 10-days for a cross-country home journey. It turned into 14-days.

The best laid plans. . .

next: The Pitfalls of the Maiden Journey