Vantastic Voyage: Part 1

I've spent many years wishing I had a van. In high school, my first boyfriend drove a forest green 74' Dodge van with a lime green interior- that thing was KILLER. Mostly a vessel for transporting band equipment, the vehicle soon became our camping van, our after-the-party crash spot when we were too toasted to drive, and our ticket to freedom. I thought of that van often on my quest for my own. Since this would be my very first van, I hoped for a shorty- I'm not a very experienced driver. I trolled Craig's List for months in every region of the country that didn't have shitty winters like Minnesota does. With all the rust and salt damage you find on vans over here- it's pretty common to search elsewhere. One day I found my dream van on the Fort Collins, Colorado Craig's list and 45 days later it was MINE. But let's back up and start from the beginning......

I had a specific list of qualities I wanted my first van to have: No rust, half ton, V6 engine if possible, no mileage over 150k, shorty, nice paint job, workable interior, no leaks, no major repairs needed, clean undercarriage, etc.

The ad had only this picture. Although I was very opposed to vans with back windows at the time, I decided to look into this one because it was a killer deal and looked like it could potentially be my jam. So I emailed the guy, Dave. After that first email, he requested I call him because he's not the biggest fan of trying to explain and make a deal going back and forth. The first time I called Dave, he was taken aback. He told me that from the massive response he had gotten from the Craig's List ad, I was the ONLY person who had actually called him- the rest continued to email or just dropped off after the phone-call request.

Dave and I talked for about 45 minutes that day. As an older wiser vanner, Dave had been around van's for quite some time and was selling this van- one third of his current van collection. We talked about vans and then about life and he explained to me on a personal level what his vans meant to him and the trials and tribulations he had been through over the years while owning the van. It got sorta heavy as Dave kind of bared his soul to me over this phone call. Dave told me he KNEW this van was meant for me and I was meant to find it. This was a hefty thing for someone to lay on you, but I thought I needed that van too so I agreed.

I can't fully explain it, but this van was symbolic. It represented the closing of a dark chapter in his life and was a beacon of light in mine. Without getting too personal, I had been on the brink of a very big life change that was extremely difficult for me to handle emotionally. After that phone call that day, Dave gave me his word that he was going to save that van for me. Dave also agreed to let me make payments on the van. I know- this sounds crazy. Who in their right mind would put a downpayment on a vehicle, in another state, without test driving or seeing it first, or even meeting the owner face to face? But Dave sent me pictures of every square inch of that van, every step he took to make sure it was perfect, he kept me updated on all the repairs he was currently putting into it, he put me in contact with the reputable auto shop to verify his reputation as a patron and to confirm the details about the van- and I also had them send me a full diagnostic report. Even so, I still felt a bit skeptical.

Call it fear or call it being hyper-realistic, but as sure as I was about the van, I was just as worried it may be a hoax. I made downpayment arrangements and notarized an agreement to make payments on the van. I was going to take about 1.5 months to pay it off.

But then things got a little complicated. Being emotionally attached to his van (and most likely selling it out of necessity vs. choice) he was hoping to get our payment plan over and done within a month. Ok, I could handle that. However, when Dave signed the notary contract, he changed and initialed so many things I was sure it made the contract null and void. I started to panic-- I HAD TO HAVE THIS VAN. On top of this, the whole notary process between here and Colorado was such a pain especially working around my two jobs and Dave's three jobs. I made a decision right then- I HAD to fly to Colorado and get that van NOW.............