Sunday, October 26, 2008

Headed Home

After a great Mexican dinner with Pat and Sara we were headed home. We slept off a dirt road in the National Forest and passed Mt. Shasta in the morning. When we saw a van with a very interesting paint job we knew we were almost back in LA LA Land. After seeing so many awesome places we were less than excited to return to LA.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Smith Rock

After dreaming of going to Smith Rock for over 10 years Anja was finally there. She LOVED IT! We were pretty tired from the whirlwind journey but had a great time climbing and hanging with Pat, Sara and Roxy (Pat's dog). Since this was Anja's first trip there we had to hike over the pass to see Monkey' Face.

Headed to Smith Rock

We had owned the van for nearly over 24 hours so heading off in it to a climbing area was already far over due! So we headed off to Smith Rock in Bend, OR with Pat and Sara.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Headed to Portland

We had the van and we headed to Portland to catchup with a climbing friend. We made a quick stop in Seattle to show Justin the van.

Van Celebration

Lunch at Antonio’s was great and reasonable with most dishes costing between $15-25. Anja mentioned that he should order whatever he wanted and Ron replied “that’s all I needed to hear, I’ll take the halibut”. At lunch he also told us: “there are two days of celebration in the ownership of an RV, Boat or Home; the day you buy it and the day you sell it.” Thanks for celebrating with us Ron! After a quick stop at the park near Antonio’s we headed off to Portland.

Van Theft Story

On the way to the restaurant we asked Ron about the theft, and he told us that one morning he came out of his condo to find the van gone. He phoned the police and then went looking for it. After an hour he found it with some people unloading/loading stuff. He notified the police and they came quick and pulled there guns as he sat in his car and took pictures! His bike and radios were missing from the van, but his sleuthing continued. He checked on eBay and found his radio for sale from a local pawn shop! Once again got the police involved and recovered his radio. While the bike was gone, his insurance company reimbursed him for the cost of the bike.

Van Transaction

We then took it on the freeway for a test drive on our way to Wells Fargo. It is HUGE but drives great. We were both excited and Anja was exceedingly excited. At Wells Fargo we completed the transaction and offered to reimburse him for the repair cost, but he said he felt he should repair it since he had told me the A/C was in good condition. What a super cool guy! We insisted he let us take him out to lunch, and he suggested Antonio’s: a nice seafood restaurant on the water front. A quick photo op with the keys to our new van and we were off.

Van Inspection

Ron had the van there at the station so we went through everything he could think of in the parking lot. Location of tanks under the van, heater and AC controls, starting the generator, the alarm system, the sink, the electrical, the microwave, water heater, where the propane was plumbed, the bed, the awning, solar system, and everything else. It was really helpful; Thanks Ron!

Train Ride

We got up early to catch the 7:30am train to Bellingham. We boarded and had a very pleasant ride, there was great leg room, a dining car and the route followed the coast. As we exited the train, we looked over at a man waiting for people to arrive and Anja said “Maybe that’s Ron”, to which I replied “Ron is 6’6” that guy is 5’8”. It was chilling in Bellingham so we headed in the building at the Station to call Ron but there was a 6’6” man in there and we introduced ourselves.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Trip to Seattle

On Thursday afternoon (10/23) we sprinted from the UCLA parking lot at 3:52 pm to catch the Westwood Flyaway bus to LAX. We got there just as the last person was stepping on the bus, but as we tried to climb on the driver said she had space for only one! We offered to stand, but she said “No”. Fortunately, a passenger offered to hold his kid for the ride, and she was ok with that. It actually would have been ok to take the 4:30 bus as our official flight was at 6:30, but my hope was to catch an earlier flight.

At LAX we discovered that Alaska Airlines was the only airline operating out of the second half of terminal 3 so we made it through security in 5 minutes. The whole time we just kept asking were are we this can’t be LAX. In the terminal we looked at the screen quick and when Anja said gate 31B we were off. We got to 31B Alaska Airlines departing for Seattle at 4:50 pm and boarding had just ended and it was full anyway; Damn we missed it. Anja was starving so we went to Burger King and got some food but as I sat there something did not seem right that we had missed that flight so I went back to the terminals and low and behold there was an Alaska Airlines 5ish pm flight boarding and there was room so I ran back and grabbed Anja and we hopped on the flight and got the last row of the plane to ourselves.

In Seattle Justin picked us up and we headed to the Tap House in Downtown. Steve Schwieniman, a friend from Cal Poly, came down and meet us and he and I discussed current times and back in the day. Steve headed off to get home to his 3 month old daughter and we were about ready to leave when Papkin showed up. Anja and I had met Papkin in the northern jungle of Thailand in January 2007 and had gone caving with him. We caught up and headed home to Justin’s at about 11 pm.

Friday, October 10, 2008

1996 Sportsmobile Van from CL

We decided to buy a 1996 Dodge Sportsmobile van for $9,000 listed on CL in Bellingham, WA. See the add below:

Price just reduced to $9500 a great value. My 1996 Dodge Sportsmobile is For Sale: 82,000 miles, Gas 5.9L w/overdrive, 19 ft., Generator, 2 air conditioners, Propane thermostatically controlled furnace, microwave, Sony am/fm compact disc player w/remote and removable face, 50W Solar charger, Duel Electric Fridge, Clifford Security system with pager to about 30 yards, Awning, unused Thetford Porta Potty, hot water heater.

I purchased this Ram 3500 in July of 2000, I replaced all the tires, the Michelins still have good thread but there are some small weather cracks on the sidewalls. The following year I added a Freedom II awning and replaced the compressor in the Norcold Duel Electric Fridge. The CD player and Security system were added in November of 2005.

In March of 2002 I added a 50W Specialty Concept Mark 15 solar charger and electronic controller. This does a nice job of keeping the 2 house batteries charged while sitting. The controller prevents over charge and displays battery voltage and charge current.

I am moving within town to a place where there is no good storage for my Van. I have changed the oil on a regular basis. All 3 batteries were replaced in October of 2005. The oil sender and Serpentine belt were replaced in May of 2008.

The Onan MicroLite 2800 Series Generator has only 120 hours. The Oil, Spark Plug and fuel filter were replaced in July of 2008. The rear makes into a 73x49 inch bed. Max interior height is 73 inches. There is 20 gal fresh water tank, a grey water holding tank, but no stove. A propane line is available under the counter if someone wanted to add

Sportsmoble makes a GREAT camper van. You can find their web pages on the internet. Lots of little storage compartments and 12V lig hts placed in good locations with 4 12V accessory outlets. Email me for more photos.

Decided to buy van

Before committing to buying the van we emailed back and forth with the owner Ron a number of times and Anja talked to him a few times. He was 6’6” and used the van to drive to and from New Mexico. He seemed like a really good guy, very meticulous about taking care of the van, and very helpful with any questions we had. I had seen the van posted at one time for $10,500 and saw when Ron dropped it to $9,500. Since we were going to have to travel so far to buy it and then drive it home Anja talked him down to $9,000. Well for $9,000 with everything it had I was in and Anja loved the fuzzy aquamarine color everywhere so she was sold. He also said he would have the brakes serviced before selling it because they were surging a little.

We decided to go for it and asked Ron if he would take a $500 deposit to hold it until we could fly up there and he agreed and agreed to take Paypal as long as I paid the $20 (3%) fee which would be incurred to Paypal for the charge. I felt this offered the most protection from a fraud situation. I knew Ron was on the same page when he reminded me several times not to bring a cashier’s check as we would need to get one from a Bellingham location. After we sent the deposit he sent us the VIN number, and we got the carfax report.

Interestingly, in September 2005 it was reported stolen. We weren’t too worried since it was also listed as being recovered the next day, and the vehicle seemed to be in great shape (based on the other information in the report, the photos, and Ron’s descriptions). Between that and the security system installation listed in October 2005, we figured there would be a good story. 

Before the trip to Bellingham we continued pestering Ron with questions and he patiently answered them and sent us more pictures. We were both so excited we would view them almost daily, and I would carefully zoom in and analyze each one. I asked about the A/C a few times, so Ron had it checked out. The repair shop found a leak and Ron paid about $500 to have it fixed and recharged!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Changing Van Choice

Before backing out we called around and talked to a few van owners I had email previously about their vehicle. These were a Roadtrek and a Sportsmobile in Washington all the owner were really nice to Anja and she enjoyed talking to them most seemed to be in retirement and wanted to sell there vehicle to a couple who would enjoy it as much as they had. The best of the bunch for features and price was the Sportsmobile in Washington so we began to pursue a deal with Ron in Washington. I felt best about this deal to because if we went to Washington and the deal went bad I knew Justin, lives in Seattle and is like a second brother in my family, would help bail us out

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Van We Didn't Buy

I sent Anja a craigslist post with a cheap van in Vegas.
Subject: 1994 Dodge B-350 15 passenger hi top handicap van - $2750 (Las Vegas)
I guess she liked it or the price and called the owner. He said he had a buyer coming so she offered him more money and he agreed. She then called me and I said what? Really? I was less than excited. I didn't think we really wanted to convert a van ourselves as it would just take too much time. So we started to analize the other options and finally I said no baby we are not buying this van. She folded and the owner agreed to return her deposit for $100 for backing out of the deal.