We have no idea what we’re doing and it (mostly) feels great

van beach
Every time I see her I think to myself, “oh, she’s smaller than I’m planning for”.

The building began last weekend. That being said, it’s been a slow process. One that’s trying really hard to teach me patience and the importance of realistic expectations.

A few of this week’s favorite mantras:
  •  “Whoever has the most fun wins”. I’m using this one daily.
  • For work days/projects… “This is going to be harder, take longer, and cost more money than we plan for”.
  • For partner dynamics: “It’s not about being right, it’s about feeling connected” – Thanks to Alex, the relationship counselor for sharing this bit of advice at the super blood moon wedding last weekend!
  • For when everything is hard: “Everything is hard. Because everything is hard, I spend almost my whole life failing” – Jumper wisdom
We had a slow start last Saturday, heading to Oakland to pick up the van, finding everything we needed at Home depot, and returning to the city. I was sure we could remove paneling and get the insulation up in no time :).
What we took home with us:
  • Styrofoam (thin & thick) w/ metallic backing
  • Spray foam (3 cans)
  • Underlayment (for the floor)
  • Insulation tape
  • Tyvek Tape
  • 3m adhesive (we aren’t actually sure how we ended up with this)
  • Furring strips
  • Vapor barrier
  • Saw
Shopping was exhausting and hunger-invoking, so we packed up the van and headed back to the sunset. We live on a hill and sought out flat land at Ocean Beach in time for the sunset. We ripped out paneling next to a family that had just caught three huge crabs with their hands. Adding sunset and family (yours or others) to frustration and defeat, actually made it not so bad. Our progress that night was minimal, but the sky was incredible, and we’ve finally started.
IMG_8024plastic panels
Day 2 of work was Tuesday.
Again, we were hopeful of all we could accomplish. I guess it’s not hopeful, what we were, it’s delusional. We were delusional about all we could get done and upon removing the ceiling paneling, spent way too long at the hardware store in search of appropriate screws. This was laughably infuriating. I had hoped for a better way to measure and had constant flashback to art school woodshops and three legged stools…

Day 3: Thursday
This was the first day that actually felt productive! All week I’ve been saying I’m working on insulation, but all the other days were prep. Thursday, insulation went up, or started to. We finished spray foaming some big holes first, then cut the foam, added vapor barrier, and put it up on the walls. There are some strange places we still don’t totally know what to do with, but we’ll make a decision in the next few days.
The “vigorous” 30 second shake:

insulation, vanlife, vanbuild, conversion van
denim insulation
Mini work day on Saturday
We took the monstrous lady van to see Rob on Saturday. Rob owns Lucid Machine Art and has an incredible working space, but mostly, skills. He’s also my acroyoga partner. We got his blessing on where we stand and our next steps before we return to put in the walls and the floor.
Lucid Machine Art

Insulation takeaways:

  • Had I known about denim insulation earlier, I would have focused on this and skipped the styrofoam wherever possible
  • Bob Wells from RV Cheap Living writes an incredibly useful blog and is amazingly responsive. Thanks Bob!
  • We definitely needed more spray foam than we expected and made a few trips to the hardware store for more. Also, the nozzle closes up super fast so make sure you know exactly where you’re spraying before you get started and NO distractions until it’s out.


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