We recently caught up with Stacey, who owns Brown Pow, a Mercedes-Benz 170 which was custom build by Outside Van in 2014, and her grand-dog, Koda. Check out her story and find out more about her van life!
OV: In as many or as little words as you’d like, tell you your story! How did you end up with a van? What do you mainly use it for?
I had been looking at vans for some time. I needed something that worked for kite surfing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and other fun outside stuff that’s gear intensive, as well as a place to sleep and hang out with my dogs. I live in the Columbia River Gorge and had over the years seen all kinds of sport purposed van setups. It was fun to watch the evolution of the “outside van” before I knew Outside Van was an actual thing! My dear friend Stef is an OSV employee and called me super-stoked to tell me OSV had one of Erik’s original concept builds back from a customer who purchased his most recent creation. We took it camping and I knew “Brown Pow” was “The One”! It’s been two years of pretty lux road trip heaven… but lux is also rugged and functional, which I didn’t think would co-exist. It does… my van is my comfy house and gear locker. My van is my overnight spot at Stef’s house for my many nights with her beautiful family. My van is my big, safe, comfortable commuter for my many Seattle runs to be with my family. My van is the freedom to go and do whatever I want, whenever I want now that I’ve retired from my job as paramedic and firefighter. My van is whatever adventure comes next.
OV: Can you describe a typical day when you’re on a trip in your van?
An overnight, adventure mode, I wake up and try to figure out what time it is! ….a retired person thing. My build is super well insulated and has complete window shades, so kind of an isolation chamber. I have all the stuff for typical morning routine no matter what the day holds (sink, cooktop, blender, shower, potty…). I also travel really comfortably with 2 pups. All my gear is in a separate garage space in back (it’s huge) or in the Packasport on top. This winter I’ll be able to use my shower for wet, snowy gear as well. My van also has a compressor that I can use for cleaning my bike, but I use it every day to blow the cockpit area and living space free of dirt and dog fur. Depending on what I’m doing, the van becomes a home base that I can safely leave my dogs in whether super cold or super-hot outside. My solar capability allows for some extended off-grid use and I have satellite communication capability as well, should the need arise. Beyond that, it’s explore, play and have fun!
OV: What’s the most memorable experience or trip you’ve had so far?
Most recently, I attended the Open Roads Van Life Festival in McCall, Idaho with hundreds of other van people and van creations. It was so much fun to hang out with the OSV gang and see all of the creativity expressed in all of the other builds. Some were OSV’s, some were other vendors, most were people who had vehicles they did themselves… really cool stuff from really cool people. A big field at Jug Mountain Ranch with no electricity or other infrastructure and most of us could have stayed for an extended time without needing any additional support.
OV: Where is your favorite place to travel in your van? Why?
My next favorite trip was to Jackson, Wyoming… so amazing! …except when the truck stop guy put 25 gallons of gasoline into my diesel tank! That problem was resolved and the road trip was super fun. I love the backroads and hope to see lots more of our National Parks and places to ride and kite and other stuff.
OV: What’s one of the coolest features you’ve grown to love in your van?
The robust battery capacity. I can leave the dogs in the air conditioned van for many hours safely if they can’t accompany me for a sport. The solar panels are huge, so when the weather is hottest, they crank out the power. That also means that at night, I can sleep comfortably without worrying about running the batteries down in that same environment.
OV: What are the three most useful items you have packed in your van?
1. Titos (“Vodka for Dog People”)
2. Tons of road food and my big ARB cooler/freezer
3. All my gear!