Jacque and TJ are true adventure seekers. In early 2019, they picked up their Outside Van, which was built on a 4×4 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 144 high roof dually chassis. They chose to name the van Gusto, meaning vigor or zest for doing something, and they’ve been making the most out of all 70 square feet of it ever since. We sat down with them to get some insight into what it’s been like to hit the road full-time in their new home one wheels.
Roaming in a van has been a special part of our relationship from the very beginning (our second date was camping in a converted Van TJ had in the woods of West Virginia; our wedding night was the beginning of a road trip through Yellowstone and Utah). We’ve lived very busy lives on the East coast — TJ retired after 25 years as a Marine then contracted overseas for the government and Jacque has been building a consulting business. Each year, we spent only an average of 2-3 months together and all the while dreamed of moving back out West. This life gives us a chance to be together (in all of 70 sq feet!) and we have designed a route through all of our favorite towns in search of the next place to call home. We have no timeline or agenda right now — just space to figure out what the next phase of life will look like.
OV: Can you describe a typical day from sunrise to sunset in your van?
- Wake up with the sunrise.
- Make coffee with our little Nespresso machine.
- Plan route/agenda for the day (if we didn’t do it the day before).
- Morning workout of some kind (hike, mountain bike, gym if available).
- Breakfast/lunch around 10:00 a.m. (we do the intermittent fasting thing which means we eat the first meal pretty late).
- Move to next town or place of interest on our journey.
- Maybe another workout and shower if we can find a gym.
- Find some locals to get the real scoop on the area and spend some time getting to know the place.
- Move to next boondock camp site.
- Enjoy the sunset or evening, take some pictures, touch base with friends and family if we have cell service.
- Snooze 🙂
OV: What’s the most essential feature you’ve grown to love?
TJ: The Webasto heater in the cold and the Maxxair fan in the heat, but honoary mention goes to pretty much everything else.
Jacque: The bed because it is big and really comfy.
OV: Where is your favorite place to travel in your van? Why?
Wilderness areas and national forest boondocking sites — we’ve seen so many amazing ones. The favorites have come with hiking and biking trails. We’ve been keeping keeping a record of our favorite spots and towns so we can circle back.
OV: What’s the most memorable experience or trip you’ve had so far?
We should probably keep that to ourselves ;), but here is a PG one: We love talking to people, especially the old timers in each town. We met a memorable bunch in a coffee shop in Texas wearing boots, big ole buckles and guns, — they were all headed to Cowboy Church. They saw us across the cafe kissing and called us over to tell us that behavior like that is a good way to end up pregnant. Don Morton was the most senior, 85 years young, and a furniture designer for Neiman Marcus. Although he did work for Frank Lloyd Wright, he didn’t have much nice to say about him. Had a long chat with them. They were well-travelled and curious about our decision to break free.
OV: What is your favorite meal to cook in the van?
Our Vitamix is like a family member — we use it daily to make really yummy shakes. PB & Banana, Blueberry & Spinach, and Orange Cream.
OV: What are the three most useful items you have packed in your van?
Vitamix, Nespresso, and YETI 5 gal bucket that serves as trash can and a commode (in a pinch).
You can follow Jacque and TJ’s adventures in realtime on Instagram here!