Our Be-Van family is growing daily, and we love to sit down and catch up with the awesome owners that have taken our homes on wheels out for a spin!
We had a chat with Mike recently, the proud owner of a very special Dodge Ram 139 WB Promaster.
Here’s what he had to say about being a new Bemyvan adventurer.
We hear you’re the proud owner of the 139 WB Promaster! How does it feel?
Yes indeed! We wanted a smaller van so we could drive, park, and put the bike rack on easily without it feeling too bulky. We’re not full-time Vanlifers so it’s the perfect size for my wife and me. We have every other Friday off, so we like to take it out for long weekends. It’s perfect for getting out of town and has made it that much easier for us to go farther than where we live in California.
Any favorite destinations so far?
We go to San Diego all the time and recently bought the California State Park Adventure Pass for $180 for one year. All state beaches in California are included with free parking. It isn’t easy to find beach parking sometimes in addition to it being at least $25 bucks to park for just a day so it’s already paid for itself. In Santa Barbara and Morro Bay, there are fewer people and fewer parking restrictions. Now we’re starting to work our way up the coast, and besides the beach, we’ve really loved spending time out in Joshua Tree. It was so peaceful there. We’ve also been using Harvest Hosts finally after hearing many Vanlifers recommend it and have made some beautiful memories.
Can you tell us more about your Harvest Host experience?
It’s been awesome so far. For the 4th of July weekend, we stayed at two wineries and an olive farm, and it was stunning. We bought the smaller package for $90 a year which allows us to book farms, wineries, and smaller private campsites. Think AirBnB but for land to park on. We even had the winery all to ourselves after it was closed. Then, at the olive farm, we were on a beautiful hill all to ourselves. At campgrounds, you’re spending at least $35-40 a night and you’re guaranteed to be next to another family or RV. The Harvest Hosts membership pays for itself in just a couple of trips. This has been our preferred way to park and experience different landscapes, soon we’ll be staying on a farm near San Luis Obispo!
What activities do you do with your Van?
We love to bike, take our beach cruisers out, and hike as much as we can. Recently we bought some E-Bikes for exploring Zion. Our favorite thing about the van has been using the indoor shower, honestly, it’s such a luxury after a sweaty stinky bike ride! It’s amazing having one all to ourselves and not having to share one in a camp somewhere. Pre-Vanlife, we’d go on hikes, and we’d have to wake up at the crack of dawn just to get there – and then drive 2 hours just to get home exhausted afterward. With the van, we wake up, and we’re actually at the destination already. It’s incredible and allows us to maximize our time and really enjoy every moment.
What made you choose Bemyvan?
Bemyvan was the first builder to be up to the challenge of making something compact but functional for us that matched our vision. You guys were really excited to make it work for us on the Promaster 139 WB with the indoor bathroom – and we’re so grateful for that! Ben in particular was beyond helpful and part of the build process every step of the way. We felt like friends instead of just a number and it’s why we recommend you to everyone.
Where do you usually park?
Usually, we’ll park on BLM, or reserve spaces on HipCamp and Harvest Hosts. The app iOverlander is great for finding stealth parking spots if you’re in a city or town. Each city has its own restrictions so just be mindful of that. We stayed in front of a bird sanctuary and then in front of a community in San Diego once. We’ll pop in on a Thursday evening, put the blackouts up, and leave quickly in the morning to our next destination. What’s great about the 139 WB is we can park in a normal parking spot as long as the bike rack is not on there. Also, the AC is smaller and more stealthy. We don’t stand out as much and can easily blend in for an evening if we don’t have parking reserved somewhere.
How’s life inside the van?
We love the shower so much. It’s one of the best things. My wife loves cooking so we use the kitchen quite a bit, she’ll whip up the dishes and I’ll film her. We cook shower, and have a full-time built-in bed so we can just hop in when it’s time to rest. It’s great and so convenient – we love the concept of having a tiny house on wheels – and we even have it in a 139. It’s awesome!
What was life like before your Be-Van?
We’re doing the same things we did before but with more time at our destination. We can go farther; we can do more, see more, and be in the depths rather than on the way there all the time. It’s more practical to live the lifestyle we love.
How’s life after?
The van has allowed us to go farther and see more! We don’t need to book hotels anymore. The van has allowed us to venture out to farther places! It’s made life a breeze.
Any downsides to the lifestyle?
Sometimes you need to move everything out of the way to do something – it’s like a game of tetris. But again, we’re not in it full-time, so it’s just part of the weekend experience! It’d be different to live in it full-time but it’s fine for weekends. Sometimes the wind on freeways can be a bit nerve-wracking as well since we’re in a higher vehicle, but so far everything’s been amazing and it’s all been a fun new adventure figuring things out. It’s the honeymoon stage for us! Even from finding parking to driving it – it’s like being a big kid again.
Follow us on @matson.life on Instagram to check out our journey!
Are there random stories or cool adventures you’d like to share with the community?
Gosh, it feels like every trip we take gets better and better. Morro Bay was a highlight. Staying on a vineyard in Paso Robles through Harvest Hosts was one to remember. Having the whole place to ourselves after closing…those are two big highlights! We just got back from Santa Barbara and stayed 3 days doing stealth camping as well. We loved it all.
From what you describe, it seems like with the van you can explore without putting too much planning behind it. Is that correct?
Yes! On the 4th of July weekend, we were coming back from Paso Robles, for example, and last minute we thought it’d be cool to park on the coastline. We were able to grill up some hot dogs right on the beach and celebrate the 4th grilling with the ocean breeze. It broke up the trip nicely and allowed us to experience a destination we probably wouldn’t have without the van! We’re looking forward to taking it off-grid more. So far on all of our trips, we haven’t even finished the freshwater or needed all the battery and solar. It truly is fantastic to have a little off-grid home on wheels.
Any recommendations for future Vanlifers?
I would tell people to get the built-in shower. I hear so many people say they haven’t showered in 5+ days. It makes all the difference not to have to go to a gas station, a campsite, or pull on side of the road and use the outdoor shower. It’s key to get one! And it’s such nice high pressure and steaming hot.
For more info on our van build with indoor shower:
We also suggest using Harvest Hosts, iOverlander for stealth parking, and downloading movies before you depart so you can enjoy entertainment in bed once you’ve parked!
Last but not least, Bemyvan has been amazing. Everything has been super smooth and the turn-around for our van build was only 4 weeks. To anyone looking for a company to convert – I would 1000% recommend Bemyvan. These are your guys!
There you have it!
Another happy pair of adventurers living their best lives in their home on wheels. Have you thought about taking the leap? Now’s as good a time as ever to adopt a lifestyle of adventure!
Plan a call with us and tell us about your van project!