Unbelievably, we’re less than 12 weeks away from moving into the van and hitting the road. I’m as anxious as I am excited. It still feels like we have a ton of things to do, but the reality is that we’re pretty close to being ready overall. I can say this confidently because this past weekend, we finished what should be the last big project (and one that has given me a great deal of trepidation from the get-go): installing a roof vent & fan. I didn’t do a great job of documenting the previous projects, so I tried to make up for it on this one!
Some background: the van is equipped with a giant rooftop AC unit. It’s awesome. But we can only use it consistently when we have an external power source to plug into, i.e. a campground with electricity hookups or someone’s house. Our house batteries can’t provide enough power to run it for more than a few minutes. We also have no windows aside from the two standard ones in the cab. This means that when we’re running on battery power alone, things get really, really hot and humid in the back of the van. Since we’re heading straight to the south, clearly this would not do. The solution? Install a roof vent with a fan that will suck hot air out and blow cool air in. It sounds reasonable, but step one of this project is cutting a 14 inch x 14 inch hole in the roof of the van. Commence nail-biting.
With everyone’s schedules being as hectic as ever, we had to wait until this past weekend to get this project done. Amazingly we were graced with gorgeous 70 degree weather in late October (albeit with a annoying surge in the bee, stinkbug, and ladybug population that each took quite an interest in bothering us). On Saturday, Greg, my dad, and myself got to work adding more Swiss Cheese holes into my beloved van. (Side note: this entire van project would have been borderline impossible without the help of my father. He’s been our electrician, our carpenter, our security officer, our plumber, our mechanic, and an amazing advocate for us attempting this crazy thing in the first place. He’s the coolest.)
The new hole was cut with relative ease, to tell you the truth. The downside is that we finally got a look at the insulation between the outside roof and our inside ceiling, and it was completely soaking wet. This was super bad because it means something on the roof somewhere was letting water inside. In other words, we had a leak. And we were fairly sure of the culprit – our AC unit. Very quickly our simple one-day vent install became a much larger project.
We determined the main problem to be the sealant around the outside of the AC unit. Apparently, RV Air Conditioners are designed to drain onto the roof, and if the outside of the unit is sealed, it causes the water & condensation to drain back into the vehicle. So Greg and I spent a long time scraping old, hardened silicone sealant off the top of the van and the bottom of the air conditioner (see the giant pile of that stuff that looks like boogers in the top right of the above right picture). Not an enjoyable job to say the least.
We also sealed some suspicious looking holes and replaced the gasket for good measure. On Sunday we began the task of putting everything back together, finishing the installation of the new vent, and hoping everything still worked like it should.
And it totally did! Not only did we not break the air conditioner upon reassembly, but the air vent installed easily and works incredibly well. We bought a MaxxFan based on its rave reviews online, and from what I can tell it’s worth the hype. That thing can really move a lot of air. And after a quick trial run it seems like it does a good job of cooling things down in the back. Only time will tell if it keeps things bearable on the road, but I’m optimistic. Now all we have to do is wait for rain and hope we sealed everything correctly.
There’s still quite a few smaller projects left to tackle. We’ve got some security cameras to install, some storage solutions to work out and some items to secure so they stop falling on the floor whenever we drive around, among other things. But this should be the last major modification we have to do before we leave, which is both exciting and a bit relieving.
Things are going much smoother on the music front, which I did not expect to be the case. The only unexpected surprises I’ve faced in regards to booking shows have been positive so far. We’re up to 17 confirmed dates in Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi. Most of the dates are in Florida; I had a pretty easy time booking there for some reason. Currently I’m working to secure about a week’s worth of dates between Pensacola FL and Shreveport LA before we head over into Texas, where I think we should do really well. March 30th is the halfway point of the tour, and we’ve got confirmed dates through March 15th. So unbelievably we’ve booked nearly half the tour already. If I had known we’d have so much success booking shows in other states, I might have done this a long time ago.
We’re rapidly approaching November, and I’ve planned to submit my resignation at my job on November 2nd. My last day will be either November 30th or December 1st. I’m still not sure that the implications of what we’re doing have fully sunk in for me yet, but I’m fairly sure that officially leaving my job will be the thing that makes it feel “real”. And there’s nothing like not having a steady paycheck to motivate you into making things work.
Next step: announcing the tour! By the middle of November Greg and I will have both notified our jobs, so we can finally make the announcement. (And I should be able to make this blog public then, too!)