We have REALLY enjoyed our Sprinter, but it’s time for a change! Check out the YouTube Video of our 2007 Dodge Sprinter
We are a family of awesome non-traditional traditions. We love traditions but not in the sense that most people think of tradition.
For example, we had two weddings. The first one was just the two of us, our two dogs and an officiant at a cabin on the hillside at sunrise. Our little ones first birthday was a big “todo”, but instead of pony rides and marry-go-rounds, we opted for an open tab at our favorite local brewery and celebrated with all our closest friends.
This Thanksgiving we decided since we are currently living in the south and only a few hours from the coast, we would ride our bikes along the Gulf of Mexico over the holiday.
Nearly every Thanksgiving, that we have been in the states, has been celebrated with family and friends. Lots of food, overstuffed bellies, naps and games. This year the Adventure Van was calling our name! We spent 2 nights and 3 days on the road in Florida.
Our first stop was Pensacola, FL. With no agenda but to ride our bikes and enjoy the weather, we didn’t make any reservations. Upon arriving at camp after dark, we set up shop and had the van ready for sleeping in no time.
The morning came a little early. We woke to the sound of waves and a bright sun shining on the van. While the hubby took the little one to the beach, I organized the van and had a glorious morning coffee out of my favorite silipint. (NOTE: we love these glasses. Its great for cold beer and does NOT get hot with hot coffee! Stay tuned for Adventure Family In Motion Sili-Pints coming soon!)
We strolled the beach and collected seashells, enjoyed the morning breeze and then set out for a quick ride around camp. Come to find out that Thanksgiving is a big camping holiday in the south. We thought a round of disc golf was in order but we don’t own discs so we were going to rent them…but the place was closed. The next option, pack up and head east!
We explored historic Pensacola on bike! Neat area with a quaint main street that offered a overabundance of restaurants, bars, and shops. The street ends at the water where many marinas house huge yachts. We let the toddler do her thing while we enjoyed the beautiful day. The pigeons were out in masses and would crowd around all the kids looking for a handout.
We had lunch at an awesome build-your-own burger joint that features spiked milkshakes and craft beer called the Tin Cow! (Just what the mommy needed!)
After lunch it was time to head to Pensacola Beach (over a mile long bridge). It was time for some beach roaming. The little princess LOVES the beach and would spend all day there if she could. The weather was in the low 60s with a brisk wind, but that didn’t stop her! She was elbows deep in the Gulf of Mexico! We spent an hour running in the water, collecting seashells and burying her feet in the sand. When she finally walked back to the van she was a little sugar cookie.
On the west end of the island is Fort Pickens Gulf Island National Seashore. Fort Pickens is the largest of four forts built to defend Pensacola Bay, Florida. Ten concrete gun batteries were built between 1890 and 1940s, each in a response to a particular threat. Now open to the public, visitors can explore the fort at their leisure. Most areas in the fort are open to wander.
We drove around the camp ground at Fort Pickens and found a great spot near the restrooms & bike path with plenty of shade! It was also essential not to have a clear view of the beach, since I am certain we would have lost the little one to her own beach roaming.
With the evenings coming quicker and quicker lately, we had a campfire up and going in no time. Hotdogs and smores’ while curled up next to a fire pit is ideal camping and a perfect Thanksgiving eve!
The next morning was good ol’ Thanksgiving Day! The weather was great and we all slept till 8! First thing was first…a bike ride! We took the bike path to the Fort and explored the old bunkers.
By the time we retired to camp it was time to clean up and move out. A few laps around running camp with the toddler is always essential; one parent preps the van for departure the other runs laps around the camp ground wearing out the toddler.
Our Thanksgiving feast was a beautiful brunch at Jimmy Buffets hotel Margaritaville. A beautiful buffet spread of two types of cooked turkey, lamb and roast beef along with 2 types of dressing and a plethora of desserts!
With full bellies and grateful hearts we loaded up in the Adventure Van and headed home.
In November we had the opportunity to knock out a few miles on the incredible Virginia Creeper trail in the western part of Virginia. The Creeper trail is a two-track gravel path built on an old railway (rail to trail) and is fast becoming one of the more popular trails in the United States. Our short trip on the trail helped us quickly realize why.
We chose to bike the trail in the autumn timeframe in order to take advantage of the falling leaves and changing colors of the surrounding forest. I don’t mind biking up hill, however when I’m offered the opportunity I would prefer to bike down hill (who doesn’t).
With the Creeper trail, this is not only an option, but is the “normal” method. So on our first night in the town of Damascus VA, we stopped in at The Bike Station to secure our ticket up the hill the next morning. The great people at The Bike Station locked us in a spot on the morning shuttle and also allowed us to park the Urban Adventure Van (UAV) in their parking lot for an overnight stay.
With both a shuttle for the morning trip secured and a place to park our home on wheels, we started searching for other intriguing places to check out. It did not take us long to stumble into (and out of) the Damascus Brewery. We ran through a full tasting of the beers they had on tap and additionally sampled the cider they had recently whipped up. All incredible beers, making it difficult to choose just one, so I chose multiple. The Damascus Brewery is yet another cool story of someone putting their mind to coming up with a dream and going for it! We will be going back for future samplings.
In the morning we loaded the wife’s Salsa Vaya, my Surly Crosscheck and our daughter’s Thule Chariot stroller on a trailer pulled behind a van by The Bike Station team for a 30-minute drive up the hill to the White Top Station drop point. The weather was great and the trip up the mountain was beautiful. When we arrived, it took about 5 minutes to unload the bikes and we were off! We bombed down the trail with our daughter behind in her Chariot stroller singing and laughing all the way. Our bikes performed incredibly and the miles zipped by. We stopped multiple times for pictures and to take in the scenery, however the 17 mile downhill trip back to Damascus only took about an hour an a half total.
The Creeper trail continues on past Damascus for another 17 or so miles, however during this trip we just didn’t have the time to bike the remaining miles, not to mention it was a little cold during this time of year. The fall trip was nice to see the changing colors, but the trip could also be done during the spring or summer months providing a little warmth and less chance of rain and snow. The Bike Station can rent you all the equipment you need for this family friendly bike adventure and Damascus Brewery can help assure you have a solid frosty adult beverage to enjoy after your ride.
The sprinter conversion van (Urban Adventure Van as we like to call it!) is our ticket to traveling anywhere we can imagine and knocking down some serious endeavors with our little girl. It has a TON of room for camera equipment, bikes, baby stuff, climbing gear and any other gear we can possibly imagine taking along for a trip. Not the mention, its a cool place to hang out or change in between excursions.
The 2007 Mercedes-built Dodge Sprinter Van is a 140 wheelbase and has a 7′ high top, allowing enough room to stand up inside. It has been decked out by Morehead Design Labs out of North Carolina. Exceptional craftsmanship and well thought out design layout. The van has a Mercedes diesel engine getting over 20 MPG and has more than enough room to standup inside. We have solar, an inverter, fridge, sink, diesel based heater and tons of cabinet space to store anything!
This van has really increased our ability to travel longer distances and sleep where we want with all our gear in relative comfort. Checkout the short video below and hit us up if you would like more details.