After a wild and colorful decade bartending, nursing both her parents through cancer, and finishing the Portland Marathon, at age 31 Sam decided to make it her life’s priority to seek deeper happiness and truer purpose. She quit her job in the mortgage industry in Portland Oregon, bought a van and spent 2017 learning to and building a home in it. Sam has been living and traveling full time in her van since the start of 2018 with her feline travel companion. Cruising more than 20,000 miles together through national parks, major cities, and vast BLM lands with no plans to stop anytime soon. Sam’s motto for life (and forearm tattoo) says “Eat Dessert First”, that way we’ve always got room for the best part.
Vandalf the White (more often Grey)
2011 Mercedes Benz Sprinter 144” High Top
Diesel fueled, 3 liter, 6 cylinder, RWD
Purchased with 108k miles currently 138k
Average 19 mpg
Weight after conversion approx 4,800 lbs
She’s a rescue from a life of hauling laundry chemicals in the heat of Las Vegas. Purchased at a dealer auction March 2017 and brought right back to Portland for conversion. No windows, no fans, janky DIY interior walls, no stereo, stock tires, and a huge lack of love. Over 9 months I spent learning how to on YouTube and converting the van mostly myself, with hired help for the exquisite carpentry (I cannot build drawers!)
May 2010- August 2018
Breed: Turkish Angora
When I first set out to live in a van, I knew that I had two major priorities; be able to stand up inside my home and make it comfortable for my cat. At the time I was living with a rescue named Zamboni. During the build a lot of consideration went into how I could make traveling on the road not just bearable for him, but enjoyable and sustainable for both of us.
Our life together on the road was short lived but it was full of adventure and he always attracted new people to the door with his beautiful face and coat. Before the van there was just Sam n Zam, we were always a great pair from the day we met each other. The title SamVanZam will go on in honor of my first vanimal and partner on the road.
When it came time to think about a new road companion, I sincerely considered getting a dog for more “out of the van” companion. But then it dawned on me that you can train a kitten to do just about anything, including hiking!
Cash was born into a litter of mixed colored kittens and after a few play dates he won my heart. His curiosity, friendliness and compassion (Yes, cats can be compassionate) are all exactly what I was looking for in an adventure buddy.