Van Nomads Xmas Part 1

After hanging out in Washington, DC for 2 days, we headed down towards North Carolina to my brother’s house.

IMG_0202.JPGWe managed to get there in the afternoon and were greeted by our 5 year old niece. Back in August, our families rented some cabins in upstate, New York. We became playmates for Aurora the entire time. We played in the mud…a lot, and became “Muddy Buddies” (FOR LIFE). She did not forget and referred to us as her Muddy Buddies our entire time there.


We set up our slackline and made everyone try and then Aurora started referring to us as Slackline Muddy Buddies. We did all kinds of science experiments- Oobleck, giant bubbles, slime and Elephant Toothpaste.

IMG_9546.jpgOur oldest niece Lorie, 17, was always willing to help out and get her hands dirty. Lorie has always been a champion big sis. The 4 of us played for hours.  I’m really glad she’s not too cool for us, even at 17 (well, she is, but luckily she doesn’t act like it).




Nothing like getting messy

The next day, my parents made it down as well. Maria and I still spent most of the day playing with the girls and putting off all the stuff that needed to be done to Houdini (there is still SOO much stuff to do).  We rarely get to see our nieces, and we want to enjoy this time while they still think we’re cool.

Check out our cool clubhouse




Made bracelets out of flowers

On the 23rd, we went with my brother, Austi

n, to the junkyard to try and find some stuff for Houdini.


Austin, a warrant officer in the Army, has been a car enthusiast ever since he was a teenager. He would spend so much time in our father’s garage, tinkering on his truck and has kept to that hobby to this day, so he has a great wealth of knowledge when it comes to vehicles and lots of tools for us to borrow to work on Houdini as well, and he was more than happy to give us a helping hand.

We were able to find a spare tire in pretty good shape, some cages for our windows and a bunch of spare fuses.

IMG_9705.JPGFrom the junkyard we headed to Raleigh to see an old buddy of mine from high school and his family. Carlos and I became friends over the summer one year thanks to our mutual love of playing sports and became so close that I actually had the honor of being the best man at his wedding. Since then, he has had two amazing kids, one of whom many of you might have seen on YouTube dancing away to Aretha Franklin. (The video was so popular she has been traveling the country doing talk shows, was featured in the YouTube rewind video and even caused Aretha Franklin to start suddenly trending).


We all hung out for a while, catching up on the latest news and reminiscing about our youth (and his weird obsession with boy bands). Fond hugs and farewells, along with them signing Houdini of course and we were on our way back to Austin’s house.

The next day it was time to put some serious work in on Houdini. Maria attempted to help out but our niece wasn’t going to allow both Muddy Buddies to work at the same time so she kept her occupied by playing in the mud and doing experiments


IMG_9590.JPGMy father (the engineer), my brother (the lifelong car enthusiast) and I (the technician) put our heads together to get everything done.

IMG_9732.JPGWe started by mounting the awning and giving it a test run. After that it was figuring out how to make a tool out of the parts we had to lower the mount for the spare tire. Then we customized the cages (since they were actually made for a Ford cargo van and shaped a bit differently) and figure out the best way to mount them as well as come up with an idea to make a cage for the last remaining window. It was a pretty productive day all in all.

























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