Nate and Ashley Smith’s van is an essential part of their weekend adventures and an easyish way to escape the hordes of tourists in the tiny Colorado mountain town they call home.
Make/Model: 1995 Ford E-250 Econoline Coachman Conversion
Nickname: Uncle Rico
Years Owned: 3, first van
“We bought Uncle Rico sight unseen and we have no regrets,” Nate says. “Ashley and I both work 9 to 5 jobs and were looking for a way to enhance our weekend warrior status. Now, the van is incorporated into our 5 to 9 work schedule. Sometimes, we use Rico as our rolling office. I can represent my clients in between surf sessions and Ashley can check in on her staff while sipping her morning coffee.”
“We only have two days to disconnect from our work lives,” Ashley describes. “Before Uncle Rico, we were spending half the time packing the gear, loading the gear, getting to the location, unpacking the gear, setting up the gear, breaking down the gear, re-loading the gear, driving back home, and then unpacking the gear. Ya get it? I do that at work and, quite frankly, I got tired of doing it in my free time.”
“We wanted to make our adventures a little more turnkey,” Nate adds. “The mileage is low and the van generally runs great, but we’ve spent a lot of time troubleshooting and stressing about issues, and paying mechanics to do the same. We’ve replaced the tires, ball joints, fuel pump, and entire ignition system, as well as repaired/replaced several water line leaks, and the furnace circuit board, and the ventilation fan. Repairs are fun…in small doses. Since I am an office jockey, I’ve used the van as a way to become more mechanically inclined. It’s not always easy but the van reminds us why we moved to the mountains. There is so much open country to explore out west and the van helps us get to those places”
“And it’s 100-percent luxury dirtbaggery,” Ashley explains. “It’s glamping with a fresh scent of B.O., moldy old carpet, and dog slobber all packed together. When we roll into our campsite super late on a Friday and just have to pull out the bed, I really feel like letting out a quiet ‘yessssss.’ I feel like I’ve won. No pulling out all the gear and setting everything up. It’s all right there. Before going to sleep, Nate and I review our adventure plan for the next two days over a beer or cocktail with some Ryan Adams in the background. It’s quiet and it feels like home.”