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Le Papillon de Nuit

The butterfly of the night (or, as most of would call it, the moth) is my self proclaimed nickname for the van. There is a somewhat long story behind this, dating back to one of the first trips I took to Yosemite valley. I won't go into the details, but I will say that it involved a certain French Canadian crusher and his disgust for the word moth.

Regardless, this is the condensed story of my build out in the modern day classic climber van.

Her maiden (unregistered) voyage

In April, I went to California to visit my parents and shop used sprinters. I hadn't decided on a size or even if I wanted to go with the Benz, when my dad planted the seed that going new wasn't a terrible option. After many calls to dealers across the state, I settled on the best price at a dealer in the deep south of California: Laguna Niguel. To seal the deal, they drove it to Vegas where I met them with the paperwork and I took off into the high winds with my new rig. I tried to climb at Red Rock, Zion, and Castle Valley during my drive back to MT. Each time I got shut down by weather, but I eventually met a buddy and snuck in a weekend at the creek with my empty shell of a home.

After a few splitters in the desert of Utah, I got back home and broke ground on the van. First day in town, my friend Adam motivated me to start working on the floor. Once I got the ball rolling, it was nonstop for the next two weeks.

After the floor came insulation. Ceilings, walls, and even the headliner of the cab. This was quick but tedious work...

At first it was hard to give up climbing for an entire day (or week!) to work on the van, but as the rainy season settled in it just made sense to be laboring away on the build. In some ways, it made my April much more productive. My mistakes sure gave my friends something to laugh at...

Installation of the walls, solar, fan, and camera all went fairly smooth. Cutting a hole in the roof was scary, but pretty easy. Unfortunately, right after all the roof appliances were added a heavy spring snow hit us...

A tree literally fell onto my van. Fortunately it was small, but it did leave a sizable dent! After talking to my landlord and meeting a few body shops, I managed to get a cash settlement that allowed me continue with the build! A blessing in disguise I suppose.

A few more lessons in wood working later...

Adam's design for a collapsing bed worked wonderfully. Not to mention his help making it was essential.

With a working bed, electricity, and a fridge, I had met my personal requirements for my first real trip in it: the valley.

It was an excellent trip with great friends. The van was a huge step up from regular valley life, despite the fact that much of the build was incomplete.

Once I was back home, I made a counter top out of epoxy and old maps that my grandpa had. I accredit the lack of mistakes on this project to my dad- I was finally able to have his help for some of the work. What a wonder experience and the right tools can do...

Once I made it back to Montana, work hit hard and I rarely had time to add to the van. Over the next two or three months, I slowly added a few creature comforts like a sink and stove, a window, and cabinet doors etc.

All in all, its been a fun and expensive journey (that is not over!). I've learned a lot and I'm looking forward to whats next in there.

Recently I've even considered selling it. It'd be tough, but I think it would be fun to start over on another rig if I could sneak away with some profit. Who knows though, my shawty craftsmanship can't be worth too much!

P.S. I admit that I feel a little self conscious for owning a $printer. It feels a little too cliche when I park next to five other white vans at el cap meadow. What type of dirtbag lives in a Mercedes? Well, maybe I'm just not a dirtbag...

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