Originally posted on Patreon, Feb 9 2018.
I bought an ambulance! I'm calling it the Jambulance, at least until construction is complete and I can smash a bottle of apple juice on the hood. I know what you're thinking! (Especially if you're my mom hi mom I love you please keep reading)
JAMIE, WHAT THE F*CK?
I know! I know, where did this come from, how, why, when, all of the questions. We're getting there, just practice calm in-out breaths and we will illuminate this mystery. Out of the gate:
No I'm not living in it, yes I'm crazy, yes it's legal and also awesome. Now, we'll tackle the details in this order: why, when, how, and I'll deal with the "what" ongoing. The who is me, and also my jambulance. Strap in, y'all.
#1: It makes me really, really freakin happy. I love projects. My mom and dad always encouraged me to be handy and build and fix things; Mom tells me that's how my Pawpaw was with her. Having a project to chew on makes my brain feel good, and honestly? I've never had one that's mine all mine. I've done art projects here and there and BIG work projects, but never a 100%-Jamie-Wellness project.
#2 My car died and it freaked me the frick out. That's the gist of it. My dad took it in and it's okie dokie now, but it made me very much want to expedite The When (see below.)
#3: Easy travel. (cw: cancer & parental illness) Two weeks ago mom was at urgent care- she's been weak and sick from the chemo far beyond what the doctors expected. I stopped what I was doing and packed a bag, and then a bin, of the basic clothes and books and stuff to keep me sane if I happen to end up there for three days or three weeks. Which also would mean being away from my PC, art supplies, and Ranger Roo for an indeterminate amount of time. All of which I'm absolutely happy to do to help my mom. But y'know - why compromise? Lemme give you some when and we'll come back to more why. I'm a rebel, I don't stick to the plan.
I've been wanting to convert a camper van for a hot minute. Pinterest doesn't tell me when I created a board but I've been pinning things to Home In Movement for quite some time. I've checked craigslist periodically for about a year to see if there was a suitable van and read lots of tutorials, which all felt extremely intimidating: before you could do anything you had to install insulation and flooring or you'd be living in an ice box. An RV or camper is already insulated, and the price reflects that. I honestly can't remember where the initial eureka moment for "ambulance" popped up, but in a practical sense it's a well-maintained, sturdy tank of a box truck that's pre-fabricated inside with full air conditioning, heating, lighting, flooring, seating, batteries, and storage. Like. Y'all. Once it clicked, it CLICKED. And I started hunting.
On autotrader websites they can be as pricey as one might expect: in the neighborhood of $22-35k. But if you purchase them direct from decommission or from someone who got it at auction, etc, the price drops dramatically. This is the only thing I'll really say about the jambulance budget: I borrowed the money from a dear friend at 0% interest. I have a credit line as well if I need additional renovation funds, and combined those total between $8-10k. The ongoing costs are insurance, taxes, gas, and maintenance - which will be comparable to owning a small RV as far as I can tell. I'll be doing most the labor myself and with the help of kind friends, and much of the interior I already own. Don't worry, I'll make sure everything is well duct-taped down.
For the last few months I've been monitoring craigslist and some auto auction websites. Most of the vehicles in my price range were across the country - until last week, when one popped up in Washington. Long story short, I went to see it, we wrote up a bill of sale and I gave the guy a lot of money and I got the title and keys. Ta-da! That's actually all it takes to buy a freakin' ambulance! (I'll go into some gearhead logistics in the next post.)