Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Summer in Lakes Region of NH and Winter in the Sonoran Desert of AZ
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Honey I was just getting a book- honest!
What is it about this van that interests ladies even more than men? Yesterday I had an experience that is often repeated in some similar form. I’m on my way to the Library in our little Arizona town and have just parked the van. It is rebadged as a Fiat Ducato, because that is what it is. As soon as I step on the sidewalk a very attractive lady with smiling eyes and riding a bicycle stops suddenly like she has seen something wonderful. Now before I go on, let me tell you I am in the latter part of the sixties, 5’8” tall 190+ lbs, very gray with a trimmed gray beard in a town full of “snowbirds”. I don’t stand out in any way here- not handsome, not tall, not dark, and not anything.
This lady moves a touch closer, just inside the normal comfort zone for a stranger to be, but has a beautiful face, a wonderful engaging smile and pleasant voice asking me if that is my Fiat. I do the 15 year old kid thing when any female does this and babble something about it being mine and explaining why it says Fiat, and yes as she thought it is diesel. I avoid conversation stoppers like “how old are you?” “Are you married?”, “Could we have an affair?”. The conversation reveals we both spend winter in town, "isn’t it odd we haven’t met before?", she wants to tour the van sometime (I defer for now as my wife is about to come out of the library and frowns on finding me alone with another woman in the van) and I offer to show it the next time we meet as we both are on errands.
Whew! kinda gets the old heart pumping. I am not fooled by this encounter. This nice lady’s interest is in finding out more about the van. Anything else must be the adolescent boy inside. So lets focus on why these interactions happen. Girls and young women call these vans “purve vans” and have a very distorted view about the owners. Creepy. Middle aged women tend to take the view that if they wanted to camp, which they generally don’t, it would be in the Hilton. But some magical thing happens when the Social Security check starts coming in, there is time to travel, money enough, lots of free time and the realization that there is a big World out there and the kids don’t need you anymore. Lets face it, many of us end up un-partnered in these years too. I was surprised when I met a lady in an old Sprinter, traveling alone, teaching juggling of all things. I don’t know why I should be but I was.
In our tiny town I now know of 4 lady’s who live full time in converted vans like ours, the one above in a crudely converted Sprinter, two in Class B conversions- one a PM one a Sprinter, and a forth lady in a 159" PM nicely converted by her son. All live and travel alone! Most spend lots of time with family part of the year. We also have a collection of Desert rat/hermit men in dilapidated class Cs with window AC units stuck through the walls and house paint on the sides, you know the style, a cross between ZZ Top and Uncle Phil of the Duck guys. There are plenty of couples in everything that is made. I admire the women most for their sense of adventure, their openness, and for having overcome a stereotype about safety in a difficult time.
I have been approached about 50 times here and many more on the road and in campgrounds about the van. Nothing similar has happened since I owned the 79 VW Westfalia. I am always willing to converse and show the van. I have come to understand there is a shared vision of wanting to explore the World. These women and men are seeing these vans as a vehicle (literally and figuratively) to do that. All the folks who have asked have been interesting people, I have to look up the lady from the library and show the van, it will be a pleasure I am sure.
Last edited by RDinNHandAZ; 12-22-2016 at 11:17 AM.