Tag Archives: beach

Summer..

What an amazing summer we’ve had here in England, as a family we’ve made the most of getting out and about in Bumblebee for as many weekends away as possible. Our daughter Stella is now walking which has put a whole different slant on the camping experience!

This year we’ve made a few changes to our setup.

Firstly we have replaced the little life arc 2 with a sun essentials baby / toddler pop up UV sleep shade.

It’s about a third smaller than the little life arc 2 which means it’s a lot easier to get in the van once the cab bunk is in place, we’ve also padded out the camp bunk with two pillows and hard plastic sheets to create a flatter base. As its a bit smaller it leaves a good bit of space on the cab bunk we have some extra storage and Stella sleeps well in it, you can buy them new but I’d have a look on ebay, I won this one for £7.50 and they are £80.00 new!

Another small addition we have made to Stella’s sleeping arrangements has been a cab curtain, ordered from Van-X.

It was very easy to fit and means that when Stella goes to bed we can draw the curtain and she not’s visually disturbed by us should we need to get anything out of the van, like beer from the fridge for instance! We used to put a cover over the Arc2 a bit like you do a cover over a birdcage, the problem with that is it severely restricts airflow which isn’t a suffocation concern, more a heat concern, now with the curtain Stella benefits from all the air circulation in the cab, happy baby means happy parents!

Whenever we travelled we used to take a drive away awning with us to put all our stuff in, most of our summer weekends have been spent at a lovely little place we found in Penshurst, it’s not a well publicised site and has very little in way of facilities, there is one shower and toilet a short walk away, it’s easier to bring your own so more akin to off grid wild camping.

We’ve spent pretty much every other weekend there over the summer with our friends and we’ve had the best weather for it, very lazy days with food and fires at night

As we’ve been parked up for the weekend we’ve swapped the drive away awning for a Khyam sun canopy, we also invested in a Kampa commander field kitchen so we can have a kitchen setup under the awning which you can kind of see from this photo.

It’s nice to be able to stand up while making a cup of tea and it also means I can cook bacon without making the van smell like the local cafe! The setup works well in the drive away awning too, I’ve set it up beside a door I don’t use which I open while cooking to ventilate. Two clear Perspex curver boxes fit nicely on the shelf underneath the stove and if you don’t put the shelves up the 36ltr soft cool box from decathlon fits under there perfectly. I can’t recommend one of these cool boxes enough, has kept all our food cooler for longer that a traditional hard case box and when your down it folds down to a fifth of it’s size to store.

2018 also saw the formation of our very own VW / camping club know as the VeeDub McDubFace club. The main reason for this was to secure a club camping spot at bugjam as we had over 20 people in various vehicles coming away for the weekend. The weather was glorious compared to last years washout and i think it’s safe to say everyone had a great weekend, roll on next year!

Our final trip of summer was a visit to Cornwall and Devon, for the first part of the trip we rolled out the big awning as the weather was very changeable..

I also took an electric blow heater with me which came in handy on more than one occasion keeping as all warm in the awning. It’s a great awning but it’s also a mission to put up and take down, more accurately, pegging down is what takes the time. We had a great time in Bude catching up with friends, going out on a fishing boat and cooking fresh lobster and mackerel caught that day on the cobb BBQ ,thank you Stuart!

The weather in Devon got off to a cooler start but that didn’t stop us going to the beach

The weather improved considerably over the coming days and I even went in the sea, up to my knees at least!

It really has been a great summer and it’s been great being away with the family, if you have a small child or two and want to try camping in a tent or motorhome, do it, by far it’s the best part of our year and Stella absolutely loves being outside, she’s experienced so many things she wouldn’t have done being stuck by a pool or being indoors watching endless repeats of Duggee, I hope our adventures inspire you on to adventures of your own and if you have any questions about life in a campervan with a small child, drop me a line 🙂

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A precarious road and the windiest night yet.

We decided not to stay at Croydon on sea as the stopover opportunities weren’t that great, either a car park near one of the hotels on the beach or a windy headland, the kind of wind the daily mail would advise nobody go out in and predict many wind related deaths, the met office might even issue a yellow warning but round these parts it’s mild wind, nothing for concern…

Our next destination was the mountain town of Betancuria which is the original capital of Fuerteventura. The fact that it’s a mountain town should have given us a clue that it was in the mountains…

Usually we travel by day as you can appreciate what’s around you on the journey and scout out stop over prospects with ease.

We set off at approx 20.00, the clocks had since gone forward and we had about 30 mins or so of daylight left, we were also at sea level. The Satnav indicated the journey should take about 35 minutes but it didn’t take into account that we where driving a whale. Had the road been straight then it would have taken the approximated 35 minutes but it wasn’t, it was a long and winding road into the mountains with sheer rock on one side of the road and certain death on the other, honestly, it doesn’t bother me, I’ve driven in worse but Lolly was not impressed and basically bricked it from the time we hit the mountain road until our final resting place. I really felt for her but there was nothing I could do except get us to where we needed to be in the shortest and safest amount of time possible.

We arrived in Betancuria and Lolly remembered some advice about parking just outside the village, we’d seen a parking sign on the way on so turned round and followed the road into what was indicated as a dead end. We found a flatish spot overlooking Betancuria and fairly tucked away from the main streets and settled in for the night.

The only person that slept that night was Stella, Lolly and I spent most of the night being woken up by gale force winds battering the van, it never let up and even when we got up in the morning we were still being battered, there was also a great deal of passing traffic for a dead end. We grabbed a shower each and walked down into the village which is much more sheltered that where we had parked, the wind subsided and it was shorts and t-shirt weather. As we descended into the village the air was filled with Spanish guitar which was being provided by an old dude with a fag permanently on the go which he never let get in the way of his excellent guitaring….

I didn’t take a picture of him as lots of other people were, I did take a picture of the entrance to a museum we didn’t visit.

There were lots of nice views to enjoy as well as no wind which on this island is a massive bonus.

In the middle of the town there is a nice spot for a drink and some tapas. It was midday so we figured we’d stop and have a beer, every one around us ordered coffee and tapas, only the English ordered beer.

Stella had a lovely time standing on a chair and then migrating to the floor and quickly realising she could see people below through the decking, easily pleased is Stella.

We left our spot and continued wandering around the village, we popped into the church which had an amazing altar dating back to the 1600’s.

There is a second room to the left which has an impressive display of ceremonial silver wear and robes dating back hundreds of years, there is also a magnificent ceiling that I lay on the floor to get a picture of.

We had a nice time in Betancuria but didn’t fancy a second night of howling wind so hit the road to a beach town called Ajuy. This involved another mountain road far precarious than the first mainly because it was quite narrow. Every now and again a car would approach us and I’d have to slow our whale to a halt while the other vehicle squeezed past us, as it was daylight Lolly bricked it far less. Along the way there a couple of places you can stop to admire the view and take a picture.

You can see the thin road to the left with the massive lumps of concrete to stop you tumbling off the edge. While I was taking this picture a quite magnificent crow stopped to say hello.

He was a very pretty bird and quite forward, we gave him some bread.

The journey down to Ajuy was uneventful, we found a spot to park and made a plan to grab some food, we walked passed the first food place which didn’t look all that, walked across the beach and saw the signs for the caves so thought we would take a look at them.

Any time we visit a Spanish island it seems the done thing is to make little piles of stones.

This does not go down well with the coastal cleaning society who turned up the next day and dismantled this lot..

The path to the cave is fairly tricky and accompanied by gale force winds, we decided to walk it in flip flops or thongs to any Aussies that might be reading this. At one point the wind was so strong it nearly blew us over so we did an about turn and retreated back to town, I did get a picture of the caves we were trying to reach.

Time for some food, there is a nice little place in the bottom of the village looking out to the sea, it doesn’t look like the rest of the restaurants who clearly cater for the coach brigade, unfortunately I only got a picture of it when it was closed.

They do a fantastic tapas of local meats and cheese, incidentally I declared the cheese here the best cheese I’ve ever eaten only to find out it was goats cheese which I cannot stand, they don’t do this goats cheese in the UK, if they did I would eat it, the waitress is great too, she’s like a female version of Manuel from Fawltey Towers but in a very lovely way, also there are no high chairs for little ones, but that wasn’t a problem for us, Stella is great at eating on a lap or in a high chair.

There is a small car park by the beach, as it emptied out we moved the van down to our spot for the night.

No wind bouncing the van about and a lovely spot to watch the sunset.

We were joined by another smaller van and a car two girls were staying in so it seems this is an OK spot to spend the night.

I was conscious the following morning that the car park would fill up and we’d be stuck in a corner so I moved the van to another location, if you go out of the village to the roundabout, turn back to the village but take the dirt round instead of the tarmac round (second exit if memory serves me right) follow it down and chuck a right to what looks like a dry riverbed, this is also a popular spot for overnighters.

We left the van here for the majority of the day while the three of us went to the beach.

There are. a few sheltered coves you can hang out in and there was very little wind so our beach brolly stayed with us.

This is a lovely black sand beach and didn’t come up in any of the guide books other than to visit the caves, the sea is pretty fierce, not suitable for little ones.

There are also pigeons on this beach, I’ve never seen pigeons on a beach.

In no time at all it was time to head out, one of the latches on the cupboard had broken so I needed to visit a hardware store to try and repair the latch, we also needed to do another round of emptying and filling, I’ll add all the spots we went to in my last post but this time round it didn’t take half as long and was kind of on the way to where we were going, Costa Calma.

We arrived and I stopped at a supermarket to grab some beer, we had a look on google maps and found a place to stop.

As you can see one of Bumblebee’s older relatives has stopped for the night here too. It’s a quiet spot with little to no wind, there are no shops so make sure you are well stocked, there is also an army of mosquitos so make sure you have repellant and don’t leave any doors or windows open for too long, Lolly and I have spent about an hour hunting them and must have killed at least 15, I hate mosquitos.

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Valentines camping at Seaford

What shall we do for Valentines I asked Lolly, lets go somewhere in our urban caravan she said, we’ll book Friday off and go for a long weekend, sounds like a plan I replied.

We set a rule that for short weekends away we wouldn’t travel more than an hour or so’s drive, Lolly had also mentioned visiting Beachy Head so I figured somewhere near there would be a good place to stay and so it was I came across Seaford.

I chose Seaford because i’d never heard of it, it isn’t too far from Beachy Head and there was a campsite that was taking bookings in February, most places don’t begin their season till the beginning of March, it’s also just over an hours drive from where we live, perfect.

The campsite stayed at is called Buckle Caravan Park and the description amounted to ” No frills campsite with few rules, like camping in the good old days” – that sounded alright to me.

The first thing that hits you when you arrive is the place looks a bit run down although I am sure it looks completely different if the sun is shining, it’s also a little strange that the campsite warden has built a moat around his twin static caravan and decorated the garden with scallop shells, odd garden ornaments and a concrete pig. The reception building is also a little odd looking completely out of place with everything around it, despite it all looking a bit rubbish we were warmly greeted, shown our pitch on a map, educated about the electric gate and told the shower and toilet blocks nearest to us were being repaired / renovated so we’d have to use the ones near the office, there is also a club house open on Saturday with a bar which we were more than welcome to use.

I also didn’t have enough cash on me to pay for our stay and the deposit for the key fob, no worries, pay tomorrow said the guy at reception which was nice.

We made out way to our pitch, parked up and made a brew.

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As you can see, there are a lot of caravans, most of which seem to be there all year round and as such most appeared empty, the campsite was really quiet, looking ahead is a grassy knoll and beyond that a pebble beach and the sea, it’s not that pretty so I didn’t take a picture.

I’d downloaded a walk which was the first one on this page and on the basis it was dry with no rain forecast we drove to East Dean, parked up at the Tiger Inn and set off on our walk. The guide is a quite old and a little out of date but most of the landmarks still exist and we didn’t get lost, bonus.

We stopped at a national trust spot called Birling gap, we grabbed a beer and a cider, used their wifi and then made our way to the beach which you access via metal stairs from the top of the cliff.

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There are lots of signs saying that the cliffs are a little unstable and there are also the biggest lumps of chalk that are very handy for writing on metal stairs should you feel the need to do so…

We hung about for a while, grabbed a selfie and then headed on our way..

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From here we headed uphill toward the Bell Tout lighthouse, built by a chap called Mad Jack Fuller who had an addiction for building follys he believed he finally made something useful, however he built his lighthouse on the fog line so the light didn’t shine very far when it was foggy and was useless to ships avoiding the cliffs, it’s now a B&B..

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We picked up the pace as the sun was beginning to set, from the Bell Tout chipped down a hill, along a roman road and back into East Dean where we started, our plan was for dinner at the Tiger Inn which has what appears to be a real Tigers head on the wall, i’m not a fan of stuffed animals but i’ve never seen a stuffed tigers head before and felt compelled to take a picture of it.

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The pub is on the green at East Dean, it’s a hotel as well, there are a host of locally brewed ales, a warm fire and a great menu, we had baked camembert to start and then the Tiger Inn burger, I got all excited about the local ales and drunk one of each, I was too drunk to drive home and we were going to stay in the car park, Lolly however elected to drive us home and only had 2 halfs and 2 pints of water. I’m glad we went back to the campsite as it meant I could hook us up to 240V and get the heater going, would have been a bloody cold night otherwise.

We also got to catch up with one of my old raving buddies and best mates Rob, he lives just down the road in Peacehaven and met us for a Guiness.

During the night the rain came and it didn’t stop, we woke in the morning and discovered the van has a leak coming from the roof, most likely where the AA lights were mounted. We decided we’d head home instead of staying another night as the weather wasn’t set to improve and everything are wanted to do meant we would be out in the rain. Before we left we had a shower, whilst the facilities weren’t the best looking they were clean and the water hot.

We drove into Seaford in search of breakfast and came across a place called Sub Station, what a lovely surprise, proper nice breakfast in a sub and the owner is great fun too, left him looking up on Google “was Mary Berry fit” after confirming old Mary has had a bit of botox…

Other than the nice cafe Seaford is a bit rundown, I doubt it’s on any must visit list which is why i’ve never heard of it, it’s not that far from Brighton, Hastings and Eastbourne which are more well known.

What I will say is the countryside around Seaford is really quite beautiful so it was worth staying there for that.

It was still raining when we left Sub Station, we stopped off at a place called paradise park, had a wander round there and then headed for home looking forward to sleeping in a warm bed with no leaks!

I probably wouldn’t go back to Buckle but I wouldn’t say avoid it either, 20 quid a night for a hard standing pitch right by the beach is great value and i’m sure when the sun is shining it’s a completely different place, if you fancy a cheap night away “near” Brighton and Hastings give it a go !

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Le End

As we left Chambord a lot later than intended we drove through the night, French motorways aren’t like ours, no cats eyes, no lights.

This would be fine if you had a decent set of headlights, we don’t, DRL’s look nice but even with night breaker bulbs installed they’re still not that great, that being said they were good enough to get us to our destination, Plage merlimont.

The aire is well sign posted though you are sent through a new housing estate and we did wonder if our sat nav had crapped out  as an aire couldn’t possibly be in among all this new housing, it wasn’t, you go through the estate to get to the beach and just before the beach is the aire, it’s nothing special, just a car park for motorhomes with free fresh water and somewhere to empty your waste water if you have any, I cracked a beer, Lauren made some food, we both put the thermal curtains up, ate our food and crashed.

It was a bit colder this closer to England and we’re both fairly certain that’s why we slept so well, best nights sleep on the last day of the holiday because it was cold, how very English..

Sun greeted us the next day despite the forecast being rain, I took a picture of the aire for no particular reason other than to demonstrate how unfantastic it was.

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As always, first thing in the morning I needed to use the loo so I took a wander toward the beach where I assumed the toilet mentioned in the aire would be located, as I got closer I noticed there were a lot of people looking out to sea, I couldn’t really see anything so figured i’d use the loo and then go see what everybody was looking at, turns out there was a colony of seals on the beach basking in the morning sun.

I’ve never seen so many seals, they didn’t look like they were going anywhere in a hurry so I walked back to the van, made some tea for myself and Lolly, grabbed my camera and we both went back to look at the seals, Lolly has a theory that seals hang out on the beach so THEY can watch the humans that come to look at them, I see no reason for this not to be possible!

I don’t really do much zoom photography and as such I don’t have a very good zoom lens, the photo below is the best I could do with my 28mm-135mm.

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Lolly had our binoculars we got free from the national trust, we sat for about an hour just watching them lay about in the sun, we spotted a few more swimming in and then quite quickly the tide followed them, we had a great spot to watch them from but had to vacate fairly swiftly to avoid the incoming tide, it was starting to cloud over and just before we headed to the shore I took a nice shot of the seals from a distance.

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Before the weather turned we took a walk along the rest of the beach, after about an hour we returned to the van, packed up and went to Aldi, Lolly’s mum has a party in the not too distant future so we bought a load of cheap booze, 24 beers for 5 euros, we bought 7 crates and 8 bottles of fizzy wine for a toast! We also bought lunch, bread, cheese and ham, very continental, there was another beach not too far so we parked up and went for a final beach side picnic.

The sun came out again which was lovely, we ate our lunch and basked in the warmth knowing our return to Blighty was only a couple of hours away, turns out it wasn’t. We thought our crossing was at about 18.00 but we’d figured when we’d booked the crossing that we’d want as much time in France on our last day as possible so our crossing wasn’t till 20.50, I was a little upset to be honest as I’d kind of got my head in a space where we were off and I didn’t want to hang about for another couple of hours, that was until we went back to the beach and saw these!

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What you can see here are the remains of a german StP bunker that featured a tank turret, ammunition bunker and open emplacements for 5cm KWK pak guns though I couldn’t tell you which bit relates to what, I got all that information from here.

We spent a good bit of time walking among the remains of the bunker and photographing the various structures and their artwork.

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If you look closely on the second picture you will see a sign that states in French the beach beyond is a naturist beach, more naked people but nothing quite on the scale of the naked site. The beach is massive, we walked for at least half an hour before turning back and we hadn’t even got halfway along it, on our return trip we came across a jelly fish.

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I threw it back into the sea but I think it had perished, I know jelly fish don’t really do much but this one did nothing when returned to the sea.

When we got back to where the bunker was I set the camera up and got our last picture of the holiday.

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From there we went back to the van and drove to Calais which was about an hour away, we were delayed (not immigrant related) so i grabbed a burger king and Lolly bought gin with the last of our euros, the remainder of the trip involved a train, the M20, the M25, remembering to drive on the left and then bed, work the following morning, joy.

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Le wikkid beach

The beach at Biscarosse turned out to be pretty awesome.

  
The weather was just as awesome, the sun shone all day so much so we had to deploy our well travelled brolly from Ibiza gifted to us from our friends Darran and Cinzia 

  
The surf here is really good too so we grabbed our boards and I felt compelled to put my wetsuit on for a couple of reasons, one, to prevent board rash, two, so my back didn’t get sunburnt and three, other people were wearing them. 

I remember when I first bought this wetsuit and when I  put it on I looked like a right tit, you’ll be pleased to know this is still the case. 

  
It was great to catch some waves and lie about in the sun, after soaking up plenty of rays we headed back to the van to grab the Cobb for a sunset BBQ, I took a picture from the van to show you the view we have when chilling by the van. 

  
This aire is pretty popular, this is our bit, loads of motor homes! Despite how busy it looks it’s really quite peaceful. 

  
One thing I have noticed is there are T4’s everywhere, each campsite or Aire we visit there is always at least one T4, Eurovans they call them, there are a few kicking about here. 

  
We headed off over the dunes to set the Cobb up and have a sunset bbqs, it was about a ten minute walk from the van, the dunes were substantial, you can just about see Lolly in this picture. 

  
Ever since we have owned the Cobb, when explaining to people how versatile it is we always mention you can cook pizzas on it despite never having actually cooked one, we can now confidently say the the Cobb cooks a wikkid pizza! 

  
The sunset here was quite spectacular, totally worth lugging the BBQ up the dune and then walking back through the forest of darkness and doom. 

  
Once we got back to the van I read Lolly a few chapters from the Martian and then we crashed, the following morning we got up looking forward to spending a day exploring and hanging out in our favourite place so far, then Lolly’s mum called to ask us what time we’d be arriving in St Emillion as they were on their way, bugger, slight clerical error, off to St Emillion we go then! 

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Le dune

Camping municipal Verdalle has turned out to be ok, the pitch is massive, the toilet and shower facilities are excellent, they have some strange rules like no hanging out washing after 10am and don’t use the trees to make washing lines which we’ve duly ignored. 

  
The beach was another IMO average affair, sandy and the sea was out so quite muddy too, when we returned in the evening the tide had come in and the beach looked a lot better, would have been a great place for a sunset but we missed that as I was busy cooking chicken, I didn’t bother taking a picture of the beach. 

Earlier in the day we’d taken a walk and round the corner from our campsite and average beach was a lovely little harbour. 

 

As you can see the weather has greatly improved, our first afternoon / evening in Gujan-Mestras passed fairly uneventfully, sun, average beach, walk, chicken and bed. 

The following morning we got up, ate what we had left that would pass for breakfast and jumped on the bikes, our destination being The Grand Dune of Pyla, basically a massive sand dune by the sea that’s slowly swallowing a forest. 

We got a bit lost en route although we did find a nice forest to ride through. 

  

11 miles later we arrived at the dune and it was mental, people everywhere, not quite what we had expected and to be honest, almost enough to turn us on our heels, I convinced Lolly some food and a drink would be a good idea, she was more up for grabbing a panini and buggering off but I insisted we grab a table, this is where I had my first favourite French dish, a croque Monsieur!

  

It was lovely and lolly is now convinced she can make them for me at home, bonus!

After a quick food and drink break we set off to conquer the dune, this is not something to try if you are unfit, obese, have a heart condition or are generally unwell. It’s a steep ascent in sand which is harder work than it looks, much harder, there are steps you can go up but they are equally as steep but with better footing.  It took us about 10 minutes to get to the top of the dune and that was with a couple of stops, the view out across the bay is stunning. 

  

I took some better pictures with my other camera and when I’ve edited them I’ll post them up. 

It’s nowhere near as frantic at the top of dune, almost peaceful so we hung about for an hour catching some rays and then headed down the other side to the beach and the sea, we stayed there for a few hours and I read Lolly some of the book I am reading, it’s called the Martian, a great read and now Lolly is into it I’m going to have to read her the rest of the book while we are away!

To get back to the bikes we had to climb up the dune again which took about 20 min this time as our start point was lower than before, after a lot of effort we reached the summit, chipped down the other side and made our way to the bikes, we still had an 11 mile ride home to do!

We took a different route home basically following the coast on a cycle path, about halfway we stopped at a little town square that had a few bars and restaurants, we got a corner table right by the beach.

 
I had steak and lolly had paella, both dishes were lovely and we were treated to a beautiful sunset. 

 
We made our way home mostly on the cycle path, the light faded and Lolly had no lights on her bike, mine are rechargeable and about halfway home the front one ran out of juice, the ride home was tense but we made it without getting killed!

Below is the report from Strava, I kept stopping Strava so I could see where we were on the way home so it’s not quite as accurate as it could be, I’m fairly certain we did more than 17 miles. 

  
This morning we got up, left the campsite and headed to an aire in a pine forest called Biscarrose Plage, there is a crappy toilet and that’s it, no other facilities, proper camping in the woods!

  
There is a beach about 2 mins from here we’re off to check out shortly, have fun at your desk or wherever you’re reading this from, we’ll be on the beach!

For anyone interested, so far we’ve covered 752 miles in 7 days, the van is running sweet and all the little upgrades and mods we’ve made for this trip have been totally worth it!

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