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I grew up in a small town in Germany. When I was ten my parents bought an old Volkswagen van. Over the summer my dad, my brother, and I spent countless hours cleaning and then sanding it. A neighbor who was a retired woodworker built custom benches, that could be both used for storage and for creating sleeping space for the 4 of us (plus 3 Great Danes).
In the following years my brother and I kept planning a grand trip through the USA, which never happened, because it was too expensive. Yet, I kept dreaming about a big trip. Through the years I owned several Volkswagen camper vans, both in Germany and later in the USA. In 2000 we bought a 30ft C-class RV, which we used extensively for short trips throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The RV was perfect for Anja and I, and our two daughters Julia and Elena. Large enough to have enough room when it rains, but not too large to get into the state and national parks. There was still my dream to at some point explore the USA, but it never seemed to be the right time. In 2004 we were reminded that we shouldn’t take life for granted. I decided to take a leave of absence from work and finally go on the big trip I have dreamed of.
The trip was a great experience for all. Already during the trip, we decided that we had to do something like it again, when our daughters were teenagers. We had sold our first RV in 2005, because with the children busy at school and us busy with work and life, we just didn’t find the time to use it much.
In 2007 we visited Australia, in 2008 we did a 3 week tent safari in Namibia, in 2009 we visited Thailand and Japan. Time was moving along, the kids got older, and finally in 2012 we were ready for the next RV adventure. I had a sabbatical from work and both Julia and Elena were teenagers. We bought a used RV – this time 33ft with two slideouts. We got a good deal on the used vehicle, so we spend money on updating it a bit insight (best feature was a dishwasher). Off we went again. This time we focused on the Western USA.
2 years earlier though, while researching what kind of RV to buy for the 2012 trip I had discovered a different class of “camper” that was mainly a European phenomenon – an expedition vehicle. The Facebook post below was the first of such vehicles I saw.
In the next few years I researched more and more. I found different websites, forums, and attended Abenteuer Allrad, an off-road trade shows, for the first time. Each time I had seemingly found the right choice for us, I learned something that was a showstopper. After all research it became clear that we needed a vehicle older than 25 years to be able to be imported to the US without regard to whether it complies with all DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.