We loved chatting with Connor Buzzell: he's a pilot, adventurer, and maker living the van life with his partner Stacia. We talked about how impulse + passion was the perfect combination to make his dream into his life.
How it started
CONNOR: Well, the story is pretty simple, and like those who know me, it was a fairly impulsive decision. The van, or Vanessa, is a 2018 Dodge-Ram Promaster 2500. With the help of family and few friends, I was able to finish the build in about a year.
I think like a lot of people who get into van building they’re looking for both challenges and adventures. I had a general background in basic carpentry but most of it was completely new to me (solar, welding, electrical, plumbing, etc.). YouTube tutorials and user manuals became almost a nightly norm, as a way of understanding the vast network of information required to even begin a van build. Inspiration came from countless rock-climbing films and dreams of driving down the vast unknown.
That’s the basic and truthful answer I tell most people, but in all honesty, I was tired of paying rent. I wanted my money to go towards something rewarding. Something I could use to both live and travel with because there’s big blue beautiful world out there.
How it feels to create something
CONNOR: I’ve always enjoyed the process more than the product. The skills and general knowledge I have in building a home today compared to a year ago, is far more important to me than what I was able to create. The oopsies and ouchies taught me a lot about myself and truly enriched me. I love learning and a challenge, and there’s plenty of that when it comes to building a van.
A ‘van home’ is more than just wood and metal, it’s an intricate and integrated web of complex life supporting systems; like inverters, solar charge controllers, isolators, converters, shore power, and battery banks.
Something he's proud of in this journey
CONNOR: I’m proud to be my father’s son and I am grateful for the time I got to spend with him working on the van. Though we only got a month together on it, the days spent with him was far more valuable than any day working alone.
What he does when not working
CONNOR: I truly love learning. Whether it’s a textbook for work or watching YouTube tutorials, I thoroughly enjoy the process of understanding. When I’m not working, I love being in the mountains; climbing or skiing and spending that time most with my beautiful partner and dog. I also like spearfishing, trail running, gardening, Catan and throwing rocks in the lake for our dog to swim after.
His wish for fellow makers
CONNOR: I wish them the very best in their quest and happy to connect with anyone taking their vans to the Tahoe area for some backcountry skiing this winter.