I’ve taken the plunge into van life with a pretty sweet ride – a 2020 Mercedes Winnebago Boldt Sprinter Van. It’s a light beige color, fully loaded! It came to us, used, and with only 8,000 miles from my partner’s client. Now, this isn’t just a whim; it’s a full-on lifestyle shift. Transitioning from a static home to a home that can zip across highways comes with its own set of realities. There’s figuring out the space, learning to live with less, and the ever-present wanderlust that nudges you to drive into the unknown.

2020 Mercedes Boldt Sprinter Van

There are initial hurdles of van life. Learning to drive the Sprinter was a journey on its own. While there is a key fob, one press of a button, and the ignition starts. Putting the van into the gear: drive is a press of another button. Then came the daily life stuff: figuring out where to fill up the tank with diesel fuel, how to efficiently convert the living area into a sleeping space, mastering the compact kitchen, and staying connected on the go with the internet and power supplies. These aren’t just lessons; they’re the backbone of a smooth van experience.

Beds are set-up as Anne brushes her teeth

Planning a route through the vast expanses of the USA, with a focus on the Western states, is like piecing together a massive jigsaw puzzle of adventures. Those wide-open spaces, the rugged landscapes, they call to you. And while I’m still mapping out the specifics, I know one constant companion will be my love for pickleball.

You’re probably wondering what it’s like to play pickleball while living out of a van. Well, combining my zeal for the sport with the van adventure means I get to experience the best of both worlds. In the next section, I’ll dig into how the van becomes a vessel for indulging in pickleball mania and how I plan on jotting down my name in various spots on the western pickleball map. Stay tuned for the stories of dinks and roll-volleys, and scenic pit-stops.

The Joy of Pickleball on Wheels – My Van Life

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: my life has always revolved around sports tennis in particular, but there’s something incredibly special about pickleball. Now, pair that with my brand-new nomadic lifestyle in my 2020 Mercedes Winnebago Boldt Sprinter Van, and you’ve got a match made in heaven.

Imagine this: every morning, you wake up to a new backdrop, a new potential pickleball court, and a community of people sharing the same zeal for the game. That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ve charted a course to hit up some of the most talked-about pickleball venues across the country, and I’m excited to share that journey with you. They include St. George, Utah, Bend, Oregon, and all points in between.

Pickleball isn’t just about the sport; it’s also about the people. From casual rounds with newcomers to heated rallies with seasoned pros, the diversity within the pickleball community is truly astonishing. And there’s no shortage of friendly faces ready to welcome a traveling pickleball enthusiast like myself. I do confess that my tennis skills and experience have given me a leg up in pickleball, even while being humbled by the challenging third-shot drop!

Anne Z Pickleball Pro

I will need to set not only my GPS coordinates to the next court but also personal milestones. I aim to sharpen my skills with every serve and return, meet new players, and maybe even enter a few tournaments. And who knows? I might just walk away with a medal or two, but the real win will be the memories I make. I will be keeping a pickleball journal and a van journal to keep all the particulars straight.

So as I prepare to transition from this section to the next, keep in mind that the lessons I’m learning on the court are paralleled by those in my van life. Each match teaches me something new, just like every mile I drive.

Van Life Lessons from the Road: A Newbie’s Perspective

Starting in van life is like learning a new language; there’s a rhythm and flow to it that’s completely its own. I’ve had to get to grips with the basics of operating my 2020 Mercedes Winnebago Boldt Sprinter Van. Trust me, it’s been quite the adventure. We have camped with it twice and taken it for a half dozen road trips to figure it all out. Below you will see a photo of me relaxing at the Olema Campgrounds, in nearby Olema, CA. I am happy making Swiftie friendship bracelets. What fun! Notice we have the powered awning out on the van!

Anne relaxing make Swiftie friendship bracelets

Where to begin? Well, fueling up is a good start. Figuring out where to put the gas was less intuitive than I expected, but now I’m a pro at seeking out the best stops for diesel on my route. For those interested, the gas tank is found when you open up the driver’s door. Setting up the living space every night is another task I’ve mastered. Converting the seating area into a bed for sleeping now feels like second nature. We pull the frame out at night and push it back in during the day. It leaves an open path that makes it easy to get to the rear bathroom/shower area.

Cooking on a small stove was an adjustment. I’ve gone from sprawling kitchen countertops to a compact space requiring more creativity. Yet, I’ve managed to whip up some delicious meals with limited resources. And of course, there is the staple of guacamole and chips on most trips! Who knew you could make gourmet-style one-pan dishes in such a confined space? Can you say spaghetti with pesto sauce? I’m going to reveal my favorite road recipes later. And having a convection oven that is also a microwave is brilliant, if not down right over the top!

Sprinter Van Kitchen

Staying connected on the road is crucial for me. I need to keep up with the pickleball community, share my experiences, and stay in touch with family and friends. Learning to maximize the use of the van’s internet and plugs was essential, and I’ve got a few hacks to boost signal even in the most remote areas. There is a built-in booster located on the top of the van, near the solar panels. (I told you it was fully loaded!)

Picking up these new skills has been empowering, giving me a sense of autonomy I hadn’t felt before. Every challenge solved has been a victory, a much-needed confidence booster. It solidifies my belief that this van life, combined with my love for pickleball, is going to offer a symphony of unforgettable experiences. I was able to figure out how to turn the two captain chairs in the cab area around to face the rear of the van without too much hassle or breaking anything! And then return them into place. A win, win!

Independence Day Journey: Heading to Mount Shasta

My first significant road trip adventure in my Winnebago Boldt Sprinter Van is the captivating landscape of Mount Shasta for the 4th of July celebrations. The mountain got a lot of snow this past winter and Shasta Lake is much fuller than previous years, which is good news.

Stopping for gas

Heading up the state on Highway 5, stopping at Granzella’s Deli/Restaurant, and finding less expensive fuel near one of the NorCal Casino gas stops leads to the promise of pickleball games amidst the serene beauty of Northern California. I am lucky enough to be a long-distance Mount Shasta Pickleball Club member.

Here is a link to a video I created for my Z Sisters Pickleball YouTube channel all about them!

Here is a glimpse into what it takes to get ready for such a trip: ensuring the van is in tip-top shape, stocking up on necessities, and not forgetting my pickleball gear! Don’t worry too much about having everything perfect; you can always adjust your approach down the road. And it should be noted that we will be staying at our family cabin property. It’s rustic, but we will be sleeping in the main house and NOT in the van on this trip! Hey, a bed is a bed!

I hope that my journey inspires you to consider your adventures, whatever they may be. So my question to you today is, what’s your Mount Shasta? What’s that one trip or challenge that will mark a pivotal moment in your life? It’s time to seize the day, to make your declaration of independence, and to find out. Thanks for following along, and I’m excited to share the stories that lie ahead on the trip to Mount Shasta and future pickleball destinations.

Mount Shasta view

PS The idea of full-time van life is still a plan for the future. I can see myself living the dream within the next few years. Until then, shorter road trips are in the works! Stay tuned.