The van gives me such freedom: Custom conversion gives Eugene woman wheels on which to roam – The Register-Guard

More than 55 years ago, a young Christine Stockdale left England for the United States with $50 in her pocket. Today, Stockdale is 76 and still eager for adventure: She and her companion, a brown Labrador named Emma, have taken to the road in a converted cargo van.

"I've literally bummed around the world into Africa and places like that," the Eugene woman said. "This next phase in my life when I can't really go wandering the Himalayas the van gives me such freedom."

Stockdale started with a 2000 Ford Econoline E150 that she found advertised on Craigslist. Used only as a rescue van for a motorcycle club in Idaho, its insides were already gutted and there were only 130,000 miles on the engine.

With the help of Brendon Powell, a Eugene woodworker and craftsman, Stockdale's van now has a bed, fridge, sink, closet and bookshelf. An extra battery allows for taking it off the grid and still running the amenities.

Right away, Brendon knew what I was thinking of. In fact, he could think more of what I wanted than what I even could, Stockdale said.

Powells detailed woodwork created spaces for a hidden toilet, a small standing desktop and ceiling lights. His own experience as a van-camper creator, combined with the owners needs, contributes to highly personalized work.

Reports indicate a 121.8% increase in sales of type B RVs or van campers from last year, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. Trends in camping support increased in 2019 as well, with interest in van life doubling, according to the North American Camping Report.

Stockdale, however, isnt new to #VanLife. For several years, she owned a Volkswagen Westfalia, another iconic camper van with a pop top. The vehicle was plagued with spendy mechanical troubles, though, so she let it go and settled for car-camping in her Toyota RAV4 for a time.

After dog-sitting for a friend last summer, Stockdale offered to drive the dog home from Oregon to Los Angeles. She, Emma and the friends dog all slept together in the RAV4 for a week as they camped down the West Coast.

By the time I got home, I said, That is it. No more sleeping in the car. Im just getting too old, Stockdale said.

Decades into her journey, Stockdale still doesnt let her age or gender stop her from finding adventure.

I was brought up by, especially, a mother in England and a father who encouraged me to be independent. I was never, ever told, No, youre a girl, you cant do it, Stockdale said. If I want to do it, Im going to do it.

To see the creation of Stockdales conversion, visit @brendonpowell on Instagram. For conversion inquiries, contact Powell at forayconcept@gmail.com.

Contact reporter Dana Sparks at dsparks@registerguard.com or 541-338-2243, and follow her on Twitter @danamsparks and Instagram @danasparksphoto. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.

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The van gives me such freedom: Custom conversion gives Eugene woman wheels on which to roam - The Register-Guard

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