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Austin Smith adds a whole new element to vanlife, renovating a firetruck to join the ranks of plentiful Sprinters and camper vans.
In a superior twist on vanlife, pro-snowboarder Austin Smith transformed a 1953 GMC firetruck into a tiny house on wheels. While most living rigs are designed for travel across the country, Smith constructed this firetruck home for the opposite purpose: As a place for him to live in the parking lot of Mount Bachelor in Oregon, his home state.
Smith dubs this humble abode a “micro-dojo”, taking to vanlife with ease attributed by numerous posts on social media. Filmmaker Dylan Magaster interviews Smith in an inspiring video in which the snowboarder recounts his firetruck renovations and major home components.
The interior boasts a surprisingly large, open living space with a kitchen in the left-hand corner. Countertops and a sink that drains to the outside comprise the majority of it, although hanging cookware and a fruit basket make for attractive accouterments.
The firetruck home is heated by a wood-burning stove situated in the center of the left-hand wall. Smith indicates he selected the larger of two different models and explains how a small quantity of wood stored in a drawer beneath the couch lasts for multiple days. He explains that the stove was the first interior development, stating after the installation, “I have heat, I’ll figure out the rest when I get up there.”
An elevated bed is situated in the corner closest to the cab, comprising 4 inches of foam. A combination couch and guest bed folds down in an offset manner below Smith’s bed. In addition, there is a table and chair that fold out, plentiful hooks for hanging jackets, and lights that drape from the ceiling fed by solar panels on the roof. The van is powered entirely by solar, persisting successfully even through the darkest months of Oregon’s winter.
The snowboarder indicates that the uniquely designed front porch is the firetruck’s best feature, enclosed by a rustic metal bed frame. The porch often holds a lawn chair, cooler, or snowboard waxing rack.
Smith has only been a true vanlife member since December and admits in the video, “I’ve never lived in a vehicle before, I’ve never lived in a parking lot before, I wasn’t sure if I would like it.” But he seems to have adjusted well and is loving the lifestyle, especially the ability to snowboard daily on his favorite mountain.