Sarah Nelson
by Sarah Nelson
Posted December 13, 2018

Ash and Margaux recently had a baby girl named Mar, but that didn’t stop them from spending time outdoors. Their adventure van, Bruce, has helped them keep momentum and continue exploring. We caught up with them about their travels and how they balance life and spending time outside. Follow along on their journey @sowewent.

Year, make, and model of your vehicle?

Ash: “It’s a 2017 Mercedes Sprinter 4×4.”


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A post shared by So We Went (@sowewent) on Dec 10, 2018 at 5:16pm PST

How did you renovate it?

A: “We renovated through a third-party master outfitter, ADF Sprinters. We led the design process and used their counsel to shape the design.”

Margaux: “We bought the crew version of the Sprinter because we knew we wanted to have a family when we were buying it. We wanted to have a car seat with all the ties and tethers for it. We looked for about two years and did a lot of research and collected ideas to come up with our final design. They built it out for our uses like surfing and hiking.”

Where did the name Bruce come from?

M: “If you’ve seen Finding Nemo, it’s the shark Bruce. We were looking at the van and felt like it sort of looked like a shark with an aggressive exterior. You get inside and he’s like a friendly guy. We got the van and took it on a couple of trips. The name kept coming backhe really does look like a shark. We like the personality.”

A: “Margaux comes from a family that always named cars. Bruce was not going to escape the naming.”


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A post shared by So We Went (@sowewent) on Jul 11, 2018 at 2:11pm PDT

You mentioned you have a home base. Where is that?

M: “We’re in San Diego. We’ve been here for a while.”

What made you want to buy an adventure vehicle?

A: “Margaux and I, as cliche as it seems, fell in love doing activities outdoors: surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking. We were avid backpackers. We really try to maximize our time away from work to fit in adventures up in the Sierras and sometimes even beyond. We did that before just with our SUV, and we imagined that it’d be great to have a vehicle that we could sleep in and expedite the process. The Sprinter van movement inspired us to allow that and to have fun doing it and enhance all the same activities.

The timing couldn’t have been better. While the van was being fabricated, we learned we were pregnant. We didn’t have the van honeymoon phase, but we were using it weeks later and not missing a beat as a family of three. It enhanced activities that before seemed menialeven just driving to and from the trailhead.”

M: “The whole idea is to be more comfortable and travel on a moment’s notice. It makes it a lot easier to go if you have everything in the van and everything ready for the baby. In a tent, we’d have more concerns about her comfort and safety.”


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A post shared by So We Went (@sowewent) on Jun 26, 2018 at 10:31am PDT

How much time do you spend in the van per week?

M: “Quite a bit of time. We go on some sort of an adventure once a week, and every day we try to do something, even if that just means nightly adventures. We are so fortunate with where we live that so much is within a short drive. We always try to go somewhere new and do something different. There’s too many places to see.”

A: “We might not always stay overnight in Bruce, but he enhances even those day trips. We might run errands on the way somewhere and enjoy lunch on the way or just enjoy dinner somewhere. Some months, we do weekend trips. Other times, we need to catch up with other things and just do more day trips.”


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A post shared by So We Went (@sowewent) on May 28, 2018 at 6:41pm PDT

What is your favorite part about vanlife?

A: “Having the flexibility and being able to be a little more spontaneous. And knowing that with a little research, you can find free campsites where you can pull off and legally camp.”

M: “We both were raised doing a lot of outdoor activities. For us to get Mar out there even though she’s only a couple months old to experience hikes and stuff like that is so great. We think her favorite activity in life is hiking. She’ll go for hours and be quiet and cooing and so happy. We really think she’s already learned to enjoy the outdoors like we do.”

Where are you headed next?

M: “We’ll go to the Mammoth area next—they just got a bunch of snow so it’s a great time to go snowshoeing. We love fly fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, and hot springs, so it’s the perfect place. We’re also planning a big trip to [Grand] Teton, Yellowstone, and maybe even Banff on a longer trip this summer.”


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A post shared by So We Went (@sowewent) on Dec 4, 2018 at 12:13pm PST

What do you both do for work?

A: “I’m a pilot, and Margaux is a homemaker. I have a full-time job. Together, that combo allows us to explore and adventure when I’m not working.”

M: “Ash works really long hours. I was a dietician before, working a full-time job. My job is now keeping our house in line for all the traveling we do and planning those trips for us.”

Any tips for balancing work and play?

M: “Recognize that everything in your life cannot be perfectall of your laundry may not be done, and sometimes things are less organized than we prefer because we’ve been out adventuring. There will always be dishes and laundry, but they don’t really matter. We’d rather be having those memories.”

A: “I’d say my biggest tip is to trust that work will be there when you come back to it. I try to find my own way to tie up loose ends prior to leaving work so I can enjoy my time away.”


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A post shared by So We Went (@sowewent) on Nov 26, 2018 at 8:02am PST

What’s the biggest challenge with traveling with kids?

M: “I’d say probably having to plan. Traveling with an infant is hard, so you have to plan and know where her limits are and what kinds of things she needs to be comfortable. We were very spontaneous before, and now we have to plan a little ahead and make sure she has the things she needs, but it’s absolutely doable if we have the forethought and patience. We always did multi-day backpacking trips so we glazed over day hikes, and now we’re dabbling in all of those and recognizing that we overlooked these awesome hikes.”

Do you have any advice for fellow young parents who want to travel more with their kids?

A: “Take it at the right pace. You can start early and have to be careful with a young baby, but try your best to get out there whether it’s starting with walks or day trips in the car. We tried to not lose momentum, and Bruce helped us do that since it’s a big van.”

M: “Don’t be afraid to try and go in knowing there might be some times when it’s hard and you need to take breaks for the baby. Each day is different with a kid, but don’t be afraid to try. If you’re happy, your baby is happy. It might be scaled down a bit, but just get out there and try. Also, social media has been such a great place to share ideas and seek supportit’s awesome how it’s helped us feel more confident as parents.”


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A post shared by So We Went (@sowewent) on Nov 23, 2018 at 2:59pm PST

Rapid Fire Q&A

Sweet or sour?
M: “Sweet”
A: “Sweet”

Favorite outdoor activity?
M: “Hiking”
A: “Surfing”

Best part of your van?
M: “The table”
A: “I like the lounge.”

Chocolate or vanilla?
M: “Chocolate”
A: “Vanilla”

Hot or iced?
M: “Hot”
A: “Hot”

Sarah Nelson


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