When my daughter reached her first year, my wife and I were searching for apartments but were not having any luck.

My wife and I are snowbirds. We want to winter in a warm climate and travel back to rural Minnesota for the summer. We–my wife and I–have had some success using the Algarve, a region in the south of Portugal, for this purpose. The area is full of tourists in the summer, but in the winter the villages are ghost towns. Perfect for cheap, off-season beach-side rentals. But the issue is that we hate living in shoebox apartments. We can live in a high rise near the beach, but we want to live in a small, quaint, traditional home. But we can’t find them; one would think that everyone wants to travel to a foreign country and live in a country-specific style house, but that’s not the case. People might want this, but what the developer wants is a lot of people in a small space, so the available houses are just the same as those in any city in any country in the developed world. Not only do we dislike the shoe box apartment, but we also miss visiting museums and art cinemas. We needed a solution to our housing and travel plans, but a solution that allowed us to bring along a year-old baby and a 30kg dog.

Suddenly it occurred to us both, as we were celebrating our daughter’s first year, that we needed to raise her in a van down by the river. A van was the only way to travel to the cities we wanted, enjoy the coastal life we enjoy, and easily retain the snowbird lifestyle.

The idea is this: we will stay in rural Minnesota during the summer and fly back to Portugal for the winter. In Portugal, we will travel around for 9 months visiting family, museums, famous houses, festivals, farms, whatever we desire. There is a tradition of doing this sort of thing, so it will be fun, too, to read up on other writers who have traveled around and written about whatever BS they could. Travels with Charlie comes to mind. This book in particular will be an interesting study because I don’t like Modernism.

It has been a difficult transition, life in a van: we are in the first week of life in the van as I write this post.

We opted to call the van we bought “Baciyelmo,” which is a portmanteau that Sancho Panza created as he attempted to understand a debate Don Quixote and a doctor were having about Don Quixote’s helmet. The debate is whether or not the helmet is a real helmet or a real barber’s shaving basin. This name felt appropriate for a few reasons.

We’ll see how it goes.