Our Sportsmobile Van

Kate and I are the proud owners of Beluga, a 1990 GMC Vandura 5.7L Sportsmobile Conversion Van. We drive it all around the southwest on our camping adventures. The van was a wedding present to ourselves. We've put a lot of work into the van over the years but it has been worth every dollar, scraped knee, and bloodied knuckle I've paid. The returns are experiences that we'd never have had without Beluga.


A time-lapse photograph of the camper in the Santa Ynez River Valley. So much fun on this trip: star gazing, foxes running around the campground, horrible cow moans.
Santa Ynez River, 2009

We used to fly a jolly roger on the van. It shredded within a few months.

The dog loves camping, but hates waiting for us in the van.
Max waits

We have a full size bed, propane stove, large closet, gun cabinets/racks, RV table, flip-up table, built-in cutting board, and a marine sized sink (with 20 Gals of filtered H20 on reserve and a 4 Gal graywater tank in case we can't dump on site) on board. The blue cast here is due to the black-out window tinting that I failed to white balance correct for.
Coffee Perking

You can see the flip-up table that is adjacent to the sink in the van. What convenience!
hanging around

Enjoying our morning coffee on the coast at Montana de Oro state park. We visited the cave where they filmed "Puff the Magic Dragon" on this trip. San Luis Obispo is one of my favorite places in the world. Hotsprings, mountains, top-free beaches, farmers' markets, and wine with four seasons and few tourists: sounds like a life to me. Too bad Calpoly didn't have a job for me.
Coffee time

We've driven the van up to the bay area four times! It's always a blast but the most fun is when we take the coast. At the end of this trip that Kate was driving to here, we got married!
Kate driving the PCH in Norcal

Kate doesn't always look so glamorous while we're camping.
 (image: http://chrismarcum.com/images/Chris_and_Kate/beluga/GrumpyKate2009Camping.jpg)


Early in 2010 we decided to drive to the Pala Indian Reservation and check out the mountains in that area. This campsite was creepy. They had just reopened after a spell of shutdown following a major wildfire in the area. Eerily quiet up there, but we had fun at the Observatory!
Pala Mountain Range, San Diego County, CA

We moved into our beautiful apartment at Colorado Place in 2010. Shortly after delivering the van, it rained! This is my pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow.
Pot of Gold!

Apparently, I can shave and drive Beluga at the same time. I have no memory of this, and, given my propensity to swerve while I tell a story, I'm not going to repeat.
shaving while driving Beluga


Beluga started 2011 with an appearance on Google Maps. I've tried to locate the corresponding satellite photo (searching many known locations) but can't find a good Beluga from space shot.
 (image: http://chrismarcum.com/images/Chris_and_Kate/beluga/belugaAtHome.png)

The Gumps and the Marcums go a camping in South County; a tradition we repeated the next year at San Elijo State Beach. We weren't thrilled with this site and the weather was kind of crappy. I mountain biked on the beach and gummed up my crankshaft...but I also biked along the levy at San Onofre Nuclear Generator Station, which was terrifying. I also had a thrilling ride on a massive wave while body surfing.
Camping in San Diego County, Summer 2011


We didn't get much camping in during 2012 because Kate and I did not have many free weekends due to a crazy work schedule. We did, however, reprise our camping trip with the Gumps over Kate and Kristy's birthday week at San Elijo. This year, we got a prime spot due to the triangulation efforts of John, Kristy, and I working the state parks website minutes after the lottery opened. The excellent weather meant a full week of swimming, paddle boarding, moonlight skinny-dipping, surfing, fishing (I caught a jellyfish, weird), precarious ocean diving, and campfire cooking. What a great trip!
San Elijo 2012

Kate and I closed the year out with one last California camping adventure up to SLO and Santa Barbara before we quit the West Coast in 2013. It was the only way we could possibly end our three year California adventure with Beluga. Now, onward to many east coast adventures!
Our Last California Adventure in Beluga :(
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