On March 24, 2021, everything changed. An apartment fire left us suddenly homeless. Fortunately, our next home was already under construction, the camper van we’d been working on over the winter. After a mad dash to finish it, April 24 was our first night in it. The name “Smokey Da Van” refers to both the fire and the smoke residue that was left all over everything we own afterward.
You can follow our adventures on this website, on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and on YouTube. To find out what kind of trouble the cat is getting into, you can follow Lister on Instagram.
I’m a great big nerd with a side dish of gearhead. From computers to amateur radio (KJ1H), from LARP to Dungeons and Dragons, and from Doctor Who to Firefly, I am your stereotypical nerd from the greater Boston area. I also love cars and motorcycles.
Somehow, I’ve managed to find ways to make a living writing about all this fun stuff. I’m currently a freelance writer and editor, mainly about cars, motorcycles, and ATV/UTVs. I currently write for ADVRider and ATV.com. In the past I’ve done computer software and IT documentation, as well as written for websites including The Drive, Oversteer by Autotrader, and RideApart. You can read more about my writing at justinhughes54.com.
I’m a cat. I’m 9 years old and have lived with Justin nearly all my life. I’m named after Dave Lister of Red Dwarf. Like my namesake, I’m a complete smeghead. My favorite activities are being underfoot, in your way, and especially wrapping my tether all around the tires of the van so Justin has to untangle me. Follow me on Instagram to see for yourself.
I was always an indoor cat until I moved into a van. Now, my human is letting me go exploring outside, though on a tether to make sure I don’t go too far. (I love tangling it up around everything to make his life difficult. It gets me attention, and attention’s my favorite.) I always liked looking out the window before, and except for what we call “The F/A-18 Incident,” I love going outside and being part of the view. Chasing squirrels, chipmunks, and lizards is fun, too.
Hello! I’m a 2021 Ford Transit, high-roof, extended cargo van. At least, I was until Justin turned me into his new home on wheels in the spring of 2023. I’m originally from Florida, so I don’t have any of that nasty northern rust that did my predecessor in. You can read all about my camper van conversion.
I am a 2011 Suzuki V-Strom 650, and a Dark Lord of the Sith. Originally I was strictly a street bike, but Justin’s slowly converting me for dirt duty as well. We have fun on the road together, but now I’m following my destiny as a fully armed and operational adventure bike. Justin will join us or die.
The Toy Box
I’m an Interstate Loadrunner, a 6×10 enclosed cargo trailer. Justin bought me new in April 2022, and turned me into his garage on wheels. His motorcycle rides in here, as well as a bunch of other stuff he doesn’t need in his living space. When the motorcycle’s out, I’m a second room for his house — sometimes an office, other times a workshop. With the help of some jack stands my rear ramp door levels out and becomes a nice deck to hang out on and watch the sunset. I’m a jack of many trades, and always up to try new tasks.
Rides of the Past
I am a 2004 Ford E250 extended van. I was originally converted into a wheelchair van and worked for a transportation service in Rhode Island for most of my life. When I retired I thought I’d be taking it easy, but no, I was turned into a home on wheels. I still work hard in my retirement, but I’m glad to be away from those lousy New England drivers, and especially the salty roads that eat my body!
Unfortunately, the damage was already done, and I became too rusty to continue. Like so many New Englanders, I have retired to Florida.
I’m a real American hero! I’m a 2005 Kawasaki KLR650. My original red paint faded to pink, so a previous owner painted me olive drab, just like the version of me the U.S. Marines used. I can take a licking and keep on ticking. Just ask Justin! He’s such a lousy dirt rider, I’ve lost count of how many times he’s dropped me. It’s OK, though. Just a little more paint from the rattle can and I’m fine! (In case you’re wondering, no, Justin never served in the military. My paint scheme is just a tribute to those who have.)
I was part of the fleet even before we hit the road. We had many adventures together, hitting all four corners of the US, and everything from trails to the Tail of the Dragon, and even a track day. I moved on to a new owner in January 2023, a new rider who I’ll help learn the ropes of dirt riding the same way I helped Justin.