Alex Andrews is the archetype of the individual who is always doing something outside. He's a multi-sport maven, whose penchant for park and powder is complimented by his love of ripping around on skateboards, surfboards, and mountain bikes. In the winter months, Alex can be found hotlapping the trails of Brighton Resort or touring the mountains that are right outside his SLC front door. When the weather is warmer, he's skating, surfing, mountain biking, camping, and dirtbiking. But most of all, what AA isn't doing regardless of the season, is staying indoors. Which is why his 2000 Astrovan, the Badasstro, with its back windshield covered in the stickers of the companies and crews he supports, custom lift and heavy duty tires is the perfect rig for Alex. It's an ultimate adventuremobile, built for transporting Alex and his friends to whatever location they desire to partake in any activity they dream up. AA keeps it simple on the inside in order to ensure he can head out at a moment's notice whenever adventure calls, because while the Badasstro provides a comfy interior to get some rest, solar power to keep connected, and enough room for multiple people, on any given roadtrip, once he's at his destination, Alex is only inside the Astro long enough to get ready for the next activity.
Words| Mary Walsh PHOTOS| Mary Walsh and Alex Andrews
I had a Tacoma and a car payment and basically didn't want a car payment anymore. Seth Huot had an Astrovan and I was driving up to The Spot at Brighton with him in the summer. I had my Tacoma and we went to go up this off-road hill and his Astrovan made it up the hill and my Tacoma didn't. So, I bought this Astrovan four years ago for 2,800 dollars. The reason I wanted an Astrovan is because they're all-wheel drive and then you can lift 'em. They're cheap to find and they have good motors. So, that's what sparked it. For me, the Astrovan is perfect because I use it on a regular basis; it's not just my camping mobile. I use it to work on stuff or go snowboarding or whatever it is, so what I like about it is that it transforms into what I need it to. If I go snowboarding I can put a seat in the back and bring my friends and it's like a normal van. I can go to Home Depot and put a bunch of wood in there, because I'm always building furniture and things like that. If I go dirtbiking or mountain biking, I can put a hitch rack on the back. I can put my cot in here, set up my outside kitchen and it's now a camping mobile. And, honestly, it's just affordable, so that was a big thing. The other thing is, it is smaller, so in the city it drives around easily, fitting in parking spaces and stuff like that.
The Astrovan is an adventuremobile in its truest form in the sense that it I can basically transform it into whatever adventure I'm doing at the time. I don't live in it—the longest I've done that is probably about three weeks. It's really for those quick strike missions. If I'm going to go dirtbiking in Southern Utah for two days, it's perfect for that. I went to Jackson to go splitboarding with Guch this spring and I just posted up for two or three days and it was perfect. I have a heater and I just sleep in it, and from there I'm doing activities outside.
It's got a five inches of lift on it. I did that myself. Obviously, bigger tires and it's got a light bar on it. It's got Thule racks, Thule box, Thule cage rack, and I have a canopy that comes off the side that you can chill or cook under. One cool thing is that I have my van solar powered. I have a GoalZero solar panel on the top with the GoalZero battery pack that I use that for charging phone, computer, and lights. Those things just stay on it all the time and then the other stuff, like bikes, snowboards, and everything, I pretty much just put in when I'm going on whatever trip I'm going to do, whether it's snowboarding, mountainbiking, dirtbiking. I installed a swivel passenger seat so you can flip it around to get ready for snowboarding or just chill and make coffee in the morning. As for the water situation, I'm usually somewhere where I'm just going to the bathroom outside camping, or using a restroom. I'm not really posted up too long somewhere. So, for the water situation, I usually have a five gallon water jug for making coffee, washing your hands, etc., and then I have the solar shower for rinsing off after surfing or dirtbiking.
Depending on the situation, when I'm winter camping, I'm usually with friends who have their own adventuremobiles as well, so I'm solo most of the time. I usually just have a propane heater in here, so I can chill and read a book, that kind of thing, if I'm by myself. Trevor Brady and I usually do a Montana trip in it every year. We've both slept in here with sleeping pads on the ground. But like I said, I'm mostly living outside of it so I'm usually cooking outside with a stove or showering outside, things like that. When I camp in it with my girlfriend, I have a queen size air mattress that we put in. I like the air mattress because it packs up super small so you can pack a bunch of stuff in here. When you're ready, you put your stuff outside, like your kitchen ad your chairs or whatever it is, and then you blow up your mattress and have a cozy bed in here.
Trevor Brady and I always do this Montana trip that's really fun, where we do all of Montana into Glacier National Park and all that. That's a memorable one just because we're skating and it's packed full of like Burton gear because we're usually doing shop clinics all over Montana. Some of the dirtbiking trips I've done to Southern Utah are pretty insane, just driving on endless desert roads into the middle of nowhere. And then, probably my next favorite would be the Burton Trifecta that I do at Hood. I like going up there with the Astro and driving up the coast, surfing. That's always a memorable one. But, I literally drive this every day and I've probably slept in it over 1,000 times. I've slept in it a lot. It's been kind of a second home when I'm on the road. But like I said, I don't live out of it. It's a place for me to rest my head and clean up, so I can go back to doing activities.
I've had the Astro for three years and I've put like 100,000 miles on it, maybe a little more, now. I've been really hard on it, and I'm really thankful for it. It's been to California, Montana, Canada, all over the Western United States, many times. The future for it—eventually I want to be able to stand up. That's the one thing. I'd like to do a taller, fiberglass roof on it. I would like to put a miniature wood stove in it so you could cook and heat it without using propane. And then, the next would probably be a big trip to Mexico. I'd like to go to South America and go on a big surf trip and live out of it for a while.