Ohio Couple Plans Life-Changing Adventure on Converted Military Vehicle
What do you do when life is moving too fast? You leave the farm and plan the journey of a lifetime with your two toddler sons.
When his first son was born, something in Michael Gingerich flipped — in an instant.
“Everything changed,” he says. “I just wanted to spend time with him.”
As a farmer in Plain City, Ohio, time was in short supply, especially in the fall when 14- to 20-hour workdays were common. But even in the “off season” there were long days of fixing machinery, making repairs on the farm and planning.
After his second son was born, Michael started thinking more seriously about a long-held dream of his — to convert a military vehicle into a travelling home and set out for adventure. As his sons grew, so did his dream.
What happened when he finally mentioned this dream to his wife, Nicole? Was she OK with this?
“Yeah, I was surprisingly,” she says. “Now is a great time.”
The only problem? They were set to sign a mortgage the next day to build a home on their family farm.
“We decided not to build our beautiful home on the farm,” Nicole says. “We let go of the comfort of knowing what our lives would be like for the next 20 or 30 years.”
So Michael set about finding a military vehicle and quickly located one — and this was a surprise — on Facebook Marketplace. He bought his LMTV (light medium tactical vehicle) from a man in Indiana. It had been on the ground in Afghanistan and is widely recognized as one of the most versatile and reliable military trucks in the world.
But, of course, it had to be converted from a truck that can carry 2.5 tons of cargo to a home that could carry his wife, 3-year-old son Rowan and 2-year-old son Rhett. (It’s named Rosco and can be followed on Instagram at Rosco_Wanders.)
The job only took Michael three weeks, with the help of his dad, brother and some friends.
How did he know how to convert a military vehicle into a travelling home?
“He’s a farmer,” Nicole says flatly. “Farmers would know.”
All in, the couple estimates they’ll spend $75,000 on the conversion. Next up is the interior, which Nicole says will look more or less like any time house you might imagine. The boys will sleep on a loft and the living space will convert into their bed. An interior ladder leads to a hole in the roof where there are two pop-up tents.
Why Not an R.V.?
“We didn’t just want to do a campground life,” Nicole says.
First of all, that gets expensive. But, more importantly, they wanted freedom and true adventure. Solar panels provide electricity while their water tank holds 100 gallons. Look at the tires and you’ll notice another key difference.
“We can go off road,” Michael says. “We’re not going to get stuck.”
This is called dispersed camping, Michael explains, and it allows them to camp on National Forest land. They’ll spend some time in campgrounds, sure, but the plan is to be free.
“With this, we can go down any dirt road,” Michael says.
Where It Began — and What’s Next?
Michael and Nicole, who is from the Cleveland area, first met as teens on a warm summer night on the pier in Lakeside, Ohio, where both were vacationing with their families. They kept in touch, began dating a few years later and got married in 2017.
Nicole’s parents have a cottage in Lakeside — and that’s where the family is spending this summer as they prepare to launch their trip. September is the goal.
How long will they be gone? What will they do for work? Where exactly will they go?
Right now, there are more questions than answers — and they’re OK with that. In fact, they want it that way. “We’re keeping everything up in the air,” Michael says.
They’ll go to Badlands National Park in South Dakota first. That’s the only thing set in stone. From there, they’ll take it slow. “If we love one spot, we might stay a while,” Michael says. “Our goal is to get our boys outside.”
But, of course, the real goal was born the same day as his first son — to all be together.