Free camping on government land & update to water storage - 10/06/2020 | For this trip, I wanted to get a taste of camping on governent land for free. There are no facilities and you are usually not in the most prime location, but it is free and for many a full timer this is one of the places they choose to stay, at least some of the time. This is the Pumphouse Wash (FR 237) Dispersed Camping Area. There are four loops off of Forest Service Road 237 with defined sites and fire rings. There are no other services. No water, no restroom, no anything. They put these up to lessen the impact that some dispersed campers cause when they are just parked on the federal land. The site was fine. There were about 6 other campers for about 12 sites and everyone respected each other's privacy. I found out though, that I need to plan more for what to do. I read a book, and started a second. There was no signal so I was totally off grid. I took a few short walks, but that was about it. I need to better plan around this type of camping next time. (Fishing gear, bicycle, or even just other hobbies/crafts that I can do with my free time.) Plus, I didn't realize how cold it was up north. I was not prepared for 32f and I don't have a Mr. Buddy heater yet. I cut the trip short, but I will be better prepaired for the next one.
The update to my water storage was to get new 6 gallon milk crates from Farm Plast because, you know, they needed to match.... And I wanted to go two high so I could have 6 gallons underneath and have the whole thing raised to give me a work surface. I am not sure what the best use of the space in the second crate will be. For this trip I used it for food and that freed up the space between the seats, which was nice. But the best thing was having that work surface set up and ready to go. I need to add some lighting overhead and might have to install some cleats to keep it from sliding though. (49.5 # of H2O when fully loaded!)
RIP Carrie - 08/17/2020 | Carrie went to the shop and she needs more repairs than I can afford. Mechanically, she is sound, but she will never pass emissions in 2022. So my plan is to make the most of the next two years. I'm not real comfortable with driving with the check engine light on, but I will try to deal...
Potty time - 07/27/2020 | This is my system for restroom needs while boondocking. For the short hauls that I'm planning, this will be used for the times I don't have access to a real bathroom. Maybe a chemical toilet system in my future, but a lot of boodockers use the bag/bottle and toss method. Working on a cover, but I need more crazy glue.
This is a old liquor bottle box with a 3 gallon bucket inside. There is enough clearance to put the lid on to help contain things and with a little kitty litter, we should be good to go. Yellow Nalgene bottle is for #1. So far, it seems like it will work, but I have not field tested it yet.
Initial shakedown - 07/10/2020 | I went camping this weekend to see how the basic configuration was working. This was a way to look for any glaring misses in the setup. I figure it will be tweaked as I go, but I wanted to set a baseline.
This is a view from the rear to show the overall setup. The bed is on the passenger side, as that had a straight wall. Some additional storage under the bed includes my kitchen bin, 2 bins for clothes, a folding chair, and a small shovel.
This is my toilet system. Right now, this is just bungied to the side, but I plan to build a box to house my emergency bathroom setup. It is my goal not to use this, but depending on where I am, this may be my only choice. Bucket is for #2, bottle for # 1.
My water is behind the driver's seat. I have figured on 6 gallons as my go to amount of water to carry. This can be adjusted depending on the trip, but it is a reasonable number to start with. I considered things like a 6 gallon Jerry can, or two 3 gallon stackable cans, but this works for me for now. I am thinking about replacing one of the jugs with a 1 gallon sprayer for impromptu showers, but that's TBD. This sits behind the driver's seat. A potential modification is to add a 2nd crate with a smooth top as a work station.
These two Ikea bins fit perfectly between the front seats. They hold about 2 weeks worth of dry/canned goods. They also make a nice tray for things like printouts or my cell phone when I am driving.
On the passenger side, I kept it pretty clear as this is my main way in and out of the van. I bungied a folding table and some paper towels to the passenger seat. I did not use the table this time as I had one where I was staying, but it takes up no space to speak of.
Overall, this setup worked for the most part. Not shown at the front of the bed are two small shoe boxes with my hygene kit and my electronics bin. They are held in place by a bungie. As I get more trips under my belt I will make some changes but this is working well so far. The best thing was the bed. I'm over sleeping on the ground, regardless of the pad.
Stow and Gone! - 07/04/20 | I took the plunge today and removed the front stow and go seats. The idea here is to have storage for things that I don't use that often, but still want to carry. Removing the seats give me that extra storage as well as reduces the weight by what I would guess is 150 - 200 lbs. In my proposed configuration, the passenger side compartmant will normally be accessable while the driver's side will require me to slide a few things over. So the drivers side will probably have tools, jumper cables, and other stuff I don't plan to access that often while the passenger side will likely have things like my camp stove, extra shoes, and some other random bits.
Bed build - 06/26/2020 | I decided to keep the stow-and-go seats for now and not put in a floor. I imagine they will eventually be gone but for now they stay. I cut down a standard bed frame to fit a 28" x 74" mattress that I had custom made by www.militarysupplyhouse.com. The bed was 3 1/2" lower in the front than the back. Since that is the standard size of a 2x4, I used a flat 2x4 in the back and a t-shaped combo of a flat and upright 2x4 in the front. I pulled the wheels from the frame and drilled 3/4" holes, 3/4" deep. It sits level now, but may need to be adlusted once the van has its standard load in it. There is no wheel well on the passenger side so my 24" bins fit under the frame nicely. Next step is get some bedding and think about some kind of headboard/cubbie.
Site launch - 06/23/2020 | OK. So, here's the plan. I bought a used minvan and plan to turn it into a camper. I chose a minivan because they can be cheap to buy, insure and maintiain. I plan to be a weekender for now before seeing if I want to go full time, so this seems to be the best way for me to test the waters of vanlife. Just bought an '05 Caravan. Meet "Carrie"!