Hello, glad your back for more. I’m going to jump a head to current real quick in my story. There is a lot more to be told about the road to living in my van but I need to let you know where I am at at this time. The story about how I got here will continue I promise. I will keep you up to date on my current adventures the best I can while I continue with my back story. I currently own a 2006 Gulf Stream Vista Cruiser MB edition G24. Basically Gulf Stream Bought a 2005 dodge Sprinter (Mercedes Benz 2.7 litter turbo diesel on a freightliner chassis) and built a fully contained class B RV. I was lucky enough to find this one with 60,000 miles. It currently has 88,763 miles. When I bought it from Ray Citte RV in Roy Utah. I had them install a tow package. Best investment. Worst choice of service provider. There sales was amazing. 5 star rating easy but the service end was horrible they had my van for over a month and didn’t get anything done right. I had to finish every job myself after many return trips. “If you want it done right. Do it yourself”. With the tow package I am able to bring my 2006 Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 adventure touring motorcycle. A huge plus to the vandwelling lifestyle. Now you may think that with all this my life is complete. Wrong! No matter how much you spend or how much you build. With this lifestyle there is always a tweek that will make every trip a bit better. It’s always a challenge. Always work. And that is what provides a sense of pride in your own personal build. On my current to-do list is #1 major importance: SOLAR! I have a 200 watt system picked out. I will post a link and I’m hoping for your smarter minds to inform me on the ups and downs. I know nothing on this subject and am trying to learn. Second I want a bigger propane capacity. I’m not sure if I want to add an additional on board tank or replace what I have or plumb in a external port for off board tank use. Again your thoughts are welcome. I also need to fix the OEM water heater issue. It is an electric on demand that doesn’t really do a good job and it’s very inefficient. The ones that are built today I’m told are amazing. Not sure if I want to replace it with a new one or replace it with a propane tank heater. Let’s start some good conversation about these upgrades. Third is a dream. I want to “pop that cap” haha cheesy plug for a great swing band Lost Dog Found check them out. They are incredible! Anyway I want to install a pop up to give me penthouse sleeping with 360 degree views. It will also add the third bed giving me sleeping for 4-5. I have seat belts for 4. I added a lower bunk in the rear storage area already. It is under the factory bed in a space approximately 5’6″ long x 3′ wide x3′ tall. It has two exits and a light and cable for tv. Perfect clubhouse for my 10 year old son. I have included pictures so check them out. Of course request are welcome. Stay tuned this is just the beginning.
Alright it’s time to continue. I left off on the build. I bought a 1995 dodge 2500 conversion van. It had a 5.9 litter V8 motor. 4 captain chairs and a rear couch that folded into a bed. I was in HEAVEN!!! I had enough room to stretch finally. After the first trip I realized the gas was going to kill me. I was getting around 9 miles to the gallon. If I tried hard I could bring it up to 13 which I did learn how to do regularly. So I started looking into motorcycles. That will be another story though. I also figured out that with all those chairs I was loosing to much valuable space. So I removed the two rear seats and installed a bank of 3 drawers and a cabinet against the wall behind the drivers seat. The room was awesome. I removed the original 13″ tube TV and VCR. I installed a 19″ flat screen LED with a DVD all in one TV. I also switched all the interior light bulbs to LED. I gained two more cupboards and lowered the power draw dramatically. After about a year of sleeping on that couch/bed I realized it never turns into a couch anymore so out it went. It was large. I used queen sheets on it. They fit a little baggy but I believe it was more from only having a 3 inch mattress. So now, again, I had a ton of room. So I installed two more cabinets that faced the rear doors so that I can access them from the back. That was great. I could keep all my dirty work cloths, oils, ridding gear and BBQ out of my cabin now. Real clean. I loved it. When I installed the counter though I placed it backward so that it was functional from the inside. I ran cords from the inverter up front to a power strip on the rear counter for all my charging needs. I also ran a cord out the front next to the engine block heater plug. When I was plugged in people thought it was an engine heater not the shore power for my van. Against the rear cabinets a twin bed fit very snug over the rear wheel wells. I raised the bed to be flush with the rear windows. This gave me enough length to stretch out. I’m 5’10” tall. It also gave me a huge space under the bed for more storage. I bought a 3gallon water jug with a hand pump and bungeed it to the front counter. I then mounted a propane stove to the counter behind the chairs. This gave me a way to cook on rainy/snowy days. I had to be very careful about ventilation though. The stove worked great as a furnace as well. I could start my coffee in the morning and warm the van at the same time. This worked awesome for a few years. My only hiccup was gas mileage and it was not tall enough for me to stand in. If not for those reasons I’m sure I would own it still today. If you are a person on the fence about using a van for living temporary or full time. I would suggest this route first. It will let you know if your passion is real without breaking you financially. I bought my van with 80k miles for $2500. I spent about $1,000 into converting it. And sold it with 140k miles for $4,400. Take your time planing a floor plan that works best for your situation and take your time. A lot of this lifestyle is being able to take pride in your build.
I had to leave for work on my wedding anniversary. My wife made a few arrangements so she was able to come with me. I can’t say how excited I was. It’s a long term goal of ours to full time in the van when my two boys grow up and move out. For now she lives in what I call my Vacation Home, Or thier full time residence. We drove to Nampa ID. Slept at the maintenance of way depot the first night. While I was at work she explored Nampa. After, we took off for the Snake River. We stayed at Map Rock. It’s a free spot for up to 4days on the banks. It has pot toilets and one tree we were lucky enough to park under. It seems there are a few people that stick around longer. Be aware of the full timers. Next my wife, not being as seasoned, decided she wanted to try an RV park. We found a place called Ambassador RV. Pool was very clean. Hot tub was very hot and the separate shower rooms were a blessing. Awesome place! I do recommend it if you are an RV park person. We found out that our trip was going to grow. My work decided they needed us in a little town called Chemult OR. Again we were off and running. We stayed in Chemult OR that night and moved to Kalamath Falls the next day parked the equipment and that’s when our trip turned EPIC! We hit three National Parks in Three days. The first Crater Lake National Park in OR. The second I didn’t even know existed. Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. The third Yosemite National Park in Northern California. We slept when we couldn’t drive any more and hiked every morning at sunrise. I do recommend the Annual National Park pass. We saved money on this trip alone. It costs $80 and Yosemite alone was $30 Lassen $20 and Crater Lake $20. Plus it gives you discounts on merchandise at the shops and half off on campgrounds. I’ve also used it two other times for Yosemite, once at Bryce and a bunch of monuments.
Up next we take our family to Flathead Lake for Two nights then over Glacier NP. Spend the night. Get up and go into Canada. Drive through Banff. Sleep in Jasper NP. Drive back through Banff To the Royal Tyrell dinosaur museum on our way to Yellowstone NP. Spend two nights before we drive through Jackson Hole WY to get home.
Check out http://www.78viewfinder/Facebook.com for pics and my Instagram Roadtovanlife