Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Monday, June 22, 2020

Two Weeks In

Copied over from a Facebook Post from June 18, 2020 (plus some additional pictures) --

Almost 2 weeks in the van. First, I made a 2-day drive from Pahrump, NV to Klamath Falls, OR. Got 16 MPG on first day, and 20 MPG on second day. Now, I'm camping with HOWA staff in the National Forest... always a treat. Spent the next week working. Then into Medford before coming back to camp and taking everything out of the van to finish the floor. Weather said sprinkles for a couple of hours over the two days planned to finish the job. So, tarped everything.

Everything out of the van and tarped for the rain.

Good thing because it rained for most of the 2 days ... and a couple of times it poured.

Damp and drizzle helped to take the bow out of the plywood.

I ended up doing what I could inside of the empty van. Thankfully, no more bow to the plywood in this damp weather.

Ended up using the inside of the van for shelter to work during the rain.

So, I got the underlayment mostly completed before I needed to load everything back into the van and get back to HOWA work. Now, next chance I get (in about 10 days), I'll install the sheet vinyl. It's slow going, but this pace and its many pauses is affording me opportunities to test out various configuations in my no-build build.

Kitchen Counter placed over wheelwell on passenger's side.

First, as you can see by my earlier post, my bed was across the side doors along the driver's side. I didn't especially like that my bed was front and center. Then I moved it to the back, still along the driver's side of the van. Better, but next I moved it along the passenger side of the van in the back. I like this configuration the best so far. See pic taken from the cab.

Latest configuration.
What I am enjoying most about the van so far -- the connection to and view of nature out of its many windows and open doors; making hot drinks and cooking inside; free power via solar generator/panel; and sitting up high when driving.

Love the windows.

What I miss about the Prius -- no hesitency to drive due to cost of gas; instant electricity by turning the car on; able to warm the smaller space quickly with auto-start while still in warm bed; everything was within arm's reach.

That's it so far. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

My New Partner

The Delay

My goal was to leave Pahrump on May 31st.  But, I didn't make it; today being June 4th.  Here I sit in Pahrump at 103F; so thankful for the AC in my Prius.  Tomorrow will be cooler ... only 100F ... but the next day is a true respite in the mid 80s.

Unfortunately, I can't physically work in heat much past the upper 80's.  So, I get up early, work on the van, then go into the Prius and do HOWA tasks until about 5 or 6pm when I typically do something relaxing ... like write a blog post :) ... before bed.

Headliner with heat and AC running through it, also side airbags from cab to back.

The Work to Date

I got the van in early March, a passenger van because windows are important to me.  I took the seats out and quickly discovered that removing the floor-rail infrastructure to which the seats were attached was beyond my capabilities.  Similarly, I needed to take the headliner off in preparation for a 16" fiberglass high top roof.  Because a heater/AC system ran through the headliner, as well as side airbags, I didn't have the skill set to do that removal either.  So, I hired a local shop.  Once completed, the back of my van now looks more like a cargo van than a passenger van.

Looks more like a cargo van with seat rails and carpet removed.

Although the heat/AC was removed from the headliner in the back, I had them keep it running to floor-level.  I suspect that will be a nice feature when I've been driving and want to heat or cool my living space before I get to camp.

I was hoping to have the Fiberine high top installed in May.  But, they had to close due to the virus and then got really backed up with work.  So, I'm waiting until the Fall.  In the meantime, I tacked the headliner back up for aesthetics and a bit of insulation.

Spare tire moved from underneath to back door. 
Also, hitch installed for towing.
In addition, I had the shop move the spare tire from underneath the back carriage, onto a back door.  I know changing a tire will be a challenge anyway; so, trying to make it as accessible as possible when/if needed seems prudent.  I also got some running boards.  Finally, I had a hitch put on so I could haul my 6'x10' cargo trailer.

The Bow Problem

I decided to put in a plywood floor to even out the bumps and ridges.  Gratefully my comrade and colleague Phyllis trekked back to Pahrump to help me.  We cut the ply and everything fit like a glove.  I was then going to attach the wood and lay some sheet vinyl.  BUT, the dry weather in Pahrump made the plywood bow something fierce.  A google search provided a solution: wetting the concave side and letting it sit overnight.   But, within a half hour outside, it would bow again.  Finally, I just gave up finishing the floor here in the desert.  I will finish in Oregon.

Bowed plywood from the dry desert air.

Today's Status

So, this morning I started setting up a living space in the van and packing everything up for my trip north.  I have many HOWA items to outfit a couple of HOWA minivans this summer.  So much so, I got a hitch carrier for the overflow.  So, bins, bins everywhere ... plus large rolls of floor vinyl, underlayment, and curtain fabric ... just like living in a house under renovation!

The Lament

I have living in my Prius down to a science.  I know where everything is; how to set up my devices for video conferences and live feeds.   I've got instant electrical power in the Prius ... a generator on wheels.  So many changes in the van.  Now I have solar panels to set up and move with the sun each day.  I need to figure out where to place cameras and sit with my laptop in the van for decent lighting and audio.  Everything will be a learning experience for a while.

So, Why?

Do you sense frustration?  Me too.  The thing is, I still like living out of my Prius.  I think this transition would be easier if I didn't.  All that said, the reasons for getting the van are still sound and wise.  I need to be able to stand up off and on while working inside on the computer.  I need to be able to easily cook inside instead of having to eat cold foods or go out to eat each day.  I need to be able to tow my cargo trailer.  These are the features I need because I want to continue doing the work of Homes On Wheels Alliance (HOWA).

Bed set in first in my new van, my Partner in all things good.

Onward and Upward

So, I'm keeping the Prius as my "cottage on wheels" for vacations and extended trips.  But, the Van, she is a working girl.  A dependable, go anywhere, climb any mountain kind of woman.  She will carry a load in style.  Her and I, we're partners.