Van mods part 1

February 23, 2018 Comments off

Well, we just got started on modding the new van. Basic principles are to keep it capable of doing anything that the original van can do, from hauling motorcycles to moving house, and still make it able to be camped in.

So, a light touch is it.

So far, we’ve had Commercial Van Interiors add new rubber flooring and the rails for Adrian Steel shelving, which shelves we installed ourselves. We also had them install a stout partition between the front seats and the rear of the van, in case of disaster and things were flying around in the back of the van.

We added a dash cover. And a Tekonsha P3 brake controller for the trailer.

Then there’s a whole raft of Amazon purchases – sleeping bags, levelers, cookware, and on and on, to make the thing habitable.

Plus, I mounted Hollywood bike mounts in the front of the cargo compartment, and the van is wide enough to have the bicycles mounted semi-permanently there without affecting ingress through the side door.

Most recently, B and I have been fashioning press fit window blackouts from black artist board, and now that is complete and working.

Next week, the van is headed to San Diego Trailer Supply for them to complete two tasks, install a roof vent, and a second, auxiliary, house battery wiring system, so we can run electrikky stuff, like charging phones and interior lights (and our Koolatron chiller) without draining the van’s starter battery.

After that, we’ll be ready for a shake-out trip. There’s bound to be many things that we’ve forgotten to deal with, so we’ll make it close to home.

Can’t wait. Want to get on the road with this rig. Patience, Simon…..

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We’re still here…..

January 13, 2018 1 comment

It’s been an awful long time since the last post. That’s OK, all it means is that we’ve been doing fairly mundane stuff that isn’t worth writing about.

First off, here are a few photos from our time off the leash in eastern Oregon, Washington and Canada:

This first one is from the Malheur Wildlife refuge in Oregon. A stag with a fine rack and a bird hitch-hiking along…


The next one is from near Bend, OR. It’s one of the Sisters, taken from the rear side. By the way, it was late July at the time.


Then later, we headed up through Washington State, following the Columbia River, and on a whim, went to Canada for lunch.


So, there’s a big gap from then until now. The big news is that we’ve got a new tow vehicle, a mighty Nissan NV 3500 SV, which has a huge V8 engine and a petrol tank sized to match. Over the next months and maybe years, we’re going to turn it into a mobile living space. At the moment, it’s as raw as raw can be.


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Hey there…

August 11, 2017 Comments off

It’s been a long time without any posts. The main reason is that the Pacific North West has been socked in with serious smoke from fires for lo these many weeks. That makes landscape photography difficult, if not impossible.

What we’ve been doing is following i) a trek across eastern Oregon, to include Burns, Malheur National Refuge, a wild ride around 242, 126, and 20 out of  Sisters,. Then we went across to John Day and Baker City to discover the gold mining stuff.

Then ii), we have been following the dams along the Columbia River. Astonishing. Started out at Plymouth Park, WA, just west of the McNary Dam, then headed downstream to the Dalles and John Day Dams, and most recently, upstream to the Grand Coulee Dam. Which is where we are tonight.

We’re going to do laundry tomorrow, and into Canada for lunch on Sunday.

Stuff has been amazing, not least the whole notion of the ‘wipe-out’ flooding that caused the incredible erosion hereabouts. Hard to believe.

We’ll post some photos later, just keeping everyone in touch.

In the meantime, here’s a summary of how we felt about camp hosting:

“There is a huge difference between going camping for a few days, weeks, or even months, compared to being camp hosts. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

So, we’re coming up to the end of our nearly three month experience as camp hosts at a delightful RV park on a working cattle ranch in south central Oregon.

We haven’t moved our trailer in 2 and a half months! Since we bought it in late 2013, there has never been a gap that long without taking it somewhere. Because it has become ‘home’ to us. So, the first question is: Can you live and work comfortably whilst in a 15 foot trailer? Well, broadly, yes, if you are aware of what your partner is trying to do in the same space that you are trying to do something. It’s a compromise. Would it have been better if we had bigger accommodations? Probably so (somewhere to sit apart from the dinette would be nice). But then, it’s the first time we have tried this, and we like the size and weight of our trailer for all the sightseeing and travelling that we’ve been doing up until this venture.

So yes, we’ve managed being a bit cramped, but it’s OK. The view outside is worth it.

The ranch owner has been incredibly gracious, and our ‘boss’, co-hosts, have been great to work with, despite my destroying all things in my path in the early days, and that brings me to one of the great things about doing camp hosting – it’s a social activity almost as much as park maintenance and customer billing. You get to meet some really great folks with interesting stories to tell, from all over the country.

But, in the end, it’s about repetitive tasks, cleaning restrooms, irrigating, mowing and weed whacking grass, maintaining facilities. And endlessly manipulating check-ins, RV sites and reconciling accounts. And that’s all fine.

Except that it gets bit tedious. Especially when you’ve run out of local sights to see on your weeks off. And you know, the days are kind of long. From about 7:30 am until about 9:30 in the evening being paid 8 hours at minimum wage for one person – even though two people are being active for those hours. Take into account the ‘free’ RV space, electricity, water and sewage, so there’s a payback there, but even so, it’s close to exploitation. That said, our bosses wouldn’t turn a hair if we said we wouldn’t work beyond reasonable hours, so we’re somewhat complicit.

We have managed to get a good feel for how this part of the country lives, which is something we hadn’t anticipated. Coming from urban San Diego, this rural, farming/forestry region has completely different values – neither better nor worse – just different. The seasons dictate what people do, and the seasons don’t really exist in San Diego. Have you ever been to anywhere in San Diego (or any other city, for that matter) where the only Ford dealer closes on Saturday?”


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Lava Beds National Monument

June 26, 2017 Comments off

Yesterday, we went West over the hills, through the small town of Bonanza, dropped down into California and the  Lava Beds National Monument, which is, in summary, lots of lava and lava tubes (caves).  It’s the remains of what was once the biggest of the Cascades volcanos. And it is in a beautiful setting overlooking the plains. It has a small campground which we would be very happy to stay in, too.

Lava Beds


The first cave we encountered resembled a pair of eyes


The next one was bigger and blacker and colder (and a little bit green)


Next was ‘Skull Cave’ – awesomely huge


Neat flowers and butterflies along the way


Here’s me climbing down into a cave


And here’s B looking down on me in the cave


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In Oregon, everywhere that’s interesting is at the end of a long, washboarded, dirt road.

June 23, 2017 Comments off

Like the hart mountain national antelope refuge. And almost everywhere we’ve been this trip.

It makes for a dusty vehicle – one wonders whether using the windshield wipers will grind a pattern into the glass because dust – but also for views like this:



coming down from Hart mountain

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Crack in the ground

June 21, 2017 Comments off

Well, there it is, north of Christmas Valley, OR (it wasn’t Christmas, and this isn’t a valley!), down a 7 mile long dirt road with the worst washboard ever experienced, a 2 mile long fissure in the ground. B sez it’s a fault line, but I marveled about how much force would be required  to break this rock.


There was water erosion, too. Very pretty.


Check it out for yourselves at Google Maps

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Brazen as you like!

June 12, 2017 Comments off


This little lady just walked into the RV park, had a nice meal, ambled between the RV’s, and just walked on out again.

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