Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Ultimate Blog Challenge Day Two

As I explained in the previous post, I accepted both the 2012 Ultimate Blog Challenge and the "My Perfect Average Day" challenge. Question 1 from the "My Perfect Average Day" challenge is "Where Would I Live?"

In the past three years, I've lived in a treehouse, two different vardos, an efficiency apartment over a metal artist's shop and our current place, a house in Tempe, Arizona that we share with a photographer/bouncer/blacksmith and an artist/hotel desk clerk. Each had its benefits and drawbacks, but of them all, I'd prefer to have wheels under my house again.

Van camping is not for everyone. Everything from how to organize everything to how to keep the van and yourself clean requires planning. You have to strip down to the essentials if you don't want 90 percent of your fuel used to haul stuff you didn't know that you don't need, and many people just can't let go of that pile of stuff they think they have to have.

After running two different vans back and forth between Pittsburgh, PA, the AEP campgrounds in Monroe County, Ohio, flea markets in Rogers, Ohio, Asheville, North Carolina and Athens, Georgia, we learned that the fewer things we carried besides show stock, the better. Rebar tie makes fine curtain rods, saddle blankets make great curtains and those two-burner propane camp stoves will heat the average van for $2 worth of propane just fine. A standard $5 tarp, 6 feet square, provides more insulation from the cold than any blanket or sleeping bag we could find, and it really is a good idea to insulate your van walls and put up some paneling.

For the next van, I definitely want a box truck if I can find one. If it's already modified into a camper, so much the better. If not, I want the sleeping platform right behind the driver's and passenger seats and the camp kitchen in the rear. I want a swing-down prep table on each back door, with rear power jacks and an inverter. A coffee pot is a must-have, because I've been to one too many shows where some idjit didn't realize that coffee should be on sale by 4AM, not after 9AM.

We'll have built-in shelves with 4-inch rails, no more than 6 inches wide, so that things don't slide when you come to a stop. I'll paint the interior in shades of purple from dark plum to lilac, and lay the carpet, if any, in pieces small enough to pull out and wash when needed rather than in a single piece.

The basic floor plan, depending on the type of van we find, will look a lot like this, except I'll put the toilet and vanity on the driver's side wall, not the passenger's side:

Graphic Copyright 2009 by Gypsy Wilburn


  1. I have to ask: how do you get internet for writing when living in a van with no fixed location? And why must the toilet and vanity be on the driver's side and not the passengers? :-)

  2. @Tracey: Coffee shops, libraries and many flea markets all have internet access, but when we go back out on the road, I have no intention of being online.

    The vanity and toilet have to go on the driver's side because the sliding door is on the passenger side.

  3. The Ultimate van design - now there is a challenge! I grew up with parents who always had caravans and campers and in recent years have had a few custom designed. Camping and travelling with them is always fun - but I think it does take time to work out what you need and how to travel with minimal belongings. That's the fun part! Thanks for sharing - I also like your search for the perfect day. It has made me think about mine and that I need to "play" in some way each day! And as for the treehouse - awesome! we just spent time in a Fijian Village where my husband (a chiropractor) provided care for over 200 people. Their simplicity made us re-evaluate a lot in life. Beautiful people. They live pretty much stress free and have bare essentials. Food for thought...