Friday, October 26, 2012


If you are up for it, I'll cover all the changes to the van that took place this last week. 

It's quite the list - and it nearly finishes the items we had on our reno list for this year.

WHAT IS THIS?! Right?!
Well, it IS - or WAS - our hot water tank. Now fully removed from the van.

Don't know about the rest of you - but we don't use our hot water tank. Never. When we sold our trailer we had to first vacuum out the cobwebs and make sure it still worked. If we need hot water we boil it on the stove. It just doesn't make any sense to waste propane continuously heating water we rarely use.

And here is from whence the tank came. Before we left the cabin, Derek and I discussed how much better we could use this huge space - but - knowing we needed to find someone to unhook the propane we put it on the very future list.

How excited were we when Bud - a friend of our friends - offered to do all the work for us.

Here's Bud at work. Retired and always up for a new project. 

He suggested getting the propane ready for our NEW barbecue - that way we can store stuff in there but when we are ready to cook we can just connect our - get this.....

BRAND NEW WEBER!!!!!!!!!!!


Can you FEEL the excitement of that coming through your screen!

Derek and I have been pinning for a Weber for a while now. We took it off the list last year but decided it HAD to happen this year.

THEN Bud decided we should have a table to put our Weber on ( a paint job for the table when we get south into warmer temps) - Sweet !

TA DA!!!!!

Ok - so now sit down or hold onto your seats for this news.........

We found a Weber 100 for $79.00 at Home Depot!

Get out! Can you BELIEVE that!

Original price $149.00 AND there was ONE left!

What's that?! Good things come to those who wait?! Yup - that worked for us - this time!

Here's fellow smoker to Derek - Mike - working on our door. A BIG thanks to Mike for doing the wiring - the lights and the inverter. 

A door was even made out of the panel.

This isn't really a change but I wasn't sure if I'd shown y'all the cockpit yet - lots of stuff and a 15 watt solar panel on the dash with charge controller, so we are up to 79 Watts. The main item is the inverter. I showed you the other one in the last post - this is the second one that we use to power our stuff while we are driving. With all of our gear it usually has something plugged in.

It makes the old 1990 interior look high techie - doesn't it?

I also wasn't sure if I showed you all the dials we have. It looks pretty neat with all the after market gear. The two most helpful ones are the two lower dials on each side - they are for our two batteries. Always good to know how much juice is in those babies.

One of the things we also wanted to change in the van were the lights. All the old style - incandescent. Being that we are on solar most of the time, LEDs are definitely the way for us to go.

After a google search we realized that we couldn't go crazy on this and change them all at once.

OUCH! To the price tag.

We looked high in Nampa, and we looked low - but we couldn't find them anywhere.

Oh - we KNEW alright that they had them at Camping World over in Boise, but someone else HAD to have them cheaper - right?!

Nope - not only did they not have them cheaper - they didn't have them at all.

So - Camping World it was. We decided to change two of the lights that were wired in, for now - the ones we use most - over the dining room and up in the bunk. We also found a pack of three LED puck lights and decided to use those to fill in some of the dark spaces. 

Our new dining room light.

The puck lights - nice that they have two brightness setting plus swivel round 360 degrees and 45 degrees two way.

Since we had such a collection we decided to go ahead and get a Camping World/Sam's Club membership. It cost  $20 and we turned around and saved $16. We ALSO received a voucher for a free night in a Sam's Club member RV park up to $25. And so it was a win win. So - we are in for at least one night of luxury on this trip. 

A real life RV park to stay in...... think they'll let our troop in? 

The final change that we managed to do while here in Nampa is to deal with our interior storage. Derek and I left Cassia with the gang at the house and headed to Walmart with measurements and tape in hand. It was a battle to be sure involving several trips back and forth to the van, but we won. We now have fancy plastic pull out drawers in the back washroom/storage area.

Darn - I should have taken pictures BEFORE I put all our stuff in them. They are clear and so now in good conscience I can't post the pictures. They sure are great but they don't look so great photographed.

Here's what we scored for the back middle which we are pretty excited about. A bin to hold our pet food and such and a nice flat surface for our brand new WEBER. Yes - still gushing about that!

And to round out our space saving devices we purchased two of these neat little ditties - one for each seat. I'm not totally sure what to put in them at the moment but I'm sure they'll be overflowing by the time we head north again.


Yup - that's it!

We have had QUITE the time here in Nampa. We've had a great visit with everyone here AND our van is ready for travel. The one thing left on our list is the awning. We really really tried to get that going here but with two to three week waiting period or shipping time for materials and such we just can't do it now. We'll be on the look out for an awning solution for the next little while to be sure. 

We'll need SOMETHING to deal with ALL THAT SUN we are in for! 

We are headed out in the morning... or Monday, in search of some warmer weather and the "Red Rock Candy Mountain"... Where there aint no snow ;-)


TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: It's pretty much boondocking and stealth camping for us for the next month or so until we hit Mexico. I thought I'd pass along two great blog posts that I read this week on just these topics. Check out To Simplify where stealth camping guru Glen let's us all in on the secrets AND over at Wheeling It where Nina provides Boondocking Basics.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Today being Wednesday means that we have been sitting here VERY comfortably at our friends place in Nampa for almost one week. 

A LOT has been going on!

So much has been going on that today has been the first day since Saturday that Cassia and I saw Derek for longer then a few minutes during the day and at dinner time - which has been around 7:00 each night. 

Where has he been and what has he been doing you ask.......

He has been set up in our friends HUGE and nicely outfitted shop and he has been doing - well - all sorts of things.

Good things! Alterations to our camper van. Yaaaaaaaaaaaa!

The list has gotten quite large so I'll just tell you about our solar panel and leave the rest for the next post. Your head would be spinning if I posted all of the renos at once. I know ours are.

It's been cool outside but our van has been comfortably hanging out in the shop. 

A major plan of attack being discussed here. 

Guess I should tell you a bit about our solar situation. In 2008 Derek and I, realizing that we should get on the solar panel bandwagon, purchased a UniSolar 64 watt solar panel from a solar place in Quartzsite. Over the years it has served us VERY well - we have been happy with it. Of course, our energy needs are very small - as long as we can charge our lights, computers, camera and dvd player we are good to go. And well, our furnace on very cold nights is always a plus. 

For the last few winters we have just been traveling around with it in the trailer. When we set up for a while we would haul it out and lean it against the trailer. Certainly not ideal, but we weren't committed to our trailer and so didn't want to attach it permanently. We almost did though, several times. 

Of course with the camper van, carrying the almost 3'x4' panel around inside is not an option. We realized pretty quickly that it had to go up on the roof and fast. Thankfully, one of our campers at the park this summer told us about using tape to connect the panel to the roof rather than drilling holes. 

WoW! Now THAT sounds like a GREAT idea. 

Through a google search we found a company in Oregon that sells special feet that stick to the roof and attach to the panel - with very special NASA designed tape. Yup - that's what we need. We contacted them and they were more then happy to install a solar panel onto our roof - problem was they didn't want to install OUR solar panel onto our roof.

It was time for Plan B. 

Since our friends here in Nampa, in addition to all around handy people, are also electricians and mechanics. Well, you can't get much better than that. Except of course that they were more then happy to help us with our solar panel. 

We quickly ordered some 'sticky feet' online from the RV Solar Store in Colorado. They arrived in Idaho even before we did.

**** Ok - first let's get this straight. If you are here for the technical info on the solar panel, you aren't going to get it from me. Sure - I'm happy about it and it's all pretty neat but the what and why about this stuff isn't my area of interest. If you have any questions send them through and I'll send them on - to those in the know.

Our 12 volt marine battery on the right and the charge controller on the left. (Yes, I did just lean over and ask Derek what all this is.)

The solar panel very secure on the roof with Sticky Feet and industrial strength silicone for added measure . One of the nifty things Derek found out about doing on the internet was to use this marine plug. It is generally used for boat connections but we have seen them used for solar panels. The location chosen was an old patched cable hole in our fiberglass roof that Derek thought we should re-use. Once the connector was in place the cable went down the side of the canopy, down through the bunk bed, just over the driver side window, to the floor board and then finally to the battery.

Sorry for the fuzzy pic but it's all I had. We installed our inverter near the kitchen just behind the driver side seat. It is also connected to the battery. It converts DC into AC. We are good to go with anything 560  watts consistently or 700 watts for five minutes. 
Thats all of our tech gear plus items like the blender and coffee grinder.


What a relief to have that done. Derek and I are pretty excited about it all. And SO THANKFUL for our friends help in getting it done. It took the better part of Saturday and then a bit more time Tuesday evening to be completed.

Cassia and I were happy to go into the shop every fews hours to check how it was all going and then head back to the house. We enjoyed spending our Saturday with all the women in the household including three little girls. Saturday was spent picking out pumpkins and then watching the girls paint them out on the deck in the warm sun.

Since we are only here for a few more days before heading out I'll have to move quickly to post the rest of our van renos. Three more big changes to talk about! 

Edge of your seat - right?!


TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: So here's another blog for the 'so many blogs so little time' pile. I would so love to spend a whole bunch of time on the site Road Junky World Travel. I bet there is a lot to learn here - even if WE aren't quite traveling the world - yet. But - maybe YOU are....

Monday, October 22, 2012


The many miles we covered on Tuesday and Wednesday meant that we had a short travel day on Thursday, 114 miles along I84. It is a pretty drive but VERY hilly. 

UP -- DOWN -- UP -- DOWN -- UP -- DOWN. 

Since we had a small breakfast before heading out of Baker City we stopped for lunch at the Welcome Center/Rest Area just as we entered Idaho. 

This is a VERY nice stop - picnic tables with shelters, trees, a great view, clean washrooms, and best of all ..... wifi!

Also very historic. 

 We sure do LOVE traveling during this time of year. 
Just LOOK at the colour of this tree!

Cassia couldn't resist the pile of leaves. 
Derek and I had fun throwing them at her - actually - this was Cassia's very FIRST time playing in a pile of leaves. 

Our future rock climber....

.... and walker. Cassia's up for anything - literally!

A nice view of Snake River and the surrounding farmland.

The GREAT thing about the HUGE plate of nachos from the night before was that lunch was SUPER easy! I guess I kinda caught these two in the action.

With entering Idaho we also entered the Mountain Time zone and so we moved ahead one hour. Guess well be in this time zone until the spring. 

It wasn't long before we were taking our exit off of the Interstate into the fine city of Nampa. With just one right, one left and one right we were pulling into our friends K and J's driveway. So glad to be visiting with them and their family once again. 

Lots to do while were here - installing our solar panel to our roof and getting organizers for the back area of the van. Plus great fun for Cassia with three granddaughters aged 6, 8 and 10. 


TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: Now that we are in Idaho I want to pass on one of my favourite authors -- Robin Lee Hatcher. Her books are Christian fiction of the early history of Idaho. Robin lives close to where we are - just over in Boise. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Since we generally don't dawdle too long at rest areas in the morning we were up and on the go fairly early Wednesday morning - we had a lot of miles to cover.

We weren't necessarily in a hurry, but since we have been over much of this ground before, admiring the view from the van we kept the peddle to the metal.

If I haven't mentioned before - we are real fans of Washington State. Each time we come through - either coming or going - we try to take roads we haven't driven before. Slow but sure we are seeing it all - and it is most beautiful.

This year's new to us was the I90 from Seattle area through Ellensburg and on to Vantage where we turned onto the 26 through to Othello.

Our driver for this voyage. I'm so glad we have Derek behind the wheel - driver extraordinaire - with the beautiful countryside behind.

I LOVE these mirror shots - my FIRST with the new van - a little different then with the single mirror of the truck. Plus a much larger mirror! You can still see the dark rain clouds from the night before - so glad we are driving AWAY from them.

No matter the route through Washington, every trip includes a drive by the HUGE windmills.

Crossing the Columbia River on I 90- just after the bridge we turn left onto the 26.

The Colmbia River - very wide at this point.

We decided to stop in Othello - a small agricultural community. The Greater Othello Chamber of Commerce provided us with wifi and directions to Walmart. 

Back to travelling and back to Walmarts. We were in desperate need of a cable leash for Roofous. 

A pretty common sight when we stop at a place with wifi - me on the iPad either researching, checking email or updating Facebook.

Following a quick lunch in Othello we headed east to catch the 17. At this point we have been on this route several times, although usually coming from the north, Soap Lake and Moses Lake. 

As the navigator I'm glad to be retracing some well worn steps - I can sit back and enjoy the ride instead of fretting about where to go - where to turn - etc. The 17 takes us to Pasco and then easily onto the 12 east. 

Pasco is one of the tri cities in Washington. We've yet to make a detour into the tri cities to look around but it is still one of our favourite places. I recommend a look at the link - it is a very beautiful area with a mild climate making for a great growing region. 

As we travel along the 12, just before making a right onto the 730, we stopped at a recreation area/park. This is the first time we have stopped here - with the sun shining and all of us needing some fresh air it was a good time to stop.

Cassia couldn't wait to go for a walk.

Roofous + water = wet dog in the camper van!

If you are ever looking for a route south through Washington the drive along the Columbia River on 730 is a VERY good choice. It is a nice highway and runs right along the river. There are lots of pullouts for a break and a chance to get down to the river. 

We took the 730 to the 207 taking us into Hermiston which we then took to I84 and headed east.

On to Pendleton.

Pendleton is another favourite place of ours to pass through. Another neat small city. Cowboy country.

On last years trip we passed through here both on our way down and our way up. Just east of Pendleton is the HUGE hill that we either have to climb or descend. As with last fall - it's UP.

Just east of Pendleton headed to the hill.

Great views though of the valley below.


Once to the top the landscape dramatically changes - from agriculture and grasslands to forest. 

From here we continued east through La Grande and on to Baker City. Since we were losing and finally lost the sunlight there are no more pictures. Thankfully we pulled into Baker City just as the sun set.

Baker City is one of our favourite stealth camping spots which we found last year. Since we didn't have a lot of groceries on board we decided to treat ourselves to dinner. Knowing about Baker City's historic downtown we figured we could find a neat little place to eat. And we did!! 

We had a GREAT time at the Barley Brown Brew Pub. Our waitress was great - we spoke with the Owner and we sampled one of their beers. We also had a MASSIVE plate of nachos and home cut fries. Since the place was packed we were thrilled that we had found THE place to eat when in Baker City.

One day I hope we manage to visit the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. I'm a BIG fan of westerns and particularly books about the Oregon Trail and pioneers headed west. Can't say why we didn't stop there this trip. Sigh..........

Next post..... our trip from Baker City to Nampa Idaho........


TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: A book I really enjoyed about the Orgeon Trail is All Together In One Place by Jane Kirkpatrick, which I read on last years trip. The story - based on an actual 1852 Oregon Trail incident, chronicles the journey of a group of families to the west balancing both the highs and lows of such a feat. 

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