When the boys were real little we had a tent trailer. It was great to have a way to come in out of the weather when they were so young. Then we graduated to just tents as we mostly camped out on rivers. Now we’re empty nesters and re-wiring (we prefer that word over ‘retiring’) yet again, going with simple yet luxurious. Well, luxurious depending on your definition of the word. The concept of the camper van met that definition for us.
My husband, Don, became interested in outfitting a camper van to fit the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid) after looking at so many complex systems that required winterizing, etc., yet seemed cramped and closed in. He came up with the now famous (in our area anyway) Swiss Army Van. No, it’s not of that brand, but it does do what the brand suggests, providing everything you need in one well thought out design. It had to be NOT an RV, but a Camper Van (Don’s emphasis). We’re now into our third version. I am fond of saying “I just want to sell the house and live in the van down by the river!”.
He chose the Mercedes Sprinter van to outfit because we could stand in it without raising a roof, and because of the durable, highly fuel efficient diesel engine (25mpg!). And there were lots of other reasons as well. There’s no doubt the inside feels luxurious with its vertical grain fir wood finish, custom made bed, awesome stereo and gorgeous L.E.D.mood lighting.
Camper van simplicity comes into play with the water system being a 5 gallon jug instead of plumbing that freezes; and the fridge being a high tech river cooler under the couch with a cooling plate that runs off the van battery;
and no potty. Oh yeah. Here’s where that Poo Pack I mentioned in the last blog comes in .
We’ve gotten really good at finding places to camp where there’s at least an outhouse, if not an actual campground bathroom. It may even be a trailhead, or a paved parking area for a boat ramp. But sometimes not even that is possible with the remote areas we end up in, hence the need for a Poo Pack.
It’s simple really. Really simple. Instead of a real “head” that has to be drained (yuck), cleaned (double yuck), with chemicals and stink (I’m done!), we adhere to the wilderness principles of pooping in the woods. The Poo Pack is a gardening trowel, toilet paper, hand wipies, matches (if it’s not too dry out!) and waterless hand sanitizer. I’ll let your imagination fill in how it’s used. If you’re curious, or maybe you need more details for your next adventure, check out the bible on the subject How to Shit in the Woods, 3rd Edition: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art. Very helpful and humorous indeed.
As long as we’re on the personal hygiene subject, I thought you might get a kick out of the shower system. Another simplistic beautiful thing. We simply open up the two back doors, hang two vinyl shower curtains to shield the bed and cover the back end. That’s the shower vestibule. Then we hang the solar shower from the roof with its nice warm water, and place the bath mat under our feet. Voila! Right, I know I know, it’s not a heated space. But hey, this is VAN CAMPING! Sometimes you just gotta be tough.
We figure we’ve already spent about a year’s worth of days living in our Swiss Army Van. Everywhere we go folks want to take a look and we laugh at how many we’ve “sold”. Don does plan to outfit Sprinters in this style for some re-wirement income, so if you’re interested, let me know. What I love is the freedom to go on back roads, fit into small spaces. I can even play Ansel Adams getting up on the roof rack for the higher perspective with my tripod and camera.
So if you happen to spy the Swiss Army Van out there somewhere, come on over and have a sit…..