Keeping It Clean

This is a 4′ X 6′ outdoor rug/welcome mat that I found at Target.  It lives in the van until we make camp and then goes outside the sliding door area so the inside stays clean!  It can be shook to remove dirt and debris and can also be rinsed off with a hose.

A whisk broom is helpful as well to sweep out the interior floor as needed.  I’m looking at this one, since the one I have is too flimsy.

Making a More Comfortable Bed

The mattresses on the Eurovan camper or any VW camper are notoriously uncomfortable.  Maybe it’s because I’m 51 and my boyfriend in 62, or maybe it’s because they are nothing more that a foam pad on top of a hard platform.

After some research, thanks to TheSamba Forum, I decided to buy a superking memory foam mattress pad, since one of them cut in two makes two mattress pads for the upper and lower bunks.  A recent sale on Overstock.com had all sizes of two inch Serta memory foam pads priced at $80 so I jumped on it.  We measured the bunks and cut the pad exactly in half by making a couple of marks on the pad and then snapping a chalk line.  The easiest way to cut the foam is to use scissors and just cut along the line.

Another way to make your bed more comfortable is to take the mattress from one bunk and put it on taop of the other.  This obviously only works if you are using just one bunk.

Sheets and pillows make a difference.  I know people take sleeping bags, but somehow sheets just feel more like home, and when you live in the South like I do, there’s a limited season where you need a sleeping bag.  I bought full sized sheets.  If you buy them, make sure there is elastic all the way around the fitted sheet for a better fit.

There is always the issue of which bed to use and the upper and lower bunks both have their pros and cons.

So far we’ve been sleeping in the bottom bunk.

Upper bunk

Pros:

  • It’s like sleeping in a tree house
  • You don’t have to put the bed away completely to use the downstairs
  • better ventilation due to all the screens

Cons:

  • You have to move the bed back to have all your headroom in the galley
  • It’s more difficult to get out of bed for nighttime bathroom visits
  • You lose all that great storage up there when the pop top is up
  • It’s more difficult to make the bed
  • the mattress is more uncomfortable than in the bottom bunk

Lower Bunk:

Pros:

  • It’s easy to get in and out of bed
  • You can slide out of bed and make coffee
  • It;s easy to make the bed

Cons:

  • With the bed out, you can’t access the main cabinet in the galley
  • You have to put the bed away to use the bench seat in the back
  • You have to move all the stuff from the back to the top or elsewhere

Meeman Shelby Forest State Park (How To Get Rid of Rednecks)

I might wander a but on this post so bear with me. We left Memphis about noon and headed to Meeman Shelby Forest State Park which is only about a half an hour from my house and got there in time to have some pork tenderloin sandwiches which had been grilled a couple of nights ago. It was amazing with horseradish sauce and sandwich thins, along with a simple salad of avocado and heirloom tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

The park itself is really pretty with a bit of gentle rolling hills within a forest with hiking and biking trails. All campsites have electrical, water, grills and fire pits. Our original site was #5 which we felt was too close to the entrance and smallish as far as the camping area goes. So we went back to the office and asked for #25 which was in a cul de sac with a large grassy area behind the paved campsite for Van Morrison. The only campers close to us were a quiet couple in a small tent. Little did we know that this was about to change . . .

Our view behind Van Morrison

We popped the top, and began our setting up camp procedure, and were getting a fire going to cook some brats, when a huge pickup truck pulling a trailer parked in between us and the tent campers. The man got out with a kid around 7 years old and began setting up his trailer using a very loud drill. Throughout the night a series of trucks came and went, with various kids and adults yelling, driving trucks back and forth, and eventually climbing and breaking a small tree in half, to which the dad said, ”  I’m proud of YOU!”   This was the final straw for me, and was restrained by my boyfriend from going over there.

We fantasized of ways to get rid of rednecks who don’t have any self-awareness or volume modulation. Our final solution chosen from various scenarios including revenge and pretending to be Hare Krishnas, was to have a sign like my friend Shawn has, that says: “BE GAY AND STAY,” blare Madonna and Lady GaGa, and have a gay dance party which would hopefully run off any rednecks and fundamentalists in the area.

Well, of course we didn’t do any of those things.

We ate grilled brats and Sweet Potato Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette, and spent the night.

The next morning we had a breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheddar, brats, fresh tomato, avocado, red pepper and green onion salsa, and toast with huckleberry jam.

Moral of the story: if you want to avoid big crowds, stay away from the larger campsites and pick a small one that will accommodate the van or a tent only. Or maybe camp on a Sunday. Or get that sign.

Gypsy Wildlife

Van Morrison attends his first party at the South Main Trolley Tours Art Walk. I’m learning that he is a people magnet and tonight was no exception with friends visiting outside D’Edge Gallery on South Main Street in Memphis.  Yes, that’s me acting goofy behind my two normal friends.

20120428-002500.jpg

;20120505-130113.jpg

Towards the end of the evening we met a group of musicians called “Gypsy Wildlife,” who hung out with us in the van and played a few songs.

Check them out on their website.

20120428-002408.jpg

Maiden Voyage of Van Morrison

I’ve been talking about getting some sort of camper for about two years now and began looking at the cute teardrop camper and had a brief fascination with Airstreams. When I saw the Eurovan, I knew it was the one.

Compact enough that it travels like a minivan, it easily fits into parking spaces, does not have to be unhitched from your vehicle and has just about everything a van camper needs including a two burner stove, a sink, a fresh and grey water tank, closet, various drawers and cabinets, seating for 5, captain’s chairs that swivel, a shower in the back hatch area, auxiliary deep cell battery, a bottom bunk, a top bunk in the pop top area, two adjustable tables, a furnace and more. The only thing missing was a toilet.

I found a 1999 Eurovan Full Camper which had been extremely well cared for, with all the maintenance records, for the right price, and so our adventures began.

20120424-221953.jpg

We flew in to Atlanta with nothing but a carry on bag, with the intention of driving the vehicle back to Memphis. This was unfortunately one of the coldest dampest weekends of the spring of 2012. Our first night was spent next to a corn field at a friend’s property called “The Funny Farm,” in Morrison, Tennessee and worked on clearing the land for the Tennessee Burn called Serendipity.

Two sweet ladies helping to clear the land for the Tennessee Burn — Serendipity

Too afraid to turn on the heater, we huddled together to keep warm with the cotton privacy curtain the previous owner had made for a shower room off the hatch of the van. We renamed the van “Van Morrison.”

The next day we immediately went to Target to pick up pillows, sheets and blankets. Luckily the fitted sheet had elastic all the way around for a tight fit. The next night was 500% better according to my boyfriend.

20120424-225523.jpg

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.