My Van Conversion: How to Live in a Van

by | Feb 15, 2013 | 64 comments

My Van Conversion: How to Live in a Van

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This is our current camp outside Yuma, AZ. It is not a pretty part of the desert, but I found this huge Ocotillo in a nearby wash. The photo does not do it justice, it is at least 29 foot high and huge. I wish I were here when it is in bloom, I am sure it is spectacular.

This is our current camp outside Yuma, AZ. It is not a pretty part of the desert, but I found this huge Ocotillo in a nearby wash. The photo does not do it justice, it is at least 20 foot high and huge. I wish I were here when it is in bloom, I am sure it is spectacular.

I try to mix up my posts so you get a variety of different topics all the time. One of the things readers requested was a look at more van layouts, so today we are going to look at how I converted the van I bought last November. It is a 2001 Chevy Express, Extended, 1 Ton cargo van. It came with a divider wall from front to rear and two steel shelving units. It didn’t have a tow hitch when I got it so I had to add one from U-Haul. While they were installing it they recommended I put a transmission cooler on it so I had them install that as well. As soon as that was done it went into the shop where all the fluids were changed so I knew they were all clean and knew exactly when to change them again.
The 140 watt panel on the roof rack of my van. I carry an 8 foot step ladder to work on my and other peoples vans. I believe it actually increases my stealth with the ladder up there.

The 140 watt panel on the roof rack of my van. I carry an 8 foot step ladder to work on my and other peoples vans. I believe it actually increases my stealth with the ladder up there.

When I designed the way I was going to convert the van I knew I wasn’t going to live in it. I tow a 6×10 cargo trailer I have converted into my home and that is where I live. But taking long trips with the trailer is a pain and greatly reduces my mpg so I bought the van with the idea of taking trips in it, not living in it. Because I wasn’t going to live in it I didn’t insulate it. I figured I could deal with heat and cold on a short term basis. Some trips might be overnight shopping trips into big cities and others might be weeks or months long sight-seeing or photography trips across the country. But I did want to have electricity. I would need power to use a fan, have lights, charge my laptop and other devices. And I definitely wanted to be able to take my Dometic 12 volt compressor fridge with me. So the first thing I did was to add solar power. I installed a ladder rack ($95 off Amazon) and used treated 2x4s ($8) to mount a 140 watt panel ($180). I put
Looking forward in my van. I put a Rubbermaid Action-Packer between the seats for Homer to ride on. The Microwave is on a Rubberermaid  Plastic Tote and held in place with bungee cords.

Looking forward in my van. I put a Rubbermaid Action-Packer between the seats for Homer to ride on. The Microwave is on a Rubberermaid Plastic Tote and held in place with bungee cords.

the BZ 500 solar controller on the wall to the left of the divider door and mounted the Xantrex 2000 watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter and the Cobra 400 watt inverter to the right of that door. Why two inverters? I wanted a big Pure Sine Wave inverter to power a microwave. But they waste a lot of power, so I only use it for the microwave and use the more efficient 400 watt inverter for everything else. The pair of Trojan T105 6 volt golf cart batteries went on the floor behind the passenger seat. That gave me power but I still wanted more storage capacity. So I stacked a pair of Rubbermaid Plastic Totes between the sliding door and the passenger side shelf unit. It is kept in place with a bungee cord. And I stacked three 6-gallon milk crates on the floor behind the passenger seat.
Looking at the drivers side of the van is my 36 inch wide bed. On top of the bed is the foam pad that is a backrest now but becomes the mattress when the bed is laid our full-width. Above the bed is a hammock I bought off Amazon.com. It is used for soft soft storage (winter clothes, extra blankets, clothes, etc.).

Looking at the drivers side of the van is my 36 inch wide bed. On top of the bed is the foam pad that is a backrest now but becomes the mattress when the bed is laid our full-width. Above the bed is a hammock I bought off Amazon.com. It is used for soft soft storage (winter clothes, extra blankets, clothes, etc.).

I knew I had to use the area under the bed for storage and I wanted the bed to be wide enough to sleep two. I decided on on a 36 wide bed that rested on milk crates. The milk crates raised the bed off the floor just the right amount in a low-top van and gave me excellent strength and organization under it.  To make it easier to raise and lower I hinged the plywood to ribs on the side of the van. I knew the milk crates would slide around when I was driving, so I used sheet metal screws to attach aluminum angle brackets around where the bed went. Here was the tricky part; how would I extend the width of the bed for when there were two of us in the van? Simple! I cut a piece of plywood 18 inches wide to fit between the bed and the shelf unit. I had three extra milk crates that go under that piece when it is setup for sleeping. During the day, when I’m driving, or don’t need the wider bed the plywood is stored on the floor beside the bed and the milk crates stack up on the floor behind the passenger seat. I bought a piece of foam to fit in the gap and when it isn’t being used as a mattress it acts as a backrest on the bed for lounging. I have found this an outstanding solution and think it would work very well for couples in a van. Here are more photos to show you how I converted the van for my limited needs:


Here we see the milk crates under the bed. They give me a huge amount of storage and organization. Plus they are extremely strong and will not collapse under any amount of weight or rough use of the bed.

Here we see the milk crates under the bed. They give me a huge amount of storage and organization. Plus they are extremely strong and will not collapse under any amount of weight or rough use of the bed (use your imagination). The plywood that becomes the base for the extended bed lays on the floor beside the bed. Between the plywood and in front of the milk crates you can see the aluminum angle iron I used to keep the milk crates from sliding around when braking.

Looking at the passenger side of the van is the shelving unit that came with it and in front of it is the two RubberMaid Totes bungeed to the wall. On the floor between the bed and ehelf is the plywood that becomes the side portion of the wide bed.

Looking at the passenger side of the van is the shelving unit that came with it and in front of it is the two RubberMaid Totes bungeed to the wall. On the floor between the bed and shelf is the plywood that becomes the side portion of the wide bed.
The van with the 54 inch wide bed made out for sleeping.

The van with the 54 inch wide bed made out for sleeping. I moved the milk crates back from behind the passenger seat. Put the plywood on top of them. Moved the foam to on top of that and rearranged the bedding to cover them both. It takes about 10 minutes.

Here we see all the milk crates laid out for the 54 inch-wide bed (normally the plywood would be down for this, I just have it up so you can see them all). Remember the milk crates I have stacked behind the passenger seat? They come back and go on the floor beside the bed. The plywood you see standing on its edge then goes on top of them and the foam pad that is a backrest during the day becomes a mattress at night. Then I just rearrange the bedding so it cover both sides of the bed as seen in the above shot.

Here we see all the milk crates laid out for the 54 inch-wide bed (normally the plywood would be down for this, I just have it up so you can see all the milk crates). Remember the milk crates I have stacked behind the passenger seat? They come back and go on the floor beside the bed. The plywood you see standing on its edge then goes on top of them and the foam pad that is a backrest during the day becomes a mattress at night. Then I just rearrange the bedding so it covers both sides of the bed.




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64 Comments

  1. Patrick

    How much does it cost van like that? What is mpg?

      • Bob

        Thanks for the website Rick. I never seem to get as good a mpg as the EPA says I should. But vans are one of those unusual things that often exceeds EPA estimates. So who knows, maybe it will.
        Bob

    • Bob

      Patrick, I paid $3500 for my van. I haven’t been very good about figuring the mpg. I got 17 mpg on one tank, 14 on another and 12 on another when towing. The 17 was all highway miles and the 14 was mostly in town. So that is probably what it will work out to. 17 on the freeway, 14 all in town and 12 when towing. That is fairly typical of the 5.7 350 engine. The 350 is ultra-reliable and easy to fix but is a very old design so the mpg is only okay. The new 5.3 does much better. 19-20 on the freeway is pretty easy and 16 in town. It’s a much more efficient design.
      Bob

  2. GARY GREEN

    hey now bob, good job on the van ,keep up the good work.gary

    • Bob

      Thanks Gary. It is a far cry from your Casitta, but it is a wonderful home for me.
      Bob

  3. Martin Hamilton

    Thanks for sharing that Bob. I like the idea of the milk crates and the solar setup is great. I need to get my solar situation up and running soon. I wonder if there is an airconditioner that would be efficient enough to run for about four hours a day with a system like yours. Summer is my biggest challenge here in the south. Otherwise i’ve got to hit the California coast for summer or head to Maine.

    • Bob

      Martin, I;m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it takes a very solar array and battery bank to run even a very small air conditioner. The smallest draws 500 watts which means 50 amps. If you run it for 4 hours that’s 200 amps. So you need a 400 amp hour battery bank if you don’t use any other power.
      There is a huge advantage to being out west in that you can drive less than 300 miles up into the National Forest and stay cool all summer. It works for me!
      Bob

  4. Calvin R

    Thanks for another good van conversion. I can vouch for the need to keep milk crates in place; I’ve used a bed something like this one. I think you’ve come up with a better way to convert it for two-person use than I’d seen. I really like the simplicity and the fact that you retain an 18-inch area to move around when not using the whole bed. Also, your base van is a type that’s readily available, which helps with the buying/selecting process.

    • Bob

      Your right Calvin, lots of people use milk crates under their bed. The new idea was filling the walkway with crates and carrying a piece of plywood to go on top. The fact that it is an extended van gives me so much more room than most people have. That lets me stack up the milk crates in an out-of-the-way place. There are a huge number of Chevy Express van out there, even the extended vans, so you should be able to find one like it pretty easily.
      Bob

  5. Frank

    Why the full sine wave inverter for your microwave I use my microwave on a modified sine wave inverter all the time. I know some cordless drills and electric blankets are not compatible with modified sine wave inverters and I know brushless electric motors are not happy with them.

    • Bob

      Frank, I had a 2000 watt sine wave inverter and it would run my microwave but it slowed down so much it wasn’t worth using. My standard test is microwave popcorn. It should almost always take about 2 1/2 minutes on an average micro. Mine did when it was on 110. But when I ran it on the sine wave inverter it took 5 minutes and half the kernals didn’t pop and many others were burned. Maybe it was just a low-quality inverter but it didn’t work
      Everything I have read said is that is the norm. Microwaves are one of these unusual items that want a pure sine wave. Your microwave must be very forgiving or your sine wave inverter must be unusually good. Count yourself lucky that it works.
      Bob

      • Guy

        What about 12V microwaves? I’ve seen them on many websites and although slightly lower in power and a bit more expencive, they would eliminate the need for a big pure sine wave inverter.
        Guy

        • Bob

          Guy, I have used the 12 volt microwave, and it does work. But, it is not just slightly lower power, it is a lot lower! My standard test is microwave popcorn. Most micros will cook a bag perfectly in 2 1/2 minutes. The 12 volt micro took 7 minutes. But at least it cooked it perfectly! And they are very expensive, about $400. I paid $380 for my PSW inverter and $40 for the microwave, so it was very nearly the same price and my 110 micro has twice the power and cooks twice as fast. And I can use that inverter for other things, not just the microwave. Although to be fair the 12 volt micro is very small and easy to use. All in all, I think the PSW and 110 micro is a better choice.
          Bob

          • Douglas V

            I would have to agree with that. Computers, even laptops, can get pretty picky when it comes to psw or msw inverters. I knew a guy that had problems with a tablet a while back while using a cheap msw inverter from harbor freight.

  6. Izaak Diggs

    Awesome use of milk crates, nicely done!

    • Bob

      Thanks Izaak, I appreciate the kind words!
      Bob

  7. don

    Nice post. I’m thinking of modifying my pickup shell for one or two day side trips. Your conversion has given me a lot to think about. Thanks!

    • Bob

      Don, I lived in an F150 with a home-made shell for 2 1/2 years so I know they can be quite comfortable. The shell was 48 inches tall so I could almost stand up in it. I had a 6×7 foot bed so I built the bed across the bed of the truck right behind the cab. It was 48 inches wide so I slept at a diagonal and had lots of storage underneath. That left 3 feet at the end of the bed so I put the door in the middle and two shelving units on each side. One was designed as a kitchen with a open area at the bottom for the cooler, a shelf above that for my Coleman propane stove. Their were 2 shelves above it but they were spaced so there was lots of room above the stove. I put sheet metal on the shelf above the stove as a heat barrier. I used screws and washers so it hung down below the shelf so there was a 3/4 inch air gap between the sheet metal and the shelf so it didn’t get hot. It worked well! The other shelf was for storage and organization.
      I miss that old camper because I loved the total freedom it gave me (it had 4×4). I think you can make a small home inside a shell that will work very well for you, especially for shorter trips!!
      Bob

      • Douglas V

        That design got me thinking about what to do with my truck and trailer. Even with my trailer, I may still build one, but keep it very minimal, even more so than you did.

        • Bob

          Douglas, there is a continuum of complexity of our conversions and every person has to find one that matches his own personality and style. Mine is fairly simple, but of course many are even simpler. With my van, I knew I wasn’t going to live in it full-time so I didn’t need everything, but this last fall on my utah-Colorado road trip I found I needed more organization so I added a 4-drawer plastic shelf-unit and some pegboards.
          But making it as simple as possible is ideal and if you need less than I do than that’s great! Your life will be easier!
          Bob

  8. Dazar

    Where did ya get those milk crates bob, all i can find around here is flimsy knockoff ones? 🙁

    • Bob

      Dazar, finding the mike crates is the hard part! I love them because they are so strong and light, so I have been collecting them for years. Whenever I am in a thrift store and see one I ask the clerk if I can buy them. Often they won’t sell them but sometimes they will. The same for garage/yard sales. To be perfectly honest though, I steal a lot of them. I don’t kid myself, taking them is stealing. They are owned by the dairy and they paid money for them and want to re-use them for a very long time to get their money back.
      Many convenience stores or mom-n-pop grocery stores don’t have room for them inside the building so they just stack them up outside in back. If you can park close to them, just grab one on the way out. Or wait till night time and grab one. Don’t be greedy, just take one at a time and just what you need.
      I have a friend who uses milk crates under her bed and she uses the flimsy knock-offs you can buy at WalMart and other stores. I agree that they are flimsy and wouldn’t use them one at a time. However, her bed has stood up for a long time. The key is that you are using a lot of them and the weight is so well distributed that even the cheap fake ones can hold up to it. Here is a comparison. You wouldn’t even consider building a house with flimsy 2x4s every 48 inches; it would collapse under the weight. But if you triple them and put them every 16 inches the house will last forever. That’s what happens if you put enough flimsy milk crates under your bed as well.
      However, the height often varies with the imitation milk crates so check that before you buy them or mix them with other fakes or real ones. Hope that helps!
      Bob

      • Dazar

        Thanks! When i grew up int he inner city they were the basketball rim of choice 😉
        I didn’t use to think anything of where they came from until I worked at a convenience store. The dairy people would charge us for any we didn’t exchange upon his return. : I do know that you can buy them somewhere I just hadn’t figured that out yet…checking flea markets is probably a good idea.

      • Calvin R

        If you have time and patience, sometimes it works itself out. When I was looking for milk crates for my version of a bed, I began to get frustrated. I’d checked a store in the mall. They had flimsy decorator items for some ridiculous price like $9 each. I looked at other places, but no luck. Then we went to visit my brother in West Virginia. They took us along shopping at Gabriel Brothers, which is an eastern chain that sells stuff cheap. They had real milk crates for $2 each. I bought all I could carry off, 8 of them. They fit with the 2 standard-size crates I already had, too.

        • Bob

          Calvin, that was a great find! The real milk crates are so popular, you would think someone would sell them to the public. You were lucky to find them! I think the most I ever got was 3 of them at a thrift store. They were beat-up looking so I got them for about $1 each.
          Bob

        • Dazar

          Coincidentally I am in West Virginia, and I actually worked for Gabes (in their warehouse). lol Few years ago though. Maybe I will look next time I am in there. They also have the cheapest clothing on the planet…ive gotten $100 pants and shirts from there for 5-15 bucks. Crazy.

          • Bob

            Hi Dazar, I’m puzzled by your comment and I don’t understand it. Huh? But it sounds interesting anyway!
            Bob

  9. Anna

    Note to self: Never leave anything out unattended and always lock your vehicle. Sigh. What a way to live.

    • Bob

      Anna, there are lots of bad people out there who steal!
      Bob

  10. RV AJ

    Very impressive and clever! Looks more livable than the title of the article suggests.

    • Bob

      Thanks, RV AJ. It wouldn’t be my first choice of a van to live in. If I were going to live in it I would have bought a high-top. I also would want to insulate it. But other than that it would be very comfortable. Thanks for you kind words!
      Bob

  11. Fred

    I have been out of contact without a consistent internet signal for about 10 days or so. I have moved to a different spot and began reading your blog for this week and all the subsequent comments. These are mine.
    My first thought was REALLY? Stealing is OK? Your response to Anna was there are a lot of bad people who steal. True enough, but are you a good guy who steals? Or are you a bad guy who steals as long as he doesn’t get caught. None of us are 10 yrs. old any longer. The concept of right and wrong should be established as a matter of honor. To me, no justification exists in this case. Worse yet, in the posting by Dazar, he would have had to make the cost up out of his own pocket. You would have actually taken from him indirectly.
    This was not a matter of emergency or life and death. It was wrong to do. Period. You admitted as much. Worse, you encouraged others to do the same. Is it the mentality that its OK to steal because its a business or someone else paid for it and YOU needed it and want it? That’s crap and you know it. Supposed along the same thread, I wanted a spare backup propane tank and you had two. Is it then OK to take one of yours because I wanted it sans appropriate payment and without your permission? Never.
    The value of the milk crate is really completely irrelevant. It is not one of those things like the free give away stuff at RTR. It is NOT an item left by a dumpster for anyone to take who needs the item as is often the case in mobile home parks, RV parks, in an apartment complex or even in the middle of someone’s driveway with a sign saying it’s free, take what you want.
    And no, I have never taken anything that didn’t belong to me. First as a kid, my Dad would have beat the almighty crap out of me and second as an adult because my apartment at one time was burglarized while I was at the movies. I felt violated and angry. I know how it feels. I realize the monetary amount is quite small in this case, but suppose enough people did it and they raised the price of milk by forty cents a gallon. I imagine there would be lots and lots of grumbling and bitching. Shoplifting costs the consumer big time even though each item may “only” be a few bucks.
    I take issue because this is not an emergency or life threatening event nor has it to do with the “value” of the item, This is not revenge for injury to a family member. It is the deliberate, willful, deceitful, and intentional act to deprive others of their property. It is intentional, not accidental. It is theft pure and simple. I do not know nor judge others beliefs in politics or religion as these are choices people make and often involve “feelings”, none of which are “right” or “wrong”. This is none of that. Some will say I am overreacting. I say the act is the same, not the money. So be it.
    We have had our disagreements in the past and that was good. Two men having different points of view. Each respecting the other. This case ain’t close to the same. As a result, I will do the only thing I can do. I will remove my name from the forum and unsubscribe to your blog. Good day.

    • Bob

      Of course Fred is right and I have no defense. I can’t explain how I justified it because I never did; not even to myself. I don’t steal anything else; in fact I try to be scrupulously honest in my dealings with money and other peoples property. Somehow, stealing milk crates was just okay. I won’t do it any more.
      Fred, I assume you are gone so you won’t be reading this, but thanks for challenging me on this.
      Bob

      • MichaelinOK

        Bob,
        You’re an inspiration…in this case for humility in the face of public criticism.
        Not getting defensive when being lectured is rare. Publicly admitting wrong is even more rare.
        Even when you’re wrong, you end up demonstrating so much that is right.
        Kudos to you, and “much respect.”
        Michael

        • Bob

          Michael, thank you for your kind words. The spiritual path I follow makes it pretty clear to me that the spiritual life isn’t a theory, I have to live it. Failure isn’t in missing the right path, it is finding it out and refusing to take responsibility and get back on it. I will only be as sick as my secrets, so I try not to have any.
          Thanks again!
          Bob

  12. Patrick

    There are a lot business throw away milk crates. It’s no deal to take them. No steal here.

  13. Patrick

    Hi Bob,
    Where do you buy pure sine wave inverter? I live in the Orange County, which local store might have it? Thanks

    • Bob

      Patrick, I bought it on Amazon.com. I am pretty sure I put a link to the one I bought on the bottom of the post. If it isn’t there you can just go to Amazon and type in “Pure Sine Wave Inverter” in the search bar and many of them will come up.
      Bob

  14. m.a.

    Sorry, Bob, but I hope you will allow me to disagree – about the current camp outside of Yuma being “not a pretty part of the desert”. I found it to be so beautiful. The silence. The incredible dawns. The sunsets and stars. The distance train whistle in the night. And especially the people. Thank you to everyone I shared it with. And to the desert for having us.

    • Bob

      Mary Ann, I can’t disagree, all of the desert has its own charm, this part just isn’t very photogenic to my eye. But I am still glad I am here! And I was very glad to have shared a camp with you here as well. See you soon!
      Bob

      • m.a.

        I hope so. And next time I’ll make sure I’ll time the fajitas for after your walk with Homer! :)) I hope the desert blooms beautifully for you in Ajo. xx
        ps – just came out of the KOFA after 4 days with my cousin. All I can say is WOW – another world.

        • Bob

          Mary Ann, the fajitas were delicious even cold, I can’t imagine how great they would have been hot!!
          Bob

  15. Andy

    Hi Bob
    Could you post a link to the Solar Panels (140 watt) that you used. I see a link to the xantrex etc. but not a link to the solar panels. I think I would like to install a setup like this.
    thanks
    Andy

    • Bob

      Hi Andy, I bought it at a local home solar installer in Victorville, Ca. Across the desert southwest there are many small outfits that install solar power systems on homes. Many of them will sale panels one at a time and because they buy them in such huge quantities they can offer at very low prices. I paid $180 for that 140 watt panel. The disadvantage is that since they are designed for home installation they use MC$ connectors and are high voltage. That’s easily gotten around but you must buy a MPPT controller to handle the higher voltage.
      Here is a link to where you can buy very cheap panels:
      http://www.sunelec.com/index.php?main_page=phoenix&zenid=d8de8d7eb422aae09154de2d68bb2c55
      I have bought panels directly from their Phoenix, AZ warehouse, but I don’t know what their shipping policy is. You will have to call and ask them for that. Remember that the higher the wattage the lower the price per watt, but the larger panels can’t go UPS or FedEx, they must go freight so they will be very expensive to ship.
      Bob

  16. Judy

    Thanx so much for that link to that wharehouse! We are planning on stopping by there on our way west to try and get our panels. I was wondering what the name of that place was, glad he asked!
    Hope to see you some day soon. We are in florida right now cause I couldn’t take the cold anymore, planning on being here for a month then heading your way. Be sure to keep us all posted if you move, I will be upset if I don’t get to finally meet my hero, no matter what anyone says!!!!

    • Bob

      Glad to help Judy! Sunelec.com also has a warehouse in Miami if you want to get your panels before you head West. We are going to move camp this week but as soon as we get to the new location I will post a map. Same through the rest of the year so you will know where we are when you get out here.
      Looking forward to finally getting to meet you!
      Bob

  17. Gennifer

    This is great, Bob! I think we will end up setting up our bed the same way. Thanks for the details!

    • Bob

      Glad to help Gennifer. I had you in mind when I wrote this post since I knew you were looking for ideas for a couple in a van.Good luck on your build and your new life!!
      Bob

  18. Dawn

    Very nice, and cool to see another Chevy Express out there! (I have a 1998, talked the guy down to $2950). I will share my project once it’s finished…unfortunately it’s stalled being that I just lost the better paying of my part-time jobs. So far I’ve got some components though, waiting for my handy friend to have some free time to help me with the saw and securing some things. Hopefully some progress there at least soon though that solar project’s going to have to wait for student loan funds in the summer…
    I bought the van with a big platform for the bed, underneath there is storage, but it’s a permanent structure. What I did is take two larger cushions and push them to the sides, with a smaller one as the back rest. there’s a little place in the center to put legs or a skinny table, and at night one “backrest” I trimmed to size goes in to complete the bed (other is a headrest). It’s sort of Asian or Turkish or middle-eastern style, and I like it!

    • Bob

      Dawn, the Chevy Express has become a big hit with the vandwelling set. They are a great van and make great homes. Sounds like you got a super deal on yours and it is even partially ready to live in! I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing more of your conversion!
      Bob

  19. katelynn

    Love the pics! I will be using your milk crate invention 🙂 And possibly the Homer bed/lookout spot for my pup. I was wondering if you had attatched the plywood to the milk crates so it wouldn’t slide around, or isn’t that a problem when sleeping? thanks!

    • Bob

      Hi Katelynn, the bed has worked out really well for me! It gives me lots of storage and organization. I also like that it is low so I can sit on the bed and never hit my hear. The plywood is actually hinged to the wall to make it easier to lift the plywood. I just got big hinges and used sheet metal screws to screw the one side to ribs on the wall and regular bolts to attach the other side of the hinge to the plywood. It has worked really well so far. With all that support from the milk crates, you can use thinner plywood which reduces the weight you have to lift to get underneath.
      I really like the box in-between the seats for Homer. But, it makes it really hard to walk through to the back. For all practical purposes I can’t, I just walk around to the side door. But Homer is a big dog and the seat alone won’t hold him. No sacrifice is to great for my best buddy!! I used a Rubbermaid ActionPacker between my seats because I had an extra one and because they are extremely strong.
      Bob

  20. dan novinger

    Hi Bob: I love your website and articles, and thanks for doing this. Lots of good ideas. I like your van design. I see that you have a dog. They are excellent company. Man’s best friend you know, and it’s true. We converted a van like noted here about 30 years ago, and spent a month in eastern canada, and had the best time of our lives. But at that time we didn’t have a dog. We love our dog very much, so my wife was asking me what do you do with your dog when you go to a movie or some other dog-unfriendly venue, so that they’ll be safe [not too hot – not too cold]. Now we usually avoid dog-unfriendly venues to a very great extent, but unfortunately, there are so many dog-unfriendly venues out there, you almost can’t avoid one from time to time. Of course with the fur coat on the dog, too cold isn’t usually the problem if they have a rug or blanket to wrap up with. So, especially, how do you avoid the dog getting too hot, so as to avoid danger to the animal at worst, and discomfort at best. Of course you would need to provide food and water in the van when you leave them. I would want a plan for leaving them from, say 2 hours for a movie, up to say, 6 hours for a cave tour, or some such thing. Do you have any ideas or suggestions about how to do these things, yet insure the safety and comfort of our dog? Regards,Dan

    • Bob

      Dan, it all depends on what your situation. I live on public land and move with the seasons so I have very few problems with Homer. For example, I would wait until it was cooler before going on the cave tour and I felt okay about leaving him in the van. Same thing with the movie. Maybe I simply couldn’t go to a movie in the summer and had to wait till off-season. Although movies aren’t a good example because you can go to them at night when the sun is down and he would be fine in the van. In my case, all my favorite things involve nature which means Homer can be with me nearly 100% of the time. Plus, I am a snowbird so I move with the seasons; that way I avoid being in places where it gets extremely hot.
      And there are some things I would like to do that I simply cannot. Having a dog is a sacrifice, but one I gladly make. The bottom line is that having Homer forced me to spend time in nature and avoid cities. And for that I will be eternally grateful because it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
      Bob

  21. dan novinger

    Yeah, it all makes pretty good sense the way you put it.
    We usually plan our outings to be dog inclusive, for our good and for the dogs’ good too, so everybody gets exercise. Plus we like the company of our dog. Just makes things a little more fun somehow to have a dog along.
    Thanks for your thoughts. I think we will move with the seasons too. Seems like the most earth friendly way to do it, rather than fight the seasons like so many people do with a lot of energy wasted as a result.
    I guess I need to get going on emptying out my house so I can sell it, and move on to the next phase of my life.
    Seems like with common sense, we should be able to do the things we want to do and provide for our dog too!
    Keep up the good work here, and thanks for your response. What you are doing here in this blog is a good thing and very helpful!

    • Bob

      Right, Dan, living in a van or RV gives you the freedom to arrange your life in any way you want. I arranged mine around Homer because I love him that much. I promised him when he came into my life that I would give him the best possible life I could. Little did I know that giving him his best life, also gave me my very best life!!
      If you are like me, once you sell your stuff and hit the road, if you plan your life around your dog, you will end up thinking of yourself as the luckiest guy on earth!!
      Bob

  22. Steady Eddie

    Bob,
    The “stolen milk crate”.
    I am always amazed at the audacity of people to proclaim their “perfectness” and holy virtue when they feel the need to make themselves “better”. The guy that claimed he was horrified(my words) by an adult taking a plastic milk crate is absolutely hilarious to me. He goes on to claim he has never stolen in his life as his dad would have “beat the crap out of him”. I believe we now that call that child abuse and is punishable by law. And am I to believe he never “fudged” on his taxes, too ?
    As the good book says, He who is without sin, cast the first stone. I don’t believe for a second that the man can cast a stone. There is no perfect human, including him. To get on a public forum and beat your chest how wrong somebody else is to such an extent that he did, is incredulous.
    Bob,I don’t agree with stealing, although I have done so in my life. And you’re right, there is no defense. And you did the right thing. You man-ed up. Can’t ask for more. Unless, you’re perfect….

    • Bob

      Steady, Eddie, I have to admit I thought it might have been an over-reaction. But i am in no position to pass judgement on him so I will just let the whole thing go. I was in the wrong and pointing my finger at him doesn’t change that.
      But I appreciate your standing behind me. it’s always good to know someone has your back!
      Bob

  23. Mary Beth

    2 inverters – great idea. Would love to have a microwave, but a smaller inverter for most use really makes sense.

    • Bob

      Mary Beth, finding room for a microwave is the hard part.
      Bob

  24. BobBski

    Thanks Bob. I was referred here from the forum where I posted a RedGreen video I found on making a bed using milk crates. I’m thinking of doing the same think and one of your tips here are very helpful.

    • Bob

      BobBski, glad to help!
      Bob

  25. Joseph Evans

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful idea. You can have cordless drills for small work.

Table of Contents

64 Comments

  1. Patrick

    How much does it cost van like that? What is mpg?

      • Bob

        Thanks for the website Rick. I never seem to get as good a mpg as the EPA says I should. But vans are one of those unusual things that often exceeds EPA estimates. So who knows, maybe it will.
        Bob

    • Bob

      Patrick, I paid $3500 for my van. I haven’t been very good about figuring the mpg. I got 17 mpg on one tank, 14 on another and 12 on another when towing. The 17 was all highway miles and the 14 was mostly in town. So that is probably what it will work out to. 17 on the freeway, 14 all in town and 12 when towing. That is fairly typical of the 5.7 350 engine. The 350 is ultra-reliable and easy to fix but is a very old design so the mpg is only okay. The new 5.3 does much better. 19-20 on the freeway is pretty easy and 16 in town. It’s a much more efficient design.
      Bob

  2. GARY GREEN

    hey now bob, good job on the van ,keep up the good work.gary

    • Bob

      Thanks Gary. It is a far cry from your Casitta, but it is a wonderful home for me.
      Bob

  3. Martin Hamilton

    Thanks for sharing that Bob. I like the idea of the milk crates and the solar setup is great. I need to get my solar situation up and running soon. I wonder if there is an airconditioner that would be efficient enough to run for about four hours a day with a system like yours. Summer is my biggest challenge here in the south. Otherwise i’ve got to hit the California coast for summer or head to Maine.

    • Bob

      Martin, I;m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it takes a very solar array and battery bank to run even a very small air conditioner. The smallest draws 500 watts which means 50 amps. If you run it for 4 hours that’s 200 amps. So you need a 400 amp hour battery bank if you don’t use any other power.
      There is a huge advantage to being out west in that you can drive less than 300 miles up into the National Forest and stay cool all summer. It works for me!
      Bob

  4. Calvin R

    Thanks for another good van conversion. I can vouch for the need to keep milk crates in place; I’ve used a bed something like this one. I think you’ve come up with a better way to convert it for two-person use than I’d seen. I really like the simplicity and the fact that you retain an 18-inch area to move around when not using the whole bed. Also, your base van is a type that’s readily available, which helps with the buying/selecting process.

    • Bob

      Your right Calvin, lots of people use milk crates under their bed. The new idea was filling the walkway with crates and carrying a piece of plywood to go on top. The fact that it is an extended van gives me so much more room than most people have. That lets me stack up the milk crates in an out-of-the-way place. There are a huge number of Chevy Express van out there, even the extended vans, so you should be able to find one like it pretty easily.
      Bob

  5. Frank

    Why the full sine wave inverter for your microwave I use my microwave on a modified sine wave inverter all the time. I know some cordless drills and electric blankets are not compatible with modified sine wave inverters and I know brushless electric motors are not happy with them.

    • Bob

      Frank, I had a 2000 watt sine wave inverter and it would run my microwave but it slowed down so much it wasn’t worth using. My standard test is microwave popcorn. It should almost always take about 2 1/2 minutes on an average micro. Mine did when it was on 110. But when I ran it on the sine wave inverter it took 5 minutes and half the kernals didn’t pop and many others were burned. Maybe it was just a low-quality inverter but it didn’t work
      Everything I have read said is that is the norm. Microwaves are one of these unusual items that want a pure sine wave. Your microwave must be very forgiving or your sine wave inverter must be unusually good. Count yourself lucky that it works.
      Bob

      • Guy

        What about 12V microwaves? I’ve seen them on many websites and although slightly lower in power and a bit more expencive, they would eliminate the need for a big pure sine wave inverter.
        Guy

        • Bob

          Guy, I have used the 12 volt microwave, and it does work. But, it is not just slightly lower power, it is a lot lower! My standard test is microwave popcorn. Most micros will cook a bag perfectly in 2 1/2 minutes. The 12 volt micro took 7 minutes. But at least it cooked it perfectly! And they are very expensive, about $400. I paid $380 for my PSW inverter and $40 for the microwave, so it was very nearly the same price and my 110 micro has twice the power and cooks twice as fast. And I can use that inverter for other things, not just the microwave. Although to be fair the 12 volt micro is very small and easy to use. All in all, I think the PSW and 110 micro is a better choice.
          Bob

          • Douglas V

            I would have to agree with that. Computers, even laptops, can get pretty picky when it comes to psw or msw inverters. I knew a guy that had problems with a tablet a while back while using a cheap msw inverter from harbor freight.

  6. Izaak Diggs

    Awesome use of milk crates, nicely done!

    • Bob

      Thanks Izaak, I appreciate the kind words!
      Bob

  7. don

    Nice post. I’m thinking of modifying my pickup shell for one or two day side trips. Your conversion has given me a lot to think about. Thanks!

    • Bob

      Don, I lived in an F150 with a home-made shell for 2 1/2 years so I know they can be quite comfortable. The shell was 48 inches tall so I could almost stand up in it. I had a 6×7 foot bed so I built the bed across the bed of the truck right behind the cab. It was 48 inches wide so I slept at a diagonal and had lots of storage underneath. That left 3 feet at the end of the bed so I put the door in the middle and two shelving units on each side. One was designed as a kitchen with a open area at the bottom for the cooler, a shelf above that for my Coleman propane stove. Their were 2 shelves above it but they were spaced so there was lots of room above the stove. I put sheet metal on the shelf above the stove as a heat barrier. I used screws and washers so it hung down below the shelf so there was a 3/4 inch air gap between the sheet metal and the shelf so it didn’t get hot. It worked well! The other shelf was for storage and organization.
      I miss that old camper because I loved the total freedom it gave me (it had 4×4). I think you can make a small home inside a shell that will work very well for you, especially for shorter trips!!
      Bob

      • Douglas V

        That design got me thinking about what to do with my truck and trailer. Even with my trailer, I may still build one, but keep it very minimal, even more so than you did.

        • Bob

          Douglas, there is a continuum of complexity of our conversions and every person has to find one that matches his own personality and style. Mine is fairly simple, but of course many are even simpler. With my van, I knew I wasn’t going to live in it full-time so I didn’t need everything, but this last fall on my utah-Colorado road trip I found I needed more organization so I added a 4-drawer plastic shelf-unit and some pegboards.
          But making it as simple as possible is ideal and if you need less than I do than that’s great! Your life will be easier!
          Bob

  8. Dazar

    Where did ya get those milk crates bob, all i can find around here is flimsy knockoff ones? 🙁

    • Bob

      Dazar, finding the mike crates is the hard part! I love them because they are so strong and light, so I have been collecting them for years. Whenever I am in a thrift store and see one I ask the clerk if I can buy them. Often they won’t sell them but sometimes they will. The same for garage/yard sales. To be perfectly honest though, I steal a lot of them. I don’t kid myself, taking them is stealing. They are owned by the dairy and they paid money for them and want to re-use them for a very long time to get their money back.
      Many convenience stores or mom-n-pop grocery stores don’t have room for them inside the building so they just stack them up outside in back. If you can park close to them, just grab one on the way out. Or wait till night time and grab one. Don’t be greedy, just take one at a time and just what you need.
      I have a friend who uses milk crates under her bed and she uses the flimsy knock-offs you can buy at WalMart and other stores. I agree that they are flimsy and wouldn’t use them one at a time. However, her bed has stood up for a long time. The key is that you are using a lot of them and the weight is so well distributed that even the cheap fake ones can hold up to it. Here is a comparison. You wouldn’t even consider building a house with flimsy 2x4s every 48 inches; it would collapse under the weight. But if you triple them and put them every 16 inches the house will last forever. That’s what happens if you put enough flimsy milk crates under your bed as well.
      However, the height often varies with the imitation milk crates so check that before you buy them or mix them with other fakes or real ones. Hope that helps!
      Bob

      • Dazar

        Thanks! When i grew up int he inner city they were the basketball rim of choice 😉
        I didn’t use to think anything of where they came from until I worked at a convenience store. The dairy people would charge us for any we didn’t exchange upon his return. : I do know that you can buy them somewhere I just hadn’t figured that out yet…checking flea markets is probably a good idea.

      • Calvin R

        If you have time and patience, sometimes it works itself out. When I was looking for milk crates for my version of a bed, I began to get frustrated. I’d checked a store in the mall. They had flimsy decorator items for some ridiculous price like $9 each. I looked at other places, but no luck. Then we went to visit my brother in West Virginia. They took us along shopping at Gabriel Brothers, which is an eastern chain that sells stuff cheap. They had real milk crates for $2 each. I bought all I could carry off, 8 of them. They fit with the 2 standard-size crates I already had, too.

        • Bob

          Calvin, that was a great find! The real milk crates are so popular, you would think someone would sell them to the public. You were lucky to find them! I think the most I ever got was 3 of them at a thrift store. They were beat-up looking so I got them for about $1 each.
          Bob

        • Dazar

          Coincidentally I am in West Virginia, and I actually worked for Gabes (in their warehouse). lol Few years ago though. Maybe I will look next time I am in there. They also have the cheapest clothing on the planet…ive gotten $100 pants and shirts from there for 5-15 bucks. Crazy.

          • Bob

            Hi Dazar, I’m puzzled by your comment and I don’t understand it. Huh? But it sounds interesting anyway!
            Bob

  9. Anna

    Note to self: Never leave anything out unattended and always lock your vehicle. Sigh. What a way to live.

    • Bob

      Anna, there are lots of bad people out there who steal!
      Bob

  10. RV AJ

    Very impressive and clever! Looks more livable than the title of the article suggests.

    • Bob

      Thanks, RV AJ. It wouldn’t be my first choice of a van to live in. If I were going to live in it I would have bought a high-top. I also would want to insulate it. But other than that it would be very comfortable. Thanks for you kind words!
      Bob

  11. Fred

    I have been out of contact without a consistent internet signal for about 10 days or so. I have moved to a different spot and began reading your blog for this week and all the subsequent comments. These are mine.
    My first thought was REALLY? Stealing is OK? Your response to Anna was there are a lot of bad people who steal. True enough, but are you a good guy who steals? Or are you a bad guy who steals as long as he doesn’t get caught. None of us are 10 yrs. old any longer. The concept of right and wrong should be established as a matter of honor. To me, no justification exists in this case. Worse yet, in the posting by Dazar, he would have had to make the cost up out of his own pocket. You would have actually taken from him indirectly.
    This was not a matter of emergency or life and death. It was wrong to do. Period. You admitted as much. Worse, you encouraged others to do the same. Is it the mentality that its OK to steal because its a business or someone else paid for it and YOU needed it and want it? That’s crap and you know it. Supposed along the same thread, I wanted a spare backup propane tank and you had two. Is it then OK to take one of yours because I wanted it sans appropriate payment and without your permission? Never.
    The value of the milk crate is really completely irrelevant. It is not one of those things like the free give away stuff at RTR. It is NOT an item left by a dumpster for anyone to take who needs the item as is often the case in mobile home parks, RV parks, in an apartment complex or even in the middle of someone’s driveway with a sign saying it’s free, take what you want.
    And no, I have never taken anything that didn’t belong to me. First as a kid, my Dad would have beat the almighty crap out of me and second as an adult because my apartment at one time was burglarized while I was at the movies. I felt violated and angry. I know how it feels. I realize the monetary amount is quite small in this case, but suppose enough people did it and they raised the price of milk by forty cents a gallon. I imagine there would be lots and lots of grumbling and bitching. Shoplifting costs the consumer big time even though each item may “only” be a few bucks.
    I take issue because this is not an emergency or life threatening event nor has it to do with the “value” of the item, This is not revenge for injury to a family member. It is the deliberate, willful, deceitful, and intentional act to deprive others of their property. It is intentional, not accidental. It is theft pure and simple. I do not know nor judge others beliefs in politics or religion as these are choices people make and often involve “feelings”, none of which are “right” or “wrong”. This is none of that. Some will say I am overreacting. I say the act is the same, not the money. So be it.
    We have had our disagreements in the past and that was good. Two men having different points of view. Each respecting the other. This case ain’t close to the same. As a result, I will do the only thing I can do. I will remove my name from the forum and unsubscribe to your blog. Good day.

    • Bob

      Of course Fred is right and I have no defense. I can’t explain how I justified it because I never did; not even to myself. I don’t steal anything else; in fact I try to be scrupulously honest in my dealings with money and other peoples property. Somehow, stealing milk crates was just okay. I won’t do it any more.
      Fred, I assume you are gone so you won’t be reading this, but thanks for challenging me on this.
      Bob

      • MichaelinOK

        Bob,
        You’re an inspiration…in this case for humility in the face of public criticism.
        Not getting defensive when being lectured is rare. Publicly admitting wrong is even more rare.
        Even when you’re wrong, you end up demonstrating so much that is right.
        Kudos to you, and “much respect.”
        Michael

        • Bob

          Michael, thank you for your kind words. The spiritual path I follow makes it pretty clear to me that the spiritual life isn’t a theory, I have to live it. Failure isn’t in missing the right path, it is finding it out and refusing to take responsibility and get back on it. I will only be as sick as my secrets, so I try not to have any.
          Thanks again!
          Bob

  12. Patrick

    There are a lot business throw away milk crates. It’s no deal to take them. No steal here.

  13. Patrick

    Hi Bob,
    Where do you buy pure sine wave inverter? I live in the Orange County, which local store might have it? Thanks

    • Bob

      Patrick, I bought it on Amazon.com. I am pretty sure I put a link to the one I bought on the bottom of the post. If it isn’t there you can just go to Amazon and type in “Pure Sine Wave Inverter” in the search bar and many of them will come up.
      Bob

  14. m.a.

    Sorry, Bob, but I hope you will allow me to disagree – about the current camp outside of Yuma being “not a pretty part of the desert”. I found it to be so beautiful. The silence. The incredible dawns. The sunsets and stars. The distance train whistle in the night. And especially the people. Thank you to everyone I shared it with. And to the desert for having us.

    • Bob

      Mary Ann, I can’t disagree, all of the desert has its own charm, this part just isn’t very photogenic to my eye. But I am still glad I am here! And I was very glad to have shared a camp with you here as well. See you soon!
      Bob

      • m.a.

        I hope so. And next time I’ll make sure I’ll time the fajitas for after your walk with Homer! :)) I hope the desert blooms beautifully for you in Ajo. xx
        ps – just came out of the KOFA after 4 days with my cousin. All I can say is WOW – another world.

        • Bob

          Mary Ann, the fajitas were delicious even cold, I can’t imagine how great they would have been hot!!
          Bob

  15. Andy

    Hi Bob
    Could you post a link to the Solar Panels (140 watt) that you used. I see a link to the xantrex etc. but not a link to the solar panels. I think I would like to install a setup like this.
    thanks
    Andy

    • Bob

      Hi Andy, I bought it at a local home solar installer in Victorville, Ca. Across the desert southwest there are many small outfits that install solar power systems on homes. Many of them will sale panels one at a time and because they buy them in such huge quantities they can offer at very low prices. I paid $180 for that 140 watt panel. The disadvantage is that since they are designed for home installation they use MC$ connectors and are high voltage. That’s easily gotten around but you must buy a MPPT controller to handle the higher voltage.
      Here is a link to where you can buy very cheap panels:
      http://www.sunelec.com/index.php?main_page=phoenix&zenid=d8de8d7eb422aae09154de2d68bb2c55
      I have bought panels directly from their Phoenix, AZ warehouse, but I don’t know what their shipping policy is. You will have to call and ask them for that. Remember that the higher the wattage the lower the price per watt, but the larger panels can’t go UPS or FedEx, they must go freight so they will be very expensive to ship.
      Bob

  16. Judy

    Thanx so much for that link to that wharehouse! We are planning on stopping by there on our way west to try and get our panels. I was wondering what the name of that place was, glad he asked!
    Hope to see you some day soon. We are in florida right now cause I couldn’t take the cold anymore, planning on being here for a month then heading your way. Be sure to keep us all posted if you move, I will be upset if I don’t get to finally meet my hero, no matter what anyone says!!!!

    • Bob

      Glad to help Judy! Sunelec.com also has a warehouse in Miami if you want to get your panels before you head West. We are going to move camp this week but as soon as we get to the new location I will post a map. Same through the rest of the year so you will know where we are when you get out here.
      Looking forward to finally getting to meet you!
      Bob

  17. Gennifer

    This is great, Bob! I think we will end up setting up our bed the same way. Thanks for the details!

    • Bob

      Glad to help Gennifer. I had you in mind when I wrote this post since I knew you were looking for ideas for a couple in a van.Good luck on your build and your new life!!
      Bob

  18. Dawn

    Very nice, and cool to see another Chevy Express out there! (I have a 1998, talked the guy down to $2950). I will share my project once it’s finished…unfortunately it’s stalled being that I just lost the better paying of my part-time jobs. So far I’ve got some components though, waiting for my handy friend to have some free time to help me with the saw and securing some things. Hopefully some progress there at least soon though that solar project’s going to have to wait for student loan funds in the summer…
    I bought the van with a big platform for the bed, underneath there is storage, but it’s a permanent structure. What I did is take two larger cushions and push them to the sides, with a smaller one as the back rest. there’s a little place in the center to put legs or a skinny table, and at night one “backrest” I trimmed to size goes in to complete the bed (other is a headrest). It’s sort of Asian or Turkish or middle-eastern style, and I like it!

    • Bob

      Dawn, the Chevy Express has become a big hit with the vandwelling set. They are a great van and make great homes. Sounds like you got a super deal on yours and it is even partially ready to live in! I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing more of your conversion!
      Bob

  19. katelynn

    Love the pics! I will be using your milk crate invention 🙂 And possibly the Homer bed/lookout spot for my pup. I was wondering if you had attatched the plywood to the milk crates so it wouldn’t slide around, or isn’t that a problem when sleeping? thanks!

    • Bob

      Hi Katelynn, the bed has worked out really well for me! It gives me lots of storage and organization. I also like that it is low so I can sit on the bed and never hit my hear. The plywood is actually hinged to the wall to make it easier to lift the plywood. I just got big hinges and used sheet metal screws to screw the one side to ribs on the wall and regular bolts to attach the other side of the hinge to the plywood. It has worked really well so far. With all that support from the milk crates, you can use thinner plywood which reduces the weight you have to lift to get underneath.
      I really like the box in-between the seats for Homer. But, it makes it really hard to walk through to the back. For all practical purposes I can’t, I just walk around to the side door. But Homer is a big dog and the seat alone won’t hold him. No sacrifice is to great for my best buddy!! I used a Rubbermaid ActionPacker between my seats because I had an extra one and because they are extremely strong.
      Bob

  20. dan novinger

    Hi Bob: I love your website and articles, and thanks for doing this. Lots of good ideas. I like your van design. I see that you have a dog. They are excellent company. Man’s best friend you know, and it’s true. We converted a van like noted here about 30 years ago, and spent a month in eastern canada, and had the best time of our lives. But at that time we didn’t have a dog. We love our dog very much, so my wife was asking me what do you do with your dog when you go to a movie or some other dog-unfriendly venue, so that they’ll be safe [not too hot – not too cold]. Now we usually avoid dog-unfriendly venues to a very great extent, but unfortunately, there are so many dog-unfriendly venues out there, you almost can’t avoid one from time to time. Of course with the fur coat on the dog, too cold isn’t usually the problem if they have a rug or blanket to wrap up with. So, especially, how do you avoid the dog getting too hot, so as to avoid danger to the animal at worst, and discomfort at best. Of course you would need to provide food and water in the van when you leave them. I would want a plan for leaving them from, say 2 hours for a movie, up to say, 6 hours for a cave tour, or some such thing. Do you have any ideas or suggestions about how to do these things, yet insure the safety and comfort of our dog? Regards,Dan

    • Bob

      Dan, it all depends on what your situation. I live on public land and move with the seasons so I have very few problems with Homer. For example, I would wait until it was cooler before going on the cave tour and I felt okay about leaving him in the van. Same thing with the movie. Maybe I simply couldn’t go to a movie in the summer and had to wait till off-season. Although movies aren’t a good example because you can go to them at night when the sun is down and he would be fine in the van. In my case, all my favorite things involve nature which means Homer can be with me nearly 100% of the time. Plus, I am a snowbird so I move with the seasons; that way I avoid being in places where it gets extremely hot.
      And there are some things I would like to do that I simply cannot. Having a dog is a sacrifice, but one I gladly make. The bottom line is that having Homer forced me to spend time in nature and avoid cities. And for that I will be eternally grateful because it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
      Bob

  21. dan novinger

    Yeah, it all makes pretty good sense the way you put it.
    We usually plan our outings to be dog inclusive, for our good and for the dogs’ good too, so everybody gets exercise. Plus we like the company of our dog. Just makes things a little more fun somehow to have a dog along.
    Thanks for your thoughts. I think we will move with the seasons too. Seems like the most earth friendly way to do it, rather than fight the seasons like so many people do with a lot of energy wasted as a result.
    I guess I need to get going on emptying out my house so I can sell it, and move on to the next phase of my life.
    Seems like with common sense, we should be able to do the things we want to do and provide for our dog too!
    Keep up the good work here, and thanks for your response. What you are doing here in this blog is a good thing and very helpful!

    • Bob

      Right, Dan, living in a van or RV gives you the freedom to arrange your life in any way you want. I arranged mine around Homer because I love him that much. I promised him when he came into my life that I would give him the best possible life I could. Little did I know that giving him his best life, also gave me my very best life!!
      If you are like me, once you sell your stuff and hit the road, if you plan your life around your dog, you will end up thinking of yourself as the luckiest guy on earth!!
      Bob

  22. Steady Eddie

    Bob,
    The “stolen milk crate”.
    I am always amazed at the audacity of people to proclaim their “perfectness” and holy virtue when they feel the need to make themselves “better”. The guy that claimed he was horrified(my words) by an adult taking a plastic milk crate is absolutely hilarious to me. He goes on to claim he has never stolen in his life as his dad would have “beat the crap out of him”. I believe we now that call that child abuse and is punishable by law. And am I to believe he never “fudged” on his taxes, too ?
    As the good book says, He who is without sin, cast the first stone. I don’t believe for a second that the man can cast a stone. There is no perfect human, including him. To get on a public forum and beat your chest how wrong somebody else is to such an extent that he did, is incredulous.
    Bob,I don’t agree with stealing, although I have done so in my life. And you’re right, there is no defense. And you did the right thing. You man-ed up. Can’t ask for more. Unless, you’re perfect….

    • Bob

      Steady, Eddie, I have to admit I thought it might have been an over-reaction. But i am in no position to pass judgement on him so I will just let the whole thing go. I was in the wrong and pointing my finger at him doesn’t change that.
      But I appreciate your standing behind me. it’s always good to know someone has your back!
      Bob

  23. Mary Beth

    2 inverters – great idea. Would love to have a microwave, but a smaller inverter for most use really makes sense.

    • Bob

      Mary Beth, finding room for a microwave is the hard part.
      Bob

  24. BobBski

    Thanks Bob. I was referred here from the forum where I posted a RedGreen video I found on making a bed using milk crates. I’m thinking of doing the same think and one of your tips here are very helpful.

    • Bob

      BobBski, glad to help!
      Bob

  25. Joseph Evans

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful idea. You can have cordless drills for small work.