During the cargo van conversion, I take time out for short trips with the van, sometimes to try out the latest modifications, sometimes just for the fun of it.
A visit to Roadtrek in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario and a factory tour is at the top of my list, but the same area is a great vacation destination for me with good memories from the times I’ve been here before.
I had some safety built into my vacation planning and decided to head back to the US and move a few hundred miles south and closer to the east coast. My next stop was Washington DC. Again weather improved by the minute as soon as I crossed the border and soon I was driving with sunshine all around me.
Despite these drawbacks, I put on my hiking/backpacking gear to shed off some pounds and get back into shape and prepare for the longer overnight trips, I have planned for next year. This was also an opportunity to get the dog accustomed to his dogpack and to the ethics of trail blazing. He behaved better than expected, but was a goner when we returned to the van. You can read about my first hike (after many years) here!
The next day started with rain and I just moved a short distance to Washington Monument State Park to warm up the still unfinished cargo van. This is a good starting point for another section of the AT and the place where I planned a second day hike on the AT. The persistent rain made me decide to move on to Harpers Ferry and fill my time with some (car) sightseeing.
I could have skipped Washington DC and left for Charleston SC, but still hoped for some slightly improved weather the next day for a walking tour of the Capitol, the White House and the Monuments at the National Mall.
Savannah was my last stop on this trip and allowed me to be home by nightfall. Besides the fun I had on this road trip, I also recognized many of the features that should be part of this van conversion.
What I learned
(well, I already knew, but it reminded me, how important some things are):
- A good heater is important in a conversion van. Not just during these wet periods, but also to make those cold winter desert mornings more comfy.
- The best mileage I got, was 21.7mpg displayed on the van’s information screen; the average trip mileage based on the actual gas consumption was 19.4mpg.
- The cab curtain that I installed just before this trip, worked as expected or even better.
- This early in the conversion, my ‘all-around’ windows were still exposed and I had to create some temporary covers, to create some privacy at night. Something to remember during the next trip. At the end of the conversion, some windows will be completely covered by closets, etc.; the remaining glass surfaces need a well-thought out cover against daytime heat and for privacy.
- The temporary inverter that I connected to the CCP (Customer Connection Point) and the USB socket worked as promised and made me completely self-sufficient during this trip. The 450w Samlex inverter recharges my phone, camera and laptop batteries very quickly and kept my electronics fully charged at all times.
- The maps.me app on my tablet saved me on more than one occasion. This app with off-line maps is simple to use. It’s built-in search function also locates the closest Walmart.
- The medium roof height of the Ford Transit offers enough space to walk around the van straight up (I’m 5′-7”), but the finish floor and ceiling haven’t been installed yet.
- The sliding side door is the main point of entry, while traveling. The entry height is fairly high, but the entry handle does a good job.
- The side sliding door remains awkward to close.
- I used a small porto-potti during this trip. A larger, permanent toilet with cassette or black water tank would be an improvement.
- Despite relatively mild temperatures, I realize that a good heater is important. Heat loss through the driver and passenger doors is significant and must be addressed with insulation.