Introducing Moby, Our Big White Van

Many of you have been asking us how our van is working out. I’m excited to report that Moby is like a dream come true! But before I continue to gush about how awesome the van is I feel like I should publicly give a cheer to all mini van owners because until a few months ago I thought mini vans were LAME. Soooo here it goes… hooray for mini vans!

Honda Odyssey Named Moby 

My neighbor Gail deserves all the credit on the decision to purchase a mini van because she was the one who brought up the idea of us buying one in the first place. When I laughed in her face she went as far as to poll her mini van-owning FB friends and the Honda Odyssey was the winner as far as performance and internal space available (translate: room enough to sleep inside). Gail was also the one who thought up the name Moby, so she definitely deserves a huge shout-out (even though she’s a UofM fan).

It was a good sign when our other wonderful neighbors Debbie and Kathy hooked us up with their friend who happened to be selling her Odyssey. One test drive was all it took for us to become the owners of a 2004 white mini van with a tape deck, cd player, electric seat adjusters and lots of room.

Building the Sleeping Platform

Researching different ways to sleep in our van was really fun and interesting and for a few days I literally obsessed on ways to creatively and affordably turn Moby into a camping machine. We didn’t have a lot of time (or expertise, or tools) to build anything but the universe works in mysterious ways because our friends Tara and Troy actually had a platform sitting idle in their garage. We went to their house on a Saturday morning and left with a 4 foot x 4 foot platform in our van! Troy had built the platform for his Odyssey but hadn’t used it in a while so he was more than happy hand it over to us (after he did some fine-tuning so it would fit in our ’04).

The only issue was that we are both taller than 4 feet… so how were we going to sleep on it? We went over to our friend’s house and Justin whipped up a 2 foot extension piece for our feet. He attached it to the 4 foot platform with hinges and BAM! Room for our legs. When we sleep we fold the 2 foot piece down and when we drive we fold it back up so we have room behind our seats to access important things like food, etc.

We had to buy a few things to complete the platform (like the metal plumbing pipes for the back legs and wooden legs to brace the extension piece when it’s folded down). I tacked an old sheet over all the wood to keep splinters away. Perfect.

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The Most Comfortable Bed Ever

Since the bed itself has become an item of curiosity for many I’ll break it down for you, layer by layer:

1. Wooden platform covered with a purple flat sheet tacked on to keep splinters at bay
2. Two yoga mats laying side by side
3. Two Thermarest inflatable backpacking sleep pads (held in place by the yoga mats), one for each of us
4. Two-inch memory foam mattress that our friend Karl gave us
5. All layers are held in place with a fitted flannel sheet
6. Two sleeping bags
7. One super cute quilt that my SUN kids made for me with help from the volunteer instructors Sharron and Joy


Things Fitting Perfectly Into Other Things

I’m pretty obsessed with making this happen! I’ve always loved how boats and RVs employ the smartest use of small spaces. Fold up, pull down, fill it, stack it, yes! I’ve pretty much taken over the van management because I really enjoy transitioning everything from daytime to nighttime and back to daytime again. Everything has its place and being organized means quick access to anything at any time. Systems.

No Peeking

Covering our windows with towels for privacy is still how we “tuck ourselves in at night”, but our windshield is big — too big for towels. We were in Cedar City Utah when a light bulb went off in my head… I remembered that my friend Jenni used a reflector shade in her car on hot days… so we made a trip to the store-which-shall-not-be-named to purchase one for Moby. Who knew we’d end up with such fancy sun shades?


If you’re crazy enough to be interested in all the smaller details just let me know and we’ll drive over to give you a tour.


We woke up surrounded by the beauty of Hart Mountain on Tuesday, September 30. It somehow seemed fitting that our last day in Oregon was also the last day of September. We waved goodbye to the antelope and drove south through Fields, OR towards Nevada with blue skies above.

Nevada sign

We entered Nevada via Winnemucca and happened upon the new newly opened La Tortilla Factory. We were hoping to get lucky with authentic tacos, but they didn’t have any prepared food so we did the next reasonable thing and bought a package of corn tortillas (which supplemented our food supply nicely and went really well with our never-ending supply of cheese and avocados). We took highway 305 south through the mountains down to Austin, NV where we hooked up with the infamous transcontinental US Route 50.

The Loneliest Road in America

In 1986 Time Magazine took a jab at Nevada, calling the state’s section of route 50 “The Loneliest Road in America”. I totally get it. We only drove on this stretch of highway from Austin to Ely (approx 150 miles) but we definitely felt isolated and saw few signs of civilization. Actually the only signs we did see repeatedly warned us about the perils of driving up and down through mountains and across valleys in the middle of nowhere at 75 mph: watch out for cattle, horses and deer. Oh yeah, also watch out for both falling rocks and rocks that have already fallen. We didn’t need any signs to warn us to watch out for truck drivers flying down mountain passes.

Nevada used Time’s negative slogan to their advantage and created a clever ad campaign to celebrate their unique existence. We had fun checking out the little towns along the way. Someday you might just find me living in Austin, Eureka or Ely. Maybe.

We spent our only night in Nevada camping at the Hicklson Petroglyph Recreation Site. We weren’t there very long because we arrived at dusk (one again breaking our rule about not driving at dark). It was our fourth night camping and we were definitely in a groove. Harry whipped up some great tacos with the delicious corn tortillas and I quickly set up the van for sleeping. We both slept really well again, super psyched with how comfortable our bed is…. and I’m happy to report that my little issue with claustrophobia seems to have abated… but we still sleep with the van door open and my headlamp wrapped around my wrist because, again, you just never know. Harry woke up to find a big jackrabbit bouncing around camp which I am very bummed to have missed.

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SE Oregon * Hart Mountain

We left Crater Lake on Monday, September 29. It was another beautiful day with blue skies and crisp fall air. We meant to zip though Klamath Falls, but once we stopped for gas we remembered that we needed to buy chains in case we encountered snow and ice in the mountains, and then we came across a local taqueria so of course we had to stop and get some burritos because you never know when you’re going to find a diamond in the rough (we’ll keep looking for that diamond).

Our pursuit to find fun things to do in cute little towns fell short in Lakeview, where the most interesting thing going on was Dennis, the guy working at the gas station. If we had room in our van we would have invited him along.

Although it was early evening we decided to keep on driving north to the tiny town of Plush, the nearest community to Hart Mountain, instead of camping in the immediate area. Our friend Andy’s recommendation carried a lot of weight plus we knew that the hot springs were just around the bend, so off we went.

Road Rules

We have a few rules of the road. One of our rules is that we won’t drive at night because of three reasons:

1. We don’t want to miss the scenery
2. We don’t want to drive off a mountain cliff
3. We can’t really see that well in the dark (refer back to number 2)

It was our third night on the road and we were already breaking one of our rules.


As Harry drove the sun went down and we experienced the most incredible sunset ever! Not only were the colors gorgeous but the Hart Mountain range appeared out of nowhere, illuminated by glorious colors.

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Plush, Oregon

We rolled into Plush in the dark of night, stopping at the cutest little general store. The woman working was an amusing spark plug full of spiritual energy and she encouraged us to keep driving up the dark mountainside to find the hot springs. She said she does the drive alone late at night all the time. We were convinced (if not a little nervous) so off we went. Not only was the road unpaved, it was washboard gravel (which makes for a very loud and bumpy drive), but we were – again – surrounded by the pitch dark. Luckily there weren’t any other cars in sight so slow and steady went the van, around and around turns and up steep pitches, breaking all the rules as we trudged up the mountain.

Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge 

We finally arrived at the hot springs and campground. Harry parked the van and there we sat in total silence in the midst of several antelope. We did it! But we really had no idea what we did because it was so dark. After donning our headlamps we came across the hot spring which was nicely contained by four man-made stone walls.

Of course we got right in! The stars were out, the air was chilly, and we were totally alone submerged in a beautiful hot spring. On the count of three we turned off our headlamps and blended in with the night.


Sleeping in the Van: Night 3

Transitioning the van from day to night and back again had become much easier and faster now that there were systems in place (I need to have systems!). Knowing that the side door was wide open made my mind relax and I fell to sleep pretty quickly… but I still wore my headlamp wrapped around my wrist for immediate access because, well, you just never know when Big Foot will pay you a visit. We woke up with antelope roaming around and we finally got to see the landscape that surrounded us.

Oregon Van