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.

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


Oregon: Crater Lake National Park

We left Ashland, Oregon on Sunday, September 28 after breakfast burritos with our friend Andy. We drove back up through Medford to stock up on supplies and then headed northeast to Crater Lake National Park. Visiting this beautiful place together has been on our list for a long time; Harry’s never been, and the one time I went involved a harrowing experience with my elementary school friend Tracy Weber, some snow and ice, and an obstructed view. Needless to say Harry and I were both ready to experience the striking beauty of Crater Lake.

Crater Lake
We arrived Sunday afternoon with blue skies overhead. We carefully drove around the east rim and stopped at several viewing points to take photos in the late sun. I must admit that the lake was amazing, but I wasn’t exactly blown away (get the volcano reference?). I think I was just tired and didn’t feel like dealing with the other handful of visitors all vying for the best photo ever. We decided to call it a day and find a camping spot, feeling like Monday morning was going to be pretty special.
We parked our van at a trail head in the national forest and were thrilled to find ourselves actually camping FOR REAL in our van. There was one other camper van across from us in the lot but for the most part we were totally alone.
Harry whipped up a great dinner on the camp stove (which he had to take out of the box) while I constructed some window coverings out of our pack towels (ghetto or clever, you decide). I didn’t want the guy across the lot, or Big Foot for that matter, to watch us sleep.
IMG_3975First Supper
And then it got dark. Really dark, like the kind of dark you get from being under a canopy of trees in the middle of a big forest. The kind of dark that’s really deep and quiet. And it was only 7:00. So we sat inside the van and played Gin Rummy, making up rules as we went along because neither one of us could really remember how to play. I’m pretty sure I was the overall winner.
We crawled into bed by the soft light of our lantern and settled in for a good night sleep. And then I had a wee claustrophobia-induced panic attack. It was SO dark and I felt SO trapped! Once Harry opened the sliding side door, fresh air rushed in and I felt much better — it’s always reassuring to know where the escape route is. For good measure I wrapped my head lamp around my wrist where I could find it in a split second to ward off anything threatening (like Big Foot or the pitch darkness of night).
Crater Lake Day Two 
We survived the night without incident and made it back up to Crater Lake first thing in the morning. And that’s when the magic happened! The sky was so blue and the views were just stunning. We were so in awe of the deep blue water we couldn’t take our eyes away. We went on the only hike that goes down to the water’s edge and found total solitude and peace.
We left Crater Lake feeling jazzed and excited for our next Oregon adventure.