Van Life: Camper Van Necessities

My regular blog followers know that I recently purchased a Mercedes Sprinter, and I am having it converted into a camper van.  My drop off date in December can’t come soon enough.  I am so excited that I have actually been online shopping for camper van necessities.  Anyone that knows me, knows I hate shopping! 

Anyway, I’ve been holding back on certain items until after I take VANgo for a test run when it is complete in March. But below are some of the camper van necessities filling my basement while I wait. Tic toc, tic toc….are we there yet?  I’m so ready to put all these purchases to use!

As I’m sitting down in my excitement to write about all these camper van necessities, I’m realizing they are hardly exhilerating, fun purchases.  But they are needs!  And they are things that I had a difficult time finding as I surfed the internet.  Hopefully, this summarized list will help others with the time consuming chore of sifting through the black hole of products on the world wide web.

haibike sduro trekking 1.0

Choosing an Electric Bike for Beginners

Upon the purchase of VANgo, my Sprinter that I’m having built out into a camper van, I thought it would be nice to have another form of transportation.  In this case, an electric bike.  About the only thing I knew about electric bikes before buying one, was they existed.  As a result, I faced a huge learning curve.

Just like regular bikes, there are all sorts of electric bikes on the market.  Mountain bikes, cruisers, folding bikes, commuter bikes, fat bikes, cargo bikes and the list goes on.  I wanted a bike that would get me from point A to point B easily and comfortably.  Additionally, it needed to fit under the bed in my camper.

haibike sduro trekking 1.0

Van Life: Layout and Selections

The next step in my van build was to complete the layout and selections for the custom build.  This process took several iterations between me and Wanderful Wheels.  Fortunately, I had seen pictures of two vans I liked and combined the best of both for my needs for my build which made the process a little easier for a novice.

Having said that, I have had a house built, so I am very aware to pay close attention to the details. By the end of the planning process, I probably drove Colleen crazy with all my questions, but if so, she didn’t let on. She was very patient with me and provided all the information I requested. Below are the some of the things I considered while determining the layout and selections.


Van Life: Bids and Consultations

Not realizing that I needed the van prior to selecting a builder, I had already completed a decent amount of due diligence on the options available to me.  I preferred someone local as opposed to out of state and stumbled upon this helpful article. But after purchasing the van, I went through a more detailed process.

holland lake in flathead national forest

Day 259 – In Flathead Indian Country -Part 2

Day 259 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Petey and I pulled into a campground at Seely Lake late last night and spent part of the morning chatting with the campground hosts who were from Huntsville, Texas.  They were staying through the Labor Day holiday weekend and then touring around the northwest before heading back to the hot south for the winter.

After catching up with my fellow Texans, Petey and I began our next scenic drive through Flathead National Forest along Route 83. We headed north on the Seeley Swan Scenic Drive to Holland Lake. Holland Lake covers 400 acres and includes several trails, a 41-site campground, and a day use area. The recreational area provides visitors a plethora of activities from hiking to waterskiing.


Day 252 – In Flathead Indian Country

Day 252 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Relative to yesterday, we had a slow day, including a slow start.  I was blessed with a marvelous migraine and had to take Petey to the vet for a puncture wound.  Once we finally bid farewell to Melinda in Kalispell, we took Highway 93 south along the western shore of Flathead Lake. The lake is lovely, but not very conducive to old, injured dog activities.


As a result, we made our first stop at its southern tip in Polson, where I had lunch at Pop’s Grill, one of a few choices in the small town.  After lunch, Petey and I took a stroll through town and down to a park on the edge of Flathead Lake before returning to VANilla. 

mountain goat in glacier national park

Day 251 – Going-To-The-Sun Road

Day 251 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

St Mary’s Falls Trail

What a wonderful day in Glacier National Park!  Our first stop on the Going to the Sun Road was at the St. Mary’s Falls Trailhead. I followed the St. Mary’s Falls trail through the forest along the aqua blue river to numerous waterfalls.  In fact, there were so many falls on the 3.6 mile round trip, that I, along with others, were confused as to which were which.

I was expecting to only see St. Mary’s Falls and Virginia Falls, but there were two more in between. What a pleasant surprise! At St. Mary’s Falls, water cascaded over the rocks as the river bent around cliffs like a backwards “C”. The next two unnamed cascades were multi-tiered falls certainly worthy of a visit. In fact, I liked them better than the final destination, Virginia Falls. That said, Virginia Falls, whose main falls tumbles 50 feet is quite impressive.


Day 225 – Lake Michigan Tour – Part 2

Day 225 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Before leaving Traverse City, we took a short driving tour around the historic district, but unfortunately missed the seven wineries this early in the morning!  I didn’t time that very well.  Too bad I didn’t arrive earlier yesterday!  That’s ok, we continued along our Lake Michigan Tour and spent a lovely morning on Old Mission Peninsula.

Old Mission Lighthouse

We poked along the 18 mile drive past harbors, countless orchards, wineries, farmland, and roadside cherry stands on the way to Old Mission Lighthouse.  The lighthouse is located at Mission Point which is just a few hundred feet south of 45th Parallel of Latitude, half way distance between the Equator and the North Pole.  The beach here was so interesting.  Beachgoers had set up cairns on the boulders that poked up in the shallow water offshore.  It was very serene looking.


Day 224 – Lake Michigan Tour

Day 224 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Petey and I began our Lake Michigan Tour in Ludington where a cross, memorializing Pere Merquette, stands over the harbor.  It is thought, the French missionary and explorer died nearby in 1675, though the exact location remains a controversy.