The Van Gets All Spiffed Up

There were so many things I wanted to do to improve the van before this trip. I shared this list with you in my previous post, Summer Climbing Tour 2017:

I want to replace the flooring, get a new stereo (the one in there now doesn’t have bluetooth audio, and I’m basically dependent on that technology to function as a driver), have the original decals removed, and get a custom skin put on the lower panel of the outside (here’s an example of what I’m talking about, but we’d have a different pattern). I also need to track down the perfect hitch-mounted cargo box.

I’m happy to report that we’ve accomplished all of these things, and more!

New Flooring

I referred to the original floor as “grandma linoleum” (no offense to grandmas). When I’d been shopping for vans, I loved the interior finishes of the new RoadTreks, which paired the same cherry cabinets that I have with a gray plank laminate flooring. That was it – I wanted those floors!

I ended up choosing something even darker: TrafficMASTER Allure 6 in. x 36 in. Iron Wood Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring. We had already decided to remove the barrier that separates the under-couch/bed area and the main cabin, so that the cats could access their litter box and bed. In contemplating the flooring, we decided we should also remove the carpeting from the whole rear of the van, running the laminate planks all the way back. This will allow us to clean more easily, with more sweeping and less vacuuming.

Installation was interesting… We had to remove the metal thresholds, some to be replaced later, some to be rendered obsolete with the new 1-floor-to-rule-them-all design. We obviously had to remove the existing flooring. We also had to remove the entire motorized couch/bed to be able to install the cut-to-fit planks underneath.


So that happened

Glenn completed the installation in two afternoons. He was a champion! And I do think the finished product is fantastic. We’ve gotten lots of compliments so far!

New Stereo

In my last post, I explained how high-tech the van just got, with the new stereo I craved, plus a cell-signal booster, and a mobile hotspot. Such a huge upgrade!

Decal Removal

I loathed the decals on my van. In fact, I told the dealer that I wanted them removed before I took delivery. My biggest complaint about them is that they shirked this commitment. Whatever, I drove off in the thing anyway. But I yearned for the sleek look of the latest Class-Bs, and the time had come to do something about it. I love you, Roadtrek, but I don’t need more than the iconic three windows, the emblem on the hood, and the embossed headrests. All the rest had to go.


Clean and discreet

Custom Wrap

My obsession with bees is another story for another time, but I really wanted to put a custom vinyl wrap on the lower panel of my van, similar to the style done by Outside Van. I love how they get this sweet tonal effect, with the van’s paint color as the background. I really wanted a honeycomb gradient pattern, going from a lighter gray to much darker gray, or black.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a shop that could print on clear vinyl – they told me that material was used for windows, and wouldn’t hold up to the beating this lower panel would take being so close to the ground. And since automotive paint colors don’t correspond to Pantone colors, there was no way to color match the background of my design.

Eventually, I recruited a friend – magical Morgaine Breimayer – to do a riff on a panel of Metamorphasis II, by M.C. Escher. The end result was super cool.Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 11.36.35 AM

Installation was done by A52 Signs & Graphics. Nothing is ever quite how you imagined it – especially with my warped imagination when it comes to colors – but I think it worked out pretty darn well! Now my van reflects my obsession with bees. Maybe this will even cement a name for the van. The Hive? Queen Bee? Honey Pot? Okay, maybe not that last one.


And more!

Drawers. I need drawers. The van came with this ridiculous (sorry, RT) “closet.” Who hangs things when they’re traveling in a camper van? They could have at least included pre-drilled holes, shelves, and shelf pins, which could be removed if someone *wanted* to hang things. I don’t get it. For me, even shelves aren’t enough. Plenty of folks out there have added shelves to their closets, but then they pack their things in packing cubes. Call me spoiled, but I can’t imagine living out of packing cubes for 3 months. I. Need. Drawers.

Glenn got on the shelf thing pretty willingly. But he resisted the drawers for a bit. Fair enough – he’s made so many of my van dreams come true as it is. But praise be to Buddha, he finished them! I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome! Now let’s see how much I can actually fit in there…

Cargo Box

This was a huge one. With two adults, two kids, two cats, and climbing gear, there’s simply not enough room in the van. We had two options: buy a bigger van, or buy a cargo carrier. With no usable space on the roof, we had to go with a hitch-mounted box. Since we have those glorious double doors on the back, I figured a swing-away mount would be the way to go, so we can still open the doors. I could only find two products out there: the StowAway2 Max Cargo Carrier, and the ROLA Adventure System. We went with the ROLA because it allows you to remove the box itself and just have a cargo tray.



After 9 months of ownership and nary a good scrub down, the van needed some attention. We’re heading to Burning Man at the end of our trip, so I already pre-arranged a thorough post-Burning-Man detail, and decided to hire the same folks to do a pre-trip detail as well. M&M Mobile Car Wash & Detail did a thorough job – in my own driveway – and now I feel ready to load in our things and live in here for the next 14 weeks.

It’s time to start packing. After some civil debate, one of us (ahem) expressed a “spiritual desire to not leave on Saturday,” so we’ve pushed our departure date to Sunday, May 28. So today we’re packing the van, and packing up our house for the sub-tenants. We’re in the home stretch!

4 thoughts on “The Van Gets All Spiffed Up

  1. Wow! Great job on the van renovation! Don’t you just love it when your vision becomes reality and possibly even better than imagined? I know you’ll have lots of stories and pictures to share. Bon voyage mes amis! Beverly


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