Friday, May 20, 2016

5/20/16-Part 3, Gila National Forest, Silver City NM

Before seeing the upgrades to my van’s interior on this post, you may want to see pics of the last remodel (here). This time we added 6” to the bed width, made a cubby for my large propane tank, built an enclosure for the small kitchen propane tank, and added shelves to the kitchen. Whew! And since it’s all one unit, it was no small task.

And by we, I mostly mean “he” – Colvin.

I swear that man can build anything. The make-shift workbench he is using in the pic above is actually the shells to my plastic drawer units. A lot of people ask me how they hold up on the road. Mine seem to be doing just fine. They are not the regular plastic drawers (which are usually Sterilite). These are made by a company called Iris, and are heavier, extra wide and deep. If you are interested, you can view them (here).

This is what it looked like at our camp while everything was outside. It’s a good thing this whole project took only one day.

Prior to this remodel, the heater sat between the seats which meant that I didn’t have access to the cab while using it. It also meant that the dog bed was in the middle of the floor. Here is a pic of the original set up.

The propane tank rested inside 2 milk crates, one on top of the other.

Sasquatch, Skippy, Nonni and Bentley need more room. So....

First Colvin had to move everything toward the cab so he could add the 6” extra plywood to the bed frame by the back doors. You can tell by this picture moving everything and adding 6” to the bed made a big difference. (As I mentioned above, the bed, the kitchen and the wall with the drawers and propane tank are all one unit.) It also gave me more room for storage under the bed. Yay Zippy!

Here is some information to the numbers on the photo I thought you might find interesting:

1.    Memory Foam – We cut the two thinner top pieces to fill in the new 6” gap and then placed a new piece on top across the entire width.
2.    Flooring – The previous owner installed rubber matting that is normally used in horse stalls. Until I can get insulation and better flooring it works great.
3.    Hanging from the ceiling is my motorcycle helmet cargo net. I put an inexpensive kitty litter box in it and that holds all my winter accessories – hats, scarves, gloves, etc.
4.    A small whiteboard helps me track whether or not I've fed my dogs. I just flip it from morning to evening (a trick I learned in TBI rehab).
5.    It’s difficult to tell with it so far away in the pic, but that is a metal sign that was originally on a stand. You can see it in the photo above of my old heater setup. We cut it off the stand and glued magnets to the back of it. It reads, "Put on Your Brave Girl Boots" (Thank you, Leslie!)
6. Below it are hooks that hold my coats and other outdoor items.

Moving everything to create the extra space meant some things had to be relocated, such as the battery and the inverter, but that ended up working out really, really well too. The battery now sits where I can test it easier, and the inverter hangs on the wall by the head of my bed instead of at the foot. That makes it much easier to plug my laptop and phone in for recharging.

Below is a picture of the new foam topper. We’re getting ready to lay it out for airing. Can you believe that thing swelled up so big we actually had to cut some of it down? My new bed is now 42Wx76Lx6D. Nice!

Next Colvin built the cubby to house the 5lb propane tank...

And added the corner supports.

Here is a pic of the new stand with the drawers on top. They fit perfectly. And even though they have a different depth than my large 3-drawer units, Colvin fitted them so that the whole wall of drawers is flush in front. An added bonus is that the heater resides on the floor in front of the propane tank when not in use. Perfect!

At first I wasn’t sure what I was going to do since I “lost” 2 drawers to the propane cubby. But ha! I didn’t lose 2 drawers at all – with the extra storage under my bed I was actually able to shuffle some things around, and I ended up putting the 2 drawers under my bed facing the back doors. In one drawer I have what I call household items and in the other I have tools and camping supplies. No more lifting tubs in and out! It makes it so much easier to get to things. Plus, I ended up with an empty drawer above the tank and it turns out that these drawers are the perfect size for all my atlas maps.

Here is the entire wall unit – secure and ready to roll. It shows the heater sitting on the floor with its cover on. And the bungee system may look cumbersome, but I actually only have to hook the 3 vertical ones up and I’m ready to head out in just a matter of minutes. What an improvement!

Next came the kitchen. So I could have extra pantry storage Colvin added two shelves to the original kitchen setup that Bob built for me in my 2/18/16 post.

Then we took the whole thing out.

Colvin then added extra braces for the shelves and secured the small propane tank. My 2lb kitchen propane tank now rests in a stand that is bolted down and fits perfectly in the door well. The little blue bowl next to it is Nonni & Bentley’s indoor, anti-spill water bowl.

Then he surprised me by adding a top shelf to my kitchen! Below is a pic of the kitchen put back together and fully stocked. You can see how well it all fits together. An added bonus is that the Rubbermaid containers fit great! They came from my storage unit emptied out during my Texas trip. (You can read about that adventure, and how I got rid of everything except what would fit in my van, here.)

Can you see the top of Christopher’s footstool? We cut off the legs and glued it to the shelf. It gives me a little extra space on that shelf, and allows me to keep my sweet memory of him. My friend Linda Thomas did a great job on painting it. Thanks Linda! I like the way it all looks, and everything is right where I need it.

Now I get to have fun and paint. Someone told me to be sure and use outdoor paint. I welcome any other ideas on finishing this out – including colors!

Hopefully, between this and the previous blog I have linked above, you have an idea of what an amazing rig I now ride in. It is a far cry from where I started 7 months ago. October 8, 2015 was my launch date. Most everything was in tubs or on the floor – including me on a sleeping bag and a very thin air mattress. Plus I didn’t even have a heater or a cook stove. If interested, you can click here to view my stove, and here is the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy I have.

From humble beginnings to a palace – a dream come true.

(anon FB meme)

It wasn’t all work and no play. Since we were both feeling better, we enjoyed several trips into Silver City. The town touts “101 Things To Do.”

SilverCityTourism dot org

This is one of the pretty courtyards just off Main Street with shops and dining all around it. Just to the right of Colvin (his left), there is a beautiful tile mural. There are many all over town.

A log cabin was donated to the city by Ron Howard from the set of “The Missing.”

Both photos are from BruceandJeanBicycle blog.

One morning we ate at Nancy’s Silver Café. It was a quaint setting and it reminded me of the opening scene in “Coming and Going” – one of the short stories in my book, Kaleidoscope 9. I had always wanted to eat in a café like that. I loved it!

Then, as if the ambiance and good food weren’t enough, they brought me cream in a Currier & Ives bowl!

I used to have a very large collection of Currier & Ives. My dear friend Carolyn is now the proud owner of these beautiful dishes. Here’s a pic of me, many moons ago, when I got most of the collection as a Christmas gift (in a former life).

And last but not least, in the Laundromat, this was posted, “Only in Los Alamos can you take your bomb to a car wash!!” I have no idea why the photo was there, in Silver City, but here you go. I’ll close out our stay at Gila National Forest with this:


  1. Love it, loving the changes looks great! :)


  2. How great to have everything so organized and in its place. Your van redo is very impressive!

    1. Thank you, Gayle! Yes, it definitely improved my living space immensely. I love my home! :))

  3. would love to visit Silver City since i love all things western.. i could not sleep with propane in my space

    1. Yes, Sandra - you would love Silver City! About the propane - do you mean with it on (heat)? Or just the tank? I always make sure my van is ventilated when I'm using propane - for heat or cooking, and when I'm not the tanks are shut off.

  4. Wow, You have come a long way since i last saw you.

    1. Hi Susan! I know, right? As a fellow fulltimer, I love that you see it that way. HugZ!


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