After 17 years on the road, Good Ole Van officially retired in January. We donated him to a Los Angeles public radio station and when they sold Van at auction, KCRW got some of the proceeds — so we figured that was a dignified way to go.

And we always have the farewell video to watch whenever we feel nostalgic …

First step: props for avy centers near and far on the back window.

gentlemen, start your custom mods

We’ve had our 1996 Sprinter since late January, and are really happy with it. Sprinters are actually made by Mercedes-Benz, and are becoming more common on the roads — FedEx drivers, for example, use the newer Benz rigs.

It took a little while to get used to something larger than Van.

Ours has Dodge detailing on the outside — also known as badging — but she’s a Benz through and through, from the straight-5 diesel engine (no, really) to the on-board computer to the great handling.

Since there aren’t many mechanics specially trained to work on these things, Mike has been learning how to do a lot of the basic maintenance

I had fun picking out fabric for New Festive Curtains.

himself — with the valuable help of online forums and a service manual that’s a few thousand pages long.

Little by little, we are making it ours, with carpeting, a bed, curtains, a kitchen shelf, and other accoutrements that are still sitting on an [endless] to-do list somewhere. Here’s where we’re at with our “home away from home” — enjoy!

Once we removed the eight passenger seats -- and sold six of them to a Russian guy from the Bay Area -- it was time to start improving the interior. Note that Mike can stand up straight! We L O V E this feature.
We replaced some of the rubber floor with indoor-outdoor carpeting. Here, Mike adds insulation to the side panels. We also put Reflectix silver insulation in the ceiling. This seems to make a difference in hot and cold weather.
Mike does all the messy parts of construction in our little garage at the apartment, while Truck supervises. Note OSHA-approved safety flip flops.
The bed was assembled inside the apartment so that the glue could dry properly. It's very lightweight due to the use of 1/4-inch plywood.
One half of the bed is finished. The designer begins to draw up plans for the second half, A lot of thought went into the bed, which also functions as on-board storage.
After several weeks -- finally finished! Each piece weighs about 15 pounds. Now to get it out of the apartment ...
... and into The Sprinter. It's anchored to the floor and wall with bolts. The bed was designed to hold six Roughneck tubs o' stuff under each end. We store jugs of water underneath the middle, which just happens to be over the rear axle.
Now that we have cozy camping, it's time to hit the road! This shot was taken from the top of a rock route called Traveler Buttress, southeast of Mono Lake. The mighty White Mountains are in the far distance. Happy Trails!

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