Saturday Snippets: 29.September.2017

Whoa, last day of September? I’m not sure how I feel about time moving so quickly! We’ve had fantastic weather this month, and we managed to take Moby out for another night of camping this past week. This time, it was down a 4×4 logging road, to a lovely little climbing crag. It was fantastic!

Here’s what caught our eye online in the world of climbing, eating, cycling and repeating. Saturday Snippets for 29.September.2017.

On Climbing, Eating, Cycling and Repeating:

On Moby News (aka Sprinter van conversion):

It’s felt like another busy week for van work, especially since we headed up north of Squamish on Tuesday night, to camp out at the base of a climbing crag.

What we’ve finished:

  • We’ve finally finished covering and installing the last of the van walls! I’m quite sure I’ve avoided taking pictures with camera angles that show views of the driver’s side wall, just because it was nothing but exposed insulation. Well, not anymore! Very exciting 🙂

  • Jonty also got the electrical panel box all organized and covered up. No more unsightly mass of seemingly tangled wires hanging everywhere! I love that the electrical conduit hides everything, and I also love that we now have a cover on top of the electrical panel (see the above picture). So we don’t have to worry about dropping anything down there, and we can also use the top as another little storage spot!

  • We wanted to get the front curtains all finished last weekend, but I only managed to get the front cab portion done (don’t mind the mess). The side window curtains are still in production. Hopefully they’ll be finished by next week’s snippet.

What’s next on the list:

  • We ordered our toilet, and it arrived yesterday! It’s the Privy 500, made by Separett. So it’s basically the “separating” portion of a composting toilet. We’ll be making our own toilet frame and running the necessary plumbing back down through the floor to our non-existent holding tank (there will be a tank at some point).
  • We’re going to start working on making shelving and cupboards right beside the electrical panel, as well as think about getting drawers made for under the galley. Now that we’ve spent a few nights in the van, it would definitely be nice to just be able to keep the essentials in there (like kitchen utensils) without having to worry about them rattling all over the place.

Pictures from the week of 29.September.2017:

We took a quick trip up to Squamish on Tuesday night, to make use of the great weather we’ve been having. The climbing crag we wanted to go to requires a 4×4 vehicle to get up an old logging road. Moby did wonderfully well! We parked on a little pull-out, with the river flowing on one side and the climbing wall on the other. It was a great little overnight getaway.

Happy Weekend!

Moby, the Big Grey Van, travels to Powell River

Two weeks ago (how can this be two weeks ago already?!), we took Moby (the big grey van) on his maiden voyage. I had to work in Duncan (Vancouver Island) and Powell River (Sunshine Coast), so we knew it would be a perfect time to finally test out the van! Usually, September is a gorgeous month on the Pacific West Coast, and this year didn’t disappoint. We had one day of rainy weather, but otherwise we were welcomed to the Island life with sunny arms.

Day 1:

As always, I take the first ferry over to Vancouver Island on my site-visit day. It’s always a very early start and a long day, but more often than not, we’re treated to beautiful sunrises. There was a bit of low cloud this year, but the end result was still pretty fantastic.

Because the travel was for work, we decided to stay in campgrounds instead of finding a place off-grid. And at the end of the day, three nights in a campground is still significantly cheaper than three nights in a hotel! Our first night camping was at Brannen Lake Campground. It’s almost right in Nanaimo, although you wouldn’t think you were that close to a city. It was a nice little spot. The bathrooms were clean and it was quiet at night. We couldn’t really ask for more.

Day 2:

Day two was a travel day, as we needed to drive from Nanaimo to Comox, then catch the ferry from Comox to Powell River. We decided to make a leisurely day of it, stopping at the local marine hardware store in Nanaimo first (Jonty was in heaven), then googling one of our favourite phrases: “Best Bakery Near Me”.

Our search landed us at a Bodhi’s Artisan Bakery. The city is putting in a new road right in front of the bakery, so navigating into the little complex was a bit tricky with Moby, but I’m glad we persevered. We shared a cinnamon bun and a bread pudding roll (yes, it felt like vacation), and both tasted mighty fine with a cup of their locally roasted coffee. If you’re heading north out of Nanaimo, I’d recommend a visit!

An hour or so later of highway driving, you end up in Comox. We had about an hour before we needed to be at the ferry, so we planned a stop in for a quick flight at Gladstone Brewery. The brewery used to be an old mechanics shop and they still had some of the old memorabilia integrated into the space (think wrenches for beer pulls, old gears for door handles). The place was attached to a wood-fired pizza place, and it sure was a busy little spot! Good beer, nice people and the food looked pretty tasty, too.

The nice thing about small towns is that nothing seems very far from anything else 🙂 The ferry terminal is only about 10 minutes from the downtown, and we just managed to slide in before our 30-minute reservation cut-off time.

And one hour later, under a bright blue sky and on shimmering water, into Powell River we landed! Again, small town, short distances. Our campground (Willingdon Beach Campground) was just down the main drag, along the water’s edge. The site we were in didn’t have water hook-up (only electrical), but the views from our front door, more than made up for it. This was home for the next four nights!

We had one day of rain while we were in Powell River, but we still managed to get out climbing for a few hours before the rain came down. Even then, it was only bad for a few hours. Still enough time in between showers to snap some pictures of their harbour.

Day 3 to 5:

After finishing my site visit on Friday, we headed up to a local climbing crag (Higgyland) and tried to figure our way around the rock. The pdf guide wasn’t as helpful as we were hoping, and we’re pretty sure we climbed things that were much harder than was indicated online, but we had lots of fun and met some super helpful locals!

Our in-between climbing moments were spent enjoying the scenery, eating good food, and drinking good beer. Really, you can’t go wrong with that pseudo-vacation combination!

Day 6:

It takes almost a full day of travelling to get from Powell River back to Vancouver. It’s another two ferry rides plus about two hours of driving. But, they are beautiful ferry rides, and the drives don’t seem so bad when you’ve got a good co-pilot!

Before the ferry left the Saltery Bay ferry terminal (Powell River), we stopped in at Stillwater Bluffs (we saw there was climbing and bouldering there) to look around. The wind was a bit stiff but it was blowing the clouds away, and it was a great little hike before the journey home.

So, if you ever find yourself camping on Vancouver Island or the Sunshine Coast, here are somethings you might find useful:

Where to stay:

Where to get a good baked good:

  • In Ladysmith: Old Town Bakery (Definitely stop here if you’re heading south of Nanaimo. I look forward to it every single year! Their cinnamon buns…gah!)
  • In Nanaimo: Bodhi’s Artisan Bakery (we didn’t have any, but his homemade bread also looked fantastic!)
  • In Powell River: Powell River Farmer’s Market (runs Saturdays and Sundays) or River City Coffee

Where to get a good coffee:

Where to get a good beer:

Hopefully now that Moby, the Big Grey Van, is starting to make his way into the world, we’ll be able to start sharing more of our adventures!

Saturday Snippets: 23.September.2017

We returned from our mini work / vacation get-away on Monday evening, and started straight back into the normal routine on Tuesday morning! The time away has made us excited to get back on the road again 🙂 Here’s what caught our eye online in the world of climbing, eating, cycling and repeating. Saturday Snippets for 23.September.2017.

On Climbing, Eating, Cycling and Repeating:

On Moby News (aka Sprinter van conversion):

We traveled to Vancouver Island and across to Powell River last week. I’ll try to post a few more pictures of our journey next week, but for now, here’s a few of my favourites from the van. | Sprinter travels - breakfast views in Powell River BC | Sprinter conversion - interior galley view | Sprinter conversion - interior galley view | Sprinter conversion - interior galley view | Sprinter travels - sunset in Powell River BC

Changes to make:

Spending a few days in a row on the road gave us time to really try things out and start to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and how we want the van to progress from here. The good thing is that there were no major pressure points with our current design! We were pretty happy with our layout.

With that said, we finally decided on how and where we want to install our toilet and shower. To do this, we realized we probably needed to change the orientation of the electrical panel box on the floor.

  • The good news: The new orientation allows for a bit more airflow around the electrical components, and the box is now attached to the L-Track in the floor.
  • The bad news: Simply rotating the box wasn’t as straightforward as Jonty hoped. So it meant cutting more 80/20 (but reusing most of it), re-CNCing and staining new panels, and dismantling then re-attaching all the connections. In the end, it took the rest of the week for Jonty to complete, but it looks fantastic, and ultimately, we both think it’s a better design. | 20170922-Sprinter-conversion-electrical-breaker-box

Privacy curtains:

We also figured out how we want our privacy shades to work at the front of the van. We were really impressed with how well all the other curtains worked, in terms of keeping light out + providing insulation, so I’ll just be making more of the same for the front. The middle insulating layer I’ve been using is called Insul-Bright, and it’s been a fantastic find at our local fabric store.

The plan is to have the curtains hang on hooks around the perimeter of the cabin, which will make it easy to quickly put the curtains up and take them down. | Sprinter conversion - sewing curtains | Sprinter conversion - sewing curtains

Happy Weekend!

August Photo Challenge: HAPPY Recap

August feels like a distant memory at the moment, and so ends that monthly photo challenge. This post is later than I would have liked it to be, but van work and regular work and travelling has taken priority for the first half of this month. August was my month of HAPPY and, looking back at the pictures, I feel like I captured my month fairly accurately.

So here’s my HAPPY recap for you.

The August Photo Challenge took me…

… from early morning climbing sessions to early morning training sessions…

… from Monday morning breakfast dates to morning journaling sessions…

… from celebrating weddings in Abbotsford to Pride in Vancouver…

… from getting the water system installed in the van to having our first breakfast in the van…

… from exploring the city on bike to exploring by foot…

… from enjoying the calm morning sunrises over the water. | August 2017 Monthly Photo Challenge - Happy recap | August 2017 Monthly Photo Challenge - Happy recap | August 2017 Monthly Photo Challenge - Happy recap | August 2017 Monthly Photo Challenge - Happy recap | August 2017 Monthly Photo Challenge - Happy recap | August 2017 Monthly Photo Challenge - Happy recap | August 2017 Monthly Photo Challenge - Happy recap

And just like that, we’re well into September and a new challenge word! This month is all about TEXTURE and you can check out the details here.

Happy picture-taking!

Saturday Snippets: 16.September.2017

Well, we started out this week working flat-out on the van, to get a few bits and pieces finished before Wednesday. Because you know what happened on Wednesday? We’ve taken Moby on his first trip, away from Vancouver!! I had a few work visits on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, so we made the decision back in August to get him ready for his first voyage. You can read more about it down below. But first, our Saturday Snippets for 16.September.2017.

On Climbing, Eating, Cycling and Repeating:

On Moby News (aka Sprinter van conversion):

We were on a mission to get Moby ready for his first big trip this week! I was working in Duncan and Powell River for the last half of this week and, given that September is usually a glorious month, weather-wise, we knew we wanted to make use of the van for this trip. So there were a few things we wanted to finish off before then.

  • We made a headboard! It didn’t actually take Jonty that long to make. The CNC design was relatively quick – it almost took longer to stain and spray it, than it did to design and cut it out! We’ve added holes in the headboard to match the rest of our inner cabinet walls (they have holes, too). Also, cutting out material saves on weight, which is always a consideration for us and the van. It works really well! | Sprinter van conversion - headboard | Sprinter van conversion - headboard

  • Jonty designed a new electrical panel board – we needed space for more toggle switches, so he took the opportunity to prototype a new one. The nice thing about this new panel is the laser engraving below each electrical component! Although I’m much better at knowing which switch is which, it’s definitely nice to have each labeled. | Sprinter van conversion - laser cut electrical panel

  • We were trying to figure out what to do about privacy curtains in the cabin. In the end, we’ve screwed some hooks into the headliner and have hung a make-shift curtain across. The curtain simply hangs down in front of the dashboard, so when our chairs are turned around, the windows are still covered, yet we have space to move. I’ll make another set of curtains for this area, now that we know the hooks will work.

Pictures from the week of 16.September.2017:

I should have more pictures from our time on the Island, but for now, here are a few pictures of our first few days with Moby on the road. By the end of the weekend, he will have been on 4 different ferries and 3 different coast lines!

  • Riding with the big boys, in the lower berth of the ferry to Nanaimo | Sprinter van conversion - Traveling to Nanaimo BC

Riding with the big boys in the lower berth of the ferry.

We stayed at the Willingdon Beach Campground in Powell River. Not too shabby of a view, hey? | Sprinter van conversion - Traveling to Powell River BC | Sprinter van conversion - Traveling to Powell River BC | Sprinter van conversion - Traveling to Powell River BC

Happy Weekend!