Saturday Snippets: 09.September.2017

The haze has returned to the West Coast, due to the ongoing forest fires. Our lungs seem to be struggling with this smoke-filled air more than we did back in August, maybe it’s because we’re getting smoke from the BC interior as well as Washington? We’re supposed to get a few drops of rain over the weekend, so here’s hoping it helps tame some of the fires!

Here’s what caught our eye online in the world during the week of 09.September.2017.

On Climbing, Eating, Cycling and Repeating:

  • Winter training goals (for Jonty ๐Ÿ™‚ ) I’d probably just work on the triceps exercises, because I’m weak, yo!
  • If you’re Canadian, you’ve no doubt eaten more than your fair share of Nanaimo Bars growing up. If you have ever wondered where they came from, here’s a bit of history for you. We’re off to Vancouver Island next week, and will be heading through Nanaimo. Perhaps it’s time to rekindle my love-affair with these gems ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Our weather is still firmly planted in the hot-summer territory, BUT for when the temperatures start to dip, I’ve bookmarked this simple black beans and rice meal. These one-pot dishes are always so easy and always so tasty.
  • Fake Merit Badges, because even the small outdoor victories should be recognized ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Last week, I listened to this episode of the This Is Criminal podcast, which led me to the next episode. The next day, I got an email saying this book was available for me to borrow from the library. Totally weird, yet all connected!

On Moby News (aka Sprinter van conversion):

  • We’ve installed our convection oven in the van this week! Last week, Jonty constructed the frame out of 80/20 and CNC’d the faceplate to cover the oven and air vents. This week, we finished staining the wood and properly secured everything together. | Sprinter van conversion - convection oven installation

  • To secure the oven, mounts were fabricated to attach the 80/20 frame to the L-track (which is bolted through the floor). We then strapped the oven to the 80/20 frame, as well. The strapping may be replaced but it works for now. | Sprinter van conversion - convection oven installation | Sprinter van conversion - convection oven installation

  • The oven is completely open to the back of our โ€œgarageโ€, and we designed it this way to help with the air-flow and heat venting. Breville (our convection oven) gives minimum spaces that must be open around the oven, to prevent overheating, and judging from the view from the back, we should have tonnes of it ๐Ÿ™‚ | Sprinter van conversion - convection oven installation

  • From the front, we have the open space between the air vents and the oven, which will give us access to both the plumbing and electrical boards on either side. This space can also act as a little booster-step, to get onto the bed, if we need it.
  • All of the pipes and electrical wires are fed through holes along the floor on either side of van. Once all of the cupboards and drawers and doors are in on the cabinets, these will be hidden from sight. | Sprinter van conversion - convection oven installation

  • After turning up the oven as high as it would go (with the fire extinguisher close by, just in case), we checked all the electrical connections and everything looks good! So, as a pat on the back, we enjoyed our first bit of food in the van – a toasted scone – and it was pretty darned tasty ๐Ÿ™‚ | Sprinter van conversion - convection oven installation

And then, the most exciting Moby News of the week:

  • We spent our first night in the van! We had talked about driving up towards Squamish on Thursday evening to spend the night, then do some climbing on Friday. It was a long day on Thursday for both of us, but we still decided to give it a whirl. So we packed up a few things for breakfast in the morning, brought down some bedding, and away we went!
  • We knew exactly where we wanted to spend the night – a secluded little pull-out off a logging road, just past Porteau Cove. Driving up to our little spot, I was instantly transported back to our travelling days from two years ago. It was the trip that prompted us to head down this van path, and it felt wonderful!
  • Moby passed with flying colours! A bathroom would have been nice, but that will happen in due time. We’re getting there ๐Ÿ™‚ | Camping in the sprinter van | Camping in the sprinter van

Pictures from the week of 09.September.2017:

On the night before the Labour Day Monday, we decided to get up early and catch the sunrise. It was a good thing we made that decision, because the wildfire smoke rolled in on Monday evening, and we’ve been under a smoky haze since then. But on Monday morning, the skies were clear, weather was warm, and we enjoyed the view from our favourite sunrise-viewing bridge (Cambie Street Bridge). | Sunrise in Vancouver BC from Cambie Street Bridge | Sunrise in Vancouver BC from Cambie Street Bridge

The water was so calm and glass-like, and then a small boat came trundling under the bridge. It wasn’t going very fast, but it’s amazing how quickly the wake of the boat can upset an entire bay of glass. | Sunrise in Vancouver BC from Cambie Street Bridge | Sunrise in Vancouver BC from Cambie Street Bridge | Sunrise in Vancouver BC from Cambie Street Bridge

We waited until the blood-orange sun crept over the horizon and through the buildings, then slowly meandered back to the van for breakfast and a coffee ๐Ÿ™‚ | Sunrise in Vancouver BC from Cambie Street Bridge | Sunrise in Vancouver BC from Cambie Street Bridge

Happy Weekend!

Saturday Snippets: 02.September.2017

And, just like that, we’ve hit September! Do you have any fun plans for the long weekend? We’re still trying to figure that out. The weather is supposed to be a scorcher, so Saturday’s climbing day will be another early start, to beat the heat.

Here’s what caught our eye online in the world of climbing, eating, cycling and repeating. Saturday Snippets for 02.September.2017.

On Climbing, Eating, Cycling and Repeating:

  • โ€œClimbing-Gym-Parter Wantedโ€ ads. If you climb, you’ll find these pretty funny (and pretty accurate).
  • I had no idea a trail like this existed in Canada, but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. The Great Trail connects all of Canada (13 provinces and territories), from coast to coast. I wonder how long it would take to complete the entire thing? The pictures of people on the trail look pretty great!
  • Storm-chasing. The clouds just come alive!
  • A healthy, protein Snickers bar? I’m in!
  • We don’t eat burgers very often, but sometimes when the craving hits, it hits hard. Something about this Satay Burger is nudging me towards a long-weekend burger night.
  • How not to use โ€œquotesโ€ ๐Ÿ™‚

On Moby News (aka Sprinter van conversion):


  • Jonty was on a mission to have water running through our kitchen taps by the end of August. He made his goal, with a few days to spare, and we now have running water! We don’t have a grey tank installed yet, so for the time being, the grey water will simply drain into a big bucket under the sink. Not fancy, but it works for now.
  • Last week, Jonty was able to get the water heater hooked up, so we had hot and cold water. This week, we mounted the sink to the underside of the counter (glued and sealed), and let that dry for a day. Then, it was just a matter of connecting the sink pipes to the rest of the plumbing circuit. Easy peasy (or so Jonty says ๐Ÿ™‚ ).
  • This is super exciting news! We’re hoping to take the van over to Vancouver Island in a few weeks, for his maiden voyage, and we really wanted to have running water for the trip. | Sprinter van conversion - kitchen plumbing | Sprinter van conversion - kitchen plumbing

Installing the convection oven:

  • Because he finished the plumbing a few days early, Jonty started to work on installing our convection oven. So, sadly, the oven has left our apartment (I love that thing!), but the good news is that we should have it installed before our Island trip.
  • Our plan is to mount it under the bed, and above the air vents (the two black circles). The oven will be open to the storage area on 3 sides, which will help dissipate the heat. And we’ve designed a little step (the rectangular space below the oven) to help us get up onto the platform bed. The secondary purpose of the step is to give us easy access to the plumbing and electrical panels below the bed.
  • We still have to stain the front plate, and mount it properly to the floor, so hopefully this will be in next week’s update! | Sprinter van conversion - built in convection oven

Happy Long Weekend!

Saturday Snippets: 26.August.2017

This has been the first week where I can feel the end of summer slipping by. The days are still warm, but the mornings have been noticeably cooler and the sun sits lower in the afternoon sky. I don’t think I’m ready for it to end!

Here’s what caught our eye online in the world of climbing, eating, cycling and repeating. Saturday Snippets for 26.August.2017.

On Climbing, Eating, Cycling and Repeating:

  • Tomorrow, two of our great friends are competing in their first Ironman race! They both have full-time jobs and are parents to our two very active god-kids (who also compete in kids triathalons), and have still found time to train for this epic endurance race. We’ll be anxiously awaiting your results, Jill and Sean, and we know all your training will be worth it!
  • I really love a good scone, the kind with tonnes of craggy, crunchy edges. These sour cherry and chocolate ones look like they would fit the bill!
  • Progress!
  • Did you catch any of the solar eclipse on Monday? We donned our welding masks, and caught the partial eclipse in Vancouver. It was crazy how many people were outside to view it! I knew of a few people who made the road trips down to view the total eclipse, and they all said it was indescribable. If you couldn’t be there in person, this is a pretty good video recap.
  • I heard about this podcast, Homecoming, through another storytelling podcast. They just released Season 2. The nice thing about learning of these things late, is that you can binge-listen! The episodes are short (20 to 30 minutes each), and its a psychological thriller (don’t worry, it’s not scary). I burned through Season 1 in record time!

On Moby News (aka Sprinter van conversion):

Plumbing and Heating:

  • Big news – the water system is in, and it all works!!
  • We tested the city fill earlier in the week, and there were no leaks from any of the connections. Big relief! At that point, we didn’t have the water heater or pump connected, so it was just to make sure the basic connections were good. | Sprinter van conversion - testing water connections

Getting ready to test the water connections for the first time. | Sprinter van conversion - testing water connections | Sprinter van conversion - testing water connections

Testing the water connections.

  • For the rest of the week, Jonty worked to get the water heater and water pump wired up and working. He also wanted to add an on/off connection for the in-floor heating, so that the floor heating could be bypassed when we don’t need it (i.e. in the summer months). That part probably took him a good 2 days to finish. Nothing is ever a quick or simple process!
  • So, we now have this all working:
    • City water fill works (Jonty used the plasma CNC to fabricate the mount out of aluminum)
    • Water pump works (so we get water flowing when we’re not connected to city water)
    • Water heater works (so we can have hot water)
    • In-floor heating works (so we can have warm tootsie toes)
    • Force-air heating works, on low and high-speed (the heater fan will be mounted on the floor, below the bed)
  • Still remaining: connect the hoses to the sink (for all of the testing, we just used a piece of pipe connected to the manifold, and used a bucket to catch the water)
  • We don’t have a grey water tank installed yet, and likely won’t get to that for a few months. Until then, we’ll just use a jerrycan under the sink for the grey water.

The day that we tested all the water systems (city fill, heat exchanger, water pump, water heater, in-floor heating, forced-air heating), and it all worked, was a very exciting moment. As Jonty said, all of the systems he’s put in (electrical, batteries, heating, water, etc) all work as designed.

If you know how much time and effort and thought my husband has put into this build, you can imaging how happy he was. His shoulders relaxed and a smile developed, as he allowed himself a brief moment of celebration, before moving onto the next thing. I am so proud of him and this van!! | Sprinter van conversion

Happy Weekend!

Saturday Snippets: 19.August.2017

Well, it’s been a disheartening news week, with Charlottesville and Barcelona. With the number of articles and accounts I’ve read of people raising their voices against these atrocities, let’s hope something good will come of it.

Here’s what caught our eye online in the world of climbing, eating, cycling and repeating. Saturday Snippets for 19.August.2017.

On Climbing, Eating, Cycling and Repeating:

On Moby News (aka Sprinter van conversion):

RV Plumbing:

  • We’re still in operation water-tank mode and Jonty is still in the process of putting it all together. This week, he has been working on getting all the systems set up and connected inside the van. It’s been a week of designing and many, many trips to Home Depot and Greenline… ๐Ÿ™‚
  • The idea is to have things like the water pump, water heater, hot / cold water lines, etc., fixed onto a board similar to our electrical board. It’s attached to the frame of the wheel well on the passenger side. | Sprinter van conversion - plumbing

  • As of yesterday, enough of the plumbing system was connected together, to try filling the tank and running city water through, but Jonty needed more than one pair of hands to do this, and I was working… Perhaps a test this weekend? | Sprinter van conversion - plumbing | Sprinter van conversion - plumbing

RV curtains:

  • I’m slowly working on the curtains. The two in the bedroom are finished, as well as the one above the kitchen sink. Next on the list is the one for the sliding door, Jonty added the track for it this week, so no excuses now!
  • The curtains are three layers – black fabric facing toward the windows, a blue / turquoise linen fabric facing inside the van, and a layer of insulating material in between. | Srinter van conversion - making curtains | Srinter van conversion - making curtains

RV Insurance:

  • I’ve been on the hunt for RV insurance (finally!). Because we’re a van conversion, and not a factory-manufactured RV, we’re in this grey zone of insurance. The companies I’ve spoken to so far can’t seem to categorize us appropriately. I’m waiting for a few people to get back to me, so I’m sure I’ll find something sooner or later!
  • With that said, if you read this blog, and you’ve done your own RV conversion, and you’re based out of Canada – where do you get your insurance from?

Happy Weekend!

Saturday Snippets: 12.August.2017

How was your week? Nice and short, if you were in Canada, celebrating the long weekend! There was a lot going on in Vancouver, with the fireworks and Pride Parade, and climbing and van work… Yet, somehow it still felt quite relaxing!

Here’s what caught our eye online in the world of climbing, eating, cycling and repeating. Saturday Snippets for 12.August.2017.

On Climbing, Eating, Cycling and Repeating:

  • The behind-the-scenes look at Alex Honnold and his path to free soloing his most recent climb. He definitely prepares for these routes, years in advance, but I still can’t wrap my head around him climbing without a rope!
  • While diving down the instagram rabbit hole, we came across Harvest Hosts. Have you ever heard of them? For a (very small) annual fee, you can park at these farms or wineries or museums around Canada and the USA. When we eventually hit the road in Moby, I think we’re going to sign up! And perhaps we’ll start with this road trip, as our first adventure ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Why people don’t return their shopping carts. What kind are you?
  • Doesn’t this watermelon and halloumi salad look amazing?
  • Who remembers Nutri-Grain Bars? I have fond memories of stocking up on these bars before high-school band trips (yes, I was in the band). This homemade version looks like a much better option, though!
  • Why being near the water really does make us happier.

On Moby News (aka Sprinter van conversion):

Breakfast by the water:

  • We had our first breakfast in the van, down at the beach! On Monday (the long weekend), we decided to pack up all the things we would need for breakfast, and headed down to the beach to make everything down there. We don’t have water hooked up yet, so we had to fill the kettle before we left the apartment but otherwise, everything was made in the van. Coffee was ground, water was boiled, cornbread was toasted, milk was kept cold… all in Moby! It may not have looked like a very special breakfast, but it felt that way to us. And it makes us want to get the water tank in ASAP, so we can really start enjoying it! | Sprinter van conversion - breakfast on Spanish Banks beach | Sprinter van conversion - breakfast on Spanish Banks beach | Sprinter van conversion - breakfast on Spanish Banks beach

Water Tank:

  • Our 45-gallon water tank and heat shields arrived the other week, and we finally started putting it together this week. The tank fits right under the sliding door step on the passenger side and, with all things van-related, Jonty had to fabricate the mounts for it. This involves drilling additional holes in the van, and making hangers and braces to mount the tank. | Sprinter van conversion - installing water tank | Sprinter van conversion - installing water tank | Sprinter van conversion - installing water tank

  • It’s a dirty job, being under the van, and we’ll be very happy when it’s over (Jonty, especially!). The only good thing is that the weather has been dry, so we don’t have to deal with lying on wet, dirty cement (just dirty cement!). | Sprinter van conversion - installing water tank | Sprinter van conversion - installing water tank

  • We finished off the week with drilling another hole up through the van floor, which will be the access point for the water line into our sink! Very exciting ๐Ÿ™‚ | Sprinter van conversion - installing water tank

Pictures from the week of 12.August.2017:

On Sunday, after a morning of training at the gym, we headed downtown to take in some of the Pride Parade festivities. We got down there near the tail-end of the parade (we caught the last dozen or so floats), then meandered and around and enjoyed people-watching! It was an afternoon that was good for the soul – people of all shapes and sizes and ages and ethnicities, just happy and enjoying the atmosphere and festivities. | 2017 Vancouver Pride Parade | 2017 Vancouver Pride Parade

With the fires in the BC interior still burning, the smoke has finally made its way over to the coast. Vancouver has been under a layer of smoke for nearly two weeks. We walked back over the Burrard Bridge and stopped to take a look at Sunset Beach, where they were having the post-Pride-Parade-Party (say that 3x fast!). You can definitely notice the smoke when you look out over the water and the city. | 2017 Vancouver Pride Parade | 2017 Vancouver Pride Parade

Hopefully the rain that is forecasted for Sunday will help with this.

Happy Weekend!