I've had the idea for at least a couple of years to convert our Dodge Caravan into a camper van. We always keep the middle and back seats stowed so we have lots of room for shadow, our outdoor gear, and for stretching out or sleeping after a race. But inevitably we would end up having everything sprawled out all over the back of the van. I really wanted to construct something where we could have unobstructed sleeping space and have plenty of storage underneath to keep our belongings secured in place.
I struggled with what materials to use, how would I construct it so it wouldn't be sliding around. The biggest struggle I had was figuring out how much head room I would need, and how I would get stuff out of the deep storage space underneath the bed.
One morning while laying in bed, I took a look to see how much room I really needed to sleep. I saw that 5 ft was long enough to curl up. This might not work for everyone, but it works for both Eve and myself as we're not stretcher-outers, we're curler-upers when we sleep.
I decided the perfect model for my idea would be the same dimensions as a standard mountain tent for two. This size would give us plenty of head room, storage space and room for Shadow.
Once I got everything calculated out and built, we took the van out for an early morning test run to watch the sunrise and have breakfast.
We woke up around 4 am, packed our breakfast and headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Big Ridge Overlook. We knew we were there extremely early for sunrise, so we climbed in the back of the van onto the newly built platform bed topped with REI camper mattresses, comfy pillows and sleeping bags and quickly fell right back to sleep.
The cool chill in the air made for prefect sleeping weather and waking up to the warm red glow of the sun just peaking over the horizon was magical.
The sun's light on the fall colored leaves were more vibrant than we expected they would be. It was simply a beautiful morning. One which memories are made of.
After enjoying the sunrise, we had our breakfast and fresh brewed pressed coffee then went for a run on the Mountains to Sea Trail.
|Here's an inside view of our cozy warm comfortable bed.|
Plenty of room for Shadow and his bed. We could still have more room when we move the front seats all the way to the front
|The entire platform bed is hooked into the stow away seat anchors. The platform can be easily removed when we want to use the stow away seats.|
|Under the mattress we have two storage areas that can be accessed from inside the van.|
|Space on the side for our water jug and cooler.|
|Our easy up canopy and two 4 ft storage bins fit nicely under the bed.|
|I fitted one storage bin with a removable work counter that we can cook on.|
|We were the envy of the people that were car camping next to us.|
|Had a short run on the Mountains To Sea Trail before heading home.|
|Shadow was loving the brisk morning temperature.|
|Heading back home.|
|Never a dull moment for this guy. There's always something to look at.|
Our first trial in our van conversion was a success. I think on the next post I'll talk about our easy up canopy, portable gas grill and our secret to never standing in the porta potty line at races.