Headed South of the Boarder

30 Jan

Before I get into my next post, I just wanted to say it’s a couple weeks late, while travelling throughout the PNW we were on the move a lot and didn’t have much time to find wifi. I’ll be posting another one within the next week that wraps up our trip down south. Enjoy!

It was finally time to head state side. With the weather in Vancouver being a bit of a bummer, we were hoping for something positive as we travelled across the border. Our first stop in the US of A was Bellingham, WA!

Bellingham was a rad little city, lots of nice locals, tons of organic food markets and cool outdoor vibes. Backcountry Essentials, located right downtown has all the necessary gear for getting out on the mountain, also the top floor holds a bunch of used, vintage quality gear for decent prices, and the shop sells beers, can’t ask for much more in a shop! After cruising around town, we found a good place to park for the night across from Bloedel Donovan Park on the eastern section of town.

Vintage Vans (c.1996)

Bloedel Donovan Park

There wasn’t any snow in the forecast for the next couple days, to fill in the time between storms we headed down towards Seattle, but decided to take the more adventurous route on Hwy 20. The highway takes you through part of the San Juan Islands, providing views that are pretty unreal. Deception Pass State Park gives the best views of them all. A giant suspension bridge connects the mainland to Whidbey Island, a place you could easily spend the day staring out towards Olympic National Park.

Deception Pass Bridge

Olympic National Park in the distance.

Hwy 20 eventually brings you to the bottom of the Island at Clinton, where we took a connecting fairy to Mukilteo, a short ride but worth it! On the ship, we met this rad local, Jason, who we chatted with briefly about our trip and snowboarding in general. He gave us his info and has been feeding us with great info/tips ever since. Thanks Jason, you’re the man, let’s hopefully ride sometime!

Traded the van in for a boat.

Once arriving back on the mainland, we drove into Seattle, parked up and checked out the REI downtown. REI’s are the mecca of outdoor gear, I could live in that store, and this store in particular is the original, a little overwhelming but filled with so much sweet gear. Later we headed to the north end of the city to find wifi and a safe place to park. The following day was dedicated to exploring the city. Cold for Seattle standards but a sunny day gave us the perfect atmosphere to walk around. It was a must to caffeinate the day with a Starbucks Coffee (since it’s originally from Seattle), and made our way into the heart of town. The main attraction of the day was checking out Pike’s Place Market. The market is as old as the city itself, a multi-level seafood market that features everything from Crab to locally made soaps. A real cool place, my favourite part of Seattle for sure.

Seattle, WA

Mystery Coke Machine…

Space Needle.

Original Starbucks (1912 Pike Place, Seattle)

Pike Place Market

One of the many levels in the market.

Seafood booths for days.

For lunch we hit up Shorty’s, a hole-in-the-wall bar that plays punk music, has pinball machines and serves up insanely good hot dogs! Later, we met this awesome guy at the Army Surplus store who gave us some tips on places we should check out on our way up to Mt Baker! He was stoked to meet ‘real’ Canadians haha. Overall, Seattle is an alright place, driving isn’t the best since all the streets are on massive slopes, tons of pot holes and it’s always in gridlock. Apparently it has a severe problem with car break ins which isn’t the best thing for people like us who live in their vehicle. The city is pretty spread out, hard to see in a short period of time but it has tons of cool little bars and shops to check out!

Dawgs, Punk and Pinball, perfect combo.

Coastal Views

The forecast was showing a heavy storm moving towards Mt Baker and we had a couple buddies from Revelstoke who were shredding there for the week, so back north we trekked.

Through the advice from the dude at the Army Surplus store, we drove on Hwy 11 (Chuckanut Drive), it takes you through Larabee State Park, and went to the hidden gem known as Taylor Shellfish Farm. You can buy Oysters that come from the harbour and surrounding ocean right next to the farm. Kayley tried them for the first time, and yes, she liked them, especially with a little lemon and hot sauce. These weren’t no shitty chained restaurant oysters, they were the real deal and we had to shuck them ourselves. Getting the real Sea to Table experience. Support local!!



A Bargin!

Larabee State Park

On our way to Mt. Baker, we stopped in Glacier, the last town before the mountain. It was a must for me to check out Mt Baker Snowboard Shop, this shop is living history. Mt Baker and the shop were one of the original places to recognize snowboarding and fully support it. They have signatures inside from every legend and the outside wall has a mural done by the awesome Jamie Lynn.

Many legends have come through here.

We arrived at the mountain mid-afternoon, parked in the back lot with a variety of other campers and waited for the storm to arrive. The wind and snow really started to pick up as the sun was falling and it roared all night, at some points during the night it felt like the wind was going push the van on its side. With the combination of that and the excitement for the following day, not much sleep was had.

The Yeti in its element.

Regardless of the lack of shut-eyed we got up as the sun was rising, using the snow plow clearing the lot as our alarm clock. The snow covered the van, a piece of evidence that today was going to be a good day. We shoved breakfast down our throats, threw on our gear and got in the line with the other storm troopers. We were somewhere between the 10th-15th chairs up and it was off to the races. The fresh was easily 20-30cms deep and light! We mainly stuck ourselves at Chair 5 all day, so many cool little drops and fun places to slash. A plus to riding on a Monday is zero lift lines and you rarely see anyone all day and with the snow coming down throughout the day, the gaps kept getting filled on, no shortage of untouched fresh. Later on, we headed over to Chair 6 and took advantage of the stepper runs but with most of the area tracked out, we didn’t last long over there. It turned out to be another one of those days where you get for it not to end. I even had Kayley hitting mellow chutes! Super cool!

Rise and Shine!

Storm Troopers!

Lady Ripper!

Dropping into the good stuff



Snow filled faces

Attempt 1: Tomahawked

Attempt 2: Yew!!

Gettin’ some!

Thanks for a radical day Baker!

It was a dream to shred at Baker on a pow day, this mountain has been supporting standing sideways since day one and so much history has been recorded at this place. Nothing short of special!

Originally, we were supposed to meet up with Jay and Julien but when there is no cell service, it’s hard to find one another. Luckily we found them as were having a beer in the lodge. We all chatted about the day and decided to follow them back down to the converted bus they were staying at in Maple Falls. The bus was your stereotypical hippy bus, wood stove, trip blankets, propane oven, and Christmas lights. Julien cooked us up an awesome meal, shared some beers and stories. Worked from the day of riding, we all went off to bed stoked and sore.

Livin’ the van life.

Hippy Bus hangs.

The next morning, they went riding and we headed south as cooler weather was moving in later that day. That afternoon, we arrived in Snoqualmie, WA, a little town east of Seattle for the night. Portland was our next stop and we couldn’t of picked a worse day to do so. We took the scenic route with the hopes of getting a glimpse of Mt. Rainer and Mt. St. Helens but overcasting snow didn’t allow for that. As we pulled closer to Portland on i5, there were hundreds of transport trucks lined up on the shoulder putting on tire chains and the highway had a couple inches of ice packed on, it was gnarly. Still being miles out of Portland, we decided to pull off and find a town to wait this mess out in, eventually ending up in Battle Ground, WA. Due to Portland’s lack of snow clearing equipment, we had to hang in this town for two days, although it wasn’t all a waste. It gave use a chance to get some well overdue errands done. A small highlight would be having extremely good coffee in a cafe made out of an old church! Old Town Battle Ground

Snoqualmie Falls.

As we pull into Portland, the ice on the side roads was horrible. The street we found to park at was not too far from the highway and in reasonably good shape ice wise. It was quite and beside a large city park along with giving us the chance to walk to downtown and see what the city was all about. Everyone we chatted with said how abnormal the weather was, I was starting to believe we were bringing snow everywhere we went, even in the places that rarely see it. The next two days we wandered around town, hit up a couple snowboard shops, Polar Flagship Store, and hung out in coffee shops utilizing the wifi. Also, we consumed possibly the best pizza ever at Sizzle Pie in the East end of the city.

Portland shirt finds.

Evo, Portland knows what’s up!

Old Portland

This pizza was fuckin’ insane.


I had a laugh and a beer.

Portland is a place to come back to when it’s not covered by an ice storm. With a massive rainstorm on it’s way, we made our way to Mt Hood, Oregon to ride at Mt. Hood Meadows and adventure around the National Forest. I’m crossing my fingers for good weather.


Turning a Van into a Rolling Adventure Mobile

7 Nov

Following the installation of the walls, the proceeding step was to get the Yeti a newly insulated interior roof, and covered wheel wells

Just like the walls, insulating the roof was an essential task, although unlike the walls, we used thicker 1″ Durafoam Insulation and it required a lot less work which I’ll explain. The reason for the thicker insulation was due to fact that it fit better with the van’s metal ribbing leaving the least amount of space between it and the wood sheets used to cover them. As I’ve read and seen through previous builds, leaving the least amount of space possible between the insulation, inter and outer walls can ensure moisture doesn’t have room to build up and sit (Nobody wants a soggy van!). Since the roof is almost symmetrical in between each section of the metal ribbing, cutting the foam was a breeze, we cut each piece just a bit too big so it fit snug enough where it just held in place without any help.

The wood we used for the roof was the same Mahogany Ply that was used for most of the walls since it’s aesthetically pleasing and easily manipulated. Managing to get each panel to fit properly had its challenges, the van isn’t a perfect square so it’s difficult to get the measurements bang on, and again like the wall, there was a lot of recutting/shaving down of each piece.

The panel above bed is covered with both a recycled carpet underlay foam and some basic (polyester/wool) fabric. This is to provide both a cushion for those times we forget the roof isn’t as high as we think it is and to absorb condensation after those stuffy nights. The foam was attached using a Spray Adhesive and the fabric was cut big enough to where it could be wrapped around the sides of the panel and spray glued to keep in place. Once the panel was screwed in place it helped keep the fabric fastened in place even more. Although, the glue didn’t work as well as we hoped, a day later the foam and fabric began to sag, we solved this issue by using everyday pushpins which worked great!

As for attaching the panels, we used the same Washer Head Self-Tapping Metal Screws as we did for walls, screwing right into the van’s metal ribbing. We made sure to mark and measure exactly where we could screw to ensure we didn’t mistakingly go through the van’s roof.


img_1177 img_1188



Covering the wheel wells wasn’t as simple as we had hoped for. Through some deliberation, we decided to go with a trapeziodal box over a traditional square box since it would help maximize space. The toughest part was getting the angles to match up correctly. The side pieces were cut at a 45 degree angle to line up with both the floor and top section of the box. The pieces were attached to each other using a nail gun and wood glue. We only used screws for attaching the box to the sub-floor, helping it become that much more durable. As for the insulation, we used both DuroFoam and Roxul to fill in all the available space.



The floor and wheel boxes needed covering, the idea was we wanted something that was durable enough to deal with items sliding in/out, things falling on it, the consistent abuse from our feet and it being somewhat visually appealing. We eventually came across vinyl flooring that had a hardwood looking finish to it. Kayley luckily found an end piece at a local Lowe’s which saved us a couple dollars.

Cutting and laying the floor to size was relatively easy, and the extra pieces were used to cover the wheel boxes. Trim was added using a nail gun to help hold the sides/corners down from constant wear. All the necessary space/gaps were filled with silicon to ensure no water will get trapped and cause any issues.




Our next step was building the bed, figuring that once the bed frame was in it would be easy to map out the remainder of the build (storage, kitchen, etc..). We already knew the sizing of our bed from testing it what length and width would work for us, since we’re not big people a huge bed isn’t required (even though we had been sleeping in a Queen sized bed for the last couple years). We found a good deal on a bed at JSYK, well actually a child sized foam bed haha. Foam is the best choice, it is easy to cut down to your required size, super comfy, along with it holding in heat from below on super cold nights.

Bed Framing materials:  5 2x3x8 Finger Jointed Framing Wood, a sheet of 4×8 OSB Plywood, 2 piece of 1x2x3 Cedar Framing Craft Wood and 1 pieces of 2x12x16 Lumber.

With the help of an off-duty Professional Handy-Man (Thanks Dennis!), we were able to get most of the frame built in one night. The frame was built high enough so two Tupperware containers could fit underneath, I wasn’t too worried about it being too high, I figured I didn’t need to be able to sit straight up in the bed, I can move to the front seats if need be. The frame was anchored down by screwing the right side into the van’s ribbing, and the left side would be attached to the shelving frame which was fastened to the roof and floor with metal/wood screws, along with a couple of corner pegs providing extra stability. Also, putting PL (construction grade adhesive) on everything ensures zero chance of anything falling apart. We used the 2 planks of the 2x12x16 Lumber, cutting them down to five pieces in total, running them widthwise to provide weight stabilization for the plywood and our overall weight. The 1x2x3 craft woof ran lengthwise on the inside of the frame so those planks had something to rest on. 2 additional pegs were added down the middle to add a little bit more stability. The plywood was cut to the proper size (which took a couple attempts) and was fastened to the framing.







The shelving unit materials: 1 sheet of 5/8x11x96 MDF White Shelving, 3 2x3x8 Finger Jointed Framing Wood, 1 sheet of left over Spruce Plywood, couple sheets of left over Mahogany Ply, couple pieces of left over vinyl flooring, car trunk netting, 1x2x3 Cedar Framing Craft Wood and 1x3x8 Framing Lumber.

The shelving turned into a 2 level unit, the below unit next to bed is where our clothes call home and the above cabinet unit holds everything from toiletry items to books. It doesn’t run the whole length of the bed, the back of it was left short so coats and other items could be hanged.

The unit was built in a similar way as the bed. the bottom unit was framed like a box using the Finger Joint wood, with pieces running width wise to provide something for the White Shelving to rest on. The back end of the frame and middle bars were fastened to the 1x3x8 Framing Lumber which acts as piece of ribbing screwing into the van wall. The upper unit was attached to both the bottom shelf and a piece of framing wood that was drilled into the van’s roof instead of relying on van wall. The top shelf was made out of left over Plywood we used for the floor and then covered it with extra vinyl flooring. As for the front covers, since the bottom unit is for clothing, we knew we would be going in/out of it a lot we didn’t want doors, but there needed to be some sort of cover to hold everything in. We built a small lip, put in some hooks and used the netting for car trunks, its stretchy, easy to manipulate and does the job! The upper shelf cover took some thinking, after a lot of deliberation we decided to go with a door the folds up, using left over mahogany ply, and old hinges laying around the garage, it locks shut with 2 sliding bolt locks and is attached to the ceiling with a single hook lock. The two ends were covered with mahogany ply and gave everything a nice coat of the Hemp Oil to add a nice finish!








Lastly came the kitchen. A lot of thought went into this section since it needed to store a variety of different items as well as being functional. Kayley’s mom, Carol, found an awesome countertop at a local Re-Store which provided the base for area. It really came down to where the cooler would go and how we were to store all of the food/cooking supplies.

The materials used for the kitchen: 3 2x3x8 Finger Jointed Framing Wood, 1 panel of 16×96 Whitewood, 1x2x3 Cedar Framing Craft Wood, 1 Refurbished Table Top, spare pieces of MDF, OSB, spruce ply and mahogany ply, and 4 door hinges

The kitchen consists of one drawer above the cooler and a double levelled cupboard. The unit overall is built very similar to the bedside storage, we ran some ribbing along the back which is screwed into the van’s wall to help with stability which is attached directly to both sides of the cupboard. The left side is anchored to the bedside storage unit as well as 4 leg posts which were bolted to the subfloor. The drawer is a simple box, it slides along two pieces of the craft wood, and stays locked in with a simple hook lock. The upper unit of the cupboard is insulated with some spare Durofoam on all sides (excluding the doors) to help prevent the chance of food freezing and the bottom section was created bigger to fit all of our pots, sink, bulk foods and other miscellaneous items. The table top was screwed into the frame once everything was set in place. The Whiteboard was used for the cupboard doors and drawer front, then coated with Hemp Oil.









As seen in the picture above, we built a little cubby for our Camper Toilet, allowing it to be accessible when need be. We also wanted the storage below the bed to be accessible from the cab area so using some extra 1x2x5 Framing Wood, two barn door style latches were put in to keep all the heavy gear in place and allow for easy access. Our window covers are Reflectix cut to size, covered in Black Duck Tape to hopefully pull in more heat from the sun, and Velcro keeps them in place.






Of course it snowed on the day we finished!

Of course it snowed on the day we finished!

Some important things we learned along the way:

  • Never expect to get anything done on the first try, there will be lots of recutting/remeasuring.
  • Have a plan, but don’t be scarred to deviate from it.
  • Layout what you plan on bringing with out before you build, it will help figure out how much storage you require and what you need to built to satisfy that.
  • Look up your Van’s GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) to know how much weight your van can handle and once you have filled your van with everything you plan on having with you, go to a weigh station to see how heavy it is to know if any changes need to be made.
  • You don’t need to use the most expensive materials to get the job done.
  • Take your time, rushing will only lead to mistakes and some mistakes can’t be undone.
  • Build things to be practical, not fancy.
  • Have fun!

Thanks to everyone for all the help! We really appreciate it!!  We couldn’t have done it without all of you!

If you have any questions about the build, let me know!

Check out: http://www.thecountlesswandering.com/vanlife-3/ for all the other steps of this build.

Total Cost of Materials Used: