About the Van


Meet Ashley, aka the beast...

One of the most frequent requests I've received in the year+ that I've been on the road is for more photos of the inside of the van. Ask and ye shall (eventually) receive. What follows is a virtual tour of my home on wheels. Click any image to expand.

The Beast is built on a 2006 Freightliner Sprinter Chassis. Initial customizations were made by Gulf Stream, and this model is the Vista Cruiser G24. It had the exact layout I was looking for (plus a Mercedes diesel engine) and I was able to customize from there.

The Belly of the Beast. This is the interior, looking back from the dashboard. Two captains chairs in the front, followed by a table with small bench seat and that leads into the kitchen.

See? Kitchen. That's a two-burner propane stove on the left. The sink is fed by a 24 gallon fresh water tank and it goes into a 12 gallon gray water tank, which I have to empty about once a month. Silverware drawer is on the left with an "everything" cupboard beneath it, containing mostly tools and cleaning supplies. The cupboard on the bottom right is my pantry with all my dry and canned goods. Counter space for chopping just to the right.

A little further back and on the other side is my microwave and fridge. Both are 100% electric and run off my large "house" battery, which I'll get to in a minute. The fridge is generally packed with produce which is the only way I've managed to keep from gaining 50 pounds while living on the road. You can see the counter-space on the left and below it is where all my shirts, pants, and most of my shoes live, on shelves in a cabinet. It's a small "closet," but fortunately I'm a t-shirt and jeans type of guy so it's more than enough space for me.

I get a lot of questions about my bathroom setup, so here it is. It's what's known as a "wet bath," in marine terminology. The toilet has an electric pump that adds fresh water to the tank, and it empties into a 12 gallon black water tank, which I empty about once a month. The shower has on-demand, tankless heating, but it's pretty wimpy and can only heat the water about 29 degrees from its starting point (i.e. if it was 50 degrees last night, you're going to have an 79 degree shower in the morning). Not surprisingly, I take very, very fast showers.

All the way back is the full-sized (double) bed. I added a two-inch memory foam topper, ridiculously soft modal sheets, and a feather duvet. I sleep like a baby in here. The cabinets on the left are socks and underwear, and the one straight back is miscellaneous (vacuum, first aid, towels, etc). The shelf on the top right has my ukulele and my childhood teddybear. Don't judge.

Security, baby. This is the Viking Safe VS-38BL, with fingerprint scanner. It took hours to bolt it in, but it was worth the peace of mind. The fingerprint makes it much easier to unlock in the dark. The van also has a high-end alarm system from Viper.

The windows are really pretty slick. They're made of double-paned plexiglass for insulation and they hinge outward from the top, so you can have them open even in light rain and not soak your interior. Pull the shades down and you've got bug-screens. Pull them up and you've got full blackout shades.

Back up front, the two front seats swivel around to face the table. I think of this as living room mode. I've had four people in here for dinner and it's cozy but fun. But what about mood lighting, you ask?

I got your mood lighting right here. I lined the ceiling with Phillips Hue Lightstrips 2.0. Using an app I can have them change to virtually any color imaginable, or I can have it gently fade between shades, or listen to music and change with the beat (which gets annoying almost immediately). I have a couple remote controls so the system doesn't need to be paired with the app or connected to the internet for the basic modes.

Controls for the Hue system and the Wi-Fi reside in the cabinet above my sink, along side my electric tooth brush, my tea (attached to the wall with velcro), and spices.

Sunshades, tripod, and baseball bat, all tucked neatly behind the bench seat, which is also where my suits hang.

The trunk (under the bed) hasn't been this empty since I bought the thing, but I'm using this shot to show how neatly the Montague folding mountain bike and the 5' 8" surfboard fit in there. There's now also a snowboard, a guitar, backpacking gear, a drone, and all kinds of other stuff. You can also see the 3000 watt hybrid inverter bolted to the left side. Hidden in there is also 200aH of lithium battery, both installed by AM Solar in Springfield, OR.

Speaking of AM Solar, I had them install 320 watts of solar panels to the roof. They generally do a great job of keeping my gadgets all charged up (and my lights on and water running) even when the van has been parked for days on end.

If you want a little more detail on some of the tech mods, you can check out this video I made for WIRED pretty early on in the trip. This was before I added the Hue system and a lot of other bells and whistles which I'll be writing about soon. 

That's the tour! Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out my Instagram for more photos.