Where is your adventure in life?

Living full time in a travel coach has a lot going for it. We don’t thrive on super exciting adventures in white water, zip lines, or action-oriented activities. The lifestyle we live is exciting enough. Going outside at 2:30 am in a sudden wind storm to tie down awnings and covered bikes can be very exciting. Pulling the coach with the van in traffic, tight parking lots and rough roads provide plenty of heart-racing moments. And living so close to the outdoors means bugs, mice, birds, horses, and all kinds of other critters invade our space. Just yesterday a pony flipped my work table, covered in tools, over onto the ground. How do you shoo a pony away?! This lifestyle is an adventure at its very foundation, almost every day. So for us, the real adventure is in the heart and mind. Since we are alone a lot, we find ourselves living deeply within. And even though our little house is only 34 feet long, we can sit and read, listen to podcasts, watch videos and focus on the things we love the most, without being in each other’s way. Christina loves to cook. She can surf recipes for hours, pick one out, and make the best vegan pizza I’ve ever tasted. Fluffy crust with a decoration on the edges, simple ingredients laid carefully in place with an artful eye. All measured, mixed, and baked in our solar-powered kitchen. It takes time, and yesterday I could smell the cooking outside while I worked on the coach making repairs. I couldn’t wait to see what she was making and the whole field smelled like beautiful food. Christina also loves artwork. She spends time at her desk, felting, sketching, and creating. From the heart. From the mindful adventure inside. Thriving in the open space of her thoughts and emotion, interests, direction, and journey. Not once have I ever heard her complain of boredom, she lives this life fully.

For me, I still live the adventure of tools and materials. We left our house a year sooner than we thought we would, so I’m still making improvements to the coach. In the last few days, I’ve rebuilt all the access doors, added wind braces to the chimney and presently I’m fortifying the front exterior wall over the tongue. How can that be an adventure? Easy, we’re in a field, with no pavement, no shelter from the rain, and a limited set of tools. I’ve learned to throw everything into the van in seconds when a cloudburst tries to soak everything. Kneeling may include rocks, cactus, or big black beetles everywhere. The sun is relentless at 8,360 feet, and the wind blows until my dried out arms look like leather.

Yesterday I woke up to a flat tire on Sunny the van and had to change it, on a slope, in dirt and rock. It took two tries since the van slid off the jack the first time. In between chores, I enjoy jogging, cutting firewood, and being near the land and sky. I don’t think a day goes by when I am not awestruck by a bug, critter or bird, and the skies always remind me I’m barely attached to the earth and free to live so. I feel fully alive in these moments. One adventure after another. Simple moments, hours, and days and nights. The adventure of a lifetime, living fully from our hearts, following the direction our minds seek the most, and practicing gratitude for the opportunity to do so. Today we hope you find your adventure. The one you follow daily, expressing yourself and the passions you feel, living fully from your heart and mind, no matter where you are.

Driving the rig is half the fun. Most of the time.

The last 4 days have been pretty interesting if behind the wheel adventures are your thing. Driving out of Clinton Lake State Park, in Lawrence Kansas on Thursday, the temps were already over 80 degrees, with humidity around 75%. Pretty sticky and hot, unless you’re naked, and I keep hearing stories about the laws against that. We jumped on I-70 heading west about an hour. At exit 225 we exited onto state Highway 156 heading southwest across the state, two lanes all the way. This is the drive most people complain about, that there’s nothing out there or it’s flat and boring. I’d be happy to argue that notion. The land is varied in terrain and a gradual climb in altitude. Along the way the flora and fauna change. In the Flint Hills, bison appear on the slopes, surrounded by prairie dogs, pronghorn, and coyotes. Flora is represented by scrub brush, sage, and plants that are tough enough to live in arid conditions. Some say it looks a little pre-historic. Eventually, the landscape changes from natural to farmed. Grain elevators are just yards off the highway every 30 miles or so. The highway passes through towns so small the speed limit is reduced from 65 miles an hour to maybe 50. There is almost no traffic anywhere. Mostly cattle trucks, agriculture chemical tankers, and occasionally a local pick-up. Passing farm equipment and tractors on the road is a regular occurrence, and watching crop dusters sweeping across fields and making low flying u-turns over the highway kept us on our toes. The corn grows from horizon to horizon, in all directions. We wondered how much of this food is grown for markets overseas and how much of it stays here. We thought about family farms and the changing way of life. We passed a few cattle feedlots. 25 to 30 acres of bare dirt with cattle separated into a hundred different pens. Thousands of cattle, all fed a rich diet to fatten them up for their last ride in a cattle truck to a factory that will render them into packs of meat for markets. We pondered these great plains and the planting, growing, and harvesting. At times we felt a little quiet soaking it all in. Arriving in Garden City Kansas, we fueled Sunny the van and slipped into a row of over the road trucks in a Walmart parking lot. While I took Indie for a walk, Christina cooked dinner. We ate, reflected on our day, and the scenes we witnessed. After washing the dishes and reading a little, we settled into our lovely little bed, snoozing away to the sound of purring trucks. In the morning it was funny to wake up realizing half the trucks had left. We didn’t even hear them pull away. We made coffee, ate breakfast, checked the fluids in Sunny, and hit the road again. Heading south on I-83 from Garden City we exited onto state Highway 160 for our trip to Trinidad Colorado. The two-lane road on this route cut through the land, rough and with no shoulders. Tallgrass and scrub grew right up to the white lines on both sides. At one point for several miles, the road looked like a ruffled ribbon headed for the horizon, at 60 miles per hour we were riding what felt like a little roller coaster. The pavement was un-even and for the first time in our travels, some things inside Luna came out of the cabinets and broke. Not one single other RV or camper was seen until we crossed into Colorado. It was the most desolate section of the country we crossed so far. Highway 160 took us straight into Trinidad Colorado. A beautiful little city, with lots of stone buildings. It reminded us a little of Jackson Hole Wyoming, a ton of tourists and bustling shops. We did some shopping for supplies and were glad to see the store practiced COVID-19 safety. Leaving Trinidad heading south on I-25 the climb continued. Sunny the van did fine, keeping a steady pace and running at normal temperatures. Passing through Raton we crossed our first mountain pass. About halfway up the climb construction was being done and the highway was only one lane. I was a little nervous we might slow down a lot and hold up traffic, but we kept a good speed, gained just a little engine temperature and crossed the top in good form. The road down the other side was forgiving and not too steep. It was good practice for things to come. We exited onto Highway 64 and headed toward Cimarron Canyon. This drive was fun. Sharp curves and rollers for an hour or so. Christina said it was a pretty view, but I didn’t see anything but curves in the road, and trees hanging low. Finally, after several long hours of driving our destination was just minutes away. We drove into the north end of Eagle Nest New Mexico late in the afternoon. Tired from driving all day we were ready to get to our destination, and we were glad to find Squash Blossom Lane just off Highway 64. Parked on the side of the rocky road we google earthed the location and thought we had the spot figured out. Worn out and hungry we headed for the driveway leading to our parking spot. The driveway heading up the mountainside had a decorative wood beam over the gate, and as we approached we both agreed the rig would clear the beam. This would be the last of our worries, then a drive up the lane to our spot. As we started to climb the slope it became very evident the grade was way steeper than it looked from the road. No problem I thought, if in doubt power out. Putting the pedal down we took on the slope, climbing a narrow rock drive that we could not stop on safely at this pitch. Within yards, the drive became a washed-out gulley. I felt like we were about to meet our maker, if I stopped we’d likely slide backward. Giving Sunny the adventure van even more gas we held on tight, steering between almost knee-deep gullies in the drive and bouncing like crazy we took the second right, the drive leveled out, and had no erosion, but as soon as we turned left again, not only was the drive washed out, it was grown over with brush, hard to see and almost as steep. My heart was racing and my mind was reeling in hysteria, so I gave Sunny all the pedal he had. The little Duramax motor revved up like a champ, new Michelin all-terrain tires spun and threw gravel but kept getting a grip. Luna closed her eyes and held on tight. Roaring up and around the last curve we pulled into the parking space next to the house we had so carefully determined to be our destination. We both laughed out loud at our crazy antics. Getting out I let the van idle for a few minutes to let the turbo cool down, and almost immediately Christina started to say we were at the wrong spot. She was right. We had climbed a slope when all we had to do was turn right instead of left at the bottom of the hill and park near another horse barn. Christina said she was considering punching me, especially since I had just almost killed all three of us. Fatigue had been our enemy, and my sense of judgment was skewed from a long day of driving. We should have never attempted that climb. Texting the landowner, our host who lives in another state, he was amazed that we had climbed that mountain, not only pulling a 34-foot trailer but also with only two-wheel drive. We were, you know, screwed. Our rig measures 53 feet total and we had about 44 of driveway width along a ledge to turn around on. But by now we were shot. I walked Indie, and Christina made supper. Worn out and feeling stupid, and knowing I had to figure out how to get our rig down the mountain, I had a tumultuous night, to say the least. What little sleep we got was good. Christina gave up the idea of murdering me in New Mexico, and I was pretty sure I had a plan to turn the rig around. After breakfast, we got to work. Reducing the air pressure in the front and rear axle tires meant we could swing Luna hard toward the ledge. I’d need to get the back tires within about 18 inches of the ledge to make room to un-hitch Sunny the van and move it to the other side of the tongue. About the time I had the back tires almost to the edge of the ledge, I saw a Dodge 2500, four-wheel-drive quad cab coming up the hill. Arriving at our little project Ed and Jackie got out and walked right up, staring at us both like we were crazy people. Ed said, “did you drive this rig up this road?”. Yes sir. “Well that makes you one heck of a good driver, I don’t know how you did it!” I was relieved, I was prepared to be laughed at out loud. But Ed and Jackie were there to help. The landowner had let them know we had arrived, at the wrong spot, and we may need some assistance. Christina and Jackie started to chat it up while Ed and I continued working on getting the coach swung around. Ed and I may have a few things in common, and he’s a few years older than me, so I’m pretty sure Jackie was congratulating Christina for keeping the murder rate to a minimum the night before. Ed and I backed Luna right out to the ledge, chocked the wheels and un-hitched Sunny. As planned I moved Sunny to the other side of the tongue and backing up swung the ball under the coupler and hooked up. The little Duramax did it’s work and tugged Luna across the slope and to a point where the whole rig was pointing straight toward the downward slope. The rig was turned around, and that was a huge relief, but now I had to get the whole thing down the mountain without breaking free and either getting stuck in the ruts or sliding of the ledges. Jackie and Ed are easy-going folks, so they made us take a break and check out the house we were parked near. They made sure we were drinking plenty of water since we were affected by the altitude and had some laughs with us while we checked out the place. On the way back to our rig, I asked Ed if he’d be nice enough to strap to the rear bumper on Luna and dead man the rig down the road with his Dodge. He said sure, and we got him hooked up. So off we headed down the slope, me steering with one hand, and managing the brakes with the controller and the braked pedal. The trailer brakes slid several times and I was pretty happy to have that Dodge back there keeping things on track. It took a little time to get back to the road and a flat spot to take the strap off Ed’s Dodge. I’ve never been so happy in my life to have a job done. We drove 50 yards to the gate across the street, backed into the pretty field we are in now, parked Luna, and breathed a deep breath of relief. Ed and Jackie shared a few minutes before they left, and I helped Ed change a tire he punctured on an elk skeleton while he was turning around in the field. Left alone, in the correct parking spot, with the sun in the sky and wind blowing through our little house, we reflected on the lesson we had lived. The adventure isn’t always on a trail or in a kayak. The thrill of this lifestyle comes in all different kinds of places. We learned a lot from our little climb up the mountain, and back down, and we’ll never forget it.

The Luna Journals. We’ve been busy.

We’re making the best of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We watch only a little bit of news, just enough to get some of the science and medicine recommendations, avoiding the rest.  We’ve kicked into isolation and distancing.  A few friends have come by our campsite, we make our own colloidal silver, so they come by and pick up a quart.  Everyone knows the drill, set your jar down on the ground, and stay 10 feet away.  So we haven’t been completely isolated, but the few friends who do come by, come and go without our usual hug.  Yah, we’re the hugging kind, because we love people.  A lot.  We run to town about once a week to pick up our mail and packages from two different places.  Christina stays in the van while I open and clean all the arrivals.  Our groceries are delivered to the park entrance now so we don’t have to go to stores.  We really miss the road.  Traveling and meeting new people.  So we stay busy and out of each other’s way.  Christina is a nester.  She likes a quiet, comfy place near a nice view and her dog.  She’s been baking a lot.  Which is pretty cool since we live off-grid on a solar system.  I never thought we’d be able to bake bread all day and sleep on a heated mattress pad at night, all on solar.  So she bakes.  Whole wheat bread, English muffins, and cinnamon rolls.  Initially, I was afraid we’d both plump out eating so much homemade bread, but that’s not happening.  She gives most of it away.  Especially to the park rangers and manager.  I’d like to say they love us, but they don’t.  They love Christina, I’m just the guy married to the cute girl cooking all the bread.  She also has taken up felting, creating little figures of leopards, bears, and anime characters, she sits for hours jabbing the felt or fleece with needles to create the perfect felt finish.  I often imagine her mumbling my name while jabbing away.  Christina is also a jigsaw puzzle fan.  I don’t know how she does it, sitting for hours collecting pieces of what was once a perfectly printed picture, cut into 1000 pieces.  She loves them.  I’ve done quite a bit of jogging.  It clears my mind and gets me in a place of meditation.  I’ve regained some distances I thought were long in my past, so I’m happy to imagine I’m reversing my age.  That lasts just long enough to get up the next day and try to walk.  Indie and I cut firewood a couple of times a week.  It gets us out in the woods and in the tick zone.  We cut a bag full, bring it back, and split it.  I’ve also been going to the archery range.  Kind of like running it’s a little bit of exercise and meditation at the same time.  Keeps the crazies away.  To spend time together, the three of us walk the campground, always wary of others, and keeping our distance.  We hike the trails, once after a rainy night with no shoes on.  A few days ago we rode our bikes over to the other closed campground and picked out our sites for May and June.  We’ve always enjoyed cooking together, which means I chat or mix drinks while Christina cooks.  Then I wash all the dishes, while she doesn’t.  That’s cooking together, right?  We read in the evenings or surf the net, but mostly we like to watch movies.  We watched every Avengers movie, in story order.  On some evenings we join Zoom dinners or groups, together or on our own.  We are witnessing a historic time together.  Watching carefully and with balance and discernment.  We’ll be glad to get back on the road, but in the meantime, we have bread to bake and calories to burn. 

We’re staying positive and busy. We focus on calm voices and thoughtful replies. Sometimes we miss the mark, but we love the journey together and are happy for what the universe has handed us.

Breakfast for Two

You will hear both of us say often that we are “mostly” vegan. We use that term because it became obvious that if you said you were vegan, you were fair game at any brunch or dinner party if you happen to pick up something made with egg, or butter. So yes, we eat mostly vegan and cook vegan in our home. We also will gladly share a meal that someone has made for us that might have something we wouldn’t normally eat, and we will be grateful for the time and food. A favorite phrase I like is “Mostly Better”.. as in, we are always trying to eat and do mostly better, but it isn’t going to be perfect. And that’s cool with us.

A Breakfast Banana Split! So good.

I always notice on Facebook and Instagram, the posts that get the most attention are our dog, Indiana Jonas Adventure Dog.. and my food. It feels natural to share food that we love and how we prepare it, so I hope that you enjoy it, and will share it with someone else.

Butternut Squash Soup with Quinoa… delicious and super easy.

I am NOT a chef, but I am a pretty darn good cook, or as my son says ~ I’m a Feeder. I want to feed everyone, which makes learning to cook for two a little challenge for me. When we first moved into the camper, I was still cooking in my mind for us, our kids, our friends, and anyone else who looked like they needed to be fed. I’m getting “mostly better” at this now.

This week I will share on our YouTube channel some of the ways we share breakfast, and some ideas you might enjoy! Until then, I’ll share some photos of things you might look forward to learning about cooking. My cooking style is definitely – make it easy on yourself, so you will continue to do it. Not extra fancy, but definitely extra tasty.

Let us know if there are specific vegan foods you are interested in, or questions you have about eating “mostly vegan”. If we have answers for you, we’ll be happy to share. If not, we’ll be curious with you and try to help you find answers.

Welcome to our kitchen in Luna!

The Luna Journals. Covid 19 and the perspectives we choose.

22/Mar/20

Right now it’s easy to imagine a lot going against us. We’re watching a virus shut down commerce, social gatherings and our sense of security. Folks around us are buying shelves bare, standing in lines outside gun stores and blaming whoever they can. Many are being sent home without pay, those who are promised pay may never see it, and plenty of these people don’t have a lot in savings. Like the last recession, personal bankruptcy is going to wear a lot of Americans out. The small businesses that do manage to keep cash flowing will be operating in a stumbling economy. Media provides a flurry of perspectives, from simple science that has long predicted pandemics to conspiracy theories pointing fingers at communist countries or rogue labs. From the top down, things are weird. Here in the Luna household, our imagination runs the gambit. We can imagine a lot is going against us, personally or as a society, or we can imagine things going for us. We practice positive thinking. We were in sunny Florida not less than a month ago, planning our trip to Texas for and Avion rally, when Christina said, “let’s surprise Michael (our brother in law) on his 50th birthday”. We snuck all the way, 1342 miles, from Parrish Florida to Kansas City Missouri, without anyone figuring it out. As planned we surprised Michael, with some help from Christina’s sister, at a breakfast restaurant in Kansas City on the morning of his birthday. We hugged, shared some tears of joy and ate breakfast with him, his wife and our nephews. We kept the secret until the next night when we surprised our grown sons, with the help of their girlfriends, again, sharing hugs, eating great food and watching movies together. All along we listened to the growing news and watched as our nation succumbed to the undeniable truth of Covid-19. While it’s been a challenge to shop for food and sundries, we see the good fortune we have been gifted. The universe put us in our home town, at our favorite local Kansas State Park (that remains open to this day), close to our kids and close to our primary care physician and familiar local hospitals. What amazing luck. How could our situation be any better? Staying focussed and calm, we’ve sorted our food stocks, kept the van fuel tank full, and top Luna’s freshwater tank regularly. We’ve also continued our daily walks outside for fresh air, sunshine and general release of anxiety and cabin fever. We’re practicing social isolation, and when we do go shopping Christina stays in the van while I do all the shopping, disinfecting as I go, carefully cleaning myself up before I hop back in to drive. When we get home from every outing, we wash and wash and wash, and hit the nebulizer and colloidal silver. As usual, we eat like kings, cooking our favorite foods, having a cocktail and loving every day given to us. Funny movies and movies having nothing to do with sadness or fear are our evening escapes. While we work hard to fight off C19, our number one goal is to kick fear to the door. Reminding ourselves we are strong, courageous people. We hold our kids, family, and friends in our hearts. Our message to you, fear not. Keep your heads and practice known strategies for success in this situation. Don’t risk your health or others by ignoring C19 guidelines. And most of all, get outside, feel the warmth of the sun, work up a little sweat and breathe deeply the air around you, all the while reminding yourself to make good choices, to be courageous and to take action that is positive and up-lifting. Onward friends. Your family, community, and nation will be inspired by your positive acts.  

About our Luna

Avion travel trailers were built from 1955 to 2002.  Ours is a 1979, 34V, built on a 2” x 6” steel frame, with bumper hitch. The body is built of an interior aluminum skin, coated in vinyl to look like canvas wallpaper, riveted to an aluminum frame.  The lower exterior walls are storage compartments all around the coach, and a rear trunk holds the spare tire, freshwater hoses and access to the bathroom plumbing.  The outside of the frame is covered in anodized aluminum. The cavities between the skins are filled with spray foam insulation. The belly pan is enclosed and the floor is a layer of rigid foam sandwiched between two layers of plywood for insulation. We rebuilt the roof of the coach. Stripping a white latex coating, repairing and resealing all the seams, rivets, and joints, and adding all-new utilities to the roof.  Bath vent, both cabin roof vents, the A/C and all the vent covers were replaced. Over 415 rivets were replaced on the roof alone. Five 200-watt solar panels are installed at the back of the roof coach. The windows are jalousie style and provide a lot of ventilation, even in the rain. All the awnings are ZipDee. The 22’ main awning is brand new, and all the other awnings have new fabric. We went with a really bright and cheery yellow awning, and certainly don’t regret the choice.

All the interior utilities have been replaced. Water is heated by a PrecisionTemp on-demand hot water heater. The LP furnace is the Suburban, 32K BTU. The fridge is a NorKool from Canada, 12V over 110V. It operates on 12 volts, drawing only 4.3 amps. A tinywoodstove.com wood burning stove is located just inside the door. It works like a charm. 

The countertops in the kitchen area are made from cherry wood harvested and milled at our house. About 80% of the cabinetry is original, and has been painted. One of my favorite parts is that the drawers are nice dovetail joint boxes and on ball bearing glides. We sleep in the front of the coach, on the first king-size bed we’ve had as a married couple. The bed doubles as a lounge during waking hours. All the sinks, tub and toilet have been replaced. We use a Natures Head composting toilet in the bathroom. The liquid waste part of the toilet is plumbed into the black tank or can be collected in the factory pail. We operate off the freshwater tank most of the time, rarely hooking up to city water. All supply lines have been replaced with PEX. A carbon block water filter is located under the kitchen sink for drinking and cooking. A 55-gallon freshwater tank is located over the axles, the 30-gallon grey water tank is fore, and the 30-gallon black water tank aft.  The freshwater and city water inlet has been upgraded and an outdoor shower was added to the curbside, rear. The back access door also gave us a sweet spot to bathe our pal, Indie.

Five 100AH lithium Battleborn batteries are located below the rear twin bed, along with the Victron solar charge controller and 3000-watt Multi-plus inverter. The electrical system is 30 amp. We installed a Progressive Systems EMS and an exterior weather boot for the shore cable.

The coach sets fairly low, and the overall height is only 10’. Two 40 pound LP bottles are mounted on the tongue, near the hand crank tongue jack.  The only battery on the tongue is a small battery powering the emergency breakaway switch. The suspension has been rebuilt with Dexter Easy Flex Equalizers and aligned, and all the brakes, drums and hubs are new. I was happy to find the coach included all 7 aluminum tire rims when we bought it. Since the coach is low to the ground, with rounded corners, and three axles, it tows quite nicely. We don’t feel the effect of trucks passing and wind like other taller coaches do.  A hardwired camera is located at the back of the coach, and is viewable, along with a second camera on the van, on a large color screen in the cab. All the running lights, brake lights, and lenses have been replaced. We are impressed with the stability of the coach. Items in the interior are in their places after a day of travel, and the coach feels solid when we are parked in high wind. We tow the coach with our van, Sunny. We’ll include a run-down of the van soon.  

Old Dogs, New Tricks!

You know that moment when you are knee deep in learning a new skill, something you have a genuine interest in, for example it could be starting a new blog, or You Tube, or renovating a vintage coach.. anyway, that moment when you have to sit back and say “This Sh*t is HARD!” Yep, that’s where we are right now.

We romanticized this living on the road and thought our old brains were prepared for new brain tricks.. and yes, we are learning. Again, this sh*t is hard!! It really isn’t that it is too hard, it’s that it’s so out of our wheelhouse that we feel like we have no idea where to start. Thankfully, age does give us one advantage on youth’s brains. We know how to ask for help!

We ask for help from a dear friend who is conquering the learning curve with her blog “The Older Mom”.. check her out! We scour You Tube for every how-to on every subject we don’t know. We sit together and laugh at how much we just don’t know. Then we get back on You Tube and Google and figure it out.

So here we are, almost 8 months into this journey of tiny living on the road, and we finally in a groove of working and playing on the road, being curious and learning new skills as well as adventuring to new places. The blog was much harder to keep up with than we thought. Not because it is so hard, but because there are so many fun things to do out there.. but now we want to share some of those things with you.

So… here it is. Look for a blog update every couple of weeks and …. DRUMROLL PLEASE… A NEW YOU TUBE CHANNEL!!! Yep, Luna and the Seekers will be posting our first video in the next week. We hope you’ll join us!!!

Now for Sunny.. the Adventure Van.

A lot of people ask about the van, they usually say, “How do you tow that long coach with a painter’s van?”.  It’s not a painter’s van, it just looks like one. Sunny is a 2012 Chevy Express Cargo van. Simple on the outside, white with black bumpers and trim.  That’s part of what I like about it… inconspicuous.

An American Steel ladder rack on the roof works great for our kayaks, and the same brand bulkhead wall, shelves, and drawers fill the inside walls.  It’s exactly what I was hoping for. We wanted a van, basically for storage, a gargare of sorts. Our bikes, tools, generator, and other gear are stored safely and out of the weather. We also store our heavy stuff in the van intentionally, preferring to have the van weigh as close to the trailer as possible, I think it helps.

The cab of the van is simple and easy to take care of.  Vinyl seats that are comfortable and have armrests, and another steel storage box between the seats. Indie has a seat on top of the storage box, where he can see easily out. He does great there. The dash has the basic analog gauges, and the computer system measures, alerts, and monitors all of the pertinent information for travels. 

Our navigation and camera screens are up high where a rearview mirror would have been. The rearview cameras are the best. One on the back of the van, and one on the rear of the coach. All hardwired and the color monitor is large and has a microphone monitoring the camera.  Hitching is a breeze, with no spotter, and it’s really nice being able to see out the back of the coach when parking or driving. The best part was the installer was our youngest son, Isaac, who took the job to the next level for us.

The fluids are easy to inspect under the hood, but beyond that, the engine is pretty invisible. I’ve noticed a lot of the services are done through the front wheel wells. We use Amsoil fluids in everything, from front to back.

The van drives nice, it’s sure-footed and has a pretty stiff suspension.  Bilstein shocks keep the van firm, especially when towing. Even though it looks like a service van, it’s built to tow. It has electronic tow mode and a six speed transmission. The motor is a 6.6L Duramax turbo-diesel, with a 3500 chassis. Disk brakes all around. A 10,000 receiver is bolted to the frame, and we use an Equal-I-Zer weight distribution hitch. The brake controller is a Tekonsha, mounted under the center of the steering wheel, where I can operate it with either hand.  The tires are Firestone. I’ve always driven Michelins, but we’ll run these until replacement then decide.

The only thing I towed before the Avion was a 17’ Thistle sailboat, and a 17’ Aliner A-frame camper, both with our Volvo XC70. With little experience and a lot of cautionary comments from almost everyone I know, I eased into towing the Avion with a wary approach.  The coach was delivered to our house when purchased and never left the driveway, except when a friend towed it to the DOT to have it licensed. I towed it around the block one time about a month before we sold our house, backed it in, and did not tow it again until the day we moved away. A friend and fellow Avion owner came by to help, it was raining cats and dogs, and we headed out on my maiden voyage. We spent about 40 minutes driving around, setting the brand new brake pads on the coach, and going to the Cat scales. We scale at around 17,600- truck, trailer, dog, food, water, and fuel.

Driving has been a pretty serious focus for us.  We have a checklist before pulling away from every spot. We organize the cab and get everything dialed in before pulling away. We listen to a lot of Spotify, mostly comedy. Our navigation gear is kept up to date, and we avoid interstates and large metroplexes. It’s nice. We have driven hundreds of miles on two-lane roads, curves, hills, and straights, in sunny weather as well as rain. In fact, we’ve started joking that travel day is always rainy. The van handles the coach well. The shape of the van, combined with the kayaks on top, creates an effective aerodynamic for the trailer to follow. The rounded corners and low stance of the Avion complement the van size.  I have had no problems with trucks passing, we haven’t had a lot of high wind yet. With the diesel engine, the van seems to pull fine, the computer takes care of things well, and hilly terrain doesn’t seem to phase it. We get between 12 and 14 miles per gallon towing the Avion. The only things I’d like to improve on the van would be adding an animal guard on the front, and it could really use some driving lights that are low and light the ditches. Other than that, we really like Sunny the van, and look forward to tens of thousands of miles in it.