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.  

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.