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Sleeper Sleeper: Toyota Sienna Campervan Build

Discussion in 'Quitters' Club' started by Boyink, Jan 31, 2021.

  1. Oct 18, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    Back from a 2-week MO - MI - MO trip.

    Was hoping for a nice fall color tour but overall the MI weather was crappy - pretty much rained a little each day, some more than others.

    It became more about people - we visited my parents, my son/girlfriend, two different couples that we've known for years, an old high school friend, and sister/brother in law.

    This was a "work while traveling" experiment that went mostly ok. We moved more often than I'd like, trying to fit everything/everyone in. I worked in 3 different libraries, a co-working office, other people's houses, and a little in the van.

    We spent 5 nights in campgrounds ranging from $5 city park overnighters to $35 MI state parks.

    Overall, weather aside, it was a good trip with lots of tasty meals and beverages.

    My thoughts about this rig have changed. Initially I wanted a weekender/stealth camper. But two things happened: I learned I don't sleep well in stealth mode (basically the more windows we plug up the worse I sleep), and my job changed to be more flexible.

    Two weeks was a bit long - it was only really tolerable because we spent so much time at family. MsBoyink would sleep inside their house, I did better back in the van.

    So now I'm thinking this is a 5-7 day rig and we'll try to find one place to be during that time. Less moving will help keep up the work schedule.

    But to be somewhere longer I'll probably need to carry a bit more stuff, so I'm thinking of adding the half-a-Ranger trailer into the mix, using it to haul bikes & kayaks + related gear, plus a screen tent, etc to use at the campground. It's going to take some mods, but should be doable.

    Along the AuSable river in Ludington State Park:
    mi-trip-4.png

    Lake Michigan at Ludington State Park
    mi-trip-3.png

    The Au Sable with a hint of sun that quickly went away:

    mi-trip-2.png


    DeZwaan windmill in Holland, MI. I lived within 5 miles of this for 40+ years and only just now went inside.

    mi-trip-1.png
     
  2. Nov 9, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    Platform bed/ kitchen drawer painted/polyurethaned:

    camper-bed.png

    Getting ready for a week-long trip to San Antonio over Thanksgiving. I booked camping at a COE park north of town, and bought tickets for the illuminated holiday floating parade on the Riverwalk.
     
  3. Nov 10, 2021
    Ol Fogie

    Ol Fogie 74 cj5 304, 1943 mb 2020 Sponsor

    Jasper Georgia
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    Good camping practice, you are on the right track. Being comfortable while camping is the key no matter what the weather. If you are warm and dry and every task is convenient, you have everything you need, it will be a successful trip for every one with you.
    We have camped in all 49 states and most of the Canadian provinces over the last 35 years. In the beginning we would make camping trips of 3-4 days within 1/2 days drive of home for practice runs while taking notes on what we needed we did not have, what we needed to do to make everybody comfortable and most importantly the things we carried we really did not need that took up valuable storage space. We learned to substitute items we needed for smaller less bulky ones that worked just as well. We learned to cook simply with a very minimal amount of work and little need to wash dishes. We camped very comfortably on several long road trips including a trip of 8 weeks and 10,800 miles plus from Ga. to Alaska, even though at times we had to camp in heavy rain, snow, hot as 98 degrees and cold as 10 degrees, flat tires, minor brake downs, one tree fell on our truck in a storm, chased and harassed by wildlife, and stuck in the snow and mud. The trip was still considered a complete success by all.
    Good luck Jim and family.
     
    Boyink likes this.
  4. Nov 13, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    All painted and put back together.


    van1.png


    I attached a cutting board for a place to set hot pans or just make a sandwich without having to get a plate out.

    Drawer has three spaces, one for utensils, one for the dishpan/dry sink, and the rearmost for the campstove.

    The mattress just shoves up out of the way when you want to cook.

    van2.png


    Trying to show organization. Brown bag in front of the cooler and up is our Zip-Dee camp chairs. To the right the blue a Meori foldable storage box with a picnic organizer - it holds dry food in one half and plates/dishes/spices in the other. Forward/up from that in the black bag is a folding camp table thin enough for the drawer to close over.

    I also cut out a rubber floor mat for this back trunk area - the carpet was kinda nasty and this should make cleanup easier.

    van3.png

    I have a small screen room coming for our next trip. I'm hoping it will stow next to that camp table.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2021
    Fireball, hudsonhawk, ITLKSEZ and 3 others like this.
  5. Nov 13, 2021
    Ol Fogie

    Ol Fogie 74 cj5 304, 1943 mb 2020 Sponsor

    Jasper Georgia
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    We always had a lot of fun planning and modifying our camping equipment, just about as much as going on the actual trip.
     
  6. Nov 15, 2021
    jeeper50

    jeeper50 jeeps 'till I die

    Gawja
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    You'll love the Riverwalk!! Don't blink or you'll miss the Alamo just off the river, every "whatabe Texan" needs to visit that, to pay homage to all who gave their lives.
     
  7. Nov 15, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    We've been to San Antonio a number of times in our travels - toured the Alamo, some of the Missions, enjoyed the Jim Cullum Jazz Band (RIP), and found our favorite restaurant (Rosarios).

    It's probably our favorite "big city."
     
  8. Nov 28, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    Back from our holiday in San Antonio.

    Our campsite on Canyon Lake. Scenic. Quiet. Hardly 50% full.

    But windy as he**. I just bought this screen room hoping to be able to work in there while MsBoyink went out shopping, etc. After a couple hours watching it dance and squeeze in the wind I pulled it back down. The constant wind killed any chance of sitting or eating outside.

    It also took 2x as long to cook anything because it blew the heat away from the stove.

    Which became a problem. I used more butane gas than I had budgeted for. And could NOT find more cylinders anywhere - stopped at or called 10 different stores. Ended up buying an electric kettle to make coffee and make the box-mix Thanksgiving meal we had brought.

    1-campsite.png

    Nice sunsets though.
    2-sunset.png

    Our night on the Riverwalk was fantastic. What I like about San Antonio is that even for big events like this you can get in and out of town quickly. Food was good, had a Shiner Bock, found a Jazz band, and enjoyed the parade through the eyes of a fun five year old who sat next to us.
    3-riverwalk.jpg

    Starting to think about building something bigger again though...;)
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
    ITLKSEZ, Fireball and Ol Fogie like this.
  9. Nov 28, 2021
    Ol Fogie

    Ol Fogie 74 cj5 304, 1943 mb 2020 Sponsor

    Jasper Georgia
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    Although the weather (windy) was not perfect I am sure you still had a great time and enjoyed your trip.
    We too had trouble finding the small camp fuel cannisters at times, also carrying several of them for extended trips was a storage space and safety concern. We changed to a small 5 lb propane (about the size of a gallon paint bucket) tank with a flex hose. Any LP Gas filling station can refill. Also have a acessory adaptor tree we can use on the tank for a lantern and hookup for the stove at the same time. We found that we could cook all we wanted for at least a week and sometimes 2 weeks on a full tank.
     
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  10. Nov 28, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    Yea - I know propane would be an option but I'd struggle to find a spot for a tank that big. And I'd have to buy a new stove. And setting up would be a pain - as it is I just pull out the drawer, and light the stove.

    Amazon has - supposedly - the butane cylinders. Just ordered a dozen. I can find several spots to stash extras - just need to be better prepared than I was.
     
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  11. Dec 6, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    No problems getting a 12-pack of butane cylinders from Amazon. Not sure what the store issue is.
     
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  12. Dec 6, 2021
    Ol Fogie

    Ol Fogie 74 cj5 304, 1943 mb 2020 Sponsor

    Jasper Georgia
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    The main reason we changed to propane to cook with was the little disposable butane gas cylinders would sometimes leak gas at the seal where you threaded them onto the stove, not alot but sometimes we would smell it a little when we would open the cabinet. Maybe the smell was coming from the vent valve?:confused:. Never alot of gas smell but just enough to wonder if it could become a problem. Anyway we really needed to upgrade the stove to a two burner so we could make coffee and cook at the same time. Then we upgraded to a small slide in camper for our pickup truck. It had a 20 Lb LP tank that ran the frige, furnace, 2 burner stove and water heater. The small 5 pound LP tank could be used to cook and fuel a lantern out doors on a picnic table when the weather was good or could be used as an emergency fuel supply should our big tank run dry. So for us it just worked better, not saying it is the best option for your camping set up. Jim
     
  13. Dec 7, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    Dunno - these just get clamped into the stove by a lever on the front of the stove, no threads. No issues yet.

    I'm at the limit space wise for carrying much else. The only room I have left is on the floor between the bed and front seats where it would constantly be in the way. I really don't want to have to stack a bunch of stuff on the bed during transit.

    And I've learned - I need to leave with some extra capacity because we tend to come home with more than what we left with....;)

    I know I could do a roof-pod, etc. And I am still considering adding my half-a-Ranger trailer to the mix for carrying bikes or kayaks. At that point a secondary cooking source might make sense.
     
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  14. Dec 17, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    Just booked a week of actual vacation time for late March (it's probably been over 20 years since I had a paid week off).

    I found camping at a National Park in Ocean Springs, MS (about an hour west of Mobile, AL).

    Reconsidering the whole bikes and kayak in the trailer idea.

    Looks like a decent eBike is $1K/each. The inflatable kayaks we like are about the same. Then factoring costs of adding the trailer hitch and modifying the trailer to carry and stow it all securely....

    Close to that campground I can rent a tandem kayak for $75/day. Bikes for $40/day.

    I can do a lot of rentals before I'd be losing money, and not have to carry/stow/maintain it all.
     
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  15. Dec 17, 2021
    givemethewillys

    givemethewillys Been here since sparky ran it. 2022 Sponsor 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

    New Kent, VA
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    It's definitely something to consider, but what I've found with a lot of things is that if I don't have them, I don't use them. Ever since we sold our kayaks "because we could rent them whenever we want to go" I've gone kayaking a total of 0 times. The annoyance of driving to a rental place, filling out the paperwork, ending up with a crappy Dick's sporting goods kayak... it just makes it less desirable. Same thing with bikes, we've never rented bikes on our beach trips, although discuss it EVERY summer when we take a trip.

    I do the same thing with yard projects. Since I sold my tractor, I've rented one zero times, despite a ton of projects where it really would have helped.
     
  16. Dec 17, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    Yea, I know that's a risk. We'll see what happens with this trip. I plan to reserve online if possible - maybe that will alleviate some of the hassle.

    Another downside to owning the gear for me is that there's no close-to-home use for either bikes or kayaks. Any trip is going to take enough planning that the risk is even by owning the stuff we wouldn't use it.

    Don't ask me how many miles I carted bikes around on our travels vs. miles actually ridden....:cry:
     
  17. Dec 17, 2021
    Ol Fogie

    Ol Fogie 74 cj5 304, 1943 mb 2020 Sponsor

    Jasper Georgia
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    JMO. Rent, We often rented snow sleds for a week somewhere every winter. Fairly costly venture. We thought about buying sleds and transporting them each trip. However we never have enough snow here in Ga. to ever use them at all at home. Got to figuring and we could rent two machines every trip for several years before exceeding the cost of new ones. Besides the sled rentals usually keep new model well maintained machines on hand, no towing, and no off season storage or insurance to worry about. Bottom line for us is unless you can use it rely often, Rent.
     
  18. May 10, 2022
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    Up in MN for a conference. Camping -> Hilton -> camping.

    I've several changes in mind for the van once I get the book finalized.

    mn.jpg
     
  19. May 10, 2022
    Zoomer

    Zoomer eJeeper (walking) 2020 Sponsor

    Minnesota
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    Welcome to MN Mike! How long are you here?
     
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  20. May 10, 2022
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    We head downtown Minneapolis today, hotel/conference for two nights, back to this campground Thursday night, then head out Friday.
     
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