Living in 120 Square Feet… North to Alaska in Quivera the Van

Quivera at Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

Quivera, and her older sister, Xanadu, have travelled two hundred thousand miles exploring North America. This photo was taken  at Great Basin National Park.

As I write this blog, Peggy and I are preparing for a trip to Alaska. (Actually, when you read this we will be on our way.) Our itinerary includes driving north through Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and the Yukon Territory to Anchorage and back, a road trip of some 7600 miles that includes the Alaska Highway and travels through some of the world’s more remote and beautiful wilderness settings.

A key part of our preparation is making sure our van, Quivera, is ready to hit the road. She has already been to the doctor and had her check up followed by on a shake down cruise to the Redwoods. (When you return from a trip to the hospital, it’s important to make sure all of your organs are still working.) Next up she gets stuffed– oh, I mean packed. We have lists. Peggy handles the majority of this task. Each and everything has its place and she likes to know where each and everything is. Being the ever forgetful husband, I like her to know where each and everything is.

Our van, Quivera, has her own pad on the upper part of our property in Oregon.

At home in Oregon, Quivera has her own pad on the upper portion of our five acres. The ‘porch’ provides a great place to write. (The yellow lift helps level the van.)

White oaks in southern Oregon.

The view from the porch looking down toward our home through the white oaks. I often see the neighborhood fox that lives on our property working the hillside for gophers and other rodents. 

Black Tail buck in Southern Oregon just starting to regrow his antlers.

There are other distractions. Black Tail deer stop by frequently to make sure I am working. The buck in front was just starting to regrow his antlers when I took this photo in April.

Peggy loves the van– and that’s a good thing. Having a happy Peggy is very important, especially when you live in a 120 square foot house. I can stand in my office and do dishes. The bathroom and stove are two steps away. The living room, dining room, and bedroom are a distant four steps. (Speaking of Peggy, today, July 5th is her birthday. A proper celebration is required. She is required to make animal noises, which happens to be a family tradition from her side of the family. But more on that later…)

The view from my office toward Peggy's domain, four steps away.

The view from my office toward Peggy’s domain, four steps away. There is plenty of room to work on projects or lie back and read. The area also serves as our dining room and, at night, morphs into a king size bed. The kitchen is on the left, the bathroom on the right.

Looking toward my office from Peggy's perspective.

Looking toward my office from Peggy’s perspective. The passenger chair swivels around and is quite comfortable. Our TV/entertainment center is on the far right.

The kitchen: a two burner stove, the sink, and a refrigerator. What more do you need?  (grin)

The kitchen: a two burner stove, the sink, and a refrigerator. What more do you need? (grin)

Our grandsons call our home on wheels a Transformer. They are experts on the subject. For proof, they point out the button that turns the couch into a bed. It’s an innovation Peggy insisted on having and the kids insist on using. Up and down, up and down, up and down. Grandma has placed limits.

Pleasure Way, out of Saskatoon Canada, is the manufacturer of our 22 foot long RV. Twelve years ago we visited the plant and were given a tour by Mrs. Pleasure Way. She also gave us a jar of her homemade jam. The folks in Saskatoon are friendly; they also create a quality product. This is the second RV we have bought from the company.

We called the first van Xanadu and the second one Quivera. Both names reflect our wandering ways. Between the two RVs, we have explored 200,000 miles of North America’s highways and byways. Our total road time includes four years of dedicated travel and nine years of shorter trips.

“How do you live in such small space?” people often ask in wonder.

“You have to like each other, a lot,” I respond with a grin. And it’s true.

But there is much more. For one, wandering around North America is a grand adventure… a glorious road trip that most people only dream about. Our travels have taken us from Fairbanks,Alaska to Key West, Florida and almost everywhere in between. The journey has also enabled us to visit our far-flung kids and grandkids on a regular basis. For a while, before the Coast Guard transferred our son Tony from San Diego to Alaska, we had developed a 2000-mile commute route between southern California and Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Quivera and Eeyore  share a moment at Yosemite National Park.

Quivera and Eeyore  share a moment at Yosemite National Park.

Camping at Burning Man

Quivera and  horses hang out at Burning Man in the Nevada desert. The challenge at Burning Man is that white Playa dust gets in everything. Months later we are still cleaning it out of the van. Note: The horses have a hitching post. They also share the look that most of us have after seven days..

If things get too tight inside, we have the outdoors. Warm days mean we can spend as much time outside as we do in the van. Even on stormy days, we can amuse ourselves on the porch. Plus there are always bookstores, museums and restaurants to visit.

And it isn’t like we suffer. Quivera comes equipped with a microwave/confection oven, two burner stove, heater, air conditioner, TV and DVD, refrigerator, bathroom, two sinks, two tables, nine storage cabinets, a closet, five drawers, couch, recliner chair and a king size bed. There is even a shower if you are willing to sit on the toilet while you bathe. Peggy and I opt out for campground showers. The van operates off of electricity, battery, generator and propane. Two laptops, a Verizon phone and an Internet connection keep us in touch with the world.

Not all is rosy. Space is at a premium. Stopping to camp means shifting boxes from the back to the front. And there simply isn’t room for everything we want to take. Sacrifices have to be made. Some toys have to be left behind. At least with the advent of Kindles, we no longer have to carry a 100-book library.

NEXT BLOG: A tall tale where we do a shake down cruise to the beautiful Redwood National Forest of Northern California.

14 thoughts on “Living in 120 Square Feet… North to Alaska in Quivera the Van

  1. Hi Curt and Peggy! I love this wonderful description of your traveling home..but, can’t wait until you are back in my neck of the woods!

    • Hey Sis, I too am prepared to get back to the West and into you ‘neck of the woods.’ Tasha and Clay worked hard to get us to Tennessee and it is hard to find two more generous people. But I am a Westerner in my heart.

  2. Very nice rig Curt. And obviously, with all the road miles, you know exactly how to make it work best for you and Peggy. We’ve been tent campers for years, and are finally making the leap to something OFF the ground. Lightweight and simple were our mantras for the purchase. As an avid camper, you might be interested. It weighs 625 lbs and we can tow it with our Kia Rondo. Check it out:
    We should be picking it up soon, and I’ll let you know how it works. And who knows, maybe when we grow up, we can have an RV like yours. Happy Bday to Peggy and travel safe. ~James

    • Thanks FeyGirl. At the present we are surrounded by the eastern Rockies in northern British Columbia. Today we hit Dawson Creek and the beginning of the actual Alaskan Highway. BTW… where have you been? I’ve been missing your blogs. –Curt

      • Just amazing…. I can’t fathom. Ugh, I miss my photos and blog posts – I’ve been a bit (understatement) consumed with work, unfortunately. But I’m trying to catch up, and get some photos up on the blog soon! 🙂

      • I insist that it shall not, for much longer… At least I’m able to now catch up a bit, hee! You’re so sweet though, THANK you. It’s hugely appreciated, truly. 🙂

  3. Just as I suspected, it’s not much different than living aboard a small sailboat. The difference between needs and wants becomes apparent pretty quickly. What a fun way to travel.

    Just out of curiosity – have you discontinued email notifications for posts? I got emails for the petroglyph posts but I didn’t get an email for this one, and don’t see a place to check to see if I’m still subscribed. I never use my reader, so if I need to switch to RSS I will. 😉

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