Sprinter Van Camping Conversion: 3 Recommend Purchases

We are on our third Sprinter and our second camping conversion. I have a taste for high end Sprinter conversions but a budget more in line wiht a working mom. Here are 5 items that we used in our first van and will definately be using again!

1. Maxx Air Fan and vent adapter

We live in the Pacific Northwest where fans are for more than comfort. With that being said, there is nothing better than the feel fresh air while sleeping.

Don’t be intimidated by self-installation. We have done it successfully -twice and don’t have any regrets.

Here are a few tips:

1. DIYvan in Hood River sells an adapter. We have used it each time and wouldn’t want to install a fan without it! Check it out!

2. Safety glasses are needed.

3. Check the weather report – your van will have a hole in it all night while the sealant dries

4. The anticipation and fear is the hardest part. This improves after the first cut.

5. New blades are worth the money.

6. The roof may get scratch but no one can see up there anyway.

2. Cupboard Hinges / Cabinet Door Lift Pneumatic Support

It doesn’t take long to realize that cupboard hinges are a key to happy van life. There is nothing worse than plates falling off shelves, food spilling, or listening to squeaking hinges. I couldn’t be more happy with our hinges. We picked them up on Amazon and have never looked back!

Here are the two products we love!

  • 80 Degree Folding Sofa Bed Cabinet Hinge Spring Hinge (2 Pieces)
  • DerBlue 4 Pcs 200N/45lb Gas Strut Lift Support Cabinet Door Lift Pneumatic Support

3. 80/20 Aluminum

80/20 is easy to install, strong, versitle, and we love it. We have used it for everything from a roof rack to secure interior features, including cabinets.

Stay Tuned …

Finally, stay tuned for more “must-haves” and even some “don’t need” items. We are waist deep in DIY electric and hope to have many useful tips to share.
Wish us luck!

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Check out some great van additions!

Oregon Spring-time Bucket List

Spring is Oregon is marked by sunny days, flowers, fresh strawberries, and optomism. Here are three Oregon spring-time bucket list items not to miss!

Wooden Shoe Tulip-Farm and Vineyard

The Wooden Shoe Tulip festival starts in early March and runs through early May. The driving route to the festival is well marked from I-5 near Woodburn. With 40 acres of tulips, 100 acres of open space, and countless family activities, there is more than enough fun for everyone. Be prepared to purchase a ticket to park and enter and pay for food and kids activities. Even considering the costs, you won’t be disappointed!

Oregon’s Waterfalls Are Most Spectacular in the Spring-time

The Colubmia River Gorge is full of popular waterfalls but there are plenty of less well-known but impressive waterfalls around the state. Even the Willamette Valley even has hidden treasures to offer.

  1. Oregon’s Niagara Falls

Where to find it: Near Lincoln City

Why go there: An enjoyable hike leads to two beautiful fall.

Things to know: The drive includes a fair amount of time on a logging road but don’t give up – you will eventually find the parking lot!

2. Alsea Falls and Green Peak Falls

Alsea Falls is the better known of the two. You can find it only steps from the parking lot and you won’t be disappointed. Green Peak Falls is a different adventure.

Where: Near Alsea

Why: Alsea Falls is well known for a good reason. It is beautiful and powerful. Finding Green Peak Falls feels like an awesome adventure

Things to know: Look for the rope to help you scale the hill next to Green Peak Falls.

Oregon’s Spring Skiing!

Wether you are headed to Mount Hood or Mount Bachelor, you are bound to find some of the best blue-bird days around! Mount Hood boasts the longest ski season in North America and Mount Bachelor keeps the lifts turning well into the spring.

Mount Bachelor is easily camper van friendly. Thier huge parking lot is complete with electric hook ups and festivities. Bring your grill, sunscreen, coolers, sunglasses, lawnchairs, and friends and settle in for a few days! You won’t regret it!

Green Peak Falls, Oregon

Green Peak Falls, Oregon is a gem hidden by the more popular Alsea Falls.

Finding Green Peak Falls Trail.

Start by parking at Alsea Falls and cross the river on the bridge. From there, head downstream on the well-marked and fairly highly traveled foot trail. The trail winds along the high bank of the river and is good for all levels of hiker. It is dog and kid-friendly and easy to follow.

The trail opens up to Hubert K. McBee Memorial Park. At this point, look for the trail on your right, at the end of a turn around. The sign may be missing or laying down but the trail follows a stream that feeds into the river at the intersection of the trail and the park.

Unlock the secrets of Green Peak Falls

Once you find the trail, it is well established and easy to walk. It climbs up above the stream until it reaches a staircase that brings you back down to the water at the base of the falls. When you look from the stream to the falls, you will see a steep embankment with a rope attached to a tree at the top. I recommend taking the time to explore! Use the rope to climb the incline adjacent to the falls. The trail ends quickly once you get to the top but the view is worth it!

Packing List

I recommend being prepared for the usual Oregon weather but also being preparred to a picnic or dip in the creek. I imagine that this secret swimming hole is well attended during the dry summer months. There are plenty of tree stumps, roots, and rocks that are perfect for sitting. The rope climbing wall offers hours of entertainment for kids and adults looking for an extra workout. Green Peak Falls offers more than just a view of a waterfall. I hope you enjoy it!

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Check out other Oregon waterfalls too!

Oregon Waterfalls: Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, Oregon is in the Hebo Ranger District, East of Pacific City and West of McMinniville. It does not remind me of the better known Niagara Falls but certainly holds its own among Oregon waterfalls. Here is a brief list of everything you need to know about Oregon’s Niagara Falls.

Getting There

Four wheel drive is not necessary but patience and decent shocks are a plus for sure! We drove in from the East via McMinnville and Beaver. Our GPS took us to the trailhead without a problem but the route is also well marked once you get on the forest roads.

The directions include 6 miles on Blaine Road followed by nearly 6 miles on Upper Nestucca River Road to Forest Road 8533. Take Forest Road 8533 for nearly 5 miles to 8533-131. (There may not be a Forest Road sign here but there is a “Falls” sign and an arrow at the next junction). It is approximately 1 mile to the trailhead from the junction.

We chose to park in a pull-out approximately 1/2 mile from the trailhead since we had not been there before and we were unsure of the conditions. It turned out that the parking lot was very muddy and we were glad to have parked up hill. There were plenty of empty spots, however. In any case, I recommend using your GPS to find the trailhead and parking there as long as you are fine with mud.

The Forest Roads are slow going but in fine condition and wide enough to pass other vehicles. You will see plenty of logging operations and clear cut hillsides.

The Trail

The falls are downhill from the trailhead. The trail is well maintained and clearly marked. There are benches and classic Oregon coastal forest views. The out and back hike totals around 2 miles and switchbacks through the forest following a small creek. The trail was muddy and wet but not worse than other similar trails.

The Falls

We were not disappointed! Niagara Falls, Oregon is different from other local waterfalls. It cascades more than falls and is impressive. Additionally, the equally tall, Pheasant Falls, is only steps away. We spent almost an hour exploring Pheasant Creek and climbing the rocks alongside Niagara Falls. Both falls are over 100 feet tall and were flowing quickly when we visited in Februrary. While it cannot compare to Niagara Falls, NY/Canada, it is was a great surprise in terms of Oregon waterfalls. As long as you have some time on your hands and don’t mind Forest Service Roads, I recommend checking out this day-hike!

Nearby, Pheasant Creek Falls
Pheasant Creek

https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/08/02/oregon-beaches-newport-to-waldport/

Also, check this out!

https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/08/06/oregon-dunes-national-recreation-area-day-use/
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Sprinter Van Conversion Resources

Are you considering a DIY Sprinter van camping conversion? If so, check out some of our favorite resources!

Roost Vans

Roost Vans specializes in DIY products for Sprinter van conversions. They have innovative designs and make beautiful vans. We modeled our second conversion after thier vans and are about to install a DIY electical system that they are developing! Check them out on instagram or the web and stay tuned for our electrical installation.

Sprinter-Source.com – Forums

You can start a conversation, read posts, and search for threads. You may enjoy browsing the forum in your spare time because you never know what you haven’t even thought of yet!

Adventure Wagon

Check these guys out on youtube. They have videos showing how to disassemble and re-assemble your van! Even after taking about two other vans, we still need these video! Re-assembly is never as easy as you expect!
They also have conversions kits, accesories, and custom conversions.

Google

Good old fashioned google in invaluable when doing a DIY Sprinter van camping conversion! All of the questions and answers are out there somewhere. You just have to find them.

Facebook groups

There are tons of vanlife, van conversion, Sprinter van facebook groups. I don’t always love these groups and some are better than others but for the most part, they are worth joining.

Esplori Van

These guys are also located in Oregon and offer products for sale, vans, and custom conversions. They are super nice and environmentally minded!

The bottom line:

Have fun! Be patient! Don’t be afraid to give your ideas a try! Don’t expect perfection on the first try but don’t settle when something could be better. You will change and so will what you want from your van. That is okay. Be flexible and embrace the evolution. Try and try again.

Mostly, don’t wait, take an adventure now! It will be great!

https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/06/12/5-tips-for-starting-your-sprinter-camper-make-over/ https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/06/24/sprinter-camper-10-upgrades-that-i-love/

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Shelter Cove: PCT resupply or a Winter Get-away

Odell Lake sits on the South side of Oregon Highway 58, just East of Willamette Pass summit. The Pacific Crest Trail runs adacent to it and Willamette Pass Ski Area faces it. We have driven by Shelter Cove Resort a hand full of times and each time CD tells a story about spending an afternoon reading a book there in 2004 while thru-hiking the PCT. Finally, we decided to stop in and check it out! Whether you are looking for a PCT resupply or a winter get-away, the Shelter Cove Resort won’t disappoint!

Getting to Shelter Cove Resort and Marina

  1. Hike the PCT Northbound from Mexico or Southbound from Canada
  2. Cross Oregon Highway 58 after a day of skiing at Willamette Pass Ski Resort
  3. Look for the sign, just East of Willamette Pass summit. Depending on snow conditions, parts of the road to the resort may be one lane but traffic is light and there is room to back up and pull over if needed. Go roughly 2 miles on the paved road to the resort. It is well marked.

10 reasons to stop in a Shelter Cove if you are just passing through.

  1. The scenery does not disappoint.
  2. Grab a snack and soda. The camp store is fully stocked with everything from soda and beer to frozen meals and PCT resupply items. The Hook and Tackle restaurant is closed in the winter but worth checking out in the summer for sure.
  3. Scout out the cabins for future reference! Really, check them out, they look sweet!
  4. Plan a fishing or kayaking adventure. The lake is easily accessible and inviting for sure.
  5. Sit by the bonfire after a day of playing in the snow. Check out the fire pit by the lake. It was roaring when we stopped by.
  6. Chat with the locals. The women at the store has been working there for 20 years and confirmed CDs hunch that he stopped there when hiking the PCT. The book lending library that he remembers is no longer there but she provided a historical perspective on the recent remodeling and shared memories of the old store front.
  7. Kick your feet up. Even in the winter, there are plenty of deck chairs to take a load off after a fun day outside!
  8. Look for wildlife. We didn’t see it but I am sure they were there!
  9. Get in the holiday spirit! I don’t know if the pixie lights are there in the summer but in the winter they put out a welcome feeling of holiday spirit!
  10. Take a deep breath and enjoy a moment of feeling part of the world, despite a pandemic! This place gives off good vibes as soon as you drive up!

Other Amenities

  • PCT Camping Area
  • Cabins, Cottages, RV sites
  • Boat Launch and Marina
  • Hiking: Willamette and Deschutes National Forests
  • Alpine skiing: Willamette Pass Resort
  • Fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding
  • Boat Rentals
  • Fishing Guides

Subscribe to follow our adventures. CD is in the garage cutting wood for our new van conversion. We teamed up with Roost Vans to do a DIY electrical system – so stay tuned!

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Check out these nearby winter sno parks!

https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/12/30/crescent-lake-sno-park/ https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2021/01/18/oregon-winter-day-trip/
Check out Roost Vans for our latest additions.

Oregon Winter Day Trip

Oregon may not be as well known for winter sports as other states but don’t let that fool you. January is a great time for an Oregon winter day-trip!

Cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing are all great choices at Walt Haring sno-park! Here is everything you need to know!

Where is Walt-Haring sno-park?

You can find it just East of Willamette Pass on Oregon Highway 97.

  • From Eugene: Take 58 East to 97 South. It is on your right, just North of Chemult.
  • From Bending: Take 97 South and look for it just North of Chemult.
  • From Kamath Falls: Jump on 97 North

Is there a trail system?

Yes! There is a complex system of cross country skiing or snow shoe trails. The map shows these as groomed but we didn’t see any indication that grooming had been happening.

In any case, there is a big trail system. I recommend looking at the map and understanding that there are two main loops, however. Each loop varies in length from approximately .5 to over 2 miles and the first two loops are connected to all other loops by a subtle connector trail. We were having so much fun that we found ourselves over an hour an half away from the parking lot and still going further into the woods! The only way back was to keep following the loops out and wait to head back or to turn around.

I can’t remember the last time we turned around while hiking but today was the day!

What should I know about the trails?

  1. The trail is well marked by blue diamonds. Where the diamonds are absent, there are yellow ribbons in the trees. I could pretty much always see a marker ahead.
  2. The distances on the map are for each individual loop, not the distance from the trail head. I can’t stress that enough!
  3. Trail names and distances are absent from the trail markers after you get past the initial two loops. Trails are only marked by blue diamonds. No other trail markers are present.
  4. The first loops (upper and lower runner) start at the campground. There is a lot of opportunity to be in the sunshine. The loops further from the trail head are in the forest and a heavier canopy makes it shady and cooler.
Be sure to check out the connector between the closer loops and the further. Although it is all fun, once you take that connector, there is not fast way back!

What is the terrain?

It was relatively flat at the beginning and then hills and valleys as we got back the two initial loops. Views of Diamond Peak were limited by the trees had personalities and there wasn’t anyone else in site!

The snow was too sunbaked for skiing but it was perfect for snowshoeing, however.

Follow the blue diamonds through the old fire area and into the thicker forest.

Do I need 4 wheel drive?

I would say “no” but here is how it was plowed today. We were alone when we pulled in but two trucks and trailers arrived later and quickly got stuck in the unplowed part of the parking lot. I found this parking lot very interesting as it was plowed for driving but if you parked where it was plowed it blocked the road. In any case, we did not use our 4 wheel drive but can see where it may have come in handy!

Chains are required on Willamette Pass if you come from the West.

Parking lot is huge but was mostly not plowed.

What amenities are there?

  • A warming hut! A nice warming hut was just a few feet from where we parked. It is complete with a picnic table and wood stove. Be sure to come prepared with wood!
Warming Hut. Oregon Winter day trip!
Warming hut picnic table
  • Bathrooms. They were open but posted that they are not maintained in the winter.
  • Picnic tables. Besides the one in the warming hut, there were picnic tables near the parking lot and at every campsite, of course. There was too much snow on them for us but there were plenty around and I can see where they would be useful on a sunny winter day.
4 sets of bathrooms are near the parking lot. They are not maintained, however.

Next time, I am bringing wood and friends (post-Covid, of course) and setting up shop in the warming hut. A fire in the wood stove and dinner in the hut would be the perfect end to an Oregon Winter Day Trip!

Next up is further progress on our Sprinter Van Conversion. We are working with Roost Vans on our DIY conversion so be sure to stay in touch and see how it goes!

Check out Cresent Lake sno park and Santiam Pass!

4 Things That Add Fun To Winter Van Life

When I am talking about winter van life, I really mean winter in the Pacific Northwest. That means rain in many places and wet snow in others.

1. Slippers

In the Pacific Northwest, mud is an entire situation in itself. It adds another dimension to cold and wet winter socks!

Honestly, I am not much of a slipper person myself but when it comes to traveling in the van, I am fully onboard with slippers. Here are the reasons why!

We like to hike. We get on our rain jackets, boots, and rain pants inside the van. As soon as we step outside, there is no going back. So here we are, hour after hour in the mud and rain. The rain never seems to slow down enough to leave the van door open, take off our wet clothes and get inside.

It never fails that rain pours inside the van when we try to sneak in. With the rain, comes mud.
Even when mud is not an issue, there is the standard issue of cold toes in the winter. My kids have really opened my eyes to all of the ways that snow can get inside your boots! I had no idea!

CD’s love for “camping socks” inspired me to try “van slippers”! It was a win for sure!

2. Camp Chef Stryker Stove

Hot chocolate? Tea? Chicken noodle soup?

I can whip up hot chocolate, tea, or even soup in just a few minutes and from the warmth of the van. We don’t have a formal kitchen in our van and this product has been a game changer for sure! It is really best for heating water fast but when in a pinch or when I just can’t be bothered to set up the stove, I have made mashed potatoes and gravy, soup, indian food, and rice all in the Camp Chef Stryker. I don’t recomment counting on it for meals but it is good to know it is possible if you find yourself 1000 mile days and on a tight time schedule.

I recommend keeping a bag of marshmallows on hand to really impress the kids when they show up after a tough day of sledding and skiing!

3. A griddle

Earlier this winter, I hit the wall of what to cook on our camp stove. Then a camp stove griddle came into my life. Hashbrowns, perogies, grilled cheese, quesadillas, fajitas … The list goes on and on! This was simple solution to a boring camp stove cooking and added to the options for the next afternoon tailgating at one of Oregon’s sno parks.

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4. Snow Tubes!

This has winter fun written all over it. Great for day trips but probably not very practical for longer trips as they don’t exactly pack small! After a hand full of broken plastic sleds, the snow tubes are where it is at for sure! The more air you add, the higher they bounce and faster they go. My only reservation is that I worry they are TOO fun! They can really catch some air and pick up speed, especially on highly trafficed sledding runs! In any case, go for the snow tubes to bring your winter fun up to the next level!

Whether you are hiking around in the rain or heading to the snow for some sledding, these four items have made our winter days much better!

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Follow us for our latest van conversion! It is right around the corner and we are teaming up with Roost Vans for help with our latest DIY conversion! Check them out at Roost Vans!

Explore Canada

December 27, 2019 was the last time I went through customs between the US and Canada. This is very unusual for me as I typically cross several times per year. Here are some of recommendations for the next time you get to explore Canada.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes is directly North of Glacier National Park in Montana. Together, they are the Wateron-Glacier International Peace Park. Whether you are looking for hiking, biking, wildlife, boat tours, backpacking, restaurants, or classic hotels, this is one spot not to miss! Click here for more details!

Drive British Columbia Highway 6

Highway 6 connects the Okanagon and Nelson via the Needles Ferry. You won’t be disappointed!

Stop by Cranbrook

If you are looking for somewhere out of the way and more quiet than Banff, Cranbrook may be a place to check out. The town has a classic small town feel and the anticipate of being on the edge of Fernie and higher mountain passes can be felt! Slow down a bit, grab some lunch and enjoy!

For more information, check out this blog post!

Drive the Trans-Canada Highway

The Trans-Canada Highway through British Columbia and Alberta offers views, nice roads, minimal traffic, and adventure. Some of the highlights are Revelstoke, Banff, Yoho National Park, and the most amazing railway tunnel that I have ever seen. You won’t be disappointed!

Click here to learn more.

These are just the hot spots on the West Coast. When the border opens again, I will start here as I head towards the parts of Canada that really hold my heart, Ontario. Cheers to 2021, hope for normal times, and the chance to explore Canada!

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Crescent Lake Sno-Park

We decided to follow yesterday’s wildly successful sledding trip with a second trip to the mountains. This time we headed towards Willamette Pass, hoping to get a parking spot at Gold Lake Sno-Park. We arrived around noon and there wasn’t an open parking spot in site so we pushed onward. Approximately 7 miles later we found Crescent Lake sno-park. The parking lot is smaller than Gold Lake but obviously much less popular. Among the half a dozen cars there, at least three were attached to snomobile trailers and one was clearly park for the long haul. I had intended to opt for snow shoes today but once I saw the groomed and relatively flat route, we decided to try the cross country skis again.

Here are a few things to know about Crescent Lake sno-park.

1. There are snowmobiles and plenty of space for everyone.

The kids loved seeing the snowmobiles on the trail. I liked seeing the signs marking distances to towns and services along the snowmobile trails as this was reminiscent of winter in the the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If you have a snowmobile, this may be one place to check out!

2. The terrain is perfect for beginner cross country skiers.

I am not talking about the kids here, they have picked it up just fine. My cross country skiing skills are marginal at best, however! These trails were perfect. We skiied on the groomed trails and in through the woods. I got tangled up a few times but nothing too serious. The kids progressed from beginners to experts as they provided me with tutorials about every kind of homemade nordic ski technique you can imagine.

3. The lake is a short distance from the parking lot.

The lake is a short 1/2 mile from the parking lot if you access it through the campground entrance. The kids spent a fair amount of time chopping ice chunks from the shore and toss into the lake. I warned them about breaking through the ice and ending up with wet socks. In the end, I was the only one with wet socks. They stayed dry and had tons of fun!

The boat ramp is also adjacent to the Crescent Lake Resort, which appeared to be closed for the season but still accessible to vehicles and a somewhat popular way to access the lake in the winter.

4. The other nearby sno-parks have thier own personalities and the Pacific Crest Trail is right there in the middle of it all!

Approximately 2 miles before Crescent Lake parking, there is Junction sno-park. It has an unbelievably huge parking lot, which happened to be mostly empty. I think it may be a hot spot of snowmobile parking but am not really sure.
Gold Lake was packed with cross country skiers and snow-shoers. The parking lot was much larger than Crescent Lake but was narrow and completely full. Don’t worry if you start into the parking lot and it feels narrow. Once you get to the end of the lot, there is a no-parking section that is labled “bus turn-around”. It worked great for us on this busy day!

Waldo Lake has a relatively small parking lot that I assume gets rather crowded. We stopped there to make dinner on our way out. It was dusk and there was only one other car but it was obvious that it is a popular spot during the day. The trail was wide and well packed from use. The kids grabbed the snow tubes and found some amazing sledding while I cooked soup in the van. Once it got dark, I pulled the van around to shine the headlights on the trail for them. They explored snow caves and hit some serious sledding jumps! I think Waldo Lake may be our next place to check out for a day but we may try to go early, late, or on a non-holiday weekday to avoid crowds.

The Pacific Crest Trail is right there for all of the PCT section hikers out there! My husband thru hiked the trail in 2004 and remembers Willamette Pass as one of his favorite sections! The trail was well marked but there was not any winter parking with direct trail access from the road.

These days of playing in the snow are keeping me going for sure! Remember to get your sno-park pass before you head out! You can learn more here!

Please follow our adventures~

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https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/12/29/a-winter-afternoon-oregon-sno-parks/
10 Clues That Your Husband Was A Thru – Hiker.
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