Let’s go see what Mike did Hi everybody welcome to Two Meander and the reveal of my van, Fancy-Free on this last build out. Actually today is the functional reveal. We will come back to you later with the decorated reveal because I’m still working on that, but I can’t wait to show you. There is a saying out here on the road among nomads that it takes three sometimes even five vans, rigs, etc to get exactly what you want and what works for you. And that can include just build-outs on whatever your rig is, and I think this may be the fifth reiteration of Fancy Free, but I am so thrilled with the layout and the functionality of it and the guys – and by the guys I mean my cousin Mike and Robert – did such a beautiful job of taking what was in my head and my horrible Etch-A-Sketch drawings and creating a functional build out that works for me and especially with my brain injury.Everything is so simple and actually Mike made it beautiful, Robert made it functional and did all of the wiring. So I can’t wait to show you. Come on inside. So we’re gonna start up front in the cab, but I hope you get an overview of how pretty and how functional my van is. First of all I get to sit in a swivel seat that Brian put in for me when we did the van build in Houston. And then next to me here on the floor for right now is this table, and it is a box but it has a kind of a lid on it.It is gonna sit on something that will be right here and you get to see that in the decor video that’s going to come up as part two. This is the functional reveal, but how lovely is this. This is where I get to sit and work and answer emails, read – well you guys know I don’t get to read that much, but what I call reading is scrolling through the internet nowadays – but this is where I get to sit and do my daily stuff. And I just love it and I can’t wait to show you what this is gonna be.Another part of the cab that’s important to me and I know you guys are probably wondering what the heck this is… Well a lot of people have guard dogs. I have a guard deer, and I got this in Wyoming at Tractor Supply and it’s supposed to be a bumper cover but I can’t stand it to be back there and get dirty. And I know that’s the silliest thing ever so he sits on a phone mount that I can use when I want to and that’s my guard deer.This is my GoPro mount and over there is another phone mount that’s on a suction cup that of course I can move around. Oh,
one more thing, I am going to make a little curtain that goes over this just not the top part but here and that’ll be part of the decor video also. So look at my wonderful kitchen and pantry you guys and again thank you cousins Cynde and Mike. Might mainly did all of this the tile here that you see. Robert found it at Home Depot I believe and it’s heat resistant. Mike found this trim and put on here. Of course this is my truck fridge and we changed the way that it opens. I can get to it from sitting in my swivel seat or from of course I can have this chair and I’ll show you where it’s stored in just a moment. But I can take my coffee pot down and put my 1 burner stove here and a lot of people are like, “Oh my gosh, that’s not much counter space!” But keep in mind that I don’t really cook.I heat things up. Like I will use that to boil water with my little tea kettle for oatmeal or I will heat soup or I might make an egg, but I do only one thing. I don’t like cook a meal or anything so I’m also going to paint this in this kind of a dark walnut stain and so it will all match. This is my thermometer that shows what the temperature is here and then it has a I have a thermal I guess the thermometer is in the fridge that shows me what it’s running so that I don’t have to worry if my food is getting spoiled.We’re going to put up a curtain rod here because this is starting to sag and I’m gonna do like a heart with some burlap on here so I’m not finished with the decor yet. But this is the wonderful pantry that I have I just love it. This is my we’re and just all of the things that you normally use for a kitchen and then underneath is my shoes and trash bag and stuff and then I use you people you have probably seen – I didn’t mean to say you people – I mean you probably have seen my video on how I wash dishes and I use the pink bottle for soap and the blue water the water is in my blue bottle. So up here is just my office supplies and then up here I have my lotions and my soap – what’s it called, I can’t think today – well I can look what’s it called.Hand sanitizer and things like that that I keep in those baskets. And this is just beautiful I am so proud of this. Robert and his brother, Clifton, built this shelf for me and they built it in New York when we were up there to match these baskets. And these baskets have like my my scarves and my socks and and things that you would normally have in your
drawer. In here I keep my binoculars and my headlamp and everything so it’s readily available. But you guys look at this light! I have five lights in here thanks to Robert and they just turn on and they swivel and I just love them.So this is my kitchen and one thing I forgot to mention about the kitchen, and I appreciate Robert pointing it out, is that he also put in, I don’t know, I think six outlets for me. And I now, because of the upgrade that he did – he moved the solar and he redid the wiring and we upgraded my inverter and my controller – and I can now have an electric coffeepot. Instead of it taking twenty to twenty five minutes, and I mean that literally, 20 to 25 minutes on a 12 volt coffeemaker. I have an electric coffee pot and it’s plugged in back there. I have another electrical outlet down there that can serve for my laptop and stuff when I’m up front. I’ve got one here in the middle and another light here and more electrical and lighting in the back. Another thing that I love is that we painted the door covers. I don’t know if you remember, but they were kind of a burnt orange-looking wood and we painted those and they look a little distressed and I love that.Brian put those on in Houston as well. And the other idea that we came up with in Houston was we used old belts for the door handles, because the van when I bought it they didn’t have any it didn’t have any handles. Actually I think Robert helped me with that now that I remember because we bought the belts at a Goodwill and he put them in. But this is my original 4-H belt when I was a little girl. I think I was seven or eight and you guys have seen that video in Compton and this is from back then when I was in 4h and was showing my hogs. And the belt buckle which is silver and gold went to my great-niece and I am going to hang this on the door it probably with a heavy duty velcro or something. This is the footstool top from the last thing that my son, Christopher, made in wood shop in high school and it was black and we took the stool the legs off of it and my friend Linda in Goliad painted this for me and so I thought it was great that Christopher’s footstool will go below my belt with my name on it.Here I have hooks and everything where I can hang everything from my hiking bag and inside that is my Camelback, some hats, jacket. I’ve got a whisk broom behind there hanging up and then I store water here in my rear well no
wheel well. It’s hard to say. This is what I call Fancy Free’s boudoir. I know isn’t that silly. I’m just cutting up with you. But one of the reasons and the other thing that you might have noticed is I redid all of the insulation.And if you want to see how I do my insulation there’s a video, nd we will put a link in the video description. But I kept my ribs exposed, well not my ribs, Fancy Free’s ribs exposed on purpose because I like to hang curtains and everything from there. And we actually now in Fancy Free I will have three curtains. One of them goes from here to over to that side so that if I have my doors open – this is my water closet underneath here, and we joked that we were gonna cut the moon, a half moon out of out of this framework, but but we didn’t.But this is the bookcase that Robert originally built for me in New York and we he had to cut it down a few inches for it to go back, and it was my headboard then and what now it’s my bookcase. And then the water closet here beside it and I made this I’ve still got some work to do on it but I made this cover this cushion to go over it because it’s a real toilet seat and everything underneath it.And my friend Tracy who is an artist is going to come camp with me here pretty soon and she’s going to paint me a cactus, the saguaro cactus, with flowers on top of here and I just think that is hilarious. So that’s gonna be fun. In between the kitchen and what is now called the bookcase is where I store my chair, my folding chair that I was sitting on and that I can use for my kitchen, and this is my outdoor rocker. Behind there is where I store all of my Benchmark Atlases and it just works beautifully. I haven’t made the curtain for over here yet but it will be in fact if you’re wondering what this material is now it is painters cloth from Walmart. About $10 a package and they’re huge and it’s called painters cloth canvas, I think. And I just washed it and bleached it, and they don’t all match but I love that. And then some of the time I used burlap and lace. And then these are buttons from everywhere that I’ve visited and most of them has been Robert and I visited together.I haven’t made my curtain for here yet, but I am going to get that done in the next couple of weeks. So I have three what I call secret compartments in here and they’re not secret at all that’s kind of silly I’m just being silly this morning. This is a drawer that
Mike built and I just love it. Look at this. It is so all of my clothes – you can tell I don’t have them folded like the that new guru on organization does – but everything I own, all of my clothes are in this drawer other than my jackets that hang up here behind here.And look at my Lone Star handle that pull that is for my cousin’s Mike and Cindy and Beverly so I have this Lone Star knob. Behind here is where I can get to some of the things under the bed and I just haven’t even really figured out what I’m going to keep there. But that right there is for my manicure and pedicure kit and Febreze and that type thing is what I have in there. Let me show you the third compartment. This is so cool. You guys this is a piano hinge and then Mike drilled a hole in this this comes up. Robert put magnets underneath there to hold that and that’s where I keep all of my extra paper storage like paper towels and toilet paper and everything. And listen, you can hear the magnet, and it stays shut and everything stays in there. I just love it. Ok so one of the things we did was lowered the bed by 2 inches because you can see I’m almost hitting now. But that gives me enough room.I normally don’t sit at the back, but I love being able to have my bed back here at the back again and it’s about window height so when I’m laying in bed if I’m in a remote location I can see out my windows. I can have it open and you guys I’ve done a quick tip on how I do screens and so you can go see that but right now I want you to see Robert installed my weBoost and I just love it. But I bet you I am the only one out here – I’m gonna have to lay over so I apologize – but I bet I am the only one out here with an on/off button that turns it on and you can’t see the green here on the side but that turns it on and then I turn it off.And he did that for me because this wire is so thin – and will do something with these wires we just haven’t gotten there yet – that wire is so thin it often breaks and you have to plug it in or in or into a 12-volt and remember to unplug it. And it was just a lot for me to try and it often didn’t go well.And so now I just have that handy dandy switch that goes off and on. And the other thing that Robert did was the we upgraded my inverter. It is a 1500 Watt continuous, 3000 Watt surge, pure sine inverter which means that I can eventually upgrade hopefully to an induction stovetop even and not have to
have any open flame in my van anymore. But the other thing that we upgraded to was a Renogy Rover MPPT controller. It is so simple to use. Right now it’s showing that my batteries are at 13.2 which I can just switch a hit a button and it shows 100%. The two lights show me that it’s floating it is so easy for me to use and it had in the wires installed from the back. We will eventually build a cabinet around this that has wire mesh in the doors and on the side so it won’t always look like this.We just haven’t gotten to that yet and we have a fuse box there of course that Robert put in and it’s labeled and everything. And Brian originally installed that in Houston and I don’t understand it very much that is this is Robert’s closet is what I call it. And I’m so grateful for it because it just makes everything work for me and makes everything easy. And I have 12 volt I have two of these that want this one’s at the foot of the bed and then I have another one at the head of the bed and each one has two USB outlets.In case you’re wondering what this is this is in case I’m on shore power I can plug in and everything converts then to shore power and I’m not using my solar panels. The cord is under the bed. It comes out and plugs into there at a campground or something. Okay, like I said, we lowered the bed a little bit to give me a little bit more headroom because I often always sit on my bed also not just up front in the swivel chair and but it still gives me so much room. Here I’ve got all my outdoor stuff that I might use. Everything from utility cords to electrical too if I’m at a campground, my water hose, and all of some other tools and stuff. And then here I have more storage but one of the things that I want you to notice is I put some shelf drawer lining around this that my cousin Cynde gave me and then wrapped it in black cloth and this is just a regular door handle.Robert installed two of them so I can keep my long things back here like my walking stick, my tripod, my big umbrella. It’s just so perfect I just love it. My three 100 amp AGM batteries are here and they are on a slide out. You can grab this handle and pull. They’re very heavy. I would probably have to get someone to help me, but that way they can be cleaned or checked on or if anything just maintenance on them. And then a little bit of storage over here where a lot of the wiring is. There’s the bulkhead for the directional
antenna, some additional wiring, my collapsible bucket, that type thing. So lots of storage in this build in addition to being for me clean and functional. We also did a bunch of work up on top here that’s less noticeable than inside not as concerned with aesthetics but it makes a big difference in how things are working so in the past we had solar panels in a row on this side and a row all the way on this side.There were a couple problems with that. The first is you can see here how this is way this looks down this has been cut off and I did this on purpose. I cut them off to the height of the solar panels. They used to have these dog ears on them and what would happen is those dog ears, whenever the sun was low in the morning or in the evening, would cast a shadow over the panels. Additionally we had these roof vents here these were this is one of the front one in the back and they’re in the center of the van and they had hoods or covers on them and the consequence of that was that again morning and evening they’d be casting a shadow onto the solar panels almost no matter how you pack parked. So that was kind of a problem. So we addressed that by getting rid of – I use a reciprocating saw to cut off the the posts on the side there – and then we removed the covers and that’s why we, one of the main reasons why we moved this panel over to the middle and put them together.Because by putting it in the middle it provides a cover for the vents. Now they don’t open quite all the way, unfortunately, anymore but they do still open enough, and this provides a cover to protect it from hail and what-have-you. The other reason is because we now have a cover. On this side we have a 20 inch space by about 8 feet long where we can put a cargo box in so we’re gonna do be doing that. We’re gonna keep it low so again doesn’t cause shading problems but that’s that’s that. Now these panels they were when they were installed they were wired in – you have a choice when you’re installing solar panels. You can stall them in parallel, you can install them in series, or you can stall them in parallel and series. These were installed in parallel and in series. The big reason for going with series is because it boosts the voltage so if you have a long cable run you can you can use the smaller gauge wire these are in I redid them.The problem with series and parallel and with series is if you take out one with shading you
take out all of them or in this case you take out half of them with shading. So what we did that’s one of the changes we made with a solar panel is I rewired them all in parallel and it is working much better. So they’re all connected together and they run across and down through this gland here which goes down into the van. That’s where the wires run through. And this is an extension pole for the directional antenna that goes with a weBoost cell booster. So I hope you enjoyed seeing the functionality and how pretty Fancy Free is and that you can appreciate the simplicity of how she is going to work so much better for me.I am sitting in the Freestyle rocker that sits with the folding chair in between the headboard now turned bookcase in the kitchen. And our friends Greg and Val told me about this rocker and I just love it because it doesn’t make a rut when it rocks and anyway and it folds flat enough that it fits in Fancy Free. I don’t know, if you have any questions or want to know anything else about her or life this lifestyle on the road, please leave it in the comments and we will get back to you as soon as we can. We appreciate you so very much and we will see you down the road everybody. I get to use power tools again and it makes me so happy. I wish I’d grown up knowing how to do all this.hope I can do it. I hope you enjoyed this vert… not virtual .