I opted for a portable stove rather
than built in for several reasons; even if I had a permanent stove I’d also
carry the portable so why have both in the first place?; the portable stove does
not require a built in propane system; when not cooking I don’t have a stove taking
up part of the countertop; I like that the stove is a multi-tasker that I can
use inside or out depending on weather and my mood; and if something goes wrong
with the stove in the middle of a trip or I suddenly get a wild hair and decide I can't live without two burners for cooking my gourmet meals, (OK, you can stop laughing now Mom.) I can pick up a replacement easily and
without breaking the bank.
I have installed elastic loops and
padding on this shelf to make sure the propane bottles stay put and don’t
rattle and chafe against each other. These little propane bottles aren’t the
most economical or green solution but I don’t seem to go through them very fast
and have space for up to 4 of them so never have never been caught short when one runs out,
(Unlike a chassis mounted tank or single large bottle I used to have on other rigs.) and it’s easy to replace the empties. I’ve
even seen them sold in some grocery stores.
In the bottom of this cupboard I keep a well-stocked tool bag, a potable water hose and a
tire repair kit so I can deal with simple punctures myself.
Moving towards the back of the van,
under the sink is another shelf where I keep a small plastic-shopping-bag sized
trash can with a tight fitting lid for those stinky days between garbage dumps
out there in the back country, spare plastic shopping bags/trash can liners, a
cutting board, dish soap and an electric tea pot. I also keep a small bottle of bleach
under here for freshening up the grey water tank. I’ve fashioned a couple compact
towel bars from #4 AWG copper ground wire which are attached to the backs of
the two doors that access this space. This is where I hang my dish cloth and
dish towel. Remember, the doors have the lattice inserts for good air circulation so the towels dry pretty well even though they are out of sight.
Below this shelf are the potable and
grey water tanks and the 12 volt water pump. I’ll have more to say about the
water system shortly.
There’s one more cabinet space there
under the aft end of the counter. Like the rest of them this one also has a
shelf in it. On that shelf is where I keep a couple empty, nearly weightless,
one gallon water jugs to use in case I ever have to carry water from a source I
can’t get to with my normal fill hose. I also keep one or two gallons of
bottled water there as well as my 1 ½ quart slow cooker. I can start this
cooker up in the morning, running it off of shore power or, on travel days, the
inverter, and come up with some pretty nice meals by dinner time with very
Below this shelf there’s just enough
space for my portable toilet.
More on that later, but for now –
above the kitchen counter is another overhead cupboard. Because of the side
door opening this one is smaller than the one over the gaucho and only has a single door but is still
large enough to hold: a deep, straight-sided 8” frying pan with lid which
doubles as a sauce pan and even a makeshift stove-top oven, a small mixing
bowl, 4 8” plates stacked with circles of padded shelf liner between them so they
don’t rattle and a stacking set of various sized stacking plastic storage containers
with lids. I use these as bowls for cereal and salad, microwave containers, and
storage containers for leftovers. Also living up here is a stove-top kettle for
when I don’t have shore power for the electric kettle, a heavy ceramic coffee mug (tea mug in
my case) from one of the US Navy destroyers I helped build back in the late
‘70’s, salt and pepper grinders (Grinders don’t spill), and, finally, a small
pump bottle I fill with vinegar for disinfecting/deodorizing the countertop
area and the microwave.
At the forward end of this overhead
cabinet is a smaller extension which houses the electrical panel with breakers
for 110 volt circuits as well as fuses for 12 volt circuits and the switch for
the water pump. Also sharing space up here is the CO2 detector and both a 110
and a 12V power outlet. On the end of this extension, facing the ‘man chair’ is
the thermostat for controlling the air conditioner, the switch for the recessed
overhead cabin lights (LED) and an indoor/outdoor thermometer.
Aft of the
kitchen counter, is a full-height pull-out pantry. It’s only about 9 inches wide
and just barely six feet high, but the six shelves hold an amazing amount of
The bottom shelf,
which is narrower than the others because of the wheel well at the back of the
pantry, is my library where I keep a stash of up to a dozen books.
The next shelf up
is filled with military style MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat). I can fit nearly a
week’s worth of decent, three-meals-a-day eating here in case I get a wild hair
and decide at the last minute to take an overnight hike, or else pull some sort
of bone-headed stunt that finds me stuck somewhere remote without having
stopped to stock up before I got there.
Above that is a
shelf where I keep miscellaneous odds and ends like spare sunglasses, extra bug
repellant, and a battery powered hair trimmer and shaver in case I want to look
halfway decent, which I can get a little lax about sometimes because – well –
hey, who am I trying to impress anyway??.
The next shelf up
is filled with cd/DVD jewel boxes, most of which are the university lecture
courses I listen to when driving. . . I know, I know, such a geek. . .
The second from
the top shelf has a paper towel holder mounted in it with room below even a
full roll for a pack of those adult sized baby wipes, very hand when on the
road, as well as a spare soap dish/bar of soap and packages of individually
wrapped foam ear plugs. (Since I can tell you want to ask, I’ll get to those
And finally the top shelf is my
medicine cabinet with all the usual stuff necessary to keep me pretty, smelling good and make repairs to my body. I also keep a pump bottle of hand
disinfectant up here. Not something you want to be using all the time but it
sure is nice to have after visiting some of the public bathrooms lurking around
Back over on the other side of the
van, aft of the couch, is the refrigerator cabinet. Unlike many RV fridges,
this one is a compressor unit that runs on either 12V or 120V, no gas. The
advantages of this are: no propane system is required, it doesn’t care whether
it’s level or not, and it will cool the leftovers down slightly (But only
slightly) quicker than an absorption fridge. The disadvantages are: unless
hooked up to shore power it uses juice from the battery, at its worst about 50
amp hours a day at 85 degree outside air temperature, and the compressor
vibrates when it’s running which can be a bit noisy in such a confined space,
especially if those glass jars of pickles and olives are rattling together!
Along with the usual stuff you find
in a fridge, which is most of the food I have with me whether it needs
refrigeration or not since a full fridge is more efficient, I keep six 500 ml
water bottles in the freezer section which pretty much fills it up. They do a
great job of helping the fridge stay cool and reducing the amount of cycling
the compressor has to do. If I need to put something else in the freezer, like
maybe something I can eat, a few of the bottles are pulled out and thrown into
the sink where the condensation drains safely away. When I’m not traveling and
the fridge is off I keep these as well as the four 700 ml water bottles I keep
in the door of the fridge for actually drinking out of, in the home freezer. I
find that by throwing these into the RV fridge when I turn it on, it will get
down to operating temperature in less than an hour. If it has to re-freeze/re-chill
all these bottles from scratch it can take as long as 24 hours to stabilize and
I don’t always plan that far ahead.
The refrigerator is small enough
that it leaves room for storage compartments both below and above along with
space for a small microwave.
The space below the fridge is where
I keep both an electric as well as a propane heater and a small tower fan which
does a good job of moving air around without taking up a lot of floor space.
Next to the microwave (By turning
the inverter on I can quickly zap things without being plugged into shore
power.) which sits just above the fridge but is not as wide as the fridge,
there’s room for a narrow cubby-hole where I keep tea bags, hot chocolate mix,
and a few can goods.
In the top
cupboard I keep spare rolls of toilet paper and paper towels, spare
dish towels and rags, a box of sandwich bags and a few Swiffer
refills that I use by hand for dusting, I also keep some goodies like cookies
and pretzels up here, far away from my chair so I have to work to get at them.
The TV is mounted
on an arm attached to the gaucho side of the refrigerator cabinet and I have a
couple of permanently mounted hook-and-loop straps to strap it down and keep it
from banging around when on the road.
Behind the pantry
and fridge cabinets the final two and a half feet or so of the van is open
space. Though this area has little to do with eating I’m throwing it in here
because there’s not a whole lot to say about it.
There is a small
overhead cabinet on each side of this space. I keep socks, underwear and shorts
in the one on the driver’s side and in the one on the passenger side, a gym bag/shower
tote, gym/shower shorts and shower shoes (Proper shoes, not flip-flops which
are guaranteed to flop slop up the back of my nice clean legs on my way back to
the van.) Each of these overhead cabinets has a bar mounted to the bottom of it
giving me about 5 feet of hanging space for clothes, though I usually only use
about half of that
My laundry bag,
with a zip-lock filled with those little single-serving detergent packs thrown
into the bottom of it, hangs from a hook mounted to the back side of the
refrigerator cabinet. On the back side of the pantry I have a proper towel bar
where my bath towel lives. Just inside rear doors, against the driver’s side
wall, I have mounted a hook at just the right height above the floor to hold my
always loaded backpack in place until I’m ready to go hiking.
Alright, we’re almost
done with the inside now! I promise. (I did warn you I was going to be long
winded. . .)
The top pouch on the driver’s side door is where
I keep the binder with all the owner’s manuals and paperwork for the various
systems on board the van. I don’t use the bottom pouch on this door because I
have mounted a couple brackets to the inside bottom of it that my folding camp
chair sits in with a couple of hooks and a bungee cord to keep it in place.
Folded up inside that chair is a little teak table I built that hooks to either
side if the chair for holding a drink and snack as I read a good book in the
shade of a cottonwood beside a running creek with the sound of the wind and the
birds in the trees. (Man! I really need to go camping soon!)
The two back
doors of the van have pouches mounted on them. On the passenger side door,
which is the door you have to open first, the bottom pouch is where I keep my
rolled up 30amp shore power cord and a 15amp adaptor. The upper pouch is where
I keep a coil of coax cable I can use if I happen to be in a campground that
has cable TV available, which is not all that often, especially since, even
when I’m in a fancy campground, I tend to opt for the more economical
water/electric site and you usually have to pay for a full hookup site in order to earn
the cable connection.