Week 3 – Home Improvement

We have now officially been on the road for 5 days and have successfully traveled from Boston to New York City defying wind and snow! Settling into the camper we made sure to use these first couple of days to make the home improvements required to turn Gonki into our home for the next 7 months.

In the kitchen we installed additional counter top space that also functions as a protective lid for our main switch board. Within five minutes of moving into the camper the switch board had obviously turned into Alex’s favorite pastime entertainment. We further installed a fruit hammock and a paper towel holder. All kitchen shelves were outfitted with rubber shelf liners to reduce unnecessary rattling of our kitchen hardware while driving. We finally upgraded our refrigerator by removing the wooden door panels and applying first magnetic and subsequently chalkboard paint to the panels before putting them back into place. We can now easily keep track of our shopping list and hang the most significant tickets and leaflets from our travels. As a bonus the refrigerator now also looks much nicer and the kids will have a place to get creative (once we’ve actually gotten around to buying some chalk)!

For the bathroom we found a sturdy plastic container to function as a bathtub for the boys. An acquisition that was enthusiastically received and has since turned evening hygiene into a blast. While traveling we can further misuse the container as additional storage space – simply perfect! The shower was equipped with three corner baskets that I glued into place to avoid our shower gel and shampoo from flying around freely on every turn in the road. Snap hooks have turned the shower slide bar into the perfect clothes line for drying our towels and the boys’ bathrobes.

In terms of storage we tried to maximize the provided space by fitting the shelves with storage containers that exhaust the respective compartments. Putting in an extra board  allowed us to turn the bottom of our wardrobe into the perfect wine rack and rubber shelf liner fitted to the dinning table provides the boys with the right grip for their toys while on the road. A carpet in the living area offers some warmth and a good playing area, while it continues to be cold outside. A fill in map with stickers of all states on the outside of the camper has given us the opportunity to give Gonki a personal touch, while bragging with the extensiveness of our travels.

Mieke is in the process of replacing all curtains with turquoise black out fabric. Quite a task given the amount of drapes to be found within the camper; but since we will be travelling up north during summer it is a most important upgrade to ensure that Benni and Alex can go to bed while the sun is still up and bright. Also a significant aesthetic improvement given the rather questionable furnishing taste displayed by American RV manufacturers.

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I finally wanted to share the most important camper gear that we have purchased within the last three weeks essential to making our camping experience a breeze:

  • sewer hose, connectors & gloves – to easily dump our grey and black water tank
  • leveling blocks – to balance out any uneven ground at our respective campsites
  • drinking water hose, water filter & inline water pressure regulator – to connect to an on-site water supply and ensure that the internal plumbing of the camper is protected in case of high pressure on the line
  • portable RV surge protector – to ensure the internal wiring of the camper is protected against voltage fluctuations, power surges and incorrectly wired shore power
  • RV navigation system – While we would in principle prefer GoogleMaps the Garmin navigation system we acquired allows us to input the specs of our camper to ensure that we don’t run into too low bridges or weight restrictions that we are too heavy for. Additionally, the Garmin navigation system can also operate when no internet is available. Specifically on the Alaska highway this should come in handy.
  • mosquito tent – to protect us from sun, wind and mosquitoes
  • portable charcoal grill – meat!
  • cooler – cold beer!
  • dutch oven – outdoor cooking!
  • outdoor patio matt & doormat – great space for the boys to play on and to help to keep the camper clean
  • emergency fuel can – to provide us with 6 gallons of fuel in case we ever get stranded without a petrol station in sight – now we only need to fill it
  • camping table & camping chairs – because not all campgrounds provide you with a picnic table
  • tools – hammer, ax, screwdriver, pliers, spade, rope and a saw. A man needs to be prepared to do what needs to be done!
  • bed rail bumper – to prevent the boys from falling out of their bed and provide us with peace of mind sleeping in the bunk over the cab

Last but not least we also wanted to share some impressions from this past week. From our first campfire, exploring some great playgrounds, waking up in the snow after a day of sunshine to driving into New York City these last couple of days had lots in store. More from New York City next week!