Astral Nomads

One man, one woman, one rabbit......traveling with the stars.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Eurovan Special Edition

Well, it was bound to happen. The Nomads are temporarily down with a stomach/intestinal virus. I'll spare you the details but, luckily, we're in a cozy motel in Roswell NM because this would be wicked at a campsite, having to trek repeatedly to an often relatively distant bathroom. I went down first and suspected food poisoning, but Astral Wendy, in true Nomad fashion, joined the cause. So, while I'm mostly on the mend and Astral Wendy is hunkered down recovering, I thought I'd backtrack a bit and feature the Eurovan at different points along our travels, in no particular order. Can't believe we've been on the road over 5 months already. 

This is one of my favorites. The Eurovan up on the levee of the
Mississippi river in Louisiana. I had to drive up this pretty steep 
gravel incline to get to the top.

I can't even remember exactly where this is but I think it's
at a state park on Galveston Island. It was still too cold for 
camping there but here's a good view of the Yakima swing-out
bike rack with our bikes and two gravity chairs firmly attached.

Speaking of cold, here's the morning we left Austin. This was the
Eurovan's first taste of snow. That's our tent wrapped in a tarp
up in the luggage bay. Not sure why we even brought a tent but
I was going nuts in the beginning with preparations and wanted to
leave nothing to chance. I'm going to give it to my son Colin after
we use it at Coachella.

Who doesn't love a kite festival? Here's the Eurovan looking
sleek on the bay shore of South Padre Island.

While we climbed the Enchanted Rock, there was the Eurovan down

Another one of my favorites: the Eurovan next to its predecessor, the
Vanagon Camper, both getting some petrol at one of the few gas
stations in Big Bend National Park. This couple from Vermont were
working their way east while we're working our way west. We have the 
newer van, they have the older van. Our tarp is blue with orange bands,
theirs is orange with blue bands. What are the odds, I ask you?

Our site at Big Bend was nestled in the mesquite bushes.

Parked at the Hot Springs in Big Bend. This parking lot was
about 3 miles down the most treacherous gravel road that
the Eurovan has been on. I was barely able to go 10mph and,
at times, way less as it twisted around canyon walls.

This felt pretty adventurous.

Living large in Big Bend. Everything we own and 4 wheels to
carry it.

All the roomy comforts of home.

At the only supermarket in Fort Stockton, Texas, trying to blend
in with the ubiquitous pick-up trucks of the Southwest.

This seems almost a lifetime ago, parked in my daughter Erica's driveway,
getting ready to hit the road.  Luckily, the bike rack swings away since
it would be a real pain to have to unload it to get the rear door up. This
is a good view of the rear storage compartments and the folded mattress
for the lower berth bed.

Astral Wendy is ready for some Nomading.

Parked at the site above Brantley Lake NM.

The night the sky exploded.

While in transit, the floor space is usually pretty well full, what with Otis,
luggage, and whatever food supplies we happen to be carrying.

This was at Wekiva Springs, Florida, where we were able to get in
a little camping before the major southern freeze began.

The gravity chairs are a little bulky but they're so comfy that is easily worth it.

Sure, sometimes there's a bit of clutter.

This is a good shot to show how much head room there
is when the top is popped. I can easily stand and walk around
in there.

Looks like dinner's almost ready. The rear seat slides forward and
goes horizontal to make the lower bed. The table clips to a flange
on the kitchen counter and slides to any position. It has a fold-out leg
for support and stores behind the driver's seat while in transit.

One cold and windy day camping in Florida, we just had to hunker down inside.
Even Otis.

For campsites without shade, we have an easy-up canopy which also
has a screen curtain that attaches with Velcro. That came in handy in
the Everglades for sure.

This was our set-up at Jonathon Davidson State Park in Florida.

At Collier-Seminole State Park in Florida, I was able to cozy
the Eurovan up against the jungle.

The screens came in handy there because it was mosquitoville junior,
the Everglades being mosquitoville senior. And, it was off-season.

Here's the bed layed out flat. The mattress is firm and comfortable but, 
honestly,the bed is not gigantic. It's a little bigger than  a twin and 
there's zero chance of rolling off. I'm 6' and about 175 
and Astral Wendy is 5'4" and about 119 so we fit OK.

We had a sweet site at the Everglades, right on Florida Bay and right under a magnificent mahogany tree,

This screen house did double duty here even though Otis got stung
on the nose by a wasp. Even with the screen house, we got a dozen
mosquito bites apiece. It was unavoidable.

Here's that grand mahogany tree. 

It also gave great shade.

One of the nice things about the Eurovan is that it does urban pretty
easily too. I drove all over Austin, San Antonio, Tallahassee, and St. Augustine
to name a few. Parking is not a problem, unless the overhead clearance is
less than 7 feet. We tested that at the garage of the Hard Rock Casino
in Biloxi MS, and made it by a whisker.


  1. Trusty Eurovan! I bet it's pretty good on gas too, at least compared to a Winnebago.

  2. Gerry, Wendy, and Otis. Found your blog today 3 6 11, Loved all of your adventures and writings. We traveled like you back in the '70, cross country in a van for...a long time. Your blog is wonderful and fascinating. You are only other people we know who have traveled in Big Bend. We loved it also, spent a month in West Texas. Has your equip list changed since starting? I didn't find a mention of a port-a-pottie? Suggestions? Yesterday we bought a 97 Eurovan and are planning to do it again. We live in the Sierras of N. Cal. in the woods, w/ a meadow and a creek.Come visit. Ken

  3. #Ken: Thanks Ken. We have jettisoned a few things along they way but I can't remember exactly what. Not much really. Yeah, Big Bend was awesome. We don't have a potty although we've peed a few times in a bowl in an emergency. Ha! Is your new van a camper? Not sure when we'll be around N. Cal (maybe june?) but keep watching the blog and repeat the offer we we get close. We'd love to stop and say hello. Sounds lovely there.

  4. Gerry, Our 1997 "new" van is a camper. We are trying to learn from other eurovan camper people what to take or not take, space is tight. We are looking for tricks based on experience. Very sad about your engine. Looks like you have a lift in the suspension. Ours is very, very low. I'm concerned. Suggestions on lift? Hope you "three" are feeling better now. We took bikes across country in the '70. Didn't use them enough. Are the bikes useful enough for the hassel? Loved the photos, and writing, great sunsets. Enjoy N.M, and Arizona. Guess I'm Anonyous, Ken

  5. Ken: I bought my van from, where they lift and level all eurovans prior to sale. They don't like the clearance on the original but, frankly, unless you're doing heavy off-road stuff, I'm not sure that's a concern. Also, when Winnebago did the interior it added a lot of weight to the driver's side, so they level it off with the lift to compensate. Not shilling for gowesty (although they're pretty cool and they're in CA. And they have a lot of VW campervan articles on-line) but I think they offer that as a service. Not sure what you're budget is. With the swing-away rack, the bikes are not a hassle. We don't ride as much as we thought but it's nice to have them when we want to. As far as 'stuff', we really packed tight. Since it's all we own, didn't have that much of a choice. We took more towels than we needed is all I can think off. The couple of space savers I employ: 1) I only took one table. that gives extra space behind the drivers seat; 2) I removed the second mattress and lay our sleeping bags flat with the pillows in the upper berth. I use a long stick to unroll them front to back. the top closes on that fine. Please, feel free to ask anything else. Cheers. Gerry

  6. Justin from Kansas City here. Found your blog via reddit and have made it a daily read each morning while I sip my coffee. Love all of the great pictures you guys take. I am just a young pup (37) but hope to be able to travel like you two one day. Keep up the great work with the blog. Those of us confined to cubicles each day are living through your adventures! Happy Trails!

  7. @Justin: Cheers. Did a lot a cube time myself. Glad we're able to provide a moment of vicarious escape. Camping in NM for five nights so no updates for bit. Keep your dream alive!

  8. Help, cyber space ate my blog…2 times. Maybe it’s too large. Thanks Gerry for all the infor. about your eurovan and the subtle tricks you have used. My budget says to wait on lifting it, even though the skid plate below the LP tank is already bent. What do you put in the space of the missing table, behind the seat? You have no mattresses above? Which means you don’t ever sleep up there? Is that OK? What is the portable ice box used for? Do you fill it with food/ice? Looks like a handy outside table. Do all eurovans have the recessed spot on top where you have the tent? How do you strap it down? I haven’t been up there. By the way…if at some future time you have something you want to say and not have the world listen in, I have an email address I would put on your blog and you could email to us, if there is a need. The delivery of our van has been put off until next week because of repairs before purchase is complete. We are anxious, but you understand that. Maybe we should go to…Florida…and wait. : >. If you think of other tips in packing, space saving, devices to purchase, etc. let us know. How much stuff is on the floor or bed during traveling? I’m headed back into your Eurovan Special Edition and look at the picts again, also the beautiful sunsets. As anonymous as ever, Ken

  9. Your picture "The night the sky exploded" Is a spectacular...spectacular photo. It takes me there. Thanks. Ken

  10. @Ken: Not having the second gives about six inches between the back of the driver's seat and the first table. I slid in the end of screen house and put the folding pen in there and then move the driver's seat back to snug it. We never sleep up top. Seems like getting up there would be a challenge. On top of the front, there's a shhllow recess will tubular tie-down bars in an oval. I have my tent up there, wrapped in a tarp and secured with standard strap tie-downs. The fridge runs on the aux battery (for in transit use mostly because the battery won't last at that long) and AC if we're at a camp with electric and propane if there's no electric. We use it for drinks, meat, cheese, yogurt, etc. It does not have a freezer but it stays pretty damn cold. When we travel, the space behind the rear seat holds my guitar and three backpacks, the rear seat holds our clothes duffels, and the floor holds Otis and various dry goods. We usually stop for groceries right before the campground and then the floor is full. In travel it's usually half to two thirds full. Yeah, that sunset was amazing.

  11. hey you guys, hope you are all feeling better. missing my daily read with am coffee!

  12. @ellen: we're but camping so no wifi. Next post in a few days. Love

  13. Your blog never fails to inspire us.

  14. @Erik: glad to hear that. New edition coming tomorrow. We've been off the wifi grid.?

  15. Gerry and Wendy. Hola, Que tal? How and where do you find the WIFI while on the road? I am glad you find it as often as you do. The desert will be beautiful when the blossoms come out. Sunshine and warmth, we are envious. It is supposed to rain in N.Cal Sierras for the next 2 weeks. I guess that's why it's green. When you get to Arizona, but don't hurry to get there, south of Tuscon is an old mission, San Xavier, the white dove of the desert. You'll love it, particularly at sunset.It is beautiful. My G,G,G,Grandmother taught school there in 1864. A very spiritual place. More later, Sierra Ken

  16. @Ken: Bien. Muchas Gracias. We usually bunk out in a cheap motel with Wifi in between camping jaunts. Either that or we hit Starbucks or McDonalds (but avoid the food at the latter). We're gonna camp in southern NM at City of Rocks State Park before heading into AZ. Thanks for the tip on San Xavier. We'll be staying in Tucson for a few days so we'll try to check that out. I actually put together this post so you could see the Eurovan in action. Hope it helped and hope it got you psyched for some adventure!

  17. I like the bike rack! How/where did u pack the easy up canopy while traveling? Also, did u take a grill? If so, what kind and how/where did u pack it while traveling? Great blog post!

  18. The pop-up collapsed into 4" by 4" by 4.5' shape we laid on the floor behind the front seats while in transit. No grill.

  19. We drove our 99 eurovan camper from Buffalo NY to Chicago to see Patty Griffin and Anais Mitchell in January. Camped in a parking lot acoss the street from the club in the shadow of Wrigley Field. Camping in downtown Chicago?! Yep. VW made it so.!

  20. Very informative and inspirational blog. I see you guys haven't posted in a long time. Hope all is well. The pictures are beautiful. Hope to hear an update from y'all. Regards from a fellow camper enthusiast :)