The Van aka Bucephalus

Noble and regal!

Noble and regal!

Every good adventurer needs a noble steed. We have a 2004 Honda Odyssey that I bought for $4900.

The search for this particular stallion had a bit of a learning curve and went through multiple phases. At first I was set on the idea of a full size van such as a Chevy Astro. I was enticed by the sheer size and space that a full size would afford, and relished the imagery of a beautiful, art-laden behemoth, rolling across America with climbing gear and good times in tow! Then I learned that the older models (the affordable ones) get gas mileage measuring in the teens, and I scrapped that idea faster than you could say creepy rape van. I also considered diesel vehicles and used Uhaul box trucks for a bit, but different issues always cropped up such as the price of gas, or the excessive mileage that some of the used vehicles I found had. Now the dream vehicle, of course, would be a VW, who are the makers of the staple live-in vehicle, the VW Bus aka the Type 2. They also make a variety of other awesome campers such as the Westfalia, but the issue I found with all VW related options is that it seemed like the minimum price I would have to pay for any of their used vehicles would be about $10,000. This is absurd. I fancy myself a bit of a minimalist, and I tend to resent the things in my life that I view as unnecessary or excessive (this view is biased, as I am an American, but that is a topic for another time).

Das ambulanz.

Das ambulanz.

I continued to scheme and began to inch toward the light at the end of the soccer mom infested tunnel. The mini-van. Used mini-vans tend to be inexpensive, get great (comparatively) gas mileage, and have some of the creature comforts and soothing aesthetics that full size vans lack. After waffling back and forth between models I landed on the Honda Odyssey, which gets about 22 mpg on average, and picked the 2004 model, as the 02-03 model years have been known to exhibit transmissions issues. I could not have made a more logical choice. The Odyssey is made by Honda, a manufacturer with a reputation for reliability. My Odyssey currently has 140,000 miles, and with some care, should be able to run for at least another 100,000 miles*. I was lucky to find an Odyssey in great condition on Craigslist, and it even has leather seats, which are comfy and far easier to clean than cloth seats. All cars should really have leather seats in my opinion, but I understand that they are expensive, and most people can’t afford them. Leather seats feel nicer, last longer, and don’t hold smells or stains in the same ways that cloth seats do. They’re great.

"Sit on my skin!"

“Sit on my skin!”

Once the Odyssey was in my possession I ripped out all the seats, developed a plan for a cargo platform with Dimitri and my father, and worked along side my dad to build my Odyssey into the awesome and practical home that it is today!

The underlying plywood frame with supports to hold it together and upright.

The underlying plywood frame with supports to hold it together and upright.

The particle board that makes up the top of the platform with holes cut in the top for storage access.

The particle board that makes up the top of the platform with holes cut in the top for storage access.

The finished product. Thanks to my dad for the assist!

The finished product. Thanks to my dad for the assist!

The addition of this cargo platform allowed Dimitri and I to organize and separate our belongings, and provided us with a nifty mobile bed. For reference, here is a before and after comparison.

The Odyssey packed with gear prior to the installation of the cargo platform.

The Odyssey packed with gear prior to the installation of the cargo platform.

After the installation. Beds on top, and possessions organized in bins on the bottom.

After the installation. Beds on top, and possessions organized in bins on the bottom.

After some debate we have decided to name the van Bucephalus (Boosa for short), which was the name of Alexander the Great’s horse. We don’t currently have any grand plans to recreate the Macedonian empire, but keep an eye out, because August 2014 marks the start of our grand adventure in Bucephalus, the noblest of all Odysseys.

*This statement has next to no basis in fact, and is merely uneducated guesswork! 🙂

P.S. For the sake of brevity I have opted to list the full list of changes made to Boosa at the bottom, rather than describe them in full

  • Removed all rear seats
  • Added cargo platform
  • Installed bluetooth head unit
  • Rigged a net on the ceiling for easy stowing of light things (clothes etc.)
  • Bought plastic bins for the storage of shoes and clothes
  • Bought and installed a four bike rack for the transport of road and mountain bikes
  • Installed privacy curtains on the windows
  • Bought and use a solar generator by Goal Zero for charging all tech