Hello from coastal wa

Hello everyone!
I’m a Mid 40s guy who is soon to be a new van owner from coastal Washington. I’m the process of purchasing a van and getting a build out from GeoTrek in Colorado.

I work from home and I live in a town very isolated with not many people my own age around, so figured I would buy a van, get star link internet and do some traveling while I work. I want to finally take advantage of the fact I make a living without having to be in an office.

I don’t have the skills to build it out myself so I found a good looking company with a build that I really like to put it together.

I think the one thing I really need to get up to speed on is where people actually stay.

I’d love to explore Washington on weekends and take multi week trips to places like Joshua tree, Death Valley (both in winter) and Zion. Would love to travel on evenings and weekends and work from my van during the week.

Looking at things like harvest host and trying to find ideas online as to how to best make use of this new toy and perhaps eventually I’ll sell the house and travel full time :slight_smile:

Anyways I love nature and the outdoors and just want a place I can enjoy a quiet view and avoid mosquitos :wink:


Greetings & Welcome!

The PNW is one of my favorite areas. From the Cascades to the ocean, there’s lots of forests, lakes, rivers, streams, and of course the ocean. East of the Cascades is a lot of desert, but many people love that too.

Not a big fan of Harvest Hosts, they expect you to spend as much or more than you would in many campgrounds. There are many other apps for free camping spots.

I’m mostly a city dweller because everything’s so handy, and I can still park for free on the street. That way camping outside the city is still a treat.

For the bugs you’ll want window screens, and then I have a solar powered bug zapper that I just sit in a window to recharge.

The comfort & amenities are the most important for me. Besides a comfortable bed, I want a comfortable place to sit & work, lounge, or eat. I want my own toilet & shower, and fully functional kitchen. Last but certainly not least, I want 4 season climate control, THAT DOESN’T REQUIRE POWER!!! (My Peltier powered porable heat pump can run on <4a @ 12vdc, or without power on a tea light or liquid candle.)

None of my essentials require power, not my climate control, not their backups, not my fridge/freezer (3-Way), and I even have kerosene lanterns if needed. I have many 12v & USB luxuries, but when push comes to shove, I want to be able to live comfortably without the need for power. Solar is too unreliable, LifePo4 batteries are a bad joke, and I dislike being forced to drive to recharge my batteries, even though I love that feature for when I choose to drive. I do always carry a generator, and a battery charger too, but I don’t want to mess with them in the middle of cold stormy night.

Windows are important to me, more importantly OPENING WINDOWS. I want a 360° view at all times, and with opening windows I don’t need leaky roof vents. I have no holes in my roof, and no leaks. I prefer windows that tilt out at the bottom, or the jalousie type windows (louvered slats), so they can be open in the rain. While it’s possible to make rain proof covers for other window types, it’s a pain in the butt. Rain guards for the front windows are good though.

I prefer a portable, modular design myself. I don’t modify the vehicle. Not a single screw hole. I could transfer my whole conversion into a different van in an afternoon. Literally everything can be used either indoors or outdoors without duplication. If I need to temporarily move into a tent, I can take everything with me and live in luxury. Need a new van, no problem, my luxury accommodations can go with me. Instead of building anything in, I prefer to just move it in and then secure it.


"The boy scouts were right, 'Don't Be Scared, Be Prepared!'." ~ Truth Matters


If it’s places to park and camp you’re inquiring about, I have some thoughts.

I lived full time in Toyota Previa and later a Dodge Sprinter for about 15 years.

I was a climber, backpacker, and surfer, and worked seasonally over the years as a climbing and surfing guide, outdoor education, and field researcher for the NPS in Yosemite NP.

Mostly I drove up and down the west coast from the tip of Baja to Mt Rainer.

Also the east side of the Sierra Nevada, and occasionally into the southwest, Colorado, Santa Fe, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, all of that.

And many many times from Santa Cruz to San Antonio and a couple times from NYC to San Diego.

One thing to know is you’ll want a good bed to sleep on, a place to ‘poop’, a place to cook, and possibly to take a shower. The first three are the essentials. Shower is good to have, but not an imperative. (You can always find a shower, but not always a bathroom).

Places to stay: almost anywhere depending on your van. Going up and down the coast, I never wanted for a safe place to park and the same for Baja.

Almost any Walmart, supermarket, quiet neighborhood, rest area etc.

Primarily though I almost always stayed in nature. BLM or forest service or beside the ocean.

Once you get on the road, you’ll find all your own secret, magical, and favorite f Dr pots to camp.


PS: definitely be sure it’s tall enough to stand I.



Re: Definitely be sure it’s tall enough to stand in.

Low tops can work too… With comfortable seating on wheels, there is no need to be able to stand up inside. Pretty much everything done indoors is done while seated or laying down anyway. The few things we’re used to doing standing up like cooking, can be accomplished just as easily while sitting.

We still have the whole outdoors to stand in. Kitchens can be arranged so you stand outside while cooking if that is important to you. Baths & showers both can be done while seated.

I’ve done many low top campers, and it can be totally doable and comfortable, if we think outside the box a little bit. A swivel, rocking, reclining desk chair on wheels is a huge plus in any build for working, eating, and lounging. I can put my feet up on the end of my bed to create a very comfortable recliner.

Both low tops & high tops have their pro’s and con’s. With a low top, you can do parking garages, car washes, and drive thru’s. With a high top you can stand inside, but with such limited floor space, how important is that to you? I can put my pants on quite easily while laying on my bed, my shirt & shoes while sitting up on my bed. No inconvenience, just slightly different. I can stretch my legs in bed or while seated, without the need to stand inside.

I’m not trying to bash high tops, just expand your possibilities.


"Learn more to earn more. Money making skills, not college." ~ Hidden Riches

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I don’t understand why you say that “LifePo4 batteries are a bad joke”. We are full time RVers with both a Class A motorhome and a converted Sprinter van. Both have LiFePo4 battery banks, and they work great. We have been living in them offgrid for 6 years now.

My van has 700W of Solar on the roof, two SOK 12v 206AH battery bank, Solar Charge controller, Victron smartshunt, DC to DC converter, 2000W Inverter. And it works very well. We use it to power devices: maxair fan, espar diesel heater, refrigerator/freezer, microwave oven, induction cooktop.


As with everything, some people get lucky, but the numbers don’t lie. Too many people having trouble with them. While it might be lack of good quality control, poor technology, or bait & switch to more dangerous types of batteries, it’s a high priced gamble that could cost you your rig, or even your life.

If anybody actually reads their specs, their lifetime recharge cycles are actually rated at no more than a 20% discharge per cycle, not 80% discharge. Any battery will have a longer life if never discharged by more than 20%.

Add to that, the fact that many of the warranties aren’t being honored, and blamed on the users instead of the batteries, and the overall picture keeps getting clearer.

LifePo4 batteries are still banned on the airlines for good reason, the safety risk is just too high.

Supposedly, better, safer, cheaper, more eco friendly, & less finicky technology is in the works & coming soon, but only time will tell. In the meantime people in real life are switching back to older battery types, and sorry they ever heard of LiFePo4.

The promoters will promote dog turds or ticking time bombs if there’s money in it. When there’s money involved, none of these people should be trusted. And the majority of people who report how happy they are with their overpriced garbage haven’t owned it long enough to offer a legitimate review of it. Of course it’s great when it’s new, but when it fails, very few people will admit in public that they screwed up and wasted their money.

Over the past few years, I have been involved in troubleshooting dozens of electrical systems, and dead unfixable but not very old, LifePo4 batteries, and malfunctioning charge controllers were the top 2 problems. B2B chargers & vsr’s came in 3rd, while old school solenoid style isolators rarely fail.

There’s a lot to be said for the saying “Old School Is Cool” in our lifestyle. Even more important than it being cheaper, it is simply much more reliable. I’ve wasted many thousands of dollars over the years in attempting to improve my systems, and 99%+ of the time, it was wasted time & money. What we need is safe & reliable.


"Popular ≠ Practical! Just better promoted
for someone else's gain." ~ Money Matters

I respectfully disagree with your previous comment.

I have college degree in Electronics Engineering and I can assure you, most LiFePo4 batteries are safe, high quality, and will outlast and perform much better than lead acid battery types.

With a proper power system design and install, LifePo4 batteries are the way to go. They are better in every way:

  • Faster charging.
  • Lighter.
  • No maintenance.
  • Less voltage sag under load.
  • Can support heavy electrical loads
  • Better energy density.
  • More compact.
  • More reliable.
  • Much better lifespan.
  • Cheaper in the long run.

Electrical systems can installed incorrectly or have a bad system design, which can cause the problems that you mentioned above. But you are incorrect in blaming LiFePo4 batteries for those problems.

Much of what you wrote above is not accurate.



I can only go by own experience, and that of the many others I have read or about.

The number of problems vs. the relatively small number of users seems disproportionate to me.


"Count your blesssings, for they are many." ~ Unknown