In August of 2007 we were camped at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. We were visiting the Visitor’s Center. When we came out, we saw something strange in the parking lot.
Debbie – What the heck is that?
Keith – I don’t know what the heck that is!
Debbie – What in the heck is that?!
Keith – Hey, you kids! Get away from there!
Debbie – I would not mess with that thing.
Keith – Don’t put your lips on it!
Debbie – [ ever curious ] What the heck is this?
Keith – Well, get a photo of me with it, anyway!
[ Keith hands camera to Debbie, then walks away from camera view to have his picture taken ]
Debbie – Be careful with that thing. [ snaps Keith’s picture, as spark of ingenuity develops on her face ] Oh, I know what that is!
Keith – [ returns next to Debbie ] Well, what the heck is it?!
Debbie – [ looks closer ] What is that thing..?
Keith – I don’t even care what it is. [ pause ] What the heck is that?!
Debbie – I don’t know what the heck that thing is.
Keith – Oh, I know what it is! It’s a Sprinter!
Debbie – [long pause] What the heck is that?*
*Steve Martin, Bill Murray 1979
And that is how it started. By December I had made up my mind to sell our “award winning Eurovan” and get a new Sprinter. I began looking at conversions, studying floor plans and dreaming about how our Sprinter would look. I found Sportsmobile on the web and read every page of their website. I called them on New Years Eve and confirmed they could definitely build us the set-up we wanted.
In the interim the Eurovan sold, I was carless and Debbie was having seller’s remorse big time. Time to get something done! Trouble was, I didn’t know what we wanted. Maybe a bathroom, ability to stay out in the boonies, a good galley for Debbie . . . solar . . . generator?
So, on January 9th, 2008, I drove to Fresno to check out Sportsmobile. Now I was hooked good and all they had to do is reel me in!
I had decided that it was time to shift from 15 years of Artic White to a new color. Initially I wanted yellow and black and I could have ordered it that way but I found out it would take 3-6 months to get here and then another 3 months at SMB. I looked at the inventory at SMB and had my choice of red, white or metallic silver. We had already decided on a RB model which means our length would be under twenty feet. We talked about color for about a week and finally settled on the metallic silver.
While we were spending time on color, I was also playing with the on line design studio SMB has available. I downloaded the entire design package that consist of paper pieces of cabinets, etc. you can move around on a floor plan and the price sheets. I didn’t use the cutouts, too lazy, and just kept up with the on line design.
The design phase took awhile. It was good I had visited and seen materials, etc., which made it easier. Trading emails and phone calls with Jonathan (my rep) finally got the job done. Jonathan transferred my design to graph paper and all I had to do was sign the dotted (actually solid) line.
“Sign” I did and now the wait to get the new “Bus” on the production line. That took a couple of weeks as SMB was a bit backed up at that time. They were just starting to work on a multiple SMB order for Qatar which was going to take some time and some planning.
Keep in mind during this entire process I was car less. If I had to go to Fresno I would rent a car and doing the week I saved all my chores for one day and rented a car. Worked out pretty well with Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Finally I got a call from Jonathan – we were on the line! Yahooo!
We started with a 2008 Dodge (Mercedes) Sprinter, brilliant silver metallic, 2500 Cargo Van. It had two seats up front, a radio, alloy 16″ wheels, windows in the back doors and a window in the sliding door on the right side. And that was about that . . . now the fun begins!
One of the first things that was done was to cut holes in the side for the 3 additional windows. These were 34×24 awning type windows, one on the left and one on the right.
While the windows were being cut, insulation and walls were going in, seats were being upholsted blue ulta leather (not really leather) and the floor was going down. Also, wiring and plumbing that had to be in the walls and ceiling was run.
This was a great project that resulted in a perfectly sized camper for Debbie and me. We kept the Eurovan design in mind, copied some things but made sure the SMB had very few places to bump your head. Most of all we wanted openness with great views all around and also to stay under 20′.SMB will tell you by the time you build your 3rd SMB you will get things like you want them.The only major thing I would do different is to move the spare tire to a carrier so we could have a larger grey water tank. We will correct that in the Spring.I am particularly glad we have a back porch area. We got used to carrying some gear in coolers and have small bags with us for some clothes. Since we don’t have outside storage like some RVs and since our inside storage is limited the back porch works perfect. We can carry firewood here, an extra cooler full of ice and have a place to hang our coats. The space also has a drain so if we really needed to we could shower here.