19,000 miles across the Western US and Canada. More to come.
So anyway, Ed and I had a lot of fun building our own campers. That led us to starting R&E Vans in 1975. Our goal was to build very nice campers. Along the way we built about 700 vehicles. A lot of those were 70’s party vans. We also built ambulances, a mobile training classroom and lots of campers.
We built on the ideas from our early campers and produced the Model 5. Pretty snazzy name, don’t you think? We really neaded a good marketing type person. These were featured in national magazine reviews. We sold them as far away as Alaska, well one anyway.
Home2 started in 1978 as a Class B Ford Van Camper, the one pictured above. Our shakedown trip was from Minnesota to New Brunswick, Canada and then down through New England and then back along the South sides of the Great Lakes.
As we did for many years we traveled with our dog, Xenia, a 65 lb Malamute. We called her the feed-it alarm system. If we left her in the camper alone she would sit in the driver’s seat waiting for us to return. She was rather imposing, rarely barked and was never tested. On her leash taking us for a walk, she was the friendliest dog you could imagine. If the other end of her leash was hooked to the camper at the side door, it represented a defensive zone that she protected for all she was worth.
That trip gave us all sorts of ideas on changes to make to add more light, more functional utility and what tools and equipment we needed to have in the camper all the time. We went from two to five sun roofs, added bug screens, found a cooking set of pots and pans that nested nicely, bought dishes, kitchen utensils and silverware for dedicated use. We got sheets, pillows and blankets to leave in the camper. With everything set we were able to leave for a weekend, a week or longer with just loading clothes and food.
Times change. We wanted to keep traveling but maybe with a bit more room. An actual bedroom and bathroom would be nice, we thought. So that leads us to the next step of the story, right after this…
Susan and I have had a long relationship with motor travel. We met winter camping. She rode up with me in my 1973 Jeep CJ5. She liked my jokes. A couple years later in the mid 70’s when we were both working at a Boy Scout camp, I was smitten. As she likes to say She was patient and persistent, I was slow to the table. Off we went in my home made 1974 Dodge van camper to International Falls, MN. There was love in the air. There still is.
We went on many short trips and one long trip in that camper down to Big Bend National Park. Never got there. It was snowing all the way to Kansas City and forecasts were for worse further south. So we headed East to the Great Smokies. Never got there. The weather was even worse. So we headed South towards nowhere in particular. This remains our favorite travel mode. We go where we are pointed. We ended up at Dauphin Island near Mobile, AL for a whole day and then it was time to head home. 3500 miles in a week. Never again. I have looked all over for a picture of that green van but alas the days of digital pictures were many years in the future.
Building that camper with my friend Ed Schulze (he built one too) led to more adventures that I will tell you about right after this …