Louis Self
To Kiteboarding
Lou's Kiteboarding home page
To Comedy
Lou's Comedy home page

Arizona Lou

The Van Life

This van is our home away from home on most kiteboarding trips. Everything you can imagine is there; just in small form. Here are some pictures and details. When you see us, ask for a tour.

Ready for wind* (* indicates photo taken by Brian Goldsburry of Kite World Magazine)     Lou's 2020 Kia Sedona on tour (All picures of Lou's Kia have a black border like this one)

Us and our van 
Kia minivan

Getting a little work done using the table & 110v inverter. Photo by Anne Hanovich

Working at the Table

The foyer welcomes*

Van entry

Kite maintenance and repair drawers to the left of the foyer*

Outside drawers

Under the left side of the bed are drawers for: Kitchen utensils, oatmeal etc.; Toiletries; Nuts (5 kinds); Shaver, mirror etc. (closed); First Aid. The table, on edge to the left, is held in place by velcro (black) when it is not in use. Photo by Louis Self

Drawers to Bed's Left

Gadget drawer with blue kitchen cabinet to the right*

Gadget Drawer

Under bread shelf: kitchen cabinet w fine dinner wear and narrow roll of paper towels.* You might want to look at the Health and Fitness section of our Smart Stuff web page.

Kitchen Cabinet, Opened

The Oregon Scientific WMR-90 weather station monitors the wind, humidity and temperatures outside the van, inside the van, in the refrigerator, in the pantry and other places.*

Weather Station Panel

Office drawer is above the pantry door, which is opened here*

Office Drawer

Two-level single-temperature refrigerator*


The Board Room is under the couch/bed.*

The Board Room

A folded queen-sized comforter rounds out the couch. Depending on the expected low temperature, at night we can sleep on top with nothing on but the ceiling fan, under only a beach towel, under one layer of comforter or under two layers. Photo by Louis Self

Couch Cover

We spent 10 nights at home in Phoenix on our kitchen floor engineering the bed, and ended up with a bed that was more comfortable than our real bed and acts like a Sleep Number bed from Select Comfort - only ours does not adjust. The mattress is one inch firm foam on top of a semi-inflated four-inch self-inflating air mattress. A wide bed is not necessary for tossing and turning, as this bed eliminates pressure points. The firm foam is not quite as cushy as softer foam, but makes for better sitting on the bed as a couch when we are working in the office. The best mattress covering can be sewed up from a flat twin-bed-sized knit sheet. A fitted twin knit sheet also works, but needs a little twisting and tweaking. Photo by Louis Self

Mattress Layers

A carpet non-skid mat keeps the mattress from scooting around while driving. Photo by Louis Self

Mattress Non-skid Mat

This ceiling fan (
AC system
Air Circulation System
) helped us keep our cool during warm nights. The little brushless muffin fan took almost no power and focused the air right where it is needed for maximum body cooling. Photo by Louis Self

Nighttime cooling fan

For 2014 we engineered this 2-speed, 2" cintrifugal fan to replace the one above. It takes less space, can be against the ceiling without reducing air flow so gives more headroom and, on low speed, uses 125mA - about the same as the old fan. Photo by Louis Self

Nighttime cooling fan

To the left is all the kiting equipment and in the background, top-to-bottom: closet, linen shelf, emergency road service box beside the gym bag, tool box & long-term storage bins. The white wet bin among the kites accommodates sandy and wet harnesses, pumps etc.*

Kite Equipment

RUNNING WATER is in the blue jerry can. Six gallons lasts about ten days.*


This little $10, 12 V submersible water pump was added to a modified jerry can to provide running water. No more getting out of the van to fill water bottles. We're either getting lazy or getting smart! The white and black pump is our third, put into service in April 2019.The gray one was our second pump, which lasted three years from January 2016 to April, 2019. The blue one lasted 6 years, from January 2010 to January 2016, until it became waterlogged, rusty inside and froze up.


Ready to press the red button and fill my water bottle. This square bottle (by Hawaii Water) doesn't roll around the van and fits efficiently into its water socket.

Water system inside

The convience of a single-stream shower outside for rinsing off feet and equipment while conserving water.


Powering it all is the latest in
battery technology. More information here on our Technology web page.
Configured Battery


The little single-temperature refrigerator was expensive (currently costing about $900), but was well worth the money. It is a real refrigerator, uses very little battery power and takes the place of about 1100 pounds of ice on our spring trips. We maintain 35° F in the top and 42° F in the bottom, except in the heat of the summer we increase the temperature by about five degrees to extend the running time on our
our van's Lithium/Iron/Manganese/Phosphate/Oxygen house battery

In the same space that used to be occupied by two super-insulated ice chests, we now have the new refrigerator and the office and pantry drawers.

The refrigerators come in various sizes. Here is some information for the current model like we have, available at Beverage Factory. This and other portable refrigerator/freezers are available in various sizes from Compact Appliance and My 12 Volt Store.

Dimensions & Specifications
Height: 18 1/5"
Width: 21"
Depth: 12"
Interior Height: 13 1/2"
Interior Width: 11 1/2"
Interior Depth: 8"
Weight: 38 lbs.
Capacity: 22 Quarts
Power Consumption: 0.6-2.3 A (Variable)

Before Kiteboarding : Back in the spring of 2002, ours was the typical windsurfing minivan (three pictures below in Hood River OR) stacked with boards and stuffed with sails; booms; masts; etc. After selling all our windsurf stuff at the end of our first Hatteras trip, our winter project was remodeling the van to the way the office and couch/bed are now.

	Boards on top 
	Back view

	Side view The custom-made bed/couch/board-storage in progress in our back yard.

bed frame in progress

Cloudy headlights can make a vehicle look old before its time. We wet sanded the plastic lenses using progressively finer abrasive paper (400, 1000, 2000 grit) and finished off with Mirror Glaze plastic polish. We maintain them with Scratch Out from KitWax. Photos by Louis Self

Before After


Tire-pressure-indicator valve stem caps are a quick way to monitor your tires' pressure and may save your tires. We bought a set of four for about $5 at Walmart.


fat tires
P255/60R15 102S M+S
, the largest that will fit on our van, help out driving in the sand. Also, at low pressure, they create a masive footprint. A thermograph of the same tire about a half hour after driving (right image).
tire FLIR i7 thermographic camera

New Van? Back in 2010 we were about to replace our 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan with a Toyota Sienna to get all-wheel drive and some more modern features. Here's our New Van Wish List of features, followed by the reasons we did not buy the Sienna.

Repainted Van: At 303,000 miles, in 2015, we repainted our 1996 van and added back-up cameras, planning to drive this van about six more years - then get a self-driving one. Pictures & videos

Finished, front

Back-up Camera that mounts over the licence plate (more info)
Back-up Camera
and displays on the special dual-function rearview mirror.
Back-up Camera

Speaking of cameras, a dash cam is a MUST nowadays - and so inexpensive. In April, 2018 we bought this $65 Old Shark Dash Cam, 1080P HD with G-Sensor, Loop Recording, WDR, Parking Guard, to give the biggest bang for the buck.

dash cam dash camera

 NOT MY VAN!  - Nick has an excellent blog with pictures on the work he did on his van, pictured here.

Nick's Solar

(* indicates photo taken by Brian Goldsburry of Kite World Magazine)

logo     Top Tier Detergent Gasoline is a higher standard than the EPA minimum, keeps your car engine running cleaner and is worth the possible additional 3¢/gal.

(back to TOP of page)