The ladder took a lot of pondering. There was not only the decision of where to place it but also which ladder to get. In my mind there were three possible placements for the ladder; on the back right or left or on the drivers side of the van. The passenger side was not an option because of the sliding door. I went with the back of the van in case I wanted to attach anything to the ladder, such as a bike rack. I chose to put it on the right side for no particular reason, I think its because that is where I have seen them on other vans. (I think the hitch would be the best placement for the bike rack but haven’t gotten around to installing one yet. It would be best to have one that swings laterally so you can still use the rear doors.)
Now that I knew where I wanted to put it, I had to get the ladder. Since I have the shorter van, I actually think the shiny silver ladder you see on vans like the Ford Econoline would fit best because they have the hook that goes over the door to help support the ladder. I chose the standard black bolt on ladder you see on all the new camper vans because, hey what could go wrong with group think and my research informed me you could cut the ladder to the correct height. I decided just to put it on a little too long because it seemed easier than cutting the ladder off. The main issue I had was the attachment points on the ladder went really close to my window because of the short van. I drilled my holes at an angle above the window and the attachment still rests against the very top of the glass. I have had no problems with this other then having to buy longer bolts to attach it due to the angle I drilled it at.
I decided to add some more insulation to the van after my first winter staying at Mt. Bachelor. The front of the vehicle was letting so much cold air seep in along with the fan I installed in the roof. I kept the blinds in the back and front down to help hold in the heat during the rest of the winter. It didn’t help a lot but it was better than not doing it. When I got back to my home base in WV I used the leftover 1″ foam board insulation to fill the gap in my fan and also placed it on the front floor of the van, except the drivers side. I was afraid the foam would interfere with my braking ability. Reflectix, reflective roll insulation, was used to insulate the windows. I used rare earth magnets to attach it to the frame around the windows in the rear of the van. For the front, driver side and passenger side windows I just cut the Reflectix a little larger than the windows and jammed it into the windows with the tops tucked under the seams to keep it in place. I was surprised by how much of a difference this stuff makes in keeping the heat in, it also helps to keep it cool in the hotter months by blocking the sun.
When spring came to the Bend, OR area I would spend the mornings riding on snow then either kayaking or mountain biking in the afternoons. The warmer temperature at the lower elevations was a welcome change. However, the shoulder seasons are difficult if you are keeping all your gear in the van. The Thule rocket box helped a lot to keep all the slush covered ski/snowboarding gear outside of the vehicle. The downfall was that all the kayaking gear now had to live in the van. All the wet stuff fits into the kayak so that is a plus. Anyone have any suggestions for all that gear storage?