Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What About Folks In Wheelchairs? - Can they go too?

The Entry Door And Stairs
   Yesterday, I picked up a full size custom van with an electric wheelchair lift installed in it. It's for my Dad, he's 94. It's really the only way he can travel these days. Doctors, hospitals and the like combine to make most of his trips. Even with a full time care person, it was very difficult to get him in and out of a vehicle safely. When he could still stand on his own, I took my parents on the odd RV day trip. Once even to a wedding reception! It was a nice way for him to travel. Big windows, a fridge, a know, everything we are used to when we RV. I remember when I was younger how he always wanted a custom van (a precursor to the beautiful class B's we have today) to travel the country in.

 His new van is close. I'm going to make it closer!

Back Of The Van With Jack-Knife Sofa
It already has a fold down jack-knife sofa in the rear so sleeping is a possibility. Not really, because of his health, but it's there. With the exception of the Driver and Passenger seats, there are no other seats in the van. Just multiple tie-down locations for the wheelchair. Because of the raised roof, it has lot's of space for lighting. In fact it already has both aim-able and decorative fixtures. It has a TV and a separate VCR built in. Lot's of cup holders and huge windows. First thing I ordered was a folding wall table. This will allow him to eat, and have a place to rest things. Next, I have a 12V cooler/mini-fridge I had been using on off-road trips in my truck, that will get installed in the van. I may add an inverter later on, if there is a need for 120VAC outlets, but right now...nothing comes to mind.

12 Volt VCR With Remote Control Storage
I'm probably going to swap out the VHS VCR for a DVD/VCR combo I have sitting around from before my RV conversion to digital media. I'm going to add a backup camera and GPS system to make navigation easier. They have dropped in price dramatically. It will need a TPMS of some kind as well. Knowing the temperature and pressure of your tires is really important to avoid disasters! Especially if you only have FOUR of them. Like my RV! There are separate systems for the front and the rear vents. The A/C and Heat is setup to be separately controllable. They rely on circulating hot engine coolant, as there is no traditional RV style furnace.

What else could be useful? I was thinking maybe a microwave for heating up meals? Some of his Doctor visit trips can begin early in the morning and return home late in the afternoon. Lot's of miles. Cool drinks are great, but what about a warm snack or meal from home? Rather than something bought on the road...home made rather than fast food.  There are lot's of storage cabinets and "cubbies" spread around the interior, so storing the essentials he needs is easy. The raised roof design almost makes standing up a possibility, as long as you are quite short! There are "cellular" style RV shades, but a couple need to be repaired.

I have done some research and discovered there are RV's (mostly retrofitted) to add some type of wheelchair access, whether a lift or ramp. RV'ing is a great way to see the country and no one should be left out. If you have the time, why not enjoy it?  I guess I am looking at this as a "mini-RV." It could be a way to bring some joy back into his life. Being cooped up all this winter really showed me how a trip, even a short one, will raise the spirits and engage the mind. I'll do what I can to make that happen.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"


  1. I'm sure your Dad is very proud of the thoughtful son he raised. When the parent/child roles reverse in later life, we need to remember the many sacrifices our parents made for us, not to mention taking us fishing "PLEASE, PLEASE just one more time," when they were completely worn out (I have first-hand experience with my own Dad in that department). Good for you for helping make your Dad's later years ones he'll cherish!

    1. Evfancyally,
      Thank you for your wonderfully complimentary words. Quality of life is often overlooked in favor of life extension. What good are extra years if you are a prisoner in your own home with nothing to do?

      Thank you again!

      Rich "The Wanderman"


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