Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Due to frequent inquiries about our means of transport on this trip across America, we have been convinced to show you the ins and the outs of our as-yet-unnamed vehicle. For anyone who is wondering what the Honda Element looks like in its house-on-wheels state, this post is for you.

You're wondering how on earth we fit two 6-foot-tall people:

and all of this stuff:

into this unassuming box of a car:

, allowing for all of our food, photo equipment and accouterments for the season.

After my wonderful and beautiful mother sold us her element, Trav and I undertook the business of making it as livable as we could for the next 5 months. The car was built to accommodate people like us; the back seats of an element flatten out like they are victims of rigor mortis, and then you can detach them from the floor of the car and clip them up to the side wall of the car, which creates a big open space in the back. Trav and I built two 10" platforms, one held up off the floor by 5 two by four legs and one is a plywood box we built to store our clothes in. The table platform goes in the back, and we store our food, shoes, books and other miscellaneous stuff under that. The plywood box abuts it and we can reach into it from the front.

The whole platform is about 4 feet long, and as you who know us can imagine, we each have about two extra feet beyond that on our persons. So we lay down the 2 front seats (we pop off the headrests first) and unfold our 6 foot camping mattress and throw some mints down on our sleeping bags and viola! Element sweet Element. We keep the frisbee within easy reach and Trav has rigged up a lovely toiletries travel mug for convenient access. I guess we highly prioritize minty breath and frisbee throwing.

Here's how it happens:
First we flatten the back seats, pop them off the floor and fold/latch them to the wall. Here we see the left rear seat up on the wall while the right one is still down:
Then we put a cheap protective rubber mat on the floor, just to stabilize the platform and prevent damage to the car floor. On the floor are latches, sunken in, to which the rear seats usually are attached. This mat goes right to those hooks, measuring about 30" from the rear door. The hooks will come in handy in a second:

We then set in the table we built. It measures 47" wide by 30" long. The width allows it to perfectly fit into the element rear door without having to be tilted on its side. There are 5 legs, each 7" tall pieces of 2x4. We screwed pieces of 3/4" board to the bottom of the platform, to which the legs were nailed. This allowed for a total platform height of 8.5", including the thickness of the plywood:

The platform is held in four places with these remarkable turnbuckles. In the rear of the car we added eyehooks to two legs and attached the turnbuckles to the convenient hooks built into the car's wall. Towards the front, shown here, we rolled back the mat to attach the buckles to the aforementioned hooks in the floor (meant for the rear seats when they're down):

Next we added "the box." The box measures 18" by 38" and is cut to accommodate a 30" hinge. This is simply set in front of the table. We originally designed it to be anchored with turnbuckles also, but this seems unnecessary, as it is heavy enough to not move around and our belongings stop it from sliding forward:

A back view with the lid of the box open. Note the plastic tote holding our food. Under the table there is plenty of room for the food tote, shoes, books, and even our chocolate-making supplies and tools for when we have the chance to use them:

Next we add an old tablecloth to protect the mattress and prevent it from sliding all about. It's just laid on there and tucked in to the sides:
Then comes the mattress. We learned about this mattress from the Honda Element Owner's Club on the internet, where multiple people have shown their bed designs. This mattress is 48" across, exactly the width of the element. It fits with room to spare under the folded-up seats, allowing full elbow room. It's 6 feet long and comfortable:

From the side...note that the front seats recline fully and meet our built box. The headrests pop off and are fit into the center of the folded-down seat, exactly where the mattress reaches. In front of those headrests at night is where we put loose items, like duffle bags and photo equipment:

Our heads rest in the rear, directly under the moonroof. Our view:

And, my favorite part...a bungee runs from a latch in the rear roof of the Element to the front of the folded-up seat. It's attached to an old cup and the tension holds it in place. It's for our toothbrushes, easily accessible by the side driver's side door:

Some miscellaneous reading material as we go:

And down the road we go!

--Kacy and Trav--


Steve(o) said...

Love it!

I've been trying to contact my cousin but his phone is in a shed outdoors, so its harder to catch em.


casafras said...

I am utterly impressed by the two of you!
that looks like a wonderfully precise set-up.
enjoy the journey.

S said...

Fantastico! You two are the Best of the Best, and your Oregon Mom loves you immensely. Travel well; looks like you are enjoying "Life's moments" to the max.

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