Program Director Allie Rykken interviews Coach Kate Ellis as she and her husband, Coach Mike, plan for their future travels living out of a Sprinter Van.

Allie: I understand you’ve put a lot of thought into designing your van as functional but also creative. What are you most excited about in terms of van features?

Kate: The Shower – We researched a lot of different outdoor showers (but the thought of showering outside in a parking lot or in a mud puddle didn’t sound ideal to her) but we found a solution for an indoor shower. There’s a drain over a removable compostable toilet where we can set up a curtain and low-flow shower head. The water collects into gray water storage. The whole challenge of making things function for more than one use, thinking of those terms, is exciting.

Allie: With a van, you are nearly limitless (besides the oceans!) How do you decide where to go first and do you have a bucket list or system for deciding your route?

Kate: That depends on when it (the van) gets done. If it’s after September, we’ll be heading West – looking for places with consistent snow to ski. If it’s earlier, we’re interested in paddling in Newfoundland/Eastern Canada, but that shuts down in September. We have no agenda – we’re going one decision at a time.

Allie: Since we’re a paddling organization, I have to ask, what your biggest paddling plans are for the first year of van life and which boats are you planning on bringing?

Kate: I’d like to become a better surf-ski paddler, continue to canoe, work on my white-water skills, particularly as a team with Mike, and being a bow paddler sometimes. (Kate is an excellent, experienced stern paddler in a canoe).

Kate & Mike plan to bring two surf-skis and one Jensen 18, as it will give them the most flexibility as to which water they can navigate. Rest assured, they’ll keep two pro-boats in storage.