In two days we are actually leaving the cozy little campsite we've been in since the day we picked up Bijou from the dealership. We're feeling very brave! So before we go, I thought I'd post Part 2 of Bijou's interior tour.
Let's start up front, with the bed. In my opinion, the position and function of the bed is what makes the floorplan of the Hymer B544 work so well for us. It is over the driver and passenger chairs in the front of the cab, but rather than being stationary, like in a Class C, the bed is on gas struts which allow it to be lowered for sleeping and raised when not in use.
To lower the bed, it is necessary to position the front chairs facing downward, and this can be done whether they are turned toward the front windshield for driving, or turned toward the interior as extra seating. Once the chairs are positioned properly and everything is moved from underneath, it is safe to lower the bed. We learned that lesson really quickly, as the first night in Bijou we crushed a little storage box. The bed is secured by, of all things, a seatbelt. When it is unbuckled, Steven pulls the bed down and, simultaneously, pushes it forward, though gravity and the struts do most of the work. It comes to rest just above the dashboard, which is quite deep, and over the front seats. As the bed is lowered, window coverings that are attached also lower to give us privacy. All of this is done in reverse in the morning.
Hymer includes a ladder to assist getting into the bed, but we thought it had long been discarded. It's a whole lot easier to just pop up onto the sofa and climb right into bed anyway. Then one day Steven was like, "Hang on! What's this?" There it was, the ladder, right in front of our eyes the whole time! Because we want to prevent wear and tear on the sofa by not stepping on it constantly, we decided we will use the ladder going up and the sofa coming down. That seems to be working well. I can tell you that I am a lot more graceful coming down than I am going up, but I'm not going to win a prize for either method.
The bed itself is pretty comfy and we're going to add a mattress topper to make it even more yummy. It is smaller than we are used to, but surprisingly, we have adapted well. I started off sleeping on the outside, but honestly, I didn't like being on the edge, so we swapped. Which means if I have to get up in the middle of the night, I have to crawl over Steven. He's okay with that. We are both sleeping very well.
As you know, one of my favorite places in Bijou is the sofa. It is nearly 6.5 feet long, so plenty big for either one of us to stretch out. It also makes into a bed, which we haven't done yet, but seems that it would be quite comfy. We're saving that trial for when one of the kids comes to visit. There is plenty of storage under the sofa and it can be accessed from outside through one of the bays. I haven't yet decided if that's convenient, because we don't have much under there.
There is another sofa across from the big one and it's about the same size. I guess we call one the "big" sofa and the other one "the other one" because at this point we're trying to remain flexible on where we sit during certain times, like when we're having coffee, meals, or when we're computing. As soon as we label a space, for example "Steven's chair" or "Linda's sofa", the other rarely gets to use it. :) Steven is pretty much sitting exactly where we thought he would, at the end of "the other one" sofa with the big surf board table. That's where he can spread out all his stuff and work on his photos. I, on the other hand, move all over the place. In the morning, I like to have my coffee on the big sofa, but then I switch back and forth between the two front chairs. It's still a work in progress.
The jury is still out on the big surf board table, as least for me. Steven loves it. He loves it because he can spread out and put all his stuff on it and there is still room for me to spread out at the other end and put all my stuff on it. In the middle, we put even more stuff on it. And that's exactly why I don't love it. It gets junky. Unless an effort is made daily to keep it picked up, it's just an eyesore. Steven doesn't feel that way, of course. I do love that it slides all around so that no matter where I sit, I can have a table right in front of me. When I want space to stretch out, I shove it down to Steven's end. (Ooops, I said it!)
There is also storage under the second sofa, but we don't have anything under there yet. We cannot access that storage from the outside, but do have to wrangle the table to get in to it. You might notice in the "under the table" photo that there is an open section, where Fifi the Instant Pot resides when we are not traveling. See that cushion where Steven's glasses are sitting? When we have passengers, that cushion comes out and the bench underneath slides in creating leg room for two passengers. It's the only place in the van where there are seatbelts other than the two front seats. Cool, huh?
There is a ton of cabinet space over both sofas, four large ones, two medium ones and a baby cabinet. For clothes and personal storage, Steven gets two large ones and I get one large and one medium. This is a huge discrepancy, I know, but I get that big hanging thingy in the closet, so it equals out. Plus, I don't have to reach across the table to get into my cabinets. Another large one is dedicated to foodstuff, a medium is dedicated to miscellaneous crap and the baby one is where the television is stored.
That television cabinet is kind of neat, because the TV is on a slideout and can be stored away when not in use. When we watch a movie we sit in the front seats, looking toward the back of the van. When we bought Bijou the TV was mounted to the wall, but we had it put back in the cabinet. Now we know why the previous owners had moved it, because when the cabinet is open and the TV is out, it's easy to clock yourself in the head when you're not paying attention. The same is true for the bed when its in the up position. I learned my lesson early on, but Steven has bashed himself so many times - in one day!! - that I don't even bother with, "OMG, are you okay?" It's more like, "OMG, are you ever gonna learn??"
I realized in my last post I referred to the entry door at the rear of the van as the "front door". It is our main entry into Bijou and not once have we used the driver's side door to get inside. Once our chairs are turned for seating all that space behind them is great for storing stuff and keeping it out of the way. Just like in Scoopy.
So there you have it, our little Bijou in all her glory! Isn't she great?
NEXT UP: A short trip to the Atlantic Coast