Cast iron, cowboy boots and cobbler

When the opportunity arose to take Thelma Lou, my 1965 Kit Companion on a road trip with my husband this week, I jumped on it! I grabbed my boots and we headed out to Bay View park near Mount Vernon, Washington.

Once settled in our snug little camp ground on the edge of Skagit Bay, I set to cooking. My dear friend Carmen blessed me with some canned apples that rival the best pie you’ve ever eaten. A little topping, fold in a half pound of love (butter), add heat and it’s yum yum!

I love camping with an oven!

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A bathrobe, pink clogs and a real gullywasher

I like to think of a vintage travel trailer as a mini-home remodel all done in about 16 feet or less. It’s a tremendous amount of fun to redo so much in so little space for such a great impact. As with all first time buyers, I entered the market at the entry level “Fixer-Upper” spot. Now the great part of that is that you can learn everything you need to know with a very low initial investment if you keep your eyes peeled for a bargain. The downside of entering on the ground floor is that the learning curve is steep. Fortunately, I’ve had a good dose of background over the last 5 decades to help me feel like I can do it. The part that gets a bit soft around the dry-rot side of the story is my learning curve all has to be done alfresco. (al·fres·co /alˈfreskō/ adverb. 1. out-of-doors; in the open air.)

Tarps for unexpected rain

Fall Layered Look or RainGear for Roxy

If I lived in a sunshine state instead an hour south of Portland, Oregon my trouble would be nominal. As it is, I am pressed up against a 10 day forecast of rain and thundershowers that began unexpectedly one hour before church started yesterday. One hour…  One hour to find tarps of varied sizes, one hour to find enough tie-downs, one hour to get the top weighted down, plastic stapled, garbage can liners over things, showered, cleaned-up and in church 10 miles into town. We had 80 degree weather just days ago with beautiful skies, but as the weather changes at any moment, I should have been a bit more prepared.  I felt like a scene out of the old Tom Hanks movie ‘MONEY PIT’. Things turned ugly, fast. Taking all of Roxy’s aluminum skin off, and the windows out, to replace framing dry-rot damage coincided with an incredibly busy week in our household. Last week I made no significant improvement on the poor girl. I threw an old tarp over her top just to keep dew off and not have her completely exposed.

Now I had Roxy naked with just her insulation on, and a pelting, windy, drenching fall rainstorm on top of our heads. I was having coffee and getting ready to jump in the shower for church, when my husband who was leaving earlier said: “Hey the tarp has blown off of Roxy.”  Well he and my son did their best to help, but they had to get into town so the real work fell to me. I thought I had a quick task of just putting up a couple of tarps and tying it down. It would have been that easy had I been able to find an assortment of tarps and something to keep them from being sails that any ocean going ship would envy. After a summer of outdoor adventurer, camping, and one young explorer of a son making forest forts, I had no idea where our tarps had gotten to, or where the rope was. I checked all the local haunts and didn’t scrounge up much but some miscellaneous sized tarps. Well, as the saying goes: “Any port in a storm.”

Once I got all of the tarps in place and some old plastic stapled over the insulation, I had to tie this stuff down and together.  I looked all over the property to find anything I could call rope. My husband is a rope hoarder. He loves the stuff. He loves knots, tying knots, untying knots… anything to do with rope and knots. I can only do a few macrame knots from High School Art in ’78, so I usually leave the tying off stuff to him. I resigned after looking in all the places that seemed logical for rope. Frustrated, I went into the kitchen to get my kitchen string.  My string, where I put it where everyone else can find it was missing. I finally located it near the bamboo patch at the side of the house where it seems my young explorer had been crafting bows out of bamboo and string. Creative, but not amusing.

I was ready to kill somebody.

When I got back to Roxy the ’67 travel trailer she has lost 2 of the tarps I’d struggled to put on. I replaced them, weighted them down with old metal bed frames and whatever scrap wood was handy, and started running string through the grommets. I’d been up and down 3 ladders more times than I could count and it was sprinkling hard. My shoulders were wet. Did I mention I am doing all this in my white robe and hot pink Croc’s? Ya, one of the advantages of living outside of town.

So I am trying to thread the tarps together, clamp the corners down, secure it all when it begins to rain with a vengeance. I mean PELTING, sideways windy rain out of the north! The tarps, the string and I are now thouroughly soaked. Not being my husband with a book of knot knowledge stored in his head and plenty of practice to go with it, I simply tied off the string with the same knot you use to tie a package or your shoes and moved on to the next corner.

Looking back at the last corner I’d tied before moving on, I could see the water running down the face of the tarp and directly onto the trailer where there should have been an aluminum skin. I found some more brooms, poles, and wood, and forced a makeshift awning so that the water didn’t run down the sides and into the trailer. At this point of the trailer wrap-up, even I thought it was getting comical. My hair was soaked, stuck to my face and dripping down my back. The make up I’d forgotten to wash off the night before was making black streaks down my face, and my white quilted robe was now various shades of mud. Watching the rivers of rainwater run down the sides of the trailer with my make-shift awnings of brooms and sticks, I knew I had to form a gutter. So I lifted the back corners of the tarp and created a rain gutter. She was at last wrapped up. I thought her snug enough to have averted the worst of what  could happen with no protection.

I grabbed my phone snapped this photo to send to my husband for a good laugh. The photo is actually pretty flattering in comparison to how I really looked in the full length version of real life.

tarping Roxy for rain

Into each life some rain must fall

Okay, so now I need to find a temporary awning/canopy so I can get Roxy’s repairs done and put her aluminum skin back. Lesson here? Well, the lesson is just put up an awning in the first place.

I made it to church… second service (and boy did I need it by the time I arrived, I had some thoughts to repent from.). But it is all part of the the Spit Shine Vintage Lesson in Travel Trailer Flipping.

Lessons I'm learning. Just start out under an awning.

I am learning. On the bright side, rainwater makes my hair really, really soft.

What color is determination?

What Color Is... D E T E R M I N A T I O N?

When my daughter who is now a mother herself was very young, she asked me in all seriousness:

“Mama, what sound does a mountain make?”

It is my second favorite question in my lifetime, the first being my husbands marriage proposal. I woke up this morning feeling achy and a bit fluish. Just over tired and under hydrated I think, but as I lay in the softness of the morning I had a thought travel through my head:

“What color is determination?”

Right out of the gate I need to explain I am very color oriented. Color is a language not just difference of light and prisms for me. I know that this thought regarding ‘what color is determination’ traveled through time in an immeasurable blink of an instant, but it lingered in my soul and made me take notice. It wasn’t just some new age moment of yoga like transcendental meditation; it was something that on this particular morning  when I was feeling everything but my oats, seemed like a tool to get to the next phase of the teardown on Roxy. Maybe it is because I am feeling a bit uncertain about this repair-rebuild phase of travel trailer re-roading and need a booster shot of confidence. If you knew how many hours I’d researched, ‘repairing  corners in a travel trailer’  you’d tell me to get a life. So before getting out of bed, I took the luxury of trying to determine what color determination is.

My mind has a quirky way of associating or translating color into experience. As a professional color consultant, one of the key questions I ask my clients as a focus goal is:

“What do you want this area or room to feel like when you are in here?”

It doesn’t matter to me what colors they want to use, as long as I know how they want it to feel. It’s my tool for using the color palette to their advantage. When I think about how I want Roxy to make you feel when you are inside her it is, ‘Edgy-Retro-Fun’ …Young, but grown-up, and maybe even old enough that you shouldn’t be carded, but are still flattered when you are. I want it to be a place anyone feels delightfully set apart from the grind of life and released to have fun, no matter if they are an edgy or nerdy single, fun couple, or young family. I think Roxy says that on her interior now. So, now I must  wrap the outside in stability so I can send the occupants down the road in a re-road ready AdventureMobile. As I think about what color safety, structure, reliable, strength, solid, fortress looks like, I keep coming back to one color.

Inspiration, wood rot, dry rot, rebuild,
One color of DETERMINATION

Sonlight.                                                                                                                                         No that wasn’t a typo. Sonlight. To see the color of determination for me, I just have to keep my focus on where my inner strength comes from. The son of God. Jesus.           You might think I am getting sidetracked and that this is turning into a Sunday school lesson, but if that is true, you would probably think I practice Yoga and transcendental meditation when I asked you what you want a room to feel like. That’s okay. I know where my focus has to be, and that my focus will yield the strength of character that brings determination to do the hard things. Say what you will about Jesus Christ, but you have to give him the respect that says, if nothing else, he was determined.

One thing for sure is that the color is subjective to the owner. I bet that my color of determination is actually a chameleon. What color gives me strength to move forward? The color of unbridled , self sacrificing love. Getting my color in focus this morning, the black rot of wood doesn’t seem so scary, overwhelming and daunting. I am determined to cut out the black and replace it with the bright fresh color of new wood. One color of strength. One color of determination.

D E T E R M I N A T I O N probably varies in color

Lifting the slip under the little black dress

Well, it eventually happens. The naked truth is revealed and you have to either come to terms with it in the light of day,  or put the slip back on and ignore the bumps and bulges and resort to comments on what nice closets she has.

Sunday was the moment of truth. Roxy…had rot.

Taking the aluminum siding off reveals water damage and dryrot that is structural

Lifting her slip above the knee reveals some surgery is needed beneath the cometics to put her back in shape, but at 45 this 67 Lo-Liner Artstocrat still has some moves.


It all began when we decided lift her slip a little above her knee to politely inspect a sag and bulge.  It was a task that as a novice was off putting, and yet on the dark side, a bit exciting. Was my worst fear about her structural integrity about to show she had none; or was it simply going to be an insight into her slightly checkered past of neglect, that merely added to who she had become as a trailer, and what potential she now possessed? Could I help her find that potential? Did I have the skill set to bring her inner beauty out so her strengths showed and not her flaws? Would this take a hired expert in the field. OH WAIT, I am the hired expert. The reveal gave us an X-ray idea of the damage. This journey had changed. I was about to leave my firm painting and decorating knowledge base, and dive into the soft squishy formless core I had of basic building construction. I can see what needs to be done, but now I have to run power tools that are loud, can eat digits I’m fond of,  and I am a little afraid of these tools that are to big for my hand. Then, I must learn a few joinery tricks that involve a bit more than screws, hammers and nails, and Spackle. Readers, this is where the rubber meets the road-trip dream. Is Roxy all window dressing, or can some seemingly simple straightforward, time consuming, fear overiding and elbow grease hours take her from dilapidated to resuscitated? Confronting each of those fears resulted in the first ‘Form Fix-Up’. I think I am on the right track.

Now, where did I put that phone number to my building skills 101 life line?

Replacing dry rot and water damaged areas under the tank of the 1967 15' Aristocrat Lo Liner

Sucking up the uncertainty and fear, and borrowing some MOXY from Roxy for a dry rot repair.

Roxy, Black Becomes You…

Let’s face it, black is classic. It’s a category not just a color. “The little black dress” isn’t just a statement about a dress’s color, it’s about making that perfect choice of daring elegance. Black means  tough, stark, daring, elegant, bold, conservative, deep. I love black shutters on white houses because of their simple, aristocratic, old-world feel. Black is that color that I can pull out of my 5-inch-thick fan-deck of colors and have it work almost every time. So, it is with Roxy.

I love the turquoise appliances and the quilted shiny things but I needed something great to really set the tone for Roxy. Black is it.

Here’s a few photos of the most recent progress on Roxy, the 1967 Aristocrat Lo-Liner.

1967 Aristocrat Lo-Liner Dinette

Turquoise, Black and Aluminum

1967 Aristocrat Lo-Liner Kitchen and Dinette

Black, the perfect accent color in a small space.

It’s like being an archeologist…only sidetracked

     I worked with a soft toothbrush (2 actually), a spray bottle of magic, and a soapy rag soaked in a bucket of hot water for hours late into the night on getting the windows clean. Then I moved to the siding. I didn’t mean to wash just one side of the Aristocrat at a time, but it is working that way. I just get so caught up in the moment, that one little rubbing off of dirt leads to the next. It’s like being an archeologist. You discover new shiny things that make you want to see if the neighboring item has the same gleam.

My plan of action was to clear out, and clean up the entire inside before going to the next phase of denuding the flora and fauna growing on the outside of Roxys’ skin.

Clearing and Cleaning Roxy the 13' Aristocrat Lo-Liner

Cleaning the windows in the Aristocrat Travel Trailer

I wanted to give her the time she deserved for the full dermabraison treatment.

Dermabrasion and dermaplaning help to “refinish” the skin’s top layers through a method of controlled surgical scraping. The treatments soften the sharp edges of surface irregularities, giving the skin a smoother appearance.

I knocked off a hunk of olive and black moss with the tail end of my toothbrush and it just seemed to go from there. I’d unveiled white. Not grey, not moss, not dirt, but vintage factory white unseen for ages by any other human. Next thing I knew, I was frying myself a hamburger at 9:30 at night. Hours had passed and I only had the light of a full moon to gauge the success of my labor by. I must say, Roxy, like most women, is beautiful by moonlight filtered through the oaks and firs. I went to bed satisfied, and whipped, but a little afraid that the light of day would reveal nothing but a bad job of cleaning and need for more work. I remember praying as my head hit the pillow and being thankful for a good days work and the body to do the work, as well as the lyrics of a Fernando Ortega hymn going through my head as I fell into a deep sleep.

“When the morning comes on the farthest hill
I will sing His name, I will praise Him, still.
When dark trials come and my heart is filled
With the weight of doubt, I will praise Him, still.”

When I saw my husband off to work this morning at 5:45 there wasn’t enough daylight yet to see. Later after some coffee and internet time, I braved my phone camera and went out for a look.

WHALA my first big before and after photo reveal. Something to sing about!

1967 Aristocrat Before cleaning with a toothbrush and hot soapy water

BEFORE: The Beast hiding the Beauty

 

1967 Aristocrat complete with moss

Neglect

 

Scrubbed & Cleaned up version of the service side of the 1967 13 foot Aristocrat Travel Trailer

AFTER: The Beauty. She's pretty straight with no rust on this side after all the toothbrush archeological digging. No more 'Tears of Green Goo' running down her side.