Toy Hauler Rehaul-er

So, now we have ourselves a project!  Our new-to-us toy hauler travel trailer had a leak, of which we were aware of so there was definitely full disclosure, no problems there.  Usually this type of issue can be a deal breaker, but we had gotten the truck and trailer combo for such a sweet price, it was heard to be mentioned that we bought the truck and got the trailer for free.


We survey the damage as well as we can from the outside, but Robert knows we won’t know the extent of the damage until he peels back the aluminum siding and takes a look at what’s underneath.  And what’s underneath is a lot of black, rotted wood and fiberglass insulation.  Structurally compromised, environmentally dangerous, due to the possibility of mold.  We’ve got work to do!

Robert replacing rot.
Robert replacing rot.

On a nice stretch of sunny weekend weather, Robert removes the aluminum sheeting from the exterior of the trailer and sets it aside, then saws and breaks apart the blackened wood and dirty insulation, bagging it up.  He leaves the most damage-free, accessible pieces in order to stay able to build from them and reconstruct the shape of the nose of the trailer, where the bedroom is.  The affected walls of the bedroom, nearest the tongue, come down, leaving the parts of the interior supporting a closet and a series of cabinets above the bed frame.  Now the inside of the trailer is open to the great outdoors!  It would be sweet to have alfresco sleeping, but there are just too many cons to this option/not an option, and I suppose if we want to snooze out of doors we can set up a hammock.

New wood paneling with a peek at the insulation.
New wood paneling with a peek at the insulation.

When  we have measurements taken and enough demo has been done satisfactorily, we cruise on down to Home Despot and buy 2×2 lumber, foam board insulation, spray foam insulation and two sheets of thin, birch veneered plywood.  I had the idea to have myself some nice wood paneling instead of the weird vinyl wall covering that was currently on every single wall.  Every.  But I have plans.  More on that later.  In the meantime, Robert has screwed the aluminum siding back into place and we work from the outside in, to piece it all back together.  He replaces the 2×2 framing and fits the cut insulation board between the studs, using spray foam to keep them tucked into place, and while the foam is still wet he screws the appropriate piece of plywood down to form new walls.  Mmmmmm, sandwiches!  Robert and I head back to Home Despot for a sealing agent that can be used to keep the roof from leaking again and seal the seams we had opened.  We decide on a gallon can of white roof sealant, a kind of spreadable putty, and Robert spends a day of unpleasantness sealing all the seams and holes he can find, as well as the entire roof.

Bed platform

My vision for the bedroom is to stain and poly the new walls a light honey color, so as to preserve the “birchness”.  I want to take as much of Alaska with us on the trip as I can, and when I think of birch, I think of Alaska.  Yes, I know it grows in other places, but I do the same thing with aspens and Colorado or dogwoods and Alabama.  They just go together.  So, a light honey color is what I want, but a bit darker color is what I get.  Uh.  So be it, it still looks pretty damn good.

Too dark?

I finish with some trim and a gorgeous tie dyed cloth I got from my mom, for a curtain.  Oh, and Christmas lights, because they just make me so freaking happy!  (I have actually sat on the floor with a lap full of a plugged-in, bright mass of tangles, gleefully straightening out strings of lights and just thinking “Christmas lights make me so fucking happy!”)

Moonlight in her new digs!

The next project?  A symphony (cacophony?) of paint and contact paper.


My Last Week of Work or, Home is Where the Coffee Pot Sits

As I sit here enjoying a cup of coffee, I….wait.  The coffee cup is empty.  Again.  Why is the coffee always gone?  Just a moment…!

Good morning!!!

A new office every day.
A new office every day.

Today is the start of me saying goodbye to the majority of my clients, as I had put in my notice to my good friend Yael, who just happens to be my boss.  Or my boss Yael, who just happens to have become such a wonderfully good friend.  Either way is correct.  I had come to work as a subcontractor at her business, Workplace Massage, what.  Five years ago, now?  Five and a half?  Something like that.  Anyway, I’ve met so many great people, we’ve told one another our stories, I’ve tried to do my best to sooth their bodily aches as well as lend a listening ear without judgement.  I love them.

Giving Yael massage somewhere north of the Arctic Circle (Prudhoe Bay, Alaska)
Giving a massage somewhere north of the Arctic Circle (Prudhoe Bay, Alaska)

I’ve always striven to create a space of unconditional love wherever I’ve worked, especially (or despite!) doing my work at my clients’ place of business.  An oasis of calm relaxation in the middle of a hectic day.  And now I’m leaving.  I know I’m leaving my clients in the capable hands of my replacement, but this is still going to be a painful parting, no matter how excited I am to go on this trip.  Bittersweet.

Massage is good for every-bear-dy!
Massage is good for every-bear-dy!

The more aged I become, the more nuanced the understanding and complex the feelings that can be described as Bittersweet.

Take coffee, for an example.  It’s a black and bitter brew, but with a little milk and honey to cut the bitterness and lend some sweetness, it’s such deliciousness.  Add some chocolate, amaretto or Bailey’s and it becomes a sensation.

Speaking of coffee, we’ve been sleeping in the trailer, getting up with the unwelcome assistance of the alarm clock, getting dressed from the drawers and closet.  The computer is on the table and there are pictures on the walls.  But I haven’t really felt like we had been moved in until last night, when I brought the coffee maker in from the house and Robert set it up on our little kitchen counter.  That’s when it became real, having coffee brewing this morning and coming in from letting Moonlight out for potty, opening the door to the welcoming aroma of a cozy home on wheels.


Our RV (pre)Adventure

This past February, my husband, Robert, and I flew down to Portland from Anchorage, rented a small SUV and had a road trip to see sights and family for a couple of weeks.  We drove down through Oregon, stopping in Klamath Falls, then across the top of Nevada into Elko.  While there, we had a nice coffee visit with our friend Steve, whom Robert had previously worked with at Aerometric.  Aerometric was an aerial surveying and mapping company where Robert was Director of Missions Operations and Steven was Chief Pilot.  Long story short, after the company was acquired by an investment firm, safety was no longer a priority and sensible people felt it prudent to remove themselves therewith.  Posthaste.  Anyway, we had a nice visit, somewhat nice coffee, and were on our way to Colorado to visit our kids and grandbabies.  Afterwards, we made our way down to Texas to visit with Robert’s family and had a wonderful time until it was time to go home, so we headed back to Portland for our flight to Alaska.


Northern Nevada is surprisingly beautiful!

Now, we had been living off of the 401k money, which was being stretched by my income as well as Robert going through and auctioning on Ebay, his massive collection of junk.  (Settle down, Robert.  When I call your precious belongings “junk”, it’s only in the most respectful and endearing manner.  No, really!  Okay, junque is better.)  Somewhere in the wilds of Utah, Robert suddenly turns to me and says, “You know, Ebay doesn’t care where you send an item from, just as long as the person who won the item receives it in the allotted time frame.”  I’m like, okay.  That makes sense.  Why would Ebay care where it came from, as long as it got there?  Then he says something to the effect of, “We could go around the country and buy “junk” and resell it to make a living while driving around having a good time!”  That’s what I heard, at any rate.  And I’m all for it!  What could be better than being on an epic road trip, looking at cool old stuff and getting PAID!?!  So, while in Portland, we stop in at Powell’s Books, which is the best and biggest used bookstore ANYWHERE….and I find some research material about RVing and living in your RV full time (called fulltiming).  Research then commences, including websites, youtube videos, facebook groups, blogs, vlogs, magazine articles, etc.  Fun stuff!

When we feel we have steeped ourselves in enough knowledge to do so, we start looking into buying an RV, or rig, as they’re sometimes referred to.  We have a friend who had recently driven from Anchorage to Montana in an older Dodge Travco motorhome, a real retro beauty.  He moved down to work at his family’s car dealership and has a viable set up we could acquire rather economically.  It’s an older Class C, the kind that looks like a van with the overhanging loft.  Plus, it would come with a cargo trailer for our stuff.  We seriously consider checking it out for some weeks.  But THEN!  Our friend Steve…remember him?….he mentions to Robert one day that he has just what we’re looking for, and he wants to give us a good deal since he’s selling his place in Anchorage.  Heck ya!  We drive over to his house to check it out, but we can’t get into it since he’s still in Nevada.  We’ll have to wait a while until he can get back into town for him to show it to us, but it does, indeed, look like what we’re wanting!  A 28 foot bumper-pull toy hauler travel trailer and 2002 diesel Ford Excursion.  The diesel is a huge plus to Robert, as well as the spacious garage for storing junque in the back of the trailer, and I’m excited by the thought of having a toilet available at any stop.  We wave at Steve’s security camera and give him thumbs ups as we get back into our car for the ride back over to our house, and a slightly middle aged couple gets as enthusiastic as teenagers with life plans and adventures forthcoming.

It’s some time until we get to see the inside and by then we’ve decided that this is the very thing we need to make our antiquing dreams come true.  We’ve withdrawn almost the very last gasp of savings and kept it separate from everyday living expenses and we’re ready for a walk through of the trailer and test drive of the truck.  Things seem to be pretty well taken care of, as Robert knows from working with Steve that he’s a stickler for operational readiness.  Actually, what Robert says is that Steve is slightly anal retentive, but no judging here!  It’s preferential to buy such things from that kind.  The guys go over maintenance issues while I and Steve’s wife go over trailer creature comforts like the mattress and galley storage.  I’m not impressed by the stock decor or how impersonal the interior looks, but it’s certainly functional which is the main focus.  Money changes hands, we get a lesson in hitching up, and Robert drives the rig to our house while I follow and maintain contact via cell phone.  No issues or mishaps later, we back the trailer into our driveway and unhitch it.  And that’s when the real work started!


IMG_1387Our new home parked in front of our old home.