Journey To Getting There: Downsizing

The stuffed animal is 2″ high, the flowers 3″ and the doll 6″ Wayne gave me the dolll after I gave up two beautiful porcelin native american lifesize babydolls. I gave him the miniture stuffed animal and tiny crystal like flowers when he had surgery. All 3 items together are likely smaller than one glass flower vace would be to store.

Although we had been quiet for a long time between September 2016 and present time we have been quite busy working on the goal.  Both of us have known since the late 1970’s that one day we would retire and take off and we’ve known since the late 1980’s that we would do that together.  Too bad we didn’t know about downsizing back then as we continued to gather and accumulate for both personal and business lives.  We started to get serious about it in 2007 and find it surprising how long it can take if one is environmentally conscious instead of calling in a dumpster.  We’ve had several businesses along the way which accumulated left over inventory so along with things gathered through age we had some best left in a storage locker.

Gradually our thinking changed and we cut way back on the buying knowing we would likely have to let it go down the line.  We thought more about purchases than we ever did before.  Sometimes even little things were converted to the cause like a hospital stay gift of a 3″ stuff animal in lieu of the usual pillow size square inch hog of stuffing.

After a move across state lines we thought we had given away everything except what we might need but that was a lie.  Sometimes creative people surround themselves with tools to work with and in our case it was lots and lots of toys with a variety of subject matter to flit from project to project instead of diving seriously into one or two things.

As the time to retire comes closer and closer we tend to make quicker decisions about what will go and what will not.  And our plan is to experience true freedom by not being tied to a storage unit which will require returning to now and then and moving at least once down the line.  This summer will see the letting go of maple dressors and living out of suitcases for a year.  Bigger items will be let go of than the those of past.  And our pile for October’s Earth Day continues to grow as do the donation boxes.  Soon the garage will be cleared out for Garage Sale Day and hopefully the Class B will be out of the driveway with a new owner.

The Journey series will be comentary on our journey towards our take off day.  We continue to put in place our web links and information so that we will have them handy when we are on the road.  A lot of them will be handy for many of you so enjoy!  (And subscribe!)

Independence Coming: July 2017

In 2007 we purchased a 1989 Class B High-top Camper Van which required not just mechanical aid but decorative help. It was to be our vehicle for country viewing years down the line when we retired and took a one-year camping and exploring adventure. 

The restoration portion was a challenge both inside and out. Three years ago I pulled into an auto paint shop and the guy came walking out saying, “Oh hell no!”

It caught me off guard because the body work wasn’t all that bad she was just big. And old. True, the beast required a lot of prep work. We got to talking and the end of it was it was a task he was not willing to take on (he was older than I was) and he said, “just roll some paint over it and some fisherman is going to be real happy to take that up to his cabin every year.”

Having for a short while been a member of Sisters On The Fly  paintbrush + vehicle of any sort was nothing to shy away from.

So there it was, it was up to me. And thus began the lengthy period of time when my brain sometimes hurt from trying to figure out how to solve some part of the beautifcation of Jelly Bean. That was the name given to it by the previous owner in Oregon. The Class B was built on a Dodge 350 engine and a great design. There are a lot of options inside and pretty good storage. It’s 19 feet in length and you can stand up in it, sleep in it and cook in it.  We installed a 2-way 2-speed Fantastic Fan in it to cool things off that will work off the house battery (Optima Blue Top) and we can plug the camper in at a campsite with electricity using the attached cord.  There are outlets inside.

One of several custom additions to this 1989 Dodge 350 Class B Van

It took me a long time to figure out how to reach the top to clean for painting as well as to paint. Those are stories in itself. Things like resealing windows and replacing curtains, carpets and engine dog house covers kept me thinking late at night.

 Weather plays a great deal in what you can and cannot do to a vehicle that sits outside because it is too tall for any garage or carport. Rain and snow are down times. Wind about the same as is the heat or cold which shows up at mile high level. And hail cannot only stop you from working it can give you more work – and cost you. The “storm shield” currently pictured on an opening blog was created after a hail storm cost us over $300 for a new front window. That same shield recently saved us $300 on a new window during a recent Colorado hail storm. A small section shows tears where a strong burst would have likely cracked it like it did so many around Denver a few months back.

Painting required a very tall ladder and decent weather. It took 3  years to complete as work arounds were made during heat, cold, rain, snow, wind. The inside was begun two years ago and yesterday was a major celebration as the last two puzzels for how to accomplish a job was finally figured out and the end of the project is now in sight.

Along the way I took photos and videos of how to’s because I spent a lot of time trying to figure out “how to” for so many of the projects within this project. Some things took years to figure out. Yes, years.

Yesterday I laid down a large piece of carpet in the cab that I had just finished cutting. As I stood back and saw the transformation and knew I would soon have this job completed it dawned on me that I was really and truly within sight of the end of this project. Jelly Bean is clean and beautiful and what restoration will remain after me are really decisions needed to be made by the new owner.

Matching interior fabric included for customized new owner projects.

Yesterday morning I began an extensive camera review of an inexpensive HausBell video camera I bought on Amazon. I wanted to catch various lighting conditions throughout the day and since I was in the middle of a restoration job on the carpet I decided to film that as it would give me an idea of how well the camera worked for such a project. I also took a particular scenic shot throughout the day and in various lighting conditions. I ended up filming almost everything except the inside of the outer bins which I will do today. The camera review video needs to be edited and I need to add night time shots after reading up on how to do that as this was the first time using the camera. As I filmed the camper van I ended up explaining all the areas and choices I made as well as the decisions that were to be made by the new owner. I showed some of the materials that will be included that match the colors of the van and can be used as desired by the new owner for making pillows or whatever.

Many things happen over the years and our plans changed. Our list of places to travel has extended our adventure to two years and thus we opted for a vehicle with an engine warranty while we will be on the road. Our second car became a truck and a future trailer will sit in our driveway. Jelly Bean was/is still my every day car and our summer camping fun.  I would not put Jelly Bean up for sale until I finished projects to a point so I had continued to work.   As I looked at the remodel yesterday after I figured out the final details of how to finish the front curtains I knew my project was finally near the end stages and would be leaving me. I have been saying goodbye to Jelly Bean since spring hit and I knew I would be finished with my part sometime in summer. I made it a priority and yesterday I realized I have but a week to go before the for sale sign comes up.

Already as I drive into parking spots conversation is spontaneous when people are near by. I like the comments and it makes me feel good. I gave an impromptu inside tour outside a Big Lots store last week with a promise to put up photos and a link to this website.

Our future trip is nearing and it is time to go from two cars to one so that a trailer can fit in the driveway. Now it is nearing time for me to make a trailer my own and I want the time to do that while I am still not mobile. So I celebrated Independence Day knowing my long time project with Jelly Bean is over in a week.

Video and photos coming soon.  A new YouTube Channel is in the works about our journey to our trip date in which will include the Class B restoration video, tips on our downsizing efforts, our trailer research and decisions, etc.  With the restoration project nearly complete there will be time to keep this blog updated a few times a week and we’ve been working on a new logo as well.  So subscribe to keep up with the new activity!

Labor Day Weekend 2016

Colorado Pike Forest
Blue Mountain Campground

Grounding To Nature

Woke up Sunday morning in brisk Pike Forest mountain air. By the time we got home 4:30 the next afternoon I was not the same person I had seemed to be when I left. Over a year since the last camping trip, in the same forest but that time Round Mountain. Everywhere I looked my eyes fell on beauty and the weather was amazing. It is the non-physical equal to a long massage.

We were keyed tightly after a long holiday drive with a short sleep span between Friday night packing and Saturday morning take off. Many campgrounds were full or reserved and if it’s too early in the day one does not yet know if the reserved sites will end up available later in the day. We were happy we drove in the day so our eyes could take in the I-25 through 24 Colorado mountain drive, along with the towns we knew the names of from maps. We made a frustrated drive around occupied and reserved waiting signs of Blue Mountain Campground, stopping with low spirits before making the turn back out. Round Mountain before this had been full or reserved. A green T-shirt and jeans man appeared near our window to tell us we were after all in luck as he was removing the reserved signs for the no-shows. Grateful, I wanted to hug him. We had been on the road for almost five hours and, well, we wanted to be camping.
Happy Children in Large Forest

God seemed to shine on us as we could not have asked for a nicer spot and the 15 foot walk to the road from the campsite was a mountain view painted by nature. I got one shot with the camera and two shots of the kids next campsite over before my camera batteries died. We had not planned this camping trip, it was but Thursday when Wayne asked work for the holiday off and the team mates present had a say in it. How nice to work with great people all day, he is very lucky, they voted yes.

I had spent the spring and summer painting the camper and replacing the flooring so all time Friday was taken stocking the empty cupboards. I charged portable chargers and phones and computers but the camera went in hoping for the best and only had 3 photos worth left.

One door closes another one opens. FedEx had these car cameras on sale for under $20 for plugging into a cigarette lighter and capturing video as one drives. They come with two cords, one for the cigarette lighter and the other for plugging into a charger (not included). I plugged into a portable power pack about 3” x 4” and had a fun time walking around the campground capturing images. Sorry I missed the baby fox as he was scared off before I could get the camera. We were too busy trying to figure out what that very dark grey thing with the big fluffy tail was and Wayne added he saw two pointy ears. That tail was huge for the size of the animal and he sure looked like a smaller version of a red fox I saw years ago. He bounded very quickly up the mountain side without any trouble at all.

I captured Jerry and his “German Brown” trout as he was walking back into his campsite. He was there celebrating his 60th wedding anniversary and 3 of his 4 daughters were also camped out along with other family members. I hope the video came out of his talk about the local campgrounds near Eleven Mile. I have yet to view the SD cards and hope things wanted did not get video loop recorded over.

So, home and back to normal but not the same as when I left. I forgot what the word “relaxed” felt like. Wonderful comes to mind.

The Journey To Fulltime RVing & Places Been, Places To Go