Thursday, December 30, 2010

Playing Sit & Sort; and the Dolphin Gets a Name!

We are still waiting to see what kind of my housing my kid, Sly, is going to get so that I can be on my merry way. I originally put in my notice to be out of my rental house by January 14th, but since Sly still doesn't have an apartment or a room in a house with other students, I've rescheduled my departure until the end of January. My property manager is a very nice, flexible guy, so whether I leave earlier or later than January 31st, it will all be okay, just so long as I communicate regularly as to what my plans are.

In the meantime, I now have a little more time to carefully go through things. First I went through all of my eBay inventory that I am bringing with me--vintage designer silk scarves that I haven't yet listed for sale. My inventory and the reference books on scarves, silk, designers, etc. now all fit nicely into one 18-gallon Rubbermaid tote.

I spent several days working on a lifetime of photographs, going from three bankers' boxes to one small box that I can bring with me and enjoy.

Then I went through all of my vintage fabrics...haven't been able to confine them into one Rubbermaid tote, but I'll make another pass through these before I leave.

Now I'm working on art supplies. As a mosaic artist, I have lots of heavy materials that I won't be bringing with me. I'm going to concentrate on fabric art while traveling because it's so much lighter to work with, and also my unsold scarves make wonderful sewing materials. I'd like to get my art stuff down to one Rubbermaid tote, and I have quite a ways to go on that goal.

After researching dolphin facts, dolphin-related gods and goddesses, dolphin-sounding names, etc., I've decided to call my motorhome "The Guppy." True, baby dolphins are not guppies; they are called calves. But I can't see myself saying, "Well, let me go see if I have it in The Calf..." Laura Dekker, the 14-year-old girl who is currently trying to be the youngest person to sail around the world, has a ketch called Guppy, and she is an inspiration to me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Atlanta in the Springtime

(Sonja, Explorer of Boxes, Large and Small)

Great news! I've lined up a petsitting gig outside of Atlanta, mid-May through early June. It's at an eco-village type community called Serenbe, dubbed the "Sonoma of the New South" by the New York Times. I can't wait! The setting is beautiful, the community is close-knit, and there's lots of culture, an organic farm, restaurants and a weekly farmers/artists market. I'll be taking care of some large active dogs and a couple of cats in my client's home. My own kitty, Sonja, will stay in my motorhome, very near the house, where I can visit her several times a day.

I hadn't actually planned to go as far east as Atlanta in 2011, but this is a fun (and paid!) opportunity, and it may well lead to similar gigs in the future.

My other piece of good news today is that I was able to very quickly liquidate my entire inventory of antiques by selling them to another antique dealer. I didn't get much money for my stuff, but the guy is going to take everything out of the antique mall space that I was renting, so I don't have to! This is a huge time-saver, because I was anticipating having to box everything up and take it to another venue, such as the local flea market, to try one last time to sell it before I start my travels. So, one more item is now checked off of my "get out of town" list.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Usually before I go to sleep at night, I read a few pages of a novel. But for the past month or two, my bedtime reading has been my road atlas and various travel books. I've dreamed up a three-year itinerary that would allow me to see most of the Lower 48 states and Canada.

My plans for 2011 take me first to the Southwest to soak up the sun and get the moss off my backside. Then I want to meander east as far as Louisiana, then head north on the Great River Road, spending the summer visiting family and friends in the Midwest, before returning to the Pacific Northwest in the fall.

I figure on going to the East Coast for a large part of 2012, including spending some time in Eastern Canada, a place I've never been.

So, here I am, not yet even having gassed up the Dolphin and headed out of town, and I'm already changing my itinerary. Why? A cool opportunity to housesit at an intentional eco-village near Atlanta, Georgia, this coming May.

I'm very interested in intentional communities of all kinds. At this stage of my life, I want to travel. I want to see all of the U.S.A. and the rest of North America, although I'm pretty chicken about going to Mexico right now. I definitely want to see more of the world outside of my own continent, too. But eventually I'm going to want to settle down someplace where I have a strong sense of community and purpose. So I'll gladly drive 497 miles out of my way (New Orleans to Atlanta) to spend two weeks at Serenbe, especially for a paying housesitting client.

And now that I'm making a detour, I will have the glee of picking new routes! I like the dreams I have after falling asleep with the atlas on my lap.

My pics today are early ones of my child, Sly, who at age 18 is staying behind in Oregon to start college. I'm in the process of scanning photos before I start traveling. It was a project I dreaded, but now that I've started it, I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Dolphin is Gutted!

Here is the living room/dining room area of my 1983 Toyota Dolphin motorhome, gutted by my carpenter friend, Eric. As you can see, there are some floor-level cabinets on the left that still have to come out. On the right is the water tank and some other mechanical stuff. So Erik will have to build over these two obstacles with the new built-in furniture, but he is very creative!

Erik is going to put down cork flooring, which he got a deal on because we selected a pattern that was clearance-priced, with only 100 sf left--just about the amount we needed. Eric selected birch plywood for the furniture he'll be building.

Here's the left side of the Dolphin, which used to have a couch/convertible bed built over the cabinets that still need to come out. Eric is going to re-route the plumbing so the pipes run right along the wall. Then he can remove these cabinets and start building a new restaurant-style booth and table. The bench seats will have storage underneath, and the table will drop down onto the seats to convert into an extra bed for when I have a friend or family member visiting me.

Here's a better look at the right side, where the big work bench will be built over the water tank. I sell vintage scarves and other textiles on eBay, and there will be room under the work table for Rubbermaid bins that will contain my work stuff and hobbies.

The motorhome seems so much bigger with the built-ins gone, and I am hoping that Eric can preserve the sense of openness.

In addition to building tables and storage, Eric is going to build in a ladder and bed rail. It should look really shipshape when he's done!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Took a Spin to the Oregon Coast

My carpenter friend will have my Dolphin for a couple of weeks while he remodels the interior, so I decided I should take it out for a good drive before he gets started. My kid and I drove to the Oregon Coast yesterday. It was just a quick trip out and back again. The weather was nice when we left, but it started to rain very quickly and the rain picked up throughout the day.

We found a nice rest stop along Hwy 126 that I had never noticed before. (It's kind of funny how I see things differently now that I'm thinking about where to hang out in my RV.) It's a boat ramp on the Siuslaw River that has restrooms and picnic tables in a lovely, very green setting. You can park there for 30 minutes without a permit, which apparently boaters need to launch their boats there.

We stopped in Old Town Florence for a few minutes and did a little shopping. I bought myself a very nice walking stick--like a cane, but with a knob. I've needed one of those for a long time and just the right one appeared. It is made of twisted oak with an olive wood knob. I also got a sticker to put on the door of my RV letting emergency personnel know that I have a cat inside. (Well, she's not in there yet, but she will be, when it's our home.) We decided we'd better head back to Eugene quickly, because the rain was so hard, the river was rising. At Cushman, the water was the highest and closest to the road that I've ever seen it.

I found out a few things about my rig by making this little road trip. First off, when I bought it, the seller told me that it needed shocks, and indeed it does. All of my previous driving had been either on the freeway or on level city streets. On Highway 126, which has lots of potholes and other unruliness, the ride was a little rough and the Dolphin didn't handle that great. Part of this is because I'm not used to the motorhome yet--so when it catches a little wind or it's on an uneven surface, I get anxious. The shocks should help, and I'll definitely get them replaced before I head south.

Another thing I learned, from driving the Dolphin in the dark for the first time, is that my dash lights don't work, so I'll get those checked, along with one of my taillights that is out.

Finally, I learned that I am going to be one of those drivers that used to drive the younger me nuts when I'd get stuck behind them. Hey, it's a motorhome. It doesn't go fast up big hills.

So here's what I learned about myself on my mini-trip: I can hardly wait to get going! Yesterday's little trip made it all more real, and getting on the road is what I really want to do. So today I went out and bought a few things I'm going to need on the road (the tube for the dump station, a cup holder for my rig that's too old to have one built in, etc.). And as soon as I push the "Publish Post" button, I'm going to email my landlord and give my notice on my rental house. This should make it even more real.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Found a Carpenter to Remodel My Rig!

I'm so friend Trudy that I got to see over the weekend at the flea market got me connected with her daughter's former partner.

Eric is currently unemployed and he's a very talented carpenter. He's going to yank the old furniture out of my Dolphin and build in the more practical furniture and storage that I have in mind. This should give me adequate workspace and storage for the various functions I'll want to carry on in my motorhome, some of which require some counter space, such as photographing things I'm selling on eBay or cutting fabric for a sewing project.

Erik has all-around remodeling experience, not just carpentry, so he's going to tear out my carpet and put in a tile floor. I'm so excited about this!

Erik has a great understanding of what I need, and he is doing some drawings that we'll go over this weekend. Then my motorhome will be with him for a couple of weeks while he makes these changes. I should have the Dolphin in time to make a practice trip before I actually head out and start living full-time in the motorhome in mid-January.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Big Sale at the Antique Store

Today I'm putting up signs in my antique store space that say:



40% OFF!

I think I'll have a very good month at the antique store. I've put in my notice there and need to be out of my space at the end of December. I think a lot of stuff will disappear at 40 percent off, and I can always increase the discount as the month progresses, especially after Christmas.

My Dolphin is still full of stuff that I took to the flea market over the weekend. The trick over the next couple of days is to make all that stuff go away and have as little as possible come back into the house. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Flea Market Success

I forgot to take the camera with me yesterday...too bad, I had a great time this weekend talking to other flea market vendors. I've actually gotten to know several of the folks a bit during this year in Eugene, even though I only sold at the flea market a couple of times myself. I did a lot of buying there this year, though.

The flea market vendor crowd are people who completely understand the desire to get in a motor home and follow the sun. As I mentioned in my last post, I reconnected with a friend who will be heading south in her own Toyota Dolphin about the same time as I am (we're aiming for mid-January). I got the feeling from talking to the savvy, independent women who sell at this flea market that many of them would like to join our convoy! I got a lot of tips about selling at flea markets and similar venues on my travels.

It wasn't a very busy weekend at the market, but I did pocket several hundred dollars to put away for my travels. And now I have a lot of stuff out of the house that is not going to go back in. The stuff that remains in the Dolphin today, after the flea market, will be either heading to my antique store space to be sold at blow-out prices or it will be donated to charity. Doing that sorting and emptying is the goal for the next day or two.

I'm getting to the point now that I can actually pack for my travels. I have several empty Rubbermaid totes and I'm starting to fill them by function: Art tote; sewing tote; eBay inventory tote; eBay shipping supplies tote, etc.

Now I really need to get the interior of my motorhome remodeled so it can accommodate my totes. I have a pretty doable plan, I just need someone to do the ripping out and building for me. Fortunately my flea market connections may yield up a reasonably priced carpenter son-in-law of a vendor...hoping to find out on that today!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Packed Up the RV!

Yes, I packed up the Toyota Dolphin yesterday. I wish I could say it was because I'm ready to hit the road and head south to warmer climes! However, I was only packing up the motorhome with stuff that I took to the flea market to sell this weekend.

It was great, though, to use a vehicle that could carry so much stuff. It made me realize that, with some remodeling, my rig will be adequate for my full-time living and working needs. I packed it up today with waaaaay more stuff than I intend to bring with me on my travels.

Planning for the flea market this week has really helped me shape up ideas about how to continue getting rid of stuff. Since it wasn't practical for me to haul furniture over to the flea market, I realize I'll need to have a moving sale before I leave town. I'll plan on doing that after Christmas, maybe in early January, and then hit the road. I'm planning to put in my notice on my rental house for January 15th.

What's making this all possible is my great kid. Sly is very excited about going to college, starting in early January and will be looking for a place to live immediately.

I had the greatest thing happen to me at the flea market today. I unexpectedly saw a friend who I'd met this past summer, also at the flea market. We have an uncanny amount in common. It almost got spooky today when Trudy told me that she, too, has a 1980s Toyota Dolphin and will also be heading south sometime in January. So now we have each other for support and encouragement, both as we get ready to head out and once we get on the road. We also share a lot of interests in doing artwork and selling I'm sure we'll want to hit a few of the same art fairs and so on. Yay! Watch out for the Dolphin Chicks from Eugene! (Here is where I should have a great picture of Trudy and me...maybe I can get that at the flea market tomorrow.)

Today was a successful day at the flea market. I made my expenses for the weekend by lunchtime and then I was going to start making some traveling money after that. However, the sales pretty much dried up in the afternoon when the Civil War started (University of Oregon vs. Oregon State). Tomorrow should be better, and it will be all money I can tuck away for my travels.

Yes, of course the Ducks won!