Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dolphin Remodel--The Reveal!

New cork floor and birch built-ins

Wow, what a difference a day makes, as the old song says. I have been on pins and needles, waiting to get my Toyota Dolphin back from the carpenter. It is finally (nearly) finished and I was able to take it home for overnight visitation before it goes to the mechanic tomorrow. Now instead of being on pins and needles, I'm walking on air. I spent most of today in the Dolphin, measuring and cutting and putting up Contac paper and all that happy stuff.

On the left is a picture of the dinette area, without the table in place. There is a little storage under the seats. The table will drop down to convert the seating area into an extra bed for when I have a friend or family member visiting me. I re-used the five-inch foam that used to be in the cabover sleeping area to cut cushions for the seats, and I will be covering those over the next few days. I found a really great tropical print!

The picture on the right shows the new workbench with an open area beneath it for storage. This is where I will put some Rubbermaid bins that contain my eBay inventory, shipping supplies, art supplies, etc. I'll install a cargo net to keep the Rubbermaid bins from moving around while I'm driving. I'm also going to make some curtains to replace the saggy old blinds.

I've purchased a couple of folding stools to use at this big counter. I used it today for the first time and it was great--perfect height.

This picture is a close-up of the birch wood and fir trim that Eric used for the built-ins. It's nice! Later this week, after the mechanic is done with whatever needs fixing, Eric is going to give the woodwork one more protective coat, install the table, and take care of any punchlist type items. Then my motorhome should be ready to rodeo!

I have only had the Guppy back in my possession for today, so I haven't gotten started on sewing the cushion covers or curtains yet, but I'm sure looking forward to it! In the meantime, I did a bit of hippification of my sleeping quarters:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Finally Have a Departure Date!

I finally have a firm date of departure: February 14th. I can't think of a better way to spend Valentine's Day than to finally hit the road!

I'm supposed to get my motorhome back from the carpenter today. I'm not crossing my fingers because Eric has been delayed quite a bit due to illness and other problems. But I have given myself a little leeway...I made an appointment with the mechanic for Monday. The Guppy will probably be in the shop for a few days, then I can roadtest it before I actually leave Eugene.

I hope to be posting pics of the newly refurbished interior very soon. In the meantime, I have gone ahead and made some reservations for places I will be camping in California. I'm not quite ready to do any extensive boondocking yet...I'd like to get some experience camping where there are electrical hookups and so on until I have the confidence to go camp for free on Federal land. So I'll be staying at some resorts in the Coast to Coast network, some California State Parks, and a private RV park near Disneyland. I will have a few nights of boondocking along the way in order to gain some experience.

My itinerary is to head south on I-5 until I get to Sacramento, then go east to explore the California gold country for a few days. Then I'm going to Santa Cruz to meet some friends that I've known online for many years, then head slowly down the California Coast.

I'll be venturing into the greater L.A. area for a little while. I'll be spending a couple of days in the Long Beach/Huntington Beach area for some whale watching, then it's over to Anaheim to visit The California Adventure and Downtown Disney. After that I'm heading to Palm Springs for a couple of weeks. (Palm Springs is a great place for me to buy eBay inventory...scads of upscale thrift stores!)

In mid-March, I'll start my slow journey to the east, meandering my way across Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, in order to arrive at my pet-sitting gig in Atlanta by mid-May. Then the plan is to backtrack to New Orleans in June, where my kid will join me for a week when school gets out.

After that I'll take my time driving The Great River Road to Minnesota, where I grew up and most of my family still lives. I'll spend the summer there and then head back to the Pacific Northwest to regroup for a couple of months.

Now, about money...even with staying at a bunch of fancy-schmantzy resorts and top-dollar California State Beach campsites, and even paying for gas, my first month on the road should cost me less than it costs to live in a tiny rental cottage on an alley in Eugene, Oregon. That's because of my Coast-to-Coast membership, which allows me to stay at nice campgrounds for just $10 per night. I'll get a place to stay, electricity, and Internet for less than what it costs to stay home. When I get my courage up and spend more time boondocking, my cost of living will get even cheaper.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Can't Wait!

Eric is fully back on-track with the motorhome interior rehab and I'll be picking The Guppy up from him this weekend and then taking it to get new shocks on Monday morning. Yay! I'll get a chance this weekend to figure out what will fit where in the moho.

Eric will need the motorhome back for a little finish work next week, and then I should be able to move in. I'm glad! It's gotten to the point that the motorhome will be much more comfortable than the little house I'm renting...I've gotten rid of almost all of the furniture, so I'm "camping" more in the the house than I will be in the Dolphin.

A good friend renewed her invitation to park the Dolphin at her house for whatever length of time it takes me to get my affairs in order and be ready to leave town. So I'm good to go! I am finishing up sorting through the last of my stuff and donating things to charity. I still have a car to sell, but need to keep using it for a few more days before I begin the process of getting rid of it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Progress and Practice

My carpenter/handyman friend, Eric, has been terribly ill, so progress has been delayed on rebuilding the interior of my gutted Toyota Dolphin. He's getting better, though, and is back on the project. We're meeting tomorrow morning to go over the drawings before he begins actually building. Then, as soon as the reglazed windows are installed, he can put down the floor and build my dinette, counter with storage, and ladder/bedrail.

I've had to come to grips with the fact that this is not happening on my schedule. I had hoped to have the motorhome back by now, so I could start getting it packed up and ready to go. It may be that the end of the month will roll around and I'll still be dealing with things that need to happen before I can leave. This would be disappointing, but it's not the end of the world. There are things I could do...put my stuff in storage and couchsurf for a little while, for instance. Go up to Seattle and get my remaining dental work done by my old dentist. Head out to the Coast and camp in a rental yurt for a few nights. Lots of choices. None of them is as good as heading south in my refurbished RV, but, then again, none is the end of the world, either.

In the meantime, I continue to get rid of stuff. I have a few more things to list on eBay today. A friend is coming tomorrow to pick up a couple of bookcases from me. A second-hand furniture shop is coming later in the week to take my big queen bed and a few other pieces off my hands. My antique dealer friend is coming later in the month to take whatever is left at that time. By month end, even if I'm not able to live in my Dolphin yet, I will be down to just the stuff that I'll be taking with me when I travel.

Also, in the meantime, I am practicing a few things that I'll be doing once I live in my motorhome. I'm not planning to have a fancy phone with Internet access--I'll be using wifi wherever I can find it along the way, at coffee shops, rest areas, libraries, whatever. So last week, I took my laptop to McDonald's and got my 75 cent Senior Coffee and went online there for a couple of hours. It worked great!

I've also been simplifying my cooking in the past few days, now that my kid has moved out and I'm just cooking for myself. One hot item for dinner is enough--no need to keep doing the traditional protein and two veg meal. Last night I cooked a delicious pork chop (something my kid would never eat!) and had some good olive bread and a blood orange. Wonderful meal!

Today I'm going to work on electronics. I gave my kid my big laser printer and bought a much smaller portable printer, so I'll try that out. I'm also debating whether to replace my old pre-digital TV (which requires a converter box and rabbit ears) and ancient DVD player with a tiny 15" Toshiba flatscreen with a built-in DVD player. It would take up a lot less space. On the other hand, how much TV will I actually watch while I'm on the road? I'm not sure about that at all. If I'm boondocking out in the middle of nowhere, it won't matter which TV I have, because I won't be able to pick up any reception, anyway. If I'm stealth camping in a city or hooked up at a regular campground, then I'd probably really enjoy a little TV. So hard to say, since I'm not yet on the road.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

20 More Days of Letting Go

(Empty shelving that I no longer need--formerly used for eBay inventory, packing supplies, fabrics, art supplies, and what-have-you)

Wow, have I ever deep-sixed a lot of stuff lately. This is after already downsizing just a year ago, when I moved from a big suburban house to a little rental hovel. Now I'm moving into a 22-ft motorhome and I figure I need to get rid of approximately 90 percent of what I own. I'm well on my way to achieving that...but, man, is it hard!

In this downsizing, I'm really getting to where the nitty hits the gritty. Some things have taken me years to tilemaking tools, for example. I probably won't be doing any tilemaking while I'm on the road, unless I decide to stop for a few months somewhere that I'd have ready access to a studio. It's hard to decide which things to store with a friend, which things I'll need on the road, and which things to get rid of, but I am trying to be very selective. Going through stuff like photos, artwork, paperwork, journals, letters, etc., is the hardest because it means reliving a lot of past experiences and evaluating their importance in my life today. Do I need or want reminders of various accomplishments, events, people, and places from my past? When it gets too hard to make these decisions, I let myself quit for a while and then come back to it.

Some of this process has been really good for me. I'm getting organized at a level I've never been able to achieve in the past. For example, several old address books have gotten combined into one; three boxes of photos were winnowed down to a small one that I can take with me; and I've already got most of my records together in order to file my income taxes. I've also gotten to celebrate some growth. For instance, I've felt relief when I've read old journals and realized that I am in such a better place today in so many ways and that now I can throw the old stories away.

My hope is to be on the road in 20 days. I want to get this sorting/tossing/selling/donating stuff done well before that, so I am plugging away.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Month-End Departure Seems Promising

(The "Freedom" tattoo was my Christmas present to myself)

It looks like I might really get on the road at the end of January. I sure hope so!

On Friday the landlord who might rent a studio apartment to my kid was checking up on financial information, and they said to call on Monday, so that is looking very promising. That move would be a quick one--we've already figured out which furniture is going and so on. I bet it will take just a couple of hours.

My carpenter, Eric, removed the leaky windows, which are now at the glass shop for reglazing. He is drawing up the plans and will start building as soon as the glass is back in place in a couple of days. I can't wait to see the progress and take pictures. I told Eric that I'm getting really serious about leaving--that, in fact, I'm probably going to sell my bed and the rest of my furniture any day--so let's try to get this thing done in a week or two.

I'll also need to have some mechanical work done on my Dolphin before I leave, too. It needs shocks and I want to have a CTEK battery charger installed if there isn't already one in place. I didn't know to look for one of these when I first got the Dolphin, and now it's at Eric's house. I've been getting a lot of helpful information from friendly people online.

I just wish I knew someone who would walk me through everything I need to do, step by step, for example, when I stop for the night or when I'm going to boondock for a few days or whatever. I'm a real visual person, and I'm having a tough time understanding the technical information about batteries and converters and inverters, oh, my. Could somebody please just tell me which switches to flip and when? Just give me enough information so I won't mistakenly kill myself. Anything more is too complicated for this old broad--at least right now. Perhaps I will understand more as I get the chance to actually try out my rig.

I did have a friend come over to look at my furniture the other day--the antique dealer who took my business inventory off my hands a few weeks ago. He made a paltry offer, but that's okay. I haven't spent very much money for the furniture I have, and it's great that someone is willing to come take it away in one fell swoop. He's coming back to get the stuff in about 10 days.

In the meantime, there's still plenty of stuff for me to get rid of. I'm going to list some of my mosaic supplies on eBay, and I bet they will get bought right up! I've collected some marvelous stuff over the past few years--china, buttons, jewelry, mirrors, figurines, all kinds of fun stuff to glue onto other stuff.

So, I'm plugging away. I'm really looking forward, truly, to when there's nothing left in this little house except what I'll be bringing with me in The Guppy. I keep thinking about how my new living space is going to be about the size of my current kitchen, and I'm kind of in awe. I've always wanted to live simply, but I've complicated it by home ownership, wifery, and so on. Now is the time for me to just explore my options.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wise Woman in Training

I have a nice framed and matted print of this Mary Engelbreit picture that was given to me by my best friend, Helen, years ago when my life was in transition. It's one of the few pieces of framed artwork that I'll be bringing with me in my travels. The rest will go into storage at a friend's house for some later day when I decide to live in a house again or decide to sell or give away my collection.

The crossroads of "Your Life" and "No Longer an Option" is a great place to start the new year--or, for that matter, each day and each decision. I'm going to put this picture up in the kitchen end of my motorhome where I will see it every day. I'm not making any new year's resolutions, but I am prayerful that 2011 will be a year when I continue to grow in health, strength, courage, wisdom, and serenity. I don't know that my decision to become a full-time traveler has any profound purpose...I probably won't be fundraising for a good cause or writing a book or anything lofty like that along the way. But I do hope my journeys and experiences bring me closer to my goal of eventually becoming a wise elder.

Carpe diem struck hard this morning when I saw an ad in the paper for the final Eugene Opera performance of "La Boheme," so I bought myself a ticket and will be attending tomorrow. I thought of buying a ticket for my kid, but decided to go solo...'cause going to to the opera is all about "mi mi mi..."