Thursday, December 28, 2017

Turning a Leprechaun into an Imp

At the start of this current adventure, we bought this almost new 2017 Coachmen Leprechaun RV:

Keep that in mind - this is a 2017 model.

We then set about gutting the poor thing since the interior looked like something out of the 1970's.

Brown, dark brown, tan and gold ?!?!  WTF?!

We also had specific ideas about what we wanted and needed in a tiny house on wheels, so the first things that went were the gold and brown drapes, vertical blinds, cushions and the microwave.  (We didn't have a microwave in our stick house either, so ditching this one was a no-brainer.)

The next things gone were the swoop and swish decals on the exterior.  We'll be replacing those with personalized, custom-made decals shortly.  (Did you know that an RV with no decals is called a snowball?)

Then the husband demolished the dinette. We wanted a more open main sitting area in the RV. We didn't get any pictures of the space immediately post-removal since we were in a bit of a crunch for time.  We had 6 weeks from the day we drove the it off the lot until it had to be move-in ready for us and the kittens. (Keep in mind that we were both still working full time while the renovation project was going on - AND we were trying to get our condo ready to go on the market for sale as well.)

We painted all of the brown stuff white to make the interior feel larger.  (We've actually got about 162 square feet of space, though some of it is storage only.)

Original bed nook - ick.
Cozy bed nook with new privacy blinds!

Even the refrigerator was covered in brown paneling!  We fixed that too :)

New fridge with dry erase board and magnets!

During the next crazy 6 weeks, we practiced driving the RV by driving to Fort Collins to visit the ever accommodating Ginny and Zach.  

The husband and Zach had been talking about the various things that needed to be built to make the Imp a little more livable.  But first - Zach made a custom door frame for us to replace the original dark brown leather frame (Trust us, it was hideous!):  

New door frame with Cthulhu, Dude or Fish coins and a Rad charm.

After a few more weeks, the condo closed, the jobs were exited from and we headed up to Fort Collins where the RV and the kittens would be staying while we went to Greece.

We had 3 days before we left for the guys to plan out the new kitchen. They also did a bunch of ripping out and roughing in.  (Bye bye scary tiny gas oven!) 

Two weeks later, we were back and the kitchen project was going full steam ahead.  The stove was gone, the leaky sink removed, resealed, two new cabinets with doors built and installed. Then, the piece de resistance: The Countertop

Two layers of nicely finished plywood, framed by lighter oak wood with a inset for the sink AND a matching cover for the sink so that we have that area usable when we're not actively using the sink.

So, for reference, here's what we started with:

Original kitchen. Counter space?
New kitchen with LOTS of counter space and storage
And this has made all of the difference in the world for livability.  25" x 43" of wide open level, beautiful counter space.  

We've still got other projects to tackle, but for now they're on the back burner as we take the winter to test out living in the Imp.  (And enjoy the counter - thank you Zach!)

(Yes, that is an Instant Pot you see on the counter - we joined the "cult" since we knew that we would be cooking in a small space and we'd heard almost nothing but rave reviews of the thing from other folks, especially RVers.)  If you've never heard of the Instant Pot, Google it - they're cool :)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Erkharts have landed

It's been an interesting 26 days....

On October 30th, we sold our condo. (Thank you, Vanessa Holmes!)
On October 31st, the wife left her job.
On November 1st, we headed out to visit a few friends before taking off for parts sort-of-unknown.

We hung out with the Taylors for an evening, then up to the Forsters' place in Fort Collins, where the ever amazing and talented Zach worked on some custom woodwork for the RV while Jeff helped and the wives watched and visited.

On November 5th, we hopped a plane to Munich and then Athens to putz around in Greece for 10 days eating good food and taking pictures of old stuff.  There are tons of stories and pictures that we haven't processed yet.  Maybe there will be future posts...

We got back to Fort Collins and chilled for a few days with the Forsters again, recovering from mega-jetlag and reassuring the kittens that we weren't leaving them again any time soon!  Jeff and Zach also installed the woodworking projects - they absolutely deserve their own post!

On Monday, November 20th, we hugged everyone goodbye, battened down the hatches on the RV and hit the road - SOUTH.

We know we said Seattle, but while we were chilling in Fort Collins, we were actually freezing our butts off in the RV. So, North wasn't looking good, at least for now.  We WILL go North, just not until after winter.

First stop, Trinidad, CO.  Trinidad Lake State Park is beautiful!!

The next morning, it was off to Lubbock, TX.  6 white-knuckled hours later, we arrived.  Holy crap, the wind!  Keeping the RV on the road was a total upper body workout.   (The Imp is basically a medium sized box on wheels that catches every breeze and pushes it around - A LOT.) Add to that some close calls with crazy drivers.  We didn't rack up a ton of miles, but by the end of the day we were exhausted!

Day three ended in the burbs of Austin, TX with us crashing at a KOA for the night. There were no sites there with any hookups, so we basically paid to bookdock for the night. : P

The next two days, we visited with the wonderfully accommodating Lisa and Thorvi while we did laundry and hunted for a spot to park for the next 4 months.  (Thanks for the talks and walks Lisa!)

And today, we landed at a nice RV park in Georgetown, TX where we can put down some temporary roots and stop driving for a little while.  (The kittens appreciate this - as soon as they hear car keys jingle, they freak out a little and run for cover in the under bed storage (a.k.a. The Garage).  

We're about 45-60 minutes north-ish of Austin, sort of in the burbs, out of in the country.  We got an end spot, so we've only got 1 neighbor - the other side is a field.  There are tiny little sheep in the field next door too - baa!

The people are friendly in person, but as soon as they get behind the wheel, it's all agro, all the time.

The next big step is for us to find some temporary work to make a bit of $$$ while we're here.

Stay tuned for when we can get a post up with some cool pics from Greece...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

So. Many. Cats.

Since the Internet is for cat videos and pictures of cute cats, here's a sampling of the kittah friends (and a few stalkers) we've met so far.      

Sunday, November 5, 2017

We're training an Adventure Cat!

Since Song is always begging to follow us outside when we leave the RV, we decided to see if we could teach her to walk on a leash.

Here's how far we've gotten in 6 weeks: 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

We've got to get out of this place!

We're back! 

A lot's happened since that weird Wyoming trip in 2014.

There were new kittens: 
River Song
River Tam

Lots of amigurumi:

Lots of stuck in place wanting to go places and do stuff, but not being in a place to just do it.

Guess what - that changed!

In July of this year, the wife came home one night and declared that we were going to buy an RV and run away.  

The husband's response - after asking if she was okay - was "Ikimasho!"  (That's Japanese for "Let's Go!")

After that, we were a snowball in July - literally. (This will make more sense in a minute.)

That Saturday, we bought a 2017 Coachman Leprechaun that was decorated like it was built in the 1970s and began planning our escape.  
"Let's go to Seattle!"
"Let's go RIGHT NOW!"

A couple weeks later, we picked up the RV, christened it the H.F.S. Impetuous (AKA The Imp) and began tearing it apart.

First thing to go were the swish-mark decals on the outside. Now the Imp was NAKED!  (Fun fact: an RV with no decals is called a snowball.)

Then we ripped out the brown and gold suede window coverings, partitions, overhead bunk and dinette.

Over the next 6 weeks, we went to our jobs, slept and worked on rebuilding the interior of the RV while also cleaning up the condo we'd been living in for 8 years, selling our stuff and disengaging from obligations.  We were READY! We were running away in September!

Then we remembered......the wife had promised to participate in Pugs in the Park for the Colorado Pug Rescue in mid-September AND we'd planned and paid for a 10 day trip to Greece in early November.

So much for leaving - and really, we weren't' ready yet. We hadn't quite gotten the condo on the market, the wife didn't have many amigurumi pugs made and both of use were still working and hadn't given notice yet.

So, we gave notice, called the awesome Realtor Vanessa Holmes, moved out of the condo and into the RV and  made a ton of pugs. And then we waited.....

Then we waited some more. And so on. We're still waiting on:
The closing for the condo
The wife's last day of work
The first travel day on our way to Greece 
Our return so we can grab the RV and kittens, say goodbye for now to all of our awesome Colorado peoples and hit the damn road! 

(And no, we're not going to Seattle - yet. More on that in the next post 😸😸😸😸😸 )

Monday, September 1, 2014

Wyoming! Or bust?

Big time bust.  This weekend probably was one of the weirdest in Wyoming-ing history for us.  Nothing seemed to go quite right from the start.

Late Friday night, the wife got an order on her Etsy site that started a flurry of emailing and order-prep. The actual tizzy-inducing-ness isn't important, except that it kept us up later than was good for a 4:30 departure the next morning. Needless to say, she didn't sleep well.

Saturday morning, we overslept - and checked email, one of which made the busy-ness and sleeplessness of the night before completely unnecessary.  Blarg!

The drive up was a construction-filled, slow speed, 5 hour long-haul. Ugh.

Good news tho, while Rawlins and the Great Divide Basin have been receiving record rainfall this year, the Domestead hasn't flooded at all.  Yay!  This made for easy access and no mudbogging in the tiny Fit.  That would NOT have ended well.

Saturday's project:  tear down the Qbert wall and rebuild it flush with the rest of the perimeter wall.  Something's been living behind the bricks and slowly excavating the dirt out from behind it, making it unstable. We've already lost a few smaller bricks out of it.



Turns out, there was a lot more dirt back there than we thought. Oh well, since the bricks were down, we changed the plan and decided to only remove some of the remaining dirt and create a bench seat as part of the wall.  

This is where things got weird. Up until now, the weather had been sort of cooperating. It was sunny and warm, though hella windy.  The sand was doing a mini-sandstorm impression for most of the morning.  All of a sudden, there was thunder and clouds and - oh crap - lightening too close for comfort. Then the rain started.  We mad-dashed for the car and spend 20 minutes or so reading and resting and re-hydrating.

Once the storm passed and the sun was back out (tho it was still super windy and now kind of damp and chilly), we started laying out the front part of the bench seat.  Aluminum cans and ferro-cement for the win! Here are the first couple of rows:


We were planning on bringing the can row up to seat height, then gently tamping down some of the dirt behind the cans.  After that, maybe add some more fill dirt and walk away until next year, letting Mother Nature pack and settle the fill for us.  We had a couple other projects on deck for the weekend that were waiting in the wings.

It didn't work out that way.

Instead, right after we took these photos, the rain started again.  We hid, again. The rain stopped. We got out of the car and got back to making cement and adding rows.  We were almost through the final row and the last bit of cement when the wind REALLY kicked up and ice-cold rain started pelting us.  We were so close to done that we sucked it up, got soaked and finished the row.  

Sitting in the car after stripping off our cement covered gloves we were Wet. Cold. Grouchy. Frustrated. As we sat there, we realized that the rain wasn't stopping this time and the ground was getting soggy. Not Good. Mudbogging in a tiny car without 4WD is not a good idea. Last year we'd almost gotten the van stuck.  We weren't about to risk the same thing in the little car, especially since, while we have AAA, we don't have cellphone service in the Basin.  We'd be walking 6 miles in the rain to get to the highway to get help.

With that thought, we booked it off the property and back into Rawlins. Where it was warm, sunny and not very windy, of course. We'd been at the Domestead for all of 5 hours.

That evening, we sat and planned what we'd tackle on Sunday since the Qbert wall was more or less taken care of. The wife wanted to add some coverage to her kickwall and the husband was tinkering with an idea to build a dome corral from some of the spare lumber lying around.

That night, we were woken up by an amazing thunder storm that raged all night, with lightening strikes in the hills all around the campground and winds that howled and rocked our little log cabin.
The next morning, we ventured out to find big puddles and a semi-deflated tire on the Fit.  After reviving the wife with coffee, the husband dealt with the tire. 

After a brief discussion involving speculation about mudbogging, progress and Mr. Murphy, we said "screw it" and went home. (The drive took 6 hours due to stupid drivers, invisible construction and 40+ gusts of wind.)

So, lots of driving, not much work done and lots more rain etc.  We may take another trip later in the year to drop stuff off, but probably not to get any work done until next May or so. : P


Monday, July 7, 2014

A sense of accomplishment, a sunburn and .....

 ...another frozen cat.  We had an unexpected loss last week, the husband's cat went into the closet for a nap and didn't wake up. So, just a few weeks after relocating the wife's kittah from the freezer to Wyoming, we had another cat who took her place in the deep freeze until we could relocate her as well.  At least she didn't stay long: 7 day vs 8 months.

So, there we were at 4:30 in the morning on the 4th of July, flying up I-25 and, hoping to get to the property before the cat defrosted. Again.  

Neko (a.k.a. The Kitten): safely interred next to her sister.

Then, tired already and a bit sad, we got down to business. We had a list, but as worn out and kind of listless as we were before we even started, we despaired of finishing more than one project, let alone the 4 that we'd hoped to.

They were, optimistically:
  1. Bury the kittah - non-negotiable - but done.
  2. Finish skinning the dome.  This looked doable, but seemed at first blush like it was going to take both workdays and all of the resources that we'd brought for the whole weekend.
  3. Add a couple of rows to the bathroom wall and use up all of the beer bottles that have been collecting since last fall.  Not super important, except in the "making order from chaos sort of way".  The bottles were just piled everywhere and the mess was bugging the wife.
  4. Start what the wife's been calling the "kickwall" - basically a low wall that will encircle the entire one acre Domestead - using wine bottles and trash cans. Again, making the chaos useful and orderly.
  5. Straighten up the courtyard again and finish cleaning up/tearing down the mega-hexacorral by moving all of the materials from that into the courtyard. This was more of the husband's bugaboo.
We didn't think we could do it all. Looking at the dome and the limited amount of water we had and the sheer amount of aggregate that needed to be soaked and ground up, we were pretty discouraged. But, we dug in and did what we do best - TEAMWORK.

We put every piece of aggregate to soak, then started grinding and prepping the crete.  Once the first batch of crete was ready, the wife climbed up into the top of the dome and started adding the bottles and skinning the last few rows.  The husband kept on grinding and prepping so that in about 5 hours, the dome was FINISHED! By then, his hands and forearms were cramping.  We were also super dehydrated, crabby, tired, starving and absolutely filthy.  But we were DONE (at least with the outside)!

Heading into town, we saw one of the local wild mustang herds. Unfortunately, they were blocking the road and showing no signs of moving. Honking the horn got their attention and a couple of them moved off the road. It did nothing for the yearling, who was staying close to his mother. His very pregnant and kind of pissed off mother. At the beep, she turned around, stamped her hooves and gave us a look that pretty much said: "I'm hot, tired, uncomfortable and pregnant. This is MY road. Buzz off." We sat there until she got sick of staring at us and wandered off.

KOA. Shower. Food. Sleep. Wake up!

Day two dawned hot and sunny. It was 80+ at 8am. Picking up 25 gallons of water and 250 pounds of cement, we headed back out to the Basin. The wife's focus was on her wall. The husband's was on disassembling the mega-hexacorral and moving the contents to the courtyard. Both of those went out the window when the wife and the car got swarmed by a - errr - swarm - of tiny little bug things. She was skeeved out and the husband had to spray her down with rubbing alcohol.

Bugs vanquished, it was back to work, except that focus has never been our strong point. We ended up working on the bathroom walls for about 1.5 hours before heading off to our original projects. Then we found a plastic dinosaur that we'd nicknamed "The Guardian".  We've been finding and losing him for 4 years, so we had to stop and stick him somewhere:

 He's on the wall by the chill dome. The bathroom is in the background.

The wife's wall turned out to be more of a project than anticipated - being resource intensive in both bottles, crete and time. She got about 7 feet of trash cans laid out, the main post settled and filled, and the first row of crete and bottles down in about an hour.  Whew!  Then it was time for more aggregate grinding and crete mixing.  The husband's hands were still trashed from the day before, so he toted dirt and organized. Five hours, 50 bottles and 4 loads of crete later, this is what we had from the back:

From the front:

In relation to the driveway and the chill dome:

The wife would have kept plugging along, except for two things: we ran out of water and the husband was STARVING. So we took a few photos and headed back to Rawlins for showers, food and sleep. What we found when we got there was the fact that both of us were sunburned - in spite of lots of reapplications of sunscreen.  The wife even burnt the backs of her ears bad enough for them to blister.  (Italian sunbaby that she is, this was
a first - and a shock. The redhead in the crowd wasn't impressed. Blisters don't count unless they're on your face, apparently ;)

And finally, a perspective photo from in front of the Domestead, facing North(-ish).

Next trip, maybe August, definitely Labor Day weekend.  Lots more to do, including extending the kickwall.  Husband is already planning and designing more domes.  This time we know how to be efficient and get any new structures up quickly.  We learn a little more each time we go up, so no matter what, it's worth it.