Saturday, November 19, 2011

Departure Day

On our leaving day yesterday we woke to clear skies and cold toes on the stone next to the woodstove. We had a busy morning packing up a few things and putting the inside of the camper back together with curtains and bedding. My father and Pat were up late into the night finishing a door and a bunch of odds and ends. Pat spent time blow drying wet spots from the rain earlier in the day so that some final leaks could be caulked and cured. Let’s hope this ailment stops for this writer’s sanity.

We made sure to grab a couple bites of apple crisp that I had made the night before, and we said our goodbyes with photos and hugs and last minute advice. I got in a good runabout with Maude the dog as is our customary way of saying goodbye.  

There was one more stop off point to do a little welding before actually leaving…

Adding Jack Plates to frame

On our first day’s drive with the Scamp we received wondrous glances from a little girl staring out the window driving by us on the Tappan Zee bridge, and a very enthusiastic thumbs up from another driver who we’d like to think also owns a Scamp, or is perhaps just a very friendly driver which would be even better.

the Tappan Zee

The drive to New Jersey was slow yet oddly entertaining. Friday night on the Tappan Zee is not like driving the Autobahn, but it is like a slow motion picture including every kind of person and vehicle you can think of. From the man riding in the back of the pickup down the Garden State Parkway that we nearly mistook for a garbage bag, to the rest stop bathroom scale decorated with a colorful Mother Mary we had an entertaining ride listening to good NYC radio.

We’d both like to thank our family and friends for the encouragement and enthusiasm we’ve received. Lots of people have already given us some great connections of people to visit and places to see. So with generously donated time, snacks, handmade curtains, and lots of help, advice, and hours into projects, we’re steadily on our way now.  To our traveling comrades we salute you. Whether you’ve done it or wish to, this trip is for you!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"When are you leaving?"

I'm not usually one to ask on car rides in the ubiquitous whiney voice "Are we there yet?" Instead this past week has turned into "Are we ready yet?"  Are we packed? Does the camper have levelling blocks? Do we have trailmix! Since buying the camper Pat and I have discovered many new skills such as fiberglass repair, and then all the way over to learning about waste water tanks and boat toilets! Some of these things have been more enjoyable than others, and during the whole process we've reached points of frustration, and at other points it's been very exciting to see things getting done. 

We've spent a lot of time learning about how the whole trailer is put together and what parts and peices have needed replacing. My father has built some very nice looking additions including a little hatch door, a shelf and a replacement cabinet door. Our good friend Lori created some lovely curtains for us last week which has made it look really beautiful inside. We've repainted a large section of the body, rehung the door,  along with so many other little odds and ends.
     So after all the discussion and decision making, the actual items on the list getting crossed off, now we're itching to go. But the tasks keep piling up, and frankly so do the leaks!  What is that phenomenon anyway? Rainism? Permaleak? The driving rain last night sent water in through several rivets and onto the floor and window. We've tried correcting the problem but apparently not to the degree needed. We realize this is probably worth a good chuckle if you're sitting on the outside, so let it all out, we won't mind.
 A test in patience for the both of us that will hopefully help in the future, and make the difficulties of the trip itself, seem more insignificant. So here's to hoping that it all goes well and in the next couple of days too.

Here is our theme song at the moment...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

You're gonna get what you wish for

Blowing out the candles
I feel that it might be pertinent to explain how we came to the decision to travel in the way we've chosen. About a month and a half ago, we finally decided that this whole cross country venture was something we could pull off time wise and financially. With the cold months impending in the East and most other parts of the country, we decided that car camping and tenting would be a little bit more difficult since lots of campgrounds are seasonal, and we've come to the end of that season in most places!
     I realize that there are folks who tent camp or squat on private lands, people who hop trains, hitch hike, backpack, couch surf, you name it. I believe everything is an adventure depending on your attitude, and each mode of transportation has its good points and it's drawbacks and will deliver a different experience. So for various reasons we decided to go with a camper this time around. We're both pretty big on tent camping so this was a long debate! How posh it seems to have a trailer with a stove we don't have to set up, and a bed that folds out that we don't have to blow up.

Wave formation
Our acquisition of our small little travel trailer is sort of a funny one. This idea to get a trailer was finally solidified and we were just looking around on Craigslist for different options of what we might like, as well as trailers for sale. Up popped a Scamp. A Scamp you say? I had heard of teardrop style campers and others but never these. Scamp began as a company in Minnesota in the early seventies where they built small fiber glass trailers, which they do to this day. You can read their whole story here. We both thought they were lovely, towable by compact car, just the right size, but seemingly out of our price range. Even models from the late seventies were priced pretty high. We found a few different options of Scamps and campers all too expensive, far away. or needing way too much work for us to purchase. We made a few calls about other camp trailers we liked, all fixer uppers. We had a few leads (Craigslist really is like fishing) all of which didn't turn out to be what we wanted.
Our new rolling home
Over a camping trip with my family over my birthday weekend up at the Cape I made a wish. Many wishes in fact. Wishes on stones thrown in the ocean, wishes on sunsets and blown out birthday candles. I wished for our trip to come to fruition and for everything to come together to make it possible for us to have a grand adventure. Patrick and I stayed for an extra day hoping to catch some surf (the cape had the flattest sea's some local surfers said, was the flattest they'd seen in ten years so we caught it naught!) and we got a phone call from my mother. On their way home a day ahead of us, pulling onto our road home as the sun was setting she had seen a small trailer, and  she made my father turn around to look and see what it was, knowing that we'd been looking for a trailer. In the fast encroaching dark he read the little sign " FOR SALE 1978 Scamp". We made some quick decision making as we've heard these little trailers fly fast when they come up for sale. So we made some phone calls and it was ours! Talk about getting what you wish for and the power of intention. When we came home we got to meet the seller who graciously towed it a few miles up the road to our home, handed us the keys and the old manual. The key chain has the name "Beatrice" inscribed in the leather pendant that will travel with us. Just as every good old truck or motorcycle deserves a name so does the camper so we have settled upon Beatrice. It's old fashioned like she is, and still beautiful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

From the Start

This story begins many years ago with the stories of my childhood. The stories I was told about the rain forests far away, and the colonial era prairie of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The tales of my fathers three hitch hiking tours across the US in the seventies, and my mothers adventures in a little red Volkswagen up and down the East Coast. Throughout my childhood years my family spent a lot of time camping and going to music festivals around the Eastern part of the US which inevitably led to long drives, encounters with fascinating people in a big and colorful world. I have lovely and vivid memories of those times that still inspire me. I like the idea of carrying that youthful curiosity into a travel and into everyday encounters with the kind the strange and the unexplainable elements of people. Everything seems just a little larger thinking back to that time, a lot of my youth is very clear to me in memory.

During my teenage years I was lucky enough to travel a lot with my father down to the southern states to see friends, go to music festivals and other events. He and I have clocked a lot of road miles together in various trucks and cars with lots of stories to tell as a result. From picking up the miming white gloved hitch hiker, to sleeping in the back of the Dodge pickup along with 90,000 festival goers in Tennessee we had some great times together, and these trips taught me a lot about the relationship you need to have with your fellow traveler/s and the best ways to look out for yourself and each other.

During this time I had several opportunities to travel to countries outside of our own including backpacking in Ecuador and Belize, and traveling with my martial arts team in China. In more recent time I've traveled to Scotland to see the big cities and dramatic country sides, and to Costa Rica to learn about timber framing and natural building with the magnificent wood that grows in the jungles there.
Though they are over, all of these were amazing adventures in and of themselves,and the things I learned from them are still very present in my everyday thinking and worldview, sometimes a lot more than I realize. We really are so connected to each and every person around the world, we are not that much different as each one of us is engaged in what it means to be human, to carry out a meaningful life lived with honor, and to be respected and loved by the people around us. The story I think stays very much the same.

The reason I'm prefacing my travels to you is to let you know that I'm at it again! This time across the United States with my partner Patrick in a little fiberglass trailer.  The inspiration for this trip stems from our love of traveling together, and our lives aligning just right with the opportunity to take such a trip at this point in time. Together we've done a lot of hiking, sight seeing, surfing (the newest adventure Pat has introduced me to) driving, going to music festivals, you name it! But the time always feels too short so we're going extended this time. Giving ourselves the time needed to explore what we hope will be a whole host of new favorite places. We've both enjoyed our experiences out of the country, but what a huge country we live in and so much of it to see!

 We're both excited to keep track of our travels here to document our journey and our photographs, and also to share it with all of you. I know that sometimes blogs can be seen as self indulgent, or you walk away from your computer feeling unfulfilled by stories with no substance. Or even the common downtrodden feelings (shared often by your writer) of disenchantment with bad news, and ever present political strife.
We hope that this blog can serve as a source of inspiration, a dose into your day of what we are sure will be beautiful people and places. We'd like this to be a place to share your thoughts with us about what has opened your eyes to the world. The places you have traveled, and the people you've met. Perhaps through our sharing of the common human story of travel from place to place, we can meet on equal ground somewhere, maybe in the desert, maybe in a mountain stream, or somewhere in a dusty parking lot, and sit together and share our common dreams.
Till next time