For my first “book review” post I feel only proper to express my credibility. I can read. I graduated college. I read a few books every couple of years. Since the invention of audio books I’m a much more productive “reader”. I’m a self-proclaimed creative writer who gets read by her mom and mother-in-law. That’s it. My opinions are based on my own life, relationships and experiences. That said, I audiobook’ed Big Magic at the start of my off-season expecting it to maintain my attention and enlighten me.
I’ll start by saying that I do enjoy Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s writing style. Her writing style in Big Magic actually reminds me of my own at times. Generally, the book succeeded at inspiring, storytelling and evoking a deeper level of thinking. What I didn’t expect was for it to be so relevant to how I was feeling at the time. So to the point…
Why should YOU read Big Magic?
Big Magic touches on this concept of authenticity versus originality and I LOVED it. I hadn’t been able to articulate that thought on my own but I had been having it for over a year with my work, my business and in my own life. It was like a revelation. She touches more on it here on her website. If you’ve ever had that feeling of putting something creative out in to the world and then simultaneously decided not to for fear of being ridiculed for copying someone or for fear that it was too similar to whatever inspired you to create it in the first place then you need to read her thoughts on this topic. Even if you’d dreamt about posting, sharing, publishing, creating something and didn’t for fear of your own failure; she has so many, important things for you to hear.
Towards the end, after a handful of her personal life stories and reasons for chasing a creative life even though it’s hard she says this: “What would you do even if you knew you might very well fail? What do you love so much that the words failure and success become irrelevant?” And this my friends is the million dollar question. Or the million dollar answer. Or the key to success. Or the golden ticket….or whatever. It. Is. Everything. To a person struggling to live a creative life, struggling to find their place in one or struggling to find what their passion is this question is their everything. Answer this question and I bet you’ll find a whole new perspective in your life.
This book is a must read for any creative types, any entrepreneural types, anyone seeking a creative lifestyle that’s authentic to them and different from the mass. Not only did it maintain my attention and enlighten me it sort of asked me to do more. It asked me to do more for myself and my real dreams and for others struggling the same way I am.
We’re doing our best to document this whole process as we go. As a diary for ourselves to look back on fondly…hopefully. And as a guide book for anyone reading to learn from the likely many mistakes we make along the way. We’re so excited about the future and this adventure and each step closer to it’s completion is just so important to our mission of cultivating an intentional, simple life. Each minute of work, each nail hammered is one step closer to being complete in our journey to freedom, to adventure, to simplicity. We just can’t wait to be done with her but we’re also trying to breathe in each of the stages we’re going through as we make this dream happen!
Within the last three months we got quite far in our progress on the motorhome. In the middle of August we had a few weekends free to devote to her, thankfully. In between double-wedding weekends and keeping up with our workflow I started to worry that the progress wasn’t going to happen until winter or spring. I started getting anxious about seeing below the surface of everything, literally. I wanted to know what we were getting ourselves into so that I could organize my expectations accordingly. I wanted to know what repairs we would encounter and I wanted to figure out how long it might take to put things back in order once we tore everything apart. I feel much better now knowing her bones.
Here’s our update:
On a gorgeous day in October we started some serious demo with a six pack, a bag of chips and two bottles of blue gatorade in hand. Justin said that demo would be his thing and he didn’t mind doing it all as long as each day started with those three things. I obliged, obviously. The demo was tricky at first. We had no idea where to start.
After deliberating, we agreed to start in two areas, Justin in the bunk and I would start removing the interior walls using the multi-tool I had never used before. We quickly found that there was in fact a “right way” to disassemble an interior of a motorhome. We found that the over-head storage cabinets were hiding all the hardware holding them to the wall, within their walls was electrical wiring, when we thought all the screws were removed parts remained attached. We had to create a method and repeat the same steps for each area. That made the process so much easier. We also quickly learned that working together was necessary. I would start with the multi-tool by cutting an access to the interior of the wall or cupboard to gain access to screws and get the area to a certain point and then Justin would take over and finish the details. Once we nailed down our system it was only a matter of hours before we had everything gutted. As of now the only thing left in the motorhome is the carpet. We’re pretty excited for our next work day to start ripping that out.
We were able to trash the non-burnable stuff directly into my Dad’s work dumpster and the rest served as firewood! My Dad having the tools and equipment for everything is making this job so much easier! Don’t know what I would do without his help and guidance!
We had a giant wind storm last week and I didn’t even consider Big Girl sitting down amongst the wavering trees until noon the day of the forty mile an hour winds. I drove down to move her out of the trees and in the haste of backing up for the first time without an extra set of eyes, I clipped a tree in the upper driver’s side back corner. For whatever reason, I didn’t get too upset by it, I was just glad that it wasn’t worse. Smashing that giant girl into something was bound to happen so I guess for now we’ll just add it to the repair list.
I had a lovely little evening on Pinterest the other night (here’s my board), designing and planning the finishing touches that we would add when the time comes! I think we have the general layout and material list planned and I am SUPER STOKED about it! We ordered a cover for her and it just came today so the next step is to get her winterized and plan our next workday!
We took big girl, who still doesn’t have a permanent name, to the Ford truck service garage over a week ago. I miss her. They called with the repair list a few days ago so I imagine right now they are fixing her up real nicely for us. She’s an oldie, a 1985 so we expected a pretty good repair list when they called and we were right. The initial shock on the phone when the service lady said $9100.00 about had me choking on my afternoon ice cream cone. I had her email the list so that we could mull it over and break it all down. We kindly asked them to highlight which areas were of high, medium and low priority and they did. So far the customer service has been great, they’ve answered all of our questions and been attentive to our concerns and general lack of knowledge. We’re still waiting to hear how the first set of repairs went but here’s the overall list: Master Cylinder, King Pins, Tie Rods, Shocks, Exhaust Manifold, Air pump, Tune Up, A/C Recharge, Fluid Flush, Timing & Carburetor. We opted to have only the high priority items serviced right now in order to break of that total. Now that we know we’ll start putting some extra cash into a fund for the rest of these repairs so that come go-time, we can take her in for one last fix and hit the road!
We’ve been talking a lot about the first place that we will go! Any suggestions?
A week has gone by since big girl came to be ours. We had a busy work week and a wedding this weekend but we have been so excited to get moving on things. After an expectedly worthless trip to Wal-Mart (which we boycotted several years ago) to try to get a trade for the battery which was supposed to be under warranty we ended up finding a new at Auto Zone. I attempted to make an appointment to have the engine and mechanics inspected by a professional but haven’t had any luck with that yet. We did get the title and the plates and Justin was like a kid on Christmas! We celebrated by wandering the shelves at the Ben Franklin store next to the DMV.
Today we had a plan to just sit around in the big girl. We’ve been calling her that…it fits, but we aren’t set on it for a permanent name. We’re taking suggestions! We glanced through the stack of manuals, checked all the house appliances for the first time, opened the awning which we found needs some minor repairs. We spent the first two or three hours just tinkering around with switches and getting aquatinted with things. We want to at least make sure the appliances all work before we take them out and try to sell them and we’re happy to report that everything is in great condition!
Once we had all those things squared away we had time to just sit. As a self-proclaimed savvy interior designer, I have to just sit in a space and feel it to imagine it in different ways. We had a breakthrough after about an hour of talking through different options for where to put our iMac for the desk setup and I’m excited to share it later, if it works out!
We have big plans for this big girl of ours and we can’t wait to get started!
We found our 1985 Travelcraft motorhome by mistake. It was love at first sight. It was one of those seldom times in life when things just fall into place at the right time all by some random chance. Just like the day we were driving from Ohio to Chicago for a weekend with friends to celebrate my thirtieth birthday. We’d been scouring Craigslist and RVTrader for months looking for the kind of set up we wanted. The roadtrip was the perfect outlet to get caught up in the wormhole that is craigstlist. Justin and I were deep in conversation about tow-behinds, over the cab bunks and black water tank situations when we came upon a giant building with a sign that read “RVMH Hall of Fame”. It caught our attention and within seconds we realized what it was and made way for the exit! We got to spend over an hour going in and out of more than twenty-five vintage RVs and motorhomes. It was so funny how random it was but even more funny that we were legitimately researching for our future purchase. If you’re ever in Elkhart, Indiana I recommend making the stop.
Fast forward about two weeks to a hot and sunny day in mid-July, we were on our way to the lake. Everything had aligned for a perfect little day off in the middle of the week. It was too nice of a day to care that the GPS had taken us the back way like they so often do. The back way really means the “wrong” way which led to the back of the lake where there was no actual entrance. We decided to ditch the GPS and go from memory. We made our way through the bordering neighborhood towards the main entrance of Portage Lakes State Park. As we made a random right onto some random street, we passed a house that was set back off the road and in that driveway she sat. About a hundred feet or more off the road but with a white sign in her windshield that caught my eye like a beacon. As we drove by I told Justin I thought it was for sale as we mentioned how it was the style we liked and it looked vintage and not cheap like some of the newer models look. We ended up having to turn around at the end of that street to get where we were going, so that meant one more pass by and this time we stopped. It was love at first sight. Instantly I felt excited like this could be the one. Since it was pulled back away from the road we couldn’t tell if it was for sale or if it had brand new owners who maybe didn’t take the sign out. Either way we decided to peek through the windows and investigate. A few phone calls and we made a date to see the inside. As soon as we walked in and it didn’t smell we knew this was promising. The interior literally looks new. It’s 30 years old…it’s as old as me and it has barely been used. The gentlemen selling it didn’t seem to have much of her history but he was confident in her so we were too. That weekend we took my Dad with us to see her again and go for a test drive, plus have him scope out the mechanical situation. My Dad is a diehard Chevy man, growing up we were a Chevy family. I didn’t have a non-chevy vehicle until I bought my own Honda in college. The motorhome is a Ford but by the look on his face I knew he was as impressed as we were with her condition.
We made an offer that day before leaving and decided to put $100 down so we could talk over the weekend and come back Monday if we decided to go for it. We grabbed a quick breakfast as payment to my Dad for helping us out and headed home for a rare Saturday afternoon nap. As we laid in bed slightly underwhelmed with our idea to take a nap, we decided instead to seize the day and we jumped back in the Jeep and headed to the bank to meet the motorhome owners to have the title notarized. We couldn’t wait until Monday…we were way too excited.
Without plates and without insurance (which I don’t recommend) and without ANY experience I hopped behind the wheel of the rig and off we went. We decided I would be the better driver of the two of us who had no experience because I had driven trucks and vans more than Justin. In all honesty, it didn’t seem that difficult and I made it in one piece thankfully.
As we roared down the freeway, I worried we might overheat or lose a tire, I worried random things might fly off or that I’d clip a semi truck with my giant mirror but none of those things happened. We stopped off at Justin’s parent’s house midway through our journey to my parent’s house where the motorhome will sit until we get her road & home ready. I was nervous about driving so far so we thought we might leave it there for a night or two. On their dead-end street in the middle of Canton city… the neighbors would love that. The thing was bigger than their house, it wasn’t until then that it really sank in. My thought was “what did we just do” I couldn’t stop shaking from the drive and from the adrenaline rush of paying cash for this giant motorized house, ha. I couldn’t believe how big it actually was now that we had something familiar to compare it to. It was on this little break that we had our first guest. One of Justin’s former soccer moms and his parent’s neighbor decided to come check it out. She said “you guys…this is just adventure waiting to happen.” We couldn’t agree more!
We wanted to surprise my parents since my Dad thought we were waiting until Monday. As we pulled up the gravel drive I honked and tooted the horn as I waived and bounced in the seat. My Dad later told us he was more surprised by the fact that I was driving and Justin was following behind me in the Jeep and not the other way around.
We didn’t spend much more time with her that day but that’s not to say that Justin wasn’t ready right then to start tearing out the furniture and carpeting.
And that’s the story of how this 1985 Travelcraft came to be ours. Thanks for reading. Follow along more of our adventures on Instagram @themotorhomememoirs