Here we are, I’d say, right in the thick of it. The time in this process where all the things are happening at once. I had my first meltdown about a week ago about a day or so after Justin and I finished our last big project on the house. As we wrapped up installing new flooring and a tongue and groove wood ceiling in our sunroom, Justin finally joined me in his readiness to sell the house. It hit him hard and out of frustration with the project we were doing which isn’t the best way to reach that state but nonetheless, he was there with me. Literally the next day we called our realtor friend over to give us a general once over of the house so we could plan ahead for any lingering projects. The house needs to show like a dream in order for us to break even on this investment. It’s been ten years and we’ve dumped tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket into our 1928 home but we always knew we’d never get it all back.
So there I was, wide awake and talking in circles before I realized that I was freaking out. I had about five different plans begging for my attention at once and lists in my head of all the tasks it would take to get each plan underway. I started talking through it with Justin and before I realized it I was saying things like “are you sure this is what we even want”, “what if we go to drive the motor home and it falls apart”, I don’t know if we’re doing any of this right”. Luckily for me I have a very level-headed husband and he calmed me in a few words. We hadn’t lost any money yet. We’ve only invested our time into this plan so far, besides the motor home which was paid for in cash and could easily be made back if we decided to scrap the whole idea. He told me not to jump the gun on anything. He told me that looking ahead at our furniture for the motor home before we get rid of the furniture in the house was just asking for more stress. That whole concept had to be dealt with.
“Project One Step at a Time” was born. In the morning when I woke up to make coffee, I wrote on our little chalkboard “One step at a time, everything will be fine”. And that has been the best reminder everyday since.
We’re in the thick of it. There’s a whole lot going on around us most of which has been at home and not in the motor home. We are making some significant headway towards emptying the house of unwanted belongings. I’m now a regular at the Salvation Army drop off. Everything is either already at the storage unit or ready to be taken or waiting to be organized into proper totes. We removed some furniture, sold some stuff and even got rooms staged for showings once the house is ready to be put on the market. I’ve been doing little things here and there to not overwhelm myself but I still lay awake at night thinking of the next step and the best route to get us there.
This whole thing has not only been a practice in minimalism but a challenge of patience which I typically do not have an abundance of. We just absolutely can’t wait for the time, space and freedom of being in a different place!!
We got the carpet out. We made a material list and a budget for the rebuild. Next on the list is rewiring and updating the lights to LED.
If you’ve used airbnb before, you know that it can be a wormhole that takes you on a somewhat seedy joyride through mostly benevolent host’s homes but might also creep you out. We’ve used airbnb probably 5 times in all now and one of our favorite experiences was our most recent trip to Evergreen, Colorado. Evergreen is this quaint mountain town about an hour southwest of Denver. The main street winds along as you pass those quintessential golden meadows of Colorado, stately lake houses, a golf course and a string of old and charming cafes each with a covered porch made of rustic beams and actual tree trunks. We flew into Denver and rented a car for the short drive, stopping along the way for our necessities; Colorado brewed beer, cheese, coffee and snacks. We were photographing a wedding the next day so getting situated in our temporary abode was priority after scouting some locations at the Evergreen Lakehouse where the wedding would be.
As we followed the directions along the winding mountain roads towards the cabin, we kept talking about the odd weather. It was cloudy, raining, foggy. Not at all the typical Colorado weather we’d experience on every trip prior. Colorful Colorado was as moody and emo as the PNW that day. I can’t say we minded much…it made for some awesome portraits while we were scouting, never mind the mist and mud. The driveway to the cabin was steep, dirt and red. Well marked and easy to navigate, albeit a bit sketchy in our low-profile tires donned VW Jetta. We made it. Got the key, went in and didn’t die. Isn’t that always the first notion of probably making a good decision when booking airbnb…you didn’t die.
The cabin was ideal in most every way. The next day when Evergreen, Colorado had it’s first snow of the season, a complete blizzard by NE Ohio standards, it became even more ideal.
Bare necessities was the vibe at the rustic cabin on the hillside and we didn’t mind much. We were within 10 minutes for restaurants, coffee shops and a long list of hiking/sight-seeing but tucked up on a secluded mountain road far enough away from everything to feel all alone. We weren’t though, the cabin has a tiny neighborhood of other units housing some long-term renters which actually gave us a little more piece of mind out there in the middle of nowhere. We hiked Mt. Falcon, Mt. Evans and traipsed all around the Evergreen Lakehouse. We ate brunch at The Wildflower Cafe, has the best Oregan Spiced Chai of my life at Muddy Buck along with a pretty stellar Corned Beef Rueben. With all that Evergreen and the area had to offer, we even saw a bunch of Elk pretty close, our favorite part of the trip was lighting a fire in the woodburning fireplace at the little cabin with big windows while the giant snowflakes collected on the Aspens and Evergreens outside.
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