Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Having a BLAST!

Well, it's the Tuesday after Louis' debut at a Scotty event in Salisbury, MA and, boy, did we have a blast. LITERALLY! But, I'll get to that in a second. It's important to understand that I am an incredibly organized individual (at least I fancy myself that way). Whether building a house for incredibly picky clients or working with a tight schedule on a TV show, I learned from day one in my career to take detailed notes, never let my list get out of reach and to anticipate disaster long before it hits. When it came to restoring this little camper then taking it on the road again, I approached the tasks with similar detail and organization. Even days before my trip north I added to my list (already a dedicated program on my computer), which includes things like "THE DAY BEFORE/BEFORE PULLING AWAY FROM HOME (safety chain check, door locked on trailer, hitch locked, lights hooked up, etc.) but last week, for some reason, I left off two major items that would prove invaluable at the end of my camping excursion. The drive from New York through Connecticut and Massachusetts to Salisbury State Reservation in the northern most corner of Mass was beautiful. The weekend was what I had expected and then some. Not only were Scotty's of all shapes and sizes out in full force, but teardrops, Shasta's and other vintage beauties were out to show off for the weekend. Needless to say, a wonderful time was had by all. It was wonderful to finally see these trailers in person, as I'd only had my HiLander to compare any of them to. When I studied Art History in college the best education for me was when I traveled to Europe and engrossed myself in everything art and history. Teachers are fantastic, clearly, but I love hands on, deep-absorption learning. Same goes for rebuilding a Scotty. Because I plan on taking Louis down to the bones and redoing him completely again, I now have extra insight into what others have done. Listening, watching and just looking proved to be an incredible education. So, the weekend was a great success on many levels. Sunday morning I loaded up, said goodbye to my new friends and began the 240 mile journey home. After a few cars passed giving me the thumbs up and shouting what a great trailer I had, I was feeling pretty good. Then someone drove by, rolled down their window and yelled that the drivers side tire was low. No sooner did they pass, the tire blew and shred into a thousand pieces. Luckily I was close enough to an exit I could limp off and rolled into a CLOSED gas station. Yes. Little did I know that most of Connecticut closes on Sunday. After calling my insurance company, the logical thing to do (they said) was leave it and have a towing company pick it up the following day. What I've learned, however, is to triple check my list. I didn't have a spare. I forgot my toolbox at home. I had no way to fix anything. Luckily I printed up the old brochure from the Scotty site and heard from several people at camp how to change a Scotty tire, so think I could've managed, but nonetheless I was ill-prepared and will hopefully never leave home that way again!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Prince and the Pea

My niece loves nothing more than for her Uncle Paul to read a bedtime story to her before she heads off to dreamland. Before she could read my job was a lot easier, but now she'll catch me and say things like, "Uncle Paul, that isn't how the story goes..are you sure you know how to read??" Inspector Gidget has figured out my little secret of speed reading by telling a shortened version of the story. So, a few nights ago via Skype (wow, technology, huh?) I sat at my computer in New York and Devin at hers in LA and I read her The Princess and the Pea (she was on her ipad...at her age I had a Tonka truck and was happy as a pig in mud..). Devin had many questions as I stumbled through the pages (she hasn't grasped time changes yet, so her 9:00 PM bedtime was a bit late for me). She didn't understand why the Princess was acting like, well, such a Princess about the comfort of her bed. In the end, I explained to Devin, the princesses behavior proved to the Price that she was indeed a Princess, as she felt a tiny pea under a stack of mattresses. Unlike the stories I've told in the past, I dragged this one out with Devin and explained that her Uncle, too, was a very picky sleeper. In fact, choosing a comfortable mattress is one of the most important tasks I face when designing a house, for me or clients. When I first bought Louis, for example, I placed an extra long twin mattress in the back to use as a daybed/comfortable bed. Because I knew it would always only be me camping, I knew a twin would do the trick. A few months later, after a torrential rain hit our area (see blog entry: and sometimes I hate when it rains), the mattress was soaked beyond repair. Thanks to a suggestion from a Scotty member, I headed to the Hobby Lobby where I found foam pads at 75% off. Because I tend to be picky with bed comfort, I bought three to make it extra comfy then headed next door to Target where I bought this great foam mattress pad for $9! Stick a boulder under my bed now and I won't feel a thing!
WHAT THIS PROJECT COST ME: The foam pieces at Hobby Lobby were $15/each and the mattress topper was $9, far less than a standard mattress.
WHAT I LEARNED: While I thought the twin mattress was a great idea initially, it was WAY too big to have as a full time daybed. No matter how many pillows I placed on it, the depth was too awkward for adults to sit comfortable. Now, while a bit thinner, it is perfect for sleeping, sitting, reading, etc. and frees up a lot of space in the trailer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Battle Scars

Before I move forward, like many things in life, it is important to take a few steps back, address the wounds of battle, learn from the mistakes and move ahead stronger than ever. No, we weren't victims of gun battle or a surprise attack in the middle of the night, it was a powerful storm with a sweet name that pushed through our neighborhood with the fury of a thousand angry, over-caffeinated warriors. While we live an hour north of Manhattan about a hundred yards east of the Hudson River (directly across from West Point, the sight of a mighty battle), Irene seemed to find strength as she powered her way north. Trees came down, streets flooded and power was out for a week, but thankfully no lives were lost in our area. Louis, however, wasn't as lucky. Days after Irene left town, I discovered a tree had fallen on his streetside, forcing the front skins to burst in the middle like Louis spitting out a blast of angry curse words. Strangely enough, I believe the solid structure of the refrigerator helped keep the wall from totally collapsing, with the pressure breaking the front streetside window and the frame around the emergency window in the back, on the streetside. While I was able to get his essential parts back in order (the side skin was actually easy to manipulate back into place), the water damage was so extensive it looks like I'm going to have to do a total rebuild. So, after my last camp of the season this weekend (or maybe I'll squeak a few more in before the snow falls) I will be looking for a nice dry spot to rest Louis while I take him apart and reassemble him bit by bit. Instead of feeling an overwhelming sense of defeat, I've decided to look at my first mini-restoration of Louis as a good dry run (pun intended), and the next will be even better. Initially I thought of buying another Scotty (which I don't doubt will happen in the near future) and using Louis as a stationary office on our property, but the more I thought of it that felt like a cop out. I love the HiLander. I love its lines, I love the division of space, I love the Scotty Potty and I love the way I felt the first time I towed him home. To abandon him now and keep him from hitting the wide open road to adventure feels like keeping a racehorse in a playpin, so I will take my time over the winter months to make sure he's perfect once again...just like the day he rolled out of the Serro Scotty factory. Bumps in the road are inevitable, it's the way we maneuver through and around them that matters most!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Heeeee's Baaaacckkkkk!!!!!

Do you ever feel like the universe is trying to tell you something? Well, sometimes I feel like the universe is screaming in my face...like a nasty coach with bad breath spitting whilst shouting, kind of yelling. Then I realize if I truly believed that I'd most likely never get out of bed! In fact, I'd be under blankets right now, sucking my thumb watching reruns of Designing Women and trying to figure out how they made the motorhome fly in "Escape from Witch Mountain." I digress. In short, it's been a long month (plus) since my last entry; Irene not only blew through our neighborhood, she huffed, puffed and blew it DOWN, including a lovely tree on our property which, in turn, slammed into Louis' drivers side. Upon seeing that, I felt like I'd shown up to run a marathon, looked down and realized I wasn't wearing any shoes. What's the point? After tireless hours and effort to make Louis road and camp-worthy, I felt totally defeated. So, I took a little break. During that time we also moved (only a few miles away, but a move is a move nonetheless), the rain seems like it hasn't stopped since Noah arrived in his ark, and when I finally worked up the nerve to head back into Louis to attack the project of putting him back together again, something else had attacked him. Perched in a lovely part of our new property (photographed above last week), mice had moved into Louis and taken over every part of his 84 square feet (minus the Scotty Potty, however!). Now, I don't mean to be gross, but it looked like these little rodents had just spent a month on the Mexican Riviera eating nothing but pinto beans while sipping margaritas. They made messes everywhere, including on top of my curtains, inside the stove, ONTOP of dryer sheets I'd left on the mattress. To say it was a mess would be like saying Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton are model citizens...it was a DISASTER. So, I did what any west coast city-raised boy would do. I slammed the door, went inside and made myself a martini. Last week, excited for the forthcoming Turkey campout in Salisbury, Massachusetts where Louis will meet his first Scotty buddies, I kicked into high gear to get him ready. First things first: the mingos had to come out to play, too! Like anything, I had to look beyond the overwhelming piles of mess and take it one square foot at a time. I've washed the curtains, bleached every surface and, most importantly I was able to zero in on the points of entry: over the wheel wells. While I didn't have any food in Louis, I did leave paper product which, unbeknown to me, is a huge no-no as mice love to build nests with anything and everything paper. Lesson learned. Stay tuned this week while I show you close-up shots of Louis' damage from Irene and prepare for our big trip on Friday. My Grandpa Louis never gave up, so neither will I!