Sunday, December 6, 2015

Meet Gidget

2 weeks, 3 days.  That's all it took for these two DIY junkies to crave for our next project.  I suspect family members were taking bets on how long it would take us to become stir crazy in a rental house with no "next project" around the corner.  Andy and I tried to fool ourselves, planning minor furniture rehab projects and filling our time with outdoor pursuits but, alas, renovation is in our DNA.

This last Wednesday, I was chilling out with the boys and surfing on Pinterest.  Not something I do on a frequent basis as it can quickly get hobbyists into trouble.  A scroll or two down the "Popular" page reveled a finished vintage trailer remodel project.  It was love at first sight.  A really quick search on Craigslist yielded a 1954 King vintage trailer for sale a mere 2 1/2 hours north of Portland.  At $1750, the price was incredibly reasonable considering how rare they are and that restored ones can go for $9000+.  I knew convincing Andy of our new endeavor was only an email away.  Considering I am a mega planner and preparer and never do anything spontaneously, Andy jumped on my one act of madness and quickly contacted the seller and put all the other steps into motion.

New trailer hitch installed on our mini van, which amazingly enough has plenty of power to tow the caravan, we loaded the kids up at the crack of dawn and set out to meet our newest project.

Named "Clarice" by it's current owner, the caravan is an 18 foot, 1954 King canned ham.

Clarice is a pretty cute, old fashioned name but considering it immediately puts us into mind of a people-eating psychopath, we have decided to rename her "Gidget", a 1950s fictional character portrayed by Sandra Dee that spent her chasing after Moondoggie, surfing and having beach parties.  As far as we can tell, Walter King manufactured the trailers in the 1950s out of California.

"Canned ham" refers to the iconic curved shape of the roof.  Many of the trailer's original features are in intact and ready for restoration such as classic 1950s light fixtures, hinges and knobs and Martha Washington stove.

Andy and I have no experience with campers but are excited to dive into this new arena.  We plan to carefully disassemble the camper, repair the "guts"and then build it back up, using as much of the original materials as we can.

"Bedroom" light

Fridge Missing
Built-in bedside table

Open exterior windows
Bedroom area with recent loft addition that will be removed
Dining area with folding table and benches that lay into a bed

What we can't use, we hope to build or purchase period-accurate reproductions.  Our goal is to have this camper ready for the road (I won't say "done", because when is a project every truly done) by summer so we can take her on the road, visiting the amazing National forests, parks, oceans and lakes all within a days drive of our new home.  Follow along as we learn on the job breathing new life into Gidget.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We Made It

4 days of travel.  4 time zones.  8 states.  Countless bathroom breaks, granola bars and movies but we made it.

A work relocation brought this Iowa family to Oregon and we are settling into life on the West Coast.

It's not even been a week, but a few early observations about our new home:

-People are super friendly.  Most clerks will chat you up as they check you out.

-People are also weather wimps.  The last few days it's been "freezing, bitterly cold"... yeah, the highs have been in the 40s.  Midwesterns don't use the term "bitter" until it's at least 20 below zero.

-Getting gas sucks.  You'd think having someone else fill your tank while you sit idle in the car sounds great but in reality, it is the longest, most aggravating excursion possible.

-It is insanely beautiful here.  Getting groceries, oh, there's Mt. Hood.  Playing at the park, oh, Mt. St. Helens over there.  Majestic is the only word I can think of and pictures don't nearly do it justice.
View from Mt. Tabor Park
-Coffee, coffee coffee.  It's everywhere and delicious.  Still trying to find my new "Java Johns"- with no success... they just don't make Marys around here but I found a fantastic drive-thru called "Dutch Bros".  The coffee is good and well priced and the employees are all super friendly and efficient.  If there is a line, one employee will be outside taking pre-orders so your drink is ready when you get to the front.

Complete with inspirational sayings
-Grocery pricing is really different than the midwest.  You can get a gallon of milk here for under $2.50 but the cheapest pack of bacon is $6!

We are renting a home here south of the city in wine country.  It's been about 10 years since we have rented so it's a little different for us but we are excited to have more freedom (aka time) to get out and explore the area instead of working on house projects all the time.  Completely unintentionally, we stumbled on a converted barn house.  It's been a dream of ours to convert a barn and we didn't have time in Decorah so it's really fun getting to live in one now.

Stars lead to driveway and garage door
The barn is at the top of a mountain- about 1000 feet above the town below.  Roads to the top are narrow and curvy- something that my straight, flat Iowa/Illinois driving is getting used to.  It also gets really foggy up here.

 Like no joke, can only see a few feet in front of the car, lose the road foggy.  But man, on a clear day it is beautiful. We can see Mt. Hood from our deck looking past the neighbor's house and get a straight view from the end of the driveway.
From the deck

From the road

Our rental has all the living space on the 2nd floor- below is garage space.  Single level living with three kids is awesome.  The house has a HUGE deck overlooking the valley.

The house even has wind and solar power!

From the deck, the door opens to an open concept living, dining and kitchen.  It is so bright and airy with a loft ceiling and huge windows.  From there, a long hallway leads to three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a million closets- there is seriously a crazy amount of storage here.

We are pretty much unpacked at this point and will share pictures as we can.  Today, I have the two finished kid's rooms.  E was sharing a room with F in Decorah but asked for her own room.  With the big move, we decided to grant her wish so she has her own room now.

Double closet which we used for toys
I bought 2 prints at the Decorah High School Winter Craft show and hung them here.  A great reminder of Decorah.

F and L now share a room which backs up to the living room.  This room doesn't have a window to the outside but gets light through a window into the living room.

I took pages from a "Where's Waldo" book and framed them

They got the dresser/bookcase combo I renovated last year as well as a lot of toy storage.

More to come soon!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Day 3: Epic Road Trip from Ohio to Oregon

In our 12 hours of driving today, we went through a 33 degree temperature fluctuation.  This morning, we work up in Rawlins, Wyoming to F excitedly proclaiming that it was snowing.  Less excited, at 5:13  am, we looked over and saw indeed there was a slight dusting on the ground.  

After a typical hotel breakfast, our 4th in as many days, we packed the car at a chilling 24 degree morning.  In the course of the morning as we traveled through the desolate plains of Wyoming, we dropped to 18 degrees, of course when the kid’s had a pee emergency so we had to hightail it out of the car in bitter cold with insane winds into a rest stop bathroom.  Not a trip I wish to repeat.  
Ominous Road Warnings
Overall, our drive today was like driving on the moon.  We expected to be driving through mountain passes all day as we went from Wyoming to the Oregon border, but instead were mostly driving on flat roads with rocky outcroppings around us.  

As we left Wyoming and entered into Utah, we finally got to go through an exciting mountain tunnel and had a bit of nice mountain viewing but that was really it.  F was excited by the baby mountains and the big mountains which he called “mommies” for some reason.

Sick of cold cheese, ham and crackers for lunches, we decided to stop for a hot lunch about an hour north of Salt Lake City.  We choose a dive diner which had the BEST chili we have ever eaten.  Amazing, meaty, beany and smoky chili.  The clientele were all hardened ranchers wearing Stetsons, spurs and worn jean.  Sounds like a romance novel fantasy but reality is a lot more grizzled with silky, feminine looking scarves. 
L eating lunch
After lunch, we continued driving on the moon getting a few more mountain sightings in the distance.  

We made a bit of a detour in Twin Springs, Idaho for a snack/coffee stop and got our first “scenic overlook” at a bridge over the snake river.  Heights are not my cup of tea so with knocking knees, I took a quick peak and picture and let the boys check out the view a bit longer and do boy things like pee on big rocks.

Driving through Boise, we hit our first traffic jam of the journey, temperature then at 51 degrees but luckily cleared out of it quickly to arrive in Ontario, Oregon at 7 pm , Mountain Time.  

night driving is not conducive to state sign pics

Amazing Mexican food in our bellies, we are no longer just a haggard shell of our former selves.
the one different thing about our Oregon hotel room

Miles: 639
Hours: 12 (had an hour lunch break that slowed us down today)
States: 4
Bathroom Accidents: 1 (this was before we left the hotel when L peed out of his pjs)

Coffee Stops: 1