January! You’re almost here. No, we don’t have any resolutions, unless surviving the craziest month of our year counts. January brings YogaLife Teacher Training, the Ouray Ice Festival, the ABS Youth Divisional Comp at the gym, a 3-day meditation retreat, and the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show. These closing weeks of 2014 were our last chance to get out on our own terms before the final 5-1/2 month stretch to freedom. From now until mid-June, the majority of our climbing outside of the gym or local crags will be somehow connected to work events. Fun as far as work goes, but not great in the personal goal arena. We hitched Alexander SuperScamp to the Element and headed south for the holidays.
But, oh, the desert can be cruel! It set us up with a tease, a day of sun with a little chill on the breeze, and then the temps took a dive while the sun played hide-and-seek-and-mostly-hide. And let’s not forget the wind. It was a mighty wind. Climbing was tough. It was hard to warm up, and even harder to stay warm. Charlie managed to eek out a send or two at each crag (yay, Charlie!), but I bundled up in my belay layers and wrote days off. I was frustrated, on the verge of tears…except that every evening as the sun left, taking any heat it had brought with it, there was Alex, waiting for us with his soft, fuzzy walls and tiny but powerful little furnace.
And then finally, on days 8 and 9, Mother Nature took pity on us humans and allowed her rays to burn through before the next impending cold front. A futile attempt to find The Point, a remote crag that had previously eluded Charlie (the guidebook describes the directions to get there as being “complex”, even though they supposedly only involve three roads), landed us in the Green Valley Gap. Once in the Gap, the sun was really all that mattered. The frigid wind seemed to blow across the top, with just a touch of it brushing across the canyon rock faces. Charlie had climbed here before and didn’t have much of a tick list left, so we warmed up and went straight to one of the two routes he had an interest in doing. It was a short, steep line, more of a bolted boulder problem in the one move wonder category, really…but it was also the most fun route of our trip, in the best conditions we encountered. Win!
With conditions looking like they’d peaked, and visions of workloads growing like weeds in our absences, we decided to head home a few days earlier than planned. Our ten days in our tiny house on wheels reassured us that we’ve made the right choice for the next five-plus years. It seems kind of crazy to think that we can live comfortably in 10′ x 6-1/2′ space, but we can. There’s the occasional dog in the way…ironically it’s usually tiny Frankie parked in front of the furnace, nose to the grill, but overall it’s pretty plush.
Things that are awesome:
- The furnace. The one thing that didn’t work when we picked Alex up is now his crowning glory.
- The solar panel set-up. 55-watts of battery-charging, furnace-feeding power.
- The fresh water tank and hand pump faucet. The previous owners told us they never used the stove, and we think they didn’t use the water tank, either. The fresh water hose was really grody looking, so we replaced it before we left. And with the hand pump it seems easier to conserve water than with the 12-volt pump in our pop-up camper.
- 3M Command adhesive hooks and mounting strips work fantastically on Alex’s fiberglass interior surfaces. I put up a few hooks, and a $.99 IKEA plastic shelf for Charlie’s glasses so he doesn’t lose them every 10 minutes.
Things to do or purchase:
- Fix the wiring. We haven’t been able to get the right turn signal to work. We have everything else, but no right turn. It’s fine for Utah, but eventually we’ll be places where there are good drivers, and we don’t want to stand out.
- Repair or replace the closet and upper kitchen cabinet doors. The issues include hinges, latches, minor water damage, and unpainted backs. They’re MDF doors, and the screw holes are all hogged out. We need to determine if they’re able to be fixed or if we should just buy replacements from Scamp.
- Build a PVC frame and plywood shelving system in the tall closet. We used crates to transport and organize our food and supplies for this trip, but we’ll need a more permanent set-up. The shelves will also give us more storage, as they can span the entire space available.
- Bleach the vinyl trim on the upper cabinets and around the door. It’s just a little gross. We did this to the trim on the dinette benches when we removed them to get at the wiring and water tubing, and it really helped.
- Make a new plywood bed platform. The current platform is the dinette table, which has angled corners so big butts can slid by the table to get into the seats. It stops short of the mattress, so if you sit or lay right on the edge you roll off. It also can’t be great for the IKEA foam mattress we cut to shape and replaced the seat cushions with. We’ll cut a base to support all the way to the edge.
- Make new 3/8″ plywood storage compartment covers. There’s some water damage to the existing MDF ones.
- Sand the stove around burner openings and repaint it. As mentioned earlier, the previous owners never used the stove. It’s been painted white (it was originally Harvest Gold), but it’s apparent that the wrong type of paint was used. We smelled something burning while we were cooking our first dinner, and it was the stove itself! We had already planned to use white stove paint to update the furnace grill, so now we’ll do both.
- Down comforter and duvet cover. We may be in frugal mode, but we worked a lot of years to get here, so a small luxury here or there is to be permitted.
- Order the 3′ square charcoal grey braided wool rug I (Maggie) have been stalking to replace the patchwork of carpet samples, kitchen rugs, and doormats arranged on the floor.
- Use Gel-Gloss fiberglass cleaner on the cabinets and benches to brighten the finish and obscure the shadow lines from the lovely brown pin-striping we removed.
- More hooks and 2 more plastic IKEA shelves.
- Get an IKEA (addicted, yep) outdoor mat for sandy or muddy shoes, to be used along with a woven plastic rug we can throw out front or use as a floor in our screen house. Mad Mats and Fab Habitat make some funky options for that.
And the big one (for Maggie, at least):
- Charlie and Lola think we can live with the plaid fabric on the sofa. We cannot. The plaid must go. We want to make a charging station at one end of the sofa with a protected spot for the solar charge controller and inverter, so we’re thinking we’ll build a shelf to house that stuff, and we can use the top as a table. Make it symmetrical with a storage compartment/shelf at the other end of the sofa, trim the cushions and re-upholster said sofa in faux tooled leather vinyl fabric. Maybe cute covers for our camp pillows, too. The plaid must go.
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