Sunday, August 2, 2020

in the POD - the adventure continues



the "garage"


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Our break from installing windows didn't mean an actual break from our list of all the 
things that need to be done on our van. And, I'm not actually sure how this happens but that 
list seems to be growing.....



sound dampening and 2 layers of insulation installed after the windows were put in

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I finished the layers of insulation around the 3 windows. I know, it looks so simple ... and yet it took me close to a full day to complete because of all the odd angles and some really small spaces. 


While I did that Tim began work on the "garage". The garage is, for us, the last 2 feet of the van and will hold all the infrastructure systems for the van. This is all the stuff that Tim had been testing and assembling on the porch earlier this spring.

The garage will house:

300 amp hour lithium battery and 3,000 watt Magnum inverter
30' retractable 30 amp shore power cable
All the electrical control systems including a Renogy solar charge controller
12 volt and 120 volt control center
12 volt air conditioning system
Portable 1800 watt generator
Diesel fired hydronic heating/hot water system - powering the radiant heat in the floor and walls and the kitchen and bath hot water
Filters and UV sanitation for the recirculating shower
Retractable hoses for both fresh water and sewage

and ..... this list may grow.


radiant heat added to the garage

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Radiant heat panels and tubing were first added to the floor and walls of the garage followed by the flooring. Radiant heat panels are currently being added to the rest of the floor and walls of the van.


beginnings of the garage install

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Tim is building a metal frame system to hold and support the mechanics of the garage. The main control panel - seen at top in the photo - will face into the van for easy accessibility. 

In the week ahead the focus will be on getting the radiant heat panels and tubing in, continuing work on the garage and infrastructure systems, and possibly getting the flooring in. The final two windows have been delayed and are not scheduled to arrive until the end of the week.

Each day we find ourselves with a new question, sometimes a different plan, sometimes a change - yet, all of it, a welcomed challenge. We have no one to please but ourselves.

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Oh ... and we did install an additional fold up passenger seat. It's for Rosie.

two passenger fold up seat behind the driver


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Rosie checking it out.

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Sunday, July 26, 2020

in the POD - one step at a time.....

The scariest cut of all - making holes for the windows!!

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And so it has begun. 

On July 1st, we took possession of our new van, a Mercedes Sprinter on a 170" wheel base with an extended body.  Our total length is 24.5 feet, a dramatic increase from our 19 foot Roadtrek Agile (also a Sprinter chassis)!  

Tim had already put months of work into this project - researching electrical, solar, plumbing systems,  designing the layout, and creating a spreadsheet with all the needed parts (with links and costs). Once we decided to move forward with up-fitting a new van ourselves he began ordering parts, pre-assembling the internal systems and testing them..... over and over. The back porch has become the "workshop" and storage facility for windows, water/waste tanks, radiant floor panels, hoses, generator ....... and the roof has been the testing ground for 6 solar panels which are currently running a small fan as well as the new refrigerator for the van. 

Over the past 25 extremely HOT days we have been working non-stop. So far most of all the work has truly been the grunt, totally non-sexy part of the up-fitting. Yup, all the stuff that, ultimately, will never be seen - but are essential to how we want to travel.


This is where our story begins.......

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Step 1
Remove the wall panels that the van came with.
Apply the sound dampening material. 

Vans are a whole lot of metal speeding down a highway. When they go over bumps the metal rattles. And rattles are super annoying.

These Noico Solutions panels come in fairly large @ 18" x 29" sheets that can be easily cut with a scissors. They have a self adhesive back and we used a small metal brayer to firmly attach the panels to ALL the interior walls, ceiling and wheel casings. (Note: At this point we did not do the 5 sections where we will be adding windows. We will complete those spots after the windows are in)
This was a tedious job but once we found our groove it went fairly quickly. We also began adding the next 2 layers of insulation (steps 2 and 3) as we completed each side of the van.


Tim using a brayer to secure the Noico panel

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My job was, mostly, measuring and cutting ......

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Step 2 and 3
Apply Reflectix - a double reflective insulation and Foamular Insulation Sheeting.

On top of the sound deadening panels we added two layers of insulation. This will help keep our traveling Pod cool in hot climates and warm in cold climates! Strangely enough we have found ourselves traveling  to many cold areas and have often awoken to below zero temps and a few frozen pipes. Yeah .... not great.

 Which brings me to an important piece of info about Tim's plan for our new Pod. Most upfitted van units place the holding tanks under the chassis and run all the water lines in the outside walls of the van. (I bet you can already see the problem.) This is NOT how Pod 3.0 is going to do it! Everything will be inside our layered and cozy interior! More on that when we actually get to installing all the cool things that Tim has been diligently testing on the porch .........


Back to the grunt work.
Both the Reflectix and the Foamular sheeting had to be cut to size to fit in all the nooks of the van walls.  Each layer was glued into place using Loc-Tite construction adhesive. We then filled any remaining spaces and cracks with Great Stuff spray foam. Once the foam was completely set/dry (@ 24 hrs) it was trimmed to be flush with the final insulation layer.

Reflectix and the Foamular sheeting process

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Ceiling completed!

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Nothing to see here!

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Once all the insulation was completed we put the original wall panels back in place. The walls are now ready for their next layer ..... but first the windows need to be installed.

This was by far the scariest (for me) part of this whole deal - cutting holes in a brand new van!! I mean its not like you can "stitch witchery" it back together. I truly wanted no part of this process but Tim insisted that "we're in this together, if we fail we fail together." (Yeah... something like that.) 
And we did it together! 
And we are still speaking! 
And we currently have 3 windows installed!! 

the first cut is the deepest....

Creating the first template  (we will have 3 different sizes) was a bit nerve wracking - like creating a costume pattern that has to be perfect on the body the first time it is put on. Ugh. We started with the smallest of the windows - which will sit above the galley counter. Our first window took us approximately 5 hours to put in.


First window completed. 


Once the hole is cut a frame is constructed on the interior of the van - this is to both support the window as well as make it flush with the finished wall. The frame is constructed of laminated PVC boards and attached to the wall with 3M VHB (Very High Bonding) double sides tape.


Attaching the frame.

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Our windows are Arctic Tern manufactured by Tern Overland and supplied to us by campervan-hq.com.  They are made in Europe and feature double pane acrylic glazing and include a separate interior cover panel containing a retractable screen on top and a black out shade with a reflective exterior on the bottom.


Arctic Tern windows with retractable screens and 
blackout blinds.

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Open window on driver's side

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Sliding door and Galley windows

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We are taking a break before adding the last 2 windows - because they won't be here until next week. 











Sunday, December 22, 2019

within the familiar - so why?



Why did I stop writing?

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The last 20 months have been quite full and yet it all just seemed to fly by. I never truly made any real choices or set any goals.... it all just happened. 
Maybe that was the real problem! I did not fully participate, I just let it happen around me. I need to do better moving forward.

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During these last 20 months:

2 Rosie birthdays have passed.
2 summers filled with markets for rose:joe every weekend (June - Sept) meaning lots of prep and sewing to make that happen. And that has been quite enjoyable!
I was actually in 3 separate gallery shows! 
We had 3 POD visits to Horseneck Beach, countless trips to P-town and the Cape, as well as a few weeks on Pine Island last January.
I taught for a full semester at the University of Rhode Island and designed a show for them.
I had one solo trip to Merida.
We continued to work on the Airstream, added a deck to the back of Ty and Amy’s home, and I did
lots of gardening including adding a large veggie garden and 7 yards of new mulched areas.

And, lest I forget, the last 6+ months of pain and discomfort in my right hip and leg that has rendered me to adopt a “Granpappy Amos” gait! Not pretty. Finally that distraction is - slowly - getting resolved as I work my way through chiropractors, orthopedic doctors, xrays, cortisone shots, physical therapy and anything else I can do to get better! Not giving up on this one!! 

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So, all in all, it has been a jam packed, busy, family filled last 20 months! And it’s all been fun and terrific - but I missed the opportunity to reflect upon it all. I do have the photos to go back and reflect upon - catching all those perfect Rosie moments of discovery and joy, but for my own self I do feel that I need to take back control; set goals and fulfill them.... for me.

❤️



Saturday, November 16, 2019

within the familiar - a promise of sorts




you never know what you are looking for ..... until you say it out loud!

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I don’t know where the time went or why I stopped writing. I didn't make a conscious decision to stop, but..... I just realized that it’s been 20 months since I last made an entry!

This realization actually comes at a very important time; a time that I am finding myself at odds, unsettled, and once again feeling like I need to wrest control - set some goals again. And the best way forward (for me) is to take the time to observe each moment, look to the future, wrestle with my own limitations and strengths and write about all of it. 

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So as we ease into the closing of 2019 I am setting my first goal for 2020: 
To commit to write more in this blog - to be present and to reflect.


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Thursday, March 29, 2018

in the POD - following the sun!

finding a spot in the sun
Pine Island, FL

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As we headed south out of SW Colorado we quickly came to the conclusion that what we really needed was some sunshine before returning to the cold and SNOW that was still blanketing New England.
We called Claudia and Kim and begged for a spot in their yard! 
Driving 8-10 hours a day with bedtime truck stops in Albuquerque, NM, Fort Smith, AR, and Midway, FL we arrived on Pine Island on a perfect 78 degree afternoon. 
☀️

Just as we had hoped!!


 a much needed refreshing cocktail in the sun!

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We pretty much just vegged out that first day and a half - catching up on sleep and getting over the stress of the long driving hours in the POD. Our hosts fed us, along with quite a few other visitors from Minnesota and Arkansas! This "campground" is getting very busy!

bike ride and the colors of the morning

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Eventually we returned to form and shared in all the kitchen duties - including making dinners for 8-10 of pizza, ribs, and clam chowder. It is always a group effort at Camp Larson/Rossi and this time was no exception - with a few more willing hands added to the mix. We got to know some new friends, Kim and James (from Fayetteville, AR), who were also camping in the yard! It is so much fun meeting new people that you immediately connect with.


Sunday boating through the mangroves

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it was a perfect day for dolphins!

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The weather was absolutely perfect while we were there - mid 70's to mid 80's during the day and cool at night for sleeping. Being back on the island warmed us and refreshed us but by the end of the week we felt like we needed to move on. We were both ready to be home ... and yet we were still a bit wary of the weather we might be facing.

3 sets of manatee moms and pups visiting the dock

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So we decided to make a few more stops in Florida and check out some other state parks.
Kissimmee Prairie Reserve State Park is 54,000 acres protecting the largest remaining stretch of Florida dry prairie. Just north west of Lake Okeechobee it is home to a number of endangered birds and offers one of the darkest night skies in Florida. The park has over 100 miles of hiking, biking and horse trails to explore.


 Kissimmee Prairie Reserve State Park

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We stayed in the horse camping area which was separated from the main campground, had larger and more shaded camp spots, was more remote and included a paddock for those trailering their horse. Basically it was a perfect campground! Although, sadly,  there were no horses present while we were there .......

 Kissimmee Prairie Reserve State Park

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This park is really remote - probably an hour drive to the closest anything! And once you enter the park it is a 5 mile drive to the ranger station and campground. The sweeping grasslands that surrounded us were beautiful and it was soooooo quiet. We were so glad that we had made this choice  and we're already planning to prepare ourselves with a few good books for next winter's visit here.


Hiking trails
 Kissimmee Prairie Reserve State Park

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Hiking trails
 Kissimmee Prairie Reserve State Park

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Our next stop was Tomoka State Park located on the Tomoka River estuary and basin in Ormond Beach, FL. Known for its canoeing, fishing and bird watching the park is only a few miles from the barrier island, Ormond Beach with its restaurants, shopping and other visitor sights.


Tomoka State Park
Ormond Beach, FL

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 This was another great find for us! There were close to 100 camping spots in this park but it felt so much smaller and each site was nestled in among the hardwood hammock that graced the entire park.  Down along the river, the park store offers canoe, kayak and paddle board rentals as well as local draft beer! This was the first state park we have ever been in that actually sold beer - and it was on draft! Definitely a keeper!

 Campground at Tomoka State Park
Ormond Beach, FL

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 Campground at Tomoka State Park
Ormond Beach, FL

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We have been thoroughly enjoying all this sunshine - but it is now time to head home.
We're ready.
And we miss Rosie!

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Road Trip '18 - Roundup

@ 3 months on the road
26 nights in campgrounds
38 nights in friends' driveways/yards
14 nights in truck stops
9 nights in a hotel (due to illness) or condos (family vacation time)

8 National Parks
Temperature range: 3 degrees - 80 degrees
@ 12,000 miles




Friday, March 16, 2018

in the POD - on top of a mesa

click on and look close - there is a village in there!
Mesa Verde National Park

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After the family left we decided to visit Mesa Verde National Park in SW Colorado. The drive was easy thru Indian reservations on high mountain plains. We passed thru Navajo, Hopi and Ute territory and encountered red clay hoodoos that looked like giant hand formed sculptures - standing tall like sentinels of the desert. We passed towering mesas of stone with alluvial skirts flowing out beneath them. The southwest is so beautiful  and varied and so difficult to describe. I adore the vastness and the palette. It affects me at my core. It is similar, for me, in scope, as to sitting at the front windows of Windmill Lane and looking out over the bay. To look at the vastness of the earth spread out before you. Moving, changing with the light and going on forever. 

Mesa Verde National Park was created in 1906 to preserve the architectural heritage of the ancient Pueblo people. And it was women who engaged in the campaign to inform the public and members of Congress about the need to preserve the cliff dwellings and protect this rich cultural heritage. Lucy Peabody and Virginia McClurg were the voices and Mary Tileston Hemenway, a Boston socialite, gave the money to begin preservation efforts. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act creating Mesa Verde as a national park.

heading up a mesa
Mesa Verde National Park

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We drove to the top of a mesa!
I had always thought that mesa tops were flat, dead ... like something ended there.
Hell no! 
We climbed another 2,000' and there was an entirely new ecosystem there.... a new world that actually looked down on the high prairie below. It blew my mind.   What was it like living up here in the mesa? Entire communities lived and flourished here for over 700 years and then in the late 1200's they left - and no one is exactly sure why. But their legacy remains and it is incredible.

       
click on and look close - there is a village in there!
Mesa Verde National Park

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The cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde are astonishing. We only got to look at them from afar but they are, none the less, exquisite to look at. How did they do it? Create each brick within the cleave of the cliff? Bring it in? There are many "villages" scattered on the two mesas within the park and many archeological sites that are still being examined. 

Between April and October one can purchase ranger guided tours into the some of the cliff dwellings - which might have been interesting in terms of scale - but I did like seeing them from afar and imagining. But the most important thing is that each and every one of these sites, including the remains of numerous earlier pit houses that have been discovered are being preserved. 

This is our National Park system!

This is what keeps us connected to our SHARED heritage!
Please do not let anyone take this away from future generations.

This is important!


colors of the high desert
Mesa Verde National Park

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

in the POD - family adventure part 3

Navajo Point looking down on the Colorado River
Grand Canyon National Park

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Part 3 - Grand Canyon National Park

Desert View Watchtower
Grand Canyon National Park

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It was around 4 pm when we arrived at the east entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. This 22 mile stretch along the eastern rim can only be reached by car as none of the park shuttle busses service this area. Our first stop was at Desert View and Navajo Point - at 7,461’ it is the highest viewpoint in the park. Both of these spots offer amazing views of the canyon and one of the only full views of the Colorado River below! Desert View Watchtower is a circular 4 story stone building designed by the architect Mary Colter who also created and designed many other buildings in the park. Completed in 1932, the tower was designed to resemble early Pueblo watchtowers. There are 2 large balcony patios and the top interior floor provides 360 degree views of the canyon. Inside the walls are decorated with murals by Fred Kabootie and Fred Greer. 
Needless to say, it was a beautiful visual introduction to the canyon! 


Rim Trail
Grand Canyon National Park

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We settled into our room/camp within the park - Tyler, Amy and Rosemarie were staying at the Yavapai Lodge while Tim and I were at the Village Campground - happy to be back in the POD. After the initial shock of realizing that we had absolutely no way to communicate with each other - FYI, the Grand Canyon does not have that much in the way of WIFI!!!! - Tim and I proceeded to head to the kids’ hotel room to make dinner plans the old fashion way - in person. Dinner was a grave disappointment as the cafeteria style “restaurant” in the hotel was both lackluster and overpriced for what it was. At least they had craft beers and Rosie had a good time! 
*note - there are 2 other actual restaurants within the park; one at El Tovar which is upscale, white table cloth and probably not a good choice for a 2 year old and one at Bright Angel, a shuttle ride from where we were.


just exploring....
Grand Canyon National Park

The park did have a market with a good selection of fresh and prepared foods as well as beer, wine, and liquor. And the market had the ONLY free WIFI connection in the entire park.  We vowed we would make our own meals for the rest of our stay. 

Rim Trail
Grand Canyon National Park

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The kids picked us up at the campground around 8:30 the next morning and we plotted our day. We began at Yavapai Point and Geology Museum. The museum gave us a general overview of the canyon’s formation and there was a scale model of the canyon. Most importantly Rosie got to touch a lot of rocks. We proceeded to walk the rim trail heading west from there taking in all the spectacular views. Geology exhibits and a time line are posted along the trail, helping to point out specific formations and geologic events. Rosemarie continued to be a trooper; hiking and finding benches to sit on and rocks to look at. 


Rosemarie deciding that crawling was the new hiking!
Grand Canyon National Park

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By the time we hit the main Village area it was lunch/rest time and we took the shuttle back. This was arguably Rosie’s favorite part of the Grand Canyon … riding “the school bus”. 

another bench, another snack
El Tovar, Grand Canyon National Park

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After lunch we headed back out to walk the rim to the east of the Geology Museum. And, once again, Rosie fell asleep during the short car ride. This time Ty stayed with her and napped. At the end of the day the weather began to turn on us. Clouds arrived and the rains came. 

When the weather is cooperating picnic lunches and dinners around the POD work out just fine - but the weather now added a new wrinkle to the logistics! 4 adults and a 2 year old in a 19’x 6’ space that has approximately 25 sq ft of actual floor area….. crazy. And yet - we did it! Skirt steak tostadas for Tim and Tyler and salmon tostadas for Amy and I. Rosemarie dined on chick peas, cucumber, cheese and whatever she asked to try from our plates. Sometimes you just have to roll with it and the best is achieved.


Geologic layers
Grand Canyon National Park

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The Grand Canyon is spectacular; over 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep. Its colors are as varied as the geologic forces that shaped it. Two billion years of colliding, drifting, and the relentless forces of nature have created a masterpiece. 


Our second full day in the park turned out to be a very cloudy one - on a number of fronts. There were clouds hanging low over and down into the canyon; beautiful in their own way and as they shifted small vistas would suddenly be exposed. Peek-a-boo. And Tyler was concerned that the impending New England snow storm would, once again, impact their flight. We shuttled back to the Village area and using El Tovar’s grand, yet rustic lobby as his base Tyler began rearranging flights. Damn. They would now need to fly home early the next morning in order to beat the snow storm - missing another full day in the park. 
Deep breath.


Rim Trail in clouds
Grand Canyon National Park


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We visited the Hopi House, another of Mary Colter’s designs, which is a gallery of Native American art and souvenirs and continued west on the rim trail from the Village stopping at Old Studio and the lookout point there, visited the Train Depot so Rosie could have up close and personal time with “Thomas” (which she was thrilled with).

After lunch Ty, Amy and the baby went back to do the part of the trail he had missed. They returned there again after dinner when the fog and clouds cleared - and were able to watch a spectacular sunset! 

Our final dinner in the POD that night was Green Chili Shakshuka - needless to say we got the tight quarters worked out by this point. It was sad knowing that our vacation with them was over but also knowing that we all had such a good time. As we sat there eating and talking Rosie looked up from her mac and cheese and said simply…. “Rosie, so happy.”

It was a perfect ending.


Rosemarie at El Tovar
Grand Canyon National Park

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