Thursday, September 24, 2009

In the Beginning

Yes, I’s been a long time.
I’m full of “I meant to make an entry every week, or at the very least, every month”.
If I could offer a very good excuse it would be that life got in the way.
More about that later...

My husband Shawn and I are off on a grand adventure!
For years we have talked about getting an RV or a travel trailer and hitting the road when we have to travel to a miniature show. We’ve spent hours chitchatting about buying a vintage trailer and doing “our thing” to it. But when we actually started to look, we each had a very different idea about what we wanted.
This is the best way to describe our difference of opinion. When a salesman would approach us to ask if he could help, I would begin the conversation, with a half grin saying “I’m looking for a vintage trailer, smallish, but in good condition. My husband is looking for a new trailer, bigger and in great condition.”
The salesman knew at once that he was not going to be able to satisfy these clients.

Now, to be honest, while I’m pretty good at making things look cute, and I had a file of ideas and pictures of really cute trailers and made over train cabooses, refurbished school buses and tiny camps, that I’d been collecting for years, I didn’t know anything about RVing or hauling a trailer around the country. And, while my husband is pretty good at carpentry and miniature making, I’m also pretty sure that he’s never seen the underside of a car, let alone the underpinnings and workings of a travel trailer. I’d already fixated on a vintage travel trailer, even though I kept telling Shawn I was open to what we might find. Should you ever find yourself in this position? Wanting to buy a vintage travel or to RV around the country? Don’t let your partner watch Robin William’s movie RV. It just puts too many bad images in their heads.

All winter I kept an eagle eye on the internet, looking at vintage trailers. All the good ones that I’d find for sale would be in California or Florida. I found myself lusting for a 1970’s Shasta, which originally came with wings. I’m all about the wings! We live on WING St., my name is Robin, my blog is Star Feather Farm. I wanted wings. I learned that it was almost impossible to find one in good condition with the wings intact. I also knew that I didn’t want one that was already restored because I thought that would be part of the fun. Somewhere along the way I convinced my husband that if we could find a small vintage trailer, in the right price range, that was road worthy, we should do it. Find the trailer, buy the trailer, take it to a trailer place to make sure that it was road worthy and then drive from Maine to California for NAME’s Small Scale show in Salt Lake City and then San Jose for the Good Sam show. Oh, and teach a workshop in between. Did I mention that another criteria (his) was a shower and toilet? Not that I minded those particular creature comforts, I just knew that it added another layer to the hunt. And, after all, it was all about the wings.

I envisioned a stress free summer of leisurely puttering on my vintage trailer, adding pretty little curtains, paint, art, fun little touches to make it comfy and homey and cute. Cute is a word that I’ll keep coming back to.

Can you believe that I did NOT have a stress free summer? I did not find the trailer of my dreams. I encountered some crazy issue with my right hand, my painting hand, my gardening hand, that made everything I tried to do impossible and painful. So, I couldn’t garden, or sew if it meant cutting anything with scissors, as my thumb wouldn’t open properly. I could paint and draw for a few hours a day, so I did what I could. Meanwhile the Salt Lake City and San Jose show were drawing ever closer. Because of the the amount of stock that we HOPED we’d be bringing, the plan had always been that we would drive with or without our little travel trailer. August was drawing to an end and the elusive quest for the dream trailer was slipping away.

I have always been a believer in things happening when they are supposed to happen. I repeat this to myself and anyone who’ll listen, plenty often. Two weeks before we pack ourselves and all our stock into our Suburban, we found the trailer of my dreams. Shawn had decided that all the stars were aligned and that he would do a search for the “home on wheels” that would carry us cross country. With an Uncle Henry’s in hand, (Uncle Henry’s is the weekly paperback based in Maine, that anyone who wants to sell anything, uses to get the word out about their special something) he began calling about the trailers that he thought might be worth looking into. Maybe I slipped the number into his pile of papers, I really don’t remember, but when I saw a listing for a 1972 Shasta, in the right price range, only 3 hours away, I had to make a stab at getting him to check it out. It did have the bathroom after all!

He called. The folks who owned it gave him some additional information about it. When he told me that it still had the original wings, I was beside myself! We went to look at it the next day and I made sure the checkbook was in my purse.

OK, it’s 30 something years old, you expect some wear. I fell in love and I think Shawn knew there was no going back from there. We think it’s a 1972 and that’s the year we were married, so it was karma!

So, now we had a week and a half to have our little Shasta all checked out by the people who do that sort of thing. $2100.00 of parts and labor and 3 days before we’re supposed to leave, we have a road worthy, shower and toilet equipped, bare bones vintage travel trailer. I forgot to mention that the Suburban that is to do the hauling, needed to have an inspection and oil change. $1900.00 later, the suburban has new brake lines etc., etc. We picked up the Suburban from the shop and then picked up the trailer from the trailer guys. 2 days left to get everything ready. The next morning, with cleaning buckets in hand, we came outside to find that one of the windows on the Suburban had been broken. Off to the window replacement guys.....

Now, I only mention this series of events to explain the minute amount of time in which I had to “cute up” my little travel trailer. All the grandiose ideas were replaced with “What can I do in one day?” Well, in one day I bought sheets to use as fabric for curtains and cushions, tore them to size because I can’t use scissors, safety pinned them together, and completely revamped the interior of the trailer. I will sew the curtains and cushions on the road. We decided to use the 70’s color palette of golds and oranges, dictated by the counter top and floor color. It scares me to realize how many things, that I already owned, worked perfectly in that color scheme, and, that the colors of the 70’s are in again with a fresh appeal.

I am planning to blog my way across this wonderful country of ours. The next entry will include the packing up and our first night boondocking in a WalMart parking lot. Do not let your life go by you without that experience under your belt........


  1. Way cool! Greg and I are in Spring Green, WI, for the weekend, having been on a cross-country trip since May 8. We'll be back in South Florida before the snow flies (we hope!!). RVing is THE way to see this beautiful country of ours, and we wish you the best as you enjoy this adventure. I'll look forward to reading your blog.
    Safe travels,
    Ann DeHart

  2. That sounds like a fun trip. Good Luck !

  3. Wow! you have been busy!
    I hope you have a wonderful trip and make sure you don't fly away with those wings! lol
    So glad you found your dream van!
    What an adventure!
    Will be looking forward to your next blog update!

  4. I'll be enjoying your trek across the country. I've always been curious about what that must be like. Adding the creative way you both look at life should make it so much more interesting.
    You've got to see Julie and Julia...about Julia Childs. I didn't know what blogging was all about before.
    warm wishes for a happy adventure,
    an avid fan,
    Vickie V.

  5. I'm amazed every time how true it is: "Things happening when they are supposed to happen"!

    I'm so looking forward to reading of your experience as you "wing" across the country!

  6. so glad you are back in blogworld :)
    I hope you are having a wonderful, safe "flight" across country with good weather, yummy food & lots of giggles
    lots of love & hugs!!

    p.s. I want more...more photos, more funny stories...more, more, more!!! :)