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Sunday, December 29, 2013

My $24 Kitchen Remodel

Back when I first moved into the Holiday Rambler, I made some modifications. One of these was a bifold door which became a countertop across the back of my dinette. Half the door held my appliances and things that are in constant use, and the other half flipped down to use as counter space and up to keep things in place while driving.



That was in the Spring of 2011. Since then, although that has been very useful, it was slightly aggravating. The counter, when down, did not allow eating at the table, but did not come all the way to the aisle for use as a prep surface. When up, there was room to sit and eat, but it was rather claustrophobic. Instead of appliances and window, there was this brown wall.

Finally, I'd had enough. Parked for the holidays at my daughter's inlaws' place, where there are tools, it seemd a good time to take care of the issues. I took a trip to Lowes and got a discontinued $35 board for $10 and an L-shaped aluminum piece and some 1x1 for supports. This is my $24 kitchen remodel:



The board became a new countertop. The existing bifold doors fold up and stow beneath it.



I can still flip the door up for travel.



I can pull it out all the way, unfolding it to be a truly useful surface. I will probably do something with paint or contact paper in the spring, but for now it's useable as is.



Folded over, the bifold door slides under the counter and there is plenty of room for 2 people to sit at table.

It was a well-spent Friday.

Friday, August 02, 2013

York River State Park with Wildlife



I stopped for a post-work hike and light supper at York River State Park Tuesday.



Seeking shade and water, I walked some of the nearer trails.



The park has a network of developed trails, with boardwalks across marshy areas and streams.





In the mud are very tiny crabs.



You have to look closely to see them, but the holes give them away.



Some of the trails will take you to the river's edge, where there are beaches and cliffs where the land has worn or broken away.



I don't want to be there when this tree lets go.



Near the pond, I spooked some deer. They reappeared around the bend and, since I already had my phone/camera out, I got some pictures. They did not care to stay around any time they heard the zipper on my belt pouch, though.



After my walk, I parked myself on a bench for supper. This squirrel was not so shy as the deer. He was barely shy at all, actually.

I was eating, and reading my current eBook (Doc), when I heard what turned out to be this squirrel climbing on the back of the bench on which I was sitting. Then he came up on the seat to see what I was eating. He walked right up to my bag of grapes and asked as politely as a squirrel has ever asked me anything if I would be willing to share.

I know, I know, don't feed the wildlife. Well, someone else already had, he'd already been corrupted, and he was a most personable dinner companion.

So I gave him a grape.



The first couple of grapes I tossed to him on the ground. Then I put some on the bench.


The first couple of grapes he grabbed and ran, stopping to eat them a few feet away.


But then he decided it would be better to eat them right there with me.



When he'd had enough grapes, he took the grape and buried it in the playground for later.



I stopped giving him grapes, then, and after a bit he decided he wasn't full after all and dug up that grape.
Between us, we finished my bag of grapes, and he was SO disappointed.



"Please, Ma'am, I want some more?"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Crabtree Falls

My birthday was last week. South Carolina Daughter came up from SC with her family, and we met at Virginia Daughter's home for the weekend. There was yummy food, and cheese cake, and an afternoon of crafting - knitting, spinning, jewelrymaking. Virginia Grandson wasn't there, he was time traveling at the Pennsic Wars, but the rest of us had fun. Sunday's the blog part, though - we went hiking at Crabtree Falls, the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

We got there just as it started to rain. This was a good thing, as it had been rather unpleasantly hot and humid, and that fixed it. The thunder stayed far off in the distance, and we climbed the trail anyway. It was beautiful.

















See the skull?

Afterwards, we went to a foot bridge nearby and South Carolina Grandson got to wash the mud off. Topped off the day with a good meal in Waynesboro.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

AdVANturing in Staunton VA

So recently I fixed the front end on EVERYTHING. The van got new king pins and brake rotors and stuff. The Motor Home got new ball joints. The motorscooter got its front wheel unstuck. I got new glasses. So any adVANturing I'm doing has a lot to do with being where the work is.

And I got lucky: a few weeks ago, the work was in the Shenandoah Valley. My original intention was to go out Sunday and camp in the national forest somewhat west of Staunton, but when I got to Staunton and found the store, I realized I was very very close to the Frontier Culture Museum. I decided the forest could wait - it had been easily 10 years since I had been to the museum. They'd built a Native American Village and an African village since I was last there. Apparently, I neglected to get pictures of the latter. Here are some other pictures from the museum, though:


This is one of the blacksmiths at work.


The Indian village.





A path through the woods, planted a while back.



This is a staircase I'm glad I don't have to use on a daily basis.


I never did get to the forest, because I got a call from a merchandising company I hadn't worked for previously and had to stay in town after work to do paperwork kinds of things. I spent a lot of time enjoying Gypsy Hill Park, which was a good place to hang out and make dinner. They have a pool. A nice pool, with a $3 admission fee. I, traveling light, had not brought a bathing suit. I made a note to NEVER travel without one again. Having my computer along would have made things much easier too.

Wednesday's work was at Grottoes VA, so I drove up Tuesday afternoon and found Grand Caverns Park. They have a pool too. Being it was so close to the end of the pool day, the manager took pity upon me and let me swim in shorts. Yay. Did I mention the temps were in the high 90s at least?

Wednesday after work I went back to the park and took the cavern tour. I was sure I'd taken pictures, but apparently not. Mea Culpa. It's a very neat cavern, with more than its share of shield formations, and interesting history. They used to hold balls down there - actually, once a year they still do. The room of the cavern where they did that has a rock formation very convenient for use as a table for refreshments.

Then, Thursday's work was up in Luray. They have some neat parks too, and of course Luray Caverns, but I got there too late to explore the parks. I found a little park/pond near the store, had supper, read emails, and then moved to a good sleeping location. And Thursday, after work, I went back to the motorhome to get ready for the next week.

AdVANturing evaluation - I had too much stuff in my kitchen area, which made meal prep unwieldy. 18th Century gear is much more bulky than the backpacking gear I'd be using if I weren't a buckskinner. And a lot of what is in the van has to be there for the rendezvous camp, but does not need to be used, or even accessible, in the 21st century. Whenever I'm at camp, I go through and try to put things "on the blanket" that don't really have to be there. I need to be more ruthless about that. And I took the second cooler out, which let me rearrange so the remaining cooler is accessible with no problem.

And off I go for another week in the van... WITH a bathing suit.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I need a Rendezvous!

Most Rendezvous give you a Medallion when you participate. It'll be numbered, so they can keep track of scores in competitive events - black powder shooting, archery, whatever... They are usually (but not always) cast metal, usually (but not always) cool artwork, usually (but not always) marked with the event and date, and always, always, a reminder of shining times.

Buckskinners often display these medallions on hides, on strips of cloth, on boards, or use their favorite as a pendant... I have always displayed mine on strips of cloth strapping, which hang from a dowel and that hangs from my tent. But I've been doing this since 1988, so some of the threads holding my medallions on their strips got worn out from the weather and the years.

For the last several events, I have had no medallion display, because I was afraid I'd lose some. So this week I finally got a ROUND TUIT and took them all off and sewed them all on with new thread.



Re-sewing medallions is not just a tedious sewing chore. It is a trip down Memory Lane. Ah, this is the event Missy & Larry got married. This is the event we had all the mud. This was the one Nancy and I drove up together and had to go back to town for the night because we couldn't get in for the mud, and needed to buy rubber boots. This was my first rendezvous sober. This was the one I camped with Tom & Colleen and the Lewises... You get the idea.

The addition of the last year and a half of medallions involved yet another strip, so then I needed a new longer rod to put them on, and my friend Sue gave me a nice peeled stick that's just perfect. (Don't ask why she just happened to have a nice peeled stick laying around - buckskinners are like that.)



So the job is done. I have lots of room on the last strip, I have another strip empty, and I can buy more strips. What I need is a Rendezvous!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Screens for the Van

I am going to go adVanturing in the National Forest next week. I have work close to the Forest, so I get to go play even though I have to work. It'll be a test of the new loading method.
I prefer to camp alone: no mosquitoes, no flies, no moths... so I've been working on screens.
A few days ago I stopped at Harbor Freight and picked up on sale a screen for a double garage. It's as wide as my RV awning, with a split in the middle. There's a strip with grommets to hold it in place on top, and weights in the bottom to keep it down. It's great if you have a garage. I have a van. I rearranged it.
First, The Rear Door. I started there, because it is the largest space to cover. I cut the garage door screen in half where the split is, and used half of it for the van's rear opening. This was the easy part. It was more than enough screen, and attached nicely to the roof with binder clips.




I left the weights in the bottom, even though the screen is a little long for the van's height, because that's my kitchen and maybe bugs will stay off me while I'm messing with it. And I didn't want to sew new channels.



Hmmm... I wonder if I can close the door with the screens in place? Yep.

The clips aren't totally invisible, but they don't need to be. They're not the weirdest thing about this van.

The next largest opening was the biggest challenge. Time to tackle The Side Door:
This is the first time I've ever wished for the other kind of side doors instead of this sliding one. I like the sliding kind because you can still open it when someone parks too close next to you, but it's lousy for adding screens.
The first thing I did was tuck the top strip into the molding where it meets the headliner. No surgery required.

I ran leather ties through the grommets in the top strip.

They will help it stay tucked in, and hold the screen out of the way when it's not needed.





With just the window open, I can put a magnet to keep the screen close to the door.
I discovered that the magnetic strips I had were only barely magnetic! Although the package says they will hold light items, they will barely hold themselves onto metal. I am annoyed. I have 20 feet of this inadequate stuff.

The screen hangs nicely when the door is open. Magnets will keep it tight.


For that awkward, impossible area where the sliding door comes in, I'll have to hang another bit of screen, with stronger magnets than I've got right now.

So that's a problem for another day.

Next, The Front Windows. If I'm very careful to only have one layer of screen between the strips and the door metal, and if I surround the entire screen with magnet strip, it will hold. Just barely. OK, it's not like I'm going to drive with the doors hanging open.


The best way to make sure it fits right seems to be sewing the magnet strips onto the screen while it is in place on the window.

A little awkward, but it works.



One up, one to go.

The second door was easier.

The window can be open, and the bugs can stay out.
Another thing off the to-do list :)