The sun is shining down through the tall pine trees and rays of light are casting patterns on the floor. Music is playing quietly through our black speaker, and the bugs and birds are singing their mid-morning songs. I am sipping on what is now cool coffee out of a green mug I have grown to really like. I look above my computer screen and out the screen door. In front of me I see grass, a dirt road, and endless trees and palmettos. It’s just me here, alone in this open, but shaded field, surrounded by dense forest and so much greenery. There was a downpour last night, so things are slightly damp and the smell of sunshine on the leaves and grass is wafting in through all the open windows. I find myself stopping from time to time in various places throughout my new home as well as when i’m outside and just being still. Observing, feeling, being. It’s been a while since I have done that so often, and I feel refreshed. Every few minutes I find myself thinking “I can’t believe this is ours. I can’t believe this is our life.” And it fills my whole being with so much gratitude and joy. We worked so hard to get here, even though we had no idea this is where we were going. And it all paid off and it’s so incredible that I find myself bursting with happy emotions. And for some reason being here all alone makes everything more intense, and I love it. I feel so free and as though I am part of the nature that surrounds me. There is a small beetle crawling across the table made from recycled pallet wood. He’s black and curious about his surroundings. These little beetles seem to really like it in here, and for a while I was putting them back outside, but every once in a while I see one and just let him be. I like to think about what the world is like from his perspective. Everything must be so big. His life seems simpler- eat, drink.. I don’t know what else beetles think about? Or maybe they don’t think at all, and that’s why they seem so simple. Anyway, I say hi to him and watch as he heads to explore the flowers that are sitting in the window sill. The sun is shining on the flowers as well and I like to look at the intricate patterns within the leaves. Life is good.
That is an exerpt from my journaling this morning. But I figured I should interject and get caught up to where it is I am 🙂
So as I mentioned in my last post, we got stuck in Florida, and now it’s hurricane season so even when we do go back to the boat, we aren’t going to go sailing again until hurricane season is over. So when we go back to the boat we will just prepare it for being left for 6 months and put it in a “hurricane hole”. Which honestly is just a name for a place that might protect the boat if a hurricane comes through. We are fully prepared for what the reality of this hurricane hole is, and just have to hope for the best! So anyway, we were planning on heading up to Virginia to work on developing some family property, while both working remotely part-time, but weren’t quite sure what we would live in and where. That’s when we decided to buy a camper. Kyle was pretty set on an airstream, and I didn’t have much of an opinion, but knew that I didn’t want something too generic. But we also didn’t have a lot of money and airstreams are EXPENSIVE. So after hours of online searching and going to look at various airstreams, we found one in Orlando. We went and picked it up and that very night started work. This was May 9th and we worked for 6 weeks straight. Of course the airstream we purchased was 100% stripped, nothing in it at all. It had been painted but then half stripped so half of it was a greenish/silver and the other an ugly very old peeling paint job. We went to work and worked all day every day- towards the end we were working 16 hour days every day.
Half-way through this airstream renovation, Kyle got a phone call and was offered what I call his “dream job.” He wasn’t at all looking for a job, and we had the next 6 months pretty planned out in terms of working remotely, finding some labor work up in Virginia, and working on the property. However, the job he was offered was something we instantly knew we couldn’t pass up. He was offered the job of Design and Prototype Specialist at Century Boats in Zephyrhills, Florida. This is exactly what he went to school for- he wants to work on boats and help design boats, without all the physical labor of grinding fiberglass everyday like he is used to. So we decided to say yes and within 12 hours all of our plans were changed! (That has been happening a lot this year- I think for a lot of people). The only downside of this new plan is that we now had a strict deadline to get the camper done- which we are pretty used to with projects like this, so on we went. During the couple days after he received his offer letter I spent a lot of time on the computer trying to figure out where to live. I was thrilled for Kyle with his job, but was also pretty bummed that we wouldn’t be living in the mountains of Virginia. I knew we didn’t want to rent an apartment, and I do not want to live at an RV/Motor Home Resort type place. So what we decided to do is just cruise around between campgrounds, free water management land, and state forests. In the 30 miles surrounding Zephyrhills there are thousands of acres of water management land that allows you to stay for free up to 7 days and then you have to leave for a day, but can come back the next day. So between paid campgrounds, free water management land, and state forests, we have the next 5-6 months pretty much booked out. We will move somewhere new about once a week all within a 20 minute drive from Kyle’s work. Our airstream is 100% solar powered, so we do not need to be plugged in, and we carry enough water to last over a week.
So then was the question about what I will do during this time. Since we were not planning on Kyle getting a full time job, we don’t have to worry quite as much about income, so it was decided that I will spend the next 5-6 months focusing on my book. I will work remotely about 10 hours a week, but otherwise will focus on writing. I have tried to write my memoir about our Mississippi River trip multiple times and have a good start, but things kept coming up and I feel like I need some serious uninterrupted time to get it finished. Plus I can’t really think of a better place to write a book, than in our tiny home that I LOVE surrounded by nature and sunshine. Everything about the camper is so cozy and homey that just being in it motivates me to write. I have always wanted to write a book, for as long as I can remember, and I feel the river trip is worthy of a book, so I made the decision to just sit down and do it. My goal is to have the first draft finished by December. On my white board above my desk I wrote “I will write a book and it will be a success”. I read it every day and I am starting to internalize it. I feel SO incredibly grateful for this opportunity and plan to utilize it fully.
Speaking of feeling grateful, I had a bit of a hard time sitting down to do these blog updates. There is so much happening in the world right now, and a lot of it not very positive. I found myself feeling a bit of guilt for writing about how wonderful everything is for us. Because for a lot of people, it isn’t. But I decided that I am doing my part as best I can and educating myself, having conversations, and helping in anyway I can/know. I have an open mind and I don’t take lightly all the opportunites we have. I take time every single day to say my thank you’s, check-in on people close to me, and do my best to spread light and positivity. Gratitude feels like an understatement, and I want to do more. Be more. I hope that by putting it out there in the universe, opportunites to help will arise.
Well, that’s the general update. I plan to update this blog about the places we visit and live in the airstream, as well as when we make our trip to the boat, Virginia, etc. I am also working on a time-lapse of the airstream renovation, but that will take some time. In the meantime, here is a bit more about the renovation and the photos!
As I mentioned above, this is a 1965 Airstream Camper. It is 55 years old and we purchased it from some people our age that had hoped to renovate it, but it didn’t work out. When we got it, many of the windows were broken, the interior had a strange step-up that made the ceiling height low, and there was a big back door cut out of the back. We really liked the idea of the door, but there was a poorly built frame and piece of very thin plexi glass in it’s place. We knew we would have to build a new door and replace the windows, but other than those things, the skeleton of the camper was in pretty good shape for its age. The night we got it we stayed up until 4am stripping all the old paint off. It looked pretty bad and we didn’t want it sitting in my parent’s driveway looking like that for long, so we got it all done in one go. It was a pretty fun night because we would put on the stripper, then would have to wait 15-30 minutes before we could go scrape, so we’d go inside the camper and drink a beer and discuss our plans for the interior. By 4am all the paint was removed and we had an interior plan! The next day we started taping for primer and within 48 hours of purchasing the camper it had its first coat of primer and that evening we did the blue paint.
Next it was time to start on the interior. I sanded the entire interior, and the next day Kyle used the paint sprayer and gave it a fresh coat of white. The painting really wasn’t that bad, it’s all the taping and prep that is so tedious and I really don’t like that part. We then did all the plumbing and electrical because we knew we would want to run all the wires and plumbing pipes before we started building. This job was again, very tedious. I had never used a “fish” before, but let me tell you, I got very familiar with a fish! We used it for every wire and pipe. It was one of the most important tools in the build. The next 5 weeks were spent designing and building out the interior and purchasing supplies. There were a couple days where all we did was run errands. We tried to do this on quite the budget and we used a lot of recycled or used materials. Pallet wood, second-hand plywood, water tanks and random parts from a marine salvage place, hinges, hardware and other random parts from a boat Kyle worked on a while ago that were being thrown away. However, I will not try to pretend that we didn’t spend a LOT of time (and money!) at Home Depot and Lowes. Kyle designed parts of the interior on Solidworks on his computer, and then we would build it as he designed it. We work very well together and were able to get a lot done in a very short period of time. We built every little thing from the curtain rods to the cabinet faces to the light fixtures to the trim and the walls. My parents helped paint, stain, and take apart pallets. They were very involved with this project and provided endless help and also always provided food which was AMAZING because it was one less thing we had to worry about taking up time in our already tight schedule. THANK YOU!
In trying to write about it, it almost feels like a blur. We just worked so hard and then all the sudden it all came together. There were so many little details and on the very last day (literally finished 1 hour before we left) everything came together so perfectly. The colors, the feel, the fit, just the whole thing. I haven’t even really processed it all yet! But when I look around I see something and think “oh yeah, I remember working on that in the garage before I even knew where it went in the camper!”
So anyway, it was hard, but it was so much fun and we all had such a good time putting it together. And now that it’s done, we have a tiny house on wheels and knowing that we did it all ourselves makes it so much more rewarding and I love every inch of it. Plus, it feels SO much bigger than the boat and we have a separate shower with hot water, and a separate bathroom with a bathroom sink! It feels so fancy 🙂 Enjoy the photos and video tour. Stay tuned for a time-lapse and a more in depth tour later on.
P.S. We are still trying to name it.. we are having a hard time coming up with a name we both like that we feel fits. If you have any ideas please let us know!