Friday, June 12, 2015

Renos with Rosie - News Bulletin: Bigfoot spotted in Campground!

Here I am laying around with our cat Missy out on the driveway in “Mr. Big”, our 1985 17 ' Bigfoot fiberglass trailer, the two of us are listening to some tunes on our new Bose Bluetooth speaker and while Missy prowls around exploring, I get to do a little writing. How sweet is that?

Over the last few weeks we've been busy getting everything ready for our first actual camping adventure and it's been a lot of work and a lot of fun. The painting was a big job but it has made a huge difference. Going from the 1970s rec room fake wood paneling to a clean modern look with just about everything painted out in white has been huge!

Rose's new fashion accessory, wonder if it will catch on?
In the middle of painting
Me doing the finicky stuff

My lovely wife Rose did her usual magic and reupholstered the seat cushions in a nice, hard wearing gray fabric with piping and zippers and all of that fancy stuff. She started off trying to sew them from some cheaper orange fabric that looked like a steal at $2 a yard but soon realized that it was not going to work. So instead of the orange with floral accents that I showed you in the last post, we now have gray and yellow.

She also whipped up some curtains in a nice gray and white stripe and ordered a fancy custom made shaped rod to fit the 3 front windows so the curtains bunch up nicely in the corners and stay out of the way.

Of course nothing is ever simple so I had to adjust the rod a bit, but being a big time professional installer of window coverings, I pulled a rabbit out of the hat and made it work, with no grumbling!
(Hardly any)

Part of the new curtains project involved sewing and installing them on the cat commode that we built for Missy under one of the beds. This deluxe VIP (very important pussycat) area also has a new floor finished in the same wood look vinyl planks that the rest of the trailer got. It looks great and we haven’t received any complaints from the occupant……yet. 

Private VIP - Cat Commode

After all of the various necessary but superficial appearance work was done, I figured I had better get busy on finding a vehicle to pull Mr. Big around with. Now that we have a "Two bed, two bath, 112 Sq. Ft. trailer" ready to roll, poor old Jimmy just isn’t up to the task anymore.

New vinyl plank flooring over top of old lino

Ready for the road.

Over the last few weeks we thought about it as we hunted through zillions of ads on Kijiji and Auto Trader and after vacillating back and forth between a pickup and an SUV we finally settled on a 2004 GMC Envoy with 158,000 km on it, practically new!

I can’t believe the shape this thing is in, it’s absolutely immaculate! It’s rated to tow around 5000 lb. so it should do okay with Mr. Big’s dry weight of 1850 lbs. We decided to name him “The Boss” and he seems to be happy with that, the only one who’s allowed to push (pull) around Mr. Big is The Boss, makes sense, right?

The Boss and Mr. Big at Moose Lake

After picking up The Boss I set about figuring out exactly what I needed for a hitch and trailer brakes. Everyone I talked to said, “GET AN ANTI-SWAY BAR!” My dilemma was that my trailer is light and I don’t need a big giant expensive hitch.

Not to be defeated by lack of information or experience with this sort of thing, I determined to search the internet and behold! There is indeed an adapter plate that mounts over the hitch, and the ball that comes with the anti-sway bar bolts right to it, I got it at “The Hitch House” and it works perfectly and saved me over $300! 

Sway bar mounted on hitch adapter

I also bought a trailer brake controller, mounted it on The Boss and Voila, now I have trailer brakes. Of course when I went to head out for a weekend foray to Moose Lake for a Men’s retreat, they locked up and the tires made distressing skidding noises, drat! 

I figured I would drive around the block and fiddle with the brake controller and sure enough, now they seem to be fine, although I will probably have to take it in and have all of the undercarriage stuff checked out before any other long trips.

So far everything has gone pretty well, the drive to Moose Lake was almost uneventful, I did have to stop and fix the latch on the storage compartment after it swung open on the highway but a couple of turns of the wrench and it was good to go.

The only other hiccup was clipping a rough approach at Franchere Bay store and bending the step mount a bit, “oops!.” I kicked it back into place however and now it’s as good as new. Now I know that there are low things hanging down under the trailer, who knew?!

I’ve enjoyed picking the brain of the guys who have trailering experience and I’ve learned a lot, including the fact that hauling a trailer cuts your gas mileage just about in half, ouch! 

When I got home from Moose Lake, I answered many, many, many questions from Rose about what it was like camping in Mr. Big and it was soon decided that we needed to go for a trip together. Apparently hearing about my experiences at Moose Lake are not quite the same as being there. We also wanted to try out a short trip, not too far from home to see how Missy makes out spending an extended period in Mr. Big.

We decided on an overnight trip to Pembina River Provincial Park, just an hour West of Edmonton. Over the years we’ve visited the picnic area many times but never camped overnight so we decided it would be a good test of our ability as a family, (Mom, Dad and geriatric cat) to cohabitate in about a 112 sq. ft. space for a couple of days.

So far, so good! We managed to get out here, get parked, and get settled in with only a minor kerfuffle over setting up the awning, I hope that gets easier over time, it was definitely a bit of a hassle! 

It must have sounded something like this to an observer, “Hold this here, OUCH, my fingers are pinched, don’t let that arm go out too far, drat, you let the arm go too far, move that back, stand here, tighten that knob, no, the other knob……growl, grumble, etc. etc. etc.
Parked at Pembina River Provincial Park
Enjoying our first meal in Mr. Big!

It turns out that it’s a beautiful campground with lot’s of nice riverside trails, tons of wild roses and lovely songbirds singing their hearts out. We went for a nice walk, read our books for a while, cooked some corn, potatoes and pork chops on the BBQ and had a lovely evening playing checkers. After it got dark we set up our little 15” tv-dvd combo and watched “Stranger than Fiction” one of our favourite movies while cuddled up on the couch with Missy beside us.

Of course cats being cats, Missy decided to crawl in behind the water tank in a tiny little cavity and basically disappeared for an hour. Rose was rushing around in a panic looking in overhead cabinets, the fridge and inside pots and pans as if somehow Missy could have become half her size and a lot more spry and jumped into impossible places. I calmly told her that there was only one place she could be and not to worry, she would come out when she was ready.

Of course that was “not good enough Joe” so she had me move the cushions and lift the cover and sure enough, what do I see but two wide cat eyes staring back at me. We left the cover off but she was happy as a clam in there and Rose eventually lifted her out.
Missy's hidey hole

The one other fly in the ointment, (bone of contention) is the ongoing saga of the "Ottoman wars". It started when Rose brought home an attractive but completely impractical yellow rope poof, whatever the heck that is! My first (and continuous) reaction was “this thing’s got to go!”

I rarely get my way, but I convinced her  that being round, it just might present a hazard to everyone but especially the cat, in a trailer designed to move. Yes it is a cat palace, but a rolling one! It also looked very expensive, (not that cost is an object when decorating palaces.

Eventually, she returned it and came home with a slightly less ridiculous alternative that I would still dearly love to get rid of. Unfortunately, the girls are sticking together on this one and Missy voted with Rose to keep it.

Missy votes with Rose to keep the cube thing that I have decided to love.

So there you have it, a 17' Bigfoot has been spotted in the woods, and everything worked out just fine, thanks for reading!

P. S. If you enjoyed reading this story, please feel free to: like, +1, share, recommend forward or otherwise promote it. Thanks

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Renos With Rosie - A Trailers search of Bigfoot

All winter I heard it, "tap tap tap" then the sound of a squirrel or cat video and then again, "tap tap tap, tap tap tap". I should have understood what it meant! After all, I've been here before - in the scary place, that season when a bored wife with a few bucks in her pocket is searching, searching for, "A PROJECT"!


Rose talked about "the cuteness factor" and I remember her mentioning "Bolers" and "Scamps" and maybe even "Bigfoot" and still I didn't catch on. "Perhaps she's talking about some kind of mutant squirrels" I said to myself. Instead, it turned out to be tiny trailers she was searching for.

I imagined that when the winter was over and we could get out to the cabin and spend some time there relaxing, her new hobby of searching for small, lightweight trailers would come to an end, but "little did he know" as they say. 

When my lovely wife get's an idea, sometimes there is really nothing to be done but get on board and eventually, after much leg dragging, nail biting and clenching of various body parts, that's what I was forced to do.

I got into much trouble the first time she found a trailer that she thought was just right because these things go fast, one minute they show up on Kijiji and the next minute, they're sold! She mentioned it, I think I said "sure, let's have a look, but not until the money clears the bank" (it just so happens that we had just sold a rental property and we were waiting to have access to the funds) and bang, it was sold, "oops". 

Of course she kept looking and the very next week she found another one for sale right here in Edmonton, only 10 minutes from our house. This one was a 17' Bigfoot molded fiberglass trailer in great shape and it had just been listed so we immediately called the seller and made arrangements to come around the next day and view it.

If you know Rose, you won't be surprised to hear that she immediately hit it off with the young family selling the trailer. Of course I played the part of the slightly stand-offish, skeptical, tire kicking buyer while Rose ooohhhed and awwwed and gushed how perfect the trailer is and how cute their little daughter is, (she was very cute). When the time came for negotiating the price and Ryan fixed his low end price at a firm number, Rose offered him $100 more if he could deliver it to our driveway. So much for negotiating!

So we wrote out a deposit cheque and shook hands and went home to talk about what the plan is to transform our new family member into a rolling cat palace.

I forgot to mention earlier that one of the big reasons for getting a trailer is so we can bring our 17 year old diabetic cat named "Missy" on our holidays this year. Since we don't have any kids at home anymore, there's no one around to give Missy her twice a day insulin injections when we go for holidays so now the plan is for her to come with us in the Bigfoot trailer.

So now, where Scarlet (my old 1968 Ambassador that I sold in the fall) once stood on our driveway, we now have "Yeti" (name under review). 

Over the last week I fixed a bunch of little things, set up the trailer wiring harness on Jimmy to match, registered the new trailer and now we've started on the upholstery, window coverings and preparing for painting.

Rose has spent many hours thinking about what the final look will be so right now I'm just trying not to get bowled over in the rush to invoke "the cuteness factor" in the plentiful, but as yet untapped, raw potential of our 1985 Bigfoot trailer.

It's going to be a good summer, right Missy?


Stripping out the old curtains.

Rose, making new upholstery covers for the seat cushions.

The new orange upholstery fabric along with the accent fabric and the dusty old striped stuff.

Goodbye dusty old drapes.

The authentic, still working clock.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Reno's With Rosie-The Bathroom Project

Well, with just a few days to go before Christmas and the socializing and the company coming over that the holiday's guessed it, we decided to begin the bathroom renovations. Truth be told, this first phase is a pretty small renovation, just the paint, the sink and toilet and the vanity top, but as with all things Rose related it turned out to be, shall we say....complicated!

My lovely wife loves to get a bargain and I'm all for that! But bargains can be tricky as I have learned with other projects over the years. Sometimes there is a good reason that things have been donated to the ReStore where it seems many of our renovation supplies seem to originate from. The ReStore is owned by Habitat for Humanity and according to it's website,  "All proceeds from ReStore go towards Habitat for Humanity Edmonton’s administration costs so that every dollar donated to our charity goes directly towards building homes and serving families."

So when we make a purchase at the ReStore we can be happy that it's going to a good cause but we also have to be aware that their gently used and new items might be missing the odd part or have some weird design that made someone else throw up their hands in defeat and just give the item away rather than deal with it themselves.

Take the gorgeous brand new in the box Ikea sink Rose got for 20 bucks, what could possibly go wrong with that? Well there were a few challenges, including a slightly warped porcelain sink, no easy way to fasten it down, and the pièce de résistance; no overflow drain. This lovely feature means that all of the drain kits that I have including the one that came with the tap don't easily work without a lot of monkeying around, which fortunately happens to be my specialty.
The spiffy new Ikea sink we got for $20 at ReStore.

My jury-rigged drain adapter - don't ask!

The vanity top that Rose had in mind happened to be a beautiful cherry wood table top that she scrounged from a previous job when she worked there about 15 years ago. It was the top of a broken coffee table that they were going to throw away so she rescued it from them and it sat forlornly in our basement for a few years until she decided to give it to a friend.

When we were helping to clean out that friend's garage a few years later, Rose saw it again, this time languishing away in a mouse infested garage. She rescued it for the second time and once more it sat in our basement for several more years until it resurfaced in it's latest guise as a lovely vanity top refinished with a little gray stain mixed in with the sanded down natural cherry colour.
A beautiful chunk of wood, I hope it lasts a long time.
Yes I did have to shorten it and cut a big hole in it and sand off that bulletproof cherry finish to get down to the natural grain, but at least it's now seeing the light of day once more!

When Rose first mentioned her "vision" for the bathroom I wisely choked back any misgivings that I may (or may not) have had and blithely went along, trusting and knowing that she knows what she's doing even when I don't and that between us we usually do okay.

We picked out a really nice waterfall style tap and a fancy new low flow toilet with a slam-proof, slow closing lid and 2-count em-2 buttons on top for shall we say, "different flushing requirements."
The new tap

The completed space - except for the tile back splash, floor, tub and tub surround. Phase 2 coming soon.

We also took down the old mirror and replaced it with a round, leather wrapped one that we had on hand, we cleaned up and repainted the medicine chest and replaced the toilet paper holder and towel bar.

Renovations in our home are also a fun way of traveling back in time. Paint colours that are trapped under things like mirrors and behind toilets all of a sudden reveal the startling question, "what in the heck were we thinking!"

Some of the gross old colours hidden behind the mirror.

Besides the sink and vanity top though, finding images from our trip to Italy with just the right tone of blue/green and getting them printed, framing them using our existing stock of old frames, cutting the glass and hanging them for viewing was definitely the coolest part of the reno.

I love seeing my work in print, hanging prominently on a wall, (even if it's a bathroom wall) and they do look lovely!

This all took place over just a few days in December and is a minor reno. compared to phase 2: replacing the bathtub and re-tiling the floor and tub surround with the same tile from our kitchen renovation, but it's amazing what a difference it makes.

Now it's the only bathroom I want to use and I get a little thrill every time I slam down the toilet lid and it just - ever - so - slowly - gently - closes - itself, like magic!