Category Archives: Full-timing

On Our Way to NYC This Week

We left Pittsburgh a couple of days ago on our way to meet up and go to NYC with a bunch of Wally Byam Airstream Club friends from Ontario. There were several potential routes to the meetup and we hadn’t settled on where to stop the first night. Then BANG! “Why don’t we spend a day touring Niagara Falls?” Okay, small route change and no problem. Let’s do it.

Sunset on Lake Erie

Why do things work out really well sometimes? Apparently someone cancelled their plans for an RV site in Four Mile Creek State Park. This is near Niagara Falls and our site backs up to Lake Erie. Four Mile Creek State Park is a gorgeous campground with several hundred sites. The shower houses are very nicely built, although there was no walk path from our loop. The sites are large and have electricity. Water is available throughout the loops for refilling fresh water tanks and the dump station is conveniently located on our way out. Best of all, the drive between Four Mile Creek and Niagara Falls is a pretty and short twenty-mile drive.

Our NY State Park camping fee also covers the day’s parking fee while we’re visiting Niagara Falls. This happens sometimes, especially if we listen and take someone’s advice, are willing to be flexible, don’t let our expectations keep us from enjoying things, and let things work out. It’s not just a freedom of full-timing, but that helps too. Sometimes you wonder what you did wrong. Sometimes you get very lucky.

Garbed up for the boat tour

We checked in for our online-purchased tickets when we arrived at Niagara Falls State Park in the morning. The visitor’s desk lady asked us, “Do you want to get wet now or later?” Our choices were to get wet on the boat tour, or wetter on the Cave of the Winds walk. We started the day at the Falls with the Maid of the Mist boat tour.

Can you see us on the boat?

The falls almost overwhelmed us on our boat tour. Not capsized us, but it filled us completely with awe. There are 675,000 gallons per second rushing over the Canadian Falls and we were struck dumb by the tremendous power and beauty as we bobbed along in our boat near the base of these falls.

taken from the Skylon Tower

Best laid plans were thoroughly doused in our next adventure. The issued blue ponchos had kept us entirely dry on the boat tour despite wet blustery air currents and showers. We wore our waterproof hiking boots and gore-tex jackets too, so we felt well-prepared for whatever the Falls could dish out. We went next to the Cave of the Winds and boldly advised the flip-flop passer outer that we had on our waterproof shoes and wouldn’t take the free flip flops.

Ha! Our waterproof boots, once they filled with icy cold water on the boardwalk so near the falls, kept the water from leaking out from around our feet. We sloshed back to the truck where, fortunately, we had two pairs of dry socks to change into. Note for next time: use the flip flops.

Our park pass admitted us to all the attractions and also onto the trolley. We made good use of the pass, checking out all the stops on foot except for the Schoellkpof Power Station site. The trolley trip there was nice and quick and allowed us time to tour this and see the movie in the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center. Our last stop was for dinner reservations on the Canadian side, 1.6 miles distant. We walked across Rainbow Bridge, the largest hingeless arch bridge in the world from its 1941 construction until twenty-one years later when surpassed by a nearby bridge (Lewiston-Queenston) of the same design.

Perhaps exactly midway across the border we were standing astride the border between two of our favorite countries, the one where all our children and grandchildren live and the one where two of our grandchildren were born. Someone told us earlier in the day we’d find the Canadian side of Niagara Falls cleaner and neater than the American side. The remark didn’t surprise us and we weren’t surprised to find it so, again. We had a nice appetizing walk to the Skylon Tower and made our early dinner seating right on time.

dinner reservations at Skylon Tower

Debbie had arranged for a prix fixe, where everything’s included in one price, at the revolving restaurant atop the Skylon Tower. We would ride the yellow elevator up the outside and have seating in the window for a one revolution per hour dinner. The dinner was several courses, the food was very good, and the views were wonderful. This was a really nice way to spend the evening after walking all over the Niagara Falls State Park.

dining in Skylon Tower

The spontaneous stop in Niagara Falls allowed one of our best touring days ever. The weather forecast was for rain. We figured we’d be getting wet anyhow (and we did, or at least our feet did), and the rain apparently kept the park from being very busy. We arrived early and stayed until nearly 7:30 in the evening. We didn’t spend enough time on the Canadian side and didn’t quite finish the American side either.

As usually occurs, we left thinking, “We’ll want to return and see more of this”. It was a great day!

See you down the road,

Jim and Debbie
see us at dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees
see what’s going on at WBCCI, The Wally Byam Airstream Club

Advertisements

Why Settle for Less?

Jim’s long enjoyed making, repairing, or installing things for himself and our friends. He does his best work when he’s helping someone else. But working for himself, he says, he sometimes just tries for “good enough.” That can leave him wondering if and when he’ll go back and redo his project the way he really wants it.

We recently enjoyed a special visit with friends in York, South Carolina, near the NC-SC border. We were traveling north from Florida. John and Susan Leake invited us to park our Airstream at their house on our way up. We’ve known John and Susan several years and like them a lot. We’d heard of their beautiful home and old fashioned Southern hospitality. But this post isn’t about what great hosts they are, what a great cook Susan is, or how much we like their home. They are, she is, and we really do. Read on and see what affected us so much on this visit!

Even with the high praise we’d heard for Leake’s Antiques we weren’t really prepared for what we found. John and one of his sons, Jay, are creating gorgeous furniture masterpieces, one at a time. Their signature piece, a cellaret, is pictured below (read about it in the Garden and Gun Magazine article, linked further below:)

img of furniture

Leake’s Antiques Cellaret

Read what the Leakes say on their own website,

“John and Jay Leake hand make period reproduction furniture in the styles of William and Mary, Queen Anne, Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton. Using all solid wood, each piece is made to order using the finest mahogany, cherry, walnut and maple available. Not only is the wood of the finest quality but also our hardware and brass. Customers who identify quality and craftsmanship will especially appreciate our furniture. 

John Leake and son Jay build fifteen to eighteen major pieces per year in their York, South Carolina shop, each with craftsmanship featuring hand carving, dovetailing, and pinned mortise and tenon joinery.

We don’t have a “line” of furniture. Pictured on our showroom page are some of our favorites. We often duplicate them but can also adapt or modify them for your needs, or build you a totally custom piece. We work on 1 piece at a time for 1 customer at a time. We welcome your inquiry, better still, a visit.”

Doesn’t that sound pretty special? We think so. The real thing’s even better and they’re receiving well-deserved recognition for it. A couple of years ago, Garden and Gun Magazine did a feature on John and Jay’s work. The link takes you to a wonderful article with nice photographs of the Leake’s shop, showroom, and the guys too.

Jim’s dad built furniture as a hobby. He instilled in Jim a love for woodworking and finishes. When Jim graduated from college he worked for years as a construction carpenter then ran a woodworking and cabinet shop. He did all the shop work and installations himself and learned what it takes to do good work. John and Jay don’t just do good work, they do beautiful work. Their craftsmanship is amazing.

This matters to the rest of us. Have we heard anyone complaining about how poorly things are made nowadays? Are our lives affected by cheap or inappropriate clutter? Does quality pay? Do beautiful things improve our lives? Does a job well-done improve our outlook? The answer to all five is, “YES.”

Competing priorities can confuse things. There’s only so much time and money and there are plenty of rationalizations:
“We’re leaving tomorrow and this needs to be safe and secure first;
We didn’t spend much on this because it’s just a trial and we might not like it;
I’ll do this better later when I have more time.” And you can think of some others, right?

We see there’s a new Dyson $399 handheld blow dryer on the market. Dyson reportedly stated his company has never designed “down to price.” He’s not interested in competing with companies offering lower-cost goods. He makes the best product he can and the buyers who want it will pay for it. If a buyer like his products and thinks they’re worth the price then everything’s copacetic. (ed. note: we don’t own any Dyson things :-)

img of hairdryer

Dyson’s new hair dryer

The Leakes aren’t compromising on quality either. We’ve never seen better crafted furniture than John and Jay are making. The attention to detail and the joinery is superb.  Jay hand cuts the beautiful visible dovetailed joints, and even the blind structural joints are dovetailed. Their furniture has perfect joints, flawless inlay, beautiful hardware, gorgeous finishes. They’re taking their time to do their very best work on every piece they build. The result is pleasing to the eye and soul.

We thank John and Jay for showing us how high quality work matters to them and to their customers. They create beautiful furniture. As John Keats wrote 200 years ago in his poem, Endymion “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Seeing the high quality work Leake’s Antiques turns out made all the difference to us. Why settle for less?

See you down the road,

Jim and Debbie
see us at dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees
see what’s going on at WBCCI, The Wally Byam Airstream Club

Enjoying Full-Time Living in Our Airstream Trailer

Enjoyed a few cups of coffee with friends today and returned to the house mid-morning. What to do with all that morning caffeine? Turned on some energy music, pulled out a few cleaning supplies, and started burning calories. Cleaned ceilings, walls, floors and doors of all our rooms. How long does that take? About two albums worth, listened to all of Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II.

Airstream walls and ceilings all clean

cleaning’s ez pz

This brings up a benefit of living in a tiny house. Our former home was 3,000 feet on two floors plus a detached 1.5 story 2 car garage. We lived in four rooms of that large house, the bedroom, small den, breakfast nook, and kitchen. With company, we’d use more space. How often would that happen? We’ve known homeowners of all ages who lived similarly, gravitating toward the cozy space for reading or browsing, eating in the kitchen, sleeping in the bedroom, while supporting a house of anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 square feet. The less-used spaces still require upkeep of dusting and vacuuming. Somehow all the washrooms seem to need cleaning. There are lots more windows to clean.

For now, we’re enjoying the benefits of living well in our tiny house. Do NOT get rid of your nice home. We love visiting you. We love occasionally housesitting for you (we call it “playing house.”) You love your home and we do too. In a way we don’t really know what we’re missing. Some ask us, “What d’ya miss most about your house?” Our answer varies with the season or our moods.

How do you answer about something that, in a way, never was? Sometimes we reply, “We never lived in it as retirees – as soon as we quit our jobs, we sold our stuff and the house and split. We don’t know what it would be like to live there now.” We also fondly recall hosting folks for large gatherings, like Jim’s high school class during Christmas holidays 2007, or a sister’s wedding brunch with family from near and far, and baby showers for friends and family. Just can’t invite as many into this tiny house. Those are nice memories. Would those occasions still arise if we had a large enough house? Do we miss doing those?

How many camping stoves does a fast-hiking 4-person backpacking team need to carry? Does everyone need a car in case they want to run an errand, or can we share cars or support mass-transit and taxi solutions more economically (and with less carbon footprint?) Do we all need enough house to host family and neighborhood gatherings? Is it fair for the tiny house people to not share in the cost of the host homes? Are we willing to own and maintain a “big home” again?

A large fixed location house isn’t currently one of our needs. We don’t miss owning a large home. Taxes, maintenance, and utilities comprise the large portion of an annual household budget. We’re saving, by not supporting a large home, nearly half of our current entire annual budget. We’re enjoying volunteer leadership for the Wally Byam Airstream Club, life in our Airstream trailer, and our ability to travel where, when and for how long we want.

How much Spring Cleaning time do we save by living tiny? It’s not really the point. We’re enjoying living full-time in our Airstream tiny house. Easy maintenance, inside and out, is a great feature of Airstream trailers. We love living in ours.

See you down the road,

Jim and Debbie
see us at dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees
see what’s going on at WBCCI, The Wally Byam Airstream Club

Image

Not Chasing 75 degrees

img_1042

It’s 40 below, raining, and we’re thriving. Not 40 below zero, 40 degrees below our vaunted (and often achievable) outdoor temperature target of 75 degrees. We’re glad to see the rain, have opportunities for walking and other exercise on our land, and consider improvements we might do someday.

Our Airstream is keeping us warm and dry, as always. The furnace was running upon our return from a nice 45-minute walk in the rain. That’s unusual. We normally turn the furnace down to 45, the minimum, after we warm the trailer’s interior in the morning. Then we’ll use the catalytic heater and the portable Pelonis electric heater to maintain 66-68 degrees inside. For our walk we left only the catalytic on. The interior temp fell below 64 and we’d forgotten to turn the furnace down so it was trying to keep up

Our central heat, if we ever build a house, will be very quiet. We’re weary of noisy heat, even if grateful for warmth. The Pelonis ceramic heater is the quietest of our mechanical heaters, followed by the gas furnace, followed by the electric strip heat in the roof a/c unit.

Our Olympian Wave6 catalytic heater is silent, radiates great warmth, and we can focus it in the direction we wish. Nearly ideal, except it adds moisture to our space (a bad/good thing.) The moisture wants to condense on cold surfaces and our many single thickness windows are happy cold sinks. The mechanical heat sources help dry the air more. But they’re so darned noisy. We prefer the silent radiant heat when we’re awake and indoors (we NEVER leave the catalytic heater operating when we’re napping or sleeping.)

And we love the coziness of our 25′ Airstream trailer in the rain. Even freezing rain.

See You Down The Road

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamrs, still chasing 75 degrees
See our website too

Stittsville News article

We had a delightful interview with John Curry, news editor of the Stittsville News. He found us at the Ontario Airstream Club’s rally in Richmond Ontario. In fairness, he could have filled two more pages about the rally’s crowd, entertainment and great dining.

The Ontario Unit of the Wally Byam Airstream Club is one of the largest, with almost two hundred members. Their rally attendance sometimes has seventy Airstreams, so this rally was a little small at nearly fifty rigs.

More later, wanted to share the fun interview we read today in the Stittsville News online. We hope you have fun reading it too.

 

15 Years Ago Today

I am one very lucky man

P1180486

Jim

visit our website
©2007-2016 Dreamstreamr odyssey

Love in World of Hate

How can any of us hate another human being? How often do we not even know a thing about them, and aren’t willing to try? Because we don’t understand them.  Tom Basson says, “the only way to understand is to listen.” Tom’s passion for kindness and fairness stirs me, and I hope it does you too.

tom.basson

The world is divided

And we – you and me – are the ones dividing it.

It’s part of human nature.

We set up barriers, boundaries, divisions – these walls that separate and segregate.

Us vs them, black vs white, rich vs poor, in vs out, gay vs straight.

And we go to great lengths to build these walls. We kill. We bomb. We comment on Facebook. We stay silent.

But the more we do, the greater the gaps between us become. Until eventually they are monstrous crevasses into which we all fall.

What is the solution? I do not know. But my hunch is that it lies somewhere in the heart of love.

“In the end we will only conserve what we love, and we will only love what we understand.” – Baba Dioum, 1968.

Interesting.

We only really love what we understand.

And the only way to understand…

View original post 149 more words