Sunday, November 10, 2013


In order to avoid this blog becoming MORE of an online diary, I am going to retire it for the winter, along with the Boler. I still have plans to get back on the road in the spring/summer; destination Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah. In the meantime I am working my two jobs and focusing on paying off bills before I get down to saving.   There may also be another show, or at least some new pieces, in the future. However, none of this makes for anything post-worthy so I think it's best to sign off now and come back when I've got myself and my trailer together and am ready to start the next road trip.

Okie & I are in Nova Scotia until further notice.....

Monday, October 14, 2013

Renovation compilations

 The Boler is now at a stage where I can take my time and pick away at the interior renos. The exterior is almost completely done with just the wiring to redo. I don't have to work at such a frenzied pace now that it is sealed up for the winter. No more covering it with a tarp every time it rains!

Going through the photos I've taken along the way shows just how much work I have put into this thing and I thought it would be interesting to put together some montages; partly for myself and partly as a record of what's been done so, if/when I decide to sell it, the potential buyer can actually see for themselves what's been done.

It took me the better part of a month to sand off the 7 layers of paint coating the exterior. Everything was removed from the shell, and I mean EVERYTHING. Once it was sanded the shell was lifted off the frame which was then sandblasted, re-welded, undercoated and shell put back on. All the holes, cracks and damaged spots were then filled, sanded, filled and sanded again in preparation for painting. This includes a large area under the back window where I found a large crack after all the sanding. My guess is there was an accident at some point where the spare tire was hit and caused the bracket to smash in the back. That happened somewhere between layer 5 and 7 of the previous painters.Once the whole shell was painted white it was given a new life!

Once I had the door off and started sanding it I noticed some problems there as well. Fist, there was a large hole under a piece of old hardware on the front of the door. It had been filled in by a previous owner and at some point that patchwork gave away. Second, when I removed the window I found a crack in the interior of the door which I would have to re-fiberglass; something I was very intimidated to do. Fortunately both the hole and crack worked out well and I think you'd be hard-pressed to find the old damage now. I did away with the old hinges and bought new ones from Scamp trailers. The door still has some fitting problems but I know this is a very common thing with these trailers.

All the hardware on the outside of the trailer looked like they were aluminum but were actually also painted with 5-7 layers of paint.  I went through a lot of paint remover and SOS pads to get them back to original. The vents are a bit pitted but I would rather that then peeling paint. The Boler logo, although also pitted, shines like new.

The two end plexi windows were replaced by brand new cut sheets of Lexan and installed with new rubber seals. Once again I was nervous to remove these but they come out easiest of all. Getting them back in would have been a frustrating task but luckily the guy who cut the new windows offered to come install them for me. Some things are better left to the professionals.
I don't have the money to replace the windows so I worked to restore the original ones as best as possible. The two side windows, small one over the stove and lever window in the door were all taken apart, stripped of paint and scrubbed clean of dirt and mold. Many of the screws holding them together had to be pried or drilled out and new screws sourced to replace the old ones. The two side ones received new window cranks and all of them brand new screens. They are so shiny and beautiful now.

So, now I have the inside to get to. The cabinetry will need to be painted, cupboard and closet doors made, floors done, back splash put up and shelves built. The inside walls have already been scrubbed down twice with TSP, once with bleach and painted with two coats of primer and one coat of mold and mildew paint. That alone made a HUGE difference.
Stay tuned.......

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Missed & Gained Opportunities.

I can't tell you how many times I've opened my blog and watched the cursor blinking impatiently, head empty, intending to type something...anything. I wish I had of sooner. About two weeks ago, since returning to Atlantic Newsstand as a second job, I spoke with a customer who asked if I had bought a towing vehicle yet. He checks out my blog every now and again and I hadn't made an update in over a month he said. I told him I had finally purchased a Ford Escape after months and months of searching. His reply, "Ok good, well I have the same vehicle and I was going to offer to trade you for some of your artwork". Whaaaat?!! What an amazing and incredibly flattering offer!! I missed out on this opportunity but as one door closes more open, as they say.

Around the same time the owner of Argyle Fine Art, where I am represented, introduced me to Timeraiser and suggested I enter some work to the jury. If you aren't familiar with Timeraiser, as I wasn't, it is a "volunteer matching fair, a silent art auction, and a night out on the town. The big Timeraiser twist is rather than bidding money on artwork, participants bid volunteer hours". My work was accepted and I am extremely excited to be part of this. I have been thinking for a long time about how I can give back while still pursuing my art. This is an interesting event because their goal is to raise volunteer hours while supporting artists by purchasing the pieces directly from them. Take a minute to watch their video explaining how it all works.... then go buy a ticket for $10 and attend the event at 1055 Marginal Road on the evening of October 10th.

I am also excited to be part of another Halifax event, East Coast Living's Dine by Design. This is what East Coast Living has to say about it; ” a dazzling event showcasing design luminaries and culinary giants from Halifax in a spectacular feast for the senses." Each designer is given a 10x10 foot space to create a dining room and the chef they are paired with will create a menu inspired by the room. Where do I fit in this? Argyle Fine Art has a space in the upstairs of the Olympic Centre where they can showcase some work. Once again, I was asked if I would like to take part and display my Roadside America images, created for an exhibition this past April. Of course I jumped at the chance to reach a new audience. As it happens, three out of the four pieces left from that show sold in the last week so I got down to work and finished three new pieces I had been slowly working on. Here's a sneak peak at one.
So, all in all, I have been keeping very busy. Every waking minute not working for someone else is spent either renovating the Boler or making art. Can't complain. I will post next the progress with the trailer. You won't believe how different it looks now that it's been painted and mostly put back together...I can hardly believe it myself!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Boler update

It's been so long since I've been on my blog I thought I should update the Boler progress. The list of things to do is long so I will spare you the details. Instead I have compiled some images I've been taking along the way. I will get a post together soon that talks more about what I've been doing, including thoughts and plans about the future.

Until then, here's this!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lost perspective

If I wasn't a person who preaches about keeping things in perspective I wouldn't feel so humble right now. I have lost my own perspective.

Over the past couple of weeks, looking for a tow vehicle, I had become a little self-absorbed in this "problem", losing focus on the big picture and forgetting to enjoy the journey I  have chosen. While being out on my road trip, and for months after returning, I had what I would consider a good outlook, a lot of gumption and an overall feeling I could conquer the world. People even commented on how my energy had changed; they could see my happiness written all over my face. This was the biggest compliment and accomplishment I had made; Inner and outer contentedness.

Where did that go? Yesterday, thinking while sanding, I came to some conclusions. I'm a little ashamed of how worked up I was getting over something I would consider a privileged persons problem. I often say, probably to some people's annoyance, that anything above food, shelter and clean drinking water is a privilege and here I am tying myself in knots about what kind of vehicle I need to tow my camper, another privileged item. It would seem I have not been taking my own advice. Yes, I'm allowed to have bad days. I allow myself one, then I must stand up, disband the pity party and get on with it! After all, I have chosen this path and I can change it when I want and go another way. I have this privilege.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Keep on keepin' on.

I follow a blog called the Art of Non-Conformity and one of the latest posts, 'worth it all',  has me thinking. Judging from the comments after the post it would seem I'm not the only one with doubts. Author Chris Guillebeau writes about the internal struggle some of us have when we pursue a life that is out of the 'norm'. Is it worth going against the tide to achieve my goals? Do I really want to be out there, living on the road, more than anything else? The answer is always a resounding yes. Even on the bad, self-doubting days I'm still more scared to stay put than to follow my dreams.

Some days I wonder what I've gotten myself into. I've invested too much money in a trailer, don't have a car to pull it, nor do I have the funds to travel. I am a 38 year old with no equity and no retirement savings. I guess I don't plan that far ahead, although I'm told it's wise to. What if I don't get to retirement age? Where's the guarantee that if I work a 9-5, Monday to Friday and save for travel after retirement that I'll actually make it there? There isn't one. I remember a story I was told of a man who worked every winter, saved, and spent every summer traveling. People thought he was nuts for wasting all his money and not planning for retirement. He died in his 60's; before retiring. He spent almost half of every year doing what he wanted and not waiting till later. I know this is just one story but I hang onto it. I think a lot of us put things off till "later" and they never happen.

So, as my van becomes un-driveable, my camper renos become more overwhelming and the search for an affordable towing vehicle disheartening I keep my chin up and keep on plowing along. Because the alternative is to give up my dreams and I'm sure not ready to do that any time soon. I made it happen once and I can do it again dammit!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sanding….wait, what is that?!

I’m finally at the sanding stage of my Boler renovations!

I started by scraping all the loose chips off and I was happy to be able to get my scraper way under the layers of paint really easily. For once I was glad the people before me half-assed something. The layers and layers of paint on one side weren’t adhered at all and came off in big pieces. I thought I would be able to scrape the whole trailer and not have to sand off seven layers of paint.  Not so.
paint chips
Working towards the back I came to a spot that was thick and definitely stuck to the body. Once I brought the sander to it I saw why; the back end had been smashed and repaired with some kind of filler. I have left it for now and will attend to it later.
damage filler closeup
I am a perfectionist, as I’ve said before, and want to get all the layers off in order to get the best paint job possible. A friend of a friend has offered to take it to his work and paint it professionally and even though he said I just need to scuff it up I can’t help but sand it down to the original gel coat. It’s a lot of work, and wear on the body, but once I switched from 100 grit to 60 and 80 grit for the first few layers it made a world of difference.
bottom colors
Layers on the bottom
top colors
Layers on the top
sanded door whole sanded side
I won’t bore you with all the nitty gritty details of sanding but to give you an idea, it took me four hours to sand both sides of the door down to the gel coat.

I did find one cool thing under the layers though;  a  Certified Recreational Vehicle sticker. I think it has the original serial number on it too! It reads;
Certified Recreational Vehicle,
Complies with applicable vehicular plumbing, gas,
oil, electrical requirements of ? standard Z240
No 1834

I see many days of sanding in my future as I plan to scuff up the gel coat inside as well to repaint. I would love to get it our for a trip before the summer is over but I am learning things take a lot longer than you think when taking on a project like this. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ode to a Van

The time has come to sell the van and buy a car to tow the Boler.  Every morning when I get in my van to go to work the smell brings me right back to living on the road.  It was my home and transportation for six months and although it served it’s purpose well I didn’t intend for it to be my regular, everyday vehicle for driving. A car will get much better mileage while working and saving to get back out there.

Through rain, dust storms and getting stuck in both gravel and sand, it never broke down or busted a tire. It pulled itself up mountains and stayed smooth on endless stretches of highway from Nova Scotia to California with barely a complaint. As you can imagine, I love my van, and former home, and hate to see it go. Because of that I rounded up all the photos I took of the Barter Van while on our journey and am posting an ode to her. May she find a loving home and more adventures in her future.
spencer missouri
Spencer, Missouri
Ozarkland, Missouri
steak n shake
Steak n Shake, Indiana
palo duro
Palo Duro, New Mexico
lucky discount
Unsure of location.
Texola, Texas
New Mexico grave
Graveyard somewhere in NM
painted desert 1
Painted Desert, Arizona
painted desert 2
sunset crater
Sunset Crater, Arizona
Sky city dinner
Outside Sky City, New Mexico
desert inn Holbrook
Holbrook, Arizona
houma louisiana
Houma, Louisiana
stuck in sand
Imperial Sand Dunes, California
monument lake copy
Everglades, Florida
Zion National Park, Utah.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Embassy Towers.

Last night I was invited to show and talk about my work at Embassy Towers in Halifax, NS. The condominium building was built in the 1960s as apartments and became condos in the 1980s. I have the feeling that that place has a million stories behind its security-manned door.

There are four large pieces remaining from my most recent exhibition, Roadside America, and Argyle Fine Art was invited to showcase some of their artists this month. She asked me if I'd be interested in having a small show there and of course I said yes. I would say a good 30 people came to listen to me talk a little about my trip and how the work came to be. I admit I'm always nervous whenever I have to talk in public. My knees get a bit shaky and my temperature rises a bazillion degrees but I often get the chance to talk to some great people when I 'm done rambling. I've been told I seem calm and natural when I do an interview or talk so I must be a better actress than I thought. As I was rambling, ahem, talking, I found myself telling the story about Bob at the Skyliner Motel. I ended up getting teary-eyed and had to stop. I have only told it once before and I teared up that time as well. I don't know if I've always been like this but, although it can be embarrassing, I'm not ashamed of my empathy. I think if we all had more compassion and empathy for our fellow humans our lives would be that much richer. I'm so thankful for who I am and where I am in life. I will just have to embrace the fact that I'm a stereotypical cry-y girl if it means I get to stay an empathetic and compassionate person.

After my talk I met some wonderful people and had more emotional conversations. The demographic at this opening was completely different than at my other shows. The age range was much older and I'm convinced something happens when you reach 50; you no longer care about pretensions and just are who you are. At one point I was talking to three ladies at once about racism, creationism, raising children, and of course travel. It's times like these I don't want to talk about myself at all and would rather listen to their stories. The best thing about this group is they actually remember Route 66 and what it was like to travel, slowly, on the old highways. They could relate to my pieces the way people my age, including myself, can't.

At the very end of the evening I talked to a husband and wife for quite some time. They had done it all, pursuing all their interests, and were very inspiring. The man, who's name escapes me, is a folk musician and historian who has been able to make a living following his passions and I always find these type of people magnetic. He said he was thankful every day for the way his career was 'handed to him'. Because I often skip the small talk and head for the meat of the conversation, I propositioned  him a deep question. How do you deal with what I call artists guilt? By that I mean, I often struggle with the fact I am so privileged in that I am able to pursue a life in the arts when others are struggling for food and shelter. It often feels like a very selfish pursuit. His answer was, you never know how you're going to affect someone, and you may never know. He told me of a story where someone approached him and told him a song he wrote back in the 70s changed their life. He said, as long as I stay true to myself it's bound to make an impact somewhere. I guess I'll just have to hope something I do affects someone, somewhere, even if I never know about it.

So, as an end note, I'd like to direct people to this article from the Guardian UK newspaper. If you've been following me from the beginning you'll remember what motivated me to get on the road in the first place. It's what continues to motivate me to get back out there; having regrets when I'm elderly about what I didn't do. I'm more fearful of staying still and not taking the risks.

Monday, May 20, 2013

More renos. Sanding comes next.

It seems I do nothing these days but work on the Boler, which consequently I am perfectly happy doing. The “problem” is I hadn’t intended on being in Nova Scotia for this long before heading back out on the road. I put the word problem in quotations because I can hardly complain about my situation. I have the luxury of living with friends, paying low rent and working for my sister while keeping my trailer in their backyard to pick away at whenever I want. I didn’t, however, plan on investing all the money I made from my last exhibit on my new home without having a car to tow it or money to travel with…but all in good time. There’s no way I can complain about any of this. Instead I just keep moving forward towards my goal.

The question now is when do I stop ripping it apart?  These trailers can be stripped down to nothing and then rebuilt again. The more I take out the more I want to take out. One thing leads to another and then another….and so on. I have to say, I am enjoying feeling like a handyman, even though things are usually much harder than they first appear to be. There’s barely a screw or rivet that comes out without a fight. Most need to be drilled, ground or pounded out to be removed, but I guess that’s what happens when you buy a trailer that’s as old as you are! Here are some photos of the progress:
side vents side vents removed
furnace pipe
Old propane furnace pipe
furnace pipe removed
cupboard and vents
Pre clean-up and vent removal
cupboard and vents done
Post clean-up
boler logo removed
boler logo
Even the Boler sign has layers of paint on it.
removing lockstrip
Removing the lock strip to get the window out
removing plexi window
Removing the plexi window
roof vent
Roof vent mess.
roof vent out
Roof vent removed
AND CURTAINS!!! (because I'm nowhere near ready to put curtains up)