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We're back to "Cat in the Hat" weather here. I am reading blogs from friends in California, Colorado, and Florida, and all of them are enjoying wonderful warm -- even hot -- weather. Yesterday it never broke 61 here and rained most of the day. My instincts tell me to flee for the south, because the freedom to seek out better weather is a privilege of Airstreaming. But Eleanor says otherwise. We still have a lot to do here.

Eleanor is starting a curtain project. We've never been fond of the curtains that came with our trailer, so she has found something funky to replace them. She's going to back the fabric with light-blocking material so we can get real darkness in the bedroom when we want to.

She's also come up with a better solution to our bath mat problem. We bought a small standard rubber-backed bath mat some months ago. But when it got dirty, we found it was very difficult to get cleaned on the road. When we stop for laundry we don't want to toss it in with the clothes, and yet running a separate wash for it wastes time and resources. Worse, it can't be dried in the dryer due to the rubber backing, so it ends up wet for days before we can use it again.

Instead, she bought two small towels that match our bathroom decor, and she's simply sewing them together back to back. This makes them thick enough to serve as a mat and it's easily washable. I'll show you a picture when it's done.

Emma is working on a project today too: making a suncatcher out of glass beads.

Charlotte Emma suncatcher.jpg

One of my projects is to search for things in the trailer we can dump in storage or give away, to lighten our load and free up storage space. The latest thing is my Windows laptop, an elderly Pentium III running Win 98. I kept it only because there was one program I needed to run once every three months for the magazine. I've since found a better version that runs on Mac, so the Windows laptop is history, saving us about 6 lbs.

That may seem like a ridiculous economy in an 8000 lb trailer, but every ounce counts. It's the little things that add up surreptitiously. I like to keep the trailer light. We can carry up to about 2000 lbs (including optionally installed equipment like solar panels and extra batteries, plus fresh water and propane). In reality, by weighing our rig at truck scales every few months, we've found that our typical load is only about 1600 lbs, and that's as a full-timing family of three, running a business!

That's largely due to scrupulous attention to what we carry. I see people with chainsaws, cinder blocks, hatchets, hundreds of feet of hose, cast iron cookware, solid wood flooring (added in after-market), heavy custom furniture, giant air compressors, full mechanic's chests of tools, and racks of canned goods. No wonder so many people are driving around with overweight rigs.

Even if you don't haul a lot of obviously heavy stuff, culling down the excess quantities of lightweight stuff is still important. We don't carry five pairs of shoes when we only need three. Tools are kept to a basic kit suitable for most situations, not every possible situation. Paper is culled out often -- recycling magazines and scanning almost everything else. Even Emma's rock collection is limited to samples < 1" in size, and the collection is reduced by half every time she flies back to Vermont. My goal is to take at least 100 lbs out of the trailer while we are here. I think we are probably halfway there.

Solar report: with gloom and rain all day, we captured only about 10 amps all day. Our battery bank is down to about about 57% (reported). In fact, we have more power than that. We initially set the TriMetric monitor to report only about 60% of our actual capacity, so it reads conservatively. That way, we don't overdraw the batteries. If it hits 50% reported, I'll probably plug the trailer in for a full charge. If so, it would be the first time we've gotten that low since we installed the solar panels and four batteries in May.


Re: the bathmat.
My elderly father recenly fell in his bathroom because he leaned a bit while standing on a plain towel bathmat. You're much younger and more nimble than he is, but the rubber-backed mats exist for a reason.

Suggestion: have you seen the work gloves that are made of cotton with many small dots of rubber on them? Just possibly the mat that Eleanor is making could have many small dabs of RTV silicone caulk applied to one side. That stuff is good for much higher temperatures than will be found in washers & dryers, and applied as dots instead of a solid sheet, the drying time will be affected very little. I've never tried it, but it might help.

Actually, a better idea might be to drop a sheet of the non-skid stuff sold to line toolboxes and dish cabinets on the floor under the mat that Eleanor made. They'd stay separate items, so the towel will wash and dry easily, and the rubber mat can be hosed off occasionally. But the rubber mat will prevent the skids, while the towel will feel good to stand on.

If you decide to stick with the doubled-up towels for a bathmat, next time you are at a flea market where there is a hat & Tee shirt vendor, see if they will stitch some initials in the center, say "A L" for Airstream Life. Aside from the occasional joker that will want to know who "Al" is, it will keep the center of the towels from bunching up and rolling, as well as giving a little 5-star-hotel class to your bathroom.

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