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Striking the set

The Caravel project is done, at least for this summer. This morning we “struck the set,” as they say in show business. That means the shed we were working in has been completely cleared out. All of the tools are packed away in a box for next year, and the wood scraps have been hauled off for future bonfires by the beach. The only clue that we were working in the shed is some sawdust on the floor.

I drove all the old and new parts back over to Plattsburgh NY this morning and, with Colin Hyde’s help, loaded them carefully into the Caravel for future installation. This was the first opportunity I’d had to see how the stained wood complemented the Marmoleum floor. The effect, as I expected, is perfect — a testament to Susanne Brown’s ability to manage colors. We’ll be asking her for recommendations on fabrics and countertops as well.

It’s exciting to see all the parts in the Caravel, because it means that after almost four years of being on hold, the project is finally nearing completion. We had stopped work on the Caravel back in late 2004 when we began working on the 1977 Argosy project (“Vintage Thunder”), and then we went out to travel full-timing for “six months” in 2005. You know how that worked out. So until this summer, we’d never managed to get back to the poor old Caravel. There’s a very good chance we’ll have it ready to camp by the latter half of Summer 2009, which will be great fun.

We’re also striking the set on our Vermont visit. It has been fun, but two months is a good long visit and it is time to get moving again. I have to admit that I’m not going to miss the nearly-constant rain (another thunderstorm this evening washed out our celebratory “farewell” dinner). If it had rained less we would have spent more time on the boat, skiing, wakeboarding, fishing, and cruising. As it was, we spent much of the past two months watching weather radar on the computer and trying to figure out activities around the frequent downpours.

plattsburgh-airstream-canoe.jpgAfter a long stop like this, the preparations to leave are numerous. I’ve got to do a bunch of minor safety checks and maintenance items on the trailer, like lubing the hitch and topping off the tires, but that’s nothing that you wouldn’t do for any weekend trip. We also always take the opportunity to thoroughly re-pack and clean the trailer. We can clean on the road (and we do) but it’s more convenient to do it in someone’s driveway where we can borrow a powerful vacuum and other cleaning tools.

Eleanor began repacking food yesterday. I have no idea what she has loaded but I know we’ll be well stocked when we go. She’s also laundered everything that can be laundered. Today and tomorrow her major job will be to find all the items belonging to us that are scattered around the house, garage, beach, and yard, and put them where they belong — or decided that they need to be scuttled. I’ll be doing that as well, since this is a great opportunity to do one of my favorite things: cull down what we are carrying around.

We have left the 1983 Honda at Colin’s shop in Plattsburgh, right in front of our 1963 Serro Scotty and just a trailer away from the 1968 Caravel. The Honda has been put to bed for the season, with a full tank of fuel plus fuel stabilizer, and the battery stored inside the shop. I think it has been a success. Despite a couple of repairs, it has been a good set of wheels and carted us around about 2,000 miles this summer.

While we were in Plattsburgh, Colin took the opportunity to show us some of his recent projects. The photo above is of his “Airstream” canoe. Look carefully and you’ll see the vintage Airstream nameplate he bolted on it. The canoe was a green-colored $50 yard sale special with holes in it. A few weeks later Colin had it looking like new and ready for some trips in the Adirondacks. Seeing what he does with old “junk” is really inspiring to me.

This evening I realized that I could check my tire pressure while sitting at the dinette typing this blog. I just grabbed the Doran 360RV unit from the truck and plugged it into the 12v socket in the trailer. In a couple of minutes it will report the pressure of all four tires, so I’ll know if I need to plan some time to reinflate any of the tires (or deal with a possible slow leak) in the morning.

Oh look, it’s already reporting. One tire shows 59 psi, the other three are showing 60 psi. I like this method — this is the civilized way to check the tire pressure, especially when it’s raining! Those pressures are good news. It shows that none of our tires have a slow leak or any other problems that sometimes crop up when parked for a while. They’ve all lost a few pounds since I last aired them up in North Carolina (in May), but about one pound per month is considered normal. At 60 psi I don’t really need to add air. Our gross weight is light enough that 60 is just fine. But if the sun is shining in the morning I may top them up to 65 psi anyway.

We have decided not to rush off in the morning tomorrow. Instead, we’ll take our time getting out, probably departing in the early afternoon. Our first day will be a short one of about three hours drive time. After such a long time of being parked, it’s nice to have a soft start to get back into the travel mood.