Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Side Trip

Every year in August my little sister and I go on a camping trip together. She and her family have property in the Colorado mountains equipped with a camper, several ATVs and lots and lots of hummingbirds. This year was our ninth trip together, and it was the best yet. We spent a whole week there, just the two of us, with great weather, good company, and fantastic food.

Jane has a fabulous view of Pikes Peak from the front deck -- what a way to enjoy most of our meals, looking at this!

One ride that we do every year is to this old trapper's cabin. This year the trail had deteriorated quite a bit, making it a little more challenging, and it was cloudy and threatening rain. Luckily the rain held off till we got back to the camper. 

 One evening we took a ride (not on the ATVs) and saw this amazing valley.

Our ultimate destination that evening was to the Tarryall Reservoir, this is the back side of it.

There was lots of wildlife this year, but we didn't get too many photos. We did manage to get pictures of this herd of antelope. There were actually 7 of them, including the baby, but this was the best picture. Other animals we saw included a herd of about two dozen elk, five deer, a coyote, a raccoon (in the daytime, not in our garbage!), and the rabbit that lives under the deck.
 Here's sister Jane setting up our lunch one afternoon. By lunchtime, we were happy to stand up to eat; sitting on those ATVs is lots of fun, but hard on the backside!

On one of the days we did a big trip -- a 1 1/2 hour ATV ride (each way) a 20 minute hike, then a climb down a 15 foot cliff. Of course, getting back up that cliff was a little harder than getting down, especially with my knees, but we both made it!  This is the swimming hole we were aiming for, and it was well worth the effort (although it was REALLY cold!). What an amazing place! I especially loved the cliffs, and the depressions carved in them by water. I wonder how long ago that happened?   In the back of the photo you can see the landscape after the Heyman Fire (2002).  The forest is coming back, although it's slow.

Our evening entertainment every night was watching the hummingbirds. This year there were lots of them. We think there were between 8 and 10, but it was hard to count them all. Watching them argue over who got to drink was like watching the last part of Top Gun -- the dog fight scene. I took more than 500 photos on this trip, and about 350 of them were of hummingbirds. One thing for sure, it was never boring!

Five hummingbirds in one shot!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Designing the Layout

August 8, 2012

Designing the Layout

There were lots of things to think about when I set out to figure out how to arrange the things I need in the back of Lizzie. Lists.  That's where I started. Lists of the things I thought I would need, lists of measurements of her back end, lists of the size of everything I wanted to include.

That took me to the computer and my graphics program to lay it all out and see how it all might fit. first I drew the layout of the space I had, then drew all the boxes and tubs and other things for which I had measurements. Then came the fun part -- how could I get everything in there so that it would fit, and, even more important, be accessible when I need it.

The first challenge was the bed. It was only about 7" off the ground, but the tubs I need to store under the bed are 9" high. How to make that happen without having to build anything.  I don't have sophisticated tools, or skills either, to build stuff. I also wanted to make sure that whatever I did inside the van wouldn't wreck the interior for when I want it to be just a regular minivan. I borrowed an idea from my quilting experience. In order to make those banquet tables that we often use for cutting or ironing taller, we raise them on lengths of PVC pipe that fit over the legs of the table. I could do the same thing for the bed. Luckily, I have a brother-in-law not too far away who can do some of those cuts for me.  So now the bed will be 10" off the ground and the tubs will slide underneath easily. They won't need lids, so when I pull them out, all the stuff in them will be accessible.

One of the things that some of my new on-line friends suggested is a bucket that I can use when necessary for, um, personal reasons. Lined with plastic bags and with kitty litter in the bottom, it makes an great chamber pot!  I bought a round circle of wood to put on top of it, and presto, a night table (when the bucket is empty!!).

The bed frame is all ready, the legs will be cut to size next week, and a friend had two pieces of thick particle board that is covered with a plastic coating that she didn't need. That dear brother-in-law will cut those pieces of board to size so they fit in the bed frame, then a 4" foam mattress on top, and I'll be set for sleeping. I even made a quilt to go on the bed; it's being quilted right now and I should get it back in a few weeks. Of course, I'll need more covers than just a quilt, but that won't be a problem!  I have lots and lots of quilts and other things that I can use. I'm not worried about being cold.

That's just the sketch, and I can hardly wait to see how it looks in real life. More to come -- next time I'll tell you about the challenges with the curtains.  Till then, happy dreaming!