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Archive for March, 2011

Weeeeeee’rrrrrreeeeeeee Baaaaaaaaaaack!

And, as always, I want to thank you all for stopping by, reading, emailing and commenting on the blog.  Your feedback, comments and criticisms have really made the build, and this blog, an enjoyable adventure for me and I greatly appreciate it.  I hope y’all had a wonderful Christmas and your New Year is starting off with all your wishes coming true.  I have truly missed sharing the weekly build news with you.

Spring has sprung and, here in South Carolina, Mother Nature awoke with a vengeance.  We’ve gone from shivering through the 30’s last week to a record high 92 on Friday.  I prefer to ease into the 90’s, but I’m not going to complain.  It was a rather terse winter for SC and, frankly, most of my Yankee blood has thinned over the thirty years I’ve spent in the south.  We old fellers don’t handle the cold very well.  It’s the rumatiz.

Before I “WOW” you with the advances I’ve made on Das Nook this weekend, I’d like to mention that, over the winter break, I managed to revise and republish my first book, The Tenderfoot’s Guide to Family Camping.  I only hope that my grammar, tense and overall verbalistic, (yup, that’s a word), skills have improved greatly since 1998.  As of now, The Tenderfoot’s Guide to Family Camping, revised and updated for 2011, is available as an ebook through almost all the major ebook dealers.  What could be more convenient?  Download a free e-reader app to your phone and take a copy along with you on your next adventure in the wild.  That way you’re covered should you, oh, I don’t know, encounter poison ivy, snakes, bears or just need a laugh while you’re off communing with nature.  Not to worry: for a paltry $5.99, ole Brian’s got you covered. *wink*  If you’re interested in downloading a copy, I’ll be including a 20% discount code for you loyal blog readers at the end of this week’s blog.  Follow the link to Smashwords and insert the code for your discount.

Ok, enough of the shameless plugs.  Time to mamba!

As you know, via my colorful commentary lo these many weeks, Das Nook has been off into the wild on three occasions thus far; and without foul incident.  They say God looks out for Fools and children, (I’m frequently referred to as one or both of the aforementioned), so I guess He had my back on those three, thoroughly enjoyable, trips.  I slept warm, dry and comfortable on all three occasions.  However, my galley was nothing more than my Coleman stove on the picnic table and the grate on the fire pit.  Not that I have any intention of making any changes to my culinary methods, (nothing beats a steak over an open wood fire), but I’m working towards applying those methods with a lot more of my legendary, (I’m a legend in my own mind), flair and elan.  Actually, my biggest complaint about the unfinished galley was the lack of a sink and shower.  Two of the campsites I reserved over the break were a day-hike away from the restrooms.  I thought I had that beat on the third trip, New Year’s Eve, when I went online and specifically reserved a site directly across from the restroom.   Imagine my chagrin when I found out that the particular restroom I’d been parked a few mere steps away from was only open during the regular camping season and the open restroom, on the other side of the campground, was a car ride away.  Kinda makes brushing your teeth in the morning a bit of a chore, let me tell you.  I realize camping is considered a “rustic” endeavor, but I refuse to sacrifice personal hygiene under any circumstances.  Hence my enthusiastic praise for the spring weather and my being able to get back to work on Das Nook.  Santa didn’t bring me the six-car, heated, garage I asked for this Christmas, so I’m destined for a future as a fair weather genius.  Forty-some years and I’m still on Santa’s darned naughty list for that highly overblown incident concerning a quasi-doctor’s office I supposedly opened in the back yard.  I was just concerned for the health of all the neighborhood girls, Santa!  Get over it!

For starters, I bought a small hot water heater over the break.  Trying to find an electric hot water heater that would fit in a TTT was an experience, but perseverance finally paid off.  I opted to avoid all propane when I started the build because, frankly, it scares the hell out of me.  Most of you with campers will call me foolish for that fear, but I lived in my older, twenty-one foot, camper for a couple of years while I was between ex-wives and a cracked thread on a cast iron gas line in that camper almost made this blog, and me, non-entities.  Were it not for a weak bladder, I’d be playing rhythm guitar in God’s all-star Elvis review, doing weekday matinees in some, waaaaaay off Broadway, dive cloud right now.  Fittings, couplings and connections have improved greatly over the years but, given my penchant for bad luck, I’m sticking to my mantra, Murphy’s Law, and opting for the lesser of the two evils.  I’ve worked with electricity all my life and have a pretty good knowledge of its associated perils.  Had I opted for gas, the supply of tiny hot water heaters would have been endless, (yet much more expensive).  To add insult to injury, an eleventh-hour plan change in the overall layout of Das Nook caused me to make the galley six inches shorter than I had originally planned.  Because of that questionable change, I needed an electric hot water heater that would fit in a clown car with all the clowns in attendance.  Even with the added six inches in the main cabin, you still don’t have enough room to slide on a pair of pants with any great ease, but now your legs can twist into a more relaxed pretzel-shape before you stub your toe on the AC unit and start spewing expletives.  I’ve since mastered the art of changing clothes inside, even while wearing long johns, and have actually turned it into an art form, but I wish I’d had my video camera on that first trip.  Of course, the video wouldn’t be suited for a “G” rated blog, or even an MP-17 blog due to my, ever improving, verbalistic skills,  but I’m sure it would have provided hours of laughs for me and others with a strong, stoic constitution in years to come.

Anyway, Das Nook is now sporting a rather snazzy Ariston, 4 gallon, 120 volt hot water heater.  Navy showers will still be the norm, but this is camping we’re doing here, not jet-setting with the rich and famous.   With a low-flow, hand-held shower nozzle, those in the know claim that a five-minute hot shower is not an unreasonable expectation.  We shall see.

Hot water heater plumbed in.

The hot water heater is sitting below an equally snazzy faux, (it’s a camper, not a villa in Tuscany), granite counter top with the, “sneer”, camper sink that I purchased for a song on ebay a few years ago.  Did I mention that it was a blues song?

Another promise I made to myself when I started sketching Das Nook was that, wherever possible, I wouldn’t use any “camper” accessories because all the accessories that go with “camper” accessories have to be “camper” accessories.  When you use a camper sink, you need a camper faucet, camper drain basket and all variety and variation of “camper” stuff.  Why I never listen to myself, I’ll never know?  Lord knows I talk to myself enough to have established a certain credibility among all the voices in my head, but I have an addiction to what I, oft foolishly, consider snatching up a great deal.  I think I paid five dollars for the sink, but once it became one with the counter top, it became a rather expensive accessory.  If I screwed up now, I’d have to find another, exact same sized, sink to fit in the odd shaped hole I cut in the counter top.   I managed to make the faucet fit, (sans the stopper lever), but finding a drain basket that would fit was a nightmare.  In desperation, after all other attempts at finding a “camper” drain basket failed, on Saturday, I jumped in lil truck and made a trip to the camper supply store in the next town:  only to find out that they were closed on Saturday’s, (go figure?).  After returning home, thinking, rethinking and becoming thoroughly frustrated, I’d finally had enough, (frustration and beer), to make me consider getting creative, (I think they call it beer bravado?).   I summoned my side kick and neighbor, Manny, for a second opinion and, after he’d had enough beer, he encouraged, (teased, cajoled and razzed), my creative whim and double-dog-dared me to take the Dremel to the undersized drain basket hole in the sink and make the standard bar sink drain basket I originally purchased, fit.   Let me state emphatically here that I have never walked away from a double-dog-dare.   Thankfully, my hand is still fairly steady after a few dark lagers, (as any sucker who ever played pool with me while I was under the influence will attest), and, with tongue in cheek and everything crossed, I successfully made the hole big enough for the standard plumbing fittings to fit into.  The rest was kind of anticlimactic after that.  Yes, my friends, God truly does look out for us fools.

Das Nook's cursed sink!

The install went fairly well, all things considered.  Of course, the cabinet face and doors have yet to be installed.  Surprisingly, the first day of Spring was a bomb.  It’s 62 degrees and raining outside today so any work outside was put on hold til next weekend.  Having a mass of stored up energy for all the finishing touches I was going to dazzle myself with today, I had to turn my pursuits inside.  What a better day for spring cleaning than the first day of spring?

On top of the hot water heater purchase, I also squeezed my tax refund enough to pick up a 12’X12′ Easy-Up portable awning for those rainy weekends; as well as to serve as a topper over the back half of Das Nook for shade, weather protection and privacy during showers, etc.  My plan is to drill two holes, one in the top of each of the galley doors, and fit a removable pipe into those holes that will support a shower curtain.  Once the cabinet faces are installed, the shower mixing valve will be mounted under the counter top in the hot water heater area with a hand held shower nozzle stored in there, too.  When you want to shower, you just slide the hand held head into the fixture on the door, close the curtain and, unless you’re modest about the appearance of your ankles showing under the doors, (I’m not the modest type), you’ll be enclosed in privacy with enough room to move around and even undress and dress within the confines.  I’m installing a dry tub, (drawer), under the other cabinet to store your clothes and towel and keep them dry until you shut off the water and get ready to reenter the world.  That’s also the reason for the weatherproof covers on the receptacles and switches over the sink.  Splash away.

For a finishing touch, I’m working on a recycled, corrugated, plastic freight pallet I have that will make a perfect shower floor.  It’ll store under the camper when not in use and it will keep your feet out of the mud while you shower.  I’m “engineering” a drain valve and hose adapter for it that’ll carry the water out of the bottom of the pallet, into the camper’s main drain and off to the park’s septic system.  It’s not the full body, thirteen-head, showers at the Ritz, but it’ll be a little touch of civilization after a day of hiking or a night of semi-wet wood smoke thoroughly permeating your person before you slip between the sheets.  I ask again: “Who ever said camping had to be uncivilized?”

Well, I had hoped to have a lot more to show this week but, as we all know, the weather is out of our control.  It’ll just leave that much more for next weekend.  I’m truly hoping to have the galley almost finished after next weekend because I’m ready to take Das Nook out again, hopefully the following weekend, and enjoy the fruits of my labor.  This is camping weather and I’m not planning on missing any opportunities to take full advantage before the sizzling summer sun sets in and camping, at least for me, is a little less desirable.

As always, feel free to post comments here, or email me any time at doc@bgreenleaf.com.

Until next week, I wish you all peace, happiness and every good fortune life has to offer.

Adio,  Brian

All new for 2011!

To order your ebook copy, and receive a 20% discount off the already low $5.99 price, follow this link to Smashwords.  Unfortunately, the coupon code isn’t valid at any of the other ebook retailers.  When prompted, enter coupon code RS58H.  Your 20% will be discounted at the checkout.  Thank you.

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