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Archive for June, 2011

Living life one beer at a time......

Living life one beer at a time...... `

Hello, my friends.  Welcome back.

This picture pretty much sums up my weekend.  I only hope all of you had as restful and relaxing a weekend as I’ve had.

The only fly in the ointment this weekend was when I learned that there may or may not be a slight flaw in Nosty’s Nook’s aerodynamic design;  at least where the air conditioning is concerned.  Hey?  I never claimed to be an aerospace engineer.  As a matter of fact, this weekend I learned that I may actually be aerodynamically challenged, (and not just my disproportionate body, either), where air flow and circulation are concerned, (with the possible exception of the velocity, scatter pattern and overall casualty rate within the confines of a small TTT from “air flow” caused by the consumption of too many beer brats, sauerkraut and dark lagers).

This was the first weekend out where I actually needed AC.  Up til this point it has either been heat or open windows.  The temps this weekend were soaring around the 100 degree mark which was, thankfully, alleviated, somewhat, by an afternoon thunderstorm on Friday, followed by a much welcomed cool breeze and a marked decrease in temperature.

However, inside Nosty’s Nook, trouble lurked, (insert theme music from The Exorcist).

I started running the AC earlier in the day to insure I had a nice, cool place to sleep Friday evening.  What the hell?  I wasn’t using my electricity, right?  As a matter of fact, the power generating station was just across the water!  The intense heat in the galley should have been an indicator that trouble was afoot but I’m not really great at reading signs, either.  Besides, it was hotter than hell outside so I just assumed that the heat was a product of my surroundings.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Truth be told, I was pretty sure of what was going on, but I didn’t want to start worrying about something I could do very little about on a Friday afternoon while I was surrounded by peace, quiet a rippling lake and nature at it’s finest.  So I did what any other, red blooded, mental defective in that predicament would do:  I cracked a frosty beer and saddled up in my zero-gravity lounge chair.  Leave us not forget; priorities are priorities.

As it turned out, the vents on the AC unit are adjustable from right to left, but not up and down.  All that beautiful cold air was slamming directly into the face of the bed, but not making it over the hump to the head of the bed.  Imagine my chagrin when I crawled in for a peaceful, comfortable night’s sleep and the trip from the foot of the bed to the head of the bed was like stepping from the freezer into the oven.

Not too good!

Obviously there will be some extreme design changes required to overcome this conundrum, but I shall overcome!

To get through Saturday night without melting, I made a trek into the thriving metropolis of Townville, SC, (population 7),  and left some money at the local Dollar General for a 9″ fan which I temporarily mounted to the wall above the AC unit.  The fan worked pretty well at blowing all that pent up cold air from the walkway across the bed and throughout the camper.  Problem solved………temporarily.

Another downfall of my design is that the interior of the galley reaches sweltering temps due to the AC discharge as it pulls the heat out of the cabin and tries to dissipate it into the atmosphere, (that atmosphere being the galley’s interior).  Have you ever seen a bottle of hand sanitizer sweat?  I have.

Currently I find myself with two options:  1) Cut a hole in the side of the camper over the bed with a locking camper compartment door on the outside that I can slide the AC into and out of on each trip or, 2) Buy a rooftop, camper, AC unit that vents in through the roof by removing the crank-up vent I currently have installed.  Option two, obviously, would be the preferred method, but extremely cost prohibitive.  New units start at around $2000 and used units, when you can find them, are of questionable quality at best, (although I will be looking).

What it boils down to is that, while I love Nosty’s Nook, this won’t be my last build.  I have plans, in progress as a matter of fact, on my desk for a 12′ X 7′ stand up camper that will, without a doubt, have a roof top AC/heat unit and a shower and potty inside, (and will, hopefully, lack all the augh-ohs and down right Oh Shits! I’ve experienced with Nosty’s Nook).  Unfortunately, that build is still some time off so I’ll have to make due with what I have; and with the least amount of cash expenditure possible.  By the way, if any of you wealthy folks are interested in adopting a balding, jolly, 50 year old, please email me with a financial statement, (including a clear indicator of what my six-figure allowance will be), and pictures of your garage and keg-style beer dispensing apparatus.  All others need not apply, (with the exception of Sandra Bullock, Valerie Bertinelli or Allison Krause).    I’m cute, cuddly and biodegradable, semi-house broken and I come with my own pots, pans and tools.  What’s not to love?

Anyway, back to the weekend.

With the exception of the aforementioned, life-altering, AC saga, this weekend was another winner.  My only complaint was that the restroom serving the loop my site was on left a whole lot to be desired.  My first encounter with it Friday evening was when I opened the door and was immediately greeted, (or should I say overwhelmed?  Bowled over?  Rendered unconscious?), by a blast of hot air reeking intensely of urine.  Coneross State Park, where I stayed this weekend, is one of the many Corps of Engineer parks located throughout SC and Georgia.  All of these parks are really fantastic places to camp and very reasonably priced but, I’m sure, due to the constant budget cuts, they’ve had to cut back a little on some of the amenities.  Once daily cleaning of the restrooms instead of two or three times a day is probably a product of those cuts.  Thankfully, being male and having benefit of “outdoor” plumbing, I didn’t find it necessary to return to the restroom Friday evening; opting instead for whatever tree suited my fancy, (or offered the most privacy).  Saturday morning, when I dared venture toward the restroom again, it had just been cleaned and smelled significantly better.  The loop I was assigned to is also the last loop to still have the old style restrooms with the one screen vent along the top and no air flow inside.  The lack of a new facility, (which is probably in the planning sometime in the near future), is probably because most of the sites on that loop were pull-through sites designed for large campers and motor homes.  Most, if not all, of those beauties have full facilities inside so their owners and denizens don’t have much need of a shower house/restroom.  All of the other restrooms throughout the park were fairly new and, I’m sure, much more user friendly.

My weekend home on the lake.

Weekends like this just make me want to get out into the woods more and more.  If I could make a living camping, I’d be happier than any man alive.  Unfortunately, that’s not possible so I’ll have to take my little piece of Heaven one weekend at a time.  In South Carolina, doing that in the summer without AC isn’t something I’m quite crazy enough to do so the “upgrades,” if you will, will have to be completed quickly and efficiently; and in such a fashion so as to preserve Nosty’s Nook’s “eye candy” appeal.  Guess what I’ll be doing next weekend?  However much work is involved, it will be more than worth it in the pleasure equity it’ll gain from it.

The only other “oh crap” this weekend was when I realized that during the tongue and box repairs last week, (which were a resounding success!), I had, inadvertently, forgotten to repack my Coleman oven in the storage box once it was remounted to the tongue.  That wasn’t a problem for Friday evening’s steak and baked potato extravaganza, (with a delectable cucumber salad in a rather snappy Romano, basil, vinaigrette dressing) .  Those did famously on the red oak fire I had going in the fireplace.  However, it posed a bit of a situation, (dare I say it?  A down right, full fledged, hissy fit), Saturday morning when I went to pop open a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, (with real Cinnabon cinnamon, no less), and realized I didn’t have an oven to bake them in.  That was just uncivilized!  My standard camping breakfast; a cold Beck’s Dark and cinnamon rolls, had to be forgone and, (oh, the disgrace), replaced by……..a Beck’s Dark and a Poptart!  Oh the inhumanity!  And I know that blue cinnamon roll can was laughing at me!  Either that, or the heat in the camper had gotten to me worse than I originally thought and I was hallucinating.  I made up for it by having a second beer brat Saturday night; with sauerkraut, Vermont cheddar cheese, jalapeno peppers and mustard!  It’s a rough existence, but someone has to live it.  Amazing how things manage to balance out, isn’t it?

As I mentioned last weekend, the blogs will probably be coming every other week for a while, although, if all goes according to plan, I may be posting next weekend with the results of the great AC debacle of 2011, (as I’m sure this incident will come to be known).  Stay tuned to this channel for film at 11.

As always, feel free to email me anytime with questions, comments or just to warn me ahead of time when the guys in the white coats with the butterfly nets are on my trail.  I love hearing from you and swapping camping stories, home brew beer recipes or just about anything that strikes your fancy.  And, if you have a minute, feel free to comment and vote below to let me know whether you’ve enjoyed the blog, hated the blog or plan on voting for me in the upcoming presidential election.

Most importantly, take a minute this week to step back, look at life and smile.  No matter how bad things seem sometimes, there’s always someone in a whole lot worse shape.  Say a silent prayer for those less fortunate and get back to the business of living; with frequent breaks to stop and smell the roses and enjoy a cold one with friends.  Life truly is grand.

Until next week, I wish you fair winds, following seas and every happiness life has to offer.

Adio,

Brian

All new for 2011!

And, should you be so inclined, The Tenderfoot’s Guide to Family Camping has been completely revised for 2011 and is now available as an ebook!  Every ebook dealer from Sony’s iPhone store to Amazon and Barnes and Noble are carrying it.  However, we’re offering a 20% discount for all the loyal readers of Brian’s blog through Smashwords.com.  Just add the coupon code CM84R at checkout and you’ll receive the discount.  Picture this:  Wilderness 2011.  You just bought a new tent and figured it’d be a cinch to set up.  You got out of work late and arrived at the campground after dark.  Ominous dark clouds are looming over your campsite.  You unpack your tent only to realize that you haven’t got a clue about how it goes together and the directions are all in Mandarin Chinese.  What do you do?  Well, if you had a copy of this informative book on your phone or ereading device, you could simply thumb through a few chapters and be roasting marshmallows within the hour.  Don’t have a copy?  Well, there’s a lot to be said for sleeping in the car.  Oh, you have bucket seats?   The kids are loudly voicing their displeasure over sleeping in the back seat…..all night long?   Save yourself the headache.  Order your copy today.

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Hello my friends.  Welcome back.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, not a whole lot has been accomplished over the last two weekends.  Hence the lack of a blog last week.  Unfortunately, this week’s blog isn’t going to be one of my more stellar blogs either.  It’s that time of year and this weekend I had a very nice graduation party to attend.  A good time was had by all.   Add to that the fact that it has been an inferno outside and my, up til now, fervent camper-building muse has gone on vacation to a quaint little resort in Antarctica, and you can see why I haven’t been chomping at the bit to get outside and suffer a case of heat stroke.  Just stepping outside after 9AM gives you a very good idea of what a cake feels like going into the oven.  I’ll never look at a chocolate, chocolate surprise cake the same way again…….but I wouldn’t pass up a piece, either.    We had no spring here in South Carolina this year.  We went from an unusually frigid winter to mid-summer, (every day has been, officially, in the high ninety’s……according to my outside thermometer, they have been in the low 100’s), in the matter of a week.  These God-awful temps have, believe it or not, further goosed my burning desire for a garage that much harder and, at present, plans for a garage are in the works.  Since getting the fever for camper building, another project; a stand-up sized TTT, has been formulating, (or fermenting, depending on which school of thought you subscribe to), in my mind.  I’ve learned a great deal from this build and had a great many, “I won’t do that again,” moments in that learning curve.  When that dream comes to fruition, it will be built in a secure, somewhat climate controlled, garage.  I’m not as young as I used to be.  My tolerance for temperature extremes isn’t what it used to be; not to mention the fact that I wasted a whole lot of precious time last spring, waiting for the right temps and cooperative weather to apply fiberglass resin during the Nosty’s Nook build.

I did manage, however, last weekend, to remount the storage box on the newly refurbished tongue so, with the exception of a road test, Nosty’s Nook is ready for next weekend when it will be serving in its’ intended capacity as a camper.  I have reservations at a local campground for, yet another, shake-down cruise.  Talk about trial by fire.  It’s a rough job, but someone has to do it.  Sitting by a lake with a cold, malty beverage in hand, eating “stuff” cooked over an open fire, swatting mosquitoes.  I wish that kind of peace and solitude on each and every one of you; sans the mosquitoes, that is.  Thankfully, the campground is within fifteen miles of home and, at the risk of sounding a little immodest, I have complete faith in the metalwork I did on the tongue so I’m not overly worried about any mishaps in that department.  The rest of the camper has already proven itself road worthy………I hope? *laughing*

I say shame on me in the title of this week’s blog because I had all intentions of towing Das Nook to the scales this weekend and finally finding out what the actual weight of my “light weight” build is.  I’ll need an official scale ticket, along with a list of all the expenditures for everything I’ve put into the build when I get to the registration and titling phase; probably sometime in the very near future, and to answer that unanswered question that’s been gnawing at me since the design phase:  “How much does this dang thang weigh, y’all?”  Based on my initial, estimated calculations from the rough weight chart I had to go by for the various wood weights, the unadorned trailer weight and the guesses I made on a lot of the accessories, my guess, and it is a long shot, is that Nosty’s Nook will weigh in at about 1000 pounds dry, (without any camping gear).   If providence is with me and I can manage to get my crackling bones out of bed in time next Friday, I’ll haul her to the scales before I start loading her up for next weekend’s trip. Working four ten-hour shifts per week has its obvious benefits, and I do enjoy my three day weekends every weekend, but getting up before noon when you didn’t get to bed until five-thirty on a Friday morning isn’t one of them.  Stay tuned for film at 11.  I have a feeling I may be in for a big surprise.

Baring any unforeseen disasters, there will be a blog next weekend with pictures and anecdotes from my weekend in the woods.  However, after next weekend I think it might be better if I  start posting here every other week; at least until I start another project and have more to share.  Nosty’s Nook is now an entity in and of itself and, fortunately or unfortunately, all the major, noteworthy, work has been completed.  All that’s left now is finding just the right accessories and bric-a-brac to make it more suited to my personality, (puke green walls to remind me of the walls at the institution, {Happy Acres Home for the Terminally Insane and Karaoke Bar; my alma mater}, various and sundry pictures of famous torture devices and a battery-operated shock therapy machine for those more trying weekends).  I’ve been researching some graphics for the sides and rear doors to give it a little flair and panache but I haven’t found that “just right” combination yet.  If I’ve learned one thing over the years it’s that patience truly is a virtue.  “Act in haste and repent in leisure.”  When I finally, permanently, adhere something to the sides and rear doors, it won’t be something I’ll regret a few months later.  I still have the front window guard/awning to complete.  My first attempt failed miserably, (fiberglass has become my nemesis).  I’m currently keeping it in my dining room as a blatant reminder that haste makes waste and fiberglass is a communist devised plot designed to drive dimwits like myself further toward Happy Acres and, thereby, eliminating the psycho factor when they try their ill-fated attempt at world domination.  Fortunately I have since rethought that project innumerable times and believe I’ve finally come up with just the right design to add to the overall appearance of the camper; not take away from it.  Another of those “I won’t do that again,” moments, but, being ever the optimist, I look upon it as a, not overly expensive, learning experience.  Then there’s the cabinet doors for the over-the-bunk cabinets in the cabin and it’ll be time for the fat lady to sing.   Another chapter in my crazy life completed with the end result being a very stalwart camper to bring me hours upon of hours of pleasure for many years to come.

Before I end this week I’d like to let the people of Joplin, MO know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers.  May God watch over you all and help you through these terrible times.  One of the families devastated by this tragedy are very active members of the Teardrop and Tiny Travel Trailer community.  They lost their home and their teardrop in that terrible storm.  Thankfully, they all survived.   Many weren’t so lucky.  My prayers go out to all of you.

As always, feel free to email me with thoughts and comments at doc@bgreenleaf.com any time.  I love hearing from you and chewing the fat.  And, if you like, or don’t like, this blog, please vote and/or comment using the buttons below and let me know how I’m doing.

Until next week, may every happiness be yours.

Adio,

Brian

All new for 2011!

And, should you be so inclined, The Tenderfoot’s Guide to Family Camping has been completely revised for 2011 and is now available as an ebook!  Every ebook dealer from Sony’s iPhone store to Amazon and Barnes and Noble are carrying it.  However, we’re offering a 20% discount for all the loyal readers of Brian’s blog through Smashwords.com.   Just add the coupon code CM84R at checkout and you’ll receive the discount.  Picture this:  Wilderness 2011.  You just bought a new tent and figured it’d be a cinch to set up.  You got out of work late and arrived at the campground after dark.  Ominous dark clouds are looming over your campsite.  You unpack your tent only to realize that you haven’t got a clue about how it goes together and the directions are all in Mandarin Chinese.  What do you do?  Well, if you had a copy of this informative book on your phone or ereading device, you could simply thumb through a few chapters and be roasting marshmallows within the hour.  Don’t have a copy?  Well, there’s a lot to be said for sleeping in the car.  Oh, you have bucket seats?   The kids are loudly voicing their displeasure over sleeping in the back seat…..all night long?   Save yourself the headache.  Order your copy today.

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