Friday, June 12, 2015

Renos with Rosie - News Bulletin: Bigfoot spotted in Campground!

Here I am laying around with our cat Missy out on the driveway in “Mr. Big”, our 1985 17 ' Bigfoot fiberglass trailer, the two of us are listening to some tunes on our new Bose Bluetooth speaker and while Missy prowls around exploring, I get to do a little writing. How sweet is that?

Over the last few weeks we've been busy getting everything ready for our first actual camping adventure and it's been a lot of work and a lot of fun. The painting was a big job but it has made a huge difference. Going from the 1970s rec room fake wood paneling to a clean modern look with just about everything painted out in white has been huge!

Rose's new fashion accessory, wonder if it will catch on?
In the middle of painting
Me doing the finicky stuff

My lovely wife Rose did her usual magic and reupholstered the seat cushions in a nice, hard wearing gray fabric with piping and zippers and all of that fancy stuff. She started off trying to sew them from some cheaper orange fabric that looked like a steal at $2 a yard but soon realized that it was not going to work. So instead of the orange with floral accents that I showed you in the last post, we now have gray and yellow.

She also whipped up some curtains in a nice gray and white stripe and ordered a fancy custom made shaped rod to fit the 3 front windows so the curtains bunch up nicely in the corners and stay out of the way.

Of course nothing is ever simple so I had to adjust the rod a bit, but being a big time professional installer of window coverings, I pulled a rabbit out of the hat and made it work, with no grumbling!
(Hardly any)

Part of the new curtains project involved sewing and installing them on the cat commode that we built for Missy under one of the beds. This deluxe VIP (very important pussycat) area also has a new floor finished in the same wood look vinyl planks that the rest of the trailer got. It looks great and we haven’t received any complaints from the occupant……yet. 

Private VIP - Cat Commode

After all of the various necessary but superficial appearance work was done, I figured I had better get busy on finding a vehicle to pull Mr. Big around with. Now that we have a "Two bed, two bath, 112 Sq. Ft. trailer" ready to roll, poor old Jimmy just isn’t up to the task anymore.

New vinyl plank flooring over top of old lino

Ready for the road.

Over the last few weeks we thought about it as we hunted through zillions of ads on Kijiji and Auto Trader and after vacillating back and forth between a pickup and an SUV we finally settled on a 2004 GMC Envoy with 158,000 km on it, practically new!

I can’t believe the shape this thing is in, it’s absolutely immaculate! It’s rated to tow around 5000 lb. so it should do okay with Mr. Big’s dry weight of 1850 lbs. We decided to name him “The Boss” and he seems to be happy with that, the only one who’s allowed to push (pull) around Mr. Big is The Boss, makes sense, right?

The Boss and Mr. Big at Moose Lake

After picking up The Boss I set about figuring out exactly what I needed for a hitch and trailer brakes. Everyone I talked to said, “GET AN ANTI-SWAY BAR!” My dilemma was that my trailer is light and I don’t need a big giant expensive hitch.

Not to be defeated by lack of information or experience with this sort of thing, I determined to search the internet and behold! There is indeed an adapter plate that mounts over the hitch, and the ball that comes with the anti-sway bar bolts right to it, I got it at “The Hitch House” and it works perfectly and saved me over $300! 

Sway bar mounted on hitch adapter

I also bought a trailer brake controller, mounted it on The Boss and Voila, now I have trailer brakes. Of course when I went to head out for a weekend foray to Moose Lake for a Men’s retreat, they locked up and the tires made distressing skidding noises, drat! 

I figured I would drive around the block and fiddle with the brake controller and sure enough, now they seem to be fine, although I will probably have to take it in and have all of the undercarriage stuff checked out before any other long trips.

So far everything has gone pretty well, the drive to Moose Lake was almost uneventful, I did have to stop and fix the latch on the storage compartment after it swung open on the highway but a couple of turns of the wrench and it was good to go.

The only other hiccup was clipping a rough approach at Franchere Bay store and bending the step mount a bit, “oops!.” I kicked it back into place however and now it’s as good as new. Now I know that there are low things hanging down under the trailer, who knew?!

I’ve enjoyed picking the brain of the guys who have trailering experience and I’ve learned a lot, including the fact that hauling a trailer adds about 50% to the cost of your gas, ouch! 

When I got home from Moose Lake, I answered many, many, many questions from Rose about what it was like camping in Mr. Big and it was soon decided that we needed to go for a trip together. Apparently hearing about my experiences at Moose Lake are not quite the same as being there. We also wanted to try out a short trip, not too far from home to see how Missy makes out spending an extended period in Mr. Big.

We decided on an overnight trip to Pembina River Provincial Park, just an hour West of Edmonton. Over the years we’ve visited the picnic area many times but never camped overnight so we decided it would be a good test of our ability as a family, (Mom, Dad and geriatric cat) to cohabitate in about a 112 sq. ft. space for a couple of days.

So far, so good! We managed to get out here, get parked, and get settled in with only a minor kerfuffle over setting up the awning, I hope that gets easier over time, it was definitely a bit of a hassle! 

It must have sounded something like this to an observer, “Hold this here, OUCH, my fingers are pinched, don’t let that arm go out too far, drat, you let the arm go too far, move that back, stand here, tighten that knob, no, the other knob……growl, grumble, etc. etc. etc.
Parked at Pembina River Provincial Park
Enjoying our first meal in Mr. Big!

It turns out that it’s a beautiful campground with lot’s of nice riverside trails, tons of wild roses and lovely songbirds singing their hearts out. We went for a nice walk, read our books for a while, cooked some corn, potatoes and pork chops on the BBQ and had a lovely evening playing checkers. After it got dark we set up our little 15” tv-dvd combo and watched “Stranger than Fiction” one of our favourite movies while cuddled up on the couch with Missy beside us.

Of course cats being cats, Missy decided to crawl in behind the water tank in a tiny little cavity and basically disappeared for an hour. Rose was rushing around in a panic looking in overhead cabinets, the fridge and inside pots and pans as if somehow Missy could have become half her size and a lot more spry and jumped into impossible places. I calmly told her that there was only one place she could be and not to worry, she would come out when she was ready.

Of course that was “not good enough Joe” so she had me move the cushions and lift the cover and sure enough, what do I see but two wide cat eyes staring back at me. We left the cover off but she was happy as a clam in there and Rose eventually lifted her out.
Missy's hidey hole

The one other fly in the ointment, (bone of contention) is the ongoing saga of the "Ottoman wars". It started when Rose brought home an attractive but completely impractical yellow rope poof, whatever the heck that is! My first (and continuous) reaction was “this thing’s got to go!”

I rarely get my way, but I convinced her  that being round, it just might present a hazard to everyone but especially the cat, in a trailer designed to move. Yes it is a cat palace, but a rolling one! It also looked very expensive, (not that cost is an object when decorating palaces.

Eventually, she returned it and came home with a slightly less ridiculous alternative that I would still dearly love to get rid of. Unfortunately, the girls are sticking together on this one and Missy voted with Rose to keep it.

Missy votes with Rose to keep the cube thing that I have decided to love.

So there you have it, a 17' Bigfoot has been spotted in the woods, and everything worked out just fine, thanks for reading!

P. S. If you enjoyed reading this story, please feel free to: like, +1, share, recommend forward or otherwise promote it. Thanks

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