Art, Art, Art!

One of my goals on this trip is to dive more into my own art, to develop & explore painting with what inspires me as we travel.

The country is wide and the landscapes vastly different. Some of the great artist in history have been influenced by the landscape, like the New Mexico desert inspired paintings of Georgia O’Keef and the breath taking black and white photos of Yosemite National Park by Ansel Adams.

I want to capture that awe and wonder on paper or canvas.

So stay tuned and check out my Etsy store often to see what is available for sale or brows through my art work here.

 

Itasca State Park

Today my in-laws took us up to Itasca to celebrate my birthday. We loaded up into my FIL new to him truck. (I might of worn off on him just a bit and now him and my MIL are making plans to start RV soon!)

We stoped by the visitors center first. They have a lot of great displays to read and information on the park.

We went to the headwaters of the Mississippi River! I think its so neet you can actually go wade in the water! The boys loved it and Kona wanted nothing to do with getting his paws wet! Oh we are going to need to work on that!

Crossing the river!

On the path to the headwaters you can cross the Mississippi River on a bridge or cross in the water! You can even walk up to the right and emerge at the headwater area.

My in-laws towed their boat up and we launched it on the lake.

We had a picnic lunch on board, & tried fishing, but nothing was bitting. Koan did great on the boat so I was happy!

The boys asked if they could go swimming and we said of course! The boys had a blast jumping off the boat! Keanu was tricking Kai and having him jump in first. Even Kona went for a swim, not sure he liked it though!

 

Then me and the boys rented a kayak for an hour. It was about $6 per kayak for an hour. So reasonable and the perfect amount of time for little arms to paddle!

 

We had a great day and headed home!

We stopped for dinner along the way and had a great meal together!

Change of Plans & New Transmission

Last Friday (8/17) we figured out my power issue was not just battery related after replacing them all but I needed a new transmission.

You can shed a tear, I did too!

I was heading down to the RV dealer to get the water testing done.  I had them replace the toilet for me but they couldn’t check and make sure it wasn’t leaking because I had the other faucets off because I was redoing the shower and replacing the faucets.

Unfortunately 15 mins into my 45 mins trip I turned at a stop sign and as I was pulling up the hill I noticed I was having the same issue I was feeling before. Low power and engine revving. The battery gauge was showing good power and then I realized I wasn’t shifting out of 2nd gear.

I pulled over and gave Mills Truck Center a call. He had me try down shifting to see if I could get it unstuck but unfortunately that didn’t work. I slowly made my way, at a whopping 25-30 mph in a 60mph zone! Thankfully it was a back country road and not busy so people could easily go around me.

I got down there and Shawn swapped out the vacuum modulator hoping that was the issue.

Unfortunately the immediate test drive proved otherwise. So the only other option was that the transmission finally shit the bed.

So needless to say we didn’t get on the road like I wanted to Saturday morning 8/17.  Good news is the RV dealer is helping out with cost thanks to the service manager at the shop giving them a call!

Even better is we will have a 100K/3 year warranty on it. Although this sucks I’m grateful it happened before we left!

So I’m going to take the time to explore the are a bit more, today we  enjoyed a local lake with a fishing pier and little swimming beach.

Kai & Keanu on the fish pier
Keanu moved to the beah
Kai was trying to decide if the water was too cold.

 

Kitchen Remodel

I started off painting the entire RV. All cabinets were painted white on top & dark blue on the bottom.

I was supposed to get my counter tops replaced but unfortunately that fell through do to a RV trouble, so I’ll plan on doing that once I get to my dads house. He loves to do that kind of stuff and he’s got a great wood shop!  But Man that wall paper has to go in the mean time!

I found these plastic backsplash panels at the store but the colored ones were way more expensive then the plain white, like $16 more. Seriously thats crazy!  So I grabbed a can of spray paint and got to work! Plus I got the color I wanted and if I change my mind, I can paint over them!

Cutting them for install was actually easy! I used a straight edge to score it, fold and it snapped right off. I had a few cuts to go around the stove hood and electric outlet but those still were easy to do.  I used some quick grab contact adhesive to attach them to the wall.

I wasn’t crazy of the off white color of the stovetop hood so I used the spray paint I had. I’m not sure I like it, I might go over it with the same paint I used for the hardware. But I will wait to see how it looks once the new counter tops are put in.

Extra Counter Space

I had taken out the dinette and one bench so I could gain the space to add in a washer. (Missed that blog post?)

The other bench has the water heater inside of it so I couldn’t remove that one, but I could use it as a shelf and add an extra counter top since the other side was limited, but I do have a double sink!

Before the painting began

I found a butcher block counter top at Menard’s in MN and just needed to trim off a few inches on the end. I used table legs from Home Depot that had screws in the end and added the hardware to the underside of the butcher block. Using L-brackets I anchored it to the side & back wall. I left just enough space for the curtain to slide between the counter top and the wall. The curtains hanging need to be trimmed still, which my mother in-law will help me with soon. I had hung them up because it was getting so hot from the sun beating in while I was working!

Before finish

I painted the top of what was the bench white, but because its the access panel to the water heater I wont replace it. I did find some baskets and once we start packing the RV up I will use those for kitchen storage.

Laundry on the Road

When I was in college there was nothing worse then hitting up the laundry mat. Especially after I had my first child. There was so much laundry and chasing a kid in a hot dirty space was the absolute worse thing. Now my kids are not so little anymore but I’m scared for life. Unfortunately I was willing to take that fear face on when I found a classic RV without a fancy washer set up in the rig. Yes those do exist! It was actually on my must have list when looking for an RV. Thankfully I found a great, inexpensive solution to my problem!

Let me introduce you to the Portable Mini Compact Twin Tub Washing Machine

This thing is so cool! It washes about 11 lbs of clothing at a time in about 15mins and spins it almost dry in 5mins. The reviews on Amazon and from other RVers was very high! And for about $100 I could easily save a lot of time and money at the laundry mat!

Thankfully I had the perfect spot in the Rv for it. I knew we would not use the dinette table very much and I could use more storage and counter space. One bench closer to the sofa had the water heater inside of it so that one had to stay. I’m going to put a counter top in there and use the bench top as a shelf. On the other side next to the fridge was the perfect size to put the washer in. The bonus is those hoses on the floor are hot and cold lines so I can easily tap into a  water source. I was thinking I could tap into the gray tank but after speaking to the RV tec he came up with an easier plan. He showed me on popup trailers that they have a tap drain. Once you set up at a camp ground, you open it up and the gray water just drains onto the ground. I had no idea that was even a thing and since I use non toxic plant based laundry soap I have no worries about doing that!

Now there is no dryer but the spin basket spins so much water out that clothes don’t need to much time to hang dry. We have a retractable close-line in the shower that was there already, and I’ll be getting a portable line to hang up between trees in our campsite. For hanging undergarments I will be getting one of these foldable clip dryers, which will stay out of sight in my shower! I also have my eye on this portable clothes dryer that I can fold up and stash away when I have a bit to much laundry or the weather outside is not ideal for hanging clothes outside.  I was told to snag an extra mesh bag to catch lint.

I’ll post an update soon on how its working out for us!

Cabinet Hardware

I almost dropped a few hundred dollars on new hardware.

Almost!

Well actually,  I did buy it and regretted it.

Then I had the idea to paint what I had ! If it didn’t work then I was only out about $8 dollars on a can of spray paint.

But they looked amazing! And returning what I bought was an extra bonus!

I used Rust-Oleum Forged Hammered spray paint, Brushed amber Finish.

Before & After. Looks amazing!

In the Shop

July 31st we headed down to the RV dealer to get our shore power cord replaced and to get our new RV toilet installed. It took a bit longer then we expected because the toilet didn’t fit on the old flange the same way as the one I removed. We tried a few different toilets they had in stock but none of them worked.  RV toilets a bit different then house ones. There are two sizes, a short style and a tall style. Then you have a choice of plastic bowl  or ceramic bowl (easier to clean). Since our old toilet was short and on a raised platform I had to stay with a short style. I also wanted a ceramic bowl, cuz I have boys after all! I really wanted the one I had originally ordered, and we couldn’t find another one like it. Finally,  I noticed a riser you could install and we looked at that and it worked perfectly since it had universal flange attachment!

After 4.5 hours we were finally ready to hit the road! Our plan was to drive about 90 mins south to my husbands best friends house to visit him, his wife and kids and then have him install our kitchen counter tops. He owns an amazing cabinet shop so I was excited to have the help and proper tools to get the job done perfectly!

Unfortunately I only made it about 1/2 there before I started noticing the battery was drastically loosing its charge and I started loosing power. I was not on the best road to pull over on as there was a very small shoulder so I putts along at 25mph until there was a turn lane to pull down a side street. As I started to do this I realized I was about to cross over train tracks. I can not even describe the amount of fear that shot through me at that moment but my back end was sticking out in traffic  and I couldn’t stop there either. I prayed so hard at that moment. It was a Jesus take the wheel prayer as I felt the engine stalling as I floored the gas. I crested the slight incline which propelled me down hill the rest of the way safely across the tracks where the engine finally cut out with me sitting right in the road.

I had called our friend and after he grabbed his kids at daycare he came and took ours to grab dinner as I waited for the tow truck. Unfortunately the tow truck that showed up was not equipped to two me and was only coming to jump my RV. … with a battery pack. Now I’m no car person but I know enough to know that a dead, like really dead battery, will not get jumped, it needs to be recharged.

The guy had no intention of sticking around to do that and left me to call for someone else. I was so mad! I called GoodSam Roadside assistance back and gave them a piece of my mind (in a nice way) for sending out the wrong person when I was told a mobil mechanic and tow truck was coming. Thankfully the lady was super helpful and really sorry for the mistake and found a tow truck that could tow the RV back to the RV service center I had inspect it. Our friend was able to charge the battery enough to drive the RV back and park it along side the railroad tracks so the tow truck could safely unhook the drive train and hook it up to tow.

Mills Truck Center is working hard to get Big Betsy back on the road and make her safe for me and the kids to drive cross country in. They found a crossed wire and believe that was the battery issue since the alternator checked out ok . They have serviced the transmission, are updating our cab AC with a retrograde and to recharge the system with new coolant. They were able to locate a cap for our rear axel and cleaned out and repacked it. They are fixing the windshield wiper and will service our generator. The last thing on the list is to fix the exhaust manifold gaskets. I’m praying the bolts come off ok! They looked intact so the service guy was optimistic!  I’m preparing to sign over my bank account to them when they are done! Its been in the shop for 10 days so far and I’m hoping for a call today it will be ready!

I’ve been keeping busy otherwise finishing up the painting of the cabinet doors. All the lower cabinets are a dark navy blue and all the uppers or tall closets will be white.

After Paint

Before we could start painting we had to remove all the hardware. The boys were a big help with this task!

 

After using a liquid sander to prep the surface, I got to work painting. There are so many doors! So many doors!

Of course I didn’t make it easy on myself because I painted a few the wrong color. Ugh! Thankfully the white paint I got was really good and covered the blue with just two coats!

I almost dropped a few hundred dollars on new hardware. Then I had the idea to paint what I had.  If it didn’t work then I was only out about $8 dollars on two cans of spray paint. But they looked amazing and I was so happy with them! I loved them even more then the ones I had picked out at the store! I used Rust-Oleum Forged Hammered Spray Paint

Before & After. Looks amazing!

 

I’m so excited to get our RV back so I can get all these doors hung!

Stay tuned to see the final results!

 

 

Mountains & Marriage

My husband ship was participating in RIMPAC this year and although we knew ahead of time, I was not planning on going out there to visit. But we were really missing each other and my husband asked me to hop on a plane and come see him.

The only other time we have had time alone together was our wedding weekend and one other time I flew out to Chicago a few weeks after we were married while he was in school. The thought of heading out to Hawaii was a no brainer! Since I was staying at my in-laws it also gave me the opportunity to be spontaneous, especially since they thought it was a great idea. My FIL retired from the Navy, so they understand the importance of taking the time to be together.

Less then 24 hrs latter I was landing in Hawaii. I had so many mixed emotions going back. It was the first time I was going as a “visitor” and not just flying back “home”.  Although I didn’t grow up there as a child, it’s the place I grew up the most, that I had the biggest life changes. I originally moved their to attend college, I fell in love there, had all my babies there, I met my best friends there. But I had not been back in 5/6 years since we moved off the island.

I was so surprised as how much has changed since we had left. So much growth and construction!

My husband knew one of the things I had not had time to do when we lived there was hike so it was on first to do list. So we headed out to Koko Head the next morning. Man I knew it was a lot of “stairs” but these were not even stairs. They were uneven, unlevel and you had to watch every step. I know I’m not in top shape. It’s something I have struggled with  the last few years. But hiking that Mt. It was like a slap in the face. But I was not giving up, I was going to make it to the top no matter how long it took me. Hiking that mountain reminded me that this journey was a good analogy for our marriage. We jumped into something thinking we were ready, we were excited, as we started out it was easy….

but then the uphill climb took our breath away, you see the top and question weather it’s possible to make it there, but you continue on taking it one step at a time.

Reaching the top of Koko Head was so hard, but amazingly rewarding, just like the good times in our marriage. I don’t think I could of appreciated the beauty of looking down from Koko Head if I drove there, and I feel the same way about our marriage. If everything was easy and perfect we could not be thankful for the good times, we could not truly appreciate the love we have for each other.

Amazingly beautiful and worth every step!

We both knew marriage was not going to be easy, but we are committed to this journey knowing we have many more mountains ahead of us, and I could not be happier to have him by my side… or ten feet a head of me! (He did run up 1/2 of Koko Head in slippers, aka flip flops as I was huffing and puffing behind him!)

So windy!

Once we were done the only place I wanted to eat was Nico’s at Pier 38, which is by far the most amazing food on the island. There are plenty of fancy places but if you want perfectly done food every-single-time, and not break the bank, then go to Nico’s! I ate lunch there almost every day! Its that good!

 

We hit up all the tourist spots the next day. At the request of the my daughter I had to get her favorite treat at the Swap meat, an ice cold coconut! It was so refreshing!


Next we drove up to the North Shore. Haleiwa town is completely different! It has more friendly shopping and a bunch of art galleries! I was totally in heaven. Even the classic Matsumoto’s  Shave Ice has been redone, although it’s in the same building.

Matsumoto Shave Ice, Ichiban Special

We enjoyed time with friends at the beach, shopping, eating out and hanging out on the sofa watching TV. It was the best few days together.

My husband’s ship had to head out so I had a few extra days to hang out and see a few friends, spend time at the beach, meet for lunch, paint by the ocean and get a hair cut!

I have not had very good hair cut experience over the years. I’m not sure why it’s so hard to cut curly hair, but ask a girl with curly hair and I’m sure she has a few stories to tell you. But once we moved to San Diego I was in desperate need for a cut and put my trust into one more person who said she could cut curly hair. She herself has curly hair so she understood why I was asking, so I was optimistic! I fell in love with Heather and saw her multiple times over the two years I was there. She has been the only person I went back to! I let her play with my hair and do fun color, she always made it look amazing, plus she’s a blast to chat with! When I found out she was moving to Hawaii I told her I was going to have to fly out just so she could cut my hair. So of course she was one of the first people I contacted and said I was coming! I seriously planned my week around getting an appointment with her! If your in Hawaii & have base access your in luck! Find her on Instagram here.

I have two best friends from college and one still lives on the island. Having time to hang out with her was the best few days, and most certainly not long enough! I truly wanted to stay longer, there might of been begging on her part and me trying to get her into my suitcase to join me at Mall of America the next day for Keanu’s 7th Birthday, but unfortunately that didn’t happen!

 

Heading to the Beach or Hawaii? Check out my post on Toxin Free Sunscreen