Tag Archives wanderlust

Her Gypsy Soul- Our 1972 Vintage Airstream Renovation Project

by Wednesday, June 28, 2017

With the trending tiny house movement, and the popularity of living a nomadic lifestyle in recent years, renovations of vintage airstreams to live in, has been all the rage. I happen to have jumped on that bandwagon too, sort of.  I do not necessarily want to live in an airstream, but I must admit, the thought has crossed my mind.  Can you imagine the money we’d save? Wow! But can you imagine how crazy we’d go? lol thewanderlustyogi.net

However, what I did want to do was find a vintage airstream and renovate it. I wanted to keep some of its original character and  charm, while also updating it with my own personal touches and adding a few modern upgrades. That way, we would be able to travel throughout the USA in a fun and quirky style, while saving money on hotels and being able to bring along our cherished fur babies.

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Gabby and Bernie. Our two Boston Terrier dogs.

Now, I’m not a person who likes campers or camping even (I’ve gone a total of three times my entire life), but with airstream, it’s totally different. I fell in love with these shiny, moving milk cans forever ago and for some reason I don’t even look at them as a camper. I especially went gaga over them when browsing through the amazing renovations people have posted on Pinterest and YouTube.  (If you do the same, you might catch the vintage airstream fever?  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

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I was so inspired by these makeovers, I just had to do one myself. I also thought about how I travel all around the world, but haven’t experienced hardly any of my own amazing country. I’ve never even seen the Grand Canyon! By having a house on wheels, it’d be  like having my very own mobile airbnb. We could go anywhere the road could take us!   And last month, that’s just what my husband and I did!thewanderlustyogi.net

Here’s Our Story:

For the last two years we have been searching off and on for a vintage airstream to renovate. On our quest we quickly learned that they are really expensive, hard to find in our area, and many are in far worse condition than we wanted to take on. We also learned that airstream literally has a cult following, making it even harder to find these much sought after unique relics, that look like a cross between an airplane and a submarine.

The criteria for the airstream we were looking for had to be; under $10,000, not completely gutted and within a few hours from where we live.  This was an almost impossible checklist, until last month.

One evening while watching tv and browsing the web for airstreams, we stumbled upon one that seemed to meet our requirements. It was located only a few towns away, the pictures of the trailer showed it to be in pretty decent condition, but the price they were asking was $11,000.  This was a little over budget, but I decided to go check it out anyway.

The next day I drove to the location and toured this 1972 Sovereign Land Yacht 31 foot beaut! She needed a little TLC and some upgrades, but overall, she was in good shape for being forty-five years old (same age as me, and I hope the same assessment 😉 ).  I immediately broke out my phone and took a little footage to show my hubby.  From what he could see in the video, he thought it was in acceptable condition too, but the price tag was a bit higher than we wanted to spend, especially factoring in renovation expenses.thewanderlustyogi.net

So, I had to work some magic.

I took note of all the things that were wrong with the airstream. Some examples were, the awning was missing, the A/C needed to be replaced and there was evidence of past water damage in the bathroom. I made sure to point out all of these things to the owner, and found out that this has been for sale now for eight months, so I’m sure our interest motivated him a tad more than it would have a few months back. How did we miss this listing all these months? 

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Her Gypsy Soul in the Airstream of Nashua parking lot, just sitting there waiting for us to take her home.

Anyway, my husband never even saw it in person and here we were, putting in a very low-ball offer of $7,000.  We knew that was way too low, but we wanted to throw it out there anyway to see if he would bite at all.

He came back and told us that he could not let it go for that low, stating that he was originally asking $13,500, had just put in all new electrical, plumbing, replaced the bathroom floor and sink, got a new stove-top, new tires and bought a new door lock that ran him $500.  However, he said he could work with us a little.

After a bit of haggling, we came to an agreement of $9,000 AS IS.

And she was ours!

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airstream keys and owner’s manual

We took her home, gave her a name (Her Gypsy Soul) and started mapping out our renovation plan. The very first thing that had to go was this ugly red table that looked like it came from a pizza parlor. Nope, that was not the vision I wanted at all.  I wanted the style to be comfy and cozy with a sort of bohemian/ shabby chic feel and everything light in color.

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the ugly red pizza parlor table I had to remove

My husband was the planner of the technical things, such as being sure the water heater was in good working condition, installing flooring, water sealing the entire trailer,  sealing the windows and door, adding a back-splash in the kitchen, changing out all the outlets and painting (although my mother-in-law and I did most of that). He also had to learn all about the black water tank, how to dump it and so forth, discovered that we don’t have a gray water tank because of how old she was,  and learned how we could get a tote and store portable one instead. All I can say is thank goodness for YouTube tutorials. They were a lifesaver. I think we watched every single airstream video that was ever made! It really helped us understand the workings of our old gal and how we could upgrade things.thewanderlustyogi.netthewanderlustyogi.net

 

 

I was the planner of the more fun part,  interior decorating. I planned the design layout and the decor, which was so much more challenging than I anticipated.  I had to remind myself over and over how small the space was, how the weight of items was an important consideration (the lighter, the better),   how the walls are curved  like an airplane, and when in transport, breakable things wont survive.

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Had to use like 10 coats of primer over everything before painting this entire girl white (Valspar semi-gloss in Hush, Hush)

We worked tirelessly for a month on nights and weekends and gave ourselves a due date for when we wanted to have her completed and road ready. We thought a fitting and kind of ironic day would be my 45th birthday, June 17th. We could celebrate her and my 45th year together on our shared maiden voyage.

Since this would be our first camping trip in a vintage RV, we thought it would be best to not go too far,  just in case.   So we chose our local seacoast.  This would be beneficial for a few reasons:

  1. If anything went wrong we would have help nearby.
  2. My adult kids could join us, even if they didn’t want to sleep overnight.
  3. We could host a Father’s Day cookout for our dads at our camp site by the beach.

What a perfect way to kick off summer!

The time crunch was getting close and we almost thought we wouldn’t be ready in time, but luckily we finished!  Although there were little things here and there that we still wanted to do, she was ready enough, to set out on the open road.thewanderlustyogi.net

June 17th came and as I was shopping at the grocery store to pick up cookout foods, snacks and drinks to stock the airstream, my husband was at home packing last-minute items and hitching up Her Gypsy Soul to his truck.  To his horror, while connecting the hitch he noticed severe rust on his 2004 Ford F150, and when he attached the two he heard a loud crunch noise!

He knew he had some rust, and was planning on upgrading to a newer truck soon, but had no idea how much, especially there!

I got home and noticed an odd look on his face and immediately asked him what was wrong.  He explained what he discovered and said it wouldn’t be safe for him to haul the airstream with his truck and he didn’t think we could go!!thewanderlustyogi.net

“What?? OMG!”  This was so unexpected and I was in disbelief.  “Was all that hard work for nothing?  And what were we going to do?”  I mean, my son was already at the beach waiting for us (him and his girlfriend were joining us to celebrate).  My daughter was coming up for just the day too, we had a Father’s Day cookout planned for the next day,  and it was MY BIRTHDAY!  Such a bummer!

So, we had our cool vintage airstream all pimped out and ready to go, and realize it may never leave our driveway, ever!

I walked into the house in kind of a daze.  “Should I call my son and tell him the weekend is cancelled? Should we try to rent a truck? Should we try to borrow a truck?  Was getting this airstream a mistake, since now we have no way of actually going anywhere with it?   All of these thoughts were flooding my head and it triggered an instant migraine. I went to my bed and laid down, hoping this wasn’t really happening.

Then, a new plan was made.

Thankfully my wonderful in-laws offered to let us use my father-in-law’s truck.  He wasn’t using it and was already up at the beach too, but was driving their jeep. We would be meeting them also the next day for Father’s Day.  Crisis diverted! Well, at least for this trip anyway.

We finally made it to our site, later than we originally planned, but we still made it!

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Her Gypsy Soul connected to my father-in-law’s truck

My daughter came for the day, but couldn’t sleep over because she had to work in the morning. My husband, myself, my son and his girlfriend, plus my two Boston Terrier pups, all had our first overnight in our vintage airstream.

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We made it!!

 It was so much fun!

My dogs have never been able to vacation with us and now with Her Gypsy Soul, we can take them along with us sometimes.  Not to mention, they absolutely loved it!

The following day we celebrated Father’s Day with my dad and my in-laws.  That night,  just my husband, pups and myself slept over and we left the following morning.

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Me and my dog Bernie hanging out with my dad on Father’s Day at Salisbury Beach State Reservation, Massachusetts

It was a very nice weekend getaway celebrating with our family. 

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watching the sunset at Salisbury Beach State Reservation, Massachusetts

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Overall, our trial run went great.  All except the truck fiasco, that is! We took note of all the things that we forgot and things that we might change.  For instance, the papasan lounger chair I chose, now that we used it, isn’t quite as practical as we thought.  It looks pretty, but it is bulky and we discovered it’s hard for people to sit in, especially my dad!  I ended up taking it out and making a little reading nook in my bedroom with it.  It actually looks better there.  We are thinking that we could put a small futon or a twin trundle-bed in that spot instead eventually.thewanderlustyogi.net

I think the more we use Her Gypsy Soul, the more we will get a feel of what our style of camping will be? With experience, we will learn what things we absolutely need and what things we really could do without. Working out the kinks and having all the necessities you don’t think about, takes time. But, we will get there.

And as far as how and when we will ever get to use her again?……

I am happy to report that my husband just upgraded his truck to a 2015 Ford F150-platinum, and it will haul Her Gypsy Soul with ease.  He is super psyched because he wasn’t going to do this until winter and now, this summer, he is driving a beautiful new truck with massaging, air-conditioned seats! Are you kidding me? 

I can’t help but to wonder if this was all in his master plan. 😉

But seriously,  this was a lot of work, a little stressful, but so much fun too! We have big plans for awesome adventures in Her Gypsy Soul and look forward to making many happy memories traveling our beautiful country with our dogs.

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tuckered out pups

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Bernie up and ready for a new day!

If this is something you are considering or have any questions about our 1972 vintage airstream renovation project, feel free to reach out to me.  I’d love to help in any way I can.  Just remember, when you become an airstream owner, you become a member of a very exclusive club, and we feel very lucky to be in it.

 

It’s not camping, its glamping!

 

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My hubby’s new whip!! And I’ll share his favorite airstream saying, “It’s not a camper, it’s a land yacht!” ha ha ha

 

 

BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS

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kitchen BEFORE

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kitchen DURING

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kitchen AFTER

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living area BEFORE

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living area AFTER

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bedroom BEFORE

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bedroom AFTER

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bathroom BEFORE

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bathroom AFTER

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bathroom AFTER

 

 

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Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone

by Tuesday, September 6, 2016

As I lie in bed on a dark and rainy September morning, my two Boston Terriers by my side, I feel numb. Earlier today, while many moms and dads have sent their kids on the bus for their first day, back to school, the day after Labor Day, I sent mine on a plane to travel the world for nine months. Without me!

I knew this day was coming. Hell, if it wasn’t for me, I don’t think it would have ever happened? You see, I am in love with travel. This is something I passed down to my daughter.  Being able to travel the world, visiting exotic places and meeting people from foreign lands, for an extended period of time, is something that many only dream about.  Many, including me. Now, my daughter is living that dream. This is her reality and the thought of it is so surreal that it  gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

I am over the moon with excitement for her, knowing that she is able to see the world in this unique manner.  This traveling style will allow her to fully immerse in different cultures, will expose her to new people, new foods and new traditions, in such a way that is very rare for a person to achieve on a typical two-week vacation.  The program she is traveling with is called Winterline Global Skills  This program has created an extraordinary hands-on approach to learning.  Therefore, she is not just visiting 10 countries, hitting a few tourists spots and leaving. She is visiting places such as Costa Rica, Panama, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, India, Cambodia,  and Thailand and while she spends time at each location, she will be learning 100 new skills as her journey progresses. The thought of how such experiences will positively impact her life in so many ways makes my heart sing.

So why am I so sad then?

After returning from the airport and driving up my driveway the first thing I see is her car with her Winterline bumper sticker proudly displayed on the back of her beat up Lexus RX300 SUV, that used to be mine, and used to be nice, but through the years it has aged, as did she, as did I. Thoughts ran through my head, “That car will no longer have Maddie coming and going in it”. “That car won’t move for months on end.” “It may even still be there when it snows and she still won’t be back!” My heart pounded and my eyes filled up again, right when they finally dried up from my drive home. “Take a deep breath Jess. She is going to be okay. You are going to be okay. She is so happy and that makes me so happy!”

But I’m going to miss her.

I proceeded to walk into the house, greeted by my fur babies, that thankfully “will never leave me”, I thought to myself,  and then saw her shoes by the doorway. I tried to ignore them looking at me, as they whispered, ” She is gone. It’s time to let her go.”  I contemplated on going in the kitchen for who knows what? I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t thirsty. I decided to instead to go upstairs and lay in my bed. I did wake up at 3:00 am to drive her, so I was really tired, but in reality, it was more a feeling of loss than fatigue that I was feeling.

I made my way up the stairs with Gabby and Bernie following close behind and in my peripheral vision I saw her clothes hanging to dry on the railing from the night before. ” I don’t know why she washed them if she wasn’t taking them?” I thought, “but if I don’t put those away in her room after they are dry, they won’t be touched or worn by her for at least three months, and by then, the shorts, crop tops and rompers won’t be in season. “

I need to get away from her stuff. At least for today anyway. I don’t dare go near her bedroom although I project images of myself laying in her bed on days I’m missing her.

My husband knows how hard this is for me, so in between his jobs he came by the house to check on me and to bring me a pumpkin spiced iced-coffee from Dunkin Donuts to cheer me up. It did temporarily. He knows that I am genuinely so excited for her, but have to transition to the empty nest stage of life. He also knows that this will be especially hard for me because she is “my person” and he isn’t even remotely jealous in that fact. He thinks we are clones, especially when we sweet talk him into things. We always eventually get our way with him, but I know he secretly loves it.  I wonder if now I won’t get my way without her added persistence? She is good. Really good, but  I digress.

He is a man a few words. He shows his love by his actions and has a hard time expressing his feelings verbally.  Before she left he wanted to add patches to her backpack of all the places she has already gone.  This is something we talk about on every trip we take.  We buy the patches, intend to put them on when we get back home, but never get around to actually doing it.  His goal was to have hers complete by her trip.

It started out rough. Some of the places we visited, we didn’t get a patch, so he ordered it from Amazon Prime. (I love Amazon Prime btw! You can get virtually anything!)  We were waiting for them to arrive and it was getting very close.  Then, the patches we thought were iron-on were actually sew-on. Trying to sew these heavy-duty stitched patches onto a nylon Northface backpack seemed nearly impossible.  It was a grueling nightly task that he would make his chore for a week or so until it was complete, finger pokes and all. This was his way of saying good luck and a send off gift, “Brice-style”, not to mention the hefty contribution to this Gap Year he made. She loved it!

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Maddie at the airport with her backpack adorned with country patches on her way to her Gap Year

It’s now the afternoon and I’m still here on my bed writing my thoughts as I hear my dog loudly snoring next to me. As I finish off the last sips of my melted down, now less sugary, pumpkin spiced iced-coffee, I allow myself a day to mourn.

Today, I am mourning the end of her childhood.  I am mourning our times chatting all night about all the drama at her school. I am mourning the unbearable wake-up calls for her before school meetings for FBLA.  I am mourning seeing her pretty face smiling at me as she walks in from wherever she was that day.  I am mourning the nights I couldn’t fall asleep until I knew she was home safe.  All these things and more, will no longer be.

However, tomorrow, I will be celebrating her journey into adulthood. I will be celebrating the amazing experiences she will have exploring the world.  I will be celebrating all of her accomplishments.  I will be celebrating the obstacles that she has overcome.

I will be celebrating HER.

As a mother, letting go is hard. So hard. But when you know that by doing so, you are giving your child wings to fly, it’s all worth it. This is what I believe that being a good parent is all about.  You can love them, nurture them, teach them, guide them, and hope you’ve done you’re best. BUT, you have to let them go. If you’ve done well, they will never forget where their nest is.

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The first group has arrived in Colorado!

 

 

 

 

GAP YEAR MOM

by Monday, June 20, 2016

EMPTY NEST STAGE:

This is that time of year when parent’s of seniors in high school start thinking about how it will be when their child goes off to college in the fall. Being a mom of a senior who is taking a different route, I’m in quite a different boat than most. I’m a gap year mom. I not only have to feel the empty nest stage that we all experience when our kids go off to college, but I have the extra unknown of where, what and how my daughter is doing while traveling the world, on a gap year.

A GAP YEAR: AN ALTERNATIVE TO COLLEGE

We have selected an amazing program through Winterline. This gap year program has the students visit ten different countries and learn 100 new skills.  The itinerary of the destinations and planned projects they will be involved in look so well thought out and over-the-top awesome! However,  there may be times, due to weak wi-fi, or her being in a remote location, or the time change being so different, that I won’t be able to hear from her on a daily basis, as I’d like to. (kidding, not kidding)thewanderlustyogi.net

We have talked about her possibly taking a gap year off and on throughout her senior year, but we couldn’t find a program that had what she was looking for.  I even wrote an article about this, mainly due to the fact that when we talked about this to others, nobody we knew had done this, and many we knew, had never even heard of such a thing, nor understood it.  I wanted to explain what a gap year was and why it offers some genuine benefits for young adults.  Australians and Europeans have already embraced opting for a gap year-long ago, and has reaped its many benefits.  (Here’s the link: the benefits of taking a Gap Year )

PLANNING STAGE:

In the fall, we did the traditional college tours and she applied to five schools. She got accepted into many, but not into her top choice.  This only made her start looking deeper into researching gap year programs.  “Maybe this was a sign and meant to be?”,  she thought.  She didn’t want to settle for a college and spend all that money on a school she wasn’t completely excited to go to, not to mention, her wanderlust was calling.  She wasn’t even sure of what program she wanted to apply? She went from thinking she wanted to do fashion, then considered business and marketing, now she is interested in global business and non-profit work.  Who knows what it will be the next week?thewanderlustyogi.net

For these reasons and more, it seemed like taking a year off to explore the world and learn new skills, might give her the time and self-awareness she needs to make these major life decisions. She just wasn’t ready yet.  Some kids know from the time they can talk what they want to do for a job.  Some kids, even adults, change their mind constantly. I’m guilty of this myself, but when you really contemplate that a seventeen year old has to decide their lifetime career choice at such a young and complicated age, its pretty crazy to think.

DECISION STAGE:

That’s when we found Winterline.  She couldn’t stop thinking about world travel and wanting to be able to do it before she has all the responsibilities of a job, bills, a car, an apartment, etc. Adulting is hard! She knew this and knew if she waited, she might not have the time or funds to do this after college.  She felt as though this experience would not only benefit her in so many ways, but it would give her a starting point to what kind of impact she wants to make in this world. This was it! After many long discussions, our family all felt it was a perfect plan for her, and knew she would thrive in this unique, alternative experience.thewanderlustyogi.net

She began the rigorous application process with Winterline.  She went through all of the steps; writing essays, Skype interviews, getting recommendations and sending her transcripts, to finally get accepted to this competitive program.  She also was awarded scholarships for video and blogging.  You can follow her travels on her YouTube channel: Maddie Meets the World

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GAP YEAR MOM:

Now that I am officially a Gap Year Mom, I don’t know what I’m feeling? I am so excited for her to be able to have all of these experiences, but also know I will worry, a lot, and will miss her profoundly.  How I choose to manage these emotions and feelings is to blog about it.  I figure this is way to get things off my chest; the good, the bad, the ugly. In addition, I think this may be a great resource for other moms/dads who are considering letting their child go on a gap year. I wish I had something like this to read right now. Although I did meet a Gap Year Mom whose son just got back in May, that gave me her card and offered for me to call anytime for advice.  We are a rare group of parents and need support, lol.

GAP YEAR MOM SERIES:

My plan is to blog about what she is doing, which from the itinerary, looks amazing! For example; she will get scuba certified, Thai massage certified, be building a house, learn to sail a boat, learn to make a Bollywood movie, study mindfulness and meditation for a month, take driving school at BMW, learn robotics, work on a farm and many other unbelievable things. I also will give you feedback of how things feel back at home in her absence and how I cope with it.  I plan to interview her dad, her brother, her friends and possibly other gap year moms and dads.  Furthermore, I have two potential planned visits with her. The first one being in Costa Rica, during her first semester, which my husband and I already had to re-visit to finish his dental work.  (Here’s the link to that story:

How I Saved $7,000 For Dental Work in Costa Rica

The second one will be during her last semester, where I plan to visit her in Spain. I’ve always wanted to go, now, what a better excuse than this? Maybe even one of her friends can join me? That’s  not for a while so I’m not sure what will exactly happen, but the plans are in the works.

I hope that my Gap Year Mom series will not only help me, but others too.  It also will be a great way to look back on this amazing life-changing journey for my daughter Maddie, but will also be a life-changing journey for me too!

She leaves in September, so watch out for updated posts to follow. If you are interested in her sending you a post card from one of the ten countries she visits, leave a comment with your address or email me privately at strikeaposeyoga@gmail.com and we will pick one randomly per country.thewanderlustyogi.net

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