Saturday, September 26, 2009

Walnut Valley Festival - Winfield KS 9-8-20-09

Well I finally made it to Winfield KS for Walnut Valley Music Festival. Mike and I went down on Tues, Sept 8 to get in line for land rush on Thursday. Driving down it rained most of the way.... said a little prayer and sure enough as we drove into Winfield the clouds parted and it was dry for us to get settled it. Did a temporary thing - and we slept in back of truck. On Wed. they announced that the land rush was going to be delayed till Sat ( heavy rains up river and the Walnut River was going to crest on Friday.) Mike had to go home cause he had to work Fri. and on the weekend. Left me to fend for myself. Met some new people - Jan a banjo player from Colorado parked right behind me in her R-pod. A cool little camper. Kind of bored not being able to set up so on Friday I went on a drive about - ended up going to OK - Ponca City and Kaw Lake. FOund some deals at a garage sale - really excited to find an awesome steamer trunk that is in great shape - just needs a little "gypsifing" if ya know what I mean!
Didn't sleep worth crap on Friday night - could hear the guy in the next tent snoring away! Got up about 5 ish - loaded up to be ready for land rush. I was number 269 for the West Campground. They sounded the horn and then I waited... about an hour before I moved!! It was exciting and I was so nervous that I wouldn't find a great spot - or get her backed in.... Driving in to the campground was a madhouse - big rigs everywhere and folks scrambling for their space - many were saving spots and I had a little panic attach.... rounded the second drive and found a clearing on the corner. Some nice folks said - pull her in! Ended up being great neighbors - Troy, Joy, Theresa (locals with experience) Larry was also my neighbor and helped me set up my improvised awning system. Found the awning in a dumpster and MIke and I set up some PVC pipes to help form a shelter in the back to house my kitchen stuff. I also put up a two other shelters - so I had a parlor and a screened in dining room. It was great. Took me about three days to finish setting up and decorating the Emma Rose. Course I added more lights and she looked real purty at night!!

Kind of hard to capture the whole thing. My camera does funky things with lights but you get an idea. Can't tell you how many people toured her... but I did start a visitors log and got lot's of comments. I plan to send out some updates to those who added their email.

Wed night was the "Songs you can't sing to Momma" pretty raunchy and amusing. Paula has to help us create a gypsy song for next year. Just drifted off to sleep around 1 am and awake tp hear this loud music - at first I thought the contest was still going on, but I sat up and realized it was "GYPSY MUSIC!!" I jumped out of bed to find three troubadours - a mandolin, fiddle and bass playing some great music. Well I had to grab my tambourine ( and a scarf to cover the girls) and dance a little. Wish I had it on video tape. They were suppose to come back, but only the fiddler showed up on Sat. I do have a brief recording on one song. I'll try to figure out how to post it!
Paula and Richard arrived on Thursday morning and we went to hear the autoharp contest, then met folks at Karen and Chuck Daniels - Autoharp Junction which was just a few campsites away. They also had several days of workshops for free!
Mike got to come back down on Thursday and I surprised him with an early Christmas present - the MARIMBULA...which is a fabulous instrument also known as bass for dummies. We were so busy we didn't take any pics - will do that later.
Enjoyed evening concerts - especially John McCutcheon and he went to a beginner Jam on Friday - with Martha - "plays well with others" and folks from
He's really picking it up quick - it's a great sound and will be a great addition - maybe he can help me keep time!

Got a real thrill on Sat. with a phone call to meet some officials at the campsite. Can't believe I got first place for BEST CAMPGROUND. What a thrill! The prize was this fabulous pottery urn and two mugs, belt buckle and poster - how cool is that. Toasted that night with a little special brew

More stories to tell..... so many interesting people I met, great music and fun times. Gonna go next year - bigger and better. Might even be a vendor and sell my fairies and stuff to pay for my habits!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kentucky Music Week

I talked Mike into going with me to Kentucky Music Week
find out about this great event at website:
.We left early on Friday, June 19 and made it to our destination - My Old Kentuck Home State Park in Bardstown, Kentucky around midnight. Camping spots were WAY... smaller than we had imagined from the map on the website, and also there was a severe grade on the pad. Real challenge trying to level her up. There was such a huge step to get off the porch.

We met a lot of nice people - and were graced with camping fairy gifts many nights! A nice family from Kentucky gave us a lot of firewood. Betty from Florida, in her awesome little new Shasta, brought us some delightful keylime pie ( she shared her recipe for it and a few other easy pies - which I made for our impromtu "dessert jam" )

A couple driving by gave us a thumbs up on the vardo and we invited them to come in for a tour. Thrilled to find out they were also dulcimer players here for KMW! Mary Jane and Jean were are first KMW friends and we enjoyed talking with them throughout the week.

Bardstown was a quaint little town and we walked the downtown shops and went on a trolly tour to Heaven Hill distillery.

We started off the week with a little trauma. Early Monday morning a little rain storm blew up. Mike had decided to sleep in a little tent instead of the mattress on the floor of the vardo. I sent him a text - "You dry?" reply - "no!" I put on my shoes and went out to help put a plastic sheet over the tent and as we were clipping it on I made a quick trip to the loo and came back to find Mike standing on the vardo porch saying " we need to find a hospital" I looked down at his muddy foot to see his big toenail had been ripped back. Walking in the mud with flipflops proved to be dangerousewith all the exposed roots . We called Nancy the KMW director and found a hospital fairly close. The ER doctor came into the room and shuddered when she saw Mike's toe - all bloody and muddy, nail hanging loose. I said, "You're a doctor, you're not supposed to do that" she said " I don't do well with toenails" Well after a couple of standard ER hours of waiting - the nail was removed, toe cleaned and bandaged and we were out of there - Mike hobbling with his protective boot.

We made it to Boston School the location for the KMW by around 9:30 - The classes actually started at 9, but to our good fortune there had been a fire alarm and everyone had been out of the building - so we really didn't miss much. The gods are with us!!! The week was filled with classes on Hammered Dulcimer, Autoharp, Singing and Tin Whistle for me, Mike enjoyed making two lovely stained glass pieces, a drum out of a gourd and campground cooking( he had intended on doing a dancing class - but not destined to happen with his toe situation!)

Back to the campsite one night, we found the campground fairy had left us a nice wooden step to get up on our porch, another night there was a bright orange leveling pad by the vardo! Folks were really generous. We gave a lot of tours - think I should put out a donation bucket for future improvements!

Here are a few pics with the Emma Rose dolled up in her finest (courtesy of Mary Janes blog - I borrowed these pics cause I forgot to take any pictures that week!)

I added a flower garland that has lights (purple of course) Check out the new carpet I made for the porch. These are recycled carpet tiles I have cut to form a quilt like pattern - pretty unique eh? I have some challenges keeping the pieces in place - they come with these little adhesive dots, but the rain and heat are taking a toll on them. I may try to find a way to sew them together using plastic lacing.

Check out the groovy little colorful lights I found at Wally world. They are those paper lantern styles - although they are made out of nylon - so they won't melt in the rain! They work great clipped to the spines of the umbrella .

We really enjoyed our first full week camping in Kentucky - minus the setback with the big toe! and a little muggy heat which made cooking our dinner over a campfire a real chore - gotta buy a little electric grill - sure Wally world will have something that will make dinner in less than an hour!!

Our last day in Bardstown we found this fabulous family owned restaurant - it was way too hot to try and cook over an open fire. Lunch was amazing and we made a reservation for dinner. T hen we went to visit Mary Jane and Jean at their campground - toured their big rig, saw Mary Janes new baby - an amazing sounding mountain dulcimer ( Mike said he wouldn't mind learning to play that one!) We invited them to join us for dinner. Great home style southern cooking and fun conversation - a memorable end to our week. Think we might do this one again!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

First Annual Gypsy Goddess Gathering

For my birthday I decided to camp out all week at Watkins Mill campground in Excelsior Springs. A few nights of storms, but for the most part a great week with the culminating event on Saturday night - my first annual gypsy goddess gathering. I invited some girlfriends and 15 actually ventured out. Rose and her mom came up on Friday night and shared dinner with Paula P and I. They helped put up our makeshift tarps and fancy disco lights! This was a big step for Rose as she doesn't really like the "wilderness" While sitting at the picnic table eating - she screamed and leaped next to me when a snail crawled up the tablecloth by her plate. My goal is to get her to stay the night sometime this year!

Paula P from work brought her pop up camper and got a spot right next to mine. She's my hero cause she taught me how to make jello shots. We made over a 100 for this event.

April and Paula A. came up early and set up their tent and oozed in the beautiful weather - we enjoyed some hammock and lounge chair time before the festivities began.

I invited Maya Zahira to give us a little belly dance and drumming instruction. She brought scarves and drums. The yell she taught us drew just a little attention. One guy just kept hanging around the vardo - said he thought a bunch of Indians had invaded = and he thought he was going to get a free show. I talked with him for a bit and he finally went on his way.

Maya was great - gave us a little gypsy history info and taught several steps and moves. and drumming rhythms. Gonna start a tradition of the traveling sisterhood of the the scarf to keep our gypsy goddess spirit alive all year!!

Amanda works it after a few jello shots!

Angelina, Geslaine, Paula A, Paula P, April, Phyllis, Amanda and her mom and sister, my mom, Meghan, Elva are decked out in our finest gypsy apparel - skirts, scarves, and jingly drapes.

Gypsy girls chillin by the fire. We hung these tapestries on the clothesline to give us a little privacy. A couple of boys at the next site spent much of the evening peeking out of their tent window.

After Maya left, we tossed around a few more jello shots, then came a little visit from the park ranger asking us to keep it down a little - I thought we were going to be kicked out. Next year I may need to find a private place to camp so we can party and not worry about quiet hours.
Be looking for an invite the second week of June for Gypsy Goddess Gathering take 2!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Schwagstock or bust - May 21-25

Last year my brother told me about this place Camp Zoe (

- that held these big concert events called Schwagstock ( I guess it's kind of Missouri version of Woodstock). Got rained out last year, but I was determined to go this year - cause I could be high and dry in the vardo. Couldn't convince anyone to go with me (think all my friends thought this might be a little too "out there" for them) so I said "what the hey I'm going on my own. Brother Jeff and Linda were planning on going too, so I wouldn't be completely alone. By the way it was his big 50 birthday coming up. So Meg and I made him a special cake with a bobber harley. Making a motorcyle out of fondant is really a challenge - but I think it turned out rather well!

I had called the Camp asking about an electic sites (air would be nice - so would my Cpap machine) they said no guarantees. I left early Thursday morning and made my merry way to Salem, MO. Course I had to stop at Walmart for stuff to sustain me the whole weekend - forgot about the cake in the truck - in 80 degree heat that's when the major melting and sliding occured - oh well at least you can still tell it's a motorcycle - although it looked like it was going down

On the way to Camp Zoe there was a hiway patrol rodeblock - a little panic (no I was not carrying any illegal substances - although I did have expired tags - no renewal sticker) The officer said -"what's with your tags" I said I worked in the inner city and someone kept stealing my stickers. He bought that and didn't give me a ticket. Guess they were more concerned with contraband than legal plates!! Easily found the entrace to camp Zoe - huge gravel hill and another checkpoint - Camp Zoe security looking for weapons and dogs (don't think they counted my mace as a weapon - thought I'd bring it along incase of another stranger in a panel van situtation!) Made it to the main entrance where I asked about needing electricity for medical reasons - they flagged over someone important in a little golf cart - she took a look at the vardo and said "I like your rig - so I'm gonna park you over in this handicapped area " it was right next to the VIP camping area (which cost another $25 bucks or so) and there was a sweet space right next to a driveway where a large RV was plugged into a outlet on a pole. I backed her in and was right next to a shady pine tree row which gave me shade from late morning on. I leveled her up and quickly pulled out my 100 foot extension cord and asked some nice hippy couple who were hanging up this big graffit banner if I could plug into their outlet. They said sure and I was wired!!!
Got the Emma Rose all set up - lights and tables and such. Settled down for dinner at my little table with umbrella light and all - and here is my perfect view of the main stage. I swear I had the best spot in the place. Could see it all from my own little gypsy domain! Met some interesting people who were curious about the vardo. One nice older man brought back his chair and sit to talk for a while. He shared that he had been diagnosed a few years ago with cancer - just finished his treatments although he still had the stint for the chemo in. He'd just gotten back from San Fran/Haight Ashbury area where he found releif from his pain in medicinal grade herbs(if ya know what I mean) That night enjoyed some mellow music with the help of a little homemade wine (delivered by a wandering vendor) that was little more potent than your regular stuff. Found myself walking a little sideways to the handicap portapotty - which conveniently was located just behind my site. Nicest port a potty I'd been in - also guarded by a Nancy - one of the friendly private security guards of Camp Zoe - who added her special touch of a candle. VIP camping is the bomb!

Next day Jeff and Linda found me (not hard to do) and I gave him the slightly tilted cake and a Harley Davidson blanket. They hung around for a while, and came back for breakfast and dinner on Fri and Sat. Linda made a mean deluxe breakfast burrito on an electric griddle and Jeff cooked up some good burgers.

Met a lot of nice people - including Tanya and her boys Credence and Red, and their friend Mike who sports the red mohawk (seen below drumming) He did some amazing fire dancing - including a flaming mohawk! If I can figure out how I'll add a video I took of his performance.
There was supposed to be a contest for best campsite and of course I had to get in the action, so I did some bartering and got this gal who does airbrushing to create my Camp Gypsy Nomad sign - let's all live like nomads! When I figure out how to enter - might win tickets to go back to another Schwag event.
It really ended up being a lovely time - pretty interesting and mellow music, dancing, light show, giant bonfire with drumming and dancing all night long (believe it or not I was able to sleep through it all. What an experience with a couple thousand friendly hippies - I'll probably go again sometime... hope someone will go with me next time!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ozark gathering May 8-10- my first solo trip

My first solo weekend in the vardo. I decided to join up with the teardrop group for a Missouri Ozark gathering at Riverfront Campground ( near Lebanon, MO on the banks of the Niangua river .
I decided to go down early to give myself a chance to set up camp on my own - arrived at campground on Thursday early evening. Only saw one other teardrop there - he came over and introduced himself. I’ve forgotten his name – but he was from Arkansas. He shared some firewood and thank goodness lent me a hand to put up a new screenhouse . I got the campsite all set up cute, hung party lights inside the screenhouse, set up my kitchen stuff there. Another camper drove in and introduced himself – Riverrat Ron ( he wasn’t with the teardrop group – just a wilderness survival kayak guy in a white panel van) Now that I tell the story I guess I should have been a little leary of a guy in a panel van, but he seemed friendly and not too scary! I suppose I should be little more savey and cautious about strangers – but my gut instincts said he was OK. I went to bed pretty early and air con felt pretty good that night as it was really muggy. That should have been my warning that the weather was changing. For some reason I woke up pretty early – around 6 or so. Turned on the radio and heard about all these storms and possible tornados just south of me in Springfield area. I got in car and drove to other campers (two more teardrops had arrived in the night – including Warpony who was the organizer of this event) I asked if they were concerned about the weather and they didn’t seem concerned – said it was way south. I realized I didn’t know what county I was in( something you should know when you are traveling!) , they said we were in Dallas County. So I went back to the vardo, pulled out my map and sat nervously listening to the radio. It seemed the storm path was really widening and now included Dallas County. When I heard about a school roof being blown off just 10 miles away, I must say a little panic set in. I looked around to see where I might take cover - I contemplated putting a blanket around me and a plastic tub to block the glass and just sit it out in the truck. Called Mike at work ( not that he could be much help but just needed to talk through what to do with someone!!) I drove up the hill to the camp shower house – but it had not been unlocked for the season. Looking around at the buildings – many of which had sheet metal roofs, this didn’t seem to be the safest bet. Sheer panic was growing and the other two couples drove up looking for shelter too. Also the owner of the campground arrived and suggested we go back to the main road and we’d find a motel just next door that had underground shelter. At that time the rain was really coming down in buckets and I was thankful for my truck and 4 wheel drive to make it up the mile steep gravel road to the highway. Got to the hotel and took shelter and watched the storm blow over – think I was driving through the worst of it! The other two couples and I then decided to go to the restaurant next door for breakfast. Coming back to the campground they had to add gravel and blade the road which had basically washed out in the storm.
The vardo survived without incident, but my new screenhouse took a beating (broken poles and tears in screen – cheap walmart products) - my cooking box dumped over and everything wet and muddy, partylights broken, but nothing too bad. I just spent the day cleaning and drying everything off. The river was now covering the entire lower campground and the area next to my campsite was a swamp!

That night and the rest of the weekend were beautiful. We had a group breakfast on Sat. with Gary and Trudy making breakfast in their dutch ovens – it was great. Since we couldn’t float on the river I decided to go garage saling! Found some goodies for the vardo (my stuff box, flower box, a cool bamboo octogon table for my umbrellaand few other goodies) That evening we had a great potluck – so much good food and many new people that were so friendly. Ended with a fabulous campfire – smores and all. Learned something new – if you put old Christmas lights on the fire – they will change the flames to beautiful greens, purple and blue for a long time. Not so sure this is the good thing for the environment, but a cool thing to do with cheap broken lights!! Hope to meet up with these teardrop folks at other gatherings.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Emma Rose Itinerary for 2009

Where is the Emma Rose going this year? The following is my most ambitious and highly optimistic itinerary for this year. Want to go along?… or meet me there ?...– email to make your reservation for the twin bed on the floor… or camp in tent along side – cot provided… or the lovely fullsize comfy mattress in the bed of the truck… so many options!
April 15 – 18
Sunrise Beach, MO for my amazing grandma - Clara Mae Canole’s 90th Birthday

April 18 - Smithville, Mo at Paula Puszcewicz Spring Bonfire - didn't make it - rained at lake!

April 25 -26
Watkins Mill State Park, Excelsior Springs, MO (other teardrop campers from the area will be there) - didn't go - storm warnings

April 30 – May 3
Durant and Bennington, Oklahoma for Masterworks dulcimer workshop - didn't go stormy forcast

May 8-10
Lebanon, MO Riverfront Campground a Missouri Ozark Tear Drop group campout/ float - finally went - and guess what - severe storms including tornadoes in that county - fun times - only the screen house took a beating

May 21- ??
Camp Zoe, Salem, MO for Schwagstock 40 (Missouri version of Woodstock?)
June 5-12 - BEAUTIFUL WEEKEND - plan to redo this one - join me next year

June 7- 13 - Birthday week campout ( probably Smithville lake or maybe Watkins Mill or Weston - working on fairy crafts (come join me!)

June 13 - FIRST ANNUAL GYPSY GODDESS GATHERING - tentative plans for Belly Dancing, massages, drum circle, and other goddess like goodies. You won't want to miss this!

June 21-26
Bardstown, Kentucky for Kentucky Music Week - Mike reserved his spot!!!

July 2-6
Usually at Lake of the Ozarks – Sunrise Beach? Or Maybe Johnsons Shut ins or another Mo State Park

July 26-31
Parkville, Mo Heritage Dulcimer Camp

August 1-2
South Elgin, Illinois for a Fairy Festival

August 14-15
Little Rock, Arkansas for Little Rock Dulcimer Getaway

August 27 – 31
eastern Oklahoma or other exotic Midwest destination on way back from Tulsa

September 8 – 15
Winfield, KS for Land Rush and weekend before events - will set up multiple tents and sleeping arrangements if anyone wants to join in!

September 16-20
Winfield, KS for Walnut Valley Festival

October 23 - 23
Carlyle, Illinois, Eldin Hazlet State Park at Carlyle, Lake for Tim's Birthday Halloween Campout.... Year of the Pirate. trick or treating, hayride and potluck

November 4-6
Washington Iowa for Iowa Hammered Dulcimer Retreat with Ken Kolodner

January 28- Feb 1 2010
Key West Florida for Key West Dulcimer Fest…. Why not???

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pimp my vardo

While Supertroll did a mighty fine job of finishing the vardo, including sewing the cushions on the bed, seating area and curtains.....

the color scheme was just not what I had in mind for a gypsy wagon. He finished in all in pretty neutral tones of gray and dark green - OK for a guy, but I have a VERY different color palette planned.

He did add special little touch of ivy decals on the inside that are nice... I will leave them, but of course add much much more!

The new color scheme really was inspired by a quilt I made last spring - it has really bright colors that just make me happy. It will be the perfect size for the twin bed. I also have some lovely purple fabrics that will become curtains and new seat cushion covers. I found a few small purple carpet pieces ( future plans may also include adding a nicer wooden floor)

The new exterior paint is a bright green/ deeper green, purple and bright pink trim. i'm working on trying to make it look distressed/ or like washed woodwork. need to tone it down just a bit!

I have also found many different pieces wooden scroll work at a lovely little shop - "Vintiques" in the KC City Market. I intend to copy them to make a few more pieces and they will be painted in these lovely bright colors and placed around the windows and at the bottom corners.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Trip to Tennessee

We left on Friday the 13th ( my mom says the number 13 is LUCKY), so we weren't too worried! On the way there I wanted to stop by a little Irish store called Blackthorn Stick in Washington, Mo. It was a little out of our way - but worth it! What a neat little shop and the owner was very friendly and she is into fairies. So am I - in fact I'm working on making small fairies made of flower petals, felt tops, wool hair and acorn caps. One of the crafts I hope to sell out of my little gypsy wagon. We also found a horseshoe (many wagons I've seen have a horseshoe hung in their vardos). The one we found wasn't really an actual horseshoe, but is a carved image of one with shamrocks and "Love and luck welcome here". I thought it might help us have safe journeys. Actually our detour took us south of St. Louis so I think we missed most of rush hour traffic.- a lucky beginning to this trip. We made it to our first stop in Paducah, KY for an overnight stay.

We got up early Sat to travel on to Lynchburg, Tennesse. It was pouring down rain as we passed through Nashville. I requested that the sky lighten up and stop raining when we got to the campground and.... low and behold as we pulled in to the parking lot where the vardo was parked - the rain let up! We got out and met up with Supertroll who was in the visitors center when we arrived - getting quarters (the trip up from Alabama was also quite soggy and the inside of the vardo got wet - the cushions and the floor) he was quite upset and wanted us to be able to dry them out at the laundry mat! It really wasn't as bad as he thought.

He opened up the vardo and we all climbed inside. It was really more roomy than I had imagined. In all the pictures he had posted there was never any with people inside, so it was difficult to really understand the scale. All four of us - Mike and I and Supertroll and his wife climbed in to sit - quite cozy but it will definitely work for one or two!

We then proceeded to a campsite where Supertroll (he prefers to keep his identity unknown!) showed us all the bells and whistles - we leveled it out with jacks, plugged in and had lights and air(although this was definitely not needed as the temp was about 50 degrees). think I should've taken notes cause we had a little problem later that night!
So money was exchanged, bill of sale signed and I was now the proud owner of an Amercan bow topped vardo - my gypsy wagon.

It then started to rain again. We decided to plug in the portableheater to try to dry the cushions rather than take the covers off (which were rather hard to do - he really made a good fit for them) and take them to the laundry.

After all the excitement of setting up camp we realized we hadn't eaten lunch and we were starving. On recommendation of the park rangers we headed to a restaurant called
Granny Fishes for some of the local cuisine - fresh catfish and trout as the place is right next to a fish farm. Great food including some really fine hushpuppies and blackberry cobbler for later!
If you are ever near there - stop it for some reasonable priced, good and filling dinner.

Of course we had to make a quick stop( yeah right) into Walmart for a few more essentials - jacks for the front porch, a hairdryer to help dry the cushions, a waterproof mattress cover and then some Jack Daniels berry coolers to toast to our first night the Emma Rose! When we got back to the campground - still raining. The heater had really warmed it up and dried the carpet and part of the cushions. (I actually had been in a litle panic about leaving the heater on when we weren't there - visions of the vardo in flames danced in my head). Still raining. I worked to set up the bed and we shared a cooler to celebrate how well everything had gone so far ( perhaps celebrating a little too soon).

Not much going on in state parks in March - although we lucked out to be there on the one Saturday of the month when they had "Saturday Nite Pickens" with local acoutic music - guitar, fiddles, mandolin, etc. in the recreation hall. It was warm and dry - some of the music was good, some was definitely "local" amatuers so we decided to turn in early. It had been a long day, long anticipated and we were both ready to hit the sack.

When we got back to the campsite - the outdoor lamp was quite dim and when we opened the door, there was strong electrical smell. Mike picked up the trickle charger attached to the 12 volt and it was really hot! We disconnected it. Then we had NO lights. Something was not right with the 110 plug and those lights were not working either. Not sure what was wrong - maybe water had gotten into the wiring, but it was late, dark and wet - not the time to be fiddlin with electricity so.... we pulled out our little lights SuperTroll had given us and dug around for other flashlights trying to get something to work (important note to self - always check your flashlights BEFORE you need them!) Apparently all the moisture was now on the inside of the tarp - we did our best to dry in off with paper towels so that it wouldn't drip on us.

After a little futzing around, we eventually got settled in for the night. I slept in the upper bed, Mike slept on the floor on a bedroll ( not quite cushy enough - need an airmattress for more comfort ) It rained ALL NIGHT LONG and I heard every drop as my head was only about a foot away from the ceiling. I also made a big mistake by not going to the bathroom before going to bed. Not a good combination for a good nights sleep. I made it till about 4 o'clock before I ventured out to the bathroom ( just one of the disadvantages of this small trailer ) I had the "looby loo" with me, but didn't have it set up. Looby Loo is a poor mans porty potty consisting of a 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat attached. They make bags to contain the contents in a waterproof bag that even has moisture absorbing crystals - like what is in disposable diapers. I will definitely set it up for future nights. Not the best nights sleep - but I know it'll be better next time. We were warm and dry ( except for the condensation on the tarp) and thankfully the rain had stopped. We hitched up with out a problem and were on our way back home.

We stopped in Murfreesburrough so Mike could see the Civil war museum and Stone River battlesite. It was pretty interesting little museum and the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war. It occured when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and was a pivotal point in the war. Mike really loves historical stuff so I was glad we got to stop there. We also made a quick pit stop at a "Toots" restaurant - this word make us laugh as our boys regularly exchange this greeting for no apparent reason sometimes and then for VERY apparent reasons at other times.

We hadn't really plotted our way back - but I really wanted to take a different route and see the countryside. We stopped in Clarksville, but really didn't see much of anything as it was Sunday and nothing was open. We decided to head to Southern Missouri and Sam E. Baker park just outside of . We had really hoped to be there before dark to work on the electrical issue, but no such timing!

I also need to add here that thanks to Jack ( our new name for our Garmin GPS) we had NO problems finding any of our destinations - even in the dark. We would have had plenty of problems and I'm sure many tense moments trying finding these state parks and other points of interest if not for Jack!

It was after 9 when we finally pulled into a spot at Sam E. Baker Park - Campground 2. We were only the third campsite to be occupied that night - park not officially open till April 1. So that meant that the restrooms were locked. I was not going to make the same mistake as the night before, so I got the Looby Loo set up for action. We also were able to get electricity through an extra extension cord we brought. All was well and we got a good nights sleep and woke to a beautiful sunny morning in Missouri. While Mike took a walk to water some trees, I christened the Looby Loo ( note - should lock the door when using) Mike came back and opened the door to catch a lovely view of me perched upon my throne. He rushed to get the camera - and managed to catch me trying to pull up my pants. (that photo needs to be destroyed before it blinds anyone with the dazzling white cellulite!) After a few laughs and threats, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the picnic table.

It was a beautiful morning and we explored the park and river just a bit before heading back home.

We had no trouble pulling the trailer - even through some small hills. My truck did a fine job and gas mileage was just a few mpg less. One pit stop for a bathroom break and some folks pulled up to ask about our trailer. They had been following us for miles and couldn't quite figure it out. We put down the ramp and showed them the inside. They were quite impressed and though it was pretty neat set up - the wife said she'd like to have one. They even took pictures of it. Funny a few miles down road - they were at the same Caseys, and came over again. The sister with them wanted more pictures. I think Supertroll could have a business building these things!

Coming up through the Ozarks, we stopped to show my mom She came up to meet us at Chances R restaurant in Laurie, Mo. She brought me a piece of outdoor carpeting that I will add to the porch... my first of many finishing touches. See more in the post - Pimp my Vardo!

Except for the issues of water, condensation and problems with the electrical hook up I think the trip to Tennesse went pretty smoothly. Mike and I got along pretty well on this first adventure (again much of that due to the fine navigation from Jack!). I certainly couldn't have done this with out Mikes support which he shows in so many ways..... more to come about that later in this blog along with a dedication for the name "the Emma Rose" /

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How it all began

How I found her...
Last fall I started looking for some kind of small camper that I could handle on my own. I love to camp, but this old bod just doesn't do so well in a tent- especially on cold soggy mornings!
In my search I found a forum for Teardrops and Tiny Trailers - here is the address if you are looking an amazing amount of info about teardrops and small trailers - this is a builders forum

I was looking for something small and easy to pull that could keep me safe and comfortable. Many people are building smaller more efficient or cost effective ways to camp rather than the obnoxiously large and gas guzzling RV's. In the "For Sale" section I found a post for an "American Vardo for Sale $2,000" with a small picture of this unusual trailer that caught my eye.

Just what I was looking for! Something a little different - big enough to stand in and a soft bed above the ground! The man who built it posted tons of pictures and explanations of how it was built. You can see the build notes at Teardrops and Tiny Trailers forum - look under non-traditional design and a post from Supertroll on a Bow topped American Vardo - or you can see most of his pictures and explanations of the structure and special features he added here:

It's basically a wooden frame built on a 4x8 utility trailer, covered with a truckers tarp. Inside is a raised twin sized bed, two bench seats and a pull out table. It is wired for electricity with dimming halogenlights and even an airconditioner, now we're talking my kind of camping. And maybe what appealed to me most was that there was oodles of character and possibilities with this "gypsy wagon", cause she's definitely one of a kind! I'm sure she'll attract plenty of attention - and who doesn't love attention??
Well after many emails and phone calls to the builder known as "Super Troll" a rendevous was arranged. We would meet at Tim's Ford near Lynchburg Tennessee for the sale and transfer of ownership on March 14, 2009.