I can’t work with that, we’ll have to rebuild it.

May 1, 2014

Every freshly-minted software engineer yearns for a time when they can throw away all that crap code they’ve been asked to work with and start all over from scratch.  Every experienced software engineer yearns for a time when they can throw away all the old crap code they wrote when they started over from scratch so they can do things right.

So there’s a new teardrop trailer on the horizon (as of 5/2014): The Toaster.  And it has it’s own blog and build wiki.


Black Rock Desert and back

July 9, 2009

Took a little visit to the Black Rock Desert for “the 4th of Julplaya”.  We still hadn’t quite gotten around to washing off the trailer from the big trip.  Before we went we had a couple more maintenance things to do: re-weatherstrip the doors and back hatch (including the bottom of them, this time, as we were taking on some water as we drove through heavy rain), another attempt to seal up the wall that divides the sleeping compartment footwell from the kitchen so water leaked in the kitchen doesn’t make the bedding wet, and some other minor repairs.

While we were out I took some photos with a borrowed “pole-pod” to get the camera 30+ feet up in the air.

Once we got back, we DID finally get around to taking the trailer for a good scrubbing.  And I finished cutting and sewing up a big blue plastic tarp to cover the trailer in our parking spot so we don’t get tagged again.  We considered making a cover for the wheel(s), too, but the only reason we’re covering the wheels is to keep the dog pee off of them and that only happens on the street-side wheel.  And we definitely don’t want to store the cover once it’s had 2 months of dog pee on it.  So we’ll continue to use a black plastic trash bag that’s been cut up enough that the local park/vehicle dwellers don’t steal it (again).


Teardropping at Ocean Cove

June 2, 2009

We took Shorty out for some camping with the other tear-droppers at Ocean Cove, CA. There are some crazy stone formations there where the wind and sea has eroded the stone.  C’s posted pictures in her Ocean Cove album.

While there Doug of the Crazy Pants pointed out that we were missing a bolt in the trailer frame.  I did a quick check-over and luckily that was the only one.  I was able to pull out one of the bolts from the battery box as a temporary replacement to get home with.  Once we got back to the city I got a replacement bolt/nut and also some threadlocker.


one week in.

May 9, 2009

So we’ve been back for a week. I’ve finally remembered where we keep the pyrex containers and the measuring spoons again.  Funny, the things you forget when you’ve been out of context for a while.

There was a heat wave in SF while we were gone (and we missed it, dammit). Roy also brews beer. Lots of it. Fresh homemade beer in storage + heat = grenade. A few days after we got back, we’re settled in bed and hear a loud KER-POWIE! We go downstairs and check things out…nobody trying to break in, nothing fell off the wall, the cork in the active carboy is holding steady…must have been in the hall.

The next day, when Roy goes to put an empty bottle away, he notices that beer has soaked through one of the storage boxes. He pulls it out to discover a bottle has exploded (yet somehow spared the other bottles in the case). He cleans it up, pulls out the other bottles, ditches the ruined box* and leaves everything out to dry. About an hour later, KER-POW-TINKLETINKLE-KRASH-BLUB!

When a bottle explodes without the benefit of a box keeping everything contained, it gets real messy. The bottle shattered in the middle, turning the neck and cap into a projectile to break after flying across the kitchen. In cleaning the resultant mess, I notice several caps have a slight hump. Hm. So into the fridge go the bubbly bottles. We still have to be careful opening them…since they are so blast-happy, as soon as they’re uncapped, they start to foam. And foam. And foam. And foam.

But hey, there could be worse things than drinking copious amounts of beer to spare your kitchen.

In the meantime, I’ve been sending out my resume, landing interviews, and trying to stay busy in general. But I’m making a conscious effort to enjoy myself as well. Get out and go for a bike ride, a walk, some exploration. Not stay chained to the desk looking for the perfect place to chain myself to a desk. I’ve started thinking less in terms of “must find job” and more in terms of “how do we accommodate the way we live?” This has led me to dwell on the notion of temp and/or part time gigs more than I have in the past. I get the feeling it’s looked at as inferior in some way, but I can’t tell why exactly. One thing that’s crept up is a nagging desire to build another trailer. Yes. I started sketching this week. Maybe a new approach will give me the space to build again.

Tonight is roller derby (SF vs. SEA), so I’ll be there, then next Saturday, I fly back to Chicago for a week. Shorty’s battery is recharging as I type. We will ride again!

*Anybody got a spare Linie’s case they’re willing to part with? They make awesome storage.


Things we forgot

May 4, 2009

Things we forgot:

Roy’s trailer keys.

Spices for the galley.

Spare growler.



seven thousand one hundred and ten miles

May 2, 2009
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The car did not die on us. Thankfully.

I was astonished we made it back 28 days on the dot.

Oh damn, it feels so good to be back in my own bed.

So. Why did we do this? Because we are (still) unemployed. Because we got laid off, and realized work was the biggest obligation for both of us…and when else to you get to have massive simultaneous chunks of time off together with your partner? Because we’ve never seen the Grand Canyon. Because our last major trip was hampered by deadlines. Because we miss a lot of people. Because even if we didn’t, couldn’t do all we wanted to do, see who all we wanted to see in this trip, attempting any of it at all was just insane enough to be interesting.

There’s all sorts of stunned post mortem talk going on over here. Roy and I keep looking at each other, shaking our heads and giggling. (did we really just do that?) We have a to do list for the trailer and the car and ourselves.  It’ll take a few days to chew on it all. Maybe I’ll post more, other random things. Or not.

Tomorrow, he and I are probably headed down to the Hunters Point Shipyard Open Studios. I’m getting an itch to make something with my hands again, and some inspiration wouldn’t hurt.


28 days later…

May 1, 2009

28 days later, to the hour, we’re back in San Francisco.


London Bridge isn’t falling down

April 30, 2009

At least we hope it isn’t.  If it is, we’ll be trapped on a man-made island at Lake Havasu, AZ.  And we’d have to swim across the man-made channel to get to the other brewpub that isn’t on the island. (Currently at Barley Brothers (really malty IPA has me slightly stunned), going to Mudshark Brewing Company later.)

We’re going to spend the night here and head back to SF, CA in the early-early morning.


interlude in a small motel, Holbrook, AZ

April 30, 2009
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After we left the Sugarite campground in northern NM, we drove quite a while.  I was hoping that we’d be able to camp in the Petrified Forest National Park, but they’re only open during the day–no camping.  So we drove on to the next outpost of civilization: Holbrook, AZ.  Once we got into town we saw there were a couple of RV-type campgrounds (KOA, and something local) and we headed toward them.  We’ve never actually taken Shorty to a KOA, but we’ve heard that sometimes teardrops aren’t welcome–they’re looking for the ginormous RV’s that need water, sewer, electricity hookups, not something like shorty which can’t actually use any of those.  As we drove through town, I realized that the motel prices were all pretty low, and suggested that if we’re going to have to pay $30+ for an oversized RV spot we might as well just grab one of the local hotels and have a bigger bed and private shower.

So we ducked into the next motel we passed.  Courtney has a thing for the “Lolita” style motels, and this fit the bill.  Very 40’s and not a lot done to it since.  Several decoy cars in the lot.

We pulled in at around 8PM, I went up to the office to get a room.  There was a sign saying to ring the bell, so I did, then I checked the door, discovered it was unlocked, and went inside.  No one was there for a minute, so I turned around to see if there was anything saying whether I should actually have entered the office (or something) and when I turned around again, there was a woman standing at the desk.  Yikes!  I did the whole hand to chest, “wow you scared me” routine in my goofy-friendly way, but she wasn’t having it.

“No I didn’t.  I came because you rang the bell.”

Uh.  OK.  Not worth going in to.  Let’s try the other foot.  “So anyway, I’m here for a room for the night.”

If you haven’t stayed in small local hotel/motels in the US, you may have missed the fact that almost all of them are run by (eastern) Indian families, now.  We’re not the only ones to notice.

So the 40-50 year old Indian woman at the desk pulls out the sign-up slip and a pen and hands it to me.  As I start filling it out I notice she doesn’t smile, ever, and that she looks like she had a nose-ring tear out at some point.  I put down 2 for the “people” blank, 1 for the “rooms” blank and draw a line through “Children” and “Pets”.

“You only have 2 people?  Are you sure?”

“Yes, just me and my wife in the car.”

“Just two?”


“No pets?”

“No, no pets.”

“Are you sure no pets?  What about that?” she said, pointing to Shorty.

“That’s our trailer, we usually sleep in it, but as you can guess, it doesn’t have a shower.”

“No pets?”

“No, no pets. Not even at home.”

“You must put the number down, you can’t just cross them out.”

Apparently there are very strict auditing rules at this motel.  I must have still been in the ‘trying to please’ headspace as it didn’t dawn on me that I could very well just ask, “Don’t you want my money?  Is there a problem with this exchange of capital for services?” but instead I just played along.  I put two 0’s there.  I considered writing “zero” in the blank but I didn’t want Courtney to witness my murder like that.

Then, to further complicate matters, I circled “n” in the “Smoking?  y/n” section.  The last smoking we had done was that one shared clove back in Iowa City.  And that was just a nostalgia-trip.  We don’t smoke.

“No smoking?  Really?  Are you sure you don’t smoke?”


“Not even outside the room?”

“No ma’am, neither of us smoke.”


But apparently I passed the test.  All the rest of the exchange went through without comment, and she had the key ready for me.  $36.85.  Before she gave me the key, she gave me a speech about how this was just a simple motel, the rooms aren’t anything fancy, the bed is a twin, but the rooms are clean.  She gave me the clean line at least 3 times.  And then explicit instructions about where I should park the car+trailer.  No jackbooted thugs arrived in the middle of the night dragging us out, so I apparently got close enough.

The rooms weren’t anything fancy.  Cigarette burn through the bed comforter, no screens on any windows, piece of (almost petrified) ancient lathe to keep the bathroom window from opening from the outside, remoteless TV, and the towels were 2×3 feet pieces something resembling terry-cloth.  The artless landscape on the wall had been framed with house baseboard stock stapled badly to the front of the canvas–the sides of the canvas were still quite evident.  And it was musty, but clean.

The room also came with a coupon for breakfast the next morning at the attached diner: 2 pancakes and a cup of coffee.

We went to the diner the next morning for our breakfast.  An older Indian woman with gray hair came to wait on us.  When she saw the coupon, she took it and walked away with the menu.  Apparently our money was no good here, either.  She disappeared.  Several minutes later we were able to get the attention of an Indian man that I assumed was the husband of the front-desk grouch.  We finally got our menus and were able to order a touch more food to compliment our complimentary pancakes.

Also in the diner that morning were the 2 guys in moving company T-shirts that must belong to the moving van in the parking lot and another couple that appeared to be father and son.  The boy was somewhere in that 15 year-old stage of traumatically dorky.  Tall, thin, still growing into his body.  And from the looks of his father sitting there in his shiny black and red Bulls coat, he wasn’t going to improve a whole lot once he comes out the other side of puberty.

We ate.  We paid.  Courtney went to get situated in the car while I took the room key to the office.  I’d tried before breakfast but no one was there.  They had a box to leave the key in, permanently screwed open to the door, but I wanted to hand it to a person.  As I approached the office, I saw father Bulls at the open back of a pickup-with-topper handing something limp and white to our gray haired waitress.  I entered the office and saw the boy standing at the front desk with the room key.  I kept to myself, intently studying the wall and ignoring what was going on outside (mother yells back to someone next to the building I couldn’t see) because I’d just figured out what was happening.  Father Bulls just got busted for trying to steal threadbare towels.

Madame Front Desk came into the office.  She had a $10 bill in her hand and exchanged it with the boy for the room key.  As she did so, she used the same tone she used with me the night before, “This is very inconvenient!”

Damn.  No wonder she was so cranky if this was the sort of thing she had to put up with.  She probably would have been better off just telling the guy to get lost, he just bought two $5 towels, but I suppose they needed to check out his truck to make sure he hadn’t run off with a bunch of other stuff they hadn’t noticed or considered.   I was patiently minding my own business and trying to figure out how to say something that would acknowledge that what just happened was completely out of line and that I was sorry she had to put up with this.  But when she looked at me, she said something like “Yes?  Your key?” and I lost all empathy.  I realized that as long as I was on this side of the counter there was no way we were going to be friends, or even friendly.  I gave her the key, end of transaction.

Back to the road.


The Gospel of Tears

April 29, 2009

On this trip, I have had the pleasure and occasional discomfort of explaining the origin, purpose, function, construction of the magnificent Shorty. Having a teardrop is not for the shy…and if you are (as I can be), it forces you to Deal With It.

When I sprinted to the bathroom at Sugarite State Park, I was intercepted by a gentleman that was fascinated by my trailer, and the car, and me. He started speaking as if he knew me, and started saying he really should remember my name but couldn’t at the moment. I looked at him for a minute, and he said “you built your tear! I really should remember!” This was information that one: I did not offer, and two: most random strangers on the road wouldn’t know. Therefore, I deemed it okay to offer my name.

Turns out he’s on the Teardrop and Tiny Travel Trailers board, and is one of the people that cheered me on during my build! We talked for about half an hour, and find out he and his tearmate were camped at the first campground in the park. We headed up and set up camp just across the way from them, then proceeded to do the traditional tour de tear, where you each show off your work, tell what works what doesn’t, and swap genius ideas. Even though we were in a canyon, the wind was howling and there was a fire ban (not even charcoal…no dutch oven cooking!), so we didn’t hang out and socialize long. Roy and I settled down in Shorty and watched an episode of The Twelve Kingdoms (exellent epic anime), giggled about chance, and went to sleep.

In the morning, another couple strolled through the campground, stopped at our neighbors’ rig, and said he had 2 of them back at home, but he built his. (oh, snap!) The neighbor pointed at his and said he built it, then pointed over at us and said “she built hers!” Roy and I strolled over and had good conversation all around about things construction, camping, and teardrop related. We all exchanged contact information, Roy and I went for a short walk along the creek, then we rolled out. Had a nice mosey down to Santa Fe, gave the transmission some love (new fluid), and are currently relaxing out of the midday heat at Santa Fe Brewing.

This afternoon, we head towards Alberquerque, where we will indeed make a right turn.