This spring has been a turbulent one, starting with a 2 day, 1000 mile drive through 20 declared flood disaster zones for my dream minivan, which of course sold 2 hours before I arrived. My old car that I drove there, Fire Rabbit Quest, was about to literally fall apart, so I had to do something. Amazingly they had a minivan there that would work for me, but it was $500 more than I was expecting to pay, was two years older and had rust. It is a low mileage oddball. What could I do? So I drained my bank account to $0, less the gas money it took to drive to my family’s home in PA. The dealer was kind enough to let me borrow his Mexicans for an hour. They helped me remove the back seats in the new van and remove the safe from Fire Rabbit, something I was actually expecting to have to replace. The new car is an American breed, god forbid, and has a great name for what it is to me, The Estate.
It took several weeks to pimp it out to its maximum potential. I asked my father, who was an electrician and very proud of it, how I could install a second deep cycle battery to charge my electronics and run a small fan, isolated from the starting battery but charged from the alternator. He said it would be very easy, told be what to do, so I bought the relatively expensive battery and installed it. A week later my battery light came on. My father said that I had the most difficult problem to find, instilling a terror in me that I had bought a lemon and would shortly be a slave to the kitchen and apartment “living”. A few days later there was an emergency and I had to take my mom’s dog to the hospital. My Estate died in near my fathers house. He was kind enough to jump me and escort me and Rita to the vet. The next day he said that it was my starting battery, the one the Mexicans helped me swap out and that if it wasn’t the battery that was causing the problem that he would foot the bill, the again rather large sum for me. The battery light stayed on and my stress shot through the roof.
I didn’t ask for him to pay for the battery, I mean, the battery was well worn and I probably needed a new one anyway. I found out he wanted a water purifier so he bought mine that I had for camping, as a favor, because I was so low on funds. I luckily got a few more painting commissions and had the money to take the car to a shop and to hear what horrors awaited me. I talked to the mechanic for all of a minite and he said I had a bad alternator. Andy, a good friend of mine, asked his father, a rival paper mill electrician, about the wiring and he said that there was no way that how he designed it would work, that it would fry alternators. The mechanic gave me an outrageous quote. And since I already had an expensive deep cycle battery, I spent an extra $500 on parts to fix the car and wire it correctly. After telling my father 6 times that it was how he instructed me to wire it and the fact that the correct system has functioned perfectly, he still can not except that he was in error. The most difficult problem to find indeed. Subconsciously, I think he felt bad because he did offer me $100 for gas money to visit his mother that he hates. I declined his offer and paid my own way to visit the despised woman. She loves what I do and said that I have, “a nice buggy”.
I wouldn’t have spent the money on the two battery system had I known it was going to cost so much, but it is quite luxurious and fun creating my own stored power. My new minivan is also carrying an extra 5 gallons of water, a 33% increase from my previous capacity. It’s amazing that I just finished the water I brought from Roaring Spring. It lasted 20 days. To think that I can use 1 gallon a day on cooking, cleaning and drinking seems impossible.
My friends and I went on a 3 day backpacking trip through Doly Sods before I left PA. There, I discovered that my rain coat, a very important piece of gear, had finally given up and was reminded that I needed to buy a replacement water filter for the one I sold my dad. My friend proposed a trade, his ex-wife’s rain coat for my pack. I graciously excepted his offer which meant that I had to buy a new pack. I also needed a new sleeping bag because my old one was toast. If you buy all your gear at once you can expect most of it wear out at the same time. Lucky for me I know somebody that does some REI inside trading… and he has a thing for my art: sleeping bag solved. Part of the excitement I had about getting a new car was that I would be able to bring my camping gear with me as I travel. Doly Sods was a wet backpacking experience. I joked about their trekking poles because I’ve always freestyles it, and then subsequently “threw” myself in a river.
Wonderfully yet simultaneously cruel, there kept popping up fantastic deals on ultralight weight gear: 2.5# pack (yeah, I know!), titanium stove, inflatable sleeping matt… and the list goes on. I had to buy it while I was staying with family because FedEx does not deliver to minivans. Buying it on the road at REI is out if the question for me because of the steep increase in price.
So. Now I’m in the Twin Cities, the place that “supports the arts” and have had the most difficult time picking up even 1 house portrait. I really started to worry because my funds were/are rapidly approaching another devastating 0. I started looking online for jobs and found 1 delivering news papers in the middle of the night on the week ends. Very similar work to the house portrait cards I’ve been handing out only this way ill make some money. And wouldn’t you know it, REI emails me a short lived coupon for 25% off one of their in store items. And like the camping gear addicted dolt I am, I spend my last dime on a set of carbon fiber trekking polls. Now, I want for not…. but I have 0. Hopefully what is supposed to keep me stable doesn’t do the opposite.
This is an uncomfortable position to be in. A tree almost crushed my car last week and it made me realize how fragile this little journey I’m on really is. What I need is enough money to re-buy everything I have, a true insurance policy and peace of mind, yet a very boring thing to have. . But for now, I’m going to relish in the fact that I have it all. I’ve been wanting to publish some gear porn and now I can. It’s a sweet collection of barter, bargain hunting, research and choice. Form follows function and less is more. A symphony of high tech fabric, sophisticated elements and design. A masterpiece collection.