April 28, 2015

Tour: A Bump in the Road

Three weeks ago, on the afternoon of April 6th, we were in an unfortunate accident with our Casita travel trailer. We did not have enough hitch weight which caused the Casita to sway back and forth, eventually spinning us around as Janessa drove down a hill. We took a slide down the road and a bump into the side of a mountain, but thankfully we are perfectly healthy and unharmed! No one else was involved, and both the car and the Casita were fully repairable.

We spent a few days in Altoona, PA,  40 minutes away from the scene of the accident, getting our Subaru’s left rear subframe replaced. There we received gracious hospitality from one of Breeo’s clients, Tussey Mountain Mulch, who put us up with a bed and meals while we waited on our car to be road worthy again. By that Thursday afternoon we were able to get back to the Casita in the little town off Rt. 22 where the accident occurred.

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Casita travel trailers are different from regular RVs because they, like their Scamp & Boler cousins, are made of molded fiberglass. Instead of shattering into many pieces across the highway like other RVs would have, the Casita’s fiberglass just ripped. Thankfully, this can be rebuilt with some hard work.

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The first step was to remove the interior cabinets, rip off the carpet to provide access to the fiberglass, and remove the two broken windows. That muck you see on the cabinets was a combination of all of our seasonings flying through the air and landing with flour and water atop everything we owned. Thankful for laundromats!

phprrtWU0AMJonathan’s father has experience with mechanics, RV’s, and fiberglass. It just so happened that his parents were only 4 hours away, so they took a detour on their trip home to Canada and came to our aid! We are so grateful for the careful restructuring of the Casita’s back end that Jon’s dad headed up for us.

These braces needed to be left in place for a few days while all the fiberglass hardened.

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Jonathan’s mother even managed to sneak a belated birthday cake into the ordeal!

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Fiberglass and hardener mixing.
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Sanding in preparation for fiberglass repair.
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Placing matting for fresh fiberglass. 
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Applying the fiberglass mixture over the matting.

Watch below to see Jonathan rebuilding the fiberglass on an outside area:

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Here you can see a before and after of the most damaged area, which needed to be restructured with braces.
– Left: Ripped fiberglass immediately after the accident. This end was sagging down, and the window was bent.
– Right: Completely remolded area with new window inserted. Structurally as good as new!

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One of the final steps was to sand the finished fiberglass down and add putty in any necessary areas.

We also fixed a few plumbing pipes, removed the broken air conditioning unit from the top and replaced it with a Fantastic Fan (which we determined is better for our off-grid boondocking), and made a few fixes to the inside cabinetry and bathroom wall.

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And the final step: painting!
Our ‘Little House’ had been in need of a fresh coat of paint for a long while anyway.

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The final product. Looking fresher than we’ve ever had this Casita!

We are thrilled, and incredibly grateful. We know how fortunate we are to have come out of this experience completely healthy and with such minor damages that we could fix ourselves.
We have taken all precautions to make sure this will not happen again by installing sway bars, lessening our weight in the back, and being very careful to ensure the correct hitch weight at all times.

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This experience definitely shook us up a bit at first, but it did not harm our love of this lifestyle. It has served as a reminder that life is a precious gift, that dreams can be stripped away suddenly, that hard work is necessary, and that we are immensely fortunate to have this beautiful, wonderful life.

Our many thanks to all for your support and kind words through this experience.
We thank God that this has ended up as a tiny, little bump on a long, adventurous road.
Rethinking-Fire-Tour-Caravan---Smokeless-Fire-Pits

January 13, 2015

Off Grid Fire Cooking

How is it possible to prepare meals COMPLETELY off the grid? Wood fires. No gas, propane or charcoal are needed to create fantastic meals in the great outdoors. A heavy duty fire pit and wood stove create a literally unending supply of heat, cooking, and enjoyment for the backwoods dweller.

What are the problems with cooking outdoors on an open fire? Uneven heat distribution, not enough direct heat, and having to fight clouds of choking smoke. These three problems can cause great headaches for adventurers that attempt to take the kitchen outdoors. Food is either black or uncooked, or there is not enough heat to evenly cook a larger item all the way through. Worse yet, smoke can drive the chief away from his culinary creation.

The Ablaze fire pit helps equip the off-the-grid dweller to combat these problems, and make outdoor cooking an awesome and tasty experience.