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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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!

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.

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

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.

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.

March 25, 2015

Tour: One Week & 11 States

The week of the HPBA Expo was an interesting one for the Rethinking Fire Tour. Here are a few things that were happening:

  • Janessa had a bad case of Influenza and missed most of the Expo
  • The vehicle axle AND wheel hub went out an hour from Nashville on the way down
  • Sub Zero temperatures, snow, and ice buildup

Despite these setbacks, we had a great show! Many of our customers, both new and old were at the show and the new products received a great response.

We were camped at the Cedars of Lebanon state park, about 40 minutes from the Expo. This allowed for some peace and quiet during the evenings.

After the show was over, we headed through Tennessee and North Carolina, en route to visit some dealers in Virginia. Here is a picture from rural North Carolina. Rethinking Fire Tour - NC
After some great meetings, we headed to the northeast to attend a customer event at New England Silica in Connecticut.

We also had some trailer brake issues, which we were able to quick-fix in a restaurant parking lot!

rethinking fire tour image 2 smokeless

After the event we headed to over to visit Stonewood Products in Cape Code, Massachusetts. On the way to their beautiful location, Janessa and I grabbed some time and took a walk along the cold eastern shore!

Rethinking Fire Tour image 1 smokeless

After doing some staff training at Stonewood Products, we headed down to PA for the week end. Ending a week that took us through 11 states!

It was a great first week on the road.

Remember to LIKE the Rethinking Fire Tour facebook page to see pictures and snippets from the adventures!

– Jonathan