Progress on the Front Dinette

After Wayne finished building the benches for the dinette, I put a couple of coats of stain on them using the gloss version of the American Chestnut color we’d used on the rest of the wood in the Scamp.  I really love this deep, rich color!

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Towards the end of May we’d ordered a 30″ x 70″ sheet of 4″ foam, along with upholstery grade polyester batting.   To get started on the cushions for the dinette, we placed the top of each dinette seat onto the foam, traced around them (they were slightly different in shape/size), and used an electric carving knife to cut out the pieces.

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We then sprayed upholstery adhesive to each piece of foam and attached the batting.

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As a relatively new “sewist,” I had some serious concerns about my ability to make cushion covers, so I decided to practice by first making sewn-on covers from sheet material.  I placed each batting-wrapped piece of foam onto a folded piece of thin white fabric (“wrong” sides together–not that I could tell which was “right” and which was “wrong”) and traced around it.  Then I drew another line 1/2″ beyond my traced line for the seam allowance.  When I cut through both layers, I had the top and bottom piece for each cushion.  Next, I cut a long strip of fabric that was 5″ wide for the sides of each cushion, calculating 4″ tall cushion + 1/2″ + 1/2″ for the seam allowance on each side = 5″.

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It was interesting to learn how to keep things reasonably even when sewing around the curves.   By making small snips along the raw edge of the side panel, it could be gently pulled to align with the curves on the top and bottom pieces as it was sewn together.  As a final step, I put the cushions inside of the covers and hand-sewed the seams closed.

I’m glad I took the time to make the practice covers.  Having some clue as to how this worked gave me a bit more confidence when I started on the real covers!

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The “good” fabric–a sturdy, durable outdoor material in Kiwi green–had become quite wrinkled since we’d purchased it, but I learned the hard way that it shouldn’t be ironed!  Whoops! Lesson learned, for sure….

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But once again I put a folded piece of fabric on the floor (wrong sides together), placed the cushion on top of it, traced around it, and then measured and drew another line 1/2″ beyond the traced line for the seam allowance.  I cut long 5″ wide strips for the side pieces, but I also cut two 5″ x 32″ side pieces to make a zipper panel for each cushion.

AND I cut a 1-3/4″ wide long, long strip of fabric, folded the strip in half, and sewed in what seemed like miles of cotton cording to make piping.  Crazy as it sounds, I really do enjoy learning how to do new things (even when it’s challenging), and I figured if I was learning how to make cushions, I might as well learn how to do piping and zipper panels at the same time!

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After I (finally) finished the passenger/curb side cushion, I *thought* it would be easier to do the second one.  Nope, I actually had more trouble with that one, and I had to take it take it off the cushion, turn it inside out again, and sew a wider seam allowance on the bottom panel to make it fit more snugly.

So were these cushion covers “easy” to make?  No, not really; at least not for me.  I understood the whole process in theory, but especially by adding the zipper, AND the piping, AND by having curves to work around, it was all pretty challenging.   They certainly aren’t perfect, but you know what?  They actually turned out pretty darned well!

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We still need to design and make the table, plus I need to make two smaller cushions that will be backrests and/or the rest of the mattress, depending on whether the front is used as a dinette or as a single bed.  For now, though, I’m very pleased to have the big, curved covered cushions DONE! 🙂

Benches to Bed to Benches!

Wayne got a lot done on the front benches for the dinette!  He finished putting the paneling pieces around both of them, and he also got the trim installed.  This looks really, really nice.

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Next, he measured and cut the piece that will fit between the benches when the dinette is converted to a bed.

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He tested it, and yes, it’s do-able as a single bed–but isn’t somebody supposed to be making the cushions?!  (Oh, yeah, that’s me….)

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We still have some decisions to make regarding how to best make this center piece between the benches work as a table, too.  It can’t be the full back-to-front length, because it would be too hard to get into the seat on the driver’s side.  But it’s so exciting to see everything that Wayne has accomplished over the last two weekends.  (In addition to being a fine craftsman, he’s also an artist–and it shows. <3 )

Memorial Day Weekend – 2016

The foam I ordered for the cushions arrived this week!  On Saturday afternoon we used each bench seat top as a pattern to trace around on the foam, and then we used an electric carving knife to cut out the unique shapes for each dinette cushion.  (We purchased the carving knife from Goodwill last summer, and used it to cut the Memory Foam mattress for the bed. It’s come in handy!)

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We *think* we have enough foam left to make small back rests, which will also cover the table when the dinette is converted to a bed. I’ll probably make some pillows to fill in, too.

After we got the foam pieces cut out, Wayne reinforced the bench frame with another support piece, and took measurements for the paneling that will cover the sides of the benches.

It was really hot in the trailer (close to 90 degrees by afternoon!), so I quickly sealed up the area around the A/C with aluminum tape, and turned it on.  MUCH more pleasant working conditions! I sure wish we’d put it in LAST summer when we were doing so much work inside….

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On Sunday (before it started raining–again!), we sanded the bench seats.

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When he was looking for a large drill bit to make a hole in the “access cover” section of the seat, Wayne found one of my Dad’s old hand drills, and it still worked well!

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As I was drilling a hole through the top of the second bench top, I couldn’t help but think of how my Dad would love to be helping with all of these projects….  While my Mom was a somewhat reluctant camper, my Dad greatly enjoyed having a tiny home on wheels.

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Each summer when I was a kid, vacation meant a road trip along the East Coast, (or to the Midwest or to Canada), with a small travel trailer following along behind us.  And yes, a lot of my desire to have a trailer now stems from the wonderful memories that were made when I was young, traveling around the country with my parents. 🙂

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Anyhow, by the time we called it quits on Sunday due to the rain, both bench seats (with access panels cut out and functional) were secured to the frames:

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Paneling to cover the front and side of each bench was cut to height, but not to length; we’ll need to make a template out of cardboard to figure out how to cut the curves….

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We also rough cut a scrap piece of Formica and put it on one of the counters, just to see what we thought.  We were both surprised by how much brighter the area instantly became with an off-white counter instead of just with the stained wood.  This isn’t a high priority project, but it’s certainly something to think about.  We’re also still looking at potential back splash options.

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And in the meantime, I’m watching dozens of video tutorials about making cushions, and trying to decide if I want to complicate matters further by making piping to go around the edges of the cushions!

Yes, cushion-making will be a challenge, but almost exactly a year ago I bought my very first sewing machine, and I was really struggling to learn how to sew well enough to make simple curtains for the trailer.

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Well, look where that new interest led! 😉

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So you never know!  I was never interested in sewing when I was younger, and I had no idea that Wayne and I would find ourselves in the process of converting an empty fiberglass trailer shell into our own comfortable and functional tiny home on wheels. Life is full of surprises!

UPDATE: Monday, May 30, 2016

Wayne got some more work done on the benches.  He put in more reinforcing upright pieces, and then he used cardboard templates to cut the first two pieces of paneling to start closing in the bench seat frames.  Looks great!

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I’m not sure how well this unfinished paneling will take stain, but that’s the plan right now–staining to match the other wood in the trailer. 🙂

Working Between the Raindrops…

It’s been one of the wettest Springs I can remember, and that’s made it hard to get a lot done on the trailer.  Without a workshop or garage, all sawing or sanding has to happen out in the yard.

Today was one of those rain, sun, rain, drizzle, sun–nope–rain kind of days, but Wayne had just enough time to get most of one bench and bench seat modified for storage access.

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With the seat in place, he reached underneath to trace a line for the area that needed to be cut out.  (Prior to this, he attached two of four support pieces to the upper bench frame. You can see the side pieces in place, after the center was cut out.)

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He’ll make a small hole in the top of the seat so that it can be opened–and do the same thing for the other bench.

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In the meantime, I’ve ordered 4″ medium-density foam which will be cut to match the shape of the bench seats:

We’ve also bought outdoor fabric at Jo-Ann’s for the cushions. After thinking we’d opt for a dark blue, we decided to get a green that will coordinate with the green in the curtains, and yet would go with other colors if we’d decide to switch out the curtains for a different pattern at some point.

For either camping or for more project work, we’re ready for some dryer weather!

 

 

 

Sittable Seats!

I’m pleased to announce that our bench frames have been screwed to the floor, AND that they can be sat upon!  We made a template to get the curves for the seats accurate (which wasn’t particularly easy….), and then Wayne cut sheets of plywood to fit each side.  Beautiful job!

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Right now the tops are just resting on the frames, but our plan is to permanently attach them after cutting openings in the top to allow access to the storage space underneath.  An online friend who did an incredible job with the restoration of his “Haunted Mansion” did something similar.

Now that I have a template for the bench tops, I need to figure out how to make the cushions for the seats.  I want to use 4″ medium density foam (since the dinette will sometimes be converted to a bed), and I’m probably going to opt for a solid royal to navy blue color, which should look okay with the (busy) curtain fabric.

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The last time I was at Joann’s, I briefly looked at the outdoor fabrics, so that might be a good option.  I don’t think I’d go with a regular, heavy-weight upholstery material, although duck cloth might work.

I’d like to put zippers in the cushions on the hidden side, and this could be interesting since the hidden side is also the curved side.  (But as a side note, I am so NOT intimidated at the thought of sewing in zippers; I just kind of jumped into that when I started making purses.)

In addition to the cushions for the seats, I’ll need to make two cushion pieces out of the same foam to serve as back rests AND to cover the table when the space is used as a bed.  Since the benches are fairly deep, I might need to fill in with some throw pillows.

There’s still a lot to figure out (with ALL of this), but I’m ready for the challenge! 🙂

A Table for Two

Well, I guess we’ll eventually get around to the table part of this project, but first we need to make the benches for our future front dinette. Scamp gave us one challenge: a narrow space and curved walls. We’ve given ourselves another challenge by wanting a dinette that can convert to a bed.  After lots of measuring and drawing and cutting, the pieces were ready to be assembled.

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Each section was glued and then screwed together.  The shape seems somewhat odd, but it maximizes the available floor space without interfering with the curve of the walls.

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We paused part way through the assembly process to make sure that the first bench would fit through the door AND that it would fit in the space the way we wanted it to.

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After assuring ourselves that everything seemed okay (including the height), we finished adding all of the vertical support pieces (a total of 11 on each bench) and then took them in the house where we added more glue to the joints.

Next steps will involve screwing each bench to the floor, and adding paneling pieces to the outer (visible) sides.  Pieces of plywood will be cut to fit the shape of the curved walls to form the bench seats, and we’ll design them so that we have access to the storage area under each bench.

So funny–last year this time, I was learning how to sew in order to make curtains for the trailer.  As soon as we have the seats cut out, it will be time for me to figure out how to make (i.e. sew) the cushions for the dinette.  And in and around our various projects, we hope to go camping with it–as is–as soon as we can! 🙂

Installing an Air Conditioner in the Scamp Closet

Late last summer, we started to install an air conditioner in the closet; it had one in there at some point in its early life. We thought we were on the right track last summer, but we weren’t. This time I think we’ve got it right.

To catch condensation, we’ve got a small plastic litter box in the bottom of the closet with a hole and a drainage tube in it that goes through a hole in the floor to the outside. (The hole in the floor was already there.) To help it drain correctly, the bottom of the pan has a small block of wood attached to the corner opposite the drain. This causes the pan to tilt slightly towards the drain tube.

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Wayne made a wooden support that rests on wood pieces that were in the closet for the previous A/C. Small “side rails” were attached to the supports to prevent the A/C unit from shifting from side to side, and then the support was screwed into place. (When testing the A/C on the supports, we seem to have the right amount of backward tilt for drainage.)

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Reflectix insulation was wrapped around the back of the A/C unit to channel hot exhaust air out of the closet through the large, louvered vent on the side of the trailer. A slit was cut in the bottom edge of the Reflectix to allow condensation to drip out into the pan below.

We used metal Reflectix tape to attach all four sides of the Reflectix insulation to the back wall of the closet. With plenty of space around the side and top intake vents on the air conditioner, cool air should be drawn in through the top louvered vent on the side of the trailer.

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Concerned about the “bounce” these trailers have–and the possible vertical movement of the air conditioner–we brainstormed for a bit before coming up with this plan: We put some flexible, heavy-gauge wire down one side of the A/C, under the wooden support, back up the other side and then twisted the ends of the wire together to secure it on the top of the A/C unit. We ran the wire through the narrow slits on each side of the air conditioner where window side panels are usually attached. It seems to be in there very securely now, with minimal movement in any direction.

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We still need to find a good way to seal around the front of the air conditioner. A previous owner had cut an overly-wide opening in the fiberglass, so we might have to put a piece of wood on the inside on each side, and screw that to a frame on the outside. This would sandwich the narrow edges of fiberglass between the inner wood and outer frame.

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However, if we have a free weekend for camping before we come up with a plan for the front frame, we’ll seal it up with Reflectix tape and take off! 🙂

First “Scamping” Adventure! Oct. 24-25, 2015

In early October 2015, we were finally ready to head out for our first camping adventure!  We’d originally planned a trip for the weekend of October 3-4 but had to abandon the idea when we learned that heavy rains were in the forecast.   Due to our work schedules, our next free weekend wasn’t until October 24-25, but when I started calling around to various campgrounds, I was surprised to discover that most were already full, or they required a 2-night minimum stay!

A woman in a Virginia “Glampers” group posted that she and a friend or two were planning to stay at a KOA in Natural Bridge, Virginia that weekend. I called the campground, and when they said they still had sites available, I quickly made reservations. It was so exciting to start getting ready for the trip!

On Saturday, October 24th we loaded up the car, hitched up the trailer and headed west on I-64.  Although the day was overcast, the fall colors were beautiful!  Fall in Virginia is often pretty spectacular, and this year was no exception.  These were the sights that greeted us as we crossed Afton Mountain.

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When we reached Staunton, we opted to get off the Interstate and drive south on Rt. 11 so that we could enjoy all of the scenery at a slower pace.  By doing so, however, we totally missed the entrance to the campground!   Apparently the sign is angled toward travelers on I-81/64 and not Rt. 11, and so we wound up going way south of our destination.  We finally turned around, backtracked about 10-15 miles, and then we saw the (big, yellow, hard-to-miss…) sign for the KOA at Natural Bridge.

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We knew there would be a variety of Halloween activities for children, and the office and campground were nicely decorated.

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After checking in, one of the owners escorted us to our pull-through campsite (which was, conveniently, at the end of a row), and we started setting up.

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After getting the basics taken care of, we stopped for a moment when we realized that we were literally “living a dream” that had started a couple of years ago when we first began looking for a trailer.  We were so thankful to have this opportunity; you can see it in our smiles!

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Even though the inside of the trailer isn’t finished, it’s totally usable.  With a pot of coffee brewing, and with lights (and bats) strung on the trailer for Halloween, it really did feel like a tiny house on wheels. 🙂

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After a while we decided to walk around the campground and explore a bit.  Very pretty place!

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We visited the pavilion where a caramel apple-making activity was happening and joined in:

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Soon it was time to start dinner, so we got the camp stove going and heated up the homemade soup we’d brought with us in a cooler.  Very simple meal, but delicious–and it was fun to eat outside on the picnic table.

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Right as we finished cleaning up, the trick or treaters started coming.  Wow–there were so many cute kids and so many parents who’d dressed up with their kids.  We’d brought candy with us–and bought more at the KOA store when we realized how many kids were likely to come by–and we had more trick or treaters that night than I’ve had at my house in all the years I’ve lived here–combined!

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The real “camping magic” happened as it started to get dark….   I thought of all the times I’d camped as a kid with my parents in our small Scotty and Shasta trailers, and I thanked my mom and dad for the wonderful childhood memories that had led to our having this experience.

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When our campfire started to die down, we walked up the hill to visit the “Glamper” women at their campsites.   It was fun to sit around their fire and talk for a while.  We were really quite impressed with all of the people we met in this pleasant and temporary “intentional community.”

Before going back to our campsite, we stopped by the bathrooms.  Like the rest of the campground, the bathrooms were clean, very well-maintained, and quite large.

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The “bathroom” in our Scamp is a porta-potty behind a pinned-up curtain….  While not nearly as large, fancy or well-equipped as the bathrooms at the campground, it proved to be a very convenient feature at 1:30 in the morning! 😉

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After dark it was a little chilly in the trailer, and a small ceramic heater warmed it up nicely.  We both slept well, again so thankful to finally be able to use the trailer that we’d bought–as an empty shell!–almost a year before on November 2, 2014!  Looking back, you can really see our progress:

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The next morning we got the camp stove going again and Wayne cooked toast and scrambled eggs.

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Our Glamper friends stopped by as we were getting ready to leave, and we thanked them for their hospitality the previous night.

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We had such a wonderful time on our first outing, and can’t wait to go “Scamping” again!

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A/C, Tree Work & Music….

Wayne made a lot of progress on installing an air conditioner into the closet…..

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…but then we were advised to NOT use the insulation and had to start over…..

We’ve got the stuff for Plan B, but we haven’t had the time to get started on it.

In the meantime, an apple tree at the end of the driveway was so loaded with apples that we couldn’t have gotten the trailer out if we’d wanted to, due to the low-hanging branches!

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Therefore, I had some more tree work done, which included pruning back the branches on the apple tree and also taking out the most likely threats for other branches that could hit the trailer.  Much better!

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So no new work on the trailer to report, but we had a great time on Sunday, September 6th when Wayne and his band played at a “Give Back Festival” to benefit a local early childhood learning center.  Hope you enjoy the video!

Tie-backs and Tow Chains

I FINALLY made a decision about how to make the curtain tie backs, and I also decided to use the green ribbon.  It seemed like a simple enough project–sew some Velcro onto the ribbons and then sew the ribbons onto the curtains–but it took forever.  I made the first ones (for the front window) on August 16th.

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I didn’t get the others done until August 23rd…

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The ribbon I used was only 7/8″ wide, which meant that I had to cut tiny little pieces of Velcro and then sew it into place.  I was surprised by how tough the “plastic” part of the Velcro was AND how hard it was to push a needle through it.  So no pictures of my progress; my hand sewing isn’t all that neat, but hey–they serve the purpose.  We both like the color because it adds a nice, bright contrast to all of our blue!

The next project was replacing the chains.  A couple of months ago Wayne  sawed off the old chains and the bolt holding them because they were horribly rusted.  Getting the new bolt in place and tightened was quite the challenge, though, since there wasn’t a lot of room to work in the space where it needed to go.  It took some doing, but he finally got them on securely.

The new chain is much heavier and longer than the old chain and so NOW we’re wondering if we’ll have to find a bolt cutter so we can shorten them.  We’re also not sure how much slack we need to leave–certainly enough to make sharp turns–but when does enough slack become too much slack?  Currently they’re about 5.5″ above the ground, which seems a little low….

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I thought I’d be able to let the extra chain hang down from the hitch, but it was too long.  I looped the end of it back into the hook, but I’m not sure if this is a good idea or not.

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Also, our “break away” cable is too long.  That shouldn’t be too difficult to shorten, and I guess we’ll need to because I doubt if we should just loop it all around on its hook….  (I’m waiting to hear back from Scamp experts about both the chains and cable.)

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After connecting everything, we checked to make sure that the lights and turn signals were working (yes), and then Wayne moved the trailer a few feet over in the driveway.  This will make it easier to get in and out of since we’ve been way too close to a flower bed on the side of the house.   It wasn’t an issue until just recently, and I guess that some of my Black Eyed Susans literally have black eyes since we’ve stepped on them!

On a very positive note, the past two weekends we’ve “camped” in our yard!  So cool!  The new Memory Foam mattress is very comfortable, and I’ve surprised myself by sleeping very soundly.  And so funny–the trailer seems really BIG when it’s dark inside and you look from the very back to the very front….

I can now fully understand why people sometimes use their trailers as “guest rooms,” and also why they just go hang out in them to read or to work.  I’m so glad that we’re finally able to use it–even if it IS in our driveway. 🙂