Monday, August 31, 2015

New Truck Shell

We had a Snugtop shell installed on our Ford F-250 Monday morning. Snugtops are custom made upon order, so we had to wait six weeks for it, and it costs more than most shells, but we are glad we spent the extra money. This custom windowless shell is really sturdy, matched to our truck color perfectly, and much more secure than typical shells. Patrick has already set up shelving inside it, and this week we begin the process of figuring out what will and won't fit in the truck. Whatever we can't take with us has to go, so it will be interesting to see how much we can fit into this space. We are only five weeks out from hitting the road, so clearing out our storage space is our top priority right now. We'll let you know what makes the cut and what doesn't. Every time we look at what is still in our storage space, we can't figure out how after letting go of so much, we still somehow have a lot of stuff. But this is the price we are paying for not selling everything when we sold our home - we hedged our bets by getting a 10'x10' storage space for "essentials" - just in case we hated RV life and wanted to go back to a sticks and bricks life. So now it's crunch time - nothing that we don't really use or need can come with us - it's time to let go of our storage space security blanket.

Patrick has been joking that we need to get something cheesy airbrushed on the side of the shell - his vote is for a three wolf moon. No worries though - the shell will remain airbrush art free.

Monday, August 24, 2015

My New Toy - The Breathing Mobile Washer

I discovered this nifty device thanks to a full-time RVer blog - sorry, I can't remember which one, otherwise I'd give you credit for it. Patrick and I are lucky to have so many great RV blogs to follow and learn from.

The Breathing Mobile Washer is inexpensive and easy to use, and actually works quite well. It's kinda fun too - love the sound and churning of the water. Our first campsite is an RV park, where we are learning how our Bambi works, and what our water and power consumption needs are, so we have laundry facilities here, but I decided to order the washer and give it a test run anyway in anticipation of future boon docking. I was thrilled with the results, and am actually going to use this washer as much as I can right away, because, no offense to our current park's laundry facilities, and to laundromats in general, but these places have always kind of skeeved me out. They are almost never as clean as I would like, and the machines are sometimes grimy. Washing machine agitators covered in gray slime and dryers with full lint trays from someone else's load make me crazy, pushing every anal retentive button I have. The man who just bought our townhouse is a lucky guy, because he has the cleanest washer and dryer in town - I actually made Patrick take the washer apart and clean the drum occasionally, and flush out the dryer vent as well. I also vacuumed out my own lint tray and the whole dryer several times a week. You are welcome sir, whoever you are. Enjoy. Yes, I'm a clean freak. And this little mobile washer and a drying rack will keep me out of icky laundromats. Yay.

By the way, most RV parks have rules against doing or drying laundry at your campsite, because they want you to use their facilities, but this park is pretty laid back, so I don't think it will be a problem. And if the park manager calls me out on it, then I'll just have to show him what he'll need to do to bring the laundry room up to my standards of clean so that I can use it more often, and there is no way that's gonna happen. Because I am a Jedi Master Cleaner, people. NO ONE can touch me on this. Just ask my husband. - Kimberly Saunders

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Telluride Plein Air Experience

I'm a month late with this, but it's been one hell of a busy month with the launch of our PleinAirStreaming adventure.

For the week of the Fourth of July, I was honored to have been juried into the 2015 Telluride Plein Air Festival. Kimberly and I packed up the gear and drove from Kansas City to Colorado for a week of painting and photography. The drive itself was a beautiful experience, and driving into Telluride for the first time is almost unbelievable. What other town sports a waterfall at the end of their main drag?
Telluride looking east.
We got up bright and early on Monday morning and headed all the way to the east end of the town where I started on my first painting of the Pandora Mill. We were there before the sun had cleared the mountains, and knowing the background would light up as time passed, I focused on blocking in the mill.
Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.
Within a couple of hours, the sun cleared the mountain and the mill was framed nicely by the landscape behind it.

One painting down, time to find the next subject.

We decided to take the gondola up the mountain and check out the view. The view of the town and surrounding area from atop the mountain is amazing, and I came to respect the effects of altitude for the first time in my life.
Telluride from above. Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.
I started plein air painting two years ago, when a friend gave me a Julian French Easel. These are the classic plein air easels that have been around for over a century. It was a great gift, and without it, I might never have pursued plein air. French easels do have one major drawback - weight. We exited the gondola and made our way to a higher point, but by the time we got there, I was beat. Had to take a break and hydrate before I could get started. The French easel has since been retired, but that's another story.
Painting the St. Sophia Nature Center with my soon to be retired French easel.
Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.
I focused on the St. Sophia Nature Center framed in by the mountains beyond the town. The light changes fast on a day with this much cloud activity, so I found myself painting and repainting areas as the time passed.
"St. Sophia Nature Center" (oil on canvas, 12"x16").
Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.
The next day we had adjusted to the altitude enough that I finally hit my stride. We found a beautiful creek that flowed on the north side of the town. It was midday, but the light through the trees created a beautiful scene. This painting started coming together right away.
Painting Cornet Creek
"Cornet Creek" (oil on board, 12"x16").
Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.
Thursday morning was the quick draw, and I decided to focus on some poppies I found near the center of town. While we had two hours, this one came together in only an hour.
"Red Poppies" in progress
"Red Poppies" (oil on board, 9"x12").
Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.
Immediately following the quick draw, a live auction was held across from the Sheridan Opera House, and the Poppies painting sold.
Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.
The winning bidder. Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.
That evening was the awards ceremony, and every artist had to choose one painting to submit for judging by their peers. I chose the painting of Cornet Creek, and I'm proud to say my fellow artists awarded me 3rd place.
Artist Choice winners (left to right) - Patrick Saunders (3rd), Carl Bretzke (1st), John Lasater (2nd).
Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.
The sale took place over the next three days, but I continued painting during the show.

"Wild Onions" (oil on canvas, 12"x16"). Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.

"Mia" (oil on canvas, 9"x12").
Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.
All in all, it was a great week. I even walked away with a commission based on my winning piece. I didn't have time to paint it during the show, so thankfully, Kimberly was willing to hike back up Cornet Creek and grab plenty of reference photos for me.
"Upper Cornet Creek" (oil on board, 12"x16").
Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.
It wasn't just the opportunity to participate in the event that made the week memorable. The travel, landscape, and the wildlife - deer came by our window every day - all came together to make it a unique experience. We're looking forward to returning to Telluride in the future with the Airstream, of course! - Patrick Saunders
Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.

Shelley Shrock Designs Bracelet Line Product Shoot

One of the best things about our new lifestyle is that we can spend more time creating what we want to and less time creating what we have to in order to pay the bills. Like last week, when Patrick Saunders and I had the pleasure of photographing a new bracelet line designed by our dear friend, the talented artist Shelley Shrock. We even managed to get her little Fiona in on the action. Fiona isn't big on standing still, but with lots of coaxing and treat dangling, we managed to get a few stills. I was also lucky enough to snag one of these beautiful bracelets. This gorgeous jewelry is just the beginning for Shelley - we love her work and can't wait to see all the amazing things she will create for her new business. It's a gift to have to the time and energy to create just for the joy of it, and to help a good friend launch a new venture.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Our First Week In The Pod

It's been a little over a week since we closed on our house and moved into our Airstream. I know we're still in the honeymoon phase, but what we do know for sure already is that we LOVE this life. We rented a storage space in order to hold on to a few essentials just in case we hated it, but it wasn't even 24 hours before we were both like, 'Yep, this is awesome, let's sell everything in storage ASAP." We were scared to death to tow and park for real for the first time, and worried about handling our first hook ups, etc., at an RV park, but luckily everything has been smooth sailing so far. Patrick is my hero - I'm not sure what it is that he can't do - I certainly couldn't drive a Ford F-250, let alone tow and park an Airstream, even our little Bambi. I seriously am hit and miss just trying to parallel park my little Smart car. I'm usually still about a mile away from the curb when I'm done, but fortunately it doesn't matter because the car is so small. Patrick says I'll be driving the truck and towing and parking the Pod in no time. We'll see. We've spent the past week feeling like we are on vacation, semi-retired, and reliving our childhood all at the same time. Already sitting at the computer and working or blogging is becoming a chore to be accomplished as quickly as possible so that we can go play. I don't know when I've ever been this happy. I feel like I am really living for the first time in a long time. I am truly present for this - my head is usually in the future or the past, but not now. We have a lot to learn, and there will be many obstacles and difficulties ahead, but I have never felt so hopeful and optimistic about the future in my life. I am a kid again, with all the best parts of childhood to start the day with - joy, wonder, curiosity, and contentment. To live in this state is such a gift. Sometimes I feel guilty because I think we have had more good fortune than we deserve somehow, to be in this place in life. I am truly grateful for it, and will strive to be worthy of it. - Kimberly Saunders

The Pod's first camp site at an RV Park in Missouri. We can't wait to be ready to spend most of our time boon docking in beautiful places. RV parks are comfortable, but we look forward to being on our own.

I couldn't resist taking a photograph the first time I plopped this down outside the Pod's door. Adventure time baby!

I knew Patrick Saunders was enjoying this new life as much as I am when he drew his brows on  the dry erase board in the Pod.

We experienced our first rainfall in the Pod this morning. The sound of a soft rain falling on the Airstream while we sipped our morning coffee was blissful.