This is the story of our exploration of the human condition... continuing the adventures in our BattleWagons until something great happens or we decide it's a lost cause. Est. 2008

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Week Before Mini-Hipster Woodstock

Man, we have been super busy at the shop this past week. Mumford & Sons is headlining a tour that lands at all of these small towns across the country. Our little town of 6,000 people is going to quadruple in size this coming weekend, and everyone wants to capitalize off it. Lots of places, like Rivers Edge, are opening 24 hours for the first time ever. Here's a four foot by twenty foot banner we made and installed for them. This was tricky because we couldn't drill holes into the building. We wound up getting 10 foot 2x4s, cinder blocks, and lots of rope, and we simply weighed the 2x4s on the ground and the roof, and laced the banner to them like shoe laces.
The same place, Rivers Edge, and another restaurant, the Boathouse Cantina, have another banner hanging from second story windows in a historic brick building. To make as minimal an impact as possible, we used existing eye bolts to attach it, and where we couldn't, we used a wood screw in one of the window frames.
Just up the street, we went from approval of the design to printing and finishing these two fifteen feet tall banners that are only fourteen inches wide to fit on these columns. J2 Software was so appreciative of our quick turnaround that my bro and I got free fleece blankets as a thank you. We're totally going to use them in a Christmas photo!
Another sign we've been making a ton of are these small, corrugated plastic signs. Typically you see a million of these during any election season. Since this festival is a temporary event, lots of these signs are going through our doors. These signs for Rocky Mountain Taxi were in production here. The vinyl pattern has been cut out by the computer, and the excess vinyl has been removed. After this, these were covered with sheets of application tape, and then transferred on to pre-cut sign blanks. A printed decal will be installed in the center of each sign. I'm all for these signs, too. With 17,000 extra happy people in town, I'm glad getting a taxi is an option.Well, it's almost 1 am. My bro and I have been working long-ass hours to keep up with everyone. If we have an unsatisfied customer, we haven't heard about it yet! I'm going to catch a couple hours of sleep and hit it again early. Peace.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Family Photo Album

Hey everyone, I don't have a lot of time to update today, but I did take the time to post some pics of what I've been up to with the fam this summer. Enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2015

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20 September 2008

"It's crazy how sometimes we, as humans, find inspiration in the strangest or most unexpected places. It's almost as if, somehow, we are subconsciously searching for something greater, a search that trumps even the best intentions we are aware of, that leads us to new and motivating things we couldn't fathom before.

"On September 11th, my cousin ... died. To say I knew him or anything significant about him would be fallacy. I haven't seen him in around 20 years. I knew bits and pieces, like how he had dreads and did amazing pottery, but that was all secondhand and vague. He died, and I went with my mom and brother to his funeral, and here were all of these people whose lives he had touched for being a free spirit. I fear I've made an error in not getting to know this guy. I think we could have been good friends. However, [he] did inspire me.

"Free spirits are usually kindred spirits with one another. A free spirit can recognize another upon their first meeting and many times are drawn to each other. The essence of [my cousin] was with us all at that service, and I felt motivated to follow through with my goal of moving into my van, the BattleWagon, to see where I go with it. We only live once, and now is the most precious time.

"This is a more severe feeling than when I had watched "Into The Wild" or read the book before that.

"So, tomorrow is my last day at home in my Capitol Hill studio. I'm out. My home will be a 1994 GMC Safari, and I'll be building it to my needs as I go. Come on this adventure with [me]."

I haven't really taken the time to stop and read any of my old blogs in a long time. Lately, I've been so caught up in feeling too busy, too overwhelmed in the simple chaos of having a very busy life, not much time for the fun things, and kids to be responsible for.

I've felt lost. I've felt like a shadow I'd my former self, the outgoing and confident and ridiculous guy who was everyone's best friend, and not afraid of anything.

After some thought and posting my blog last night, I found a sense of relaxation afterwords. I pondered what it would take to feel like my younger self mentally. A seasoned and wise version of that dude that gave hugs to strangers.

Living in my first BattleWagon was one of the best times of my life. I had unlimited freedom, and I exercised it. Moab became a favorite destination of mine. I enjoyed every second of it.

If I can keep up, I'll take you with me as I try to remember all the nonsense I'd get into. You'll see me at some boring times, but hopefully you'll see some cool shit along the way.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Long Day of Commitments Elsewhere

Today was a long day. By long, I mean it's one in the morning, and I'm just new getting to a place where I can catch you up a little bit.

We had a huge (by our standards) rain storm here two nights ago. It was pouring for over an hour. In spite of the lightning and thunder's magnificent attempt to entertain us and frighten Dog, it exposed a weakness in the trailer. The pvc poster I made and had on our wall in Ketchikan is  duct-taped to the outside of the front window. It's been like that since just north of Casper, Wyoming, the unofficial capital of the most inconveniently politically conservative and unfortunately unlucky state I've had the privilege to travel through.

Anyway, that leaked pretty well. I'd say we would bring in about a gallon an hour. We wedged towels in there and everything. Hardcore. But Little Girl slept through it all.

The overall state of things... shelter is good. It's not insulated well, and our swamp cooler has a difficult time keeping up, but cooler weather is just around the corner. Electricity has only failed when power in town fails, which has only happened twice since we moved here.

Water is tricky and the system is constantly getting refined. Currently, we have a small camping porta-potty for the toilet. Those things are fantastic, by the way, for those of you who road trip with families. For water storage, we have two big 7 gallon cube containers with taps outside on my makeshift table. We also have another seven gallon jerry-can shaped container as a back up. The trailer itself has plumbing, but it's leaky, dirty, and basically needs to be replaced, so this is the temporary solution. We have a few big jugs we fill with water for use inside, and I just hooked up a couple of 42 cup coffee pots, one by the kitchen sink, the other on the roof above the shower. I'm hoping that it'll let us do dishes and take hot or at least warm showers without the hassle of boiling water on the stove.

Since all of that is gray water, we just let it fall into the yard into the garden. We're using the fancy, multi-purpose soaps from the organic food store. I'm planing to build a filter system for it, basically a ditch leading to the garden that has gravel that gets smaller until it's fine sand.

Anyway, that's where we are with the trailer at this point. The yard is slowly coming asking. Hetero Life Mate has been working on a path system through the yard. She connected our makeshift pallet deck to the old brick path Mom built years and years ago by framing a dirt path with wood she found elsewhere in the yard. She cleaned up that old brick path, and made another path from the back porch of the Big House to what's left of the old gate on the back wall of the old basketball court/future patio.

Lots done, but lots to do yet. Every day is an adventure. Stay tuned. This was extra long tonight!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Progress on the Homestead

The trailer has been doing wonderfully for us in this tight stretch.  I've managed to rig a few temporary fixes to allow us to make do with what we have until we get caught up.  We've got a wonderful spot on the alley, off the street, and hidden behind the old shed in the back yard.  There is space around the rig, enough to even build a small yard at some point.  (Work has been humbly super busy, so my time to work on house projects has been minimal.)  We've only had to make some minimal improvements for it to be relatively comfortable, save on the days of 90 degree heat.

Our improvements so far have included ripping out the bench seat by the door and covering the hole in the carpet with a simple throw rug.  It took a few hours, but it wasn't too difficult.  I also found a bookshelf up for grabs and placed it above the wheel well where we're storing towels and Half-Pint's toys.  Our safe with what the Lady calls "our life" (important paperwork) goes in front of that and doubles as a seat, stool, or short table.

We've also installed a few tarps we had outside, creating an awning-like cover of our little patio between the trailer and the shed.  It's tight, but it's cooler out there than it is in the trailer on the hot summer evenings before the sun goes down.  We've hung colored lights underneath them and I built a make-shift table from an old, rusty, angle-iron frame to a shop bench and an old door that fell off the shed years ago.  On it, I have a citronella candle (damn mosquitos are no joke this year, thank you wet-ass July), and two big 7 gallon jugs of water.

We have electricity piped in from the shed, which powers our radio, lights, clocks, and phone chargers, as well as the swamp cooler and small area heater for the chilly mornings.  When it was really cold, I picked up one of those small, propane Buddy heaters, and that thing is fantastic.  Can't imagine staying in a cabin in the winter without one now.

My Brother ripped up a super long pallet at work, and I put it in there as a ladder from the first floor to the top bunk for The Boy when he was down this summer.  He stayed up there and loved having his own space, his own windows, and a ladder to climb to bed (even though his sister climbed it more often).

Since we have no sewage system, I tore out the toilet that was bolted to the floor and piped out of the trailer and replaced it with a simple porta-potty.  My dad had one of these that he'd take everywhere we went camping or road-tripping, and it's awesome.  Easy to move around, easy to drain, and easy to clean.  Doesn't smell bad, either, unless it gets too full (because The Boy is 5),  The gray water goes outside and falls through a rock & sand trap before flowing down a gravel bed toward what will be a flower bed.  Honestly, though, our water consumption isn't enough that it's even gotten down to the end of the ditch yet.

For showers, we're borrowing our neighbors (thanks Mom and Dad) for the time being, although the super redneck part of me is going to try to hook up an electric 42-cup coffee pot to the roof and mount a simple gravity-fed hose to the shower to be fully functional with very minimal cost.

At any rate, there's a bunch more going on, but I'll have to get back to you next week.  Be well.  Do good work.  Keep in touch.

-Solitary T

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Business as Unusual

Bart and I have been slammed at work. Business has been booming, and while we haven't met the goals we set out to hit, we're picking up pretty quickly, finding a rhythm, and cranking stuff out.

One of our first vehicle projects was installing checkered flag racing stripes on a Nissan Juke. Went well, and that thing looks fast!

We did a huge sign for a local eatery, the Twisted Cork. Their face was old and the colors were "muddy". We built and installed new faces for them, bright yellow to catch eyes!

We've also had the privilege of banning a custom wood sign for a father's day gift. It's a beautiful thing.

Keeps us busy and old!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Shop is Coming Together

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of insanity.  The location is rented, and we have tables, partitions, a desk, and little else.  Today is only the 21st, and we're looking to open up for Star Wars Day.


To catch you all up to speed on what's been happening, a couple of weeks ago, my brother and I entered into a partnership with a former employer of mine and the former sign guru of Salida, Colorado.  With their help, we're opening Salida Sign Works, a full service sign shop, running the gamut on everything from business cards to vehicle wraps, banners to billboards, and everything in between.

For the next two weeks, we're going to be moving stuff, building stuff, drawing stuff, selling stuff, buying stuff, setting things up to get it all going, etc.  After that, it's only running a successful business.  No pressure.

Pictures soon.