+1 increase in trailer hauling

I am now tucked into a Motel 6 in Tennessee for the night. I left Base Camp on December 31 and have been making my way slowly west since then. The adventure began with a stop for a blanket fort party in Virginia for New Year’s Eve. Then down 95 to North Carolina to visit my godson, finally meet his younger brother, and catch up with my old college roomie. This afternoon I left them and headed due west on I-40. Memphis and a childhood friend are my goal, but since I have the Vardo in tow the going has been slow and nerve wracking. I made it a little less than half way before stopping for the night.

Mostly I am thankful that the Jeep and Vardo survived the Smoky Mountains Crossing! I definitely found myself chanting “I think I can” in a zen-like mantra as we slowly chugged our way over the tops of the steepest ridges.

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Really, I think I’d like to update my Official Gypsy Scorecard after today’s drive…

I am docking myself
-2 for poor route scheduling. Why did I think it was a good idea to cross the mountains in the rainy darkness?

But awarding myself
+1 increase in trailer hauling skills
+1 in aimless wandering, unlocking power of the snail with her home on her back
And
+1 in climb every mountain, because I had to take this route in order to visit as many friends as possible and they are totally worth it!!

So overall I’d say it was an adventure well accomplished.

I did consider sleeping in the vardo for the first time tonight…but I didn’t really “move in” I just loaded up, and I don’t even have a mattress for the platform yet. Plus these rooms are once again made possible by the generous support of Bill Hession and his Christmas gift of guilt free hotel glory! So instead I will be enjoying a night of grainy motel room tv and an itty-bitty shampoo bottle spa.

Gratefully yours from the road,

Aeri

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vardo-a-go-go!

The Vardo. It is happening!!!

In one of the more absurd maneuvers of my life (so far), I have decided to trade Alice, the Jeep Cherokee, with a lovely little Rennie couple in Texas; in exchange for a fully built road worthy vardo!

 

If you’re new here, to catch you up to speed, here are some definitions you might need to know in order to understand the above sentence.

– vardo – n. a wagon first used by french circus folk in the 1800’s and later adopted by the Romani culture. See example below.

– Rennie- n. a name, endearingly coined by the culture itself, given to those employees of Renaissance Festivals.  Renaissance Worker was shortened to “rennie” to mimic the slang term for a carnival worker- “carnie”.

Now, I first pitched this beautiful vardo concept in an earlier post titled “Home Sweet Home?” And like anyone could have guessed, our four months to work on the project quickly turned to three, then two, then dwindled fearfully to one month. Would the vardo get shelved for another year? There would be no way to build it on the road.  woe’s me!

But wait! Fear not! There are other Rennies, experienced in the art of traditional vardo construction, and just hankerin’ for a little Jeep of their own! So with great excitement the planning has begun.  Check out our initial sketches! Very Professional, no?

Aerial view of the vardo interior
Aerial view of the vardo interior
Side view, with display shelves "opened"
Side view, with display shelves “opened”

 

So Exciting!!!

 

~Aeri

 

home sweet home?

For my next trick, I’ll be taking you on a bit of a different kind of adventure. Things have been going pretty well for my costume boutique, Reincarnation Outfitters, and it’s time to consider some permanent (sort of) display space.  Up until now we’ve worked mostly out of a 10 x 10 easy up, which happened to blow away and turn itself into a taco/squished spider at our last event (Pennsic War, if you were wondering).

Do not neglect to stake and weight your easy-ups as soon as you put them up. They are easy-downs too. And easy-cartwheel-across-the-fields.

We still used it, don’t worry! But it forced us to consider the image we were sending by working with such a standard piece of equipment.  Most of the well traveled professionals use beautiful, sturdy, canvas and wood beam tents. Tents that run upwards of $3,000 and require the strength of several strong men to set up and take down.

You may have noticed, I am not a strong man.  Nor are there several of me.  So while I knew these beautiful Panther Tents were an option, I just didn’t think they were the option for me.

What I did think was-  Gypsy Wagon!!!!

Here’s an example of how cute they can be!

Officially termed “vardo” by the Romani who adopted them, these colorful, sturdy, wagons were used by the traveler cultures in the 1900’s.  But even before that, French circus folk used them in the early 1800’s. It is where they lived, set up stages, and sold their wares.  Now that is something I think I can get into!

The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. I talked to my Stepfather (Jeff), an extremely skilled carpenter; and he had even more ideas than I did. But between the two of us we agreed: a vardo is just what I need.

We will build one with a living space and storage spaces inside, and a false wall along one side that can open up into a sizeable display space with clothing racks and shelves.  I could set it up by myself, it wouldn’t blow away in a storm, and a retractable awning could provide additional coverage on rainy days.

With the winter almost upon us, I have landed at home with almost four months before I hit the road again. A lifetime by traveler standards.  So this winter, follow along as we build a colorful home for a fickle fairy artist like myself.

Tataa!

~Aeri