Some projects grow. Some projects spiral out of control. Some projects implode and some explode. This is the story of Shelly the Sportvan, and the Great Makeover of 2013.
Shelly is a 1994 Chevrolet Sportvan that I picked up in Texas last May. Here she is the first week I got her.
Almost as soon as we became partners I knew that she would need to be painted. I mean come on, if I’m going to travel the country in a Big Van, I really should travel the country in a BIG AMAZING HIPPIE VAN. It is really the only reasonable thing to do.
So this December I decided to begin painting her. I wanted to break the ice, but start small, so I decided to paint the website on each side. One side would say “travelingwithaeri.com” and the other side would say both “travelingwithaeri.com” and “Living the Fairy Life.” Nothing too extravagant yet.
So I painted one side.
The next day I painted the other side. While I was out in the drive working, my friend Fix-It Fabian wanted to look at a few things for me: a squeaky break, a whiny belt, and a temperamental break light.
And that’s when things got interesting. The whiny belt was actually an alternator with worn bearings that needed to be replaced. Fix It Fabian! The temperamental break light was the result of some faulty wiring that kept shorting itself out instead of grounding properly. To fix that Fabian would need to get behind the inside panels. Which meant completely unloading everything, taking out a platform, and taking out some panels. Well, I had always planned on remodeling the inside, and getting rid of all the boring beige everything. So if we were unloading things for one project I said alright then lets unload Everything, lets take out ALL the panels and lets redecorate!
I am pretty sure this is when Fix-It Fabian was wondering what he had gotten himself into. Yup, I ate up almost all of his week of holiday vacation playing in the front yard and remodeling Shelly. Here are some photos of the process.
Honestly, I had a great time with the project. It was one of the most fun and relaxing Christmases I’ve ever had, and the time Fabian spent helping me make Shelly so beautiful was really one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. We enjoyed our success for a day or two, but then I had to put Shelly back to work and load her up. What a happy, full, and beautiful travel partner she has become.
My goodness it has been a while since my last post! Almost four months, two states, and two shows since my last post in fact. Being the lead fairy of a costume boutique is hard work!
But so much has happened! I will try to catch you up. First, the Spark(ly) Notes:
– Adopted by Ace
– Drove to Arizona and opened the Arizona Renaissance Festival
– Was accepted to vend at Scarborough Renaissance Festival
– Sold Alice
– Drove to Texas and opened Scarborough Faire
-Schmooze with Travel Chanel Team
– Road trip to New Orleans
– Bought a Van
– Was accepted to vend at the Virginia Renaissance Festival
– Survived exploding fertilizer plants and rouge Tornados
I think that’s all. That’s enough right? I’m sure some of those sparkly notes have you saying “excuse me what?!” and I promise they are all as silly and exciting as they sound.
So to begin, at the beginning, which is often a good place to start. Except when the end seems like a good place to start. So long as working backwards is an alright thing for you to do. But I digress.
In January I arrived in Santa Barbara and spent two weeks with Teri Evans, owner of Unicorn Clothing, in her workshop. While there I learned that Ace needed a home. Ace was a six month old Siberian Husky that was adopted by Teri’s neighbors as a puppy. Only after adopting him did they learn that their landlord did not allow dogs. Not the best order of things to be sure. So poor Ace was faced with a tough decision: the pound, or me, He chose me! And so two weeks later, into the Jeep he climbed, and away to Arizona we did go.
In Arizona we had the exciting task of opening a new booth for Unicorn Clothing. And I got the exciting information that Reincarnation Outfitters had been accepted to vend at Scarborough Renaissance Festival, in Texas in April and May. And I sold Alice, my Jeep Cherokee, to my good friends Alex and Stephanie. With not a few tears I said good bye to my loyal road companion and went from “Has It Together Hippie” to “Irresponsible Road Rennie”. On the road, with a large dog and a business’s supply of inventory and no way of transporting it. Yikes!
Operation: [Learn how to] Ask For Help was in full effect. And I have to say it was a good lesson for me. After spending the full run of Arizona steadily sewing skirts, making tutus, and preparing for the show; it was finally time to hit the road to Texas as the grateful passengers to Repo and Shadow. Ace was an AMAZING road dog, incredibly patient and calm for the 20 hour road trip ahead of us. Repo and Shadow were entertaining travel company and Repo’s van did a decent job of getting us to our destination. It willingly humored our midnight departure and my through the night shift as driver. It patiently weathered the hail and freezing rain that met us over the Texas border. And it finally gave up with a cough when we cracked a radiator hose. Luckily Shadow and some gaffing tape came to the rescue.
Pulling onto site the next morning, I was instantly faced with the next adventure: Set Up Camp. Yes, I would be CAMPING at the show this year. I hadn’t had to CAMP at a festival since 2009 and I was feeling very uncertain of my memory and skills regarding such an activity. Could I still put up a decent shade/weather tarp? What about platforms. What about lights? God I didn’t even have a KNIFE with me. How unprepared could I be?
But again, thanks to the success of Operation: Ask For Help and the local Wallyworld I soon had a cozy camp established. And I have to say, after countless storms, and tornado threats (keep reading!) I am pretty damn proud of my Tarpentry skills. Not a single unwanted drop has entered my tent. Well, maybe five unwanted drops found coming through a hole in the tarp; a hole quickly defeated by a sliding a trash bag in between the tarp and the tent’s rain fly.
Cold nights forced me to warily grant Ace tent privileges, an honor he me with surprisingly good behavior. What a cuddle butt he is. But I knew the cool days and cold nights would not last. Soon the Texas heat would descend: 90 degree days with 90% humidity and no where to hide from it. But luckily I had a plan.
Ale, my adventurous step-mom, was going to be meeting me in New Orleans after the second weekend of the show to deliver the inventory I had stored in Maryland. She took Ace home with her to spend time as a house dog, complete with a yard to run in and air condition to hide in. New Orleans was New Orleans. Repo, loyal road dog himself, came with me for the adventure and a chance to see The Big Easy for himself. New Orleans is great. Every time I go I tell myself, “Self. You need to live here one day. You really do.”
This time was no different. We three wandered the city by night, exploring streets with music pouring out of dodgy bars and lit by real gas lights on the corners. In the morning we ate beignets and drank chicory root coffee and hit the road home by the afternoon. I got to introduce another road connoisseur to some of my favorite roads in the country: the beauty of I-10 as it spans the swamps outside of the city.
Back in Texas things seemed to settle down. Sort of. Each weekend was a whirlwind of tutus, and hula hoops. Each week was filled with tutu production, dance parties and concerts, and other standard Scarborough Fare. Pun intended. The highlight of the season was again the Naughty Clown Party. The Naughty Clown is an annual show hosted by the resident clowns. It began as a chance for the clowns to get out some of the naughty jokes they just can’t use on the kiddies during the weekend. It has since grown into the most stunning display of talent on the circuit. Performers and those who don’t perform professional but sure as hell could if they wanted to put on acts of such beauty and skill that it makes you cry out of joy and love and respect for our amazing community. Those of us in the audience are just as enthusiastic, dressing to the nines- or the sixty-nines as the case may be- in our best naughty clown attire. This year I wore a rainbow. That’s what it felt like anyway, an accurate description do you think?
One weekend the Travel Channel was on site filming for a new show about fan culture. The renaissance festivals, with their playtrons, comicon fans, and authentic hobbits, was a wealth of footage I am sure. And of course I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to talk to someone from the TRAVEL CHANNEL! I couldn’t leave my booth to find them, sadly, so I planned- and pounced! I sent a flower with a message something along the lines of this: “No festival experience is complete without feeling the excited delight of being told you’ve been sent a flower. But there is no blushing admirer at the other end of this bloom. Only an enterprising fairy who hopes you’ll stop by her booth to hear some tales of travel and adventure, glitter and angels.” I sent it with the flower girl with instructions to give the flower and the not to “the most important looking crew guy”, and it worked! The next morning someone came by and we chatted and I told him about this here blog and gave him my card and I hope hope HOPE that someone from the TRAVEL CHANNEL is reading this blog! What do you think? Would you watch a show about a backpacking fairy? Wouldya?
Somewhere in all that merriment I managed to find my new road vehicle. A 1994 Chevrolet Sportvan…the kind of van that the Mystery Machine was drawn to resemble. I am going to paint the sh*t out of that van! No white space will be left unadorned. The Era of the Van has begun. I LOVE IT! Lets just hope she is as loyal as Alice was. Her first big test is coming up in less than two weeks when we make another mad dash north. I’ll have four days to tear down in Texas, drive north, and set up in Virginia. Wahoo!! Coffee please!
And there you have it. An update on the life of Aeri the Traveling Fairy. I promise I’ll try to keep on top of it this spring!