Interior Design of the 1970s

I have been thinking about how I might, in the long run, treat the interior of ChinChin.

These campers were built in the 1970s, and the interior design clues you right into that. Bold orange, yellow, or green, mixed with browns. Faux wood paneling, shag carpet, and loud plaid on the cushions. As much as I appreciate the idea of keeping a snap shot of time intact, I know ChinChin will need some new bits. That means I have a blank canvas to work with.

Budget is always an issue, so I’m unlikely to make many changes at first, but I’m having fun thinking through some possible themes. One possibility is certainly era-appropriate, if not original. ChinChin is two years younger than I am. Harkening back to the days of my childhood is an interesting emotional exercise. I tend to put 70s interior design into three categories: I love it, I can appreciate it, and WHO COULD EVER LIVE THAT WAY.

The aspects I love are almost always either a 70s take on a 50s original, or a 70s take on “the future”. The things I appreciate are usually the boldness of pattern and color, or examples of thoroughly embracing disco culture. The examples that I just can’t wrap my head around usually involve taking any of these elements too far. Filling a room with one pattern, or leaving no room for light or air. Ick.

I love color, but the small space may dictate keeping things more simple. Maybe I’ll go all white, bed-in style.


Carpe Diem – Ben Harper

My degree is in environmental studies. I thought I would save the earth. I thought I would have saved it by now. That’s a story for another post though. Back to the 90s…

In an attempt to get some experience in my field, and simultaneously see my sister more often, I applied for a summer internship with the Student Conservation Association. On the application, I had to put down four places I wanted to go. I put down Chaco Canyon, and three parks in California (my sister was in the Bay Area by then). I ended up at Bodie State Historic Park. Near the end of my summer, I met some folks that worked nearby at the Mono Lake Committee. They were awesome, adventurous, and cared about the environment. I bonded pretty strongly with one of the guys, and we’ve remained friends all these years.

Classic eco nerds, dressed as a riparian ecosystem. He's the water.

Classic eco nerds, dressed as a riparian ecosystem. He’s the water.

Not long after we met, he made me a mixed CD. It was full of musical treasures, most of which I’d never heard before, and most of which I still love deeply. This CD contained the first Ben Harper song I ever listened to. I was in my early 20s, but I’d had to break up with my first love by then. Hearing Walk Away for the first time made something inside me resonate so strongly that it has been echoing there for almost twenty years. I bought more albums, I listened to them obsessively, I made others listen to them, but I’d never gotten to see Ben Harper play live until last night.

If you ever find yourself debating if you should spend the money or take the time to go see one of your musical heroes, the answer will always be, OF COURSE YOU SHOULD! Carpe diem! Make it happen. For eons cultures have used music to tell stories, to call up the spirits, to heal. If music touches your soul coming out of a speaker, it will lay you open, release you, and heal you seeing it live.

Ben Harper has been giving me his gifts for years, but seeing him live was the biggest gift of all. He is vulnerable, real, angry, tender, funky, has an amazing crew of musicians he works with, can sing like nobody’s business, and the man man loves tots. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it felt like I was being allowed to kneel and pray with someone through all their pain and joy. Thanks Ben!

Buying ChinChin feels very much like a carpe diem moment. Those moments are part of what I think this blog will be about, so I’ll keep reporting them as I come across them.

Vintage Camper Supplies

I came across this website tonight:

The are largely geared for the Airstream crowd, but they have everything from aluminum propane tanks to camper-themed duct tape. Prices seem a bit high, but it is nice to see vintage camper specific items all in one spot. They also have some fun looking kids books if you are trying to convince your little ones that camper life is fun.

Camper Tape

Amazon makes shopping for parts easy.

If you have ever shopped for after market car parts that are compatible to your specific make and model, you know it can get tricky. I remember when I was younger, standing at the counter in Auto Zone while the counter person flipped through giant newsprint catalogs or searched in antiquated databases on a DOS based computer.

Pardon me while I have a Luddite moment and declare that I’m not sure we’re better off with all our modern amenities. That being said, we have them, and in many ways they make our lives easier, especially when executed by thoughtful designers and engineers.

Some folks over at Amazon got smart and said, “Let’s make sure we help our customers buy more from us, by checking make and model compatibility for them.”. In their Automotive section you can search for after market parts by make and model.

selecting your model

Once you have started to search by that model, if you select an item it will list known compatibility or not. If it isn’t sure of compatibility, it will let you know that as well.

It is compatible

Amazon uses your search parameters to build a “garage”. This is basically a list of any make and model you have searched by. I’m a little unsure how long it saves your garage. I did a search last night, and I no longer had any cars in my garage by this morning. This may be because I hadn’t added any items to my cart or made any purchases. This morning, by adding items to my cart, it seems to have saved my selections. It is very easy to select which car you will be buying parts for.

Selecting your Model

Once you have a car in your garage, it is kind of fun to look and see all the parts that you can buy through Amazon. By doing a quick search of this kind last night, I confirmed that most after markets parts for ChinChin are not very expensive. WHEW!

Find all compatible parts.

Have fun shopping!

A dream realized

I was born in the state of Tennessee to a Tennessee Mama and an English Daddy. They were both, by nature, curious and liked to travel.goatcouple Mom has an affinity for beaches and her native Smoky Mountains. She was awed to her core when she saw the Alps. Tears rolled down her face the first time she stood on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, after waiting six decades to see it. She loves to fling herself into large ocean waves and be pummeled by them.  mamagoat Dad has an affinity for solid rock walls and unending vistas. He is willing to dangle from a rope with nothing beneath him. He is always pushing to go a little bit farther with the hopes of seeing a valley spread out below him, or glimpse the curvature of the earth roll away at the edges of the horizon. Mom was one of eight kids, and they all used to pile into a big station wagon to go visit family or attend church events hundreds of miles away. Dad and four friends bought, out-fitted, and drove anrover old Land Rover from England to Pakistan and back in 1966. Suffice it to say that I come by my Wanderlust naturally. As a child we went hiking and camping whenever possible. We took multiple road trips to places like Colorado, California, Canada, and the beaches of North Carolina. We camped in tents often, and occasionally got cheap hotel rooms. “Hiker/climber scum” is compliment in our family. Beatles, mosquitos, hauling water, sunburns, etc. were all part of the fun. the pop-up trailerWhen I was about four years old we rented a pop-up trailer, and drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway. I remember rolling around on the crank out bed, unzipping the screen windows, and playing air hockey for the first time in the game room at one of the campgrounds. When I was in high school we bought what was, at the time, a very innovative form of pop-up trailer called an A-Liner. Mom, my sister and I drove it to Vancouver, BC in Canada, met Dad who was there for work, and then Dad drove Mom and I back. (My sister had to fly home for work.) I loved that A-Liner even though, due to busy schedules, we didn’t use it very much. It was easy to open up, highly functional, made good use of the space, and was a perfect home away from home. We got rid of it after several years because we weren’t using it, and as is typical for things that live in the South, it was getting musty and mildewy.An ALiner similar to ours. In 2003, Mom, Dad, and I moved to California to be with my sister, brother-in-law, and their growing family. Within the first year I’d moved into an “in-law” apartment in San Francisco. In other words, 250 square feet of living space crammed into the back of a garage. It was, for San Francisco, affordable and came with laundry and a backyard (both rare treats). Living in this apartment has taught me so much about space use, and over the years I’ve learned lots about home renovation from helping out others. I used to want lots of space for tons of guests, but now I’m much more interested in efficient use of space. When I leave San Francisco eventually, I would love to have a tiny house. I’m addicted to searching the internet for creative ways to turn single use spaces into multi-functional spaces. I digress. Even though this apartment is affordable for San Francisco, it is expensive, and previous to my current job, I made very little money. I was always thinking about a back up plan, including living out of a Tuff Shed in Mom and Dad’s back yard. At some point my concerns about being homeless, my love of travel, and my happy memories of camper life as a kid coalesced to a desire for a camper. I didn’t want a giant RV, just something small, comfortable, and efficient. I started to notice mid-70s era campers that seemed to fit the bill, but most of them were based on American made trucks or vans. I love America, but we weren’t making very reliable vehicles in those days, so I knew I wanted something Japanese. I had spent time with Dad working on a ’71 Corolla, so I knew we were capable of working on a Toyota truck of that era. That is where the Chinook company came into play. They built a few different campers that were all based on small Toyota Trucks. If you’re curious, just do a Google image search for Toyota Chinook. I fell for the version that is a small truck with an attached fiberglass shell on the back with a roof that pops up. These ads from the 70s totally charmed me, and I started looking around to see what was available. The first time I emailed myself a link to one that was for sale was May 14th, 2010. I have had friends from North Carolina to Oregon go check them out for me as they popped up on Craigslist. I’ll love my friends forever for all the support they’ve offered. Guess where I finally found the one I wanted? Just outside my home town in TN! It needs some work, but it was in good shape, and the right price. It will spend the next couple of weeks getting repairs, upgrades, etc., then I’ll pick it up in June when I’m in town for a work trip. It feels great after so many years of looking and thinking about it, to finally have one that I can make into my own little home away from home. I’m sure some people will think I’m nuts for having all these feelings about a camper, but it isn’t just a vehicle for me. It is time with the family and friends that I love, it is adventure, it is the freedom you get from traveling, it is a way for Mom and Dad to go have adventures on their own, and it is just getting out and connecting with the world at large. My sister has nicknamed the camper ChinChin, which is “cheers” in Italian. The lovely women I work with suggested the blog name. I’m excited. I hope to use this blog to share all the adventures from repairs to trips, and all the pieces that fall in-between. IMG_2884