Our next house…

We’ve always had cool houses.  Early in our marriage we bought a 1915 craftsman house, worked on it like crazy.  It was cool. Tons of character and a formal first floor where dinners and parties flourished.  Our next house, the one we live in now, is a 1952 mid-century modern. With 27 feet of floor to ceiling windows across the back, it has an amazing view.  It boasts a one-off Belgium glass wall in the kitchen, and of course, a dining room that has hosted any number of parties. We like our houses like we like our friends, easy to be around and full of character.  I had settled on a company that delivered tiny house trailers, with the house framed in metal studs, ready to be finished. Christina was convinced she wanted more freedom of movement than a tiny house, and the search for a travel coach began.  

We are not what most consider “normal”.  We are a little off the beaten path, and full of texture and richness.  We like our coffee, tools, electronics, cookware and cars made with quality and care. We don’t want a lot, but we want it to be good. And if it’s a few years old, we’re ok with that too.   We looked for the same in a travel coach, our next home. We wanted to be able to handle at least a little bit of cold weather. And we knew that if we were going to make it, we needed some space, even though there will only be two of us and a dog.  We wanted a coach that is low profile and streamlined. Being the creative, funny, zany people we are, we definitely wanted a ton of character in our home. Coming home from work one day, I found Christina headlong into another of her online expeditions, she discovered Avion travel coaches.  We fell in love. For Christina, the coach had that cool look of an aluminum and rivet exterior. She loved the use of real wood cabinetry inside. And she really liked the floor plan of the 34V. I too love the aluminum exterior, and even more, the aluminum interior coated walls and aluminum wall and roof framing.  When I read the words “aircraft style construction”, my little tiny gear head brain was hooked. I love the heavy duty frame, three independent axles and a fully enclosed belly pan. When I saw the dovetail joint drawers, I was impressed. We wanted a fixer upper, knowing we would be making some changes to the floor plan to fit our style.  A fixer upper meant we could stay in our budget too. Reflecting on some of our friends fifth wheels, I noted the lack of a “basement” in the Avion. Ok by me, we have lived in a slab house for 14 years, and I’ve rarely missed having a basement. Less junk piling up, and less to keep clean. Another thing we like about the Avion is it’s low stance.  Only one step into the coach. This will be challenging for us in some road conditions, but being low, out of the wind and having such ease of movement means a lot to us. Overall the Avion demonstrates careful construction, rivets everywhere and nicely installed cabinetry. A heavy duty frame, doubled up over the axles ensures long lasting service. The interior floor is three layers, with a foam insulation layer laminate in the center, and walls, years ahead of their time, filled with solid foam insulation.  The tow vehicle we just purchased for our Avion is a 2012 Chevy Express 3500, with the Duramax diesel. The Chevy and the Avion are very similar in height, especially with the kayaks on top. For me, this creates a slipstream with the van punching into the air with little resistance from the low profile coach. Even with almost no experience towing a 34 foot trailer, I can’t wait to get this rig on the road. With a planned speed of no more that 60-65 miles per hour, some books on CD and a windshield full of American landscapes, we think our Avion 34V will make for amazing adventures.  Thanks for joining us.

Why THIS Avion?

Avion coaches are a little rare, and can be hard to find.  We wanted a 34 foot coach as it will be our full time home.  We found a coach in Michigan that we felt was a perfect fit. After several phone calls and emails with the owner, and agreeing to a price, I took time off work and we drove the 9 hour trip to Michigan.  We visited the coach and took a good look at things, we were ready to buy. As we discussed on the phone, I offered the amount we discussed..  cash.  He glanced at his wife, who shook her head “NO”!  The price I offered was already a premium price for the condition of the coach, so I thanked them for their time and left the house.  I think I had steam coming out my ears, my wife could tell from the inside the car, the deal fell through…

We still had a night in the hotel booked and decided to make the best of it.  After hours of searching, we found a 34V just south of St. Louis, that just came on the market.  It also happened to be on our way home. We called the seller and told him our story, he agreed to meet us on a Sunday.  Arriving around noon, we found all sorts of travel trailers, with several aluminum coaches in one section. Avions, Airstreams, and a 1940’s Spartan.  He had an Avion slide out camper, too. There she was, our dear Luna. On a slope, and with the tongue high. The coach looked a little rough, but we knew what to look for after hours of reading online articles.  The seller opened the door and we walked in. Summer heat and a closed coach with some water coming in, make for a pretty musty interior. I think Christina was barely breathing. I toughed it out and opened everything. Every single thing. The coach was quite intact.  All there, but had hosted some rodents, and mildew was found inside some cabinets. I carefully inspected floor, finding only one soft area. That was good news. The bad news was, climbing the ladder I found the roof coated, and it was a mess.

But the coach was smiling at us.  She was solid and proud. Deserving of love and attention.  We struck a deal with the seller, several thousand dollars less than we would have paid in Michigan.  We even made arrangements for the seller to deliver the coach to our home 4 hours away in Kansas. We laughed all the way home, realizing our dreams were coming true.  We were freaked out that we had taken these steps, but so excited to move forward. Several weeks later, the coach was delivered to our home. The seller was amazing. A true aluminum trailer fan, he carefully backed the coach onto our driveway and parked it right in front of the house.

We had to fight our friends off from coming by,  Luna had to be cleaned.  I went to work pressure washing the exterior, including the insides of the lower storage areas.  Opening all the windows I vacuumed everything I could get to. We pulled out the awnings and were glad to see them in great shape too. When you wash something from top to bottom, you get a good look at things.  The coach was in better shape than I remembered. We left an ozone generator running in the coach for days to reduce the odors, it worked great. After days of cleaning we had a “before” party. All our friends finally got to visit Luna.  We had cocktails and snacks and hung out in our new home. Our friends have always known us to live our lives fully, and choose the path we love the most. None of them were surprised at our adventure. Luna was home, scrubbed clean and loving the sun.  Blessed by laughter, and life giving friends, Luna began to shine brightly, ready to see her days extended with her new found family.

Who the Heck are these Peeps?  

Christina comes from a small town in Missouri, just north of Kansas City.  Her Mom was an avid outdoors woman. Her knowledge of native edibles, mushrooms, and the land turned an after lunch hike into unforgotten discoveries.  Her Dad was retired Navy, and enjoyed fishing by row boat on the local river. Christina is a simple blend of the two. She’s strong, smart and caring.  She enjoys cooking, nurturing friends, and entertaining. Christina worked in banking for many years, and became a full time mom at home when our first son was born.  During those years she practiced art and self employment at home. She and a girlfriend ran a small business making hand crafted luxury soaps. She enjoys photography and editing and has a dozen other small crafts she hustles around her studio.  Christina has a clear connection between her mind and her hands, and it always shows when she is working. Christina works with Heartconnexion Seminars. She helps organize and leads the volunteers in the Breakththrough seminars. She has a strong heart to listen and support others.

I was a commercial artist for over 11 years.  I always enjoyed the work, and found the most peace at work at a drawing table.  I switched careers when we started a family and ran a nice auto shop in Kansas City for several years when the kids were young, then became self employed, working on antique houses.  The work is pretty creative and after 18 years of it, I still find it quite rewarding. Our youngest son became involved in cyclocross when he was in high school. Christina did all the driving and managed his road trips.  I got involved with the local team coach and started a program we still lead called Donderdag! Youth Cyclocross Clinics. Donderdag! has grown into a 501 3C Non-Profit and I serve as board President. I will definitely share more about it at a later time. We coach kids and families from September to January every year.  I love the sport, and working with the kids and families inspires my heart and mind. It’s a place where simple time and attention to a young person can make all the difference in their lives.

We’ve always enjoyed the outdoors together.  Early we liked to car camp with our friends locally, and a couple times a year we’d go backpack something fun and off the beaten path.  Favorite times. We had kids about 3 years after we married and they were in tents and backpacking early and often. Our oldest son was nursing in a tent at 6 weeks old. They both vacationed, camped, and backpacked with us in Colorado, New Mexico, and the Grand Tetons.  One of our favorite trips with the kids was in the Black Hills in south Dakota, watching a big cabin tent come loose and blow across the campground while we we sitting up on a bluff looking down…. It was ours! Life and connection with the earth spills over into our kitchen. I’ve been vegetarian for a long time, and when we married, Christina had no problem finding recipes she liked to cook.  We’re mostly vegan now days, and I’m still the luckiest guy in town when it comes to great food at home.

Christina and I surround ourselves with things in life that instill joy in the human spirit.  We love funny movies with our kids, and laugh so loud that it surprises other people in the room.  We hosted my family reunion together for 30 years, in our home. Basically a weekend dog pile of food, laughter and zaniness. She’s always been a good sport.  We loved going to musicals, band events, and art shows our kids were in at their schools. We love to be inspired. And so here we find ourselves. The kids have been out of the house for a couple years. We are nowhere near retirement, and I’m ready to change my job.  We’ve been wishing for an off grid house forever, but never thought we could afford one. We joked about getting a tiny house and moving onto our friend’s driveways. We tested the water in a little A-frame camper about 4 years ago, and every time we drove toward home after a weekend in the little camper, all we talked about was how great it would be to hit the road.  To live fully in the dreams we keep sharing. To take a dare before we grow up enough to know better. So this is our place in time. We’ve always been seekers.

To Seeking Less and Finding More!

Jonas

You’re Doing What??

Yep… we’re doing it!  This is Luna… 34 feet of shiny love on wheels.  AKA, our next home.  It’s exciting, it’s terrifying, it’s ON.  Join us as we update our progress, hopefully weekly, on this dreamboat… err, coach.  Next week we will share all the details on why we chose this specific coach, what’s cool about her, and what we still need to figure out.

Stay tuned… as a good friend of ours is fond of saying ~ We’re just getting started!

2018-11-25_0001.jpg