Happy Birthday, monkey.
Happy Birthday blondie!
I think we all had a great time in Texas, even if it was an unorthodox vacation for us. Normally we go someplace and there’s a mission or an activity to be accomplished; this can be anything as stupid as get to the beach before noon or as complex as be in the lobby by 8 for the bus to St. Peter’s Square. There’s a plan, and we try to follow the plan. For this vacation, we had a destination, we had friends to see, and we had a vague notion of things to do, but most of the enjoyment for me was just coasting from day to day. As such, this review is going to wander all over the place, because I don’t remember exactly what happened when, and that’s kind of a good thing.
The house Jen found for us was absolutely perfect. Set on the east side of the city, we rented a mod little cottage set back from the road in a stand of trees. It was cool, quiet, decorated tastefully, and within walking distance of several restaurants that served great coffee. I made it my job to rise early and bring back breakfast for the three of us to slowly get our days started. We had the luxury of having the house to relax in, and actually spent a fair bit of time there just enjoying the cool quiet by ourselves. It was clear they’d spent time designing it with sunlight in mind; each wall was sprinkled with small windows set high off the ground for maximum privacy. All the surfaces were reclaimed wood, and the floor was poured concrete.
Jen had ideas sketched out for each day. Our first day on the ground, we pulled beach towels and swimsuits out of our suitcases and drove to Deep Eddy, a cold spring-fed community pool that was very quiet for such a hot day. We lucked out and found a parking spot right out front, paid our tickets, and were able to immediately wade into refreshing water with a very slippery bottom. Being spring-fed, it took me a while to get up to my waist, but it was worth it to see Finn wade right in and make some new friends.
We spent Friday hitting some of Austin’s best thrift/vintage stores; they take their thrifting seriously down there. We started at a place called the Leopard Exchange, where I found a vintage Budweiser delivery shirt that fit like a glove. Around that shop were about five others, each with their own vibe. The level of curation at these places is beyond anything I’ve seen in Baltimore—there are a few vintage clothing stores I’ve been to here but nothing like the selection and pricing we found there. I looked long and hard for a good western pearlsnap shirt but came away empty handed—the closest I got was made of heavy polyester and wouldn’t be comfortable for a day’s wear. Finn took us to an alternative store and picked out a corset with Jen’s help; she found a way to relace it and wore it for the next couple of days.
On Friday I posted a picture of a Scout I saw on Congress Street to Instagram and the local IH community said hello; I’ll write more about that elsewhere. We walked the length of the street and found some great artwork, as well as spending time in a store called Lucy In Disguise with Diamonds, which was full to the rafters with interesting costumes for Halloween and from feature films. After stopping at Guero’s Taco Bar for some dinner, we hiked down the hill to the Congress Street Bridge, where a crowd had gathered to watch the bats fly out to hunt at dusk. It was incredible; thousands of bats following in trail down the river and out over the city, enough to show up as a dark blot on the horizon.
When the main swarm had left, we rented scooters and rode them back up the hill to our car, which was one of the better ideas we had all week.
We spent Saturday and Sunday hanging out with Linda and Cam at their house, and they took us to a couple of their favorite restaurants in the area. It was great to catch up with them and relax.
Monday we drove to Barton Springs, another naturally-fed community pool, and spent a good bit of the day swimming in the cool water under the skyline of the city. It was a perfect way to spend the day—just wading in and out of the water, with noplace to get to and nothing else to do. When we started getting hungry, we reluctantly dried off and drove to a restaurant called Chi’lantro, where Jen and I ordered Kimchi Fries, a dish Linda has been talking about for years. We were not disappointed. Then we checked out some more stores featuring local art, hoping we’d find something good. It was hit and miss.
On Tuesday we did some shopping for our neighbors, who helped us with housesitting, and who always bring back interesting things from their travels. We hit a store called Uncommon Objects, which featured an incredible collection of curated antiques and oddities, including some artwork we loved but couldn’t afford.
We don’t have an Alamo Drafthouse by us, so we thought we’d take in Thor: Love and Thunder on our last night in town. We had a lot of fun, and Finn loved the movie. I think the thing I remember most about that experience was a music video they played before the show which was equally disturbing and hilarious.
Wednesday morning we hustled back to the airport, turned in our little Buick (review: nice little car, but abysmal visibility past the B-pillar) and sailed through security in record time. The flight was uneventful, and we got back to our house by 4PM. All of the pets were happy to greet us except for Bella, who remained asleep on my pillow, and we collapsed into chairs, tired from the trip.
I would happily return to Austin anytime as long as they can stave off Gilead; it was a great city filled with great people and a vibe I remember from the early 90’s in Baltimore when it was weird and full of artists. I’d love to transplant a bunch of that energy here.
I intended this to be a 360˚ photo you could pan around in, but apparently Flickr’s support of 360˚ photos took a shit and died. And their forum posts around the problem all date back to 2016. yay technology.
First and foremost, Happy Anniversary, Jen. I love you.
We did not have any spectacular anniversary plans because we drove down to my Father-in-Law’s house to continue helping him sort his house out. We got a lot done in two days—not as visually impactful as previous weeks, but we’re making steady progress.
I drove the Scout down separately from the girls because I had it stuffed with tools and four new tires for the Chrysler. The first thing I did after we got settled was to jack up each corner and put new shoes on the old girl; she looks so much better sitting on fresh tires. When that was done I jacked up the front end, put a 1 1/4″ socket on the crankshaft, and gave it a tug with the breaker bar. It moved! Putting a socket wrench on it, I got one full revolution going both ways, which means it’s free!
Next I pulled a heat shield off the steering column so that I could get a smaller ratchet on the socket stuck on cylinder #7, all the way up front on the driver’s side. With some careful maneuvering I got the socket and the plug off, and dumped some Marvel Mystery Oil down that cylinder as well. Then I replaced all of the plugs with fresh ones and reconnected the old wires (new ones are on the way).
Then I pulled the alternator off, flipped the bracket around and re-mounted it; it fits much better but I need to find some bushings to help secure it in place (I’d guess the originals fell off when the old unit was pulled in 1980). When I’ve got those I can mount it up permanently and hook it back up to the electrical system.
- Clean and rebuild the carburetor. I’ve got a kit coming with new gaskets, needles, floats, and hardware. I’ll douse the whole thing in brake cleaner and get it set up for surgery tomorrow.
- Order plug wires, a rotor for the distributor, a new coil, and some fan belts.
- Order a drum brake kit for the fronts—If I can get it to stop reasonably well when it’s running, I’ll drive it to a brake shop and have a pro go over the whole thing properly.
- Read up on testing for spark, using a multimeter to test the coil, and diagnosing distributor issues.
Other than that, I did a lot of stuff around the house, like fixing his garage door, fixing a window, further organizing his garage, and hauling a load of stuff to the dump. It was unbearably hot this weekend, so I was covered in grime at the end of both days. But I had fun driving the Scout—even in heat, it is a ridiculously fun road trip vehicle—only having to pause under a Shell awning for an hour to let a thunderstorm pass by.
Too much going on for updates today, so here’s a picture of my girl from 10 years ago when the weather was warm.
10 years ago today.
We had guests over for a lovely dinner on Saturday night, and I figured I’d set up some soft jazz in the background for mood music. I’ve got an iTunes library with a real nice jazz collection that I’ve spent years curating. For a long time, all it took to work was to have iTunes running as a shared server and the AppleTV would pick it up on the network; I could scroll through the shared media from there and play that through the head unit into the speakers. So that’s what I did.
But Saturday our AppleTV didn’t see the server; an app is supposed to pop up called “Computers” and from there the library is visible. But I didn’t see that. I checked the connections and realized the AppleTV was on the wireless network, so I hardwired it: still no luck.
Thinking it could maybe be that the ancient version of iTunes 10 I’m running downstairs (the server is a 2008 model and maxed out at OS 10.7) isn’t compatible with the AppleTV, I figured I’d bypass that and started hunting for old laptops from that era which could still talk to it. I’ve got an ancient Powerbook G4 running 10.6 in the basement, so I dug that out and booted it up to see if I could access the shared library. Success! I moved it to the den and balanced it on the receiver, then plugged an iPod input to the headphone port. But from there I got nothing; I guess the mini headphone jack isn’t compatible with that port.
The receiver has a big Spotify sticker on the front, so I checked into that as an option. For some stupid reason it needs an app on your phone, which is a ridiculous situation and one I can’t use anyway—I’m still on the free account and it requires a paid subscription. So I just tuned into the local college radio station and we suffered through some hair metal.
This morning I did some sleuthing and happened upon a random comment on Apple’s boards which led me back to iTunes on the server to check whether I was still logged in to the iTunes Store: I was not. (How I ever got logged out remains a mystery). I logged back in and presto! the server popped back up on AppleTV.
Here’s a shot of Finn from eight years ago.
I got a text Christmas afternoon from Brian, who had been browsing Marketplace and found a 31′ Airstream Sovereign for a ridiculously low price and mentioned he was going to look at it at 8AM the next morning. Being an enabler, I invited myself along and promised I’d arrive at his doorstep at 7:30. Which meant I had to get up and out the door by 5:45.
Having successfully roused myself, I did in fact make it to his house by 7:30 with a fresh Boston kreme donut. We loaded up his truck and struck out for the border of Delaware, where we found the Airstream docked next to a large garage.
Waiting for the owner to come outside, we looked over the exterior and found it to be in excellent shape. The aluminum siding wasn’t too oxidized, and the tires held air (but definitely need to be replaced). All of the access doors were present. The glass looked OK, and while crazed from the UV coating having delaminated, wasn’t cracked. When the owner came outside he told us to have at the interior, and we stepped inside and backwards into 1974. 90% of the original cabinetry is still there. He’d ripped out all of the carpet so we could see the floor was in rough shape around the edges—a common problem with all Airstreams. The beds were present, and the rear bathroom fittings are all still in place, but spotted with mold and dirt. I poked around other areas and found a lot more rot in the floors, but agreed with Brian that the bones were in good shape. He ran back outside to do the deal, and within a half an hour we had it hitched to his truck and were on the way out the driveway.
Taking the back roads home we avoided the 5-0 and made it safely to his house without intervention or tire blowouts. We then surveyed what he’d just bought and came up with some plans.
Plan One is to sit on it for a few months and flip it when the weather gets warmer. The seller claimed he’d had people from all over calling him about it; Brian got it for a stupidly low price. I have no doubt he could resell it for more money. And some of the interior parts might fetch good money on the classifieds market; there are curtain fittings and appliances that would be impossible to fabricate today.
Plan Two is to gut the interior and replace the wooden floor. We’ve found several how-to sites with advice on how to do it in sections without lifting the whole shell off the frame. With that done, we could fix up the outer shell (fix the windows, etc). and sell it as an empty project.
Plan Three is to fix the floors and build out the interior with the basics—a working kitchen, bathroom, beds, etc., and keep it as inexpensive as possible to maximize the profit.
Plan Four is do do Plan Three and then install custom accessories for the buyer—upgrades to the kitchen, add solar power, or other high-end options.
The important thing is that we’ve got to finish the bus by late spring, so the Airstream will be parked for a while waiting on that to finish and a new garage to be erected at Brian’s house. When that’s done we can get it inside and really start tearing into the project to see what’s there.