Friday, June 17, 2016

Altering the Malden Skyline - April 2016

Original photo July 27, 2011
Remember back in 2011 when Norm and Jules got the property in Malden, that they named Aluminum Acres?

Remember the scary building?

The plans back then were to tear it down right away and build a nice fancy replacement building.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

Although it didn't quite go as planned during the last five years, it has been an adventure none the less.

Aluminum Acres only had two buildings on it when Norm and Jules bought the place. They were forced to alter the Malden skyline when Ilean was dismantled last year on Memorial Day weekend because of the broken water pipe. (See my June 2015 blog entry - Ilean: Farewell my friend, Rest in Pieces; for the details.)

This time it was a planned alteration of the skyline. The issue was that it took five years to get started after it was first decided. The only question now was how long would it take to finish?

The work started with Norm 3 and his friend Joe taking off the old wavy metal. Norm 3 said the metal was cool. Norm thought it just looked old and rusty. I just figured it was wavy. Joe never really said much either way.

Norm 3, Joe and their better halves (Liz and Lani) stayed at Aluminum Acres Friday night. They started working before Norm showed up with the real ladders.

This ladder was used to climb out of the pit for the water hydrant that Jason and Norm installed the week before. I could have built a better ladder but Norm makes me stay home more. He didn't take me with to put in the hydrant and I haven't been able to find one so I'm not sure what they did. I will just have to watch out for dogs to show me where its at.

See the wall on the ground in the lower right? That FELL OFF during the last storm. The cross member FELL OFF the storm before! The building was literally taking itself apart piece by piece. We finally just helped it the rest of the way.

I liked the new skylight but I couldn't convince anyone to stop. It really brightened the place up and made it not so scary.

This was the work bench. I never saw Norm do any actual work there so I don't know why he called it that.

There was a lucky horse shoe hanging on the wall. One must believe in luck and such. If you don't believe in luck how do you explain reading a blog written by a gnome? Just sayin'

I'm not sure how long it would have taken, but the tree was determined to push the scary building over.

I tried to get on top of the building for a good supervisory look but Joe spotted me. I had him beat heading up the ladder but I ran into Norm 3 at the top. Luckily for me Joe warned Norm 3 that there was a camera present.

Instead of getting pummeled we got a great photo. I was then sternly advised that I should stay very close to the ground or I might get flying lessons.


After most of the wavy metal was off, the building wasn't too scary.  Kind of light and airy actually.

The final moments of the scary building.


If you ever need a crew that can get a job done fast... Here they are!

To answer the question of how long would it take?  One day.

After working all day it was time to put the final touches on the scary building and have a tasty beverage at the same time.

Good bye scary building. The sun rose on you this morning and by nightfall it was over.

Now, what to do with the newly found space....

Until next time,



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A New Rally: Birds and Bovines, Wisconsin

We finally made it to the Birds and Bovines Rally in Wisconsin!!

While I must admit I felt a little weird when I found out that a bovine was a cow. I thought they just had strange looking black and white dogs at the Horicon Marsh.

Oh yeah, the rally is at Ledge Park near Horicon, Wisconsin. Also known as Horicon Marsh.

Did you know that Illinois and Wisconsin have a similar state bird? Its a little thing with a real bad disposition and habit of biting. Its called a mosquito!

I think one of the best things about vintage camper rallies is getting to hang out with old friends while meeting and getting to know new friends. Well, not all of them are old, like Norm.

Vito and I were just sitting around talking when we went for a stroll. Generally in the direction of BJ's camper because we were running out of tasty beverages and BJ is known to usually have an extra one or two around.

We passed this on the way to BJ's.

Check it out! A tad young to be vintage, but that was ok since this rally doesn't restrict young campers. They encourage everyone to come and have fun. I really liked this one and tried to convince Norm that we needed one, a Travis special. Jules is on board already! Although it should be red like my hat. A gnome camper for sure.

This one belonged to Vicki and Jim.

Yee haw.....

A camper with a saddle. I couldn't find the horse that pulled the camper though. I think someone was saving the horse and riding the cowboy. I would hate to be stuck behind this one on a two lane road. Pokey!!

This was Bill and Anna's cowboy themed camper.

I didn't realize BJ was camped eight miles away. (At least it seemed that way, I was getting parched.)  Whilst making our way we ran across a few other gnomes that were there. To say I was surprised was accurate!

One thing I knew, but this picture confirms.....

Blue hats can't keep up with red hats!  This poor guy was passed out early.

I was convinced this guy was an elf, rather than a gnome. I was sure he was from the North Pole tribe, because of his black hat, but he said he was from Boston's South End neighborhood.

He even had the bling to prove it. He said only in the South End do they put diamonds in their teeth.

The green, I think, was just a hygiene thing since he had been eating pea soup when we met him. At least that is what I'm going with so I won't gag.

He was a real nice guy though. He said he was big into plaid when I asked about him having a black hat. I still don't know what that has to do with his hat, but ok. Weird, but nice.

I think this was one of the first rallies that I met more vertically challenged folks, like me, rather than tall people.

I was trying to talk to this cute round bovine when Vito started clearing his throat REAL LOUD. I didn't see the flamingo coming up behind me. It ended peacefully though after Vito let him go. He was just coming up to say hello and to let me know that the bovine was his girlfriend. Sorry fella. I hope your neck feels better soon.

On to BJ's!!

We made it!

Ahhh, a tasty beverage awaiting our arrival. I REALLY like BJ!

Sampson was as excited to see me as I was to see him. I learned however, don't look Sampson directly in the eyes. He gets freaked out. I assured him I wasn't interested in his bed but he kept yelling at me. I need to figure out how to understand dog. Between the arfs, yaps, barks, growls and whines I'm sure he was well meaning in his explanation. But who knows.

Ok, so I fibbed. You caught me. At least Sampson didn't.

His bed is nice and cozy and a great place to take a nap.

Our rally hostess, Jeanne, said that Horicon Marsh is beautiful at sunset and that we had to go up and see it. She also said we had to be careful that there were no railings to keep folks from falling off the ledge.

Turns out there is a 50 foot drop off right where we were, hiding in the bushes.
Sneaky little bugger.


(The sunset was nice too.)

You really need to see the sunset first hand to get a true appreciation for it.

After the sun set we had to scurry back to BJ's campsite before dark. I didn't want to be lost near the ledge without a flashlight.

Talk to you soon!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Ilean: Farewell my friend, Rest in Pieces

Isn't she beautiful? Yes, Ilean was a charmer. However, looks can be deceiving. She unfortunately just got real tired and too sick to save. So, Jules and Norm decided to let her "Rest in Pieces" and have a party while making it happen.

Big Shirley
This is Big Shirley. I know, what has that got to do with Ilean? Since Ilean became a problem girl we had to do something for a bathroom at Aluminum Acres. Hence, Big Shirley.

This was Memorial Day weekend, 2015. Ilean's big farewell party.

Home made picnic tables; Thanks Kyle and Kate!
During the trip to Aluminum Acres, in Malden, we stopped for breakfast. THIS is what pulls up next to us in the parking lot! 

Jules & Norm got new picnic tables from KC & Kyle for their anniversary! How cool is that?

KC and Kyle MADE these!  Handy little buggers! Yep, built them in their garage. I love the colors, a perfect match for Aluminum Acres too! You know I could have helped.

With the required connections to Big Shirley made, the process of retiring Ilean began in earnest.

Although Big Shirley is not at all completed, she was thrust into service for this Memorial Day weekend and tribute to our friend Ilean, as she crosses over into the aluminum memory books.

We had a wickedly efficient crew for this job. While part of them were unpacking Ilean's contents through the front door...

The rear of the building was being dismantled.

We elected to save a bunch of her if possible. You know, reuse, recycle, repurpose what you can.

The start of a celebratory bonfire. Or a funeral pyre. I'll let you decide.

Brings back memories of the fire we had when we first got Ilean.

2010 cleaning out Ilean

At the time (2010) this seemed like a big fire. It was a tiny spark compared to the one that consumed most of Ilean's burnable bits. We actually started a tree on fire with the sparks and had to not only hose the tree down, we ended up having to cut off the branch to save the tree! (Its the tree with an X on it in the above picture.)

2015 saying good-bye to Ilean

This was a low ebb in the fire. Notice how the burn ring is so much larger.

Norm & Liz made quick work of the master bedroom.

Ilean didn't stand a chance against this crew.

And the unpacking of the household goods was nearly complete.

A girl and her new picnic tables.

Aluminum Acres is looking more and more like it was envisioned.


OK, now get back to work.

As Brock would say, "Not quite yet."

"Chief" loved the tire swing.

Thar she blows!! Wait, that's from Mobey Dick.

Seemed appropriate though as the master bedroom came down. Norm III got a bit agitated with me for getting in the way. For someone who is a legend you think he would understand. Sorry Dude.

By this time even the dog (Cindy-Relli) was getting tired.

Jules was doing her Where's Waldo impression. She was really good at it too. I can't find her. Can you?

The master bedroom is now officially gone!

Kyle to Norm...

"Wait, we're saving the awning and not just scrapping it?"

"When did that happen?"

Adapt, Improvise, Overcome. Best line in a movie ever.

The goiter (a growth on her pretty face) is gone...

Probably not the most politically correct, but that is what we lovingly called the room off the living room.

Not much left but a shell now.

Safety first and always.

What might be hiding under here?

Any guesses?

Nothing. But the previous owners did LIKE using old license plates for repairs to flooring and ducts.


The awning is....


Now for the last few sheets of aluminum siding.

The best part of the siding is that it is an exact match for our 1958 Hiawatha (Bob the Burger) camper's skin.

A little levity during the process too. Norm III rode Ilean to the ground as the front portion was demolished. Brother-in-laws don't always agree on the madness of the methods. This is the video I love the banter between Norm III and Jason.

Nothing left except the bathroom and a partial outer wall.

This was chosen to be the last part to come down, as a back-up to Big Shirley. We didn't want her to feel too much pressure being that it was her debut.


Another one!

This one is cool though. Vintage and camping related you know.

Once down, everything had to be sorted from the area.

And shortly before the tree fire issue.

Bright and early Monday morning.

The last standing walls came down. Its a good thing I wasn't in charge, or OSHA.

Big Shirley, we're counting solely on you now sister.

Bathroom is gone.

Some of Ilean's hidden issues. Anyone with a vintage camper knows about this stuff.

Last of the wood demo.

Taking out the floor, sub-floor and joists. A chainsaw was the best tool for that!

Just had to watch out for where those steel frame beams were.

The first of four trailer loads of recycling material to be hauled away.

There were another three trailers full of reusable / recyclable bits that were hauled off.

Did I mention that Heath (aka Chief) loved the tire swing? If he could find someone to help push him, he was going!

But its not always just about fun and games. Sometimes you have to stop playing and look out for someone else.

The happy recipient of Heath's thoughtfulness. His "G" getting a bottle of water from him.

How a 3 year old thinks of these things on his own amazes me!

With the shadows growing long...

There is nothing left of Ilean except her frame (which was cut up and hauled away 3 days later), a giant hole in the ground and cherished memories.

By the way, does anyone know anyone that hauls gravel for fill?

THE CREW: Family!

L-R back row Joni, Heath, Jason, Jules, Kyle and Kate
middle row Brock and Norman (aka G)
front row Relli and Yours Truly; Travis
missing Norm, Liz and Marah

Not in the picture is Norm, Liz and Marah as they had to leave a bit earlier in the day on Monday.

This is one proud set of parents; of their kids, their kids' spouses and significant others and grand-kids.

It could not have been done without all of your help. Thank-you so much!!

A Dee...
A Dee...
A Dee...

That's All Folks.


Oh for cry-Pete,

Another one!