Tuesday, August 16, 2011

There and Back Again.

'Don't you steal my baby, you gypsies!'

This is the first thing that our campmate, Mouse, said to us when we rolled up to Silver Channel camp at Pennsic at about 10:30 PM. It was the start of a really wonderful vacation, and a welcome relief from the stress of the past month.

Everyone was incredibly enthusiastic about the vardo, despite the fact that we had to do a little finagling to fit it into camp. (Next year will be easier.) By the end of Pennsic, our camp Mom & Dad were hatching schemes to build a shower on a trailer with a holding tank, so that we could dispense with digging the shower pit every year, which is a royal P.I.A. Another enthusiast was our friend Debra, who with her husband run both a clothing merchant and leatherworking business. (Good stuff, too - Sultry Treasures by Debra.) She's looking for a shop/wagon where she can keep her stock and pack and unpack easily.



Messy, but VERY comfortable!

My attempt at artsy photography - the Sun finial on our awning against the rising moon.
As unfinished as the vardo is - it still lacks all of its decorative trim, stain on the bays and front door, a finished interior and any kind of caulking - we got a lot of compliments. I can't wait to show them the end product!

During the last month, I'd kind of lost my vision of how cool this thing was going to be. This was due to the frustrations of some of the roadblocks we came up against and getting a little burned out on the work and worry. Well, one day at War cured all that. The first night, after we rolled in at 10 PM, instead of having to then set up a pavilion, and our bed in the dark, we simply parked the vardo and went to bed until we could set up formally the next morning. And then it rained! Torrentially! We slept on, dry and warm. Let me also add, that rain on the aluminum roof was very soothing.

Most of what I did this war was....nothing. Well, mostly sleep. Yes, we went shopping and to a couple of parties, but the majority of my time was spent either reading under my shade awning or snoozing in the vardo. Even in the direct sun, the vardo was relatively cool, as long as I left the windows open. The addition of a battery operated fan made it positively blissful.

Packing up was diabolically easy. In fact, Norm and I ended up sitting around like Statler and Waldorf in a couple of camp chairs, watching everyone else pack up in a panic ahead of a predicted downpour on Saturday. Frankly, the only reason we were still there at that point is that we were land-locked in by other people's cars, tents, etc. until about 2PM. Honestly, we could have been packed in an hour and gone. I think our camp mates might have hated us just a smidge right then. Norm helped fill in the shower pit in atonement.  Next time, maybe I should bring pie or something...

The vardo towed to and from War very well. We didn't have any problems, and according to Norm it tracks really well. The only issue we encountered is that about 100 yards from home, we hit one of our pet potholes and busted a shackle link. This is easy to fix.

I learned a few things during this shakedown:
1.  I think maybe I might reduce the amount of space that was going to be closet, because I really didn't use that much space on my clothing rod - maybe like a foot. So I don't need a 3-foot closet. I think I'll have Lars shorten the closet and turn the extra space into corner-shelving.  Shelving ROCKS. I had stuff stuck in the eaves, on the bay windowsills, and on the four shelves that Lars had put in between the studs. I want MORE!

2. I think also that I will paint or stain the wheels a brighter color so that they pop out in front of the black fabric wheel camouflage, so that the camouflaged modern wheels are less obvious.

3. I made the right call in buying such huge scissor leveling jacks. Lars thought 7500 lb jacks was overkill, and maybe it was, but I felt very secure perched on the side of the hill with one side jacked up almost a whole foot. The vardo hardly had any rock or shake at all. This helped Jenna sleep at night.

4. We need a big hook to hold the hatch open while fishing within the cargo hold.

5. We ended up buying some cement blocks to use to foot the jacks - they were cheap and they made a big difference in the vardo's stability.

We will be on a short hiatus until maybe October, when Lars is predicting he'll have some more time to work on the project, and I'll have some bucks to spend. See you then!


  1. Yay! I'm so happy it worked so well! And again, I'm jealous. ;)

  2. OMG it's beautiful. Happy you had a great shake down cruise at Pennsic!

  3. Love your design! My lady and I are considering building a vardo or vardo-like structure to use for events as putting up the pavilion is getting difficult as we age. A couple of questions: How much does yours weigh and what do you tow it with?

  4. Hi! Did you by any chance post this question generally in the 'PennsicWar' Facebook page? Our vardo has since been painted cranberry red and blue, so you might not have realized it's the same.
    But here's the answer: 6x12 double-axle trailer, rated for 5,000lbs. We weighed in unloaded at about 2600 but have done some interior work since, so loaded it's probably 3600. We towed it this year with a Dodge Ram 2500 Hemi 5.7L.

    1. Hmm.. I might have. :) I've found it's a detail that very few who have made Vardos think to post when the show them off. :)