My Vintage Airstream Project

My Vintage 1972 Airstream Land Yacht Safari

Living small in a vintage Airstream

As many of you know, I’m into sustainable housing and the tiny house movement. I don’t feel the need to live in a huge McMansion. We have a 2 story 2400 sq. ft. house in San Antonio that we only use half of. The other rooms just gather dust.

For a while now I’ve known that I eventually want to build an Earthship. I also like Eco-Domes and had though of building one down at our ranch. If we ever built the Earthship, the Eco-Dome would become a guest house.

I’ve also looked at a lot of the tiny house movement and sustainable living designs. I love many of them, but Matt doesn’t. He wants to be earth friendly, but doesn’t want to live in 100 sq. ft. I guess that’s why we both like the Earthship. It’s bigger like he wants, but totally off grid like I want.

A lot of people in the tiny house movement have bought old Airstreams and fixed them up and live in them full time. The Airstream is a classic piece of Americana. They’re built to last and are instantly recognizable. They’re trendy with the Hollywood set too.

Celebrities and their Airstreams Here’s an Morning Show video about Airstreams

Matt and I spent several years traveling around in a Class C Motorhome when he was contracting. We liked it much better than hotels, but I didn’t like feeling like we were living in a bus. I always wanted a Travel Trailer. It’s just a little more homey.

So last year I joined the Guard. Then someone told me about one of the deployments that’s essentially a full time active duty position. There’s six locations, none of them in San Antonio. I thought it would be an incredible opportunity to work full time in the Guard. It would probably be my only chance to ever wear a uniform full time. It had always been my dream to serve in the regular full time military, so this was an awesome opportunity. Even better, the job was actually something I was skilled at. Sitting behind a computer all day! So I applied. My Commanding Officer sent in a letter of recommendation. I got an interview call. A half hour later they called back and offered me the position. I was so excited. Even better, the location I got was only 3 hours from home. So I could still go home easily on my days off. It was also in a town we had traveled to many times and actually like. Although apparently I’m one of the few people who had a positive image of the town before coming here…

We have to supply our own accommodation down here. Some of the guys share a house together, one of the other guys rents a room from someone. I knew I wanted my own space, and I was going to get an RV. I was looking at cheap ones, and they were all so blah. I knew I wanted an Airstream. So I started searching. Eventually, I drove out to Houston to look at one, and with a week to go before I deployed, I picked her. She seemed pretty good. Matt was pissed caused she weighed way, way more than what I was supposed to buy. But hey, she was $3500. Plus, she was nice and spacious inside, and I though she just needed a cosmetic make-over. That would give me something to do while I was down here by myself.

So I took her into our local RV repair place. They said it was a good thing I hadn’t just taken her with me. She was ready to explode… So $2000 later, she had new gas lines, new electrical, patched up some leaks and a new kitchen faucet. So, now I’m $5500 into her. Still not bad. The tiny 1979 Argosy I had looked at for $6000 wasn’t as nice and was half the size, so I still felt I was ahead. Of course, by this time I was staying in a hotel because I’m a procrastinator and had waited so long. After 2 weeks though, I finally got her down to an RV park and started full timing.

I was in heaven. Then, the Heavens opened, and I was in Hell. The roof leaked. The Airstream had been in an accident years before. They hit something and crashed the front. The windows were buggered up. The front corner is dented.

What I didn’t know was that there used to be an antenna up top. I guess it got ripped off. They had kinda patched it, but not that well. So there’s water pouring in. Awesome. It’s not easy fixing a roof on an Airstream. Eventually, I took off the vents from the inside and stood inside the vent and patched the roof that way.

Of course, the other problem with leaks and a known issue with Airtreams is floor rot. Mine doesn’t appear too bad, except in the bathroom. It seems like the plastic is just sitting on the trusses. The whole sub floor is rotted out. My big project is to rip out the bathroom, replace the sub-floor and then put the bathroom back in.

Some of the easier projects have been cosmetic on the inside. I pulled all the broken perspex off the front window, then cleaned the old bubbling tint on there. It was amazing the difference that small window made.

I got rid of the old broken rolling window shade in the kitchen. I painted the hideous yellowing plastic in silver, and installed mini blinds. I had found these cool plastic metallic backsplashes which worked like a champ with the curve of the Airstream. So for $20, I had a pretty new backsplash. The blinds were $8 each. Paint was $14 for the metallic and the primer I had to use first. So for under $50, I had a total kitchen make-over.

Painted Window and New Blinds.

I thought the Aistream was pretty dark and wondered why there wasn’t more lighting. Turns out the roof vents also had lights under there. I didn’t find this out till I pulled down the ugly vents when I was fixing the roof. It was pretty gross up there. About 30 years worth of mold… I had to completely sanitize everything. I had been watching a series on American Restoration and they replaced the vents.

I wanted to do the same. Matt suggested I paint them, which at first thought was silly. Then one day I grabbed the paint and tried it, and they ended up looking pretty good. Well, in the day time at least. At night when the lights are on they look a little funny.

Ugly yellow vent.

While out shopping I saw the most awesome bedroom sets. They had sheets, comforters and and matching curtains in my favourite shades of Fuschia and Cyan. I also found a shower curtain with matching colours, a floor mat and even a broom in the same shades. I figured if I couldn’t do the floor yet, I could at least make the interior bright and happy to live in. I also installed the mini blinds behind the curtains. Some weeks I work nights, and I like it dark to sleep in.

I started painting over the other ugly yellow plastic parts too. The biggest part is at the front. The end dome was this awful shade of orange yellow. I painted it silver too.

I’ve got some pretty new curtains that go with my retro theme for the front.  I haven’t put them up yet though. As I work on stuff, I’ll post it up here. It has been a pretty fun project. I finally broke down and installed a flat screen TV a couple weeks ago. Put up the swivel mount, installed the TV, then realized there wasn’t a jack on the outside to hook up to the cable… The jack on the inside went to the old antenna. Which, surprisingly, picked up two Mexican channels. So then I ran new coax and installed a jack on the outside.
I’ve always been handy, and sometimes I’m surprised at the amount of stuff I can work on myself. I’m looking forward to re-doing the bathroom and then I’ll lay new flooring throughout. The lino in here is pretty fugly.
At the end of my deployment, hopefully I’ll have her all shiny and new and I can sell her and get my money back. The vintage Airstreams are pretty trendy right now. I’ve seen some that have been restored or refurbished go for almost $20k. I know mine’s not going to sell for that kind of cash, but if I can break even on my accommodation costs I’ll be happy. In the meantime, I’m still coming out ahead. I only pay $215 a month rent on my RV space, which includes cable TV and free WiFi. My electricity is about $20 a month. (I’m constantly unplugging things if I’m not using them) Even if I shared a house I’d have to pay more than that. I take my laundry home on my days off. Best of all, I have my own space. I like the people I work with, but I probably wouldn’t if I had to live with them as well…

I see articles in the paper in Oz about the housing crisis in Sydney. Maybe if more people could downsize, or if councils weren’t so anal retentive about micro managing every aspect of building, people could have more affordable housing. Maybe younger people could look at living in RV’s and save up their money for a house. Or look at buying land and building an Eco-Dome. It’s not just the building itself, but these things cost much less in electricity and water too. People could make caravan parks where they have US style RV’s that are completely self contained. I remember staying at Kate’s caravan as a kid and we had to walk 10 minutes to pee or shower. That sucked. I can’t imagine staying in a camper now and not having a toilet and shower.

Instead of buying into the dream of owning a big home, think outside the box. Look at alternative housing. It might surprise you how comfortable it is.

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Alicia’s Law

Making progress for victims of abuse in Texas

I just wanted to share with y’all the email I got yesterday from Protect.org

Alicia Kozakiewicz in Austin at the launch of Alicia's Law, with Ed Smart of the Surviving Parents Coaltion and her mother, Mary.

Victory in Texas!

They said it couldn’t be done—not in Texas, not this year—but we did it!

In the middle of one of the worst budget crises in the U.S., PROTECT has secured passage of Alicia’s Law, a major expansion of funding for the men and women struggling to rescue Texas children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

What the Law Does

In Dallas, Houston and Austin, three law enforcement task forces (covering the entire state) will get $3 million in state funding over the next two years. Alicia’s Law also makes Texas the first state in the nation to give its Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) officers special subpoena power to get suspect information from ISP’s fast.

What it Means to Children

Survivors of child sexual abuse know that if they were being abused today chances are their tormentor would have child abuse images on his computer. Hundreds of thousands of these “child pornography collectors” have been located by authorities in the U.S., but they remain at large due to lack of resources to go get them. Alicia’s Law funds will enable investigators to follow that trail of child pornography traffic “back through the Internet,” right to the door of children in need of protection, often in their own homes. That makes the $3 million in Alicia’s Law funding the most effective money Texas ever spent to prevent child sexual abuse.

Who Made it Happen

Alicia’s Law was sponsored by Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas), Rep. John Frullo (R-Lubbock) and Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine). Behind the scenes at every stage was Texas’ powerful Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who made it clear that funding Alicia’s Law when popular programs were being slashed was his personal priority.

Thanks also to our partners: the Surviving Parents Coalition, National Sheriff’s Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT). And we’re proud of our PROTECT warriors on the ground, David Keith and Camille Cooper.

Credit goes first and foremost to our members and supporters. Behind the scenes this time, you were joined by a very generous and powerful group of Dallas women and men. Their quiet phone calls and emails to Austin made all the difference.

It’s great that places in America are trying so hard to protect their children from predators. States like California and Nevada have a ONE strike and you’re out policy, Texans are trying their best to protect kids here, as well as stop child sex trafficking from across the border. I’ll have to take a photo of some of the billboards up around town about that.

My best friend just moved and we went over to her place for dinner the other night, and it was nice being able to pull out my phone and do a neighbourhood check to make sure there were no registered sex offenders close by. She felt better knowing there was none on her block.

Alicia’s Law shows that if enough concerned citizens stand up and say what they think, that laws can be changed. We can help to protect our kids.

It’s a great day to live in Texas!

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My 34th Birthday

I had the most incredibly fabulous birthday ever.

Since San Antonio is 16rs behind Sydney, I get a really long birthday! It started with a text from my brother on Monday afternoon. I was pretty excited he remembered, and even better, he said my beautiful nephew sent me kisses! I started gets tweets and FB messages from all my friends in Oz.

Tuesday I woke up and Matt had to go to work. I got to spend the day just relaxing. I pottered around, watered the garden, pulled some weeds, did some laundry. Matt came home for lunch and headed back to work. When he got home again, he told me I looked hot from working, and I should go take a shower and just relax. He said he thinks his Mom was going to come over and surprise me… I hit the MIL jackpot with Matt’s mom. She’s the nicest lady ever. She loves me like I’m her own.

Then I get a text from one of my best friends Vicki who’s another Aussie expat who had since moved from San Antonio to the coast. She was in town, and wanted to know if she could pop over to say hi.

Matt’s Mom shows up, and then our best friend Will came over. Will was my first friend in America. We actually chose where we live so we could be close to him. He was the only invited guest at our wedding, where he shared duties of best man and maid of honor. He even went dress shopping with me!

 So now I’m thinking we’re going to dinner with them. Then Vicki shows up. Then, my BFF Cassandra turns up. I love Cassandra. When everything was going down last year, she was the one who held my hand through the whole thing. When Matt had to go to San Diego, he sent me to stay with her, knowing she would take care of me. I got her a job at my work, but they’ve never put us on a shift together. Probably smart…

 Then, I hear my chihuahua bark, and Lindsay and Stacey are here! Lindsay’s another Aussie, and his wife Stacey is the sweetest thing on earth. I was there when their boy Casey was born and they mean the world to me. Casey is actually the only kid that Matt likes.  Then, another bark, and Eric and Melissa are walking in the door. Eric is a huge giant redhead and Melissa is this beautiful petite woman. Eric and I did Boy Scouts together and we traveled all over the US and even went on a trip to Mexico together. Eric also works at Immigration and he’s been with me through my entire immigration journey. Now, we’re all going to be in the same military unit together.

So, we’re sitting around drinking Bundy Rum, having a great time, when Matt says, “Lets Go”. I’m like, what do you mean? I’m not dressed pretty, my eye was all swollen up from allergies and I had no make-up on. But I was so happy to be surrounded by my favourite people, I walked out the door.

Then I saw it. Matt had rented a big white stretched limo. It’s Fiesta in San Antonio, which is a huge week long party. So instead of trying to find parking downtown, Matt just got the limo. Then we could all drink, ride in style and not worry about parking. We all laughed when we noticed the footprint on one of the windows…

So we rolled downtown, and Cassandra had picked this really nice Italian restaurant. We got there, and they thought our reservation was for the 13th… No worries, they got a room sorted and we were all seated.

We got a bunch of wine, ate great food and I looked around the table and thought about how lucky I was to have such great friends in my life. Then, my phone rang, and it was Ray, one of my bestest friends in Australia. My night was made.

I am so lucky to have such great people in my life. This last year has been tough, but it also taught me a lot about who my real friends are.

I love all you guys. Thanks for being my friend.

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Snow in San Antonio!

Freak snow event in San Antonio, TXsnowman in san antonio texas

So while Australia is cleaning up after  Category 5 Cyclone Yasi and volcano’s are erupting in Asia, the US is in the middle of “Arctic Blast 2011”. The local news people are loving it!

We’ve had snow is San Antonio about 4 times in the last 16 years. The last great snow was the year we had gone back to Australia for Xmas. The year on the Boxing Day Tsunami. Seems like all the big things happen the same years…

The local weather people had been predicting the possibility of snow for almost a week. Most locals were skeptical. Usually, if they say snow, we might get lucky to have a real light flurry that lasts less than 5 minutes and doesn’t stick. I was at work on the other side of town. We close at 9pm and then clean up and get out about 10pm. We were watching the weather. Originally they had said snow starting at 11pm, but then an update said 10pm. So we hauled ass and started packing up. We were out to our cars at 9:30pm. It had started to sleet. The cars were getting an ice coating. Thankfully, Michelle and I both had our ice scrapers. We both laughed cause for weeks we’d had people ask us why we sold ice scrapers at work. People kept saying, we don’t get snow in San Antonio. We’d have to bite our tongue to keep from saying, “good thing they’re not snow scrapers then…” So, we did our cars, then helped scrape windshields from the girls leaving next door. I hit the road, driving as carefully as I could. The roads were icing over. Thankfully, we had spent a winter in Iowa, and I knew to just take my time, leave plenty of space, don’t slam brakes, etc. Closer I got to the house, the more people I saw sliding. Made it home safe, but I could hear sirens as I walked inside.

Matt was watching the news. I made it home with about 10 minutes to spare. They were shutting down all the highways. The city isn’t prepared for freak events like this. There was over 200 accidents in the first hour! There had been a 9 car pileup right behind me. (No, I didn’t cause it!)

They local news people stayed on TV all night, keeping the city updated. Matt tried to stay up to see the actual snow falling, but he ended up going to bed. About 1pm, it started to really fall. I ran outside to take pictures for Matt, in case it melted by the time he got up. It sounded really cool. It was soft snowflakes yet. It was freezing rain to start with. Tiny pellets of ice, so as it hit the ground and the house, there was a constant chink chink sound.

Thankfully since it had been freezing the last few nights, all the plants and pool filters were covered. The backyard and side yard were quickly covered in white. I watched the neighbours roof slowly turn white. Our gutters were filled with snow. I let the dog out to go potty. It seemed like she remembered the cold white stuff from Iowa. She ran around in it a little bit, just like a small kid would.

The whole street out the front was turning white. It was so quiet outside. No noise of cars since everything was shut down. Just the click click of ice falling. I was pretty impressed by the local news people who were up all night, following the snow. They made me laugh when they said that one reporter “Had drwn the short straw” and was stuck on remote locations. The same people were still on air 12 hours later….

About 11am, the snow was finally starting to melt. The highways were still shut down. There ws still ice on the roads, but it was slowly melting. The sun was doing a good job, but anywhere there was shade, it was still icy. The roads finally opened up again at Noon. Of course, it was like morning peak hour traffic. Thankfully, my work had already cancelled me for the day, so I didn’t have to go driving in it. Matt finally headed in to work about 12:30.

It seems funny that such a little bit of ice is such a big deal. We had snow everyday in Iowa for 5 months. Sometimes a couple feet at a time. Here, we had some freezing rain and a light dust of snow, and the whole city just shut down! But, up north, they are set up to deal with it. Here, there’s no ice scrapers, no snow ploughs. No trucks to lay down salt. Well, I take that back. Apparently, there was city trucks, but the TXDot people were waiting for it to get above freezing before they went out to try to de-ice the roads… It seems that the people in were terrified of the ice and were scared to go out in it. The TXDot spokeswoman said they weren’t prepared for ice, which made Matt laugh and yell at the TV. We don’t get snow here often, but we do get ice a fair bit in winter. Just not usually that much.

So now the sun had come out and it’s a beautiful day here. Everyone who got the day off is probably pretty happy. It’s supposed to get way down below freezing again tonight, but no precipitation is expected.

Hope everyone in Australia is doing ok. Between Sydney getting record heat and North Queensland getting all those storms and bushfires in other parts of Oz, it makes my little snow storm story seem pretty insignificant…

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Emails and Posts

Sorry if you’ve sent me an email or message in the last couple of weeks. I didn’t have internet while I was in Oz. I’m just going through all the emails now. There’s a LOT of them, so please be patient…

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Finally back home

For those of you wondering if I ever made an official police statement, Yes, I did. There is still a media blackout, so the police will not talk about it till all the statements have been taken.

For the people who have posted on forums why I didn’t just call the police or send am email, I’m guessing you’ve never actually given a police statement.

The detectives I was with were wonderful people. It wasn’t nearly as brutal as I thought it was going to be, however, it was still over 35 hrs spent giving my testimony to the police. Not exactly something that could me done over skype…  The police are also aware of any money that I may have received for my story. If only it were really as much as people are speculating! Try removing a couple of zero’s and you’d be closer to it…

My original article in Woman’s Day was supposed to be a general warning to the public. We never anticipated that people were going to demand a name and shame, only to later decide they only really wanted him named if it wasn’t someone famous…. Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.

ACA only named him after there was sufficient evidence, and as a way to clear the names of the innocent. Trust me, lots of lawyers were involved. We all had to sign Stat Decs before we went to air.  It wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Especially given that several people are still working actors. Going against the flow could cost them dearly.

I don’t really care what people think of me. They can hate on me all they like. I know that I have given courage to several women to talk about their cases of sexual abuse. Not necessarily by the same man, but by victims in general. A quick search on the internet reveals thousands of people talking about the case. Whether they think I did the right thing or not, people are talking about it. People are discussing it. People are letting the skeletonss come out of the closet.  That was what I wanted. I wanted this to become something people could talk about. It shouldn’t be a dirty little secret that people are ashamed to talk about. People need to stand up and be heard.

So think of me what you will. I am still glad I told my story. I’m glad I got people to talk about sexual abuse.

For anyone still scared of going to the police, I encourage you to do so. While yes, you do have to go into every little detail, think of it as therapy. They’re there to help you.

Thank you to the Detectives of Strike Force Ruskin who took my statement.

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Thanks for the support

I’d like to say thank you to the people who sent me messages of support over the last couple of days. It was a hard decision for me to allow the story to run. It’s uncomfortable for me to dredge up the past and re-live it. Some of the personal emails I’ve received have been very touching and very appreciated.

For those of you who feel that I wasn’t “abused enough” to complain or that I’m an attention seeking whore, I truly hope nothing bad ever happens to you in life, or if it does, people don’t feel the need to email you hateful things or tweet about what an idiot you are. Hopefully someone will show you love and compassion. One of the reasons I didn’t want to do the story was a fear of people thinking I was only doing it for the publicity. I was prepared for it, but it still hurts when people send you hateful emails.

My only goal is to educate people that working as a child in the entertainment industry is not as glamorous as people think it is. It’s work, just like any other industry. (Although Child Labour laws don’t allow children to work in most other industries) I’d like to create more support for child actors, a safer environment for them to work in, and a way for them to make a smooth transition to adulthood.

So I’m sorry to those of you out there who are offended by my coming forward too many years later, or for being a whiny sook, or for actually still conducting a life and owning a business that you chose to Google and think I’m trying to get publicity for.

To those of you who have sent messages of support, THANK YOU. I appreciate you.

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New Website

One of the most important lessons I learnt in life came from a horse riding lesson.

Where you look, is where you’ll end up.

So, instead of looking behind me at the past, I’m looking forward to the future. It’s also important to keep looking up. If you look down, that’s where you’ll fall.

I’ll keep a section up here of the old stuff. There may be someone out there who’s interested in it… For the most part though, I’m going to turn this into my personal website and blog. Sometimes a girls just gotta have a place to vent. 😉

If you’re interested in what I’m working on this week then check out Going Down or ShrimpTank Productions.

Going Down is the Scuba Series that I’m working on. ShrimpTank is the production company behind it, which during the week does regular stuff, like SEO, Social Media Marketing and all the other stuff that goes into helping people get their 15 minutes of fame.

Check back in every now and again. I’ll be putting new stuff up all the time.

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