Friday, March 27, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Denver (the kind of funny that makes you want to gouge your eyes out)

(Posted by Nina...)

When we hit Dallas we split up for a few days and stayed with different friends. BA parked her house on her old street and I bunked with a couple of different people (one is an apartment I might take over, one is the condo I stayed over the holidays a few months ago).  She had dinners and nights catching up with friends and to dinner and Sara treated me to a really great concert at Dallas City Performance Hall. It was inspiring and in a fantastic venue - the music of Xi Wang performed by Voices Of Change and musicians from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.  

Then? Off to Denver for Home Show. We'd planned to take our time on the drive and allotted a 3-day roadtrip to make it in time for the set up into the building. In Gainesville we stopped to visit friends (Don & Judy) of BA's that hadn't yet seen her tiny house. After we left them we got only about 10 miles up the road before the harbinger of doom showed up: white smoke from under the truck. Then knocking. Ugh. You can read about the truck saga as told by BA on her blog here

Essentially? Truck was out of commission (to the tune of a quote of $15K for a new engine and labor). BA tried calling for tow vehicle rentals but nothing was available to her so we ended up getting a rental car and sucking it up: we were going to the Denver Home Show with no home.  The tiny house was taken to Don & Judy's house by his pal and truck was left at the dealership. Since we really couldn't do anything about the truck we decided that BA would make calls to trusted mechanics and we would take advice into consideration AFTER the home show. We toted what we needed out of each vehicle, filled up the rental car, slapped the "BANinaBegins" signs on it and left for Denver.  Foreward!

While at a fuel stop, BA said "Did you see that girl staring at the car?"  I said no. She was incredulous that I could have missed her but she was in my blindspot... I HAD to get a picture of her.  She looked like she was dressed PERFECTLY for her return to The Batmobile/Mothership.  She held her steady stare and stance for a long time and I found it  completely disarming. When we drove off, she looked pained.

The drive flew by since we weren't going 51 mph the entire way. We were back in BANina mode and planning the Denver Home Show presentation.

Before we hit Denver I wanted to make a stop and I was excited that we were so close. It was at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg. I'd heard about it from watching Lion Ark. The documentary follows a daring rescue of big cats out of Bolivia and this place in Colorado is where they were flown to. Bob Barker funded that gig... yes, THAT Bob Barker. Do you remember how he would end The Price is Right by saying "Remember to spay and neuter your pets?"  Huge animal rights advocate.  Fantastic film and I really wanted to see these animals and so we went. This is NOT a zoo. It's set up for public to view the animals but these animals were all rescues and are now living the good life. It was lovely to experience their freedom from the shackles and lives of slavery they had led. Along with the lions there were different areas for bears and pumas and tigers and lynx and fox and wolves and...even porcupines!  The viewing was from a bridge high over the prairie and spanned a mile out so we it was good for us to stretch our legs and walk a couple of miles after all the driving. 

 It's hard to show with these iphone6 pictures, but this place is expansive. The animals have LOTS of space to roam
 Here's a shot from the bridge overlooking the prairie. We would walk above the animals and were able to be surprisingly close without them being disturbed.

Here's a shot of one of the signs that describes just a few of the rescue stories. After reading a few of these I came up with the conclusion that some people are just horribly flawed when it comes to animal welfare.

A photo of a tiger that was napping after lunch. We watched the handler (Andrea) feeding the animals and cleaning cages. Quite a job.  We also saw a lioness napping and you could see she was dreaming, looked like she was running. 

The staff here was friendly and informative and we were happy to have missed the rain that was forecast for that day. I was happy to stop and support the sanctuary and get an immeasurable gift in return. 

Later, we arrived in Denver, checked with HappyCow and saw that there were several Native Foods (come on Dallas! Where is OURS?!?) and so we had dinner and checked in to our AirBnB basement apartment. We ran errands and got ready for the homeshow. That was Wednesday.

I don't think I can say who we had dinner with on Thursday night but we'll just say Some Big Wigs.  They took us to Linger, a mortuary-turned- restaurant.  Hip, funky and super vegan friendly. The Big Wigs helped with the ordering of known favorites and we had a great night. We were out pretty late and then? We had to go execute our plan for the 'homeshow with no home".  We taped the floorplan of BA's house onto the floor with painter's tape. We marked our the outer walls and porch, the windows, the loft, the inner walls... It was nifty. We set out banners and her display stuff.
(Part of her display stuff is the large, spiral-bound component plans for The Gifford. Her stuff was labeled with her name and phone number on it. SOMEONE STOLE THE COMPONENT PLANS ON DAY 2 - I can't even stand that someone did that! Grrrr) We got back to our apartment at 1am. That meant the next day was going to be taxing with us already lacking sleep and having to put in a 12 hour day. 

We were set up in a tiny house village and made friends with two of the closest ones to us and had a great time with them. They thought the taping of the floorplan was ingenious and, it did seem to make an impression on the crowd. We had a signs in different places that explained that we were on the way with the house but the truck died. The people would make the appropriate sad face for us. The Denver T. H. Meetup group leader welcomed us and gave us cards so that we could connect others to their group. 
The tiny houses that were there were all great and I was REALLY bummed that BA's house wasn't there for several reasons. For one, it's CUTE and would have been the smallest one there. For two, it's built by BA and friends...not professionals. BA was at first nervous about being showcased beside pro-built homes but I think she saw the value and need of having her lived-in/not a display showpiece tiny house there. It's got 5000+ miles on it. Authenticity through and through when you experience BA's tiny house.
It was great to tour the other TH's and see their cool ideas and interpretations.

  The people were a mix. You could tell there were folks who went JUST to see the tiny houses and were on their path. Several knew BA and/or BANina and made for a lovely connection. More often though, were people who just hadn't ever heard or thought of living small and gave us these FACES...oh the faces. The first day, a person came out of their 4th tiny house tour and say to their friend, "they're nice and all but...they're just so SMALL"
HA!  yes.  That IS the point. 

Saturday I got word from friends confirming that they were coming. I met Bill & Lisa the same way I met Kristol ( 10 years ago) and have since gone on vacations to meet up with them, but separately. Even though Kristol and Bill & Lisa "knew" each other, they hadn't actually ever met. They ended up coming at the same time! (If we had tried to plan it, it probably wouldn't have worked so well!)  Bill, Lisa and I were taking a picture when Kristol popped in for the photobomb! 
They each have connections to tiny houses! Kristol's nephew is currently building and it's far enough along that they're living in it and  Bill is also building one, his is super close to being done!  We looked at pictures of them... really fun to have friends not think you're crazy (like everyone did when I first started talking tiny years ago)

On the final day we went to dinner at Root Down.  I *highly* recommend it. It's not solely vegan but they can certainly put out some stellar vegan food and the staff that recommended the meals said they weren't vegan but had it often. Really, just so so good and all of the staff were great. We were gifted some chocolate truffles for dessert and found out that one of the staff members was looking at container homes while his wife was all about tiny houses. Fun conversation and really good food and drinks were what we needed to close up the home show.

The drive home was more of the same. I'm telling you, it is GORGEOUS out there but's so flat. 


I am so lucky to have been able to be with BA on this unconventional home show presentation and meet Don, Judy, The Big Wigs, some tiny house builders, and people that support BA and follow BA & I on this blog and instagram.  It was fun to see folks face to face and hear their stories (since they already know ours!). 

Anyhow - BACK to Reality once we hit Gainesville. Called AAA for another tow. 
It's off to get a 2nd opinion. 
The house will stay where it is for a week while BA hustles to get something SOMETHING going for a vehicle. There are several options but they all cost $$$$ so... it'll be a numbers game. 
So after we packed all of my stuff and some of BAs stuff out of her house, we took the rental car to Austin to get ... MY CAR!!!! My beloved Focus was driven from NorCal to Austin by one of my former student employees during her spring break. She has family in Austin and it was a great opportunity for them to get together!  Of course....from here to Austin is about 3 hours so...ugh...BACK into the car we go. After we picked it up we asked HappyCow where to eat and she steered us to a foodtruck and the food was DIVINE. Really putting out some fancy and tasty eats at Bistro Vonish.  

Then came the time to come home. Each in our separate vehicles and heading toward different places to bunk for a couple of nights before we embark on more shenanigans. 
It was funny, there was that certain point where I had to veer left toward Fort Worth and she veered right toward Dallas and we said our goodbyes over the walkie-talkies. The over-dramatic "aw, so sad!" "Bye!" "I'll miss you!"  and as we're each going our separate directions she says, "It's a BANina split"

So now she's out with the movers and shakers, looking as to where to park and wanting the presence of her tiny house felt. She texts me and I get all cooled out by what she's doing. In the mean time, I'm retreating for a bit. Today, as I rode my bike on a path, I saw turtles sunning themselves on a little wooden deck at the edge of a pond. It's great to be on my bike again. I missed my bikes. I'm in the city for a couple of days and then going out to the country. 

Please send BA good luck with her sucky truck issues. Stay tuned for the mechanic's verdict on that.

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