Back before April Sam and I had this Brainstorming session and came up with the concept that we should create a rolling Gypsy Puppet Caravan. Crazy I know. I was excited and started to draw some concepts. It morphed along the way but really took shape when we found an old buckboard wagon on “craigslist.” We ran off to Poulsbo, Wa and with some help from UHaul managed to get it home safely. There it sat for 2 months while the clock began to tick. Finally the stars aligned and I was able to pull together all the resources, friends, and materials we needed. Thus the journey began and the Vardo started to come into focus on this plane and not just in my head. It goes without saying that there is no way I could have done this without the amazing talents of Tim Leonard, Ryan Wright, Jacob Rose, Matt Hoar and Sam of course. If you would like to see it coming together you can see all the photos on Flickr HERE. We kept all the running gear but built the rest frame up. Now that it is almost finished I the feeling it will never quite be done and always evolving, The fussy bits are the things that take the most time but instantly get absorbed into the overall look and function. Hours spent on curtains, drapery, tiebacks, hooks, boxes, seats, distressing wood,………you get the idea. The Wagon made it’s rough debut at the Local 4th of July parade and we spent the next couple weeks on all those details I was talking about.
After postponing our departure to Oregon Country Fair by a day, and with two hours of sleep the night before, we rolled the well strapped and chocked caravan out of the driveway and started our journey. For about 100 feet. The brake controller was put in the van the day before with Ryan’s help and something wasn’t quite right. I disconnected it and we made a run for the ferry. We got on the Ferry with one rim about 250 degrees hotter than the others and made a beeline for Les Schwabb in Clinton. They took a look at it, laughed at the wiring and helped us disconnect the controller so we would still have lights. Now we were off again,…. or so I thought. After about 10 miles on 5 south something did not feel right. I pulled over and the wheel was even hotter. We pulled off the highway one more time and found yet another Les Schwabb. After describing the problem they struggled to fit us in. We spent the next few hours at Krispy Kreme, reading stories, and refilling our coffee mugs. A couple doughnuts also met thier demise but you knew that already. 4 hours later they had pulled things apart. The Trailer that we borrowed had been in the weeds for a few years and now that the brakes worked again one decided to fuse itself to the drum. They took it apart and the wheel spun free. Much to my Surprise the checked us out and didn’t charge us anything. I asked if I could buy a trashed rim to support the front wheel of the trailer. $10 later we were off.
Sort of. Now that my focus was off a wheel bursting into flames below our new caravan I could focus on the crap job I did strapping it to the trailer. It is not that the wagon was going to come off, the problem was that the wieght was on the wheels and not the frame like I had hoped to work out before we left. The wagon was pitching and yawing with every little bump. I nursed it at 45 miles per hour through Seattle rush hour traffic. I intended to sort it out when we got out of Seattle but my plans changed when I hit the jump Evel Knieval had helped design into the Highway just south of the city. I saw it, I hit the brakes as hard as I safely could but I watched in slow motion as the wagon jumped straight into the air and smashed onto the deck with the force of a Elephant. The front axle tapped out at that moment. I pulled off the next exit and rolled into the local school parking lot so we could access the damage. It was bad. The bending of the axle was only stopped by the wheels hitting the frame. On the edge of tears I went to work fixing what I could. Then I noticed it. A set of moldy, dirty, discarded stairs sitting next to the trash bins. As if he had been cued stage left waiting for this moment a Janitor came into view to see what we were doing. I asked if the stairs were trash and he said,….”No,….Don’t put anything in the trash” in a korean accent. I Pointed and asked if the stairs were trash and he nodded something that looked like yes. I asked again and if we could have them and said “yes” accompanied by host of headnods and arms movements that I could only translate as “whatever!?!?” He got in his truck and drove off. I got out my trusty tapemeasure and checked the axle. 21 inches. I ran over to the steps. 21 and a quarter inches. PERFECT. Thank you Faeries! After we wrestled the stairs onto the trailer the wagon slid on with minimal effort. The weight was now on the frame. I managed to use the Les rim, a couple pieces of wood and a small scissor jack at it’s limit to support the other end. An hour later we rolled out of the parking lot and watched in our mirror as the trailer and Wagon moved as one. It was 5pm and our actual journey was finally beginning.
The rest of the drive towards Eugene went without incident. Except that we were tired, crazy tired. At 9:30 I called some friends in Portland to see if we could crash at their place. They were not home or not picking up. Just as we decided to roll through Portland and sleep in a parking lot the phone rang and it was James. He and A were in Seattle at a wedding. Bummer I thought. “But you can crash at our house if you want?” We were beyond thankful. Once arriving at the house, and getting the kids settled I crashed face down, fully clothed into thier guest bed.
to be continued……