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Welcome back to our first chronological web update since Holidays '04 ~ we're just now ready to share with you the experience of leaving Texas in '05. It's just been too damn emotional. Looking back now some five months (!?!) ago, we can laugh about the experience and realize that it was meant to be ~ we learned an enormous amount about ourselves, barenakedfamily, business, and life in general in a relatively short amount of time.
Some people misunderstand barenakedfamily as a Family on vacation and living full time in an RV on an extended road trip ~ we look at our change as a life trip. Something we had to do to reconnect as a Family. The RV and travel was simply a tool, a means to an end. We left Seattle to travel in an RV because we were confused about where we want to live our lives. As a Family, we love Seattle and the west coast in general yet our home and extended Families are in Texas; we were tired of the heat and wanting desperately to figure out how to run a Family business to work with the kids; trying to figure out how to live with less for Family when society dictates acquiring more stuff for Family ~ we were just another way confused Family that ran away from the rat race.
A spirit of rebellion rekindled in Greg and Jenn that had developed during our teenage years and we had somehow outgrown. Over the years of RV travel and our Family discovery, our pendulum swung from too rebellious back through too conservative. Our pendulum is swinging less these days, we're learning about ourselves and staying true to who we are through every experience we learn from.
Going to Texas in late 2004, we went with a plan to find a business owner that was ready to retire and help us walk into their business. We wanted to carry out our initiatives of what was BNFamily organization through this business. We planned on having a 'brick and mortar' building for what we call Fuzion and name it 'Dirty Sneakers'. In 2004 we had risked everything we had left and put our lives on the line to bring our vision to the public all in an attempt to earn a living doing what we love ~ bringing Families together through music and to Work, Learn, and Play together as a Family.
When we landed in Austin, we setup the RV in a cheap trailer park and continued our fundraising and promotion for Fuzion. We were also actively looking for business owners that were ready to retire and help us continue their legacy while creating our vision. We eventually landed on what we thought was perfect...
See the RV? We were relatively alone on a piece of 9 acres with abandoned RV/mobile home hookups. The owners had a plan to be gone within two years and wanted the land to become a resort of some kind. They were very receptive to our ideas and showed confidence in our abilities. We were invited to hookup and live on this property in exchange for taking care of it.
The property was heavily treed and had a few small buildings on it ~ house, barn, garage, and a cabin. The cool thing was it had plumbing from about a dozen or more mobile homes that had been part of a religious hermitage from the '70s. Long story short, it didn't work out. We became in need of work and renewed energy ~ we needed a break from all the efforts and risks we took in 2004. When Weed offered some work in California, it was good timing for us. But we had to be there in a few days or they had to contract someone else for it... Mother Nature had a different idea.
17,000 pounds does not do well on soft, moist grass.
Our clock was ticking, and our home was stuck in the mud. If you've never had your home stuck in the mud, it's very stressful for everyone.
Except the tow truck. For him, it's just profitable.
He yanked us out with no problem on his part. For us, it was just more stress watching your home get yanked sideways on tires you needed for some income some 1500 miles away. For the property owners it was awful seeing the ruts dug in. We all pitched in to flatten them out.
We wondered how we ever got in there ~ dry helped get us in, but did the trees grow?
Asphalt had never been so welcome ~ Jenn did a joy dance, Greg hollered victory, and the kids were just pissed because it was way too much work filling ruts. What was supposed to be a simple morning of packing and getting to West Texas and possibly even further, turned into a wasted shower day and hours of frustration.
But getting on the other side of frustration leaves everyone with a feeling of victory ~ our tow driver was our hero this day.
And the dogs were just freakin' lazy.
We started the morning around 8am and were packed and moving the RV by 11am. We didn't make it to the Wal-Mart parking lot about four miles away until around 6pm where we had an impromptu Wal-Mart parking lot party with our Dad and friends ~ Jenny, Grandma, and Karen. We spent the night in the Wal-Mart parking lot 'boon-docking' and getting some rest for the drive to Carmel, CA where our job was.
The morning started slow and creepy like the rest of the drive became. Just down the road on our way out of Austin, there was a crash and it had started raining. After the stress of leaving the property, we had to wonder what was in store for bnf next.
Fortunately in West Texas the weather became clear and it was smooth driving up to eastern California.
When we started getting near Los Angeles, it started raining... then HARD. It was about this time we recognized that having the AC fan out was a real problem because the defroster needed it to unfog the front and side windows. Seeing outside the RV when you're driving is relatively important. So we improvised, turned on the generator and used a space heater and hair dryer on the front and side windows. It was working pretty good, and when we got just into L.A., the weather reports were bad. We pulled into a truck stop and listened to the CB, watched the TV news, and got scared. The Grapevine is a pretty steep pass north of L.A. and was snowed in and closed. The rain where we were was relentless. We were hungry, tired, frustrated that the RV defroster was not working, and on a tight schedule trying to get to the job before they had to contract someone else. After about an hour at the truck stop, around 5pm, the CB chatter started reporting that the Grapevine had just opened up. We figured we had to go for it ~ during the day would be better than night. We went and it was awful. The road winds up, was wet, hard to climb, hard to see, and felt very dangerous. Once we were over the top and coming down the other side it was like the operatic 'aaaaahhhhhhhh' as the setting sun shone on us and the valley below! Home free... To Carmel that is. We actually ran into significantly more rain after leaving the valley and heading to the coast again, but it wasn't that bad. We made it in time.
That's Kevin Weed and the architect for this job hiding behind the ladder. Kevin's company builds out retail stores as General Contractors in the 'Tenant Improvement' industry. Basically, they bid on construction jobs around the country when one store is being demolished and turned into another. This job was demolishing four stores in a mall and turning it into one big store. Kevin and his Family (Weed), moves around the country living in an RV and Kevin acts as the General Contractors 'Superintendent'. His job is to manage all the sub-contractors through the entire job from demolition to turning the keys over to the store manager making sure everyone does their job according to the plans.
Mark is a superintendent with the same company and was between superintendent jobs so he was hired as a carpenter to build the storefront for Kevin's job. Mark needed a helper for the carpentry ~ enter Greg stage left.
And everyone knows Greg comes as a team. Jenn and the kids spent a lot of time on the job site supporting their man.
The benefits of working in Carmel, CA. This beach was a short walk down the street from the job site.
We setup our home at the Monterey County Fairgrounds and were very happy to be parked on asphalt. Right behind us was a golf course; getting hit by the golf balls on a regular basis was the downside of being parked here.
But we had a lot less to lose when we got hit by golf balls.
These neighbors were golf pros in town for a Pebble Beach tournament. Notice the car seat ~ how wicked cool is that? This bus is one of Prevost 2005 models built into a 'coach' by Marathon ~ the lights and grill have been re-designed from the previous years. At night, this one had red lights underneath that lit the ground. So very cool. The husband/wife in this one were probably in their 30s and they had a driver. i want that...
But for now we're relegated to cleaning stores for some pocket change...
But we are working together! Once Greg finished building the storefront and most of the other construction was complete, we were hired for the construction cleanup. Dust everywhere!
The girls were particularly into cleaning...
...and napping. At the same time.
But we finished cleaning the whole thing eventually. This red wall was particularly difficult during the build process ~ it was painted about 10 times to get it right. The paint kept separating or there was a blemish in one little spot. Each time it had to be sanded and repainted completely for a smooth, even finish. We do not envy the painters ~ but they did do a great job.
When we were cleaning, the guy installing the cabinets showed us how to get into this cabinet by pushing the square panels from the inside, out. When one was giving Greg a hard time, he popped it out and damaged it right in front of the guy that built them. Oops.
And the brown here is what Greg was responsible for helping build. Carmel has tough building restrictions requiring special finish carpentry on their store fronts. This one could not be pre-built and installed like most which is why Mark and Greg had to build it from scratch. What was supposed to take two weeks turned into four. But that's some good carpentry there, right?
January 2005 Pictures >>