Monday, August 30, 2010

Squeaked by...

In every sense of the phrase, I indeed, "squeaked by," this weekend.  The nagging voice that kept me awake several nights continued to remind me that the water heater compartment stood too high and would most likely compromise a proper placement of the sink basin in the galley.

No, I wasn't losing sleep over the people in Haiti who are still living in temporary housing camps, post earthquake.  And for that, I should feel ashamed of myself.  But, that's another post for another day.

I feared that I may have to redo the whole water heater box, give it a haircut along the bottom and fabricate a new piece for the access door.  My gut was telling me that I should have lowered the water heater and made the box shorter.

Saturday morning arrived.  I brought the van over to my shop space and dragged the water heater locker into the cargo bay.  The top edge of the blue tape represents the surface of the counter top.

So, here lies my dilemma.  I'd surely hit that box if I wanted the sink centered between the wall and the edge of counter top.  I just don't know why I didn't see that coming.  

That's as close as the basin will get to the wall.  My heart sunk.  

But wait!  What about the faucet?  

So, there's the faucet as it will look, mounted into the wall.  It will swing out of the way, so that the bed can be expanded over the counter top.  Seriously, I can't believe I found such a cool piece of plumbing hardware.  I paid handsomely for it, but I digress.  

And look where the spigot ends up, with respect to the bowl.  

I realize you may not be able to tell from this angle, but the faucet extends almost to the center of the bowl. How amazing is that stroke of luck?  It's perfect!  

Whew!  I can rest easy.  There's also enough room to mount the hot and cold water hoses under the faucet, without too much trouble.  The gap between the water heater locker and the counter top will be just enough to accommodate the propane line from the stove.  "Lucky," is the operative term.  

Of course, if I need to replace the water heater, there will have to be some removal of plumbing and shelving, but if I construct to deconstruct, then all is well.  I can't tell you how many times I've had to remove parts and pieces from my cars and motorcycles just to get to the place I want to repair.  It's just the nature of the beast.

Now, here's where things took off in a completely different direction, this weekend.  

My girl felt that we needed to spend some more quality time together, since I have devoted five consecutive weekends to my build, thus far.  She suggested a drive up into the mountains to a little town called Idylwild, for some cooling off and a bit of fresh air.  A part of me really wanted to keep pushing through this project, but another part of me said that life ( as well as a relationship) is a balance, and one weekend surely won't be the ruin of me.  "Sounds fun," I said aloud, as if  to offer myself an affecting life affirmation that I gleaned from a self help book.

Well, wouldn't you know it, after a round of phone calls in search of a room, my girl found out that the Jazz In The Pines festival was currently under way.  Ah!  No rooms!  In hindsight, I could have jumped on that opportunity and opted to stay local, giving me a chance to continue what I was doing.  But, I was warming to the concept of a break.  "Call back around 3pm.  There are always cancellations."  A ninety minute drive would place us there at a perfect time of day for an arrival to the mile high mountain village.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get at least one task underway, should we decide on a whim that we're taking off for the night.  The wire cage behind the passenger's seat has a solid board that blocks the view of the interior from prying eyes. 


Unfortunately, the driver's side lacks the equivalent.

So, a little cut...

a little paint...

Let it set.

Sure enough, a room cancellation!  Let's hit the road!

Upon our arrival in town, it was clear that the economy has taken its toll.  I wouldn't have known there was even a festival in town if I'd just rolled in, unaware.

Of course, you can't have a jazz festival without some sort of jazzy car making its rounds through the neighborhood.  Though, I was still a skeptic. 

The Gnome had the right idea.  For it was certainly time for a beverage. 

The Gnomes know, because our next stop was the restaurant "Gastrognome," a moderately reviewed higher end dining establishment.  At the bar, I ordered a couple of glasses of pinot noir, to which the female bartender responded, in a surprisingly masculine voice," Okay, two glasses of pinot," before turning to my girl, "and, what are you having?"  Her comment was worth a chuckle and set the tone.  The restaurant had a nice cozy quaint vibe to it, far better than the Internet photos had suggested.   I even contemplated offering the manager a photo session for a free-meal rain check. 

Apparently, the real act in town was a restaurant called "Aroma."  Given that sitting down for a meal didn't really feel like something we wanted to do, my girl placed a call to "Aroma," enquiring about the possibility of getting a table in an hour or so.  "We're completely booked now, but things should thin out around that time.  Check back." 

A few minutes and a few sips later, my girl leaned over with a concerned look.  "Is that a man," referring to our bartender's deliberate way of grabbing bottles and pouring liquor into glasses.  The painted nails, mascara and necklaces told a different story, but we were waiting for more. 

A waitress breezed by, snatching up a tray of freshly prepared drinks with umbrellas before gliding swiftly into the adjoining dining room.  A murmur trailed her from behind.  "Thanks, Ron."  No bones about it, that dude had nothing to hide.
On cue, in walks a gay couple from the desert resort town of Palm Springs.  They drove about as far as we did to get to Idylwild, but from the opposite direction.  Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope each owned lavish homes in Palm Springs back in the 50's.  For years, it's been a retreat for the affluent gay community of Los Angeles.  And, that group has certainly added great value to Palm Springs by refurbishing and redesigning the original mid century modern architecture with great style.

So, this gay couple says hello to "Ron," happy to pay a visit to their old acquaintance and our fabulous new bartender.  Yet there's an odd energy, as I sense that while they're thrilled to pieces about "Ron's" fashion statement, "Ron's" not gay and doesn't jibe with what they're offering.  His responses are curt and professional. 

At this point, it's becoming clear to me that Idylwild is not merely a sleepy mountain town that one could easily pass right through while on his way to somewhere else.  Indeed, there lies a nuance beneath the surface.  My wandering mind conjures up images of "Twin Peaks."

My girl can hardly keep her eyes off the crazy diamond encrusted gold rings that adorn the right hand of the guy that did less of the talking.  And, just before she can muster up the courage to make a comment, the lesbian couple swoop in and take the two seats between us.  No jewelry talk for my girl. 

The two couples converse about all things fabulous, Palm Springs and the design business owned by the guys that just landed them a huge payday via a brand new commercial account.  The conversation leads to questions about dinner.  "Oh, we're heading over to 'Aroma.'  We booked our reservation 6 months ago.  You can't get in, otherwise."  

My girl and I shot each other a knowing glance.  Apparently you can get in.  "Check, please!" 

A drive up the road led us to a whole new experience.  This is where money stays when it comes to Idylwild.  I had no idea.  Nice restaurants, galleries and lodges lined the street.  How did we miss this?  And, sure enough, peeking out from a stand of pines, stood "Aroma." 

A tree fort in the woods, came to mind.  The restaurant consists of several levels, with lots of nooks and decks.  Dusk settled in.   Dots of warm candle light flickered upon the table tops, breaking up the blue hazy evening -- a sight to behold.  

We stood at the base of the stairs, determined for a shot at schmoozing the maitre d'.  Clearly, Aroma was the place to be.  The tables were filled with over sized plates of colorful food and bottles of wine, while people clustered in groups awaiting the next available table.  

This is where your attractive smiling girlfriend comes in handy.       

"Give us about fifteen minutes and we'll probably be able to come up with something."  I surely didn't expect that.  Especially since the gay couple from the bar, flashy rings and all, had just pulled up in their new Mercedes, walked right up to the front of the line and announced their arrival for their table.  I saw where all this was heading.

"Let's come back in a hour."  I grabbed my girl's hand and we strolled up the road to another place which had a deck that overlooked the creek.  Not so bad.  But it wasn't Aroma. 

"Six months in advance!?" 

After about an hour had passed, we decided to try our luck.  Once again, standing before the maitre d', we asked if there was any possibility of a table, since the place had "thinned out" a bit.  Incidentally, the great thing about jazz festivals in a little resort town is that the clientele are generally older folks and like to get their dinner on at 6 to 7 o'clock.  Now, this is a generalization, so don't get mad at me if you've experienced otherwise. 

Sure enough, a table was available, on the deck, with a perfect view of the jazz band that was due to start.  I found out later on that several of the band members had played at the festival throughout the day.  And they were top notch!



The food was amazing and the whole experience couldn't have been better.

We got back in time, the following day, so I could roll out a second coat of paint and affix the board to the cage wall.  Not a bad weekend, I'd say.



  1. Glad you took the time to get away for the weekend. Life has to be lived as it comes. I know you get great pleasure working on your van, but it is important to keep relationships healthy too.