Friday, January 8, 2021

People are amazing!

 Hi Friends!

We are currently at a lovely state park in Florida, Topsail Hill Preserve.  It is beautiful, with lots of great bike trails and a beautiful beach.  When we got here we got a big suprise;there were other Airstreams!  We usually don't see a lot of Airstreams in campgrounds, maybe one or two, but there were so many. Turns out there is a rally at this park that we landed persfectly in middle of!  Over 70 Airstream campers are here for the Canopener Rally.  We have made a lot of new friends and are constantly learning from them.

On Tuesday I decided to put up the awning.  We haven't had it up in a while because it's either been too cold, too rainy or too windy but Tuesday was perfect.  As I was lifting the rear support it broke!  The spring unwound and wacked me in the head and arm pretty badly.  There was blood everywhere - head wounds are the worst according to everyone.  So we went to Emergency, probably the last place you want to go to in a pandemic.  But after three hours and lots of bleeding, I got eight staples in my head!

When we left for the hospital the awning was sprawled over the camper half unrolled, half still attached.  While I was getting fixed up, the other campers at the campground put the awning back together so we didn't have to deal with it when we got back!  People are amazing!

Now I'm going to continue with my recap of how we got here.  We left off in my last post dropping the AS at Woodland Airstream in Grand Rapids in February.

We gave them a massive list of projects:

  • The major issues to start was the rotted floor in the back storage space so that had to be completly replaced.
  • Replace the roof fans with new Fantastic Fans
  • Replace the front skylight
  • Make the furnace work - the previous owner had removed the controller so you couldn't even turn it on.
  • Install a new Natures Head composting toilet and plumb it into the black tank.
  • Install a new Truma on Demand instant hot water heater. 
  • Fix any leaks they could find (I now know that is an impossible task - but worth a shot)
  • Remove the old satellite dish and patch the holes
  • Replace all the bulbs with LEDs
  • Replace the old power ports with USB.
  • Add a back up camera

They set to work and then Covid hit. The dealership was closed for a couple months, but so was everyone so we understood. 

I made a "before" video at the dealership.

We picked up the completed camper on May 7.

Meanwhile, we scheduled The Dry Campers, a couple who travel around installing Solar systems on RV rigs, to come work on our camper. They had a great way of working.  We ordered all the parts they would need to be delivered to our house before they showed up.  Then they camped near by, Mike worked on our camper during the day and they get to enjoy a new part of the country. They were at our house the first week of June and put in 900w of solar panels and 4 lithium batteries. I highly recommend working with them.  Mike and Leanne are just great people.

When Mike pulled up the floor to put in the batteries he discovered some black mold! It wasn't bad but we decided to pull up the the laminate floor and take out the cork floor a previous owner had installed. I marked the existing laminate and reinstalled it - badly I will admit.  We should have replaced the floor at that time but didn't.  

I started working on the interior. We decided to use the Moose picture that was in the camper when we got it as our theme. I didn't care for all the oak and decided to paint it all.  I went with Annie Sloan paint because it covers everything.  It was a huge learning curve getting it right and I'm still touching it up where I didn't get it on correctly but I love the look.

The jackknife sofa was in dire need of reupholstery.

Pleather peeling

I wanted to use the leather from our sofas in our home.  It was buttery soft and the perfect color.  I called around to find someone to do the work but most people said it was impossible.  Finally found a wonderful man in Holland who said he would take on the challenge.

I "skinned" our old sofa and loveseat and delivered the leather and sofa to him.  He did an amazing job. I even convinced him to make a poof, an empty storage pillow for blankets and extra clothing.

I loved this sofa, so comfortable

Leather after skinning it and the loveseat.

Randy, the artist who did the work.

The sofa and the poof!

The leftover sofa and cushions were reused by our good friends the Spratts.  Randy did an amazing job for them as well.

I put up press-on wallpaper in the bedroom, bathroom and main room. I installed press-on tile in the kitchen. The difference was amazing.

Bedroom wall

Hard to believe it's press on

The last project was the desk.  We removed the dinette and sold it to The Dry Campers - well, actually used it to pay for some of our solar installation. :)  A good friend built a custom desk and I painted it.

At this point we were ready to move in. Over the summer we had sold our house and most of our stuff.  We still had some issues with where to put what we wanted to keep.  I'll save that for my next post.

Now it's time to enjoy this lovely park.

Take care of yourself and each other,

Monday, January 4, 2021

Purchase and pick up

Hi Friends,

Our move to living full-time in an Airstream has had so many ups and downs that our friends have suggested I write about it.  Yes, I should have started the minute we brought it home, but I didn't.  So today I'm going to start journaling what's going on.  But first I need to go back in time and journal what we did to get here.

January 2020

Starting in the fall of 2019 I began researching online looking for the perfect camper.  I knew I wanted an Airstream and I knew it had to fit in our budget.  I wanted to keep the total for both the truck and camper around $50,000.   That's seemed almost impossible. 

I had an idea of the layout we wanted. We didn't like the rear bathroom because the bed was much to small for the two of us but other than that we looked at every model. I scoured Airstream Classified, RV Trader, FB Marketplace and Craigslist every day for months.  It was frustrating when I would find the perfect camper on the west coast because I knew it would be more to trasport it home than to buy it.  Eventually I found one in Florida that seemed about perfect, a 2001 31' Excella wide body with a rear bed.

Buying something for that much money sight unseen is scary.  I asked the very helpful people on the Airstream Forums page what to do to make sure it was a good purchase and they gave me the name of an inspector in Florida who really helped us out. He gave a full report, found some issues (in hindsight, missed a few - but not many) and we negotiated the price down to cover the repairs. 

But there was still a problem, we didn't have a TV (tow vehicle).  I set my two amazing brothers to work on this one.  They are car geeks, they love old cars and fixing old things.  If anyone could find us a great vehicle Norm and Rich would be the ones.  Sure enough, they found the perfect truck outside of St. Louis, a 2004 Silverado Diesel 2500 with low miles and in great shape.  The thing was the dealer knew it was a great deal and we had to pay cash for him to hold it for us.  Again, pretty terrifiying buying something sight unseen. Norm assured me with his research and insight that it was the right thing to do and we did it!  Wired the money to them and then had to figure out how to get it.


On Feb. 3 we flew to St. Louis.  I had booked the night at Americas Best next to the truck dealership in Eureka MO, I thought, but it turns out there is an Americas Best in Eureka CA as well!  Yes, I had booked the wrong hotel; (hard to believe I travel for work all the time).  We stayed at the airport Marriott that night took an Uber to the dealership in the morning and by noon had our first truck! 

We drove to Macon GA en route to pick up the Airstream only to realize I had booked us at the WORSE hotel ever.  I was trying to save money and had grabbed a budget hotel.  YIKES! I can't even describe how nasty the room was. So at 2:00 am I called around and found a Fairfield for the night.  

Next day we drove to Tampa to pick up our new camper.  It was what we expected, except it felt smaller and dirtier.  Photos can be so deceptive.  I paid the owner and we hooked up.  

Our first photo with the camper

The truck's trailer brakes didn't work but we took off.  I called ahead along our route and found someone who could install a new brake controler.  With a small detour and some time spent in a tiny town in Georgia we were back on our way.

We spent our first night at a Cracker Barrel in Georga.  It was hot and we had no idea how to open the windows. The batteries were dead and we had no water but it was ours!  We bought some ice, beer, candles and food.  

Our first night!

The next day we drove most of the way to Michigan.  By mid-afternoon it started to snow. The second night we spent at a rest stop in Ohio.  We had no idea how to turn on the heat and we froze.

We drove into Woodland Airstream mid-afternoon Feb. 7th.  I went over a huge list of things to fix, replace and add with Erich the service manager and left our new camper with him.

We had done it! Bought an Airstream and truck for under $50,000. Now the work had to start.

Enough for today.


Sunday, January 3, 2021

My New Years letter

Hi Friends,

Like many people I didn't send cards this year but still wanted to touch base. This year would have been extremely dramatic for us even if there hadn't been a pandemic. Indulge me while I recap.


In February Dennis and I flew to St. Louis and bought a 2004 Silverado 250 truck. Then drove to Florida to buy a 2001 31' Airstream Excella.  We pulled the camper home and dropped it off at the Airstream dealer in Grand Rapids for major updates. 


The shut down in March hit Liam hard.  He had had his best swim season and was poised to break a school record in the 200 Free at the State meet on March 13th. The meet was canceled on the 13th.  To come so close and miss it was tough, but he never complained or got upset.  He just went on with his dreams of writing music and was accepted to the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (CCM) to study Music Composition.


Like everyone else, we stayed home for the next couple months.  Dennis had been working at a bike shop for a while and my online training went crazy, I usually had a couple classes a month, but my schedule filled up every week, thankfully.


Liam graduated with little pomp or celebrating.  He didn't seem to mind missing prom, graduation or all the awards ceremonies.  He went to a few graduation parties and we had one for him.


In July we put our house up for sale and it sold in 3 days for more than we were asking! Two weeks later we closed!  Luckily, we had till the end of August to move.  The rest of July and August was spent getting the Airstream completely ready and selling/donating everything we owned.  That is a huge chore!

We dropped Liam off at UC mid-August and he has been LOVING school.  His classes have been mostly online, but he loves being in the dorms around "his people''. He lives in a dorm with a couple floors completely dedicated to CCM students. The jam sessions, the creativity, the fact that other kids get his jokes has been a gift.


August 30, we left our house for the last time.  Our old boy Gus had passed earlier in the month, but we still have Jazzy, our cat. So, the 3 of us set out.  She has taken to Airstream living well but the travel days are still filled with hours of her singing the song of her people.  We must get that figured out!

Labor Day weekend we had a tire on the trailer blow on the highway and it caused a lot of damage to the septic system (tore the valves right off).  We could live in it but couldn't camp in a campground because, well, we leak!  We camped by mom's house in Harrison for most of October and helped sell everything in her house, getting it ready to sell. In November we went to Tennessee to stay at Rich and Sharon's country house. It's a peaceful, beautiful place and we loved being there.  Except for getting Covid.  We both had a mild case and thankfully after a couple months are pretty much back to normal.

Thanksgiving week we dropped off the Airstream at the dealership in Grand Rapids to finally get the repairs it needed.  We spent 10 days in Cincinnati at a lovely Airbnb.  Thanksgiving with Liam was wonderful.  We miss him so much and it was great to laze around and visit.


December finally got us to be truly full time RV'ers.  We went to Florida and got our new license plates and driver's licenses updated. Liam chose to stay at the dorms over the holidays and work.  He is a lifeguard at the UC pool and says he's glad he didn't make the team.  Their warmups are tougher than his hardest practices were in high school!


We are looking forward to traveling around the country.  I'm still training a couple weeks a month from the camper and Dennis is starting a bike repair business.  My goal is to visit as many of my friends and family as I can.  Hopefully, moochdocking with them occasionally. I would love to get invites to visit!  (hint, hint)


We miss our friends, and I am so thankful for technology that lets me stay in touch. We are blessed beyond words to have been able to do what we love and live life simply.


Hope to see you on our adventures.



Cate and Dennis


Here are the links to Liam’s music:


Follow us on Instagram to see photos of our adventures:

Friday, March 21, 2014

CET Designer Printing Tips

Printing the Architects drawing Grey in CET Designer

First day of spring and it's time to post a tip for my friends using Configura CET Designer. I've been doing loads on online and on-site training with CET users and haven't made time to post any tips.  So today, I'm making time.

I had a user ask me how to make the AutoCAD drawing print grey and the furniture print black.  In AutoCAD we had plot setting that we made to do this but CET Designer doesn't have an easy way.  (Yet. You've heard me say it - send it in as a Feature Request).

So here is the work around. Set all the layers of the AutoCAD drawing to grey.  Set up the viewport in Paperview.  Make a copy of it.  In one viewport turn on the furniture layers set it to print in Black and White.  In the copy turn on just the AutoCAD drawing set it to print in color. Move one on top of the other and you will be all set.

Here is a quick video on how to do it.

Hope this helps.  I always welcome challenges so if you are trying to do something in CET Designer or AutoCAD or CAP let me know.  

I hope it's spring where you are, we still have snow!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Subtle not Random

If you've been in one of my classes you've probably heard me say, "It's subtle, not random".

I get a lot of very frustrated users telling me how their computer or software does this crazy thing and they can't figure it out.  Many times I know exactly what is causing it.

It could be where your mouse is located when you pick or that you hit escape in the middle of a command or maybe you are in the wrong "silo". Once you understand what is causing this crazy behavior you can control it, predict it, and even use it to your advantage.

One of the reasons I love training is to see the ah-ha moment. That moment when I explain "when you do this, that happens" and the student's eyes light up as they "get it".

The trouble with subtle things is figuring it out. That's my job. Discovering what is happening and sharing with you. I hate things that are random in the software. I test, test, test, read the manual, test some more, and sometimes call the developer to find out what the heck is going on. Then I share it with you.

A few months ago I was explaining to my son why the cat's were meowing for treats at 9 PM instead of 10 PM and I said, "It's subtle, not random.  Cat's don't know about time change."  That's when I realized it's not just software.  There are so many things in life that seem random. Then I dig in and find out what subtle thing is causing that seeming crazy behavior.

Here is another one for you.  Have you ever really looked at the FedEd logo?

Do you see the arrow?  They did that on purpose. 
Subtle nor Random.

Today, I don't have a software tip, I have a life tip.  If something seems random, look for the subtle action causing it. You might be able to use that info to your advantage, if nothing else it won't be a mystery any more.

Thanks for reading.  Take care.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Back to School Special! Two tips in one post.

Hi friends, I've taken the summer off from posting but with school about to start I thought it would be time for me to start sharing with you again.

First, a surprise new feature was added to blocks this month (or maybe it was a bug fixed, I don’t really know).  You can apply materials from schemes to blocks now without editing them!  Try it.  Or watch the video, I’ll demo it.

Second, the categories function is much more powerful.  Again, it might have just been a bug fix but there are some nice things you can do with it.  For example see your AutoCAD drawing in the Electrical View tab.  Handy when you want to place base power in feeds and dimensions to the base plan. 

Pretty slick! 

Don’t forget to sign up for the Users Conference in October.  It will be both informative and a lot of FUN!

I'm doing two presentations and attending as much of the fun things at night as possible.  :)

Hope you had a great summer and holiday weekend.  Now, it's time to get back to work!

Take care,


PS:  I just tested the materials applying to Canvas symbols and it doesn't work the same!  I'm so sorry.  If it looks like something you want to have send a Feature Request.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Creating your own symbols in CET Designer or Non supported Symbols

I promised you I'd show more cool uses for the CET Designer Edit Graphics extension. Here is the second one.

Have you ever wanted to put something in your drawing that isn't supported by SmartTools, Canvas, or ProjectSymbols? I've come up with a method to create your own symbol by using ProjectSymbols and Edit Graphics.

You will need a couple things to do this procedure.
  • First you need to find a good 3D symbol either in AutoCAD or SketchUp.
  • Second you need to have a manufacturer other than Steelcase or Haworth installed in ProjectSymbols.
After that you are ready to go!

Here are the basic steps.  Watch the video to get the details.
  1. Import the AutoCAD or SketchUp symbol.
  2. Place a ProjectSpec Symbol that is about the same size as the one you are creating.
  3. Use Edit Graphics Replace Symbol to switch the PS Symbol to the new symbol.
  4. Use the Query command, Make Special to edit all the part info.
  5. Change the Install Text.
I also show you how to change the colors on the symbol.  :)

Let me know if this is helpful.

Thank you and have a great day!