Hey, why no adventurous tales of traveling and wildlife encounters? Clean-up. See, besides pestering the kids, my tasks here in Marengo, Illinois are to record expenses, deal with the IRS, the State of Illinois DMV, my Will, and my storage unit. I must also repair or modify certain things on the trailer for the next go, and of course sweat and stink in the humid summer heat. I’m still living in the trailer of course, and still have the solar panels deployed, since electricity in my part of this campsite is billed at industrial rates. The fridge is running on electricity full-time, in the hope that this will extend the life of the propane-powered section of it, for the road. Other gizmos are on shore power or solar, depending on weather and using a desulphater on each battery pack in turn.
The storage unit is the most imposing activity by far, because my hope is to slim it down to zero. The remaining furniture must go away, since I have no plans to go back to sticks and bricks, and the storage costs easily outstrip the replacement value of the furniture. The only survivor will be a maple kitchen table, replacing the the soon-to-be-torn-out dinette table and one of two bench seats. I’d tear out the second bench, but it encloses the fresh water tank. An overabundance of clothing must be gone through and either packed away in the trailer or donated away. Living this way isn’t all T-shirts and shorts, and storage space in the Innsbruck is excellent for a travel trailer, but scary-pathetic in the manner to which I am accustomed. The art-related stuff – mat cutter, mats, foamboard, frames and complete framed art will likely go to my son who dreams of one day having a sort of studio for his prodigious artistic skills. A large, heavy box of computer-related gizmos and cables must be sorted through and donated. I gots me some good Pentax 35mm SLR film cameras and lenses, plus some early Polaroids and other cameras. Then there are many boxes of vintage radio-controlled model racing cars and equipment. Normally, this would be worthless, but not this particular stuff, and not today. All of this will be a serious pain to eBay and ship, but it needs to be done.
But I’m also hefting out heavy boxes of LP records and 78 RPM records to the trailer, one by one. Why? To chuck them? No, to record them as digital audio files and then chuck them. Much of this is stuff you can’t exactly get on iTunes. Spike Jones, Peggy Lee, Benny Goodman, early-early Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett and Bing Crosby and Count Basie, and Victor Red Seal classical recordings of the biggest conductors and orchestras in the business while in their prime. Whole albums of Boogie Woogie music recorded while it was still fresh and fun. Barely-audible music from 1904 and 1910, and dance music from the 1920s. Like libraries, the record companies and music services are not archives of historical performances. They only offer what will sell to “consumers” in quantity, not what is notable or interesting to explore. For example, much of Benny Goodman’s music is recreated rather than cleaned up, or recorded from his much later performances with better recording equipment, and it’s obvious that the creative spark of it disappeared after thousands of performances. You can easily hear the difference. In one case, the record company felt that “modern listeners” would not tolerate the original monaural, low-fidelity recordings, and put a band together to try to mimic what Goodman did. They then sold it as Benny Goodman and his Orchestra. The best of what I have is the original cuts while they were still fighting for traction, and before they became routine re-performances of “classics” decades later. The best of what I have is an unexpected delight in some way or another. The worst of what I have is dull dumpster fodder. The sheer number of LPs and 78s will make it extremely unlikely that I’ll be able to record all of them in the next 2.5 months before I leave, but if I can, that will eliminate my having to haul bulky and heavy records with me for the next two years, as well as the turntable itself.
My other media goal is to chew through just short of 500 movie DVDs and put them on hard drives. That lets me avoid having to break open a massive DVD binder every time I want to watch a movie. There’s really no place in the trailer to conveniently lay that thing open, and translating them to a hard drive makes for much more convenient access and viewing. The gizmo that reads the hard drives is called a WD TV Live Media Streamer, and plugging a USB hard drive dock into it lets it pull up any movies stored on the drive. It can also wirelessly get at such things as Netflix and other online content sources via local WiFi, but that’s problematic here because the campsite’s WiFi network is usually far too choked down to feed video streams. Translating the DVDs to hard drive takes at most about 25 minutes each, and I’ve been able to do that at the same time I’m recording records.
I’ll be posting little blurbs about the trailer mods as I go, but the next few months will be a little lean on posts about inspirational vistas and great places to visit. With the formidable laundry list of things to be done on a deadline, this little stay in Marengo will easily be the biggest challenge of the year. I think I’ll be ready for a vacation!