At the very end of 2012, we bought our first vintage camper: A 1988 Perris Pacer fiberglass “egg” camper. I first fell in love with these lightweight trailers after reading about them on the blog of the peripatetic artist Lily Stockman at BigBangStudio. After months of scouring Craigslist, Ebay and other sources, and driving all over Southern California to check out used egg trailers, we finally found one we loved.

This is what it looked like when we first brought it home from San Diego. Yes, it was cute even then. The awnings were a nice touch. But the photo flatters it. The shell was covered with rivet holes, and it had an overall dingy feel about it. The interior was unbearable.

Get the picture? (Here are more “before” shots.) We spent the first half of 2013 fixing up the interior, and found advice and support from the generous community of fellow egg owners at the online site, FiberglassRv. One man, Robert Johans, who restores these eggs professionally at The Egg Plant in Oregon, was the most inspiring and helpful, offering tips on every step, down to where to buy certain light fixtures and types of paint.

Weekend after weekend, my husband, Charlie, and I worked on it. We put in a new floor, replaced the cabinet covers and fixtures, made curtains, had new seat cushions made, added new lights, painted the entire interior, and a lot of other little improvements. My husband is handy, and the small scale of the projects made it all doable.

 

But how much of this can you take? So by the time we finished sprucing up the inside, we were ready for someone else to take over.

Then we found these nice guys. Jerry and Armando from Pacific RV Body Shop in Garden Grove, California–about 40 minutes from our house.

 

They mostly paint the giant campers, but took great care and pride in our little Pacer. They did an amazing job, painting the exterior, upgrading the lights, replacing the frig, and building a custom storage box. (If you liked it better before, keep it to yourself!)

 

Here are some shots of the inside (taken with my cell phone). We took out the bunk bed option and made the bottom bunk into a permanent couch, or bunk for one.

The two-burner gas stove and sink are still original and work great. It’s all very simple and utilitarian, but we love it that way. (Pillow fabric by silkscreen master Harwood Steiger.)

If you aren’t familiar with these campers, this little table comes off the support pole and drops down to make a platform for a small double bed. The seat cushions cover the surface, and are comfortable when you add a topping of memory foam. We learned the most about the trailer and what we need to do next when we finally took it camping…

So far, we have taken it out to the desert near Palm Springs, twice. This shot is from a visit to Joshua Tree, where we camped next to a house some friends were renting. They also had this amazing vintage trailer up on blocks. We have also camped at Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County (about ten minutes from our home in Laguna Beach) and at San Onofre State Park (about a half hour south in San Diego County.) My goal is to test out all the campgrounds in Orange County and publish a little local guide (just another one of those projects!).

Camping at Caspers Regional Park in Orange County

 

I’ve saved the most exciting news for last. We have been invited to be part of the Vintage Trailer Show in Palm Springs during Modernism Week. How cool is that? We went to the see the show last year and it was so much fun! I noticed, however, that they didn’t have any of the “egg” style of campers featured, and thought I would offer ours if they were interested. The director of the show, Mona Heath, was enthusiastic and said they already plan to include two other “egg” style campers this year, a Scamp and a Boler, and would love to have our Perris Pacer there as well. Wow!!!

Ours is nothing like almost all of the other vintage trailers, many of which have been professionally restored inside and out. But Mona liked the idea of featuring campers like ours to demonstrate what people can do with these little gems–even newbies like us with no real rehab experience and working on a DIY budget.

The Vintage Trailer Show is the weekend of February 22 and 23. Tickets are $15  and kids are free. So please come and say hi!

 We have had several weeks of stunning sunsets here in Southern California. I live up a hill from my hometown of Laguna Beach, and a couple blocks from a city park, called Alta Laguna Park. At about 1,000 feet above sea level, it’s one of the best sunset viewing spots in the area. My husband and I walk our dog, Jenny, over there to catch the sunsets. Here are a few recent shots from my Iphone.

 

You can almost tell when they are going to be amazing. All you need is a varied cloud cover, and the light from the setting sun blasts up and illuminates them. The view from this park looks southwest and over the hills and town, and out toward Catalina Island (on the right). There’s another small island just to the south, called San Clemente, and you only see that on super clear days.

 

 

This shot (and several others, including that first one) were taken when the marine layer (fog) was starting to roll in. But it didn’t block the illuminated clouds in the distance. Quite a phenomenon when this all happens at the same time. You can see the ocean right above the hill tops, reflecting the orange light.

 

This was the same view but taken several hours before sunset. It was a very moody day and the air was still and the clouds made it feel like dusk almost all day.

 

  

This is just a shot with some of those pink, orange and yellow clouds looking like flames.

So what’s the point? Well, lots of people like to visit our tourist town in summer (and are often shocked that it’s soggy and cold from the fog–especially during June gloom.) But a great time to visit is winter, especially December, if you want to miss the crowds and catch some of these sunsets.

 

And here’s a shot of our sweet dog, Jenny, who accompanies us to watch the sunsets. And she could usually care less. But I still think she’s still really cute!

I’ve been VERY lazy lately, but I knew anyone following Laguna Dirt would want to know about a fun event coming up in Southern California next Sunday (Dec. 15). Three of the best garden bloggers from this area are teaming up to share some of their treasures at the Long Beach Flea Market. And you can meet them in person, too!

I’ve shamelessly copied the post by Denise from her A Growing Obsession blog so you can get all the details. She’s way too modest. This trio of plant fiends not only know their horticulture, but they are artists, writers, photographers, designers, and simply great people.

Hope to see you there! Here is her post (notice her amazing photographs!) :

a very merry flea


Where & When: Find us Sunday, December 15, 2013, at the Long Beach Antique Market. It opens early (6:30 a.m.!), so it won’t take too big of a bite out of your day.

Who: Me, garden designer Dustin Gimbel (non-secateur), and graphic artist Reuben Munoz (RanchoReubidoux) will be manning the stall for a winter blogger meetup and pop-up shop at one of the best flea markets in Southern California. Our little flea market just became even merrier, now that Reuben has joined the festivities.

Why: Holiday shopping at the malls has always been a no-go zone for me, and online shopping can get a little…well, sterile. I’ve made it a tradition to hit the fleas in December, for the people watching, for the serendipitous flea-bagging, for the sheer spectacle of it all. I can’t wait to find out what it’s like on the other side of the table, not that I won’t be squeezing in a good browse too…

What: There’ll be some industrial salvage, pots and plants, along with some hand-made stuff created just for this flea, including mural pieces by Reuben.

 


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Dustin’s concrete gems continue to proliferate, short and squat gems, elongated pyramidal gems, sea urchin gems…
(Diamonds are an agave’s best friend.)

 

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And I’m coaxing more and more sailor knotwork out of Marty now that his summer job on the Catalina Island ferries is on hiatus, the huge doorstops that take incredible muscle to tighten (I can’t do it yet, dammit!) as well as smaller sizes for bookshelves, paper weights — wherever the eye would like to trace the lines of a briny, ropy orb, or a computer-fatigued hand needs to grasp and weigh something reassuringly solid, or a reminder is needed that fresh breezes and adventures are on the way. The office is more rigging loft now, with rope strewn everywhere. We found some beautiful vintage line at a marine salvage yard in Newport Beach, including some lovely honey colors and subtle variegateds.

 

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I can hardly bear to sell any of it, so even if I have to reload the car with it all, it’s a win/win. At least we’ll get the chance to meet up with some of you, our comrades and fellow devotees of the impeccable design work done by the plant kindgdom. We’re gathering up simple textures and shapes that people with an eye for beautiful plants would like to have nearby, especially in winter. I can’t speak for Reuben, though — no telling what he’s up to! And I have no idea how we’re going to fit it all into one stall, especially since Dustin wants to bring some big specimen plants. But it promises to be a very merry flea indeed, if slightly shambolic as the best fleas are, with hot cider and cookies. We’d all love to meet up with you there. (Marty dared me to fit in the word shambolic. He should know I never back away from a dare.)

 

I’ve known about The Ecology Center for a number of years now, but never stopped by to visit. It’s right next door to one of my favorite veggie/fruit stands–South Coast Farms (all organic!). It was founded in 2008, when the city of San Juan Capistrano decided to convert the city’s oldest historic farmhouse into a community educational facility.

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Welcome to The Succulent Cafe!

My husband and I wandered into this little gem of a cafe in Oceanside, California, on our way home from the San Diego Airport. I wish the photos were better, but I snapped these shots with my phone camera.

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Have you heard about Slow Food? We learned about this group from a foodie friend in Laguna about a year ago. Tonight, we finally made it to one of their events. And we are going back, for sure! My understanding is that the Slow Food movement was started in 1986 in response to someone putting a McDonald’s in Italy (Fast food, slow food–get it?). Today, chapters all over the world are helping spread food culture, and work to “link the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.”

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My friend Jill warned me about camping down at Trails, which are the gorgeous, remote surf beaches at the southern tip of Orange County and northern border of San Diego County. When I asked if she wanted to join us at one of the spots along what’s called The Bluffs at San Onofre State Beach in May, she wisely scoped them out ahead of time while surfing down there. And she took a polite pass.

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Photo by John Ellis

 

For some unexplainable reason, I have never been to the Venice Home and Garden Tour. I’ve always had a conflict with the date. But this year, I cleared my calendar well ahead of time: Saturday, May 4. If it’s anything like the Venice Art Walk, I know the experience will be fun, interesting and sheer happy-making!

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We’ve all read the alarming news about the decline of bees, especially the honeybees we rely upon to pollinate much of our food. It’s so disturbing, and if you are like me, you would love to be able to help the poor bees. The good news, especially if you live in Orange County, California, is that you can! And without lifting a sticky finger.

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Sunset Book giveaway

Photos from The 20-Minute Gardener book

 

Sunset Magazine Garden Book Contest!

 

With all the great outdoor living ideas and images floating around the Internet these days, it’s hard to collect and find them all when you are ready for your own projects. That’s why I love Sunset Magazine‘s new Western Garden Book: The 20-Minute Gardener. This stylish book has it all, from hip outdoor spaces to DIY projects to finding easy-care plants and flowers for your gardens. It comes in a large enough format to showcase the terrific selection of 300 color photos, but compact and organized to quickly find what you need. Even though I’m a blog junkie, sometimes I just prefer leafing through a book to clicking through computer pages.

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