Category Archives: Painting

#Opt Out (Freeze Out)

(Ok, I know this is WAY LATE but that’s what happens when you have photos on one computer and write a post an another…)

Typically, every year Hubby and I “opt out” from the jumble of Thanksgiving and Black Friday and use that time off of work to head out to the middle of nowhere and camp. (Even REI does #optoutside so you can share your photos from your hiking adventures, rather than getting run-over by a crowd trying to get the cheap tvs at Walmart for Black Friday.) A year ago we went to Big Bend National Park, and this year we decided to go to Palo Duro Canyon State Park outside of Amarillo, Texas. It’s the same amount of time in the car, and neither of us had ever been there before so we wanted to give it a shot. After we had booked our trip we discovered Run Away campers, and fell in love. They are affordable, they are comfortable, and they are TINY! We ordered our little Range Runner model camper (it’s actually the largest model they have at 6’x8′) from Florida and it was delivered just a few days later! We were excited to get it before our camping trip because that meant we would be able to glamp (glam camp) instead of being in a tent, which had been the original plan. The first chance I got, I called the Park Service phone number for reservations, but they were out of RV camp sites! I was sad, but I thought, ‘One last trip of rocks in the back and waking up stiff. After this, we will use the camper.’ But as we got closer to the date, every time we checked the weather it was looking worse and worse. The high for the day dropped from being in the 40s to being in the low 20s with freezing rain. It was going to be miserable. We were going to cancel, defeated and depressed. Until Hubby got the idea to check the RV site availability again. Lo and behold, other people had checked the weather too, and cancelled their trip so there were spaces available! I did a happy dance and we started planning for the trip once again. We left before the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving Day since it was a 9 hour drive, and got there just in time for the park office to tell us that the weather is going to get worse, so they will probably close the office over the weekend. “That’s fine,” we told them. “We have a tv and a stack of movies.” But we had no idea what we were in for.

The rain turned to sleet, and the sleet turned to ice. We tried hiking around our camp site a little bit but the mud was caking onto anything that touched it and making a huge mess. I was afraid of slipping and hurting my back so I was being extremely careful. We got back to the camper to thaw out and ended up having to heat up canned soup inside the camper because it was too miserable to cook outside.

From Thursday night to Saturday morning we watched 3 of the Planet of the Apes movies and Season 2 of Scrubs. We got a little bit of cabin fever so we bundled up and headed out to do a little birding once the ice stopped falling. There was a thick layer of ice on every surface. Walking through parking lots was difficult because it was so slippery. But I got some great bird shots anyway! We saw a huge flock of turkeys (30 or more) and each bird had ice frozen on its back. We went to a birding station and the Cardinals and Finches had frozen feathers also.

female cardinal Gold Finch male cardinal turkeysWe headed back to camp to hike around a bit more (now that the ground was frozen, the mud wasn’t an issue) and Hubby saw the Park Host come by to fill the bathrooms with toilet paper. He went to go talk to them and they told his that the road to get out of the park was closed and we wouldn’t be able to get out until noon on Sunday! That was a problem. With a 9 hour drive, that was cutting it close. What if the roads didn’t improve and we were stuck longer? The last thing I wanted was to get home at 2 am and have to go to work the next day. So Hubby and I loaded up into the truck and checked the road for ourselves. He has all wheel drive so we weren’t concerned, and any point that the road looked icy, we would get out and check it before driving on it. (The road to get out of the park goes up through the canyon, so if you lose traction on the icy road, it’s quite a tumble down). The road seemed fine as we headed up, and I had him stop a few times so I could get pictures of the beautiful ice-covered grasses and yucca and barbed-wire fence.

frozen grassI even heard coyotes howling VERY close to me and I was so happy to hear them. Every time I hear coyotes, I’m the only one around for miles (while Hubby sits in the warm car!) and it seems like they are singing to me. I even saw one of the singers a few minutes later!

coyoteWe finally made our way to the park entrance and saw that the gate was wide open. The park host had told us it was closed and locked and we couldn’t get out! So we looked at each other and came to this conclusion: If the road freezes, it will be over night. The road is passable now, but in the morning there is no guarantee. So we got out while the getting was good and headed to Amarillo to spend the night.

We headed back down the park road and hooked up the camper. In 20 minutes we were back on the road, carefully heading out of the park. The highway was frozen so we took it slow and then pulled into the parking lot of our destination: The Big Texan steak ranch. Part of our plan on this trip had been to eat at The Big Texan because it’s an icon! It has been on tv shows like Man vs. Food and Day Tripper because they do the 72 ounce steak challenge. You have to consume a 72 ounce steak, a baked potato, a shrimp cocktail, salad, and a bread roll, all in 60 minutes. Of course, we weren’t going to be PARTICIPATING in the steak challenge, but we still wanted to eat there. Also, as it turned out, The Big Texan has a hotel ON SITE so we didn’t have to go anywhere by the end of the night! The parking lot was an ice rink so I was really happy we didn’t have to get back on the highway and find somewhere else to stay. (Also, I just saw on their website that they now have an RV park too, so that’s good to know in case our next trip to Palo Duro gets cut short again!)

The next morning, before heading home, we stopped at Cadillac Ranch.cadillacs3cadillacs

It’s literally a bunch of Cadillacs from the 1940s-1960s that were jammed into the ground in the 1970s as an art installation. The thing is, it’s legal to do graffiti art at this site. I guess that’s kind of the point – everyone is an artist if they are given the chance. We had never seen it before, and we might never come back to Amarillo again, so we had it on our list of must-dos while we were on the trip. We trudged out to the cars through the snow and ice, took a couple pictures, and got back to our heated car as quickly as possible. But I noticed some interesting things while we were there: there are so many layers of paint on the cars, that it looks like the cars are melting.

frozen paintThere had been people out at the site spray-painting in the snow and ice, so that the frost on the cars was painted orange and blue. The snow on the ground was also used as a temporary canvas, saying the typical “So-and-so Loves So-and-so” and happy holidays. Also, even the barbed-wire that surrounds the property had been painted. It was surprisingly beautiful.

Once we were done at Cadillac Ranch we headed home, stopping in Dallas to see some family, and then making our slow trudge home (the drive from Dallas to Houston is supposed to take 3 hours, but for any number of reasons, it always takes 6).

Our trips are always adventurous even if they don’t go as planned. I guess that’s how I know I love my Hubby too, because instead of being ready to kill each other by the end of the trip, we were planning our next adventure!

DIY Compass Rose Night Stand

This is a step-by-step How To Not Paint a 1970’s Night Stand.IMG_4369

I received two night stands from my sister, That Clever Chick. They were our Great-Grandmother’s night stands, but Dear Sweet Sissy didn’t have any use for them so they were sitting in her garage. I decided to take them and repaint them but hadn’t decided on anything in particular so then they lived in MY garage for a while. Finally, browsing Pinterest, I had come up with a few ideas. This was my original plan, found here:

Map Night Stand

Pretty maps are hard to find. These days, they have bright colors and I just don’t find them appealing. I went to Half Price Books to try to find a map book, but didn’t have much luck. (I also don’t have the patience to sift through their MASSIVE clearance section though, so if you do, give it a try!) I tried printing out some old world maps but they were too small, so instead I decided on a compass rose. It would be simple but still look awesome, and be easy to reproduce, since I have 2 night stands.

First, I tried taking some chemical stripper to them in order to get any finish, stain, or paint off of them. I will let you know now, that I will probably NEVER use chemical stripper again. Even using rubber gloves, I burned myself several times by getting this stuff on my skin. And, just by leaving a used shop towel on the garage floor, it ate the smooth layer off of the concrete on the garage floor. THIS IS SOME NASTY STUFF.

Next, I tried painting the night stands with leftover latex paint. Hubby was sick of the night stands taking up space in the garage, so I was trying to kill two birds with one stone and get rid of some old paint at the same time. Unfortunately the paint wouldn’t stay put. There was a plastic-y 1970s finish on the night stands that prevented paint from sticking to it.

Paint scraping of easily - you can't have that on a night stand!
Paint scraping of easily – you can’t have that on a night stand!

So I decided to power wash them. Fastest way to get paint off of them, right? Well, yes, but it also made a huge mess. There were chunks of latex paint all over the driveway, and the wood didn’t really like it either. There was some splitting of the layers of wood, since it was a composite instead of solid wood (I’m guessing it was in the 70s that the US started cheaping out on quality furniture?) Anyway, I got the paint off as much as possible, and then sanded the rest of the table smooth.

After it was power-washed
After it was power-washed

Then I decided to spray paint the tables. I bought 2 cans (one can for each table, right?) Man, that stuff DID NOT WANT TO COVER. There were patches where I could see the wood even after passing over the same spot several times with the spray paint. I ended up using 1 1/2 cans just for one table. The spray paint also didn’t go on smoothly. I’m not sure if it’s because of the chemical stripper, or because I bought a matte finish, but it’s bumpy. I like to think this will help prevent things from sliding off of the night stand in the future.

one can of spray paint was not enough
one can of spray paint was not enough

Then they stayed in the garage a while longer. One painted, the other one, not. We got busy, the days grew shorter, and I didn’t have a lot of daylight hours at home. So they waited.

Finally, while Hubby was out of town (probably hunting, but by now I can’t remember where he was) I decided enough was enough. I brought the painted night stand into the house and started working. I cut and traced the Compass Rose onto the wood, eye-balling it in the center. Then I started painting it in.

Drawing and Painting the pattern, free-handed with the exception of tracing the outline.
Drawing and Painting the pattern, free-handed with the exception of tracing the outline.

This part went perfectly. So perfectly in fact, that I’m afraid to start working on the other one, because I know it won’t turn out as well at the first one. I have seen this pattern my whole life – Beginner’s Luck turns into junk the second time around.

Finished!
Blurry, but Finished!
The Final Product
The Final Product

I am thinking that on the other night stand I might put an anchor or something instead of another Compass Rose, but I haven’t decided yet. At this point, January in Southeast Texas doesn’t bode well for outdoor projects, especially painting, so I guess I have some time to decide. What do you think I should do? Below are a few Photoshopped ideas:

Night Stand-idea1 Night Stand-idea2 Night Stand-idea3 Night Stand-idea4

So, all in all, it turned out well, even though there were a few hiccups along the way. Lessons I’m passing on to you: (1) try to avoid using chemical stripper, unless you are wearing a HAZMAT suit; (2) prime every time; (3) buy twice as much spray paint as you think you’ll need; (4) don’t use latex paint on furniture when it has a terrible plastic-y finish on it.

There you go. My experiences have paid off for you again. Learn from my mistakes, and you will be a crafting genius. Everyone will want to know where you got your furniture, and you can just say “I made it.”

Cheers!