Stuck at 90% load

Jacqui and I are really eager to start sharing stories of our adventures on the road, but… we’re still not done fixing the Dolphin! Just like that stubborn download that speeds along then suddenly takes forever to complete the last 10%, so our rebuild progresses.

During the heavy construction, each day ended with a sort of instant gratification. When we put the tools away we could stare in pride at how much was accomplished. Progress was so apparent to the naked eye it seemed like things would come to a conclusion in no time. Now it’s the filthy finishing work that consumes our days and makes it obvious that this is no quick project.

Crawling under the car to install a sheet of plastic to line the wheel well is necessary, and will leave you washing mud out of your hair, but it’s not the sort of work that you sit back and admire at the end of the day. The same is true with taping, priming, electrical and plumbing. All these tasks rob hours of time but never are seen when completed. So…I hope you find it in your hearts to forgive us for our lack of zealousness in photo taking this past week.

Despite the snails pace things have taken on, after another week of work, the old girl’s insides are really starting to look like our home again. We even had another creature encounter. After finding a small plumbing leak, the decision was made that the heater would need to be removed to access it. A couple screws and a quick tug later a mummified rat was discovered. At least it was already dead, unlike a certain series of previous spider encounters.

Outside of construction, life in Tres Amigos RV Park is slowing considerably as many of our new friends are leaving to head north. Goodbyes are never a happy affair.

Don’t let my construction and goodbye complaints mislead you though. Jacqui and I, when not filthy and tired, are still happy to be where we are. After all, when we complete a long day of work we can get clean with a boogie board in the ocean, or sit on the beach watching the horses being led on their twice-daily walk. We’re in a place people pay tons of money to come visit just for a day, the prime example of that being the cruise ships that pull in every Wednesday. Jacqui and I always manage to get second looks from the cruisers when they realize not every gringo on Stone Island came on their boat. This is especially true if we’re carrying construction materials.

So now I will make a cautious attempt at a prediction. If things continue forward with minimal hiccups, we should be hitting the road again by next weekend! 

These are the shackles that hold the rear suspension in alignment. They seem to be a little bent from the accident.

It looks nasty, but it's nothing that can't be repaired with a torch and an "encourager" (hammer)..

Big man in a little tub...! Also you'll note the very masculine black diamond plate flooring picked by Jacqui.

Spackle and paintable silicone applied to hide the major gaps, ready for paint in the morning! Somehow this picture feels strangely familiar.

Flooring is installed, scraping, spackle-ing and taping is underway.

Fresh paint and our kitchen table is back! Squint really hard and it actually looks done.

Cleaning up after another hard day's work.

The Dolphin is looking good after a bath.

So shiny!

One step closer to completion.

Horses being led on one of their daily walks, when they're not carrying tourists.

The Norwegian Star leaving port, as seen from Stone Island, looking towards Mazatlan.

Incredible sunset at Tres Amigos.


Selecting our Dolphin

As we decided to head out on this journey we asked ourselves what would be our ultimate mode of transport. Luckily, as Cameron is a mechanic, we had options available to us that otherwise would be too costly. Essentially, a fixer-upper was our target.

Other than cost, our main considerations were:

  • Dependability and availability of replacement parts across the border.
  • Automatic v. manual. We ended up with an automatic, acceptable in the reliable Toyota chassis, yet Cameron still dreams of a manual.
  • Fuel efficiency. We didn’t want an 8-cylinder gas guzzler or anything too large as we’d end up paying to lug extra weight around.
  • Storage for our kite gear. Would it be on top of the vehicle, inside or back in a trailer?
  • Comfort. This one came from my court, I did want a few elements of comfort as we’d be living in this vehicle for a long period of time! Comfort also included conversations around having a toilet/black water tank or having to rely solely on doing our business elsewhere.

The main contenders:

01. ’87 Toyota Vanwagon, pimped out with window tint. At the time, Cameron had this beauty in his possession. We considered an addition of a roof-top sleeper with gear storage in the back, or pulling a trailer for gear. We quickly decided to sell the Vanwagon as we wanted more space and didn’t think pulling a trailer would be easily maneuverable.

02. Cargo van for gear, while hauling a trailer to live in.

03. Class C RV. 20’ or less. Allows us to fit into most regular-sized parking spaces. Would be reasonable for gas mileage.

In the end, the Dolphin was the first RV we looked at and, although she needed a lot of work to be road-worthy in our eyes, she met all our criteria. Check here to see the work and love we put into getting the rig ready.