Natural Disasters – Trailer Style

Posted by Rebecca

Thank goodness, here in Reno, we don’t have to worry about tornadoes and hurricanes.  I don’t think I would have the guts to live in a trailer in Oklahoma or Arkansas or one of those other natural disaster-inflicted states.  I don’t think I’m brave enough. 

Nevada doesn’t get a lot of natural disasters.  We get earthquakes, but I’m pretty sure that if my trailer collapsed on me I’d be ok.  I could just move the aluminum sheets and blobs of tar off of me and start the construction/renovation over again. 

Today, though, was a reminder of the wind we get here.  It’s not hurricane or tornado kind-of destructive, but in Nevada we do get some gnarly wind.  Yesterday and today the sky looked apocalyptic.  To the east it was black, to the west it was sunny, a couple of surrounding hills were on fire, raindrops and hail the size of marbles were peppering the day, and the wind was blowing small branches off of trees all over town.  It really wasn’t that bad compared to some of the windstorms I’ve seen here, but it was a reminder.

When you live in a normal house, windy days suck when you’re outside.  When you live in a trailer, you are reminded all day long of the wind.  If you’re at home, the shaking and rattling keeps you on your toes, wondering if the ol’ trailer is going to stay put.  If you’re not at home, you spend the day wondering if the trailer will still be there when you get back. 

I’ve been known to text Tanille on my way to work on especially windy days, “Can you please let me know if my trailer blows away while I’m at work?  I’ll need to come home early and find my dog….”

But I can’t really imagine the trailer actually blowing away.  More, blowing over.  But even if that happens, I think we will be ok.  Tanille and I have had the conversation, and it goes something like this:

Me – “What happens if my trailer blows over??”

Tanille – “Well, it’ll just tip over and you’ll start living in it that way.”  (She says as she motions to the wall)

Me – “Hmmmm.  You know, I could totally get used to 10 foot ceilings….”

Rebecca Knabe


Lake Tahoe

Posted by Rebecca

Dear Lake Tahoe,

Thank you for 4 amazing days of…




Paddle Boarding



Campfire games







Friends and Family.

I’m home, in the pink trailer, safe and sound.  I promise to come back very soon. 

Love, Rebecca

P.S.  I think you get more beautiful everytime I see you.








Rebecca Knabe

Liam, the Moose Poop Collector

Posted by Rebecca

Liam is my favorite (coincidentally also my only) brother.  He is a UBC student in Vancouver, Canada, studying English Lit and Biology something-or-other.

He and I are very different in some respects.  He loves the mountains, I love the city.  He loves the cold, I love the heat.  His ideal location is within walking distance of the Arctic Circle, my ideal location is within walking distance of the equator.  He’s a little uptight about privacy, I don’t care who knows what.  He is built mostly for speed, I am built mostly for comfort.

On the other hand, we have some striking similarities.  We share an obsessive love of food.  We both can spend hours wandering the isles of a grocery store, completely content.  We love to travel, listen to music, laugh, camp, hang out in coffee shops, play cribbage.  And, as of this summer, we are both trailer people.

Liam is living precisely in the middle of nowhere.  100 kms north of Revelstoke, BC.  He is a field study assistant for a grad student who is doing a study on why moose travel to high elevations in the summer.  “Basically we just go around picking up their poop and sending it to a lab.”  And while doing that, he is living in a tiny single-wide with the grad student.

My dad recently sent me an email highlighting mine and Liam’s recent similarity:  “Where did I go wrong that both my children are ‘Trailer Trash’?  You should see the trailer Liam’s living in. When I saw it I thought it was an abandoned shed. It makes your fifty footer enormous, and a palace to boot..”

Apparently, Liam’s domicile is pretty rustic – no electricity or running water.  But I’m awfully jealous of that peaked roof.  I bet it never springs a leak!

Liam, hard at work.
I know Liam’s trailer life is temporary, for now.  But who knows, maybe once he graduates with his degree in Moosepoopology, he’ll find that some of the best times were spent in that tiny single-wide, in the middle of who-knows-where.  And maybe, just maybe, he will decide to be a trailerboy for life.
That’s my dad, the lovely Norwegian Sandra (Liam’s Vancouver roomie, who is also in Revy for the summer), and Liam.
Rebecca Knabe
P.S.  Here’s a little more from my dad’s email (to be read with a British accent):  “Your place looks super, amazing, fantastic, it’s what you’d see in a glossy magazine. Well done, Rebecca.  Never seen a bathroom sink, or any sink for that matter like yours. But I think I preferred the exercise machine in the kitchen. One of the millionaire Greeks here in town, owns restaurants and all that, has an exercise machine in their living room. So it’s not just trailer trash that has the fix on tackiness.”

Can Jesus get a “WOO HOO”!!?

Posted by Tanille

We chose our spot in the trailer park because it was back in the corner and had the largest yard.  I have never regretted that decision because the yard is completely perfect.  Behind us there is a commercial building, which we thought was perfect, and most days it is.  The tenants are gone by 5:00, we usually never hear or see them and the weekends are peaceful – except for Saturday mornings.  Directly behind our spot is a food bank.  You would never know it was there until the screaming begins. . .

Every Saturday around 9:00 and every Tuesday night around 6:00 it starts.  About 100 people line up against the building.  It’s a little weird.  But that’s not the worst part.  At some point the “lady” in charge comes out to get the people pumped up for Jesus.  She does this by screaming at the top of her lungs about Jesus and how he needs that $5.00 donation to keep providing food for them.  She also insists that the entire group shout “WOOHOO” for Jesus and if she doesn’t feel it’s loud enough she will continue this until she feels Jesus is satisfied.

I’m all for providing food for people in need and yes I do love Jesus.  But I would also really love a quiet Saturday morning once in a while.  I’m just sayin’.

-Tanille Leal

Me ‘N the Lawn

Posted by Rebecca

This week has been a rough trailer week, and it’s not over yet.

The swamp cooler is acting up, and while it’s not 100 degrees out like it was a couple of weeks ago, it’s still too hot to live without it.  Earlier in the week I visited Home Depot 4 times in 36 hours.  Boo.  And while, thanks to James (Tanille’s hubby), the bearings are all oiled up and happy again, the belt thingy (yes, the technical term is “belt thingy”) has a big ol’ crack in it and needs to be replaced.  I’m going to attempt that myself this weekend, so we will see how that goes.

Another battle this week is the growing ant population.  They love me!  And they are showing up in the weirdest places like the bathtub, the ceiling, my purse, and on my dinner plate.  Not droves of them, but here and there.  Constantly.  But I am more determined than they are, and I will win this battle, even if it (or the Raid fumes) kill me!

However, no battle is more daunting for me than the lawn.  Prior to this summer I have successfully avoided lawn mowing for over 3 decades.  My dad has been a profession gardener on-and-off for years, and has even written articles and books, and had TV and radio appearances on the subject.  In fact, I have a book he wrote on lawns on my book shelf, as we speak.  But that meant that growing up the garden was his sanctuary.  He was happy to keep me out of it, and I was just as relieved to stay out.  And between apartments, husbands, and lawn service, I’ve had the luxury of continuing to stay away from the lawn mower.

Well, I gave up my lawn guy this year, because I was determined to figure it out  for myself; nay, to fully conquer it!  And there are many things I have learned in the process of mowing my (approximately) 12×40 patch of paradise:

– Grass grows faster than  you would think

– No matter how determined you are to not look at it, it still grows and grows

– Mowing once every 3 weeks is not enough, unless you like the tops of the blades grazing your knees

– Dog poop can take on stealth chameleon-like grassy forms until you step on it

– Weeds are nearly as determined as ants

– It is baffling how very long it can take to mow a 12×40 lawn

– It takes tremendous coordination to hold the extension cord for the electric lawn mower in one hand and lift the garden hose with the other, all while navigating the mower

– It is very unwise to mow over tarps or plastic bags

– It is equally unwise to mow over rocks, bricks and sticks

– It is even more unwise to mow over cables, extension cords, power sources, or anything that may be channelling water

– It is the most unwise to mow over dog poop

– And I am allergic to grass

But with each mowing session I am learning.  I am stronger and wiser.  I am determined next year to continue life without lawn service.  I will not give in to zero landscaping, desert landscape, or decomposed granite.

And I am currently saving up for a 12×40 patch of glorious artificial lawn.

Rebecca Knabe

Dreaming. . .

Posted by Tanille

This morning I woke up mid-dream; dreaming of floor plans for trailers.  Let me explain.  Today was a huge day for us.  We have set a completion date for my father-in-law’s trailer of August first.

A quick re-cap:  James dad had a massive stroke in April and is in rehab learning to walk, talk, and function again.  He is making huge strides and getting antsy to get out.  We are re-modeling a trailer in our park for him to live in so that we can take care of him when he gets out.

So, being the organizer freak that I am, I pulled out my schedule book last week and everything is set to a deadline.  We are right on schedule and today was a huge accomplishment.    (Will provide pics in a day or so).

This is the great thing about trailers – with a little elbow grease, they can be an empty palate.  When we were looking for “the one” for us we found  5.   They were all completely different and were completely re-designed in my head down to the last detail after I had seen each one.  Some were 2 bedroom, a couple just one.  One was really new and seemed like a house without any vintage character at all, and for me that was depressing.

This was our criteria for our trailer:  A kitchen open to the living room.  A “great room” that everyone could hang out in.  A functional kitchen where we could cook together (it doesn’t happen often but when it does, it is memorable).  Lot’s of windows so that we didn’t feel like we were living in a drab box.  And it absolutely should not feel like we were living in a trailer at any point.  Well, mission accomplished.  Yay!

Mission for my father-in law’s trailer is:  He will possibly be in a wheelchair, so everything needs to be wheelchair accessible.  He loves to play cards with us, so he must have a table for cards.  He wants a super comfy recliner, so be it.  And the man seemed obsessed with doing laundry, so we built on a laundry room.  I want it to feel like home for him, so everything will be designed and decorated for a grumpy old man, not Tanille-style.  Sigh.  It has to still have my touch somewhere and it will!

So, for those out there mulling this over – living in a trailer that is – figure out what you want and what you need.  Most interior walls of trailers are not load-bearing (do not just take my word for this, have someone check it out before you start tearing out walls).  But from my experience you can pretty much tear out anything interior in a trailer and move it around and be just fine.    For instance check out the “before” floorplan of our trailer.

For a single, very thin person this layout would be fine.  But for us it didn’t quite work.  First of all, we weren’t  ready for bunk beds and the 18″ wide, very long hallway wasn’t ideal.  I don’t mind shimmying down the side of a trailer, but every day would get old.  Plus, I didn’t want to have to measure our guests to see if they could fit in the bathroom.  So here’s the after.

This layout gives us a nice sized bedroom, which was a must.  We removed the old furnace and use an electric fireplace for heating (which we plan on replacing with a propane stove this year) and we removed the huge water heater and replaced it with an instant water heater that is mounted outside.  That saved us 16 square feet.

For Manny’s (my father-in-law) trailer this is the plan.

Hopefully this will make him happy.  I did mention he’s a grumpy old man right?

-Tanille Leal

How I Want to Die

Posted by Rebecca

I fully intend to live forever (so far so good); but if for some reason I don’t, I have no idea how I want to die.

But I do know how I do NOT want to die.  I do not want to die in any manner that compels the local newspaper to use the word “trailer” in my article or obituary.

A trailer’s worst enemies are public opinion, tornadoes, and fire.  We are working on public opinion.  And, so far, whew, no tornadoes touching down in Northern Nevada.  But fire – yikes!  As Smokey the Bear knows, fires can be bad, bad news.

That being said, I was horrified early last summer when Kara called me one morning to make sure I was still alive.  She had heard on the radio that a woman in her mid-thirties had died in a trailer fire during the night. 

I was SO offended!  First of all, a woman in her mid-thirties??  Well, I may be a woman, and I may just so happen to be in my mid (to late) thirties, but I am not a “woman in her mid-thirties.”  That just sounds soooo old!  And second of all, a trailer fire?  Never! 

Yes, I realize my ‘reasoning’ makes little sense to all of you, but in my mind it is crystal clear.  And, yes, I realize that I essentially live in an aluminum-encased book of matches, but I’m pretty sure that is why my 450 square foot book of matches comes with 18 windows, a back door, and a slider.  Lots of outs. 

And so I do take my precautions to prevent the dreaded article or obituary – I blow out all candles before bed time, I’m careful not to leave any fire-wielding appliances on for longer than necessary, I avoid bringing highly flammable substances, like Aqua-net, into my home, and, despite any stereotypes there may be for a woman in her mid-thirties who lives in a 1958 single-wide trailer, I have not, nor will I ever, take up smoking.  Because I know that is not how I want to die. 

And, like Smokey says, “Only YOU can prevent trailer fires.”

Rebecca Knabe