Up On The Roof

A couple days ago I was in the van, taking measurements of the floor and adding the measurements to sketches in a notebook so I could figure out how to piece together all the woodwork that’s going to become The Camping Thing. This is not the first time I’ve measured the insides. I’ve measured so many times that I feel sometimes that I should have all the measurements I need, but I do not. There’s always more measurements to be taken.

There are four steel rails that run from the front to the back of the passenger compartment. There’s no way to remove the rails so I have to build The Camping Thing on top of them. The last Camping Thing I built sort of ignored the rails. The big box I made stood on stilts over the back ends of the rails, which worked okay, mostly. This time I’m going to build right on top of them, but to do that I have to know exactly where they are. Hence, all the measurements.

I measured how long each rail is (they’re not all the same, which is a pain in the ass) and how wide they are (they’re all the same width, thank dog). I measured how far each rail is from the front of what I’m going to call the battery box (see previous entry for The Camping Thing), how far they are from the center line, and how tall they are.

I had to run to the garage a couple times to grab scraps of wood. I wanted to see which pieces of dimensional lumber might work best to span the width of the van on top of the rails. That’ll be a bit tricky because the rails are not at equal distances from each other, or from the door frame.

At some time during all this measuring and running back and forth from the garage, I misplaced my tape measure. It takes a special talent to misplace a bright yellow tape measure when the only two places I’ve been are the cramped, gray interior of a van and the admittedly cluttered yet very small interior of a garage less than ten steps away.

The rear of the van was almost empty. There were not a lot of places for the tape measure to hide in there, and I checked repeatedly: I looked all over the carpet, I looked in the battery box, I looked in every compartment (even though I knew I didn’t open them), I looked under the notebook. It wasn’t there, but I looked again and again.

Likewise, I checked everywhere in the garage: On the work bench where I usually keep the tape measures, all around the saw horses where I went for scrap lumber, on the floor in case it fell out of my pocket. Oh yeah, I checked my pockets, several times.

In the end I gave up, grabbed another tape measure, and finished taking measurements and making notes. I figured the other tape measure would turn up sooner or later. In situations like this it usually does, when I’m moving something out of the way or when I’m finally packing everything up. And that’s what happened this time, sort of. When I finished, I cleaned everything up, put it away, grabbed my notebook and pulled the handle on the sliding door, then stepped back to wait for it to close and latch itself. And that’s when I saw the tape measure, on the roof of the van. On the roof. Why the hell did I put it on the roof?

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