Welcome to Camp Laurie – If Your Dare!

We’ve lived in the same house for 17 years and have never needed air conditioning before. Sure, we’ve had a few hot days, but nothing we couldn’t handle with a few fans and a nice cross breeze. But this year’s been different. Really different!

With soaring temperatures and humidity levels—89 degrees considered a “cold snap”—we’ve been somewhat like lobsters…steamed alive in our ground-level bedroom. Something had to be done.

Welcome to Camp Laurie! These creaky steps (the self-same steps I tumbled down and broke my ankle on 3 years ago) lead down to the basement which is easily 15 degrees cooler than the ground level. With a few strategically placed fans to create a circular flow of air (envision the Bermuda Triangle), and the liberal use of sandalwood incense, I created a pleasant smelling “cold zone.”

In the dark the jacket sleeves seem to reach out and grab you while you're making your way down the creaky stairs

 Here’s what used to be our son’s bedroom. (Please don’t ask me if I presented the spiders with a friendly eviction notice because I’ll lie to you). I scrubbed this space to within an inch of its life.

It's easily 15-degrees cooler in what used to be our son's bedroom

 With the simple placement of a futon, I created a comfortable reading area. 

Up at a 45-degree angle, this futon and floor lamp make for a comfortable reading area

Another area on the receiving end of major elbow grease was the basement bathroom. No having to bolt upstairs if nature calls in the middle of the night. Just a few simple rules:

     – Don’t dare leave the toilet seat up
     – Don’t flick plaque on the mirrors when you floss

Just a few simple rules keep Mama happy (and if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy)...

When was the last time you were at camp?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               — Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com and our Facebook page

© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

33 thoughts on “Welcome to Camp Laurie – If Your Dare!

  1. I am glad you had options, and have created another space for yourself and Len! How creative.
    For almost four years I lived at camp in up state NY. My home was a 10 x 10 on the edge of the swamp/pond under many trees, an the Mountain. There was no electric, just the wind and nature doing what she could.

  2. Good Morning Laurie,

    It feels like Camp Bahamas for the last 5 weeks. It has been extremely hot here and when there is a brief shower the land crabs, snakes and ground spiders (tarantula’s) come running out of the bush. Quite a sight when driving at night to see them walking the road. Still glad for the rain to fill our water tank for essentials. Fishing for food and hanging clothes on the line to dry, I think I can camp here forever!

    • Lisa – Because I’ve been precisely where you are, I can picture you in my mind’s eye enjoying the bajeegers out of yourself at Camp Bahama! And knowing you, I’m absolutely confident that you could, indeed, camp there forever 🙂

  3. Laurie, Brava! How creative and comfy. I’m off to have lunch with 3 of my camp friends and two of our counselors in Delevan, WI, where we spent our summers. What wonderful memories.
    Stay cool and have fun. You would have won an a “cabin inspection” award for how well you cleaned your basement!!

  4. Wow, were you ever industrious and/or desperate! Your little campsite looks positively inviting. I honestly can’t remember the last time I went camping, although we used to bring sleeping bags and air mattresses with us when we used to stay at the house in Provincetown…

    • Barbara R. – Although I’m high-energy, I assure this effort was much more out of sheer desperation. Your stays at the house in Provincetown sound like they were fun 🙂

  5. I’m happy to see that you and Len had options Laurie. High temps and humidity are nothing new out here during monsson season, but I’ve been surprised at what I’ve seen around the rest of the country. OUCH!

    Hope the heat breaks soon! Bob

  6. Wow Camp Laurie looks lovely and way cool! or cooler!
    We are having our second unusually cool summer in a row – We had 2 days in the 80s this weekend, but back to clouds and cool today – forecast is for rain again. The solar panels are still working for us.

    We use the cool of the bedrooms downstairs to run through the electronic air filter, through the whole house. We add 2 fans for low air movement spots…and have at least 2 windows in each room as paintings or air intake and light providing sources. Then we have 3 skylights, now with sun shades, that open on the top floor of this old house to release the hot air as it rises. Our bedroom, on the top floor is the warmest room in the house – great for 9 -10 months of the year. It is a retrofit passive air handling system…and it saves us lots of money and keeps us just about perfect temperature.

    I am not doing very well with scrubbing and cleaning these days – as I do not have a working vacuum – frustrating. When the Danes were visiting I slept in the office room (old washing porch), one daughter out in a tent in the yard and 2 in sleeping bags on the living room rug.

    I wish I could get folks to clean the mirrors after they flick and floss.

    I never grow tired of being in this house…of course, I am the computer that puts the shades down, and opens windows and closes them and opens and closes doors to make the system work….and I do not bake on the hot days…and I put all the clothes on the line rather than use the drier….so there are some tasks I would trade!

    I am so happy you are able to find a relief spot from the heat, which can also be dangerous Ingenuity YES!

    • Patricia – Your retrofit passive air handling system sounds very cool (literally and figuratively). After reading about it, I read it to Len and he enjoyed it just as much did. Thank you for sharing that information — it’s definitely got our wheels turning 🙂

  7. You are a better person than all of us Laurie! Staying the course during this scorching summer (in the NYC area it’s been practically record-breaking) by seaking refuge in the cooler basement shows you can find some alternative measures than breaking with what is surely an admirable tradition. Love the pictures of the stairs and basement rooms and the story about the impening eviction of the spiders (though I was not happy to hear you had broken your ankle on those stairs!). I’m sure the cooler air down there can be further enhanced by some fans too. I spend much of my time in a computer roon (where I am penning this comment) off the basement that was formerly a room for tools and hardware, but I am not the kind of person that Len is in this regard (and that’s the understatement of the year, needless to say) and for all intents and purposes the PC and CD and DVD bookshelves were more along my way of thinking. Ha! But the big difference of course is that this is an air conditioner here, as there is in the bed room, both in addition to the central air we have in the house. We are polar bears, and simply can’t tolerate this kind of heat.

    My last camp trip was way back in the late 70’s, when I spend a weekend in the Adirondacks in West Virginia. I was in my early 20’s and well remember the whole experience, one in which I utilized my “skills” (if you want to call them that) learned for five years as a boy scout when I went on no less than five camping expeditions, including a well-remembered weekend in High Point, New Jersey in Sussex County (the extreme northeastern corner of the state). But I know “camping” as is applicable to this post is far more metaphorical.

    • Sam – The scorching heat in your neck of the woods makes our temps look like child’s play. Everyone needs their own spot and your basement location sounds like it suits you to a “T” — including an air conditioner for a polar bear. Now I know why you like the movie theater so much — it’s air conditioned 🙂

      I’ve never been to New Jersey, but the well-remembered weekend in High Point sounds like it was a lot of fun!

  8. Simple answer: too long ago.
    My favourite place to camp is at the Winnipeg Fok Festival. It’s amazing how quickly a crowd of strangers becomes a family. It’s been more than fifteen years since I’ve been there–high time to return, hopefully next year (July 4 -8)

    • Leanne – We’ve found the same thing to be true when we camp, you get to know your “neighbors” really well — and swap camp recipes and fishing stories over the campfire. I agree, 15 years is waaaaaaay too long — you’ve got to get back to the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

  9. My partner grew up in the desert – he had to learn rain, but he has so many problem solving ideas – I am just fascinated by all his thoughtful and earth friendly solutions.

  10. Lauarie you’re a hoot, I love you’re ingenuity. And even though I do have air conditioning (and the electric bill to go with it) I’d love to come to camp Laurie. I remember just what a cool sanctuary those old stone basements in Vermont were during the summer when I was growing up. And as for remembering the last time I was at camp, humm, well, the only thing that comes to mind is Girl Scouts and the delicious red bean and tomato stew-type food they served, a taste I could never seem to quite replicate, but then that’s ‘camp’ for ya now isn’t it. Enjoy yours.

    • Alison – I know exactly the soup/stew you’re talking about! I’m always ravenous when we camp. Do you find that your appetite is turbo-charged when you spend time in the great outdoors?!

  11. Sound like you have adopted the Ausy mode. In outback Autralia mining towns most folks live well underground, as it is the only place to escape the 50 deg C daytime temps (122 Deg F +).

    Well done!

    • Ted – Little did I realize that we were following a long line of Australian folks who’ve done the same thing for survival. It definitely makes good sense — if it’s cooler below ground, then go below.

  12. But flicking the plaque on the mirror is my favorite part of flossing!

    Okay. Seriously. My family lived in an 1850’s house in San Antonio for four years when I was young. It was huge – four stories: basement, two living floors, and ginormous attic . . . and no air conditioning. After the first summer, my father went out and bought two window air conditioning units. One for his bedroom. And one for the rest of the house! I am not sure it helped much, but we all felt cooler just looking at it.

    You have a lovely home, Laurie, and I would camp out in your basement anytime. The last time I camped out was with my daughter when she was in Girl Scouts. The outhouse was a half mile up the road so those midnight trips were an adventure.

    • Barbara – That San Antonio house sounds huge! I can well imagine that the placebo effect of just looking at an air conditioner in the heat would make a person, especially a child, feel cooler. I don’t envy your half-mile nighttime camp adventures to the bathroom –outhouse at that 🙂

  13. Oh you are so creative–and frugal–Laurie! I am smiling at how you have made the best of a steamy heat-drenched situation. Knowing exactly what you mean about a cooler mustier basement where one’s son slept! I sometimes start a fire in the woodstove on cool summer mornings just to dry up the musty smell. Your bathroom looks lovely. I hope you are having, or will have, cooler weather soon. It’s interesting how quickly 89 degrees becomes sultry again after it’s been in the 60’s. Enjoy your camp!

    • Kathy – Our wood burning stove is on the ground level (in the living room), but I can well imagine that having one in the basement would take care of any musty smells in a quick hurry. Our day has started with rain, we’re expecting thunderstorms later. And while that will cool things off a bit, some folks are still cleaning up the water damage from the last storm (just last week) that gave us 7-inches of rain overnight and caused flooding in some areas — especially near the Fox River.

  14. We camp. (How different an extra ‘re would have made that.)
    We camp with about 50 of our neighbours each year.It’s excellent.
    Then there are the Scouts and Brownies – big tents or bivouvacs in the rain. I recommend it. There’s more to life than staying in.

    • Paul – Camping with neighbors — 50 of them! — how cool is that?! And then the BIG tents of the Scouting type events. I’ve seen those tents…they’re rivaled in size only by military and circus tents.

  15. Laurie you are a genius! Or desperate or both 🙂 You are so bright I need to wear shades
    8-| The last time I camped out was on my grandson’s floor a few weeks back. Very cool place to be and the company was outstanding. O:) Until next time :-* ! ( I bet you can guess who was chatting with me on facebook and gave me the link to all the emoticons. Just hoping they all work.

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