Tuesday, November 3, 2009

it began with a bike travel trailer

Over the years, especially lately with the new "fortino" in Seattle, we've been asked about where ideabox came from. To answer the questions, we thought we'd use this blog to sort of tell the story.  This is Chapter One, or maybe a prologue.... we'll see.

The ideabox story - we think - goes way back to a pivotal event in my childhood, which was the day we created the "bike travel trailer". I was about ten. I had already built a tree fort, and a back yard fort. The idea of a fort on wheels, a fort I could take anywhere with my bike, now that was a cool concept of a fort. So with the limit of materials my dad said I could use (plywood, 4x4's, a ton of nails, some tar paper, and an old awning thing for sides) the design was created. A couple of days in construction the first prefab fort (otherwise known as a bike travel trailer) was complete. It was very cool, complete with working blinkers controlled from the bike's handle bars, interior lights with switches, a radio with two speakers, all powered from a 6 volt battery.  There was a sleeping loft above the main level. To save weight, we cut the awning cloth material to make the sides. The new prefab fort was designed to attach to a sting ray bike with the banana seat (easier connection).

I called the City with for applicable permits, (none required). Two red flyer wagons were required, so we thought. (They were my sisters wagons, which was great because they weren't my wagon). Wagons affixed, "hitch" attached to the sting ray banana seat, blinkers attached to the handlebar and tested, we were ready to go. The goal of the inaugural journey was a county park along the river, several miles away. We had a long journey ahead of us.

The first journey quickly became the only journey. The prefab fort/bike travel trailer was heavy. Really heavy. (My dad thought it might have been the thousands of nails we hammered into anything that would take a nail). The idea of pulling via the stingray was jettisoned in favor of a push assist from the back of the unit.  But that was okay, cuz we could see where we were turning because of the blinkers. The journey was epic, we knew we were doing something way ahead of its time. All the neighborhood kids were gathered to watch.  My sisters were even okay with using their red flyer wagons.

We were off. About 25 yards from our driveway, the first wagon lost its wheels, the metal flattened and the rubber part shredded due to the weight of the prefab fort. Not to be deterred, another wagon was summoned (my wagon). This worked... for about fifty yards when the second wagon lost its wheels - again flattened.  My sisters were already calling for mom.  This wasn't going to end well.  

By the time we made it to the corner of our street, all the wagons and all their wheels were flattened. It was metal on pavement. It wasn't pretty. The executive decision was made to return to the production facility (my backyard) using the hopelessly flattened wagon wheels. It was embarrassing. All the neighborhood kids watched our less than triumphant return. My sisters were crying.  My mom was mad. And dad wasn't even home yet (but he was due soon, as the 100 yard journey took most of the day).

The prefab fort lost its bike travel trailer status, finding a home on top of a couple of saw horses. We added a sterno stove and an old coleman cooler creating a kitchen. It was starting to get very cool. We had the only elevated prefabricated fort with blinkers, lights, a working radio with speakers, and now a kitchen, in the neighborhood.

And what was to be ideabox was born.

Next - the more recent story.

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