Airstream Anniversary-First Year!

Today is our first year anniversary of Airstream ownership.  I was reading that the first year of marriage is often considered the year of adjustment.  This year was certainly that!  Since we are now in the last Mercury Retrograde of 2012, a time of going over old ground (a/k/a One Step Forward, Two Steps Back), it seems appropriate to think back to what the year brought.

Our trips included:  Freezing windy 4 degree cold (with a “feels like” wind chill of -25 degrees), searing 109 degrees with a “compromised” air conditioner, 45 mph cross-winds, a “collectible” wheel lost, six bolts sheared off, two blown tires, awning flappage, a missing air conditioner shroud, dents to the wheel well, a handle missing to the black water tank, and a dead battery converter.  It sounds awfuleventful, doesn’t it?

It also included:  A new floor, a Goldilocks chair, repairs, replacements and upgrades, new wheels and tires, and an opportunity to meet new and familiar faces in distant places.  Every upgrade replaced an ISSUE I’d been having with rolling, cleaning or being able to see, and life kept getting a little easier each time.  We visited areas we hadn’t been before, a few which we knew well, reconnected with family, made new memories and enjoyed our 2nd home.  The negatives can’t begin to outweigh the positive events with our Airstream, during the journey of this first year.

A few new things were learned, which helped us live more comfortably in our RollingSilver2ndHome, and during all kinds of weather.  We now have fold-up fans, small ceramic heaters, water filters, and a few new tools like a step (s)tool, better towing mirrors, and a tire pressure monitoring system.  We’ve developed some new routines, and are finally figuring out how to make this work for us, as easily as we can.  One year later, it helps to be in a place where all we need to remember and pack now, is clothing and food.  It’s great to have a place where everything lives, know the best time to make ice cubes (Very Important),  what needs to come out when we arrive home, and what needs to go back in.  It’s a different perspective on traveling than I’ve experienced before, but I like it.  I like sleeping in the same bed every night, having my own bathroom wherever I go, and a little kitchen, which makes taking care of ourselves convenient.  The “Lounge” is a favorite place where we can stretch out, or have a little space to get away from each other when suffering “travel fatigue”.  With our “Goldilocks” chair, the table serves as office, dining room or kitchen island.

A few other things we’ve learned are: Fill the gas tank before it’s needed; Put away the awning when you’re not there (because When It’s Windy It Really Blows); Always check interior doors and drawers when you stop; Keep the Airstream “Tour Ready” (because someone will want to see it); and Always, Expect the Unexpected.  We’re rolling with it.

Our dents are being taken care of.  What better time for this than Mercury Retrograde?  It’s old ground after all.  I’m choosing to expect our former problems are behind us.  Because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that whatever comes next will be something new.  For some crazy reason, I’m looking forward to it.

Anniversary Cake.  A combination of an old and new recipe. It’s good, but like this last year, I believe there is room for improvement!

Our dent. (By now, one of several.)

New Wheels and Tires

With plenty of miles for the seed to germinate, we considered all conversations we’d had with people about wheels and tires.  We seemed to have the luxury of time, since it didn’t appear they were needed immediately.  Little did we realize there would be two blowouts before we arrived home, with the last, three miles from our destination.  There was no longer any need to mull the decision over.  By that time, it had been decided to make a change from 15 to 16 inch wheels, as well as better quality truck tires.  See:  Beginning and Ending-Awning Repair and “Sploding” Tires.    We ordered aluminum wheels from Treadit, found Michelin tires to fit, along with installing a tire pressure monitor system.  We don’t want any more surprises!  There was no need to “put a pencil to it”, knowing the cost of this upgrade would save us the costs of (now needed) repairs, which piled on every time there’s been a problem with a wheel or tire.  Also purchased were Centramatic wheel balancers, which seemed ingenious once the video was viewed.

There was a question about who to have install these for us, since they were an on-line purchase, and not a common solution to wheel balancing.  The young mechanics at Sears seemed excited to see these and install them for us, and they were anxiously waiting for us when the Airstream rolled in.  Once the installation was complete, they said, “If you have anything unusual like this again, please come back; we’d love to work on it!”  How nice these days to see customer service providers genuinely happy to add something new to their job description.  Thank You Shelly for helping us schedule this, and Tyler and Dan, for being excited about learning something new.  Your attitude ensured you have our future business.

While in Jackson Center, the other thing we picked up at the Airstream Factory was a new key chain, to replace the old one which had…lost a tire.  It wasn’t clear to either of us exactly when that happened, only that it was around the same time we had to replace the wheel that had sheared off all six of the bolts.  See:  Remodeling the RollingSilver2ndHome.  We both thought once the improvements were installed, the key chain should also reflect the change.  It’s funny isn’t it, that the wheel was lost on the same side of the key chain, which went missing on our Airstream.   The day the tires were installed, Better Half came in and made the change Immediately; switching the keys from the Airstream with one wheel, to the Airstream with two.

The tire on the key chain was missing around the same time as the tire on the Airstream. Coincidence? You decide. I already have an opinion.

Yes. Not only is the key chain well used, it feels like our Airstream has been too.

Because I always appreciate those who like to excel at their job, I highly recommend Shelly, Tyler and Dan at Sears.  If you need tires, they’ll help you out.

Sears

9701 Metcalf Ave.

Overland Park, KS

913-967-8799

Favorite Family

Combining a trip with the Airstream to visit our Favorite Family was like pairing my favorite cake with the perfect icing.  We had the honor of being the first visitors to their new home, while bringing our own little home with us.  It seemed meant to be when we were told there was a 30 amp outlet available just inside their garage, with enough driveway space for parking our RollingSilver2ndHome.  How accommodating!

If you know that experience of being welcomed with wide open arms, and the excitement of fulfillment after long anticipation, then you understand completely.  This trip had been planned for six months, so to finally arrive was the toasted nut on top of the cake.  The newest member of our family is three years old, and instantly provided me with a favorite moment when I saw him for the first time.  His mom and I went to pick him up at preschool and when we walked in, his eyes lit up.  He gave a little scream and could not contain his joy, which he expressed by running around the room in circles, like a blade on a fan whipping up the air.  There were other “moments” of blowing and catching kisses, and latching onto a gift I brought him, a camping lantern.  We had plans to go camping towards the end of our visit, and every little boy needs his own lantern, doesn’t he?  As he began providing us with “lantern stories” right away, it was a hit all around.

His big brother is seven years old, and also shared some unforgettable moments.  In anticipation of our visit, he had helped make his great-great-grandmother’s cinnamon rolls.  There are only a few of us who make these, so it is heartwarming to see him embrace this time-honored family tradition.  He received a personalized cookbook with a foam puzzle, indicating kitchen measurements.  When he read, “Two cups make a peent”, I realized pints turning into “peents” was now a new form of family measure.

There was a simple fascination with the Airstream, and I heard quite often during the visit, “I want to go out to the camper.”  When I finally figured out that “going out to the camper” meant peeing into the toilet, I realized for the little boys it was like marking their territory.  Why Not?  After all, we were all at home!

Their mom brought the best parts of “family” back to me, which had much to do with the food she planned and prepared.  Isn’t it so true that when the food is good, it feels like a holiday?  It was a feast for days!  Imagine dad’s barbecue brisket, mom’s cheesy potato casserole, grandmother’s Brookville Hotel coleslaw and cinnamon rolls, her mother’s lemon chicken, her shrimp and grits, slow cooked pork, marinade steak and home-made pizza.  Are you hungry?  Her husband shared his home-brew with us which was so good I only regret there wasn’t more to go around.  My dad (her grandfather) was there when we made a trek to his favorite shopping destination, BIG LOTS.  She was a Big Lots Virgin.  Even though he passed 10 years ago, I’m absolutely certain he was shopping with his girls that day.

We ended our visit by going camping, to a place none of us had been before, Red Run Campground.  In the heart of Lancaster County, PA, it was a perfect place to wind down our visit.  It was family friendly, and we had a great experience there, from the playground and layout of the campground to the people we met.  Who wouldn’t enjoy camping by a creek, cooking over a campfire and hearing the clip-clop of horses hooves and Amish buggies going by?  We met Robert and his family there, along with their brand new grand-daughter.  They were the nicest group and it was a pleasure to make their acquaintance.  When we first pulled into the campground with our Airstream, it was their reaction to us that made us aware this is another part of the world where Airstream sightings are also rare.  The feeling of being instantly popular is not one I’m entirely used to.  (I liked it.) It’s nice to meet Airstream admirers!   We also met Bill and Leah, who had spent time in all the parts of the country we have lived, and Chuckie & Jessie’s folks, all lovely people. It was the last camping trip with our family’s pop-up trailer, as the decision to upgrade to something easier was imminent.  We like their new SOB (Some Other Brand), and look forward to sharing more camping memories.  I believe Red Run Campground has a place in our future.

Memorable conversations were shared and a couple of campfires I won’t forget.  In fact, there was an incident involving late-night scotch, a smart phone and a campfire.  All I will say is, instead of changing the names to protect the innocent, I won’t give you any names at all.  It was however, an exercise in how worthless extended warranties are, even if you suspect something like this could likely happen in your future.   So don’t buy them.  EVER.  ‘Nuff Said.

Campfire for cooking food (and electronics) over.

Red Run Campground

877 Martin Church Road

New Holland, PA  17557

717-445-4526

If you’re a beef eater like my dad was, you want this recipe.  It’s one of those make-ahead, easy recipes that tastes like it has been in a smoker, but is slow-cooked in the oven.  In fact, I’m making it this week.

DAD’S BARBECUE BRISKET

3-4 pound brisket

2-3 T. liquid smoke (Wrights)

1 t. garlic powder

1 t. powdered onion

2 t. celery seed

1-1/2 t. salt

2 t. Worcestershire sauce

2 t. pepper, freshly ground

1 cup barbecue sauce

Cover both sides of the brisket with liquid smoke, garlic and onion powder, celery seed and Worcestershire sauce.  Place brisket in a baking pan, cover, and marinate meat in refrigerator overnight.  Add salt and pepper, covering the brisket with foil.  Bake in a 300 degree oven for five hours.  Pour off liquid and reserve.  Cool meat before slicing, against the grain.  Arrange the sliced meat in a baking pan (adding a portion of the liquid is optional.)  Brush the barbecue sauce over the sliced meat, and heat before serving.

Beginning and Ending – Awning Repair and “Sploding” Tires

Whew! Three weeks blew by in what seemed like a heartbeat. Preparing for this trip seemed like it took much longer than the time we spent away from home, although being in our RollingSilver2ndHome made it much easier than it might have been.

The first day was spent making our way to Springfield, MO, with Reliable RV as our destination. Our awning repair was scheduled, and we were hopeful it would go well so we could be on our way. The repair was made, and I was able to mark it as DONE. It was a happy moment for me when we could finally string our party lights on the extended awning, knowing I was done thinking about this to finally experience it instead. Once the lights were plugged in, my favorite 7 year old declared with hands on hips, “I like them.” Is it odd that I should feel happy to have his approval? It was most satisfying to know we felt the same way about the lights. Of course, the clips we used to string them turned out to be hangar clips for drying clothes. These were not what I originally intended to use, but instead worked out best for the lights so they were Dual Purpose. (If you do not know by now I love Dual Purpose items best, then someone hasn’t been paying attention.)

Owls – 1970’s Revisited!

We were 120 miles from home when someone pulled up beside us on the road and rolled down their window. “Your rear tire blew”, they mouthed. Thank You Good Samaritan! We pulled off the road, and sure enough, the tire had “sploded”, the sidewall tearing and tread falling to pieces. There was a quick tire change, and immediate Googling for the address of a tire store in the next town. Once we arrived, the tire was replaced and we were on our way. My Better Half does not believe in driving any distance without a spare. It’s a good thing, because three miles from home, the other tire on the same side of the trailer blew. It was timely I suppose, that we had several tire discussions with others about the problems with certain trailer tires. Personally, we’ve had issues now with three out of four. Obviously, it’s time for a change. Upgrades are completely necessary before we go another mile. Oh, and you know those repairs needed to the aluminum skin? When the second tire went, it took out the handle to the black water tank with it. It’s a good thing this happened before Repairs were made. Fortunately, the tank was empty, so it’s not needed soon. It will be nice to look forward to a time when we don’t end a trip needing to look forward to repairs. Even with all of this, we’re not discouraged. Not Yet. Stuff happens. Right?

Time for a new approach, wouldn’t you say?

The first year of Airstream ownership has been…um…revealing, about where the weak links are with our systems, whether they are routines, refreshing, repairs or revisiting that which has come before. The second long trip was much easier than the first, so things are getting better. In no way could I have declared we were having a “South Dakota Badlands Moment”, even though the end of our journey seemed like It’s Always Somethin’. After all, we did travel over 2200 miles. Did I mention I got sick the second day after we headed for home? At least I got to sleep in my own bed, even though I didn’t get to spend quite enough time in it. Will Our Third Long Trip Be The Charm? I’ll think about that tomorrow. For now, I’m going to bed.

A new Airstream tool

OK, it may not be every guy’s favorite tool, but it is one I have already found a need for.  You see, we had an alarming amount of bird droppings to remove from the outside of our Airstream, and it was…just…out…of…reeeeaaaccch.  There was entirely too much discussion about needing to remove it, before taking it down the road to harden and bake onto the aluminum skin.  SO, I was walking through Bed Bath & Beyond and saw this Cosco aluminum step-tool.  After picking it up to see how light it was, it went in my cart.  Immediately.  In fact, before I got out of the store, someone wanted to know where I got the step-(s)tool.  (I seem to have that effect on people in stores.  Apparently, I must look like I know exactly what I’m doing.)

Cosco® Signature Two-Step Aluminum Step Stool

I still hear my niece telling me, “You’ve got to keep your weight down.”  She may have meant MY weight, but we were talking about how much stuff to put in your RV.  Of course I used a 20% off coupon.  Did I mention my new step-tool is almost feather-light?

Remodeling the RollingSilver2ndHome

Mostly intact!

Well, it’s not much of a remodel really, but the carpet is coming out and an easy-care, vinyl floor is going in.  We’re waiting to hear when the floor is delivered, so we can take the Airstream in for the change.  Another repair needed is to the awning, which needs to come off so some stitching can be replaced.  It came undone in a 45 mph cross wind on our last trip to South Dakota.  Here is what happened to us on that trip, our third voyage in the Airstream.  As written in a postcard to a family member:

Dear ___,  Here is a picture of the Badlands, which were Bad for us.  We left home to spend the first night in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and our Garmin bounced us over every brick road and railroad track in town.  When we FINALLY found the place we were trying to go, it was only a short exit off the highway.  You know how some people name the ‘’voice’’ on their GPS?  Ours  has a new name; “Route Bitch”.  The next day we experienced 45 mph winds while cruising down the road.  When we arrived at the campground, our awning had come undone, along with around five feet of stitching.  We also noticed we had lost the cover on our air conditioner.  Who knows where that went?  After our tour through the Badlands, when we stopped in Wall, SD we found a wheel missing on the Airstream.  Not only the wheel, but all six bolts holding it on had sheared off.  Too bad that when the wheel came off, it dented the aluminum skin around the wheel-well.  The next morning we noticed the fans were barely running and realized the 12 volt system had died; a replacement was sent overnight to the next campground.  After driving back through the Badlands three times to find our wheel, we finally gave it up to the canyons.  It was sad to find Alcoa, who made the aluminum rim, no longer makes rims and our wheel is now considered a “collectible”.  The repairs to the Airstream can’t be made until the beginning of October, since there are only three places to take it:  Alabama, the factory in Ohio, or Oklahoma City.  :O   Whomever said “The Third Time’s The Charm” wasn’t on this trip.

Thinking of You, Be Glad You’re Not Here.

Time for a Drink!

I suppose you might say that everything happened to us all at once.  Surprises occur when you acquire a 10 year old Airstream.  Some TLC is in order, while we ready our Mother Ship for the next excursion. This trip might be known as “When It Rains It Pours” or rather, “When It’s Windy Outside, It Really Blows.” You decide.

POMEGRANATE MARTINI

1-1/2 cups pomegranate juice

2 oz. Absolute Citron vodka

1 oz. Cointreau liquor

Cup of ice

Splash of sparkling water (optional)

Squeeze of lemon (optional)
Shake ingredients in a shaker and pour into chilled martini glasses.

Serves 2

 

It’s a New Phase!

I am someone who seems to be at odds with myself at times.  For example:  How does a homebody like to go places? Well, in my own home of course!   So why not pick a rolling home I can take with me? Our 2nd home of choice and Bed & Breakfast is a 10 year old Airstream, and my newest love.  Join me while I learn about living life well on the road, and see where this new phase will take me!