Archive for October, 2012

Catrina returns to the desert

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

After installing our new Marathon tires and securing the rub rail, we got underway on our return to the Anza-Borrego Desert for the start of our fall camping season.  I remembered the importance of checking the torque on the lug nuts, and did so at Vista Point along Interstate 8.  We then proceeded over the mountains with the help of our vertical thrusters (to save on tire wear) and made a soft landing at a new site for us at Agua Caliente County Park.

We delighted in our vista views of the desert that expanded to our east.

I enjoyed early morning photography, along with freshly brewed coffee, Larry’s homemade peanut butter and jelly shortbread, and my favorite traveling well magazine (current issue’s cover illustration features an Airstream with vertical thrusters).

We were not the only ones savoring this spot, as our Airstream friends Bert and Janie from Montana had arrived here just a few hours earlier with their beautiful 30′ Classic.

For five gloriously sunny days and clear nights, we enjoyed hiking, relaxing, and dining under the stars, while delighting in our camaraderie and thoughtful discussions.  For example, we discussed the magnificent aspects of the desert and life that adapts and thrives here, and the importance of preservation efforts as noted in Bert’s article, “The Politics of Preserving Time“.  We also discussed social issues, diversity of life, and the importance of water and compassion as noted in Bert’s article, “Compassionate Water Tanks — What’s Their Purpose?“.

We also experienced the heat of the desert sun as daily daytime temperatures soared in the nineties and we relied on our air conditioning and the newly completed sunshade made by Larry, featuring the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a.

Before the heat of the day, Bert and I hiked the Moonlight Canyon Trail, where we had photographed Peninsular Bighorn Sheep last December.  In my next post I’ll show Bert at work photographing what we found along the way.

Catrina joined us on our return to the desert as we look forward to celebrating Día de los Muertos!  (See the really cool video, “The Catrin Mens Dia de los muertos face paint tutorial“, and article, “Living the Day of the Dead“.)

Update: Larry baked pan de muerto in honor of this special day.

Aye, there’s the rub rail

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

A rub rail covers the bottom edge of the exterior aluminum panels, along with the bottom line of rivets that attach the panels to our 2007 Safari trailer.  This rub rail area is susceptible to water in at least two places, especially in the rear of the trailer where much rain water and dew run down.  The trailer was only two years old when we found part of the chrome/vinyl rub rail insert hanging down during a trip.  Moisture can loosen the self-sticking adhesive backing of this vinyl insert.  We reattached this vinyl strip using 3M Plastic and Emblem Adhesive #08061 and details are posted here.

Click on the image above to enlarge it and you will see that the factory applied sealant along the top edge of the rub rail bracket.  The integrity of this seal is important, because if enough water gets behind the rub rail it could lead to floor rot.

Last summer, I found areas of cracked sealant along the top edge of our rub rail.  In one respect, we are fortunate to have a relatively dry climate in San Diego, but we do get plenty of dew.  So after I replaced our Marathon tires in September, I sealed the rub rail cracks with Acryl-R and applicator from the Airstream Store.

Actually, I put a bead of Acryl-R along the top edge of the rub rail around the trailer, and then the trailer got its annual big washing and waxing.  For the occasion, I got a new, sturdier stepladder and more of my favorite wax, Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Professional Sealant #20.  This sealant, along with the nail polish that I applied last year, has prevented any further growth of filiform corrosion.

So now that the trailer is washed and waxed, and presented with new tires (and new AGM batteries last May) it seems happier and ready for our fall camping season. We celebrated by observing the Chinese Moon Festival, also called Mid-Autumn Festival.

Larry set up a display featuring the many symbols of this festival, including mooncakes with an egg yolk in the middle.

We gazed at the full moon as our Chinese paper lanterns seemed to dance, and the Tillandsia secunda (in the foreground) seemed to wave in the breeze, and we remembered the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese goddess who lives on the moon, a love story.

A marathon experience

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Our Marathon tires became six years old (from date of manufacture) during our summer of ’12 and we knew that, even though they looked OK, they were already beyond the expected lifespan of a normal trailer tire and needed changing.  The tires that came with our newly built 2007 23′ Airstream Safari trailer (Goodyear Marathon ST215/75R14) have served us well and have had no problems with our routine of going on monthly 200 mile round-trips, mostly from San Diego to our nearby desert areas, from October through April, and one last trip of the season to a nearby state beach in May.  In addition, I make sure they are at the specified pressure of 50 psi cold just before starting and I monitor them with PressurePro tire sensors. When the trailer is parked, the tires are immediately covered (sun protection). We typically travel at the posted speed limit for vehicles towing trailers in California (55 mph) and rarely go over 62 mph. Upon return to San Diego, our trailer and tires rest on plywood boards placed on top of the cement pavement and the tires are covered.  So, even though there is much discussion about tires and tires sizes on the forums, we chose to replace our tires with another set of Marathons!

I obtained our 5 tires locally from SD Tire and Wheel Outlet, used a 4-arm lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts, and used the F-250′s tire jack to raise the trailer.

I was surprised to see the curbside hub dust cap covers (aka grease caps) were not attached, but just inside the exterior hub cap!  They could have come off during a trip, or might never have been properly installed at the factory, but the visible area of the end of the hub looked clean, so the dust caps were installed with the help of Larry holding a board while I tapped with a small sledgehammer.

The street-side grease caps were in place as expected.  So all tires were replaced with recently manufactured Marathon tires, including the never-used spare tire.  A torque wrench was used to tighten the lug nuts, and will be used to recheck them at intervals on our first trip out to the desert.

I decided against the added expense of Centramatic Balancers for these 14″ wheels based on how we use our trailer and how our tires showed no uneven wear in over five years.  And the rubber valve stems never gave us a problem with our tires (maximum pressure cold of 50 psi), but I do like the new ones on our new tires with the metal tips.

Putting on five new round tires is a perfect way to start our fall camping season and the first of the new year celebrations that we enjoy observing, in this case, with a delicious round challah (a sweet egg bread) that Larry made with Craisins.

Roundness and sweetness are perfect symbols for the start of Rosh Hashanah, along with the apple that is sliced, and dipped in honey!

Summer of ’12

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Summer began by my thoroughly rinsing off all of the salt deposits that accumulated on the trailer during our beachside outing last May.  An important part of this annual process is to fully extended our three awnings and wash off the accumulation of salt and dirt.  The details of our trailer awning care are seen in my post, “Trailer Awnings“.  I am always amazed at the amount of dirt that accumulates along the very top edge of canvas where it attaches to the trailer (and can’t be seen or washed away until the awning is fully extended).

Diesel prices rose to $4.599/gallon this summer and the cost to fill up the F-250 tank was an even $100 here in San Diego, but the upside of living here is that we don’t have to go far to enjoy the great outdoors, even our backyard is a tropical oasis.

Summer projects included Larry’s application of finishing touches to our trailer sun shade screen seen in my last post, “Drift and the land yacht“, and in my research into replacing our six-year-old trailer tires.

San Diego’s Old Town is a great place to work and play.  Larry and I put on our Victorian era attire and went to Old Town State Historic Park where Nick & Dave were photographing anybody for free as long as they were wearing vintage clothing.  Nick & Dave do tintype photography using the wet plate collodion process.

(Photo credit: Joe O’Dell)

They took our photos, showed them to us and, after they applied the finishing application of clear lacquer, we returned in two weeks to pick them up.

Nick & Dave’s assistant photographer Joe O’Dell took pictures of us with his Nikon camera and used Photoshop to make the image below showing us with the backdrop of Bodie, a ghost town in California.

Our Renaissance faire friend, Jim M., died in late summer, reminding us that life is fragile and brief and of the importance of cherishing and sharing each day with our loved ones, from season to season.  Summer is now over, the leaves are beginning to fall, the air is cooler… but love endures, along with our memories of the summer of ’12.

About the Author

BILL, along with partner, Larry, were first-time RV'ers when they purchased their custom-ordered 23' 2007 Airstream Safari SE. Bill (a retired RN) and Larry (a retired pediatric Occupational Therapist) enjoy bringing history alive in the area of San Diego, CA.