Archive for October, 2013

Airstream Safari trip notes

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

I start by making checklists and notes on a 8.5″ x 13″ yellow pad days before our Airstream Safari camping trips and specific tasks are assigned to specific prep days depending on the weather.  For example, Friday’s weather was clear, two days before departure on our first trip of the season, so I completed one of the scheduled tasks by attaching my PressurePro tire pressure sensors to the tires of the truck and Safari and adjusting the pressures toward the recommended cold tire pressures (50 psi for my 14″ trailer tires, 60 psi for the front truck tires, and 75 psi for the rear truck tires).

Starting a trip with the right tire pressures is important because an under-inflated tire could get too hot, stressed, and fail.  The tricky part is that tire pressures fluctuate with the outside air temperatures by as much as 1 psi per every 10° F change in temperature.*  The temperature was 80° that Friday afternoon when I attached the sensors.  I knew that the pressures would be lower the next morning and even lower at our mountain camping destination, predicted to get the first cold storm of the season by midweek.  My task was facilitated by the PressurePro monitor, which shows the pressures at a touch of a button and then I recorded the pressures, along with the date, time, outside temperature, and weather conditions.  So when we departed, I was confident the tires had the optimal pressures for our 5 days of camping.

DSC_0017 Solar & Tire pressure notes

My note taking continued when we arrived at our non-hookup campsite as I kept track of weather conditions and how well our Lifeline AGM batteries were being recharged by our two Airstream factory installed solar panels (See my Columnar Pad notes in above photo).  These notes are saved and assist me in determining when it’s time to replace the batteries (I replaced our first set after 5 years).

I continued to write notes on my yellow pad throughout our camping trip, which are also saved for future reference.  At home, Larry maintains a running camping log on a Word document on our aluminum iMac* of trip mileages, menus, plants, birds and people seen.  I also make concise entries in “The Airstream Travel Journal”.

DSC_0003 Journal hardcovers

See More, Do More, Live More: The Airstream Travel Journal“, designed by Bryan Burkhart/MODERNHOUSE, was published by Chronicle Books LLC in 2002.  (Bryan Burkhart is also the designer and coauthor of Airstream: The History of the Land Yacht, Chronicle Books LLC, 2000.)  The spiral-bound journal with aluminum* front and back covers and featuring lined pages along with vintage Airstream spot art and photos, originally sold for $16.95 and I bought two of them in 2006.  This journal is now out of print and is no longer available from Chronicle Books*, but it can be found online for prices ranging from $79.99 to $600!  (For now, I think I will not place notes in my second copy and will just keep it in pristine condition for future possibilities!)

DSC_0002 Lined pages with notes

See More, Do More, Live More: The Airstream Travel Journal

Another journal, “Airstream Prism Journal Book“, is currently available online for $16.95 from Airstream, Inc..  Per Airstream’s website, this journal has a silver anodized aluminum front cover and a black leather back with an elastic pen loop and includes a black Airstream pen.

Our aluminum Airstream (75th anniversary)* Safari trip notes also find their way into our aluminum MacBook Pro*, which transforms them into a blog post, documenting those riveting experiences.*

HPIM2381_2 MacBook Pro & Safari

I prefer writing my trip notes with a pen and paper, but perhaps I should consider a simpler tool, the pencil, or a more powerful tool, the iPad Air*, or perhaps the typewriter (with its classic, iconic image and sound)* would be more appropriate!

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Snug as a bug in a Safari

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

NOAA issued a Wind Warning as the first cold storm of the season barreled down the Pacific coast and made its way to the mountains midweek during our first camping trip of the season.  We saw clouds moving in as we ate bratwurst and a salad Tuesday evening and then battened down the hatches by taking mats to the truck and the table display and setting into our Airstream Safari.

DSC_0045 Airstream away from trees

Our favorite site here puts the Safari in full sun that maximizes the effectiveness of our rooftop solar panels and distances the trailer from the surrounding trees.  Wind gusts up to 65 mph were predicted, so I moved our truck out of harm’s way since it was under a tall pine tree with large and heavy pine cones.

DSC_0042 Pine tree with heavy cones

During the night we could hear the wind high up in the trees and raindrops on our trailer.  The temperature in our trailer was 55° when we awoke, and 49° the following morning.  We were reluctant to use the trailer’s furnace while doing non-hookup camping because it can quickly drain battery power and we weren’t sure when the sun would return and recharge our batteries.  We experienced similar conditions here last spring, and after that trip we found a solution.  We bought Mr. Heater Portable Buddy, MH9BX, indoor-safe (if used as directed by the “Operating Instructions and Owner’s Manual”), radiant heater.

DSC_0003 Mr Heater Buddy

We carefully read the instructions, viewed a review* and tried it out at home before bringing it along for its first test in the field.  For safe indoor use, the instructions say, “This heater requires a vent area of 9 square inches (example 3″ x 3″ opening) minimum for adequate ventilation during operation.”  We kept the bathroom vent and door open (our bathroom vent has a diameter of 6″, which is equivalent to 28.28 sq. in.).  For additional safety, the main door was left slightly ajar, and our carbon monoxide detector alarm never sounded.  The instructions also say, “keep any objects at least 24 inches from the front of the heater.”  We placed the heater on wood and a mat to ensure that the vinyl flooring immediately in front of the heater would not be damaged.

DSC_0099 Mr Heater in Airstream

We were pleased with its operation.  The first morning Mr. Heater brought the trailer’s temperature from 55° to a relatively comfortable 65° within 2 hours on the “LO” setting and was turned off.  We used it three more times that day, for 1-hour periods, to bring the temperature to 65°.  Our 16.4 oz. propane cylinder lasted 5 hours.  The next morning we attached a new cylinder and took away the morning chill.  So our rule of thumb now is to take along a propane cylinder for every day that rain and cold temperatures are predicted when we are doing non-hookup camping.

So instead of shivering, we were cozy and snug as a bug in our Safari, while listening to the falling rain.*

DSC_0112 Cozy Mac & Tasha

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Autumn leaves and leaps

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

We leaped into the beginning of our autumn camping season by returning to our favorite mountain campground, William Heise County Park, noted for its oak, pine, and cedar forests, Mule deer, and Rio Grande turkeys.  Our last autumn visit here was three years ago, so we really looked forward to experiencing the fall colors and the seasonal changes in the weather.  Last spring we rediscovered the joys of this park and were delighted to learn that the park now allows dogs (on a leash) on its more than ten miles of beautiful trails.

DSC_0073 Wm Heise autumn walk

We took advantage of the first two wonderfully sunny and mild days to get on the trails, especially our favorite Cedar Trail.  We were impressed with the sight of bright red leaves of Toxicondendron diversilobum (Pacific poison oak*) climbing up as a vine on oak trees.

DSC_0077 Pacific poison oak

Before the mid-week rain and windstorm moved in, we enjoyed watching hawks, crows, and bats fly by while enjoying sunset dinners at our campsite picnic table.  This summer our Oster long slot toaster burned out after only two years use.  We hated to toss this appliance since it has the classic, iconic shape of Airstream trailers*, so Larry gutted and converted it into a plate-napkin-chopstick holder (the treaded wheels came from Rockler).

DSC_0061 Plate-napkin-chopstick holder

I took an early morning hike hoping to spot some turkeys (last spring we noticed that they were not as plentiful as we had remembered seeing here three years ago).  As I walked up the campground road, I did spot a small rafter of turkeys* foraging on the hilltop meadow, but they ducked into the nearby woods as I approached with my camera.  I trekked further north without seeing more turkeys and began my return.  As I approached the same spot where I had earlier spotted turkeys, I was pleased to see a deer emerge from the woods, foraging…

DSC_0007 Mule deer foraging

followed by another…

DSC_0016 Mule deer foraging

Eventually a herd of five deer emerged and trotted across the meadow and leaped one by one over two rail fences and continued foraging!

DSC_0028 Deer leaping 1

DSC_0029 Leaping deer 2

They seemed to know that the safest place to cross is where there is a speed bump.  The “Speed Limit 10″ sign is a nice reminder to slow down and make the moment last,* and enjoy the falling autumn leaves* and leaps!

DSC_0120 Heise autumn leaves

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

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.