Archive for August, 2013

Airstreamer Neighbors in Moab, UT

Friday, August 30th, 2013

After a couple hours trip from Colorado we arrive at the Portal RV Resort in Moab, Utah.  As it turns out our next door neighbors are in a 27-foot International front bedroom Airstream. We notice the license tag is from Quebec, Canada.

If you’ve been Airstreaming long, you understand that there is a sort of family bond between Airstreamers—an immediate sense of camaraderie that occurs.  In keeping with this, we enjoy knowing who is in other Airstreams and we enjoy making a connection with them. 

This time it was Tino Vagnini, Isabelle Mandeville, and Jade Vagnini from Blainnville, Quebec, Canada.  Tino and Isabelle are on sabbatical from their law enforcement careers and are taking time to tour across the USA before Jade enters school.  We enjoyed visiting each other’s Airstreams and noting their similarities and differences.  Our dog especially enjoyed getting some lovin’ from Jade. 

 Meeting other Airstreamers is one of the nice things about Airstreaming. 

 PS–To Tino and Isabelle, thanks for leaving us the charcoal and lighter fluid!

Colorado National Monument

Friday, August 30th, 2013

From Rim Road, Colorado National Monument

From Rim Road, Colorado National Monument.

Fly…I feel like I can fly.  So broad the plateau and so high the view that I have the sense I’m airborne. I want to soar with open wings between towering monoliths high above the desert floor.

For one so bound to land this is perhaps as near to personal flight as I can get without a hang glider. This is Colorado National Monument south of Fruita, Colorado and west of Grand Junction. This is Rim Rock Drive.

Clouds hang low as we pass through the gate in the early morning light.  Soon they give way to a distant haze.  Photo worthy views start immediately upon entering the park from the north.  This is not a park to disappoint.  Red rock walls rise overhead and red rock canyons drop from the rim.   Colorado National Monument is a spectacular place and we are surprised that we have not heard more about it. 

We invest the morning following the 23-mile-long drive and walking to see what cannot be seen from the road.  (Forty miles of maintained trails offer options for hiking.)  Other than the road we see few signs of man inside the park. 

A marker points out a narrow path etched into a distant wall and cites its role in history.  I try hard to envision ranchers driving cattle up in the summer to the mesa and down in the fall on this one-cow-wide trail. A hardy group of ranchers indeed and a hard life.  I count my blessings.

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Spire at Colorado National Monument

Spire at Colorado National Monument

Ouray, Colorado and Box Canyon Falls

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Despite the drizzle, we found Ouray, CO to be a charming town well worth the visit. The Victorian storefronts are about as quaint as you can get and wandering the wide main street with its petunias brightened an otherwise gray day.

Touted as the Switzerland of America, Ouray lives up to that promise. Nestled in the San Juan Mountains this little paradise sits at 7,792 feet and is a sweet place to spend some time. Historically a mining town with mountains too steep for skiing, Ouray attracts tourists by simply remaining its delightful self.

Any hopes of an off-road jeep tour were dashed by the weather. But we did manage a visit to Box Caῆon FallsFred at Box Falls, Ouray, CO medium resolution which is practically in the town though it seems much more removed. A steep hike to the top of the falls will likely wind those such as ourselves who are accustomed to sea level.

We took the easy falls trail that includes a metal walkway clung to the walls of the canyon in a way that requires watching your head due to the rock outcroppings. Several flights of metal grate steps allow decent to the canyon’s narrow floor bringing you face to face with the thousands of gallons of water that crash with a deafening roar into a narrow quartzite canyon. Dramatic. If you want to see Fred in this photo, look for the hat in the lower left.

Telluride, CO was a bit out of our way but I’d always wanted to see it. It was late afternoon by the time we got there and we were really too tired to enjoy it to the fullest. It seemed to be more like Vail with the trendy ski theme and upscale shops and stacks of condos. The setting was nice, but all in all I prefer Ouray although Telluride does have a free aerial tram to the top of the mountain.

If you are in Montrose we recommend the Cedar Creek RV Park as a base camp for touring Gunnison National Park and Ouray. It is on the edge of town within walking distance of Ted’s Steak House which we also recommend. Cedar Creek had narrow gravel sites but all the common amenities as well as a very manicured and entertaining Putt Putt course.

On to Grand Junction, Colorado tomorrow.


Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

An intense and plunging landscape with crumbling rock and vertical walls, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park wowed us with its drama.  Never have we visited a park with an entrée to such dramatic views from an access road only seven miles long. 

Deep and narrow it is no wonder the canyon is called Black Canyon. Sunlight has a difficult time making its way to the canyon floor in places. For two million years the Gunnison River has cut through hard rock to form this beautiful but intimidating slice into the earth.  The water’s swift currents, fueled by elevation changes, drop rapidly at an average of 95 feet per mile. In one two mile section alone it drops 480 feet.   

No evidence has been found that humans have ever inhabited the inner canyon.  The environment is too foreboding. They say even snakes don’t live in the canyon.

There are three roads into the park.  We traveled the south rim which is paved.  The north rim road is not paved. While close as the crow flies, it is a two to three hour drive away from the south rim road.  The East Portal road is a challenging road but allows visitors to drive to the Gunnison River, east of the two rim drives, and into the Curecanti National Recreation Area.

Our friends Joyce and Mark Bryant told us to be sure and see the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park while in southwestern Colorado.  They loved it and now I see why.  The canyon is an amazing place.

Black Canyon of the GunnisonBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located east of Montrose, CO.




“And Toto Too”

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

As we were rolling into Kansas my sister texted me to find out if we plan to look up Dorothy of Wizard of Oz fame.  I told her I’d Google Auntie Em and see if she was home. 

I must confess we grew up seeing reruns of The Wizard of OZ on TV annually.  I can sing several of the songs and still have affection for the Lion, the Tin man, Toto the dog, and all those adorable munchkins.  And yes, somewhere deep in my heart all those flying monkeys and the wicked witch’s words “I’ll get you my pretty,” stir memories of snuggling a little closer to my daddy during those scenes.  

It turns out that the Oz Museum is but a mere 9 miles north of our route on I-70.  We take the detour and drop in on Dorothy in the small town of Wamego, KS. The road from the Interstate boasts a sign that says, “Road to OZ.” 

For those who know and love the story of OZ it is a pleasant little attraction. Until visiting the museum, I had never known that there had been a 1925 silent film of the story with Oliver Hardy prior the 1939 classic movie. My 95 year old mother-in-law says she grew up with the book.

Funny thing, when I met the Tim Man in person, it struck me that he and the Airstream look somewhat alike.  Hum….


Well the Toilet Was Too Low

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Okay, so it wasn’t really the toilet.

Perhaps it was the 2013’s aluminum interior or the trendy LED lights with the dimmer. Maybe it was the dinette, or the stereo system, or the big TV, or the cool little windows over the kitchen sink. Maybe it was the influence of all of those shiny new trailers at the factory.

What sense would it make to have cosmetic work done on your Airstream and then trade it in? Totally irrational wouldn’t you say? Maybe aluminum fever makes people do irrational things.

So when leaving the factory and heading south of Jackson Center, OH we stopped in at Arbogast RV, Car, Boat and everything dealer. We’d been there the day before and saw a 30’ 2013 that caught our eye. By now I’m sure you’ve figured it out. We are currently sporting new aluminum.

James Stumpf was a good and most helpful salesman and he and his sales manager George Walker gave us a great value on our trade-in. While we were there I also fell in love with a 1966 Tradewind that the factory had completely gutted and remodeled. It was a ground-up restoration/remodeling blend. Vintage on the outside, new on the inside. Expensive yes, but oh so nostalgic but chic. Just love it! Unfortunately, no BOGO offer from Arbogast.

Love being…

Pulling into St. Louis with new Aluminum

Pulling into St. Louis with new Aluminum

“Airstream cool” on the road….Two people and a dog just ‘a rolling and ‘a smiling.

Return to the Mother Ship

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Before getting underway toward the Southwest we took a detour to Jackson Center to have a little work done on our 2000 Airstream Excella. Kevin there did an excellent job while we hung out in the waiting room in the morning and then took the 2PM factory tour to pass the time.

Airstreams sales are booming with a back order now of over 1300 units. Want to order a new Airstream? It will be December before they get to it. We haven’t toured the factory since they started making so much of the furniture so it was an interesting and enlightening tour with Don Ambrose who has been giving factory tours since forever.

Bowlus Road Chief trailerI simply loved seeing a 1930’s Bowlus Road Chief, predecessor to the Airstream, at the factory. I’d seen photos and always thought the door over the hitch to be a little freaky. But oooh is the trailer so cool. I believe Bowlus was the first to adapt airplane aluminum concepts and the monocoque construction.

Monocoque construction uses the external skin to support some or most of the load on the structure. I’m pretty sure Wally Byam, Airstream founder, worked for Bowlus. Hey you folks who know more about this than I, please tell me if I’m wrong.

Greetings Airstream World!

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

It’s been three years since I blogged our trip to Alaska right here in the Airstream Life community. After a detour with life and family responsibilities, Fred and I are back on the road and want to share some of our journeys with you. So far we’ve made it from the east coast to central Kansas and are headed west. I’ll be blogging along the way and look forward to connecting with you once again as we tour the Southwest. More to come from the road.

About the Author

I'm Renee Ettline. For twenty-something years my husband Fred and I have been Airstreamers. Since 2005 I've been writing for Airstream Life magazine on every topic from destinations and lifestyle to rivets and tires. Currently you'll find me in a section called, "Living the Life." We've Airstreamed from Alaska to Florida and California to Nova Scotia and loved every minute.