Trip prep

It is cold this morning as we prepare the Airstream for departure.  Very cold, for Tucson.  Last night was one of the occasional freezes this town gets in the winter, and this morning everything outside is covered with frost. I hate preparing for a trip in the cold, because every job is harder and slower.

My fingers, required to be bare for some jobs that require nimbleness, are aching at the touch of cold metal on the hitch, cold tools, and frosty propane tank cover.  The air in the tires has shrunk from the cold, each one measuring only 48-52 psi when they should be at least 60 psi.  The interior reminds me of the movie 2010 when the crew re-enters the frozen Discovery space ship: initially dark, quiet, and with a slight odor of dust signaling abandonment. HAL 9000, are you there?

This morning’s task is to re-activate the ship.  I left the furnace set at 50 degrees last night so the trailer wouldn’t freeze, and this morning switched over to the catalytic heater.  Over a couple of hours, it will efficiently saturate the interior with heat, making Eleanor’s re-packing work inside more comfortable.   Meanwhile, I’ve been outside pumping up the tires, checking the propane level, and verifying critical items in the storage compartments.

For the most part the trailer  is ready to go, and it seems the majority of the departure checklist has to do with things inside the house.  Among many other tasks, today is “Pick the Grapefruit Day.”  The freezing night should have finalized the grapefruit (it is said that it makes the fruit a little sweeter), and in any case the tree is heavy with 90-odd softball-sized  yellow fruit.  We can’t possibly eat them all, and I doubt they will last until we get back, so my plan is to juice most of them today and have fresh grapefruit juice every day for the next couple of weeks.  I already squeezed a bag of ten or so and made a liter of juice.  Now the problem is to find enough empty containers for all the juice I’m making.

Being a fan of checklists, I have started a list of things we need to do before leaving for a long period.  It turns out that there is quite a bit more to it than I had imagined.  Someday, when I have the list complete, I may post it here.  There are lots of fiddly little tasks, like running a full backup of both computers, that are easily overlooked.  (We make a secondary backups of both computers in case there’s a trailer disaster that causes us to lose the computers and the primary backups that travel with us. The secondary backup stays in a locked, fireproof safe back at home base.)

I had spoken in an earlier blog about my goal to keep the Airstream ready to go in less than an hour.  It turns out that we have achieved that goal — for a weekend.  To just zip out the door and take a few days, no problem.  But to go for a month or more, we have to make considerable preparation.  It was so much easier when we had only one home (the Airstream), but now with two homes we have to think carefully about where things are.

But all of that is relatively minor.  So far the trip prep has contained only one major surprise: the car battery.  The cold snap this morning revealed that the Armada’s battery is a goner.  I jumped it from another car and now we’ve got a new battery.  Better now than while we are in Anza-Borrego.  Both of the rechargeable batteries for the cordless drill are dead too, but those are easily recharged. The cold and the lack of use are starting to show.

For the next few weeks, while we are on the road, I will be posting more regularly.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine