Tree house in the carport
Our lives have been so centered on traveling with our Airstream that when we don’t have travels planned it’s sometimes a struggle to figure out what to do. The blog goes quiet (you may have noticed) while we take care of the non-traveling part of life and find our footing. Fortunately, the feeling of being adrift never lasts for long.
We arrived in Tucson less than three weeks ago and spent the first week just digging out from the piles of work that had accumulated while we were traveling. Both Eleanor and I try to keep up with stuff, but there’s no doubt that traveling for short periods is actually harder than full-timing. With a short trip there’s the temptation to let things slide while you rush around to make the most of the time you have away from home. When full-timing, there’s rarely any time pressure, so we never minded pausing for a week or two to catch up on life. The beach was still going to be there when we got the laundry done.
This last trip was different: it was loaded with obligations and tight schedules, and we were rushing to get back to Tucson. But a week after we arrived, the bulk of the obligations were resolved and suddenly we were looking for things to do. So we began talking and planning, and reaching out to friends. In retrospect that might have been a little early for us. I discovered that our friends Ingo and Ehiku were going to be coming through I-10 on their way to California, without their Airstream, so I invited them to spend a night in our Airstream, which is fully hooked up in the carport as always. They accepted, and suddenly we were faced with a weekend of rapid cleanup, because the house and Airstream were both disaster areas. Well, at least it forced us to get it done. They came by on Sunday and shared a big bowl of bucatini with a meaty homemade sauce with us.
The next day after they were gone Eleanor and I went out to the carport, and spent a moment reveling in the coziness of our immobile Airstream now converted into a guest apartment. She had set out little treats on the dinette, a selection of teas and coffee on the kitchen counter, and drinks in the refrigerator. The air conditioning was keeping the interior at a comfortable and dry 78 degrees. The beds were made with fresh sheets and everything had been cleaned. “Why,” (we thought) “do we only let guests enjoy this space?” The Airstream is at its best when it is parked in a beautiful place — and also in the carport at home. It has that wonderful secret getaway feelings of a kids’ tree house: no adults and no concerns allowed. (Girls are OK.) We’ll have to spend some time there.
We will have the clubhouse for a while, because the Airstream is going to stay parked until at least Christmas. But that’s not to say we’ll be stationary. In the aftermath of our overnight visitors I began thinking about all of the things I want to do this winter … and that led to a big planning session that has consumed much of the week.
The first trip will start tomorrow. I’m finally going to retrieve the 1968 Caravel from Texas, so we at least have a chance to use it in southern AZ or CA before the nights get too long and chilly (our brief “winter” in December and January). In the interest of avoiding boredom on the Interstate, a few stops are planned s that it will be more than a straight-line trip. In fact, the first stop will be Santa Fe, where I’m stopping to photograph a trailer for a future magazine article, and pick up a ’56 Bubble for a friend.
I don’t normally ferry trailers around but in this case it was sort of on my way and it seemed like an interesting challenge: pick up a 55 year old trailer that hasn’t moved in a year and tow it 500 miles to a new home in Texas. So many things can go wrong. All I know about this trailer is that it has recently had the wheel bearings re-packed, and the tires date from 2004. Typically when you find an unrestored old trailer you’ve got to be prepared for all sorts of problems. Do the lights work? I’ve had belly pans separate on the highway, dragging on the asphalt. I’ve had brakes fail, and ball couplers rusted solid. When Rob B was ferrying my 1953 Flying Cloud through New York a few years ago, the wheel bearings disintegrated and he had to ditch the trailer in someone’s front yard until parts arrived. Last year I helped a buddy move a trailer out of Austin and the front end of the trailer had separated so much that the body literally bounced on the frame for 200 miles. So I’ve got parts and tools for all sorts of problems, and I hope I don’t need any of them.
It would be easier not to do this job, but so many people have done it for me that I feel it’s time to pay it forward. I’d like to think that moving a vintage trailer takes moxie and builds character. But even if it doesn’t, it will be an interesting experience, and I’ll try to blog it as I go.