Archive for December, 2012

Airstream Insulation

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Chapter 8: Brian and I make a good team. We have completed a lot of renovation projects that are beautiful and done right. However, I use the term “team” very loosely since we mostly do things independently. Our projects are the result of individual efforts. It’s a theme in our relationship. For example- in the garage, he builds cabinets while I paint. In the yard, he pours concrete while I plant. In the library, he installs lights while I sort books. Even in the kitchen, I cook while he cleans or he cooks while I clean. We engage in what Dr. Spock refers to as Parallel Play. We don’t really do things together because we would kill each other.

It was bothersome when I first realized that we couldn’t move our play beyond the toddler years, but now I know this works for us because we both get to be the boss. The Great Elvis Reno Project will be no different. I will design and he will build. More accurately– I will design and he will start to build. Then he will come up with some brilliant idea I didn’t think of, or I will change my mind. Then I will redesign, and he will rebuild. Throughout the process, I will do a lot of research. I am definitely the boss of research.

Last weekend when I visited the shop, Brian showed me what was happening with Elvis so far. Then I started asking him a million questions. It’s not that I don’t have 100% confidence in what he’s doing; I just always have a lot of questions. Maybe I am a toddler. It makes me feel secure getting really good answers. My father must have hated me.  Brian definitely wishes my mind was less inquiring.  He promptly asks me to “look into trailer insulation”. We are weeks away from needing trailer insulation, but it’s clearly Brian’s way of getting me in front of the computer and out of his shop. (I am on to you.)

So this weekend, while I am NOT camping, I am researching trailer insulation. The Camping Gods are punishing me for refusing to sleep on the ground.

According to Wikipedia, cellulose (not to be confused with cellulite) is the most common organic compound on Earth. Cellulite is fast becoming the most common compound found on humans (just kidding). Cellulose is obtained from wood pulp and cotton– it’s what your morning newspaper is made from. Please don’t shoot the messenger here, but many items on your favorite grocer’s shelves contain gobs of cellulose. Marketing minds call it “Dietary Fiber”. We humans have very limited ability to digest cellulose (unlike termites) so it basically all comes back out. Mission accomplished. (My answer to trailer trash quiz #7).

Simply put, cellulose insulation is made from recycled paper, sprinkled with some fire retardant. It’s a popular choice for “Green” building because it has the highest recycled content—thank you for putting your Sunday Times into the blue recycle bin.

The main competition to cellulose in the free world is fiberglass. Fiberglass insulation is that pink fluffy stuff that you see in walls that looks like cotton candy. It is actually made in a similar way to cotton candy but from glass crystals instead of sugar crystals. Owens Corning claims to use up to 58% recycled glass— thank you for putting your beer bottles into the blue recycle bin.

And finally, for the love of camping gods, the last insulation I choose to read about on this exciting day of research is foam insulation. There is rigid foam, spray foam etc. Today’s spray foam claims to be environmentally responsible and non-toxic. I even watched a guy eat it on YouTube. (Amazing what people will do to promote their product!)

There are pages of the pros and cons of different types of insulation. Its a bit more complicated when considering the application in a trailer with limited space, curved walls, and the fact that it will be on the move, unlike a stationary building. If you want to hear what the Airstream Cult members have to say about trailer insulation, go to They have a thread that goes on for years.

In the meantime, I will gather my stack of research, pour a glass of beer with foam, and wait for my parallel playmate to come home.

Trailer Trash Quiz #8.

How do YOU keep warm in winter?

a. I drink. Nothing beats a hot toddy on a cold day.

b. I eat. It packs on lots of natural insulation.

c. I put on lots of layers. I saved $35 bag check fee by just wearing all my clothes on the plane.

d. I shop infomercials. I just bought a Twin Snuggie, Matching Microwave Slippers and Glovers for Lovers.

e. Other. (Enter your answer in the reply box below)

See my answer on the next post. Until then…..

Airstream Extreme Makeover

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Chapter 7: Brian comes from a very smart family. His father went to Harvard and his father’s father went to Harvard. There are a lot of PhDs floating around. Not only was he born with a lot of gray matter, Brian was also born to build things. He’s a creator and a fixer. He’s still trying to fix me. What do you mean I’m not perfect? So buying an old 1962 Airstream didn’t scare him one bit. It gives him a whole swarm of new things to fix. I welcome the reprieve.

After pulling the trailer into the shop where he can get a good look at everything, Brian comes home and tells me that he has to take the entire body off of the frame. “What???” I ask.  “Why do you need to completely dissect my trailer?” Brian answers my question with a question.  I hate that.  “Do you want the job done right?” he asks.  I also hate rhetorical questions.

So Elvis will be undergoing what the Airstream Cult people call, “The Full Monty”. Starting with the chassis, he will experience a bionic transformation including frame, electric, plumbing, HVAC, flooring, cabinetry, appliances etc. etc. etc.  Brian is one of those people that has to do everything right. There’s no cutting corners.  Ever.  It may be 2014 before I get to camp.

For the next several months, while I am NOT camping, instead of pouting the entire time and calling Brian, %$#@! (My answer to trailer trash quiz 6), I figure that I can participate in this extreme makeover- Airstream Edition. Though I did not go to Harvard, I am pretty good at doing research. Generations before me relied on the advice of elders; I have the World Wide Web. So when Brian asks to me “look into” things like trailer insulation, I’m on it. I will meticulously comb the web to find the best insulation for the job. It will be the most boring research I think I’ll ever do. No, I take that back. The day will soon come when he will ask me to “look into” trailer porta-potties. I’m holding my breath for that. But I will be committed to making sure this little Airstream Safari will have the coolest RV toilet– if there is anything out there remotely resembling a cool RV toilet.

While searching the web, I did find this interesting extreme RV makeover. Pork sandwich, anyone?

Also, while searching the Web, I am keeping my eye open for other trailers in need. I am going to be the Angelina Jolie of Airstreams.

Chapter 7 Quiz

What would YOU like to see as the next hit TV show!

a. Extreme Makeover- Food Edition. 1001 ways to modify things to look like food and taste like food, but surprise, it isn’t food.

b. Extreme Makeover- Facts Edition. Starring an All-Star cast of today’s politicians.

c. Extreme Makeover- In-Law Edition.

d. Extreme Makeover- Bedroom Edition. All 50 Shades.

e. Other. (Enter your answer in the box below)

See my answer on the next post. Until then…..

Naming the Airstream

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Chapter 6. Upon my return from Las Vegas, I am so proud to be the new owner of the little 1962 Airstream Safari, and immediately I realize that I have to refer to it as something besides, “The Little 1962 Airstream Safari”. I’ve just discovered that I am going to be one of those people who names their trailer. After all, people name their boats. WWII pilots named their planes. I read that 25% of people in the UK name their cars. People give inanimate objects names because it adds a human quality and fosters an endearing attachment. I want this trailer to bond with us.

I scan the web for inspiration and there are several sites devoted to naming objects. One site is and it lists the 10 most popular car names. It says that the top names are Charlie and Ruby. The site also lists some celebrity car names (as if it wasn’t enough to give their children ridiculous names). I learn that Beyonce’s Jaguar is named Honeybee, Obama’s Ford is named The Beast and Lady Gaga’s Rolls Royce is named Bloody Mary.

There is also a Car Name Generator, a handy little app that suggests a name for your car after you input the color, the type, the age, and the sex. The sex? I hadn’t thought of that. My little Airstream Safari obviously wasn’t born yesterday. I don’t even know how many previous owners it’s had over its 50 years of life. How often had it been named a boy and then undergone a transgender shift to a girl? Should I stick with an androgynous name? Will it create bad trailer Karma to keep changing it? If only this trailer could talk. They would all let me know if they were becoming schizophrenic.

Ignoring my growing concerns, I visit the website. It discusses 5 car naming trends.

Trend #1: Naming based on the color of the car. Try guessing the color of Smurf, Rosie, Kermit, and Jackolantern. Since all Airstream are silver, I think I would quickly run out of options using this trend.

Trend #2: Naming your car after someone you know. Since we will most likely gut this trailer, I think I will pass on this trend.

Trend #3: Choosing a name based on physical appearance. Same dilemma as #1.

Trend #4: Creatively naming your car based on make or model. Take a wild guess at Rover, Monty and Thumper.

Trend #5: Choosing a name based on a unique and usually undesirable characteristic or behavior. Examples are Crashy, Jinx and Putt-Putt.  Hopefully this trailer doesn’t have too many undesirable behaviors. (Thank goodness my answer to trailer trash quiz#5 is all of the above.)

Unfortunately, this website is not helping me at all.  So I am starting a new trend.

Trend #6. Pick a name based on the place where it was rescued.

Chapter 6 Quiz.

What objects have you named? Fill in the blank:

a. I once had a blanket named ___________________.

b. I have an imaginary friend named ___________________.

c. I have a body part named __________________. (Remember this is a PG site).

d. I sometimes call my significant other this name when I know he can’t hear me. _________________.

e. Other. (Fill in your answers in the box below.)

See my answer on the next post. Until then…..

The Vegas Airstream

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Chapter 5. It’s a happy day! I came across an ad on Craig’s List for a used Airstream Safari. I immediately Google “Airstream Safari” and find a rock band in Missoula, Montana. I try again and find the information I’m looking for. The overall length of this model, “bumper to ball,” in trailer-man’s language is 22’ long. This means that the trailer body is about 19’ long. The width on the outside is 7’4”, so the approximate interior living space is about 130 square feet. My bedroom is bigger than that. I have to fit my “Must Have” list, me, Brian and 2 dogs…

We can do this.

The ad reads, “I hate to see this go, but I just don’t have time to fix it up… It needs a little TLC…” Brian can fix anything so I keep on reading. “Originally bought to go on road trips but I am no longer able”. I immediately start feeling sorry for the guy and hope he’s not in bad health. I envision a little handyman, checking all the wiring, leak proofing the plumbing etc. He says he’s already started ripping out the counters, and refinishing the cabinets but had to stop. So I send him an email.

I get a response right away. He says that the trailer is in storage in Las Vegas. He then signs the email with :-) Who signs their email with a smiley face? Young people, that’s who. My girls use internet slang like LOL and smiley emoticons. I don’t. I assumed this guy would be old enough and handy enough to be fixing up an Airstream, so straightaway, I launch into suspicious mode.

I get back on the internet and Google this person’s name (I won’t mention it here, but it’s an unusual, non-gender specific name which is why I let myself assume this was some old guy). And I find her. She has a MySpace account and she is very young and very beautiful.

Paranoia is such a buzz kill. I’ve gotten myself all worked up and convinced that these people (now there is more than one person) are waiting for someone like me to come along. Scammer guy places the trap- pretends he has a perfect trailer that needs a little TLC. Young beautiful decoy comes in and makes you feel safe to show up at some secluded storage place and then…

I will fast forward through the rest of the details, but I am obviously still alive. I spoke with her on the phone, flew to Vegas, and bought the trailer. Hallelujah! As it turns out, she is a very beautiful person. She was so pleased to hear that I would continue her efforts and fix up the little trailer. After I lectured her about the dangers of meeting strange people on Craig’s List, we hugged goodbye and promised to stay in touch. I will send her pictures and we will be friends. (My answer to trailer trash quiz #4).

So Brian and I drive back and pick up our trailer from the storage lot. We are now the proud owners of a 1962 Airstream Safari. What a glorious day! We only lose one window on the way home. (Fortunately it didn’t hit anyone). My first assignment is to learn how to fix window locks. I’m going to have to quickly learn how to speak trailer-man language. It needs a lot more than a little TLC. (Photos to follow soon).

During the journey back home, Brian has the little Safari under constant surveillance in the rear view mirror- he’s not convinced that other things won’t fly off. I am in the passenger seat day-dreaming about all the other trailers out there that might need our help. I could not stop thinking about how happy my new Las Vegas friend was when handing her trailer over to me. It was bittersweet, but she was genuinely content that it was in good hands and going to be brought back to life. She knew it would be turned into what she had always hoped it would be. And I wondered how many others were out there. How many more trailers had lost their way? What if we started a rescue group and saved them? —-Brian is going to kill me.

Trailer Trash Quiz #5.

Why would YOU date a handyman?

a. Handymen really do know how to fix things, they aren’t just posers. No one is harmed.

b. I never have to call Angie for her list again.

c. Handymen fix plumbing leaks without surprises- I’ve already seen the butt. Been there, done that.

d. I can toss all my DIY books into the new under-the-counter, pull-out recycle center he just installed.

e. Other. (Enter your answer in the reply box below)

See my answer on the next post. Until then…..

P.S. If any of you guys in the rock band in Missoula, Montana ever read this, I really enjoyed your songs.

About the Author

After searching for the perfect travel trailer to make camping experiences more enjoyable, I discovered the world of Airstreams. I’m not only learning a lot about Airstreams, but I’m learning a lot about myself, my relationships, and how an aluminum trailer added into the mix can change your life.