Archive for April, 2013

Airstreams are for Mother-in-Laws? (Part one)

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013


Brian’s father passed away a year and a half ago, and with persistent encouragement, he finally got his mother to agree to venture out and visit us in Arizona.  She was hesitant to disrupt the routine she had slowly grown accustom to as a single person, and had not been on a plane in quite some time. But after a very long and cold winter, Brian convinced her to come down and spend a week with us in the sun.

Residing in Montana most of their adult lives, my in-laws were avid outdoors people. They have boxes and boxes of 35 mm slides that catalog hundreds of backpacking trips, all over the world– often with their three young boys in tow.  They were hard-core campers in my opinion. I classify any experience without a tent as extreme camping. There were several shots of Brian and his two brothers all bundled in winter gear; nestled below a snow covered tree trunk, sound asleep. Brian looked at these photos with fond memories. I looked at them as child abuse.

Brian’s father, a chemistry professor, had taken sabbatical leave to teach in various parts of the world including China, Africa, New Zealand and South America. His wife and sons joined him and they went backpacking whenever they could.  During their stay in Venezuela, the school was shut down after the president of the university was captured and held hostage. Never wasting an opportunity for more adventure, my late father-in-law guided his young family through South America for 3 months on foot. They explored Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, and hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Here’s a photo of Brian….

Brian Machu Picchu

So when my mother-in-law came to Arizona to visit, we figured that she would not be opposed to a short adventure to Mexico with the Caravel in tow. We could send her on long walks along the beach collecting sea glass (a.k.a. pieces of broken Mexican beer bottles), cook great meals in our fully functioning kitchen, and totally relax with no senior itinerary whatsoever. It would be the perfect in-law visit.

Packing for the trip, I thought she was impressed by how much stuff we could actually fit into the Airstream. She was definitely unimpressed by how long it took us to pack. Adding another person, along with bicycles, extra sleeping stuff, extra toiletries, and extra food, etc., through me off my game. She was probably wondering why in the world we needed so much stuff for the game.  I should have known that someone who hiked across continents with everything she needed on her back, would not care how much stuff we could fit into 17 feet. All she needed was a bottle of water, a can of sardines and a spork.

When we arrived in Mexico, I again tried to impress her by setting up our Apple TV to show movies on a big screen. She was not interested. Camping to her meant a penny whistle and quiet conversation, not Blockbuster hits.  She preferred instant oatmeal to breakfast burritos and was not at all tricked into searching for bits of beer bottles. She never used the kitchen, and refrigeration wasn’t necessary since she preferred her drinks at room temperature. I kept my frozen margaritas all to myself.

For sleeping arrangements, it was going to be a bit tricky providing mother-in-law quarters in a Caravel. That would be a bit too cozy for me. But we still had plenty of camping gear including tents, a leaky air mattress and a newly purchased double-wide cot.  Offering the Caravel to my mother-in-law to sleep in was the right thing to do. She would have climate control, lights, a bathroom, foam mattress, etc. All the comforts of home.  She chose the cot. Imagine that. Also not surprisingly, she chose the cot without the tent, preferring to sleep on the beach under the stars.

I give Brian’s mother tons of credit. She spent her days exploring the beach, soaking in the sun and chatting with everyone she met. She definitely enjoys the outdoors to its fullest. She is a senior extreme camper. An Airstreamer– not so much.

My mother is another story….

Airstreams: A Little Bit Country?

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Broadway Nashville Airstream

I noticed that the ACM Awards were on television last Sunday. I have little knowledge about country music so when my childhood friend, Kim, bought tickets to “The Brothers of the Sun Tour” in Tampa last year, I laughed at the invitation.  Since I don’t listen to country music, I couldn’t name one song by either Kenny Chesney or Tim McGraw. BUT– since it was Kim’s birthday, and I was going to be in Florida anyhow, and she twisted my arm and pleaded, I agreed to go.

Tampa is hot as hell in June. We went to the beach in the morning, to a tail-gate party in the afternoon, and then stood for 6 more hours in the outdoor stadium.  It felt like, “The Sisters of the Sweltering Sun Tour”.  Despite that I was completely melted, and that I didn’t know any of the songs, I enjoyed myself. There is such great energy at a live concert. There is really cold beer too.  I soon forgot how hot I was, and how dumb I felt in the cowboy hat that Kim made me wear. By the end of the night, I had to say I was impressed. I didn’t realize that these cowboys could get 40,000 screaming fans standing up on their seats singing to lyrics like: “She-thinks-my-tractor-is-sexy”.  I totally underestimated them.

Like Airstreams, country music is something I hadn’t paid any attention to before, so I couldn’t say that I wouldn’t like it if I didn’t just dive in and give it a try. So when I was in Nashville in November during the CMA awards (not ACM awards- How many country music awards are there?), I debated scalping tickets and getting a closer look.

While contemplating the scalping opportunities, sitting at The Palm restaurant across the street from the arena, I saw Miranda Lambert performing on the TV. I remember reading somewhere that she sings a song about Airstreams, so I felt an instant kinship. Then I realized while perched on my barstool, that other than a desire to live in an Airstream, Miranda Lambert and I have nothing at all in common. I am far from blonde, I’m far from 29, and I’m so far off key when I sing- people move on. The last time I was on stage at a karaoke bar, my “friends” took my microphone away and made me be the back-up dancer. It was ugly- I can’t dance either.

The next day, after not attending the CMA’s, but having a spectacularly fun night out at Tootsies, I did some more research to see what other connections me and my Airstream might have with country music. When I Google, “Country Music and Airstreams”, I find that country star, Lee Ann Womack, owns a 1973 Land Yacht that was recently featured in People Country. I also read that Dierks Bentley just had his Airstream trailer renovated by the Junk Gypsies. Dierks (with an “s”) is another country music artist I know nothing about. I don’t know what a Junk Gypsy is either, so I continue to read on.

Apparently, Junk Gypsies are two cute country girls who remodel spaces with “junk” on HGTV, and they’ve just turned Dierks’ old Airstream into “A Trailer with Country Vibe”. They replaced the “plastic and cheap paneling kind of stuff” with vintage furniture pieces and accessories like an old motorcycle gas tank for a light fixture. A church pew sawed in half became the dinette with a table decoupaged with old concert posters. An old buffet table became the kitchen work station with Dierks (with an “s”) song lyrics painted on it.  It’s not the kind of “vibe” I’m looking for with my Airstream (Elvis is a little more rock and roll), but it’s interesting to check out.

So maybe I’ll never be country, but Airstreams certainly can be. In fact they seem to have an infinite ability to transform into whatever their owners can imagine them to be. As Brian works to put Elvis back together, I’m excited to work on a design that reflects our own personal vibe. I’m not quite sure what that looks like yet, but I don’t think I will be consulting the Junk Gypsies.

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.