Archive for May, 2013

Airstream Ghosts

Saturday, May 18th, 2013


My last trip to Bisbee, AZ was over 10 years ago.  We had some biker friends visiting, and they wanted to ride there for an overnight trip. One friend, a history teacher, wanted to see the old mines and stay at the historic Copper Queen Hotel. However, it was Easter weekend and all the rooms were sold out.  We decided we should ride there anyway— maybe we would get lucky and there would be last minute cancellations.

So six of us rode off on Harleys and when we arrived at the hotel, sure enough, there was nothing available. I asked the front desk clerk if he could recommend another place we might check. He said that the city gets completely booked on holiday weekends and there was little chance of finding a room anywhere.  Then a woman behind the desk said to hold one moment while she made a call. Two minutes later, she announced that The Oliver House bed and breakfast just up the street had 3 rooms available. Three rooms in a sold out town! What luck!

We quickly checked in, threw our overnight bags into the rooms, and rode into town for a cold drink before dinner. The old saloon that we stumbled into had been a stock brokerage firm from 1914 to 1964 and still had the original stock board with NYSE ticker tape on the wall. The history of the entire city is fascinating, but I had no idea that it was filled with ghosts.

After watching my friends play a couple games of pool, I was ready for a hot shower and a lot less leather.  Standing by the saloon door, I noticed a bulletin board covered with miscellaneous ads pinned to it. A fresh newspaper clipping caught my eye. It read, “Priest Performs Third Exorcism at The Oliver House”.  I knew there was a catch.

This would make a much more thrilling story if I could tell you about all of the paranormal activity in my room that night. However, I was smart enough to have that extra cocktail that guaranteed I would sleep soundly through any ghostly shenanigans. The next morning, we learned through the owner that 26 people had died in The Oliver House and that it was not uncommon for guests to encounter some of its spiritual inhabitants during the night. Thank goodness for alcohol.

This past weekend, Brian and I returned to Bisbee with another couple that is fascinated with ghost towns. If we had been alone, we probably would have hauled the Airstream with us to provide a ghost-free place to sleep. But the Caravel being a Caravel, and the Safari far from ready, we had to opt for another haunted hotel.

I discovered that Bisbee has an RV Park/Hotel, called the Shady Dell, that rents restored vintage aluminum trailers. The “resort” is a throwback to the 50’s with an interesting collection of mid-century trailers including a 1949 Airstream! They each have original kitchens and era-appropriate antiques and décor. There is even an authentic railroad style Valentine Diner that serves breakfast. Very cool.

Then I find that located just behind the little bushes at the back of the property is an old cemetery. Many famous people that supposedly inhabit some of the town’s buildings in ghostly form are buried there. Guests of the Shady Dell can wander the grounds of the graveyard at night to add to the “experience”. This was a bit too creepy for me. So were the stories about one of the trailers being haunted and the guests awaking in the middle of the night– all from the same nightmare of being buried alive! We didn’t stay there.

Even Airstreams are not ghost-proof.





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

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013


Some of my close friends accuse me of having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, for the simple reason that I like things very organized and preferably perfectly matched. I don’t see the problem with that. If there isn’t a complete set of something, I don’t want them. You will not find a miscellaneous shot glass or an odd logo’d coffee mug at my house. My toiletries are color coordinated and are lined up in a perfect row in the bathroom cabinet, above the perfectly matched, perfectly folded bath towels in a complete set of 8. I still don’t see a problem.

I don’t know anything about the origins of O.C.D.  I don’t think you acquire the disorder from your parents. If anything, I’d say you acquire it in spite of them. My mother has so much miscellaneous, mismatched, useless stuff that she has accumulated over her 80+ years. She has china cabinets stuffed full of random wine glasses (no two alike) that allow you the choice of infinite shapes and sizes, decanting wine by increments of 1/4 ounce.  Her strategy for coaxing the Publishers Clearing House folks into awarding her, “The Super Prize”, by making hundreds of meaningless purchases, didn’t help matters either. Why does a person need multiple clocks and multiple outdoor thermometers in every room of the house, when the said person doesn’t have an agenda and doesn’t go outdoors? This could have been one source of my alleged O.C.D. I curse the late Ed McMahon.

Like most adults, I try to blame all of my hang-ups on my parents; but I have to come to terms with the fact that my mother is in her eighties and she needs me. She may not think she needs me (since her mother lived to be 103) but the signs are all there.  She lives a long distance away in upstate New York, and independent living is quickly coming to an end.  Brian, being Brian, thinks that the the proper solution is to move her to Arizona with us.


Breath, Brenda….  how did I end up with this noble, caring guy, anyhow?

After seeing the panic on my face, Brian suggests housing her in an Airstream. A large Airstream out in our yard. She will live with us, but not exactly. I say that it hasn’t been exactly that long since we got all the kids out!  He tells me to sleep on it.

In the meantime, Brian begins the search for a large Airstream that will be a permanent home, minus 487 thousand useless Ed McMahon items.  He thinks that a trailer around 35 feet will be good. I think, “how can I hide 35 feet of aluminum behind desert brush?”

After sleeping long and hard, part of me still fears I will regret it– the added responsibility, the lack of privacy, 35 feet of aluminum lawn art.  But the largest part of me knows that I will regret it if I don’t.  At age 83, my days of spending time with my mother are short.  If she lives to be 103 like her mother — well it will be 20 short-ish years.

My first conversation about the Airstream idea with my mother goes something like this:

“Will all of my furniture fit?

“No, Mother. The Airstream will have all the furniture you need.”

“But I’ve had my furniture for so many years.”

“All the more reasons to get rid of it, Mom.”

“But I like my bed”

“Mother, you have a King-size bed. Why does a 90 pound, 4′-10″ person need a King-size bed anyway?

“Then I will put it in storage.”

“Why, Mom? So we can drive over to storage and look at it?”

Caring for an elderly parent takes a unique kind of stress management.  Pressure from work and finances can be subdued with a long massage, a yoga class, or in extreme cases– a shot or two of tequila. The stress dealing with an 83 year old mother requires an enormous amount of patience, and tequila will only make navigating the Airstream steps more dangerous for both of us.  I’m going to be doing a lot of “Down Dogs”.

So after many, many more conversations with my mother about what stuff can come and what stuff must go, it looks like this is really going to become a reality. Brian is narrowing his search for the perfect trailer and 35 feet looks like it will still accommodate plenty of mismatched, miscellaneous, useless stuff.

This Christmas instead of singing, “Grandma got run over by a reindeer, walking home from our house Christmas Eve,”  we’ll be singing:

“Grandma is living in an Airstream, parked out in our yard under a tree.”

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.