Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Airstream Potty

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

Airstream Toilet

Don’t tell Brian, but now I’m considering replacing all of the toilets in our house. Doing this research assignment has been quite enlightening.  Who knew that toilets had become part of the high tech industry? How did I miss all this advancement in toilet technology?

I just read an article in a computer magazine which subtitle reads, “Pimp your potty… Your bottom will thank you.”   Apparently, toilets aren’t just for deposits anymore.  They will clean your bottom,  heat your bottom, and also deodorize your bottom. Some automatically lift the lid for you, illuminate at night for you, and even play “toilet tunes” for you.  High tech toilets do much more than just dispose of undesirables.

Some toilets now even have integrated speakers which emit fake flushing sounds to mask embarrassing bodily noises. They also come with various sensors which can monitor blood pressure, body temperature, and blood sugar levels. They alert the user when these vital signs are outside of the normal range. Nurse in a Potty anyone?

“Antimicrobial” is the current buzz word in the toilet world.  Built-in antimicrobial agents protect the toilet seat from odor- and stain-causing bacteria, mold and mildew. They say it prevents the growth of micro-organisms.  One manufactures states that the toilet “essentially cleans itself”.  Now that I find that hard to believe. My self-cleaning oven leaves things behind that I don’t want to see. They do admit that the antimicrobial agent does not protect the user from disease-causing bacteria… another thought I could have lived without.

There are many accessories that I can add to my toilet.  A night light that signals red for seat “up” and green for seat “down”—that seems handy, Brian. There’s a seat fan that captures odors through a carbon filter, and a wireless sensor that cuts off the water supply and sounds an alarm during a leak or overflow.  Of course, there are a variety of remote controls to regulate all the features including the integrated stereo speakers.  I’m not quite sure why you need a remote when you are sitting right there.

But the technology isn’t even as interesting to me as the aesthetics of the modern day toilet. Since a picture says a thousand words…. Here are a few of my favorites:


Aside from many interesting photos, I also found several names used in the potty world:   The Commode, The Crapper, The John, The Water Closet, The Head, The Loo, The Biffy, The Oval Office, The Porcelain Throne, The Powder Room, The Can, The Thunder Box, The Lavatory and The Latrine.

In our little Caravel, “Water Closet” may be the most appropriate…. Unless of course our English friends are visiting and then it’s definitely, The Loo.

So after all this research, our new Airstream toilet will have an enameled wood seat and elongated, deep ceramic bowl “for sparkling scratch-free, long-lasting performance.” It will have 360° RIM WASH action for a complete rinse; Extremely low flush technology which uses as little as 1 pint per flush with a simple push of the ergonomic flush pedal. It will have easy serviceability with modular parts and a 2 year warranty.

It won’t sing me songs or take my blood pressure, but I think we made a good choice.

Airstream TimeClock

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

timeclock copy

Time management has never been an issue in our professional lives, however, finding time in our personal lives for Airstreaming has become a serious challenge. There never is any.

A year has passed since we gutted the poor Caravel and left all her parts strewn about. This is what I always feared.  I remember seeing all the advertisements on Craig’s List for gutted Airstreams.  Someone got started on an exciting project, sailed through the demolition, and then quit.  We have committed the same horrid crime.

To Brian’s defense, before he quit, he managed to get the frame beefed up, the axle replaced, the window frames repaired, windows replaced, and the outside skin polished. From the outside she looks as good as new.  On the inside… well let’s just says she’s one step above camping in the back of our pick-up truck.

It’s been a long, long painful year. Brian had 2 total knee replacements and then he had major back surgery. I’ve had my mother.

It’s August now and Brian has been through most of his rehab and he’s close to being cleared for bending and light lifting.  I have been totally patient on the outside, but my insides are screaming, “Please, please don’t let me go through the entire summer of 115 degree weekends! PLEASE don’t let me whine about living in the desert!”

I love Arizona.  I just hate weekends in the valley in the summer—I need to get out of town where a Saturday and Sunday can be spent outdoors in two digit temperatures.  I need an occasional reprieve from scorpion paranoia. I need a trip to the mountains to camp in the woods.  AND I want to go camping with my own toilet…..

So today, after whining about future whining, Brian just gave me an assignment!

Research RV toilets.

I have never been so excited about researching toilets in my life.  I am so happy.  This means it’s time to get back to work on the Airstream!

The clock is ticking again—Hopefully it’s the final countdown.

To Kill An Airstream

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013


Atticus Finch said in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person… until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”   This is what came to mind when I went down to the shop last week and saw the Caravel.  Brian walked around in it- and now everything inside it’s skin is gone.

Because it still feels like 500 degrees in Arizona and Grandma is still in the yard, we haven’t planned any camping trips.  Brian thought this was a good chance to pull the Caravel into the shop and have a real close look at everything. When we first bought my neighbor’s trailer, we were so excited just to have a trailer that was campable. We took off as often as we could, band-aiding things as we went. But now using his forensic mechanic’s eye, Brian walked around and started to see all sorts of “issues” that need to be dealt with. The Safari and the Caravel are now gutted.

The list starts out like this: the floor is rotted under the hot water heater, the axle is toast, the frame needs serious attention, there is very creative wiring going on in the closet and several other places, there is no gray tank, the gaucho doesn’t work, the cabinet latches don’t work, there is leaky this and leaky that, and a pack rat has made his home in the belly pan. Brian’s solution to the “issues” was to kill the Airstream and give it a new life. Even the water stained green curtains with pink flamingos are all gone.

We had barely given her a name, (Goldie acquired in Gold Canyon)– and now she’s half gone.  I was standing in the shop, staring at two tin carcasses sitting side by side and I wanted to cry.

To make me feel better, Brian asked me to tag along to the AWFS show in Las Vegas that he attends every year for his business. It’s an international trade show for the woodworking industry, and I soon found out that it’s also a candy store for someone with two gutted trailers.

We looked at all sorts of supplies that lend themselves beautifully to an Airstream. We checked out building materials that are extremely lightweight and products that curve. We saw all the newest LED lighting kits and media mounting systems. We poured over the latest in cabinet hinges, pulls, and organization components.  We looked at flooring, counter top surfaces, back splashes, etc.  The show was loaded with great ideas.

After my shopping trip this weekend, I am much less distraught about having a pair of dead trailers.  I can picture the end, and I have become very excited about all the cool stuff that we can use to put them back together. Now Brian is the only one that is stressed about the gutted trailers. He knows how much damage I can do to a check book.

Thank you Atticus.





Airstreams are for Mother-in-Laws; The Desert in Summer is Not.

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Desert AS

Last week marked the official beginning of summer. It is unofficially the second full month that we’ve seen triple digits here in Phoenix this year. (We first hit 100 degrees on April 28, 2013). Today, we are expected to reach a record high of 118. Why on earth did I move my mother here now? In retrospect, I should have waited until October. The people that bought her house could have waited, maybe.

There are many neighborhoods throughout Arizona that have manmade lakes, palm trees, green grass, beautiful flower beds– illusions of coolness.  Mine isn’t one of them. We are in the raw desert. When I look out at the aluminum trailer in the yard under the blazing sun, I can’t stop thinking about my childhood Easy Bake Oven. My mother must think I’m trying to kill her.

To add to the guilt, they’ve been joking on the local radio about the extreme temperatures.  In response to the question, “How hot is it?”,  people are calling in answers like:

I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking.

Hot water comes out of both taps. You burn your hand opening the car door.

The asphalt has a liquid state. You can fry an egg on the side walk.

The birds have to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground.

The potatoes cook underground- just pull one out and add butter, salt and pepper.

The trees are whistling for dogs.

My own true story goes like this: I checked the mail on the way into my office and left it all day on the dashboard. That night when I opened the envelop from the bank, my new ATM card had melted into a wavy piece of plastic with completely flat numbers.  Note: NEVER leave anything in the car. The glue holding the rubber soles onto your shoes melts. Cosmetics don’t stand a chance.  I’ve left my 83 year old mother in a tin can.

On top of the extreme temperature, the desert is full of all sorts of scary wildlife. We’ve had many visitors in my back yard. Packs of javelina, mule deer, bobcats that want to eat your dog, lots of coyotes that want to eat your dog, even big birds that want to eat your dog.

Photo Jun 13, 12 42 14 PM

This “little” guy in the picture above (whom my bird loving neighbor informed me is a young red tailed hawk) was outside my back door the other day trying to come in. My mother also said she heard something on the roof of her trailer. When the skylight darkened, she looked up, and this “little” guy was peering down in at her. Apparently he is a very social little guy, but he would definitely eat my dog.

The other things that give me the heebie jeebies (and I hope with all my might that my mother doesn’t encounter them) are the rattlesnakes, scorpions and tarantulas that we often get in the summertime. I can tell you all sorts of stories, but I’m trying to forget them. Note: If you ever visit the desert in the summertime, remember to pack a small black light. Scorpions phosphoresce under the black light, and you can scan your bedroom (and bed) at night. You don’t want to hear my story- believe me.  Just buy a light.  Here’s what they look like when you find one.

Photo Aug 09, 8 25 16 PM

I hope the trailer is scorpion proof.  Mother will not be pleased.


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

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

No Place Like Home

We settled on a trailer for my mother and I have to tell you straight away that it is not an Airstream. It is a 35’ Silver Streak.  Brian did a lot of research on a model that was for sale near by that had a lot of upgrades and had been well taken care of.  It had a built-in office in the master bedroom, solar system, satellite, surround sound, among many other nice amenities. Since this trailer will be boon-docked in my yard and will be a permanent home, the general floor plan and the amount of storage made it fit the bill. Home Sweet Home, Grandma!

Needing a few modifications and a minor cosmetic make-over, it made a great practice trailer for us to work on while we are still in the very early stages of the Safari total renovation. (FYI- Elvis has a brand new axle, beefed up chassis, new tanks, new sub-floor and is looking forward to getting his shell back on soon.) It will be a long time before I get to use my decorating talents on him.

For my mother to live full time in 35 feet, the Silver Streak needed to feel like a multi-room house where she could have a change of scenery throughout the day. In her home now, she spends most of her time in the bedroom, kitchen, and living room. This trailer could accommodate that; plus when the weather is good,  she will have a very nice outdoor space under the main awning. Once we are certain that she is happy in her new aluminum house, we can build a permanent deck and shade structure to protect her from the extreme desert sun.

First we needed to create more livable space in the bedroom.  The area underneath the bed was hard to reach through hinged doors (unless you lifted the mattress and bed board up). So Brian installed full length dovetailed drawers on extended drawer guides, giving the space very easy access. With all the extra useable storage, we could sacrifice the long bank of drawers against the wall (along with the metal file cabinets) and claim the space for a small swivel rocker/recliner chair and second flat screen TV.

We reconfigured the pantry with several pull-out drawers and moved the microwave in order to open up the space above the stove. We fabricated new solid surface counter and table tops, and installed a new under mount sink and faucet, which helped the appeal of the kitchen tremendously. The bathroom also got a makeover; the window treatments were updated, and the floors went from blue carpet to oak. I think my mother will be pleased.

After a visit from the electrician, a guy with a tractor, the septic guy, the Dish guy, and the A/C guy, we were ready to tow the trailer from the shop to our yard.

My permanent lawn art has arrived. My life will never be the same.

Silverstreak Master

Silverstreak Cabin



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.”

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.

Viva La Airstream

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

airstream pinata

For our very first trip in our Caravel, Brian and I decide to take the dogs and head to Puerto Penasco, Mexico for 5 days! It’s an awesome treat for us to be able to get away from work for that long. Its not the smartest idea to leave the county in a 48 year old trailer that we know nothing about, but if you know Brian and me, we weren’t shorted on the adventurous gene. With a little research, we find that there are several places right on the beach where we can camp. Fresh seafood, fresh tortillas, good tequila… I am beyond excited!

I load up the newly scrubbed airstream with what we need for 5 days.  I am very pleased to find that there is so much space, especially considering our camping gear is all compact and miniature.  We even splurge and pack a few utensils that are not collapsible! I bring a glass measuring pitcher that holds TWO cups, and Brian brings along a life size cheese grater. We are both feeling very spoiled.

My first observation on the maiden voyage is that 48 year old cabinet latches stink. Note to self: Do not put items like a 2 cup glass measuring pitcher in the upper cabinets, or an acorn squash, or a jar of salsa, or anything else that can potentially become a deadly weapon.  I learn this first hand, because, YES…  I rode in the Airstream for a short while. Against Brian’s warnings, I wanted to witness what actually happens back there while traveling down the road.  I waited until we were in Mexico, because I have no clue if its illegal for me to ride back there in their country or not.

“I’ll just ask for forgiveness later”, I tell Brian.

“FROM THE MEXICAN FEDERALES?!”, he asks in a loud voice. But I jump into the trailer anyway. He hates me sometimes.

I bring Hazel to ride along with me. We set off down the washboard dirt road. After the first 15 seconds, Hazel is terrified. To a 6 pound dog, a flying acorn squash must feel like Armageddon.  Aside from items being launched from the upper cabinets, and the crappy gaucho things sliding in and out, it really wasn’t that bad. The stove burner grates flew, and the hanging clothes didn’t stay hung; but hey- it’s Mexico and we are camping. Wrinkles aren’t a problem.

What IS my immediate problem when we get to the site is: I must teach Brian NOT to slam the Airstream door. Over and over again.  I know the 48 year old latches stink, but if I can gently close the door and make it latch, then so can he. I know he can.

My second immediate task: I must teach the dogs NOT to bark at every single little noise. This is much more difficult, since they are not as smart as Brian. We are used to tent camping in remote areas all by ourselves. But now that we have the ability to hook up, we really wanted to try out an RV park.  This means other people, other dogs, lots and lots of things to bark about. Note to self: Check out humane shock collars.

My third task is to teach Brian NOT to yell at the dogs to stop barking, since it only adds to the noise pollution. Maybe they have shock collars for men too. (Just kidding, Babe).

Aside from noise pollution, the question that comes up regularly while camping in an unrenovated 48 year old trailer is, “What on earth is leaking?”  I learned that Mexican hook-ups are a bit suspect. When looking down the sewer drain, I can see the water level is only about 2 inches below the top. One glance to the left, and I see the next camp site has water over-flowing from the hole. Note to self: this could be a problem.

We keep the black water tank closed at first to dry camp for as long as possible. We’re trying to get an idea of how long things last. It didn’t last very long. We see leaking underneath the trailer that appears to be coming from the black tank, so Brian hooks up the sewer hose thing. Thanks to the camping gods, the water goes down the hole. He puts the black tank on the list of repairs. He hooks the water line up to the trailer and then warns me, “This is MEXICAN water”, as if I might be planning on drinking ANY water that comes out of a 48 year old trailer.

What Brian does forget to warn me about, is that the Caravel has no gray tank. Therefore, I did not know that when thoroughly scrubbing fresh Mexican clams in the kitchen sink with fresh running Mexican water, the clammy water would tend to back up into the bathroom.  Note to self: Do not place clean dry bath mat on the bathroom floor. Ever. You just never know what might come up.

NOW what is leaking? Apparently there is something called a pressure release valve on the hot water tank, and it tends to malfunction after 48 years and spew water.  Note to self: Never attempt a maiden voyage in a 48 year old trailer without Brian. I’m adventurous, but I’m not stupid.

The third night it rained. Thanks to the camping gods, we didn’t have to ask the same dreaded question. Fortunately, all of our leaking issues were below our heads. The short rain posed very few issues except that Brian was a bit concerned about the electrical hook ups.

Here’s a picture of what it looked like:


I know nothing about electricity, but Brian puts on his list of things to pack next time… a voltage test meter, a surge protector and a bunch of other things I know nothing about. He was worried that if the wind forced the rain into the exposed electrical panel, it would be problematic.  However, I am not a girlie girl.  Like most men, I know duct tape fixes everything.

Here was my solution:


Brian replaced my leopard print umbrella and duct tape remedy with a Hefty garbage bag, but he gave me an A for effort. He likes me sometimes too.

And I love Mexico. Despite the primitive hook ups and bumpy roads, we are so fortunate to be able to park on the beach within 5 hours of leaving our driveway.  It’s winter; it’s 65 degrees & sunny, and I am sipping a margarita by the sea.  Life doesn’t get much better than this.



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.