Project Vintage Thunder

The latest on Project Vintage Thunder, by Airstream Life magazine. Sponsored by George M Sutton RV, Reese hitch, Dometic USA, PPG Paint, Axis Products, GSM Vehicles, and Zip-Dee. Vintage Thunder is an "honest" RV refurbishment and travelogue. We tell you what really happens ...

Friday, April 15, 2005

Modernist houses and sports cars

Today we departed Bridgewater for Lincoln Massachusetts, a tony suburb of Boston. We planned to continue “driveway camping” for one last night at a friend’s house.

The drive up the infamous Rt 128 around Boston wasn’t bad, thanks to good weather and moderate traffic. But our friend in Lincoln lived on an impossibly hilly lot, with hardly any place for us to park. We tried to squeeze Vintage Thunder through a narrow gap in a stone wall, but after 4 attempts we gave up. Then we tried another spot between an apple tree and a pine tree. This resulted in a bit of paint on the streetside of Vintage Thunder coming off … another failure.

Finally, we prevailed on a neighbor who had a bit of a flat spot on his driveway, and that’s where we ended up. In the garage beside us is a collection of classic sports cars, including a few MGs, a Porsche 911, and probably quite a few others that I didn’t get a chance to see. Not a bad spot for camping, either – free electric hookup from our host, and it’s pleasant and quiet here.

The reason we came to Lincoln was to tour some of the modernist houses in this area. Walter Gropius, the father of the Bauhaus movement lived here for over 30 years, and we were privileged to get a private tour of his former residence by a member of Historic New England. Modernist houses are fascinating, functional, and space-efficient – much like Airstreams.

I am tallying up the impact of our 1200 mile tow. There’s remarkably little to fix. Some of the trim near the refrigerator could use a few more screws, and one screw in the bathroom has backed out. We also need to refasten a bit of the hull liner under the bed. Other than that, Vintage Thunder is in excellent condition. But why should I have expected anything else?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Bridgewater State College

We're almost to the end of our tour up the east coast. Today we are in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where I was invited to deliver a guest lecture on marketing and promotion to undergrads at Bridgewater State College. (The course title was "Aviation Marketing.") The talk went well, despite the fact that half the students had probably never heard of an Airstream before, much less Airstream Life magazine.

It is becoming a challenge to deal with the cold up here. Tonight we are expecting 29 degrees, and up in Vermont the overnight low will be 20, which is low enough to make me winterized. In the upper 20s we can just run the heat and avoid a diastrous freeze-up. We are still comfortably warm at night with the catalytic heater set on Medium, but I am hoping it doesn't get much colder when we go home. We have finally exhausted the first of the two 30-lb propane bottles -- not bad considering it has been in use since March 31.

I miss the palm trees. I have a fierce temptation to just turn this rig around and head back to, say, South Carolina. But we need to get a pair of outriggers welded in, the body prepped and painted, the wireless Internet system installed, and finish some interior trim. It will be better to get the next phase of work done so we are ready for the next big trip -- to the Airstream Homecoming event in Jackson Center, Ohio, in late May.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Giving something back ...

Readers of this blog have been quick to point out the site I checked this resource, looking up the state of Massachusetts, and found that indeed the local sewage treatment plants often have RV dump stations available for a fee. That's a handy tip for anyone who likes off-season camping in the north country.

Yikes, it's cold here. We ran the cat heater (if you're a newbie: that's not a heater for felines) at Medium last night -- the first time it has been cold enough to set it at any level above "Low". The wind was whipping last night and it really sucks the heat out of the trailer.

A lot of people have asked if the heat distributes evenly enough through the trailer, since catalytic heaters don't have fans. The answer is yes. Although it is warmer in the front, near the heater, it does distribute well. The trick is to crack open a window near the heater, and crack open a roof vent at the opposite end of the trailer. This distributes the heat and also provides the make-up air that is required. By opening the vent more or less, you can fine-tune the temperature, too.

Another thing I have learned is that the cell phone plan gets seriously abused when you spend weeks on the road. I called Verizon today to upgrade to an 800 minute/month plan. Using the phone all day for business purposes and to keep in touch with family and friends kills the battery too. We've been recharging twice a day sometimes.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Odyssey Continues

A reader of this blog offered up this map outlining the travels of Vintage Thunder over the past ten days. It shows our stops through the Cherry Blossom Rally last weekend.

Now we are in Kingston NY, catching up on paperwork and other business. Once in a while, you've just got to settle down and get a haircut... and publish a magazine, too.

Our odyssey is not over yet. We've got a couple more stops to make. But it is getting tricky. Up this far north, the campgrounds are closed, and so we have to rely on friends with roomy driveways. Also, without dump stations readily available, we are avoiding using the water system. If anyone knows of a dump station available in eastern Massachusetts, let us know. That's where we are headed next.

On the other hand, it's nice "driveway camping". I plugged my Apple Airport Express into the house's broadband cable box, and voila! high speed internet in my trailer. Our local friends act as tour guides for us, plus we're plugged in and enjoying the benefits of our trailer without campground fees.

It is sort of unfortunate that the campgrounds are closed. The off-season camping is fine right now. Lots of spring sunshine and the temperatures are not bad. I never de-winterized before May 1 (up in Vermont) because the campgrounds in that area were closed till May 15 -- where would be go? Now I'm looking at it differently. If we could just find a few dump stations along the way, I'd definitely go spring traveling again.