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 ...

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Fish Creek Pond SP, NY

It has been difficult to keep the blog up to date with our traveling schedule. But here's the latest: After Woburn, MA, we drove four hours northward to spend a night courtesy parking at a relative's home on Lake Champlain in Vermont. A few friends of the family came over and it turned out to be a very pleasant night.

The next morning we headed off to the Adirondack Park in New York. This is an enormous state park which covers about half of upstate NY. Inside it are numerous and wonderful small state parks. We met up with Rob Baker and his family, and Colin Hyde (of GSM Vehicle fame) and his family, camping alongside the waters of Fish Creek Pond State Park.

What a terrific place! Gorgeous scenery, beautiful water, and little sandy beaches alongside most of the sites. Five star rating by us. On Friday we rented a canoe and made a leisurely paddling route through several of the ponds and rivers, spending most of the day alternately paddling and pausing for snacks and swimming. Couldn't ask for better weather, with endless sunshine, warm clear water, and good company. Six adults, four children, and everyone had a terrific time. This was one of the ultimate camping experiences.

Fish Creek Pond SP, like most NY and VT state parks, has no hookups. But who cares? The Airstream is, of course, self-contained. Our flat battery would have caused some angst, but Colin thoughtfully brought a fully charged battery along for us to borrow during our stay. We also chatted a bit about some of the minor tweaks Vintage Thunder needs, including:

new battery
longer bar on the battery door lock (the door comes open)
new black tank dump valve (it leaks)
new belly skin in front (it's not staying in place well due to old enlarged rivet holes)
entry door weatherstripping (I never got around to it)
a bit of caulk near the shower pan

I've been doing simple little things to it along the way, which improve the quality of life. For example, on Friday I spent five minutes carefully lubricating all the window latches with Teflon-based lubricant. Now they all open and close like new. I've found that a little bit of maintenance every few days goes a long way in keeping the "bug list" under control, and all the inhabitants happy. Little things, like sticky window latches, matter.

Now we are set up in our long-term home (a few weeks) in Panton VT. But don't worry, we'll be on the road again for some weekend trips soon. We have our eyes on a few nice state parks within a hundred miles of here. And the WBCCI Region 1 Rally in Quebec is just around the corner!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Woburn, MA

We're coming to the end of our travels, for now. The next-to-last stop on the tour has been the Boston area, where I had some business in town and we had a few friends to catch up with. Unfortunately, our Internet-in-Motion box has croaked, so I've had to get online with other methods. (The box will be replaced via FedEx this week -- good customer service!) This has delayed the blog a bit.

On the other hand, I am in broadband land now. Our hosts, who are providing parking for Vintage Thunder, have given us free run of their house and use of their cable modem. In town, there's wi-fi aplenty.

I took the commuter rail into Boston yesterday and sat in the shadow of Faneueil Hall (downtown) for an hour people-watching and catching up on business on a glorious morning. It was one of those perfect Boston days, sunny but not hot or cold, a light warm breeze blowing plenty of fresh air from the sea. It was a day that everyone in a cubicle should have called in sick and spent the day walking the fascinating and varied streets of Boston.

Two more stops on this tour to come, and then we'll stop for some upgrades and repairs. The belly skin has a small section where some rivets have torn out (toward the front), and I am going insane from the noise of our Flojet water pump. (It's not a Shurflo as I incorrectly posted earlier.) We may adjust or replace it. The battery needs replacement. We also need to finalize some trim and caulking and replace the weatherstrip on the entry door. All of these things have been on the list for a while -- it's time to get to them.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Front Royal VA and Branford CT

Our travels have finally brought us back to the east coast. From the deep dark hollow in West Virginia, we snaked our way through the hills along I-64 to Virginia (an experience in itself), and pulled into Paul "The Pool" and Mary Kim Waddell's house near Front Royal VA. Paul, as you may remember, was the guy responsible for the giant swimming pool at the International Rally.

It was an idyllic setting: a renovated country house next to a gurgling stream surrounded by shady trees. Utterly peaceful and beautiful. As the owners of three Airstreams, the Waddells know the value of a level parking spot and so we got placed in an easy space next to the house and the stream.

You can't go wrong parking with friends. As others have before, they opened their house to us and we opened ours to them. The result was a great smorgasbord dinner (we contributed the smoked salmon, they did the rest), and a lot of great conversation until late at night. The next morning, we whipped up a great breakfast together and sadly, hit the road by 11 a.m. -- only because we wanted to get to CT and MA this week. Otherwise, it would have been fun to stay a few days.

Still, I am getting tired of moving every day or two. Roaming is fun but a lot of work! And I'm finding it hard to keep up with work. From here on in we will stay a minimum of two nights at each location, and in about a week we plan to settle back into Vermont for a few weeks. That's what the real full-timers do. It's sort of a myth that they roam around like gypsies every day.

Speaking of gypsies, we met a fellow in his 70s yesterday who claimed to be one. A talkative guy with striking blue eyes and the hair and eyes of a Native American, he said he was from a line of "English gypsies" and had spent his youth in a travel trailer before his parents settled down in a house in southern CT. His entire family is in the asphalt paving business, and he claimed to be the cousin of Englebert Humperdinck. "That's not his real name," he said. "My parents were first cousins, but they weren't raised together. Nobody married outside the family. It wasn't good for me, it made me a little hyper." And he was still talking a mile a minute as we pulled away ...

Now we are set up in the driveway of a woman who goes by the name of "moogie32" on (and her husband, two kids, three dogs, a cat, and two frogs). This is a sweet spot, too, near the shore just west of New Haven CT. The house is set among extensive gardens in a quiet neighborhood, and it is just spectacular here.

We didn't pull in until after 9 pm, but no matter -- they had the ribs ready to go on the grill, with sugar snap peas and potatoes, the mother-in-law waiting patiently for dinner -- and with all the talking about Airstreams and the vintage Volkswagen collection in their garage, we finally got it all on the grill about 11 pm!

Vintage Thunder is precariously perched on the sloping driveway. It's always easier to park facing uphill than downhill, but in this spot we can't, so we had to put 6" of boards under the front jack, plus the regular aluminum jack stand. The front end is so far off the ground the stabilizers don't reach and the wheels on the front axle are not touching the ground. It's even a big reach up to the fold-out entry step.

Ah, but the weather is fantastic, the house is gorgeous, the hosts are friendly and feeding us like they are fattening us for market, and it's a perfect day to head to the beach. I'll stay behind as the rest of the crew enjoys the beach -- too much work to catch up on today unfortunately. But it doesn't feel so bad sitting in the living room looking out at the garden and listening to the birds chirp, even if I am working. We'll stay another night (they are already planning dinner for tonight, something involving fresh sweet corn), and head up to the Boston area tomorrow.