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Posts from the ‘Airstream’ Category

Big Storm, Minor Damage

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Summer rain and hail storms here in the Midwest can be something fierce.

This week an afternoon a storm cell quickly snuck-up on me, bringing heavy rains and ferocious winds.  Despite my best efforts to hastily retract the (Zip Dee) patio awning, I found myself wrestling with what was effectively a 20 foot sail.  While I eventually managed to retract, I did not do so without escaping damage … specifically the ‘claw hook’, which is a piece of connecting support bracket hardware.

Fortunately, the claw hook is seemingly designed to fail under certain circumstances; I suspect this design helps avoid even more significant damage .

A quick internet search pointed me to a parts dealer and within a few minutes I had a replacement part on its way.   The part was easy to replace and cost only $21.

Unfortunately, 2-day shipping from Utah set me back $20 dollars.

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8 Months Later – the Grand Lounge Remodel

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New and improved set-up

4.5 years ago Kelly and I moved into the Aristream and have been living inside our comfy tincan on a full-time basis ever since.  Over the years we have made a lot of changes designed to increase comfort or efficiency.

Two years ago when Kelly and I left California – and our traditional corporate office gigs, the trailer began serving as both our home and primary worksite.  Pretty quickly it became apparent that our (otherwise very popular) 27FB floorplan was not adequately meeting our needs or preferences.  We wanted a more flexible seating/lounging setup and more counter top surface space.  Another round of changes was desperately needed.

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The Factory Floorplan

About this same time I stumbled upon Ultimate Airstream, a small Portland, OR based company specializing in customizing Airstream trailers.  Immediately Kelly and I became intrigued with their remodeling ideas and capabilities, in particular a redesign solution dubbed ‘the grand lounge’.

Over the 2015 holidays we had an opportunity to see a grand lounge retrofit firsthand. Impressed with Ultimate’s workmanship, Kelly and I quickly made arrangements for them to remodel our trailer a few months later.

In June of last year we arrived to Portland and handed over our trailer for it’s makeover.  The process took just over three weeks, so we moved into a rental house situated a hipster NE neighborhood.  As we made final decisions relating to upholstery, flooring, laminate surfaces, etc., we enjoyed visits from friends and family while enjoying fabulous dining, craft beers, and delicious espresso.

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To our delight, the conversion process went smoothly.  After a final walk through inspection we signed closing paperwork, paid the bill, and again took to the open road giddy with optimism that our new layout would be a huge improvement for our living comfort.

So how are we enjoying the changes?  In a few words – we love it.  In hindsight, I would have done a couple things slightly differently, but at this point cannot imagine going back to the original layout.

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Site 25

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The plan today was supposed to involve a quick drive from one campground to another, the latter being William Kent, a national forest campground located in popular Tahoe city.

On paper the plan seems sound – drive the scenic 20 miles or so over a beautiful pass before descending into Tahoe City, whereupon we’d set-up shop in a location offering easy (ie- walkable) access to the town.

That was the plan anyway.

In reality what we arrived to was a cramped campground, packed with people, trailers, and no shortage of twisty roads complemented with perfectly (ill)situated trees and boulders which will test even the most experiences drivers.  It would have been fun if I had been playing a video game, not hauling around my home.

In a nutshell, it was a shit-show.

Foolishly ignoring the inner voice advising us otherwise, Kelly and I went about our typical routine – she helping me navigate blind spots using combination of hand signals and vocal commands.  Despite our best efforts, and slightly bent steps, site 25  defeated us today. 

Our first complete parking failure.

With my head hung low, I slowly began the process of navigating the truck and rig back to the park entrance while Kelly sheepishly walked back to negotiate a refund.  And with that we left.

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But alas … there is a good ending to this otherwise harrowing story.  

When life offers lemons, why not make lemonade?  And that is exactly what we did by hauling ass directly back to Martis Creek campground in Truckee. 

Now, comfortably situated in a huge site and not dealing with a mob of people or horrific Tahoe City traffic, we find ourselves sipping a cool, sweet, summertime drink.

So F-off site 25 … you may have won the battle, but Kelly and I won the war.

The All Important Shower

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Like many campers, our Airstream came equipped with both an indoor and outdoor shower.  Weather permitting, I much prefer to shower outside.  Not only is there more space, but I feel like I’m somehow more connected to nature.

Silly, I know.

Unfortunately, the showerhead Airstream provides is a total piece piece of shit.  Pathetically, it is made of cheap plastic and offers no ability to control water flow – a feature critically important for water conservation when dry camping.

Knowing something had to give, I devised a simple DIY hack, which has been serving me well.  First, I removed the worthless showerhead, replacing it with a $10 metal (ie – heavy duty) garden nozzle offering a “shower” setting, in addition to a few other selections (mist, soak, stream pray etc.).

Instead of permanently connecting the replacement nozzle to the hose, I installed a simple brass quick connect, and in the process, freeing up already tight space in the shower nook.  I store the nozzle in a bin and simply quick-connect to the hose when desired.

This set-up has been serving me well for about a year with no issues.  More, the entire hack cost less than $20.

Not as easily impressed, Lilly hates how quick and convenient the set-up is to deploy.