I’ve had the dream of hitting the open road in an Airstream for years. I didn’t grow up camping or RVing. When I met Alan I had only camped on school trips but I married a real outdoorsman and have adopted some of his outdoorsy ways. I’ve learned to appreciate the mental clarity and natural rhythms camping provides. Sleeping in a tent on the ground actually feels good on my back. I love the internal calm and simplicity of camping. Getting back to the basics of humanity – Cooking simple food, cleaning up outside, watching the sunset, then the clear, starry sky next to a campfire. It always resets my brain. I put down my iPad and go back to paper books. Set aside my phone and talk to people in real life. City problems suddenly seem ridiculous.
Since I’ve had kids the thing I can’t seem to tolerate anymore is the bathroom situation. I ALWAYS have to get up in the middle of the night to go. Always. Finding a flashlight then squatting in the woods at 2am, sure that a bear or a snake or the boogie man is definitely going to come up behind me is not fun for me.
A few years ago we started renting recreational vehicles. A solid indoor structure to retire to with a full bathroom. Yes! I could still partake in all the outdoors had to offer. The campfire, the clean, crisp morning air, the quiet, the reset but I’d fall asleep in a real bed and in the middle of the night be able to use a real toilet. Perfect compromise.
The first RV we rented was a 25 footer from Cruise America. It was awesome! We took a two week trip from Leo Carrillo to Death Valley. The kids were really little and we realized we had to go to the store several times for supplies and it was a pain to park in a grocery store with this huge RV. In the campgrounds I noticed many of the seasoned travelers had tow trucks with trailers or motor homes towing a small car. They could easily detach and run to the store or take day trips not attached to their house. Brilliant!
Alan and I have very different habits. He likes to get up and go, go, go. I’m slow to rise then like to leisurely have my coffee and write in my journal before even thinking about going on a hike. This would always cause disagreements. I would either have to leave before I was ready or be left with just a tent. I’m a high maintenance low maintenance girl. I don’t need a hairdryer or makeup but I’m very set in my ways with my morning routine.
We started talking about how next time we’d rent a trailer but first we needed a truck. You can read about how we acquired our brand new Ford F-150 in 2016. That summer we took a three week road trip up to Oregon where we camped five days on the coast but otherwise stayed with friends or in motels. The constant back and forth to and from the parking lot to the room with all our baby crap cemented our desire for a house on wheels. Mostly I would see Fifth Wheels or RVs like these but once in a while a shiny silver bullet would pass and my head would spin around.
I stayed in one in Colorado in the early 90’s with an old boyfriend and I didn’t know what it was but the shiny trailer was spoken about with reverence. I see why now. The regular trailers and RVs are very functional and more spacious than an Airstream but there’s a reason the company is still going strong after almost 90 years! The aerodynamic design and lightweight body make it an aesthetically pleasing house on wheels.
It would’ve been much simpler (and cheaper) to buy a regular trailer but I couldn’t get it out my head. I’d started a love affair with Airstream and I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less. The problem was new shiny Airstreams run about 100Gs. It’s like buying a house if you live somewhere other than California. We’ve rented several over the last couple years, different sizes and models. Then Alan found this 1966 beauty, a Safari Land Yacht on Craigslist for a little under $17,000 and jumped in the truck the next morning to go get it in Arizona!
He hauled it back to Venice and we parked it for a month at my sister-in-law’s house. It needed work! The bathroom and kitchen were fine and it had new wheels and electrical. But the front that usually has a dinette or couch was empty. It came with one single bed mattress- not great for us. Alan wanted to install new air conditioning and fans as well as having to build the whole seating area, upholster custom cushions and make a queen-sized day bed for us.
As our trip start date approached we realized the work was more than we had time for. He hitched it up as is and we hauled it down to San Diego to Gramma’s house to finish the work. We didn’t realize we’d be hit with the biggest heat wave of the year so the work has been slow. I am perched and ready to get in there and organize the space perfectly with our things. I’m a KonMari organizer not a builder! I hope to be sharing photos and stories from the road real soon!