State parks and specs

We’re now in the Denver area, staying at our favorite central stop, Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora.   We’ll be here a few days catching up on work, visiting friends and Airstream Life contributors who live in the area, and taking care of a few minor maintenance items.

I editorialized in the Fall 2009 Airstream Life about the budget cuts that are closing state parks and/or reducing services all over the country.   More states are charging day use fees in their parks on top of the camping fees, and the fees are rising.   We’ve been forced to buy annual passes in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Colorado so far because the day use fees are more than the cost of the annual pass after just a few days.   The windshield of the car is starting to get obscured by all the big stickers. In South Dakota we also paid $15 for a one-week pass because they don’t offer a single-day pass.   Texas and California also have annual state park pass programs, Arizona is considering it, and I’m sure there are many other states as well.

Wisconsin’s pass isn’t too expensive but Colorado’s is a monster at $63.   Day use fees here at Cherry Creek are $8, so an eight-day stay justifies the pass.   We won’t be here that long but we do plan to visit a few other Colorado state parks this month.   All told, we’ve dropped about $120 in state park passes so far.   I’ll have to add that expense into the budget for future trips, since user fees seem to be the trend these days.

On another subject, blog reader Vernon writes:

Have you considered adding a spec’s page to your blog? Specifically, what equipment are you using – camera, computers, upgrade specifics to the ‘stream such as solar panel sizes… I have been able to search both blogs and usually find references but it would be nice to have it on a single link.

We did have something like that on the Tour of America blog, but it is now out of date.   I’ll put the current specs and major equipment here so people can find it using the “search” box on this blog.

RV:   2005 Airstream Safari 30-ft “bunkhouse”.   Empty weight 6400, GVWR 8400. Upgrades include: two 115 watt “Evergreen” solar panels, four Optima “blue top” AGM batteries, Tri-Metric 2020 battery monitor, Blue Sky Solar Boost 2000e MPPT solar controller, Kodiak disc brakes with Actibrake hydraulic brake actuator, 5000# axles, Dometic NDR1026 10-cu. ft. refrigerator, MaxxAir “Maxxfan” for ventilation, Northstar catalytic heater, Centramatic wheel balancers, stainless steel furnace & water heater covers from Roger Williams Airstream, many other minor modifications/upgrades.

Tow vehicle: 2009 Mercedes GL320 Bluetec.   V6 turbodiesel, 398 ft-lbs torque, 215 hp, 121″ wheelbase, with modified hitch receiver, otherwise stock. Typical fuel economy: 14 MPG towing, 25 MPG solo.

Hitch: Hensley with straight receiver bar (slightly curved for better weight distribution), custom drilled hole for shorter overhang.   I carry a set of spare parts for the Hensley including spare zerk (grease) fittings, and a grease gun.

Cameras:   Nikon D90 with 18-200mm VR zoom, Nikon D70 with Tokina 10-24mm wide angle zoom, various filters, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, Canon Powershot.   (Note: I do not own Photoshop or any other photo-manipulation software and so all of my photos you see in the blog and in Airstream Life magazine are exactly as taken by the camera.)

Computers: A 2009 MacBook Pro “unibody”, and a 2004 iBook G4. We also carry several backup hard drives, a battery-powered printer (HP OfficeJet H470), and a CanoScan LiDE60 flatbed scanner.

Internet:   Verizon USB card with Cradlepoint CTR500 cellular wifi router.

I think that’s the majority of the stuff. Post a comment if you would like me to add more info here.


  1. insightout says

    Yes. Three items:

    1) Your current height and weight

    2) Favorite breakfast cereal

    3) Number of times, per week, that you call your mother