The Airstream is rolling again!
Our tour this fall will bring us down the cluttered East Coast, with stops in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida (at least). The full itinerary isn’t yet worked out because we like to leave in flexibility, so I expect a few other stops will pop up as we slide south. The plan calls for us to get to Florida by early October. We’ll hang around there for a few weeks, then start the western leg back to Arizona in November.
Of course, with the Airstream sitting in a driveway under trees for the past three months, we’ve had some prep work to do this week. Mostly it was a matter of having to evict the spiders, who have been busy covering the Airstream in webs, and cleaning the roof. Normally I don’t sweat the dirt on the roof, but in this case we knew we’d be camping without power hookups and so I had to get up on the roof and at least clean the solar panels. Once I saw the condition of things up there, it was obvious everything had to be scrubbed with a brush. I have never seen a roof so incredibly filthy. We had leaf mulch, bird droppings, rotting twigs, some sort of mildew or mold, spider webs, and heaps of leaves. (The discolored water you see coming off the roof contains no soap — that’s just the gunk I’ve scrubbed loose.)
The junk on the roof was blocking the proper drain channels for rainwater, and it made examination of the caulk impossible, in addition to disabling the solar panels. So it’s a good idea to get up there once in a while to clean and inspect, but you do need to be exceptionally careful on a wet Airstream roof. I didn’t use soap because I didn’t want to slip off.
The other pre-departure tasks including washing the entire trailer, vacuuming all the window screens and cleaning the windows, cleaning off the last of the adhesive from our former “Tour of America” sticker, greasing the hitch, adding air to the tires, dusting the window sills (it’s amazing how much dust they gather), cleaning the roof vent screens, and cleaning the interior. After a few weeks in Vermont we always notice that the interior gets a sort of funky wet-dog smell. Laundering all of the soft goods (blankets, sheets, towels, rug) and wiping down all the interior surfaces with orange cleaner eliminated that.
Eleanor spent a few days sorting through Emma’s things, because every time we move, she has grown taller and half her clothes no longer fit. Likewise, she reads about 15 books a month, so those had to be sorted too. 23 pounds of her books were shipped to home base in Arizona, and another 10 pounds or so were given away. It’s not the weight so much as the volume of these books — there’s just no space to store a kid’s library in our 240 square foot home!
Hurricane Earl came up the east coast on Thursday and gave us an unexpected extra day in Vermont. The state of Massachusetts closed all the seaside campgrounds, which included Horseneck Beach State Reservation, our planned destination for Labor Day weekend. The closing was precautionary, and fortunately Earl left no significant damage at Horseneck. But that left us in Vermont on Friday, with good sailing conditions, so Emma got to go ride the trapeze on Uncle Steve’s Hobie Cat again. She’s become (mostly) fearless about this sort of sailing, since they’ve been teaching her the ropes all summer long.
Carolyn took her own Hobie out, and Eleanor and I followed in the chase boat (Boston Whaler) to snap pictures. If Earl hadn’t come up the coast we would have missed this. If the Massachusetts Dept of Conservation hadn’t closed the campgrounds, we would have been camping in the rain and wind instead. So in a lot of ways, it was a good last night in Vermont on Lake Champlain.
Saturday we arrived at Horseneck Beach. It’s one of those exciting east coast campgrounds that runs right alongside the ocean front, with constant wind and (thanks to Earl) high surf. The moment we stopped the car and opened the door, we were buffeted by a fresh breeze with that unmistakable smell of salt and seaweed that always make me think of lobster. It felt great.
The wind is very strong. We won’t be putting out the awning. In fact, our campsite runs parallel to the rocky beach and the Airstream is being hit by the breeze broadside. I put the stabilizers down rather firmly to keep the trailer from rocking too much. We can’t leave anything outside, lest it blow away.
Within minutes of being parked, the side of the Airstream was coated with a fine spray of salt. Even opening a window on the windward side results in salt-laden air blowing in. The waves are about 150 feet away, and we can hear them pounding on the shore all day and all night. I think the last time we heard that wonderful thunderous sound, we were sleeping in a parking lot on St George Island (FL), nearly four years ago.
The beach here is composed entirely of round rocks about 4-8″ in diameter. They roll and clatter into the undertow with every wave with the sound of a thousand crabs all clacking their claws at once. Between our site and the beach is a barrier of saltgrass and wild beach roses, with a narrow path through it. Emma has discovered ripe rose hips growing plentifully.
Our arrival was not completely ideal. The park ranger was off doing patrol when we arrived, so we followed the instructions and parked ourselves in our reserved spot. This was a little tricky due to the narrow pavement areas in the sites, and we needed two leveling blocks on the sea side of the trailer to make it level. With the wind making communication difficult, it took a little more effort than usual, but in about 15 minutes we were set up, unhitched, and ready to settle in. Then I went back to the ranger station to check in, and discovered that we were in the wrong site.
After driving 300 miles, I was a bit tired and it was already five o’clock. But there was nothing to do about except break camp, hitch up again, and push the Airstream backward about fifty feet to the correct site, then repeat the entire performance of setting up again. It was about six by the time we had it all done.
Well, these things happen. I can’t pretend I was happy about it, but I knew that once the job was done we could settle in and do basically nothing for the next two days. We have a few ideas of what we might do today and tomorrow, but it is Labor Day and everyone knows that Americans celebrate Labor by doing nothing laborious. So I don’t plan to do any work this weekend, other than a little blogging. But if I did, could I ask for a better office window view?
Solar power report. There are no hookups in this park, so we are using only solar power. We started yesterday with full batteries, of course, and at 8:00 a.m. this morning our Tri-Metric battery monitor reports -28.3 amp-hours. That’s about average for us for one night, with no furnace use and minimal laptop use. Today we expect full sun all day.