I finally cracked. The Airstream has not moved since January 5, and other than the roadtrip to Palm Springs in February, I’ve been entirely housebound. I thought I could make it until late May … I really did … but either the call of the road is too strong, or my ability to live a stationary life is just too weak.
I admitted that I’ve been home for over three months to an Airstream friend, and she summed it up neatly: “That’s criminal.” You can always count on a fellow traveler to pull no punches when it comes to such topics.
It was the final straw. Eleanor and Emma have done very well in house mode, knowing that this summer travel adventure awaited them, but I finally had to admit to myself that all house and no Airstream makes Jack a dull boy. Or to put it another way, a few more weeks of home routine and we might be re-creating scenes from “The Shining.” [Jack Nicholson voice]: Heeee’res Daddy! So I began looking about for an excuse to go somewhere.
Unfortunately, pickings were slim. That’s tragic in itself, since this is the beautiful season in the southwest, with desert flowers blooming, fine temperatures, and a noticeable absence of snowbirds crowding up the campgrounds. It’s hiking season (if you don’t have pollen allergies), and a great time to look for desert wildlife. I cannot figure out why there aren’t dozens of great rallies going on.
It was too late to plan my own rally (as I did last year at Picacho Peak), so I selected the best nearest event I could find, a vintage Airstream “campout” being held by the Lone Star Vintage Airstream Club. Being a vintage event meant I had an excuse to take the 1968 Airstream Caravel out, a rare opportunity. I’d never heard of the Lone Star Vintage Airstream Club, but it turned out to be a group of folks we’ve camped with many times in the past, or at whose homes we’ve enjoyed courtesy parking. Many of them are good friends who we haven’t seen in a few years.
The problem was that this rally is 900 miles distant, and I don’t tow 900 miles for anything unless there’s also a second reason to justify the trip. Call it “Rich’s Rule of Multiple Agendas.” You’ve got to be able to rationalize the fuel cost, especially with diesel running $4/gallon in our area. Fortunately, I was able to work out a few other good reasons to go, including the opportunity to have a buddy in Texas hold the Caravel for me and do a little upgrade work on it. I’ll leave it in Texas and come back to it in June, when I’ll be passing by again.
Eleanor and Emma will stay home this time, another rarity. They’ve got things to do and they aren’t climbing the walls like I am. I can count the number of times I have traveled in an Airstream without them on one hand. It’s an entirely different experience, not better or worse, but certainly different. Of course, the challenge is to bring back the trailer undamaged (something I have not been entirely successful doing), and then tell a story of my trip that sounds like I had a good time but not too good.
Taking this trip is actually good in many ways. The Caravel has been about 95% complete but we’d left a few small issues undone, and the deadline of my departure provided the impetus to get serious about fixing the most crucial issues. The water fill leaked when we put water in the trailer, and I found that was a simple matter of a clamp that was out of place. The shower curtain was never quite a good fit, which caused minor flooding when in use, and Eleanor put a couple of days into sewing to fix that. I had long wanted a second battery in the trailer, and since this is a boondocking rally (no hookups), I finally got around to installing that too.
I’m just about ready to go. The Mercedes is clean, serviced, and fueled, with the magnetic Airstream Service Center logo affixed to the passenger door just for extra Airstream geekiness. The trailer is packed with everything I’ll need for a week on the road. I’ve only got to drop the trailer on the hitch ball and pull away, which I’ll do first thing Tuesday morning. There are 900 miles of pavement lying ahead, but more importantly there are seven days of great memories to make, and I can’t wait to get started.