Keet Seel

We left off yesterday with Brett and me hiking down a dusty road in Navajo National Monument with packs on our back, headed down into the canyons below.

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Our goal was the remote Keet Seel cliff dwelling, reputed to be the most complete and original site of its type in the southwest. The only way to get to it (unless you are a Park Ranger) is to hike nine miles, down 1,000 feet of elevation to the canyon floor and then crossing a meandering stream dozens of times. There is no road other than a rough jeep trail that the Rangers use, and even they have to dismount at a waterfall and hike in the final two miles.

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There are no services available in the canyon, no cellular coverage, not even potable water. You have to bring in everything you need, and pack everything back out again. There are two basic approaches: either bring a tent to spend the night in the primitive campground (basically a few open spots in a forest of oak trees), or do the entire hike as a single-day trip which means you have to complete the entire 18-mile round-trip between sunrise and sundown.

Hiking down into the canyon is of course fairly easy. The trail descends sharply, losing about 700 feet of elevation in just over half a mile. But every step is a reminder that you’ll have to go back up again, and in moderately thin air compared to what most of us are accustomed to: 6,300 to 7,300 feet elevation.

Once at the bottom, there’s a stream. The trail crosses this stream constantly, and for some of the hike it’s easiest just to walk in the water.  We counted on the way back and found that we crossed it 82 times. So we switched from hiking boots to water shoes at this point, and did the remaining 6 miles or so that way.

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The silty river bottom sometimes gets a bit sticky and soft, and there’s even the possibility of quicksand. DSC_4538 It’s not the “Gilligan’s Island” sort of quicksand that looks like cooked oatmeal and sucks in people whole; it’s more like very unstable sand that can take your shoes off if you linger. We ran into a little bit here and there.

The water in the stream is pretty lively with small creatures, insects, and microscopic organisms from upstream pollution (from cattle and horses). So it’s not safe to drink without treatment, and the NPS just tells everyone to bring a gallon of water per person, per day. For us, that meant 32 pounds of water to carry in.

We weren’t psyched by that, and decided to use a Katadyn Vario Pro water filter, followed by a Steripen UV water purifier. This combination cleans the water and sterilizes any microscopic baddies that might have slipped through.  We ended up drinking about 2.5 gallons each of treated river water and it was fine. (Even tasted good, after the charcoal filtration!) The Vario clogged up by the end of the trip, due to a fair amount of sediment in the river.

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We didn’t see a lot of wildlife on the hike. Plenty of birds, one harmless snake, two wild horses, and a few field mice that checked out our tent after sunset.

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You might be getting the idea that the actual cliff dwellings weren’t the entire point of this hike, and you’d be right.  This trip proves once again that it’s more about the journey than the destination. With beautiful blue skies, surrounded by sheer walls of red Navajo sandstone painted with ancient natural varnish, and a stream babbling beneath our feet, the miles of walking passed surprisingly quickly.

When we arrived at the camping area we decided to pitch the tent but leave off the rain fly since the weather was hot and sunny. This turned out to be a minor error, since the ruins of Keet Seel were about a quarter-mile away. We hiked over (now feeling very light with our packs ditched back at camp), knocked on the door of the resident Ranger, and arranged to meet him for our tour. Shortly after, we heard thunder and saw clouds building to the south.

Max the Ranger was very patient. I guess you’d have to be when you are stationed at a lonely outpost for 5 to 8 days at a time, waiting for visitors to drop in. He agreed to delay our tour until I ran down the hill, across the stream (again), up another hill, and into the campsite to put up the rain fly, and then back again. That took about 20 minutes.

Finally we got our tour of Keet Seel. The site has been abandoned since about 1250 AD, but was in use as a “city” for a long time. I don’t want to give away the full story (you could write a book, and I’m sure somebody has), so I’ll just say that of all the cliff dwellings I’ve seen, this is the most complete, original, and artifact-rich one ever.

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You approach the site by climbing a 70-foot ladder. The ladder is modern of course, since the ancient dwellers “closed” this dwelling when they left, leaving a large white fir log symbolically across the entrance. The nearby Hopi, who regard themselves as descendents of the people who lived here, say that someday the people will return to this place.

After climbing the ladder, the dwelling is revealed, complete with homes, courtyards, granaries, pottery, corn cobs, turkey bones, petroglyphs, pictographs, and much more.

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We spent over an hour with Max discussing the site, and it was fascinating. We were the only people to hike the canyon that day, so he wasn’t expecting any other visitors and he wasn’t in a hurry. We explored about half of the ruin (the other half is off-limits due to fragility).

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Since we started early, the hike, camp set up, and tour were all completed by about 3:00 pm. We had the rest of the afternoon to do basically nothing, which was (for both of us) a rare privilege. We were lying in the tent reading paperback books, admiring the view of the nearby cliffs, and listening to the insects buzzing by, when Brett finally said, “Do you know how long it has been since I just read a book outdoors with nothing else to do?”

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The interpretive guides suggest that we should leave behind as much of the modern world as we can when we visit this site, and I agree. Our cell phones would not work, so no one could reach us with problems and questions from the “outside” world. We had nothing to call us away, nowhere to go. It was only an afternoon of enforced relaxation, but it was great and memorable.

The next morning we rose with the dawn and began the long hike back out. The river had declined slightly, since there was no rain overnight, and the temperatures were cool in the shadows of the canyon until late in the morning.

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DSC_4494Like all good trips in my experience, we of course had a minor mishap. Talking as we hiked, we completely missed the turn-off from the river and hiked an additional mile or so down the canyon. Only when we encountered an unexpected waterfall did we realize the mistake. So our return trip ended up being about 10 or 11 miles.

That wasn’t too awful in the big picture, but I have to say that the combination of altitude, heat, and a heavy pack made the 1,000 foot ascent seem much steeper. I ran out of air several times above 6,500 feet and so we stopped frequently to rest, eat energy snacks and drink water.

It’s not an easy hike. It’s not a short one. You’ll spend most of the day wading through water and dodging quicksand. But it was one of the most rewarding hikes I can recall. Instead of the usual mountaintop view, we had a private encounter with a sacred cultural site that is nearly as it was left 800 years ago. You can’t visit a place like that and not have your perspective changed, at least a little bit.

After the hike we collapsed into the Airstream Interstate Grand Tour and fired up the hot water for showers. It took a couple of hours to clean up and re-pack before we were ready to head onward. Our next destination was Farmington, NM, about 150 miles to the east, for the WBCCI International Rally.  I’ll talk about that in the next blog.

(If you want to see more photos from this trip, check out my Flickr album entitled Navajo National Monument.)

A Grand Tour

I’ve been looking forward to this week for a long time—and wondering if we could really pull it off.

It started on Saturday, when I was in Vermont after the 6-day motorcycle trip to the Adirondacks. I only had a couple of days to catch up on work and re-pack for a trip out west. From Sunday morning on, I had the singular experience of waking up somewhere and knowing that I would be going to bed somewhere entirely different that night.

In the Airstream, this is fun. You can roam where you want, knowing that each night you will end up in your comfortable rolling home and familiar bed. But when the travel involves airlines and hotel rooms, the charm tends to slip away quickly.

It began on Saturday night when Eleanor and I relocated to an airport motel, so that on Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m. she could take me to catch a flight from Vermont to New York City, and onward to Sacramento CA.  I met Brett at the airport in Sacramento, to drive around California’s beautiful countryside. (We were scouting a site for Alumafandango 2016, and things went very well. We’ll have an announcement about that in July.) That night we split a room at some nondescript motel off Rt 49, in an area of California that was once known for gold mining, and now is known for wineries. That was our 27-hour Day One.

Monday morning we scouted some more, visited the state capitol, and caught a late flight to Tucson, getting in around midnight. We settled into my house for the night. That was Day Two.

Tuesday morning we picked up a shiny new Airstream Interstate Grand Tour on loan from Airstream, at the local dealership (Lazydays), loaded it up with about 100 pounds of gear and food (much of which Eleanor had set out for us a month ago) and launched immediately toward Arizona’s Mogollon Rim. We spent that night at Fool Hollow Lake State Park in Show Low.  Day Three.

Now I have to say that the Airstream Interstate was a fantastic relief after jet planes and motel rooms. Not only could we slow down our pace of travel, but it meant that for a while we could sleep in a bed more than once. The Airstream, stocked with our food and gear, could be our home.

Airstream Interstate in AZ

And what a glamorous home it is.  The new Grand Tour floorplan of the Interstate is a big improvement for those who want more of a traditional RV. Bigger kitchen, double the fridge/freezer space, much more storage, permanent beds, a nice little desk, and many other small pleasantries make it really usable. If you read my blogs from last summer when I tried out a regular Interstate, you know I liked driving it, and the Grand Tour retains that fine handling and ride (and an incredible list of safety features).

Airstream Interstate Salt River canyonWhen Brett and travel together there’s always a little bit of a battle over who gets to drive, and with the Interstate there was no question we both wanted the wheel as much as possible. I had picked the most scenic route I could on our northward journey, from Tucson to Globe, and then up to the beautiful Salt River Canyon, and finally up the Mogollon Rim to Show Low where the pine trees are tall and the summer air is much cooler than the low desert below. Even when we were gaping at the scenery deep in the Salt River Canyon, Brett wanted to keep the driver’s seat rather than give it up to get a better view.

We averaged about 15.5 MPG on that trip, which is pretty impressive for a 25-foot long motorhome on a hilly climb that eventually ended well over 6,000 ft. Or at least we thought that was good until the next day when we averaged 18 MPG on more level terrain through the Navajo nation in northern Arizona.

The goal for this leg was Navajo National Monument, a less-visited national park near Kayenta AZ.  We first visited as a family on 2008, and hiked 5 miles roundtrip to the impressive Betatakin cliff dwelling. Ever since that trip, I’ve wanted to go back to visit the even-more-impressive Keet Seel cliff dwellings, and this trip was finally my chance.

You don’t just pop in and hike to Keet Seel. The trip requires a permit from the park, a mandatory orientation by a ranger, good gear, and some stamina. It’s an 18 mile round-trip on foot if you do it right, and considerably longer if you miss a turn in the canyons. (More on that later.) So you can see that getting to this point was the product of planning we’d done months in advance.

The Interstate turned out to be an ideal base camp for this trip.  We parked in a canyon view site (in the Navajo Nat’l Monument campground, which is free, no hookups), and spent the evening checking our gear and eating dinner outside with a spectacular view of the sunset on the red Navajo Sandstone. One nice thing about the Interstate is that it fits in places a travel trailer couldn’t go, and there’s virtually no setup after arriving. We just pushed the electric awning button and slid open the big side door.

Airstream Interstate Navajo National Monument

And that was Day Four.  Funny how the days seemed to be much more filled with adventure and camaraderie now that we were traveling at about 50 MPH instead of 500.

The next morning we hoisted our packs, loaded with about 30 pounds of gear and water each, and walked right from the door of the Airstream down a dusty road and began our descent into the canyons …

Keet Seel deserves its own blog entry, so I’ll write more about that in the next day. Stay tuned.

Six nights in the Adirondacks, no #EscapedPrisoners

I’ve been looking forward to this summer for a long time. I was overloaded with work and projects from January through May, so once everything (including Alumapalooza) was done, I intended to switch back to the activity I like best: traveling. After picking up E&E in Cleveland, we had our usual decompression session in Ohio, including some game playing with our Woodruff/St Peter friends and a nice visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright “Welztheimer-Johnson House” in Oberlin.

FLW Weltzheimer-Johnson house Oberlin
Photo credit: Larry Woodruff

Then we zipped across New York to settle the Airstream in Vermont on the shores of Lake Champlain. The Airstream will stay here until early October, while we use it as a summer camp and base of operations.

The first major adventure on the schedule was a motorcycling trip with my brother Steve and our friend Eric, much like last year’s exploration of the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec. It seems that taking the BMWs out for a rough road trip is becoming an annual tradition, since we’ve been doing it every summer since 2012.

This year we scaled back a little compared to the Gaspé trip, planning just six days in New York’s Adirondack State Park.  Six days might seem to be a lot for a state park if you aren’t familiar with the Adirondack region, so keep in mind that the “park” is actually about 1/3 of the entire state of New York. By backtracking and wandering down every dirt road we could find, we managed to accumulate over 1,000 miles of travel.

Wilmington NY tent camping motorcycle

Traveling like this is not what you’d call comfortable, but that’s part of the point. We are out to explore, and for me it’s a chance to explore in ways that we wouldn’t normally do with the Airstream. These motorcycle trips are conducted with minimal gear, only what we can carry on the back of the bike: tent, sleeping bag, pad, some clothes, a few tools, snacks, and not much else. We spend every night in the tent unless it’s pouring rain when we have to set up or tear down. This year we managed five nights out of six in the tents despite massive rains on several nights.

The Adirondacks are known for their beautiful mountains and rugged wilderness, rustic lodges and camps that are relics of the Golden Age, quaint towns, and biting insects. All of these things are present in abundance, but there are also many reminders of their industrial origins: abandoned factories and paper mills, dozens of dams, long-closed mines and flooded quarries, decaying brick buildings, grassy old rail lines, and logging roads. People forget that the Adirondack infrastructure was first developed not for tourists or sportsmen, but for miners of lead and iron, loggers of trees, and railroads to carry all the plunder and materials to away to cities in the 19th century.

Iron mine abandoned trainWhile many rail lines have become snowmobile trails and many dams have been converted to produce clean hydroelectric power, there’s still plenty of evidence of the past, and that’s what Steve and Eric like to explore. They are sort of “Rural Explorers,” hunting up mines, rails, dams, factories, mills, roads, and airports that have been left to slowly decay.  While my fellow travelers do respect the law (at least in moderation) and don’t go past locked gates, they do have a tendency to go in places that—while not technically trespassing—the general public would not be welcome.

This puts me in my “discomfort zone,” since I’m the sort of person who feels awkward occupying a Handicapped Parking spot for 5 seconds to drop someone off, or standing on the wrong side of the moving walkway at the airport. Riding a motorcycle through an open gate and down a dirt road to wander around an old iron mine, or peeking into a crumbling paper mill is not my preferred activity. The sites interest me, but there’s always that sense of “what if we get caught?”

Too big puddle BMW motorcycleBut I suppose it’s good for me to test my own boundaries and even stretch them a little. What’s the worst that could happen?  Hmm …. we could get arrested, yelled at, injured, lost, or encounter a group of zombies. So lots of things could happen. Nothing spectacular actually did.

Perhaps the toughest experience was when we rode a few miles around a large flooded quarry and discovered we could not get out because all of the gates (other than the one we entered) were locked or barricaded. This required back-tracking through some fairly technical road conditions including loose sand and rock, large mud puddles, steep hills, and washouts.

The photo at left shows the one mud puddle we decided not to cross during our six-day trip. Puddles are deceptively hard on a motorcycle. You might easily ford such a place with four wheels, but on two wheels it’s easy to get stuck in a muddy bottom, or slip. Either way the result is unpleasant. Slipping in a small puddle last year in the Gaspé gave me a shoulder injury that hurt for seven months.

 

Lake Luzerne campground motorcylesADK airport motorcycles

The biggest drama of the entire trip was about the escaped prisoners from the prison in Dannemora NY. Everyone in the Adirondacks was talking about it, in every cafe, store, campground, and gas station we visited. We certainly didn’t relish the idea of encountering the two desperados while camped overnight, so each day began and ended with a quick check of the news to see if they’d been caught yet. We finally decided that at least if we found them we’d stand to collect the $100,000 reward (assuming we lived to tell the tale), and the survivors could split it. As you probably know, the escapees are still at large, so we are not any richer but we’re also not dead.

Dannemora prison escape interview

When we got to Dannemora it was quite a scene: 800 law enforcement officers including the State Corrections Emergency Response Team, local and state police, Forest Rangers, and many others.  The media were camped out and hunting for stories, since no news was coming from the search. (In the photo above Steve is being interviewed by the Press-Republican for his theory of where the bad guys had gone.)

Blackhawk helicopters buzzed overhead, and the impact of the $1 million/day cost was evident in every convenience store and restaurant as officers came and went all day long. We were stopped at three checkpoints near Dannemora to be positively identified as someone “not matching the description” before we could proceed.

Rutted roads for BMW motorcyclesOther than intruding into crumbling old structures, the other big joy for Steve is to find the most rugged roads possible so that we can all use our BMW F650 motorcycles for their highest purpose. These are “Dual sport” bikes, meaning that they are equally happy on pavement and washed out dirt roads. The Adirondacks have plenty of both. I am sure that we averaged about 50% dirt because every time Steve spotted a dirt turnoff to nowhere, he’d zip off like a dog chasing a squirrel. Eric and I just followed without question and hoped for the best.

The photo at left shows one of the poorer results (or “better” depending on your point of view). Lots of rain lately has left many of the roads looking like this.  Those roads are posted with big yellow signs that say “Seasonal Use Road — Limited Maintenance,” which is like waving a plate of Buffalo chicken wings in front of my brother’s nose. He will go after it. Fortunately, none of us crashed or dropped a bike during the entire trip.

And truly not knowing what’s around the next corner can be both thrilling and rewarding. Sure, it’s quite possible that if you don’t plan you might miss something, but if you don’t plan you might also find something that the guidebooks won’t tell you about.

Lyonsville hydro station

Rain was the other minor drama of the trip. There is no such thing as a dry week in June in the Adirondacks.  Our first night at Lake Luzerne State Campground was a full-blown thunder-and-lightning experience with heavy rain that left a small lake under my tent. I found a live salamander there while packing up the next morning.

Iron mine lake viewOur second night at Lake Durant State Campground was pleasantly dry, but the next night was forecast to be so dismal that we took refuge at a nice end-of-the-road motel at the edge of the remote Stillwater Reservoir.  The fourth night at Meacham Lake State Campground was technically not rainy but there was enough condensation that it was hard to tell, and in any case we were already soaked because we got caught in a massive storm earlier that morning which forced us to hole up in a small town convenience store for three hours.

The fifth night at Wilmington Notch was dry enough that my boots went from “soaked” to “damp” overnight—about as good at it gets while tent camping—and we had a final day of riding where all the forces of nature aligned to give us perfect weather.

Wilmington lake view

All things considered, we did pretty well.  I don’t expect the comforts of the Airstream on this sort of trip. It’s about different values: exploration, camaraderie, simplicity, challenge. Men and machines, sleeping in tents, slapping away black flies, and eating in 1-star diners. Lots of time to think while the pine trees slip past and the single cylinder of the motorcycle thumps. One mile on a slippery, potholed dirt road can be just as memorable and exciting as anything else we might do in life. I hope we’ll do it again next summer.

Something useful and beautiful

I’ve always had mixed feelings about our 2005 Airstream’s awning.  The awning is a unique feature for travel trailers. If you don’t have one, you might not understand how its value goes far beyond providing shade. I know when we got our first Airstream (which didn’t have an awning) I didn’t really see the value in them.

Then we got this 2005 Airstream Safari bunkhouse, and it came with a massive (21 foot long) Zip-Dee awning.  I unrolled it for the first time and was struck by the impact of it: instantly creating a welcoming space outside the trailer where before there was nothing. Suddenly I wanted to get a few chairs and table, perhaps a cooler of icy drinks, and sit out there all day watching the sun set.  Then, like a lot of Airstreamers do, turn on a decorative lamp for the evening and have dinner with some friends.

All that inspiration from a big piece of fabric overhead.  Who’d have thought it would transform a patch of gravel into an outdoor living room?

A-B Airstream morningThe only problem with this inviting tableau was the color of the awning.  Airstream was installing a dark gray awning on most Safaris at that time, which I didn’t like at all.  To me, an awning should be colorful and a little festive. The gray was monochromatic and tended to get hot in the sun, generating a layer of warm air underneath that inevitably got sucked into the trailer through the entry door screen.

But awning fabric is expensive, so I ignored the dullness of the fabric for a decade, although I winced inwardly a little every time I had to deploy it.

About five years ago when carpenter ants nested in the awning and chewed a few holes in it, I considered replacing the fabric. But that Sunbrella fabric is tough stuff and the rest of the awning was fine, so instead I called Zip-Dee and they sent me a swatch of replacement fabric to match patches. Eleanor and I cut it into squares with some pinking shears and attached the patches with fabric glue.  (Zip-Dee recommends clear silicone caulk, which works well too.)

Those patches were holding up well right up to the day we replaced the fabric. We didn’t need to replace it even after 11 years of use; I just got sick of gray. We also had installed a used window awning that came with fabric that didn’t match, which gave us the final push to change both sides of fabric to something we’d really like. Eleanor and I spent some time going over the Sunbrella swatch books at Alumaflamingo in Florida last February, and settled on “Coastal Spa” #4851-0000.

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It might seem strange, but one of the reasons I was willing to go to the expense of swapping out perfectly usable fabric on both sides of the Airstream was because I trust Zip-Dee. Jim Webb, who is the president, has come to Alumapalooza every year to do demonstrations and help customers. He personally installed our window awning last year—in the dark!—and if that isn’t proof that he’s a nice guy, I can also mention that he has supported Airstream Life magazine for many years with Zip-Dee ads.

Plus, Zip-Dee just makes an excellent product. Their awnings have been synonymous with Airstream trailers for over forty years. They last forever, they are easily repairable, and the company’s customer support is superb. Plus, they are one of those rare products that are still made in America (just like Airstreams) and world class. So I felt pretty strongly that not only would Zip-Dee treat me well, but that I’d be very happy with the upgrade.

Airstream new Zip-Dee awning-1No surprise then that Jim drove from Chicago with his son Alex to personally demonstrate to an interested crowd exactly how to replace the fabric on a Zip-Dee awning, using our Airstream. In the photo you can see the old gray fabric on the ground, as Alex and Jim prepare the new fabric to slide into the awning tube. They had the job done in about 45 minutes.

I love the way the new awning reflects on the Airstream, and the patterns of light it creates below. It simultaneously feels festive, relaxing, and (to me, at least) evocative of green subtropical waters by the beach.

There are lots of upgrades you can make to your Airstream, and we’ve done most of them big ones. But I have to say, for some reason this little change is one of the most pleasing. Now I look forward to sunny days so that I can put out the awning.

At least for us, our Airstream is our second home. Periodically spending some money to make it as nice as it can be seems frivolous, until you think about why you have it in the first place. An Airstream isn’t just a convenient way to travel; it’s also a place to relax, change perspective, and simplify. Why wouldn’t we make it as enjoyable as possible?

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I subscribe to William Morris’ famous advice: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” In this case, the Zip-Dee awning is both at once, and that’s a big win in my book.

How to keep your Airstream traveling forever

It’s hard to convey how happy I am to tell you this:  My long-awaited Airstream maintenance book is finally coming out!

I’ve been working on it for years. It covers everything you need to know to keep your Airstream travel trailer in great running condition for decades, by yourself, with simple tools and no prior experience.

Maintenance of your Airstream is not nearly as difficult as most people think, and with just a few basic tools and this guide, I think you’ll find you can do almost every routine task yourself. No more trips to the service center for every little thing.  No more feeling like you are at the mercy of the mechanic because he recommended changing the air in your tires and replacing the blinker fluid.  You might even find that this book saves one of your vacations, if something goes wrong on the road!

Let me tell you, writing this book was therapy for me. When I started Airstreaming in 2003, I knew nothing. I didn’t know how to fix anything, or even where to look to find the cause of a problem. I got a little better by 2005, when we went out on the road full-time. The next three years were trial-by-fire, because all kinds of things started to happen to the Airstream, and inevitably they’d happen when we were 200 miles away from the nearest assistance, so I had to call my friends and have them tell me what to do.

That’s the hard way to learn. So I wrote this book, with help from those same friends & Airstream Life contributors, to collect all the knowledge into a single volume.

I thought I had learned a lot about Airstreams after seven years of intense travel and lots of on-the-road repairs, but during the next four years (while I was writing this book) my eyes really got opened. I had long talks with Airstream personnel.  I read every guide I could find from every major supplier to Airstream, including Dexter, Alcoa, Atwood, Wineguard, Parallax, Hehr, Dometic, Marshall, Cavagna, Fantastic Vent, Zip-Dee, Corian, Forbo, and many others.

I collected articles from decades of “Schu’s News” and read several other “white box” maintenance guides cover-to-cover.  I talked to dealers, polishers, repair shops, and restorers.

And when I finally had a draft written, I put every word through intense review by experienced Airstream mechanics, retired factory staff, and knowledgeable Airstream owners. At the end, I realized I had often been confused, deluded, or just plain mis-informed by half of the junk I’d read online from self-appointed “experts”.  (They make things so much more complicated than they need to be!)

I think you and every other Airstreamer can benefit from the last four years I’ve spent working on this project.  I wrote the book specifically to suit every level of mechanical ability, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t even own a screwdriver. There are many things you can do to keep your Airstream going strong, and fix problems when they occur. Right now Brad Cornelius is working on the illustrations, 40 or so of them.  When he’s done, I think the book will run about 200+ pages, spiral bound.  That’s a lot of material, because it covers all these topics:

  • How To Inspect (to find problems before they occur)
  • Your Traveling Toolkit
  • Interior Cleaning and Appearance
  • Exterior Cleaning and Appearance
  • Aluminum Body Repair
  • Leak Prevention, Detection, and Repair
  • Windows, Doors, Locks, and Vents
  • Plumbing
  • Running Gear & A-Frame (including wheels, tires, brakes, and bearings)
  • Loading
  • Storage and Seasonal
  • Electrical
  • Propane System
  • Climate Control
  • Gas Appliances
  • Resources

Bottom line: this book is unique. No other book available contains so much Airstream-specific maintenance advice.

You can buy a copy from the Airstream Life Store right now.

I hope you love it. If you liked “The Newbies Guide To Airstreaming,” (my other book), I know you will.

If you’re wondering why it’s called “(Nearly) Complete”, it’s because no guide is ever really done.  Things keep evolving and new ideas pop up, and so my plan is to keep updating and expanding the book over the years. I want to thank the people who have helped me with the first edition, and thank you in advance for any tips or additions you add as you use it.