STEP UP!

I got the step on!  Replacing the step on the Airstream, or replacing anything always is a lesson in process.  What I learned from this repair:

  1. Don’t put the front bolts on first.  Yes, they are easy and closest, but it is the back bolts that are the problem.
  2. Helpful to have someone to hold the 40 lb steps, while you are lying on your back under the trailer struggling to insert bolts.  But, in the absence of a helper, finding plastic bins, and other stuff you can place underneath to support and align the bolts.  
  3. Get all the bolts in, BUT DON’T tighten.  Like replacing a tire on your car, lug nuts should be tightened equally.  
  4. Don’t answer your cell phone when you are under the trailer, because it is your Mother calling on FACE Time.  I hate FACE Time. 

I love you Mom!  But, I am so proud of myself, even if I do say so!

As for Key Largo, it is amazing the recovery underway from hurricane Irma that blew through just 5 months ago.  The costs, damage and trash is staggering.  We watched as workmen repaired a bridge, and you can not help but see the trash piled high along the Overseas Highway.  Apparently, when FEMA left, they weren’t done with trash collection, so it sits waiting to be taken away, but no one seems to know who that someone is.

We are off to the Everglades National Park on Monday, hope it is open with the government shut-down.

The Iconic Airstream

“Eight years ago, architect Matthew Hofmann transformed an old Airstream into a pint-sized home and office for himself. More than 400 renovated Airstreams and other vintage trailers later . . . The Santa Barbara, California-based team knows the ins and outs of renovating Airstreams better than almost anyone . . . and talk about the trailers’ cult appeal, the challenges of restoring their aluminum shells . . .”  The photos are fantastic.

Here is the link to this wonderful story: https://savingplaces.org/stories/a-vintage-airstream-expert-on-the-cult-brands-enduring-appeal#.WmDCkZM-cdV

I love it when friends share Airstream stories.  Debbie shared the above story with me, so thought this was a good time to post this picture, complements of Carol.  Recognize anyone?

Please feel free to forward other items relating to Airstreams.  Happy Trails.

WHAT DAY IS IT?

When retired, all the days are the same.  I can sleep-in, stay-up late, or go to bed at 8 p.m.   Whatever suits me.

But yesterday was a terrible, horrible day.  I forgot what day it was, I thought I had another day in the St. Lucie RV Resort ( ha!).  But, instead I was supposed to leave by 11:00 a.m.  My replacement step (see previous post) was supposed to arrive by 8 p.m., thankfully it arrived around 11 a.m.  BUT!  The very nice guy delivering the step in a golf cart, reminded me I was supposed to be OUT at 11 a.m.  Exactly, at that very moment.  YIKES!

Thanks to helpful camper neighbors Tom and Norma, I got the step on.  Well, not really, we got 3 of the 4 screws attached. 

Then I raced around and putting everything into the trailer.  Getting ready to travel requires stowing everything in cupboards or putting stuff (computer, I-pad, printer, etc.) on the bed or floor.  Stuff shifts, so “be very careful when opening overhead compartments, as your baggage can shift while in transit”.

It is never fun to be rushed when packing.  I can hook and un-hook Scout (aka Airstream trailer) in about 30 minutes: 1) close all interior vents and windows; 2) put down TV antenna; 3) stow everything inside; 4) disconnect water, sewer and electric (cable); 5) roll-up stabilizer jacks; and 6) hook-up. 

ALWAYS, always do a final walk-around.

I hook-up, and then I take a shower. 

Full-timers mostly use the campground facilities, so I have a very nice bath bag, with my soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc.  I try not to forget my towel!  Last winter at a California State Campground, I had a good laugh as a young man came running from the showers with a towel around his waist, because he ran out of quarters.  In California 25 cents, gets you 3 minutes of hot water.

I look forward to exploring Key Largo, and getting all 4 screws attached, tomorrow.  This may be the farthest east we travel in FL.  While I might like to go to Key West, the hurricanes and a very long one-lane road, suggests I stay here and then head back to the mainland.   

Alaska has only one road NORTH AND SOUTH, so does FL, at least to the Keys.  I enjoy a round trip on different roads with different scenery.  So, I can say I have been almost to the “end” of the SOUTH Florida road.  I have been to the end of the road in ALASKA.

A PLACE for EVERYTHING

Jonathan Dickson State Park

When you live in a 20′ Airstream, there must be, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”  Googling this phrase finds this explanation:

“The idiom is defined as a phrase that dates at least from the 17th century, and would seem to be dedicated to the obsessive-compulsives (O-C) in society. It’s closely akin to another phrase, “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” That is, put your stuff away where it belongs, and make sure you bathe!

Okay, neither O-C or  Godliness is in my nature.   I do however enjoy a good hot shower, so modern-day campgrounds with showers are a necessity in my lifestyle.  I do not dry camp.

In 2001, I lived in a one-bedroom walk-up apartment 4 blocks from the U.S. Capitol.  My friends Carrie and Matt around the corner gave me a key so I could borrow dog Lilly for my morning walks on the National Mall (before I got Maggie, a dog of my own). 

In 2009, I decided to become an adult and bought a 3-story row house, and filled it with stuff.  Seven years later, I realized that “stuff” did not make me happy, and I spent most of my time in 2 rooms, the kitchen or bedroom.  Why did I need all that unused space?  We  Americans love huge houses.

In China, entire families live 2 rooms. 

My sister Robin, had a studio apartment on the upper west side of NYC, her neighborhoods lived in the same space with kids and a dog!  

Those of us fortunate enough to travel aboard, including to “shit-hole” countries, can only appreciate how incredibly privileged we are to live in the United States, the most amazing country on the globe.

I love the diversity of the United States.  When I traveled to Asia in 1985, what struck me most was the lack of diversity.  The majority of the population was under 5’5” tall and had dark hair and the same eye color.  It never occurred to me how we take diversity for granted.  Visit any shopping mall and just look at the hair color, not to mention sizes, shapes and heights!  In Asia, all hair color is black, heights are about 5’5”.  Of course now that we have exported McDonald’s, Asian are getting fat.

1985 on the Great Wall.

I stuck out – I was tall, 5’9” and blonde.  My traveling companion, cousin Karen has dark hair and blended in.  Karen would say to me, “Alison, you are drawing a crowd”.  I would turn around and there would be a crowd of Chinese people staring at me.  They would ask politely if they could practice their English.  One woman told me she felt sorry for me because I lived alone.  She said she would not like to live alone, when she married she would move in with her husband’s family.

Traveling in Asia taught me a valuable lesson of humility and gratitude.  How incredibly fortunate we are, to have been born in the United States of America, because we are a nation of immigrants and embrace diversity.   At least we use too.

“Go shopping”, is what President George W Bush told us to do after 9/11.  When I decided to leave Washington, D.C. and get rid of my “stuff”, I realized how much money I wasted shopping, and buying stuff.  I wish I had bought Nordstrom stock, instead of shoes and clothes.

So here I am, trying to become more obsessive compulsive.  Putting everything away “in its place”, not leaving dishes in the sink, etc.    RULE #1: When you buy something, something else needs to go! 

RULE #2: Ask yourself, do I really need that?  Probably NAUGHT.  

What if we stopped shopping!  The U.S. economy would of course collapse, and we would have little to do on the weekends, but we might need fewer land-fills or the need to ship our  unwanted “stuff” to China.  They don’t want it anymore, either.

Groceries, gas, green and camping fees.  It is a liberating and full-filling life, with less stuff.

Today, we are off to Key Largo today, for sun and sand.

Something ALWAYS Happens

Just when I am feeling confident and leaving my gas station mishap behind, I hit something else.  I have no idea, what it was or when.  But when I arrived at the Port Saint Lucie RV park, my fold-out step would not fold out.  I had only driven an hour on main roads and never felt anything.  How could this happen? On closer examination, it appears an unknown wooden object struck the step and bent it.   The step is made of steel and weighs 40lbs.  The repair required me to crawl under the trailer on my back and remove the step.  My new socket wrench set wouldn’t work because of the very tight space.  One of the 4 screws would not loosen, so a trip to Sears for a set of gear wrenches ($8.00) and some WD-40 did the trick. 

I found a replacement step on Amazon, and it will be here on Friday.  RV Neighbor Bob, was happy to hold the assembly, so the 40lb step didn’t hit me in the face, when I finally got the screw unscrewed.   It is reassuring that I can do these minor repairs myself.  I just hope I won’t be doing them often. 

Life on the road continues to be an adventure, because something unexpected ALWAYS seems to happen.  Good thing I am a woman who is not afraid of tools or DIY.