Monthly Archives: November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are grateful for family, food, safe travel, and relative peace in our little part of the world. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Wanna buy a Vintage Airstream Argosy?

Our vintage 1979 Argosy 7.3 Minuet, Snow White, is available. Yep, we’re putting Snow White out on the street. We’ve never even slept in her, no cups of tea, not even an afternoon relaxing in this cute 24 feet long beauty. I’d love to keep her and customize to our wants. But it just can’t happen for us. She’s really svelte and sweet and tows like a dream. But we neither have room nor time for Snow White in our lives.

Snow White Argosy 24T

Snow White Argosy 24T

This is partially a farewell to dreams and partially an advert. We adopted Snow White (well, actually purchased her, but can you own a dream?) a year ago. She would become our African coach for the 2009 Airstream trip from Capetown to Cairo. Debbie and I signed on for this trip in 2006 and, after a year’s search, found Snow White in Michigan. Snow White is from Alabama but spent part of one year in Michigan with an Airstream couple also planning for the African caravan.

Alas, the Capetown to Cairo Caravan will not occur in 2009. This was to be a repeat, of sorts, of the 1959 trip by the same name. Wally Byam, inventor of Airstreams and founder of Wally Byam Caravan Club International, organized and led the seven-month long 14,000 mile trip in 1959 from Capetown to Cairo. We sometimes wonder at the perception of increasing world danger against the increasing scope of world news bringing violence into our living rooms.

Just how does one adjust for the increased percentage of violent occurrences now reported, even as they occur, compared to the number of unreported but otherwise similar occurrences fifty years ago? In this context we tried to convince ourselves the situation in Africa might, to some extent, be a creation of our media machinery. After all, citizens of other countries still vacation in Africa. Or so we’ve read. Nonetheless, the pervasive armed attacks throughout much of Africa took its toll on this great planned 2009 adventure.

Other factors played too, although these may have been inextricably linked to the dangers of violent factions and unrest. What major sponsor would want to be associated with a massacred group of innocent travelers from afar? Will fuel prices drive excessively high the cost of shipping the trailers from North America to Capetown? There were too many high-stake variables, not enough tricks in our bags.

Our full-timing lifestyle doesn’t encourage collecting things. Well, collecting large things is out. I collect tie-wraps from parking lots and campsites because I regularly use them. We collect quarters for use in laundromats and newspaper boxes. We collect stories and pictures, and store them in our hard drives. We collect very little else. We’re absent those little curio shelves you enjoy browsing in other people’s homes. And we lack a garage or storage bay for the Argosy, Snow White.

Restoring her would be a joy, and taking Snow White out for jaunts (or beyond) would be wonderful. She shows so much promise. Good running gear, great body, nice interior. Just needs tlc to bring her back to prime. We still move around too often to want to do all this. Our lifestyle, while admittedly settling down some, revolves around moving every month or three. And we haven’t wanted to take on any projects since we decided to begin full-timing.

Someone else will have the enjoyment of seeing Snow White restored to their specification. And they can, in bargain, exercise full naming rights. Ted and Dottie named her Snow White, and I’ve just never been any good at all with nicknaming things so Snow White she has remained. We’ve posted pictures on Air Forums and you should be able to hit the photos here. (Just our “Snow White” captioned pictures)

A few specifications may help:

  • Model is 24T, twenty-four feet length, twin beds,
  • Fully self-contained
  • New roof-top a/c and upgraded Dometic 4.0 cf fridge
  • Front dinette, rear shower/lavatory/toilet
  • Reese weight-distributing hitch and anti-sway
  • Two 30# propane cylinders
  • All original storage containers under dinette and beds
  • All original finish flipper door panels
  • Water heater not working, everything else okay.
  • I know you cannot stand the temptation to email and tell me, “We’ll take her, and $6,000 is a bargain!” Just do it! I’d love to hear from you and Snow White would love to meet you.

    Rainy Chapel Hill

    Chapel Hill holds a lot of memories for us. We dreamed of it in high school. Some formative years and our college education were in Chapel Hill. Such an incredibly wonderful place! There were exciting times, new adventures, and new beginnings for each of us. Separately. Debbie and I met over twenty years after I left Chapel Hill. She and I each married in Chapel Hill. Her two children started life in Chapel Hill. We made many friendships there.

    A year ago we stopped, upon friend’s recommendations, at Kentucky Horse Park Campground in Lexington, KY. By chance the campground assigned us the campsite next to an Airstream CCD 22 almost identical to our first (and second favorite) Airstream trailer. We backed in and Bea and Dave Witten welcomed us as neighbors.

    Bea and Dave live in Chapel Hill. Turns out, they were in Chapel Hill when we were. I received help from Dave at his new bicycle shop downtown Chapel Hill. Like us, they both remarried since then and found new and different lifestyles. They are both award-winning professional photographers, specializing in capturing images of harness racing.

    We spent a little time talking in Kentucky Horse Park and we all liked each other. They invited us to visit them sometime and park, using their hookups, by their house. We spent a few days in April this year with them and had a great time. They invited us to return for another visit.

    Last week was a perfect time for us to visit again with Dave and Bea. We spent the week in Chapel Hill at the house Dave built in Hunter’s Ridge in the late 70’s. We parked our Airstream next to their garage and plugged into their shore power outlet.

    Bea and Dave are wonderful hosts and we love spending time with them. Dave and I talk Airstream maintenance and play frisbee and hit tennis balls. Debbie and Bea take long walks and talk. Great fires flamed in the fireplace. We share wonderful meals and drinks and watch episodes of Fraser.

    Bea is the most relaxed busy person we know. She never seems to hurry but is always doing something. She makes her own granola and bread and mayonnaise. While we’re talking in the living room she combs and spins wool

    Bea spins wool while we talk

    Bea spins wool while we talk

    to knit their socks. She darns the socks when needed.

    Dr. Andrew Weil told us at a presentation a few years ago he advocates compression of morbidity. This means extending the duration of healthy years and compressing the time of morbidity into as short (and therefore less expensive) a period as we can. Sort of like dying with your boots on, eh?

    Dave is my hero. He both runs and plays tennis every day. Weather doesn’t keep him from running. And, he can pound tennis balls across the net for hours. I, on the other hand, wear out after hitting for an hour. And I haven’t run for years. I want to be in better shape and want to hit longer. Do I have the discipline to train like he does?

    When I lived in Chapel Hill I played tennis for hours at a time. I ran. I biked. But I was only twenty-two. Since then, I have either hit, or run, or swam, or biked. And through the years I have done less and less of any of these. Dave’s and Dr. Weil’s ideas appeal greatly to me. I think we feel better when we spend time getting exercise and taking care of ourselves.

    Or, does the higher level of activity invite sweet memories of younger times?

    Myrtle Beach in November

    We’re the last one standing. Within a period of three hours, from 8:00 Sunday morning until just after 11:00, the other twenty-one Airstream trailers and one Airstream motorhome pulled out of Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach, SC. Our Airstream club, Carolinas Unit of NC, gathers every month to share hugs, meals, and stories. Many members are retired, some are working. And all enjoy staying at the beach for a November weekend of beautiful weather, fresh seafood, and catching up with one another.

    The Airstreamers’ parking sites were vacant as little as fifteen minutes before new arrivals motored in. Like yard sale shoppers, other campers almost immediately filed into the spaces closest to the ocean. Some people are camped in Ocean Lakes for the winter. They don’t want to spend their entire time too close to the ocean or they didn’t make their reservations early enough (18 months ago) to secure the prime spot for more than an occasional week. These campers move a few hundred yards and have new neighbors and a new view. A week later they migrate a few hundred yards further from the ocean. The ocean-side sites are in high demand.

    Early this year we reserved our site through today, two days after the rally ended. We like the quiet time after a rally. Just us. Cook a meal and enjoy eating in our Airstream together, talking and relaxing. Plans for the day are simple. Eat, read, walk. Repeat. Go to bed.

    We walked the perimeter of the campground yesterday, a three-mile walk. The walk took us just over an hour and was interesting. We saw unimproved lots with an old travel trailer or mobile home, or lots with a deck or shed built against a trailer. We counted on one hand the number of unimproved lots, with a mobile home and no other improvements on the lot.

    Many of the homes show clear evidence of a single-wide mobile home totally enclosed by siding and a roof. Only the windows give away the truth. And leave us wondering why so many people did not pull the mobile (or not so mobile?) home away and stick-build. Is this a manifestation of the Abilene Paradox? Or is disposition of the mobile home plus establishing a new foundation just not worthwhile?

    The beach is nice in November. And, perhaps, all the other months too. We like this month because the days are warm enough without being hot. The nights are cool but not cold. The beaches and surf are just as lovely as always. There are no crowds, anywhere. We’ll return to the beaches some November.

    Myrtle Beach

    We’re in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’s a grey and windy evening and sixty degrees outside. We’re sitting snugly inside our Airstream drinking a pot of tea and reading and browsing. Outside our flags are flapping noisily and flying straight out in a full breeze. We can hear, above the wind noises, the waves pounding on the beach.

    Our Airstream Club’s November rally starts two days from now, on Thursday. The Club expects over forty attendees renewing friendships and telling tales. We’ll have golf, kite flying, bingo, meals, social hours, meetings, and other activities for the attendees. Debbie and I enjoy these gatherings as an opportunity to see old friends and catch up on news.

    A month’s stay in my in-law’s driveway has been wonderful for us. And, we hope, gratifying for them too. We’ve shared two or three meals daily, gone together to the YMCA for workouts two times weekly, gone to a high school football game, attended a Masonic Lodge function, and spent time in the evenings visiting. Debbie’s parents go to their church and we explore a different local Methodist church each week.

    We conduct whatever business we need to, take long walks, and work on our little projects. We really enjoy being around them and in their house. The house is sufficiently large we can find separate spaces or we can all comfortably sit in the den together. Deb has been doing some needlepoint each evening. I read or write until the nine p.m. amateur radio Nets. I spend up to an hour on amateur radio then rejoin the family in their den for a little while before bedtime.

    And Debbie and I sleep in the Airstream in our own bed every night and marvel at how cozy our Airstream is. We hear rain and leaves falling on the trailer. We feel the wind, gently rocking our trailer side to side. We see little warm reflections of light throughout the interior from various l.e.d.s like the refrigerator panel indicator lights, and the bedroom clock’s red l.e.d. numerals. We like sleeping in our backpacking tents. A lot. And spending time or sleeping in the Airstream is way better still.

    Why is this so much better than our previous favorite shelter, the backpacking tent? Tents provide us an excellent feel of the outdoors. You can hear every cricket, coyote, and songbird. You know you are sheltered from the cold and wet and wind. You can feel and see the wind, waving the tent’s walls. And we can take a tent almost anywhere we can walk. The Airstream trailer provides most of the benefits of sleeping outdoors plus we have an indoor bathroom and our bed is a ten inch thick mattress.

    We’re glad to be mobile for the next two weeks. This keeps us in tune with our mobile selves, reminds us what we like about traveling around, and reminds us what things we need but may have left at the house. We’ll add these things to a list to make sure and bring them with us when we head out for longer trips in December. Absence from Kannapolis also will help us appreciate more the time we spend with Deb’s and my families. This is a good time for us to be away, and I’m glad we’re in Myrtle Beach.

    Getting it done or, Six Saturdays and a Sunday

    You’ve almost certainly heard retired people state, “I don’t know how I ever had time to work. I’m so busy now.” Debbie and I didn’t like a sense of helplessness we detected in the statement. We want to be purposeful and moderate in planning and using our time. Still, with six Saturdays a week we potentially have time for lots of projects.

    We stayed, at times last Winter, two or more weeks each in several places. I found myself arranging projects on the truck or trailer each time. In Punta Gorda, FL, I played golf almost daily and installed new amateur radio through-glass antennas on the truck.

    Melbourne, FL, was a great spot for golf two and three times a week. Melbourne also has a very nice hardware store, Eau Gallie Ace Hardware, with all the bits and pieces we wanted to wall-mount our catalytic gas heater and repair our small gas grill.

    Spring and Summer 2008 found us traveling all about the U.S. and Canada without stopping anywhere more than a few days. The to-do list grew and grew. I enjoyed more swimming and tennis and we did a lot of sightseeing. But neither of us did any projects all summer.

    We’ve been camped in the Shaver’s driveway four weeks today. We’ve hit our stride. I like the list of projects completed. We’ve removed the bed-board, organized the storage under the bed, and refinished the bed-board edges; replaced the pants-catcher lever handle with a flush latch on the bathroom door; rebuilt all four Airstream wheels and repaired brake wiring; sanded to the metal the trailer’s coupler and A-arms and refinished them; installed an amateur radio antenna on the trailer roof; added a new 12vdc distribution panel for amateur radio gear under the dinette; installed an amateur radio under the dinette with the controls on the table; and installed an amateur radio in the truck.

    There may be a finite number of things we can find to do for our Airstream home. After all, it’s only 25 feet long by 8.5 feet wide outside and 184 square feet inside. We could replace the counter tops or the sofa cushions, or relamp all the light fixtures again, or who knows what else. Then, there’s also the truck with lots of contents in the bed to sort through, clean up and potentially eliminate or replace. It’s not that we’re desperate for something to do. We’ve needed, or really wanted, to accomplish the changes accomplished so far.

    There are probably plenty more things to occupy us, even without the additional work of preparing for sale our 1979 Argosy Minuet 7.3. The Capetown to Cairo Caravan (previously scheduled for 2009) won’t occur so we don’t have a use for this lovely 24 feet long, twin bed, rear bath trailer. The Argosy is an Airstream Company product and is well made. This one is only seven feet wide and tows effortlessly. I’d love to keep it and use it for little trips. But we don’t have room for it so we’re going to clean it up and get it sold soon.

    We’re adjusting to the notion of staying in one place for weeks at a time. Maintenance and upgrade projects aside, we’ll anticipate time for more golf, tennis, swimming, and learning. And we look forward to finding the right volunteer missions for our lifestyle. Our lifestyle has been so transient for the past ten months we couldn’t very well commit to any volunteer organization. A longer stay may make possible a worthwhile commitment of our time to community needs.

    Six days a week is plenty of time to do all the projects and fun activities. One day a week, we’re enjoying visiting area Churches and hearing the wonderful variety of Methodist ministers in our travels throughout the country. But this is a topic for another talk. . .