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Archive for August, 2006

Airstream headquarters, Jackson Center, OH

We pulled in around 2 pm today, having taken an easy morning. We only had about 80 miles to drive today, which is much more pleasant than the miles we’ve been putting on lately.

It happens that the Museum of the National Road is in Richmond, IN, just a mile or so from where we parked last night. I have been working with a freelance writer on an article about the National Road, so it was fortuitous indeed that we were there. We dropped by and took some photos, and got a chance to meet the staff. You’ll probably see that article — and today’s photos — in the Fall or Winter issue of Airstream Life.

Now we are in the Airstream Terra Port, which is the courtesy parking that Airstream provides on its grounds for customers. If you are a service customer, it’s free, otherwise $10 per night (honor system). All the sites are full hookup and Airstream provides free wi-fi too. Not bad.

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Airstreams on the assembly line, May 2004. Click for larger

Richmond, IN

Almost there … another long day but the marathon is nearly over.

Along the way, we stopped at the famous gateway arch in St Louis. Or was it?

St Louis arch.jpg

… and then we parked for the night by a giant bowling pin. It’s a day for giant fakes, I guess.

Richmond bowling pin.jpg

I forgot to mention that while in Creede at the rally I met up with David Tidmore of Roger Williams Airstream and picked up our new aluminum rim, hub cover, and a replacement Centramatic balancer. Thus our equipment is once again complete. I just need to get the spare tire mounted on this new rim and put the steel rim we are currently using back into the spare carrier.

David also inspected the lug bolts that I took out of the wheel when we had that breakdown in Green River, WY. The bolt that broke definitely had been overtightened. He showed me the stretched threads — they were easy to see. Interestingly, none of the other five bolts I removed from that wheel showed any signs of thread stretching, so they may have been fine, but I’m glad I removed them as a precaution anyway.

Columbia, MO

Normally full-timers don’t travel as quickly as we are right now. I always hate these big pushes, because we have to pass dozens of interesting spots. Instead of the relaxing travel style we normally have, it’s rush-rush-rush.

Most full-timers we know don’t do more than 300 miles in a day for any reason, and usually try to cover only 100-150 miles and then stop for a few days. Today we covered 532 miles — the most miles we’ve done in a single day since we started full-timing over a year ago!

But that’s I-70 for you. There’s not much to see along I-70 in Kansas and the speed limit is 75 MPH most of the way. (We don’t tow any faster than 69 MPH, by the way, regardless of the speed limit.) Although I was glad to pass the cornfields quickly, I was disappointed to pass the “Wizard of Oz Museum“. (I love their phone #: 866-458-TOTO)

I’m always aware of when we are traveling through Missouri, whether on I-70 or I-44. It’s the only state in the Union with a sex shop at every exit! No kidding, they are everywhere. I can think of a few theories why there are so many here, but I’d probably better keep those theories to myself…

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Since we have only 516 miles left to go tomorrow, we could finish the drive in one more long day, but I think instead we will do 350-400 miles and give ourselves a break tomorrow evening to walk around somewhere. That will leave a short day for Thursday and we’ll get a chance to do more while we are at Airstream’s “mother ship” in Jackson Center.

Since we are on a high-speed leg, you’ll note we aren’t bothering with campgrounds. Tonight we are in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant, for example. This saves money but more importantly it saves time. Checking into a campground at 8:30 pm is usually a procedure that takes 15-30 minutes, and for what? It’s quicker and easier just to park somewhere for free. We aren’t going to use the campground facilities anyway, so why bother with them?

We certainly aren’t lacking for anything, without a campground each night. The solar panels have given us all the power we can use, so our batteries are full again tonight. I have researched dump stations along the highway using a web site but we really don’t need to hit one. We’ll be fine without any hookups or dump stations until we reach the Airstream Terra Port on Thursday night. Being independent is a big part of why we travel this way, and it’s fun to use the capabilities to their best advantage when we are trying to cover a lot of miles quickly.

Goodland, KS

The Big Dash East has begun. We hung out in the west as long as we could but it’s time to head home for a while. We’ve got an appointment in Jackson Center, OH (Airstream headquarters) on Friday and that’s 1,656 miles from Creede, CO where we left this morning. So there’s some serious driving to be done this week.

Big dash east.jpg

We said goodbye to Rich C this morning, with a big “group hug”, and also bade farewell to a few other good friends in the vintage club. I checked all the tire pressures and lug nuts carefully, and by 10 a.m. we were driving beautiful Rt 149 southeast. What a sweet section of road that is — decorated with green hills, red cliffs, the fast-moving water of the Rio Grande, and old mining towns. It was a nice drive.

We made good time today, thanks to speed limits of 65-75 MPH most of the way. The best news is that absolutely nothing bad happened. Eleanor and I listened to music on the iPod, Emma watched some Scooby Doo, we had stuffed animal fashion shows in the car (I was the judge), and generally the time passed uneventfully.

Tonight we are in Goodland KS at the Wal-Mart. It’s sunny, sultry, and breezy here. We’ll take a walk, do some shopping, make a pizza and watch a movie. The road trip is off to a good start.

Rocky Mountain Vintage Rally, Day Three

Another great day at the RMVR. Today was the Open House day. In the morning, we (and all the other rally participants) were open for each other to visit, and in the afternoon we were open for the general public. Thus, we basically spent most of the day socializing.

In between the two Open House periods, we headed over to Creede to take in the underground Mining Museum. In 1990 Creede hired some miners to tunnel out a Community Center, Fire Station, storage for the local constabulary, and a museum. All of these are located in the side of a mountain of rock just north of downtown. I’ve never seen a Fire Station built underground before, and it’s odd to imagine a chicken dinner fundraiser or a Seniors Bingo Night being held in the underground as well, but that’s what they do here in Creede.

The weather was changeable today, as it has been in Colorado for weeks now, so most of my photos ended up as interiors. Here are a few of the people at the rally and their trailers…

Creede Truitt.jpg

Harry and Kim Truitt have made over this 1966 Airstream Safari beautifully. Now they are ready to tackle the outside. Harry’s the guy who sold me the 1960s Thermos.

Creede Liner.jpg
I didn’t get this gentleman’s name but I will later. He owns a pair of 1940s Airstreams, both in remarkably original condition.

Creede Raimondo.jpg
Patty Raimondo demonstrates the Dickinson marine fireplace she recently added to her very customized 1954 Flying Cloud.

Creede Bailey.jpg
Diane Bailey and her dog seem very comfortable in this plush 1961 Bambi.

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Rob and Sadie Super have been customizing this 1973 Safari for quite a while. It has a very cool aluminum and naugahyde interior. There’s some finishing work yet to be done here, but the design inside is excellent.

A friend of Rob & Sadie’s made this sign to commorate the long effort:

Creede sign.jpg
“Rome was not built in a day — and they did not build it out of ALUMINUM!” Sign of the week!

This evening at Happy Hour everyone gathered around and sang Happy Birthday to me. (I’m 43 today!) Then we got a group of about a dozen people together and brainstormed for about an hour on the 1952 Cruiser project we are doing for Matthew McConaughy (Project Vintage Lightning). Some excellent ideas came out of this, which you’ll be able to read about in the Fall issue of Airstream Life.

I want to publicly thank all the people who worked to put together this superb rally. It’s a lot of work to put on a good rally, and the talented people who volunteered their time have made this rally one of the best in the nation. Everything, from the signup process to the goodie bags, from the entertainment to the presenters, was first-rate.

This is our last day in Colorado. Tomorrow we must hit the road to Ohio if we are to keep our appointment at Airstream. We’re already packed and ready to hitch up. It’s going to be four days of long hauling … We’ll also be saying goodbye to Rich C for a few months. He’s heading to Florida for medical treatment, and we will probably not see him again until November. It is a bittersweet time for us, leaving the west and many friends behind, but we are headed home to other friends and family, and that will be a nice thing too.

Rocky Mountain Vintage Rally, Day Two

Terrific rally day today! This morning Herb Spies did his famous Airstream polishing demonstration, on a pretty Colorado morning in front of an audience of about thirty people.

Creede polishing crowd.jpg

Herb gave us the theory and technique of polishing, complete with demonstrations of polishing using a low-cost Harbor Freight grinder and an expensive Cyclo polisher. Herb prefers Nuvite polishes, by the way, but he acknowledged that you can polish with a wide variety of products.

Creede polishing.jpg

Later in the morning we had the Swap Meet, which was fun. I sold most of my remaining Airstream Life shirts, and bought a very cool 1960s polished aluminum Thermos drink cooler for our 1968 Caravel back at home. The seller was kind enough to arrange shipping back to Vermont for me, so I won’t have to find room in the Airstream for it.

In the afternoon Emma and Eleanor headed off to collect rocks in the mining area north of downtown Creede. Mike Bertz, who we last saw in Tucson, is here at the rally and he lent Eleanor a rockhammer and chisel. They came back with plastic bag full of colorful stones. I think a few of them will polish up nicely. While they were gone, Molly Butterworth and I reviewed the layout for her article on “Streamlining”, which will appear in the Fall 2006 issue of Airstream Life.

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This evening the dinner was western themed so we all showed up in whatever we had. Great catering, including a HUGE selection of homemade pies. I swiped a spare piece of cherry for later … there was plenty.

Creede Fred.jpg

After dinner, Fred Coldwell put on another of his fine presentations on vintage Airstreams. This one was 1964-1968 Airstreams, a subject that interests me in particular because our vintage unit is a 1968 Caravel. At 9 pm he finished up and the campfire was lit outside, but we decided to call it an evening. Tomorrow will be a busy day — it’s Open House day. I’ve got to photograph about a dozen trailers and their owners, while we try to hold Open House at our trailer at the same time.

Creede, CO

First official day of the rally has been mostly nice … Creede is an interesting old mining town with a historic downtown butted up again towering rock walls. We took Rich C into town and did some exploring.

Creede downtown.jpg

There’s a lot for such a small community: a historical society, a museum, hotel, general store, “self-service B&B”, a dozen or more shops, a lot of rental cottages, and “the best doghouse in Creede.” We went to the dog house and got some bratwursts for lunch.

Creede doghouse.jpg

From downtown you can drive a few miles up into the former mining country and see abandoned mines everywhere. We were told the rockhounding was good, so we took the drive.

Creede rockhounding.jpg

In 15 minutes of hunting we found some colorful stones and a lot of rocks flecked with iron pyrite (Fool’s Gold). Eleanor and Emma are planning to head up again tomorrow to do some real searching. Emma wants to find a piece of fluorite.

The road makes a grand circle up into the mountains to well over 10,000 feet, and then winds down with views of Creede and our campground.

Creede view.jpg

This evening’s rally events were great, too. Tonight was the chili dump, a notorious event where everyone brings a portion of homemade chili and it all gets mixed into a big pot and served. It came out pretty well …

It’s a shame that the evening had to end on a bad note. When we returned to our campsite, after dark, we found our new friends and next-door neighbors pulling their vintage Airstream out of their campsite. They had only arrived this morning. I was told that the campground management was rude to the mother over some minor issue, and their 13-year-old daughter spoke back, saying “You can’t speak to my mother like that.” The management, unable to deal with a 13-year-old, evicted them on the spot.

We’ve been here only one day and it has become obvious that this campground is not family-friendly. Every child attending the rally except Emma has had a run-in with the management. The campground is busy selling long-term leases for campsites (reportedly for $60k!) and apparently would prefer that children not be part of the scenery.

The transition to leased campsites is not attractive anyway. Rich C was bitched at by some busybody “owner” (lessee) for pulling up in the wrong spot while registering for his site. I (and several other people) got lectured for using a “private” walkway alongside the campsites. Some of the people who are buying lots here have crossed the line from happy campers to possessive fools. If that’s what “campsite ownership” turns people into, I’ll never do it.

Our other Airstream neighbors are leaving tomorrow — three days early. Even though they don’t have kids, they no longer feel comfortable staying here. I am wondering if we’ll be next. We would hate to leave the rally, but ethically we are caught between supporting our friends who put a lot of effort into organizing the rally, and disagreeing with the policies of the campground management. One thing is certain, I cannot recommend the Mountain Views RV Park in Creede Colorado to anyone with children, and if you don’t have children, be sure not to set foot on an “owner’s” campsite.

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