Why we decided to buy an AIRSTREAM!

So… funny thing happened on the way to Washington State.

Zion National Park in Utah

For a year we were CERTAIN that the R-Pod 180 was all we needed – minimum space, easier to tow with a small SUV, and the most like a cozy, vintage home for the road.

But there we were, discussing what we would do differently if we had to buy an RV for snowbirding in the PNW all over again. We talked about the things we loved and the things we didn’t love in our RV, about our road trip style, about our steps to the end goal of part-timing. When the husband asked what my dream travel trailer would be if we didn’t have the R-Pod I answered without pause, “An Airstream”. He asked if we had ever been in one together, perhaps at an RV show. I thought about it and told him, no, we had seen a Class B Airstream at one show but that I’d never taken him into an Airstream travel trailer. Come to think of it, I hadn’t been in a new one. I went into a refurbished vintage one in Oregon in the early 2000s and fell in love with the style.

Who wouldn’t want to RV in this???

Living simply means different things to different people. For us, living simply in a 19′ space for 6 months with our 90-lb Cane Corso was becoming a concern. So we brainstormed a little more on what a more ideal #RVlife for us would look like and decided that when we got to Portland, OR we would stop in an see what the newer Airstreams look like. I didn’t know if I could really see myself paying the price that Airstreams cost.

Then I saw my first new Airstream in person. Classic, shiny exterior. Sleek, clean interior spaces. Made in Jackson, Ohio. I loved them. I also loved the brand aesthetics, durability, and value retention.

Ultimate glamping!

We spent that night delving into the Airstream online world. We found a lot of information on Facebook groups, blogs, forums, and dealer websites. We looked at prices, value retention, accessories, floor plans, and made a list of pros and cons. By the time we drove away from Portland towards Olympia, WA we had the information we needed. Enough information to make an executive decision:

We are buying an AIRSTREAM.

We next visited the dealership in Seattle, Airstream Adventures NW and fawned over the different models before deciding on choosing a model larger than our current 19′ but smaller than 27′ so we could visit all the National Parks and National Forests without worrying about site space.

Our dealership!

Then we narrowed down to the right Airstream line for us. Remodeling an older one was out of the question. We travel 8,000 miles a year and need something to take across the continental divide with the least chance of problems. So new or 1-2 years old was what we wanted. We toyed with the idea of a used one, but since we wanted to buy one within the week, before heading north to the San Juan Islands, we didn’t have time to search/ vet/ wait. Of all the current lines we felt the Flying Cloud was the best bang for our buck. Even within a line there are a lot to choose from! We decided these were the must-haves:

  • New 2018 or 2017 (if any were still on the lot from last year)
  • Queen bed
  • Maximum floor space
  • Separate couch and dinette
  • Solar ready (we have a Zamp 200-watt system)
  • Backup camera (husband is a back-up expert, but this would made life easier)

We ended up choosing the Airstream Flying Cloud 25FB model. We like the longer lounge, separate dinette, walk-around bed, and separate freezer/fridge combo. We found one with the optional window awnings, backup camera, and convection microwave oven.

Airstream Flying Cloud 25FB Queen

We purchased our Flying Cloud throughAirstream Adventures NW  from Jocelyn, an advisor who I highly recommend. Their willingness to negotiate (unlike the Portland store), communication-style, transparency, and stock (the largest in the US) made our experience seamless. It’s some of the best customer service you’ll experience.

R-Pod 180 HRE Named “Bandit”

I want to introduce you to Bandit, our R-Pod. We bought her in Arizona right after our trip to the Grand Canyon. She is a 180 Hood River Edition (HRE) model, 180 meaning she has a kitchen slide and a dry bath up front with lots of storage for a ultra-light micro travel trailer. HRE means she was made in Oregon, has more ground clearance (via axle risers) for off-road travel, 15″ all-terrain tires/wheels, two steps, and diamond plating on the front.

In this post I’ll list out our decor changes, mods, and RV accessories that we have found to be of great use on this road trip (6,000 miles and counting!).

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Smokey (our 1999 Ford Expedition) and Bandit (our R-Pod)

 

She has a grey/blue exterior with seaglass (read: brown, grey, and slate blue) interior.

 

I (CityGirl or CG for short) decided to decorate the inside with a coral and aqua palette with some shades of grey and blue.

Coral and Aqua

 

We also decided to add some more storage using our favorite stores; Amazon and IKEA. First we added the GRUNDTAL series kitchen rails, s-hooks, and a magnetic rack. Next, we installed a BEVKÄM wooden spice rack using 1/2″ screws (r-pod walls are 1 5/16″ thick and the door is 1 1/2″ thick) that we bought from Lowe’s. We also hung a key rack (Command Quartz Key Rail) that you can get at Target, but we found it at Camping World. We ordered hanging baskets for inside the bathroom door and inside the kitchen cabinet door from Amazon. We put suction cup accessories from the STUGVIK series on our bathroom mirror. We also installed the famous “over the bed” shelf using just a simple board from Lowe’s that we will paint when we return home (we are on a 3-month road trip as we are modding the pod). Lastly, we ordered a hanging storage system in grey to go over the outside of the bathroom door.

The result: we increased our storage and made it more efficient for our needs.

 

Some things I don’t know about yet are: tablecloths that actually fit the table and stay on, a comforter or quilt that doesn’t remain too bulky for the size of the bed, and more coral accents like this tea towel set from Cynthia Rowley.

Image result for rose all day cynthia rowley

Additionally, my sweet Country Boy (CB for short) used the time we spent at a friend’s home in Olympia, Washington to install:

  • dual propane tanks,
  • a dual battery system with boxes,
  • a tongue mounted dual bike rack,
  • an under-trailer tire rack for Bandit,
  • and a Zamp 200-watt solar panel system.

While in Oregon we stopped in Lincoln City and purchased a Honda generator and companion so we could start the a/c if necessary while not on shore power and also jump off our tow vehicle if we got stuck out in the mountains with a dead battery. Couple that with lots of sun out west and we can boondock for 4 days at a time (or more if we conserve food and water).

 

When we set up, we use a few extras for protection of our r-pod travel trailer and for our peace of mind at campgrounds:

Whew! I think that is all for this post. We will cover reviews of these components in a later post.

 

California RV Park Reviews

Needles, CA

Desert View RV Park was very nice for an overnight stay. Easy check in, clean, organized, quiet, with privacy shade shrubs on both sides of every pull though. Has a suitable dog run. Offers Wi-Fi, electric, water, and sewer. Pool at the small, dated clubhouse. Only $35. Desert view TV.com

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Our spot at Desert View RV Park in Needles, CA

Bakersfield, CA

River Run RV Park was super easy to find, and had a very nice aesthetic. It has a beautiful modern clubhouse, pool, and hot tub. They give you the gate access code to walk along the river on the sandy bank. Trees and grassy spots at each lot. Nice paved streets to walk your dog on. We paid $45 for a pull through.

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Our spot at River Run RV Park in Bakersfield, CA

San Rafael, CA

We stayed with friends there and had a glorious time in the hills. We visited Farifax, Inverness, Olema, Novato, San Anselmo, and Petaluma.

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Visiting the Fairfax Kingdom Hall

Highway 101, NorCal

We stayed at wineries! I found a site called Harvest Hosts where you pay just a $44 annual fee to stay overnight at over 500 scenic wineries and farms. You must arrive early, before dark, to meet your contact and find out where to park. That day or the next day you can tour the farm/winery, pick your own fruits/veggies, or do a wine tasting. Visit harvesthosts.com to sign up. If you sign up please let them know that countryboycitygirl username “CBCGblog” referred you 🙂

harvest hosts

Crescent City, CA

Here we stayed at a campground in the Redwoods State and National Park. No hook-ups, but lovely. The drive up CA 101 and CA 128 was also spectacular. The park, established in 1929, is 6400 acres with approximately 50% old growth coast redwood and 8 miles of wild coastline. The park is a World Heritage Site & Biosphere Preserve.

redwood-national-park-california-trees

Now… off to Oregon!

 

Las Cruces, New Mexico

The drive from Fort Stockton, Texas to Las Cruces, New Mexico was lovely. Driving west on I-10 gave us nice views of the Sierra Blancas to the south and the Organ Mountains to the north. 


I want to go back and hike there. 

Driving through El Paso was crazy. Lots of people in a hurry. Saw two almost accidents. Waved at Mexico from the interstate (it was so close!). Also, we are now in Mountain Time. 


Right past El Paso I saw a Camping World RV lot so we stopped. Wouldn’t it be great to do this road trip with a travel trailer? Then we wouldn’t have to chance iffy budget hotels. Hmmmm. I liked this Launch Mini Extreme 18QB model by Starcraft. Only 3,100 pounds!

Anywho, on to Las Cruces!


Along the way we reserved at the EconoLodge using the Hotels.com app and the hotel definitely exceeded my expectations. The rooms have just been updated so that was a nice touch. Their staff is friendly and the breakfast area looks promising. The price, though, is amazing! I’d definitely recommend if you’re on a low budget road trip. 

We noticed Titan limping when he got out of the SUV and worried it was because he is recovering from surgery and perhaps reinjured his knee. The husband quickly realized that during his walk outside of Camping World he stepped on a prickly seed pod and removed it. Titan walked a little better. Then in the room we saw him limp again. Upon closer inspection there were a couple of the prickles in his paw pad. We used tweezers to extract them. We have to add tweezers to Titans bag especially when he is well enough to go hiking with us!


I’ve wanted Vibram five-finger shoes for hiking for a while now and we found a retailer at Ride On Sports here in Las Cruces just a couple miles from the hotel. I found my size but they only had orange ones. So I’ll order on Amazon and have them sent to the hotel at the Grand Canyon South Rim Village. 

We ate dinner at Pho A Dong (which the blurb in the menu says means “Asian Soup” but I’m skeptical). 

It’s owned by a Vietnamese immigrant family that moved here in the 60s. Downer was that they didn’t serve wine. The food was flavorful, though. The husband got beef Pho and I got Hu Tien Xao Mein (Soft Fresh Rice Noodle).


 It was so good that I forgave the low tech menu insert update. 

All in all I would recommend Las Cruces as an overnight stopping point. It’s the perfect size, has a lot of amenities close to the interstate, and even some outdoor opportunities if you want to go hiking. 

In the morning we head to Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Our TransAmerican Road Trip

So there we were, all prepared for a 3-month Mexican road trip…

Then we tried to cross the border and import our vehicle and get our tourist and resident visas stamped. No go. We were told to go back and get additional paperwork. Back to Louisiana? It’s not so far… but what if this difficulty is simply a reminder that when life hands you lemons that you should make a lemonade spritzer?

So we went back to the hotel in Cotulla and got over our feelings. We looked for the silver lining and guess what? It was right there all along.

It started with the realization that neither of us has been to the Grand Canyon. You know what else? We think it *would* be amazing to visit.


We’ve got friends and family spread out all over the US in some pretty amazing natural settings that we haven’t ever really gotten to enjoy. For instance, places like NorCal, the Oregon Coast, Glacier National Park, the Rocky Mountains, Arkansas Hot Springs, and the AppalachianTrail are all places that we would love to see.

We’ve got time, a beast of a vehicle, and all of the great wide unknown. So we decided to reframe the situation and see the huge window opening just as one door was temporarily closed. We’ve made a two-week tentative plans to head west to CA then north to the PNW.

First, we are off to the Grand Canyon by way of Fort Stockton, TX, Las Cruces, NM, and Phoenix, AZ!

What, What, What Are We Doing??

(See bottom of this blog post for an update)

Sometimes desperate circumstances call for desperate measures. Once I understood that my best friend and lover was suffering from a disabling disorder (combat-related PTSD) that wasn’t responding to traditional therapy I asked myself, “what else can we do?”. I did research online and at the library. I called his psychiatrist whenever I needed advice and started seeing a therapist myself specifically for PTSD caregiver support.

Then I saw this blog, Two Happy Campers, where this couple decided to leave their home (part-time) and go on outdoor adventures in a truck camper with their two dogs. I thought that was extreme. I mean, I’m a city girl! I like the idea of camping but am much better suited for five-star hotels, spas, and room service. The more I dug into camper/RV lifestyles (there are tons of blogs about this, who knew?) I started to recall phrases I had been reading and hearing regarding coping with PTSD:

  • Keep things simple
  • Put everything in its place (my hubby has OCD tendencies)
  • Focus on the basics
  • One day at a time
  • Get fresh air, start exercising
  • Don’t isolate
  • Make thoughtful changes

Then I thought, could we consider this? Could we simplify our 5 bedroom house (we have a lot of stuff for just two people and it’s a constant source of stress for my husband), downsize our wardrobes, cut our ties with the 9 to 5 (and live on just his disability), and lead a much more frugal life?

The same things in the bulleted list above are what we learn from the Holy Scriptures. At Matthew 6:22 it states, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If, then, your eye is focused, your whole body will be bright. The footnote lets us know that the context of the translated word “focused” is modern “simple”. So, keep your eye simple. What we were learning from mental health professionals aligned with what we are taught from the holy scriptures. Acting on it was a no-brainer!

tiny house

Crazy, right? Then I thought, maybe the way we live right now is crazy. The average American spends 1/3 to 1/2 of their income on a home that takes 15 years to work to pay off. 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Maybe living the “normal” way is actually crazy. What if we could live on less and instead of investing in a career and house we could invest in our personal relationships with our creator, each other, and nature?

Rat-Race

Next, I though about living vs. surviving. With PTSD it seems like the sufferer and his family just survives daily life. I want (and deserve) to see my husband really live, not just survive. What if by changing things drastically we could both get back to living instead of just getting through each day to face another filled with the same issues in the same spot?

dont just survive live

Another scripture that kept coming to mind is Matthew 6:33 which states, “Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” With this in mind we decided that going from full-time working to full-time RVing seemed like a moot point. So we have decided to work on personal improvement so that we might serve God to the full extent that our own circumstances permit.

We start our mornings now with the daily text, a prayer, and either field service or medical appointments. We round out the end of the day with personal or family study, meetings, and housework. It’s still a little scary, but I think that means we are on the right track. The planning stages of this adventure has begun. Join us while we figure out the rest!

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2016 UPDATE

I’m a regular pioneer as of September 1, 2016. As of May 5, 2017 we are part-time RVers and international travelers for need-greater work!!

… Matthew 6:33 states, “Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” With this in mind we decided that going from full-time working to full-time RVing seemed like a moot point. So we have decided to work on personal improvement so that we might serve God to the full extent that our own circumstances permit.

We start our mornings now with the daily text, a prayer, and either field service or medical appointments. We round out the end of the day with personal or family study, meetings, and housework. It’s still a little scary, but I think that means we are on the right track. The adventure has begun. Join us while we figure out the rest!