Room to sing in the shower

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The mighty Airstream shower. At first glance you might think you have to be a stick figure to actually use the shower in here. I am a mere 5’3″ so I have it easy in terms of fitting inside this thing. Surprisingly I am impressed with my new tiny shower.

How did it go? So far I have always had nice warm water, I do want to test how long the warm water actually will last. I haven’t yet ran out of hot water while showering. A good tip though: do not shower immediately after washing dishes, you will only have about 3 minutes of warm water. I figured this out one morning after doing breakfast dishes and taking a shower right after.

Roomy, once you get past the initial thought ‘will I fit in there?’ and actually go inside. We have purchased a couple of items for the shower. The bathmat was a great purchase, just lay it down before you jump in. I keep mine hung on the shower door when not using mainly so it stays clean. Also inside the shower we have a basket shower tote. This was a cheap purchase that did exactly what was needed. We did modify it by drilling some holes where the soap holder is. It sits on the seat in the shower and can be placed on the floor when traveling.

Overall a very nice luxury when you get to step out of it and see a beautiful view just outside the window. Sure beats the scenery from my old bathroom window in the suburbs.

– Julie, Anita, Iowa

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Paper or plastic?

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It’s day 12. We’ve moved west to Lake Anita State Park. Of course this move took place in a rainstorm on a notoriously cross-windy stretch of I-80 west of Des Moines. A little shakey and bakey above 65 mph.

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Enough of your the irrelevant travel journaling you say, how are you managing to eat anything without a dishwasher? Good question. It has been not years but decades since I have washed something by hand. I wasn’t even sure it was sanitary not to use a dishwasher. Don’t you need to heat plates to three degrees shy of the surface of the sun in order to prevent digestive diabolicalism and furry enzymes?

In that vain I went to Costco and loaded up on disposable plates, bowls and cups (both for hot and cold drinks).

Result:

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So after a few days considering whether Matt Damon could film an Elysium sequel in our travel trailer, I determined to wash up after myself. This willingness-to-work effort opened up a number of possibilities, ultimately resulting in this:

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But wait, there’s more:

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Yes, all that stuff came out of that pot.

Our old frying pan and large pot took up an entire under couch plastic bin. We were carrying bags of plates around in our truck bed. No more. Gone. We have four plastic plates, four plastic mugs, four plastic cups, a frying pan, two pots with a lid strainer and two “aircraft alloy” knives, forks and spoons. All in a tiny package. Takes 2 minutes to wash up after a meal. What’s not to love?

The goods:

– Anthony, Anita, Iowa

A place for everything

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Yesterday we arrived back in the Glamour States. We tried Walnut Woods State Park but it was full.

Tired, we gave in. We reserved a spot for a week at the Des Moines West KOA. Basically an expensive RV parking lot. It’ll do. After the dash to New Jersey and back we need time in one spot to get our act together, get some things from our house and do laundry.

So, after four nights in the Airstream, what have we learned? Here are ten things:

1) Working, while traveling, while learning a new home, is very stressful. What a week. There have been moments of panic. There will be more. Like anything, this experience is what you make it. Looking forward to time to relax this weekend and catch up on overdue work.

2) Airstreams are beautiful but not perfectly built. Very good by RV standards, but not Audi good. We need to schedule a few small repairs.

3) A place for everything and everything in it’s place. Obviously these are tight quarters. It is absolutely necessary to (i) have the right things; (ii) have a place for those things and (iii) be disciplined about tidiness. A dirty towel thrown over a sofa is now half the living space gone. We’re still figuring out where things live so right now the place looks like a garage sale. We’re going to use this week of downtime to get organized.

4) The floor gets dirty quickly and continuously. There are the same number of you but with a much smaller floor to take all your grime. It shows. Having a daily – or more – routine of vacuuming & swiffering is important.

5) Water is not as big of a deal as I predicted. I haven’t run out of hot water while showering. That’s a relief. The toilet works. Another relief. Emptying tanks has not yet resulted in anything worthy of a Robbin Williams impersonation.

6) Power is not as big of a deal as I predicted. A/C is the power issue but otherwise I think we could go off battery power alone for a while (with the fridge/water heater on propane). That opens some possibilities I hadn’t thought too much about.

7) Internet is a bigger deal than I predicted. I am now accepting that as a rule campsites with wifi don’t really have internet. They have a wireless link to “loading…” So it’s down to your hotspot, which is the second problem – cell service. So far just one night completely off the grid (Cowans Gap State Park, PA).

8) We have become very good at setting up and tearing down camp. Our first full setup was a two hour affair. We’re down to about 20 minutes. I would pay a lot for an aftermarket auto-levelling system.

9) This country has no-messing-around toll roads. I never really knew. Not $2.50 on the Kansas Turnpike. But tolls of $50 and up. We spent hundreds in tolls to New Jersey and back. These tolls must rival state income tax in revenue generation.

10) Good weather and nice surroundings make for better glamourstreaming. Campgrounds have lots of dogs. It helps if your dog likes dogs.

– Anthony, Adel, Iowa

Storm

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Night three in the Airstream. 410 miles of driving today. We intended to get to La Claire, Iowa, but a large storm has forced us to hunker down. Truthfully we’re looking forward to stopping for a few days.

Nice pull through site at Hickory Hollow. Full hookups. Just raised the front end an inch and the trailer was leveled (didn’t even unhitch) – easy! We were hooked up and cooking dinner within 10 minutes.

Unfortunately this campsite only offers 20 and 50 amp power so we’re having to limit power in the 30 amp Airstream to prevent breaker trips. AC is the priority and is on. Fridge is on propane and everything else on battery so we’re ok.

Second night of real cooking. Gluten free pasta and home made pasta sauce the first night. Salad for lunch today – in our Airstream at an Ohio turnpike truckstop – and tonight a lazy French bread/olive oil/ + soup + jalapeno stuffed olives combo. Into the home stretch tomorrow.

So far we have had many admirers. Anthony is routinely approached at gas stations and we are very popular at camp sites. Everyone wants to talk about our Airstream and this new fangled truck.

On that topic, the truck continues to amaze. At a truckstop in PA we had one trucker walk up to us saying he saw us on the highway and was surprised at us barreling past him an incline. Wanted to know all about the Ecoboost.

Some observations:

(1) So far our average MPG is 13.9. Average speeds between 65 – 70 mph and over Blue Mountain (the part of the Appalachian chain in PA). We went over the summit of Sideling Hill (or Mountain).

(2) Average transmission temperature is 197 degrees. This may seem high but newer trucks have highers temperatures by design. This is well within normal range for this truck even when not towing. Temperature maxed out at 210 degrees during engine breaking (another marvel) through the mountains.

(3) We are easily at 70mph by the end of highway entry ramps. No turtle merges.

Alfred is saintly. Campers and truckers like to stop and pet him. He is quiet as a mouse and adapting well to life on the road. We’ll post a picture of his in-truck hangout later.

In the Airstream he is sleeping on a towel for now until we figure out where his more permanent digs will be.

– Anthony, La Salle, Illinois

Day zero

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We did it. 09:00 promptly at Colonial Airstream. First, thank you to Kevin who conducted our orientation. Absolutely fantastic. Thank you!

During our orientation our Reese weight distributing hitch was installed, perfectly levelled and its operation explained. Once again magnificent orientation and thank you to Colonial Airstream.

So, on to our first test – and I think the most difficult of all – towing a 28′ trailer. We did ok. Kevin directed us to an empty ballpark parking lot where we regrouped and tried a few backing up test runs. By accident, we did surprisingly well.

That was followed by a drive out of New Jersey, its turnpikes and toll booths, and into PA, with its turnkpikes and toll booths. Stop and go traffic and tight roads before getting to the relative luxury of the interstate.

The truck performed incredibly. Acceleration was swift, even on grades through the hills/mountains of PA. I noticed myself effortlessly overtaking at 80 mph on the turnpike.

But the real test was getting to our first overight spot. I took a wrong turn. In the middle of nowhere in the mountains of PA. It was too late – a one lane road and no turning back. The twists, turns and grades were something I would barely tackle on foot. We put it in 4WD high for traction. The Ford made effortless work of pulling the trailer up the hill. Engine braking automatically engaged to go down it again, Again, excellent.

Yes we’re gushing about this truck. Now, is it thirsty? Yes. Strained? Not at all.

So here we are. Writing this in our trailer in Cowen’s Gap State Park. Nice park. Almost all to ourselves. We backed into a spot (reasonable well) with power but no water. Still plenty of water in the tank. We thought we leveled the trailer but didn’t do a great job as it turns out. We were a little pressed for time with light.

For our first night, and with no experience, not a bad job. Our only mishap was somewhere along the way the mirror in the bathroom fell off and broke, damaging the bathroom countertop and towel bar at the same time and spreading glass all over the floor. Cleaned up, vacuumed with cordless Dyson and we’ll figure out a warrenty repair.

One small thing. We didn’t stock up on groceries and didn’t see anything in the way. So it was a dinner of Mountain House boil-in-the-bag beef stew for us. Surprisingly delicious.

No cell coverage. This will likely post tomorrow.

– Anthony, Cowens Gap State Park, PA

Ex-cite-hausted

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We made it to New Jersey! It was a very long last day of driving. I drove today while Anthony did some work calls/emails. I have concluded the traffic out here is much too crazy for me. I was very happy to see the hotel at the end of today.

We went out for dinner at this cute seafood place right by the shore. It was sadly a bit too chilly to eat outside. Afterwards we took Alfred out to the beach for his first time ever. He absolutely loved it! He was racing around, dodging in and out from the waves. Very wonderful memories.

Tomorrow morning we will finally be seeing our Airstream. I’m so excited but nervous as well. We have never really towed anything remotely like this before, I just hope everything goes smoothly. It’s all part of the new journey, have to learn sometime!

– Julie, West Long Beach, New Jersey

What are the Glamour States?

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Is your state a glamour state?

Anthony manages a team over 9 mid-western states: Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Wyoming. These are the glamour states. Iowa has been our most recent home and is Julie’s native state.

The glamour states are rich in farm smells, cows, corn, grass and small towns. But they are also home to some our nation’s most magnificent natural wonders. We can’t wait to share our glamourous travels.

We will spend most of our time these states, moving from work site to work site, traveling together. Beats being apart 4 days a week, 6am flights and knowing every TSA employee in DSM.

– Julie, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania