05 July 2012

Moving on up

Still working on my new toy, fixing a few things, replacing some things, updating a few more.  Spent most of last weekend working on the brakes, repacking the wheel bearings of the trailer, doing a pre-flight check.  That is one habits my dad instilled in us whenever we get a new car/trailer.  Pull the wheels off and check the bearings/brakes will tell you a lot about a trailer and how it has been maintained.  Of course, doing that in a torrential downpour made it just that much more enjoyable. 

My new trailer is one of another in the “stable” for the family.  My parents have had several trailers since getting into one 3 decades ago.  Each one was an upgrade to newer models, with various features/accoutrements for the well-travelled retiree. They have traversed the US several times in the intervening decades with trips to both east and west coast, Alaska (twice) and one rail trip through Mexico.  Being out on the road in this rig 6 months out of the year will test your relationship, but they have been doing it for many years.  Each summer, they typically abandon our heat and humidity and attend the WBCCI International Rally.  It is a massive weeklong gathering of Airstreamers from all over the US.  There is a wide array of events/activities for all interests – golf, quilting, bingo, domino tournaments, tours, trailer workshops, craft workshops, flea market, band, etc.  The rally is also a business meeting for the club where they review the operations of the club and vote on important business issues.  My folks have been attending these rallies for over 20+ years so this is old hat for them.  The rallies are typically held in various locations throughout the US which varies from year to year.  A few of the places that they have been are:
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Bozeman, Montana
  • Oshkosh, Wisconsin
  • Joplin, Missouri
  • Springfield, Missouri
  • Biloxi, Mississippi     
  • Newark, New Jersey
  • Lake Placid, New York
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • And this year was in Sedalia, Missouri (just a short bike ride down the road from you, ShadowRun!)
Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman, Montana

While they try to spread these events out each year to make it easy for local Airstreamers to attend, they tend to stick to the mid US (aka flyover states) since it makes it sorta central to everyone.  They also try to stick to the northern states as the southern states tend to get a wee bit warm in the summer, but this year was not the case.  My dad sent a shot from his van over the weekend and his in car thermometer was showing 108.

Most of their Airstreams have all the comforts of home, except on wheels.  Their current version is a 1997 34 foot Excella (Airstream model) with twin beds, ice cold a/c & heat, dinette table, satellite tv, refrigerator, full sized shower, indoor plumbing, stove, oven.  Pretty much everything you would need to live on the road except a washer & dryer (there are a few high end motor homes out there that actually have those).

My brother bought his first Airstream at a swap meet back in 2000.  After “tweaking” it up a bit and using it for a few years, he bought a newer rig from an aunt in Dallas who didn't use hers anymore and sold his old one to me (that’s the 79 we've had for 10 years).  The he traded that one off for a newer one out of Alabama a few years later with a few more features and a bit longer.  A few years back, he stumbled across a fairly new on that was basically unused (the guy fell ill right after he got it and had only used it less than a week) and for a relatively cheap price.

Now for my part of the saga: 

We've been camping in the 79 for 10 years and it has been a good trailer, but we were ready to move up to a more current version.  It was getting kinda crowded with me, the wife, and two very hairy dogs.  In the back of my mind, I have always had my next trailer in mind.  What features we want, what model, how old, how much.  I would cruise Airstream classified, hit the local paper, watch Craigslist for any “deals”.  Most were either too pricey or too far (I’ve looked one in Minnesota and another over in Oregon) but kept looking in state.  I didn't want to drive cross country for a lemon.  Three weeks back one popped up on Craigslist that was across town.  My dad and I went over to look at it and we were very interested but I wanted to check out the history.  It looked nice and had a few blemishes, but was in good shape.  The lady selling it was doing it for her dad and had some story about it was a “one owner trailer and it had never been out of the state but when I checked the VIN on it, the story turned out completely different.  It was previously owned by someone in the Airstream club (part one of her story didn't pan out).  On top of that, my dad knew the guy and knew he took that trailer all over the states for the rallies (part two didn't pass the smell test).  On top of that, I noticed the window had been broken out and was replaced by a cheap knock off (would have to be replaced).  I originally made her an offer below her asking price (too high in my mind) and we were going to make a deal when I started questioning the title.  I asked her for a few more days to do the background check on it.  When I called her back on Tuesday, I challenged her story and she stuck to it.  I was still willing to buy the trailer at my offer, but she told me that someone else came in and out bid me.  It was a nice trailer, but not worth what she was asking for, so I let it pass.  Was a mild disappointment, but as someone told me, when God closes a door, he opens a window.  Right after we let this go, my brother spotted another Craigslist trailer in north Texas.  I made a few phone calls and got a hold of the guy and we decided to take a 5 hour road trip to check it out.  Turns out to be a much nicer trailer that was a year newer.  In much better shape and no drama to the story.  After about an hour of crawling all over/under it, I decided to make him an offer and he took it.  Wound up driving it home that afternoon.  I don’t think momma was expecting me to make a decision like that, but I thought it was a good deal.  My "new" one, while looking somewhat newer is actually 16 years old (circa 1996).  It is officially called an Airstream Excella Classic 1000.  30 feet long with twin beds, dinette, full size shower and beau coup storage compartments.   I've been working the past week making it our home and should be finished by this weekend.  Not sure when we will have a chance to road test her, the next 45 days are full of trips and events.  

And just for all those curious minds:

Twin beds - one for each dog

Indoor plumbing!

And a FULL size shower - very important for some

Not sure if you can make out the etching in the mirror

Wheels?  Wheels?
We don' need no stinkin wheels!

On top of all of this chaos, I was left with a dilemma on what to do with the 79.  Not a great or a classic trailer, but it is a solid Airstream.  I dreaded having to post it up on the web and put it up for sale with all the tire kickers and people trying to make a deal (will you do loan payments?).  When I first mentioned about the first trailer being a possibility, that news spread around the club faster than a rumor in church.  Turned out that the son of one of the main club members was looking to get into Airstreams and was looking for a smaller (say 25 foot), older trailer for under $10k.  My rig definitely filled that bill, but I wasn't sure he would want it, given it's age and quirks.  My mistake, he drove down last week looked it over and made an offer on the spot.  Even after I told him all of the dings and hickies on it and how it had a gaucho bed (futon) and lacked storage space and had become a home for two hairy dogs, he still wanted it.  Turns out, he has a Golden Retriever as well and when they came out to pick it up Tuesday, the first thing the dog did was to climb in and pick a couch.  I felt like I just adopted the rig out to a new home.        
I've seen bikes on roof racks...    


ShadowRun300 said...

Woohoo! Pictures finally!
This post brought back so many memories of my childhood. When we were young, my parents belonged to a camping club and we camped ALL THE TIME. I haven't thought about those days in so long! They weren't Airstreams, but the camaraderie was the same, I'm sure!
I imagine you'll be doing the same sort of traveling at some point?? Or do you prefer to travel on your own?
BTW, did your parents visit Joplin, MO before or after the tornado hit? I wrote a blog about that town. So sad! :(
And another BTW... I read through all your posts on your Germany trip last year! Memories flooded back again! We would dine at the outdoor restaurants quite often - with our dog! It was surprising to us how we were able to bring dogs into the restaurant! And the gasthauses! We stayed in those too! And the castles... and the autobahn... and the volksmarches... and the street fests. Thanks for taking me back!

agg79 said...

Thanks. Sorry for being so long winded. Sorta got started and didn't know where to stop. The rally in Joplin was many years ago before the tornado hit so they didn't see the devastation you saw.

Any you're welcome on the trip down memory lane. From that trip, I forgot to talk about dining out in open air patios/courtyards. And dogs? There were more than a few times people had their dogs under the table (well mannered dogs, I might add).

ShadowRun300 said...

I enjoyed reading the long post - no worries there. Is that your garage in the picture? Is it in your backyard?
And I meant to ask if you've ever been or heard of Herman, MO? Many Germans settled there because the area reminded them so much of the Rhine. It's full of B&B's very similar to the Gasthauses in Germany. One in particular that we stayed at even had goats and other animals roaming their land. The town is well known for it's wineries, and although it doesn't have much of a night life, it's awesome during the day! I totally recommend it even though it may be quite a drive for you.... Closer than Germany, but still quite far. :)
You're trailer is awesome, btw. Almost making me wish we had a camper again.

Rock Chef said...

I still think that these things need a painting on the side - is that heresy?

terri said...

Check out those digs! It's a beauty! I always say that I'm not one for camping, but in one of those, I think I could be quite comfy. Congratulations!

agg79 said...

Thanks everyone. I consider myself lucky - I've been jonesing for a newer trailer for a while and this one just fell into my lap.

SR- Would love to see Herman, but none of my road trips take me in that direction. Will add it to my bucket list. And you've given me an idea on a few more post from my road trip to Germany last summer. I left a few pictures (have hundreds) and stories I left off the table.

RC - yes painting an Airstream would be considered heresy. That would be akin to painting a Delorean.

Terri - Thanks. Definitely has all the comforts of home.