Archive for the ‘Airstream’ Category

We are leaving tomorrow on a road trip to Oregon in the Airstream, with our 2 cats – Juno & Stormy.  This will be their third trailer trip!  We are so looking forward to having a vacation.  Everyone asks if we are going down the Oregon coast.  I am sure that would be lovely, and cooler, but we chose instead to visit family in the Medford/Ashland area, and then head east into central and northeastern Oregon to visit various wildlife and mountainous areas.  I am not sure how much blogging I will do when away from the home computer, but we will see.

I started the Windfeather pattern from the prolific and talented Carol Sunday, of Sunday Knits.  It is the High Country colorway and I am knitting the medium (stole) size.  Lots of colors and stitch pattern interest – I think it will be a good road trip project.

I recently found out that Sheila of Material Thoughts blog is also knitting this, but in a different colorway.  So we have a friendly competition going to see who finishes first!

I finished 3 rugs and took them to the Winthrop Gallery last evening.




Rick finished up two projects and is delivering the last one, a work table for a local quilt shop, as I write.  The one delivered yesterday was a concession case for The Barnyard Cinema that is nearing completion in Winthrop – it’s going to be cool!  So today will be devoted to getting the trailer ready to go tomorrow morning.


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The Awning of a New Era

We took the 1973 Airstream over to the dealership in Spokane about 6 weeks ago to have a ZipDee awning installed.   This is something I have wanted for a while and we finally decided to go for it.  Up until now we have used the Kelty Carport shelter that we used with the Aliner, to provide some sun shade at least.  But it was a hassle to put up – Rick had to get up on a stepladder and bungee-cord it to whatever he could find to hook it onto.

So now we have a lovely 16′ long roll-out awning for both sun and rain protection.  It is manual operation, because on our old trailer we are not wired for the electric automatic option.  That would have been a lot more expensive.  But it is very easy to put up and down, so I don’t see why we would have really even wanted that.

Might not seem like a big deal, but it is to us!  We will put it to use on our first long trip in July.

When I told Rick my idea for the title of this post, he immediately went off into riffs on it.  This is a guy who has never heard a pun he doesn’t like!  He really thought I was awn-to something.

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Airiel on the road

We just returned home from a 10-day jaunt to SE Washington and NE Oregon with our 1973 Airstream trailer and 2 cats.  Not too ambitious, but we saw some beautiful country and had a great time.

First we spent 3 nights at Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park in the Grand Coulee country north of Moses Lake.  From the website:  “Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park is a 4,027-acre camping park with 73,640 feet of freshwater shoreline at the foot of Dry Falls. Dry Falls is one of the great geological wonders of North America. Carved by Ice Age floods that long ago disappeared, the former waterfall is now a stark cliff, 400 feet high and 3.5 miles wide. In its heyday, the waterfall was four times the size of Niagara Falls. Today, it overlooks a desert oasis filled with lakes and abundant wildlife.”

We did a couple of day hikes and a bike ride while there.Deep Lake 1

Deep Lake 2


Next we drove south and east to Palouse Falls State Park, not to camp but just to see it.  There we ran into neighbors on our loop here in Winthrop, who were on their way home from a trip to Utah.  Small world!

Palouse Falls SP

Then we kept going to Clarkston in the very southeast corner of Washington, and down WA Hwy 129/ OR Hwy 3 to Enterprise and Joseph, OR in the Hells Canyon and Wallowa Mountains country.  This was an incredibly scenic drive and involved a lot of steep twisty downhill and then steep twisty uphill sections, but the trusty Toyota Tundra pulling the 27′ Airstream did very well.

We didn’t get into Enterprise until early evening, arriving in a downpour which fortunately cleared off before we had to set up the trailer, and then went to Terminal Gravity brew pub for dinner and beers.  Excellent beer and food!  We stayed at a small place just north of Joseph that was recommended by my brother and sister-in-law – Mountain View Motel & RV Park.  They only have about 10 sites for short stay, with water and electricity (no full hookup), but it was immaculately clean & tidy and had a great view of the Wallowa Mountains and surrounding open country.

Mtn View RV Park 1

Mtn View RV Park 3

sunset 2

trailer cats

Stormy & Juno at camp

The first couple of days were cool and alternately cloudy, showery and sunny.  The first day we drove north to the Zumwalt Prairie, a large section of which now is owned and managed by Nature Conservancy.  A friend had lent us a book, “The Prairie Keepers”, which led us to visit this place:

In the remote northeast corner of Oregon lies the ruggedly beautiful Zumwalt Prairie. A wild expanse of untilled ground covering nearly two hundred square miles, the Zumwalt is almost entirely managed by cattle ranchers. It also is home to one of the highest concentrations of hawks in North America, including red tailed, ferruginous, and Swainson’s hawks. Strong and beautiful, these buteo hawks usually depend on uncultivated, unpeopled prairies. Marcy Houle, a wildlife biologist and student, first went to the Zumwalt in 1979 to discover what attracts and sustains the buteos there in such startling abundance. Houle explores the vast prairie on foot and horseback, and by truck, cataloging its hawks, studying its complex ecosystem, and meeting its people… Her findings, eloquently reported, show that ranchers and grazing and wildlife not only can coexist, but in some instances must coexist if we are to save the last of the native prairies. In an epilogue to this new edition, Houle returns to the Zumwalt to look at how the prairie is faring two decades later. The American West is undergoing tremendous change and a historic way of life is fighting for survival. But Houle finds reason for hope in the Zumwalt—in the hawks and ranchers that are still there, and also in creative new partnerships. For example, the Nature Conservancy bought 42 square miles of the grassland in 2000, with a plan to encourage sustainable cattle grazing and let ranchers play a role in the stewardship of the land.

On the drive in we saw quite a few hawks.  We went on a 3-mile loop hike and saw fewer hawks but many wildflowers.  Not a spectacular landscape, but very pretty and restful.

Zumwalt Prairie 1

Zumwalt Prairie 2

Zumwalt Prairie 3

Zumwalt Prairie 4

Zumwalt Prairie 5

Zumwalt Prairie 6

Zumwalt Prairie 7Then we drove further north to the Buckhorn Overlook of Hells Canyon, and saw several large elk herds along the way.

Hells Cyn Buckhorn Overlook

The next day was rainy and even kind of cold, so we visited Joseph, which has an active arts scene with an emphasis on cast bronze sculpture – there are at least 3 foundries in Joseph and Enterprise.  Sculptors from all over the country send their work there to be cast, most often in limited editions.  There are a number of large outdoor bronze sculptures all over the small town of Joseph.   Phinney Gallery was the high point for us, with beautiful paintings and sculpture, and the owner/artist Malcolm Phinney is a very personable guy.

Then we drove down to the very small town of Imnaha and had lunch at the little store there, followed by a drive up to the Hat Point Overlook of Hells Canyon.  We arrived just in time to see the fabulous views before a big rain/hail storm moved in!

Upper Imnaha River valley

Upper Imnaha River valley

Seven Devils Peaks in Idaho

Seven Devils Peaks in Idaho

lookout tower at Hat Point

lookout tower at Hat Point

The third day brought beautiful sunny weather and we drove up past Joseph to Wallowa Lake, intending to take the tram ride up for views and a short hike.

Wallowa Lake 1

Wallowa Lake 3

However, we were discouraged by the number of people, and the cost, and decided to go for a hike along the upper Imnaha River instead.  The trail goes to Imnaha Falls inside the Eagle Cap Wilderness, but we went only as far as a spot called the Blue Hole, where the river emerges from a narrow gorge.  Absolutely gorgeous scenery, an easy hike, and solitude.

upper Imnaha River

upper Imnaha River

The Blue Hole

The Blue Hole

Imnaha Falls hike 3

On the morning of our 4th day, we took the foundry tour at Parks Bronze in Enterprise.  We saw the whole process and also a huge blue whale sculpture they are fabricating for a town in Alaska.  I mean, HUGE, and with water jets.  It was mind-boggling.



model for blue whale sculpture

model for blue whale sculpture

big blue whale

big blue whale

applying patina in the finishing room

applying patina in the finishing room

limited edition piece with patina applied

limited edition piece with patina applied

That afternoon we drove up to Walla Walla, WA with the intention of staying 3 nights and doing some wine tasting over 2 whole days.  However, there are limited options for “camping” in a trailer there, and the RV Park was surrounded by strip malls and motels (although quite clean and nicely kept).  After being in the country it was a downer.  So the next morning we drove 40 miles down to Pendleton, OR to visit the Pendleton Woolen Mill and check out what they might have on hand for rug-weaving selvages.  Last time we were there they had very little, but this time I hit the jackpot!

Pendleton mill 2

truck full of good colors!

We did a little wine tasting that afternoon in downtown Walla Walla, spent a second night, and then came home a day early.  Great trip, glad to be home!






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Airiel on the Road

Last week we were sitting at the table eating dinner and talking about the upcoming trip, and a name for “the trailer” just came to Rick – “Airiel”. We both knew immediately it was right. Maybe now that she is all cleaned up and feeling like home, it was time.

Anyway, we are settled in at Valley of the Rogue State Park north of Medford, OR, and saw some beautiful scenery on the way down here the last couple of days.

I am trying out some blogging apps for my iPad so I can include pictures. A new challenge!

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Airstream Update June 2014

We are leaving next week on the “maiden voyage” to southern Oregon for a family wedding and camping along the way.  I thought I would show our progress to date on the Airstream upgrades and refurbishments.  The windows are mostly cleaned up, the screens are back in with new “fuzzy bug seal” around the slots where the window opening arms penetrate.  The new Marmoleum floor is beautiful, as are the new drapes and re-upholstered cushions.

This picture pretty much shows all the new furnishings.  The drapes were a bit of a chore to install, as she makes them a tight fit top to bottom in anticipation of some future stretching.  That’s the old arm of the sofa on the left – Rick had in it there to take measurements.  He is going to re-do them with cherry ply and solid cherry arms.  The top lifts off to reveal some plastic storage trays underneath.

front lounge/bed

front lounge/bed

I spent several hours out there a couple of days ago, cleaning up the kitchen.  The stovetop was rusty and dirty.  You know there has been a problem when you find D-Con and seed pods under the burners.  Now it as cleaned up as I could get it, and sanitary!  Rick will need to pull out this cabinet to re-do the tambour doors next year.  For now we will just have to use it as it is.  That’s one of my handwoven rag rugs on the floor – corduroy and gray denim from jeans.

kitchen - clean but not re-done

kitchen – clean but not re-done

The twin bunks:

bed 1

bed 2

The bathroom:


Looking back towards the kitchen and front lounge from the bathroom door:

twin beds

We also got the water hook-up and gray water drain figured out, and the hot water heater going, so I could use the kitchen sink for my cleaning – instead of hauling buckets from the house.  We are so new at all of these modern conveniences in a trailer that we have to figure every thing out.  Yesterday I turned on the 40-year-old refrigerator (on electricity. still have to test out the propane mode).  By golly, it works great!  Holds a steady temperature in the correct range, and makes ice cubes that stay frozen.  It came with 3 cute little ice cube trays, the aluminum kind with a lever you pull to pop out the ice.

But, we managed to SHUT OURSELVES OUT of the trailer last night.  The screen door had been missing its slide bolt, and Rick got one that worked from Builders’ Hardware last week.  So the last couple of days we have left the main door open but the screen door closed and secured shut during the day.  Last night he closed the main door before coming in from the shop for the night.  Well it turns out that the 2 doors clicked together but the screen door was still bolted from the inside.  So we couldn’t get the door open!  He tried taking the hinges off, but there is one screw that won’t come out, probably for security reasons.  Fortunately we had left the window beside the door open – but you can only remove the screen from the inside of the trailer.  So we had to cut a large enough opening around the edge of the screen so he could reach in and un-bolt the screen door.  Sheesh.

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Airstream progress

I think when I last wrote about our renovation work on the Airstream, we had just started cleaning up the windows.  With spring coming on, we pulled it out of the carport and into the parking area near the house, hooked it up to electricity, and continued the work.

ready for workWe had some rain not long after we pulled it out, and this was a blessing in disguise, as we were able to locate and seal the spots where water was getting in (mainly around the VistaView skylights, the front window, and a place to the right of the door where someone had done a poor job of “repairing” the lower trim and had penetrated the wall into the main cabin).  We knew there was leakage because there was obvious water damage to the subfloor in the front of the coach, and the old front sofa infrastructure and upholstery were all stained and mildewed.

The new flooring (marmoleum, like old-fashioned linoleum) was scheduled for installation on April 25.   So we had to get the cabinetry for the front lounge and twin bunks out of there, plus the toilet, and clean before that happened.  When Rick pulled out the bunk cabinets, we discovered large quantities of rodent droppings underneath.  It was disgusting!  So glad to get all that cleaned up.  I also washed the walls down and washed all the screens.

On the window front, it turned out all the inner panes were plexiglass.  Rick managed to remove those inner panes from 5 windows that had the deteriorated UV film and we then cleaned up the outer panes (safety glass) using razor blades, solvent and lots of elbow grease.  He also removed all the screens from those windows and I gave them a good scrub down.

So here is the new flooring.  It’s a blue gray with swirls of brown colors.  The installer was grumbling about the tight quarters and difficulty, but he did an outstanding job!  We had him run it under the bunks and the front lounge, too.

new floor 1

Most of the cabinets had tambour doors which have long since disintegrated.  Tambour?  Think roll-top desk.   Rick also wants to upgrade the “look” of the cabinetry from dark walnut to cherry.  He figured out that most of the cabinets are just frameworks with pieces of plastic laminate that can be pulled out and replaced.  While he was on a wood-buying run to Specialty Forest Products south of Seattle, he picked up a 4′ x 8′ sheet of thin plastic laminate that is meant to be used on vertical surfaces.  It is a wood grain pattern and color very close to the natural finish cherry he often works in.  Then he figured out how to turn out the slats for new tambours and contact-glue them onto a lightweight canvas backing.

Here are the new platform and storage areas for the front lounge.  When I say “front lounge” this is the Airstream name for the unit that is a sofa usually, but can pull out into a double bed.

front loungeThe tambour doors cover storage areas that have brown plastic bins in them.

front lounge with binThere are four under the front lounge, 3 under each bunk, and 2 wide ones over each bunk.  He decided to do away with the tambours under one of the bunks, so we can just lift up the platform and store bigger things under there (folding chairs, tent, BBQ, etc.)  So he just put flat cherry panels in the front of that bunk platform.

back side bunk

back side bunk openBack to the windows.  There had been strips of some kind of foam weatherstripping between the inner plexiglass and outer safety glass panes, and this was all disintegrated and ugly looking from the outside of the trailer.  But it was also nearly impossible to get to, to scrape it off and clean it up.  We were trying to stuff some new weatherstripping down into the space just to try to cover it up, but that wasn’t going so well either.

weatherstrip disintegratedPlus, we hadn’t removed the inner plexiglass from the large front and rear windows, so this stuff was trapped between the 2 panes and we had no way to get to them.

Then yesterday we had both an “AHA!” and an “OOPS!” moment.  All of a sudden we noticed the screws holding the frame of the plexiglass panel into the larger window frame.  Went to work removing it from the small window next to the door, and away it came.  So then we could get to the yucky weatherstrip residue and clean it off the outer safety glass using razor blades.

window finally all cleaned up!

window finally all cleaned up! and with screen again

But the “OOPS” is that we didn’t have to bust out the inner plexiglass panes after all.  We could have just removed them IN THEIR FRAMES… clean up the crackled UV film on the outer pane, clean off and replaced the weatherstrip, and put the plexiglass inner panes back in.  Arrgh.  At least we can still do this on the large back window in the rear bathroom, and the large front window over the front lounge.

So at this point, it is finish the other bunk platform with tambours, pull the plexiglass frames off and finish cleaning the windows, get the new fuzzy bug seal on the screens, and re-install the toilet and do some other cleanup in the bathroom.  There was a slight hangup with the upholstery fabric (a dyelot issue not worth going into in detail, but I have to say I have received excellent customer service from Material Things in Wenatchee).  The fabric should be here by the end of this week or early next, and then the cushions can be finished.

The new drapes arrived a few days ago, but we can’t install them until we finish with the windows and screens.  But look how beautifully packaged they are:

drapery package

I can hardly wait!  It will all come together before we take our first real trip to southern Oregon in mid-June.  Yes, there is still lots to do (the kitchen cabinet, for one) but that will just have to wait until later this year, or even next year.

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Nymphalidea shawl by Melinda VerMeer (first published in Knitty Fall 2013, but also a free pattern on Ravelry).  I used about 2/3 of a ball of Noro Silk Garden Sock – she recommends a sock/fingering weight yarn with long slow color changes for the colored yarn – plus a slightly heathered blue/purplish sock yarn I had hanging around, for the welts.  I did more repeats of the pattern (32 instead of 28 I think) to follow the color progression to where I wanted it at the end.

Nymphalidea pinned out with blocking wires

Nymphalidea pinned out with blocking wires

detail:  short row lace sections at outer edge

detail: short row lace sections at outer edge

Nymphalidea 4


I put a second warp on Kingston for more of the doubleweave check towels.  The first batch is washed and ready to hem and finish, but not ready for photography yet.  They did turn out nice and soft and cushy, though.

For this time around, I used a silver marl (soft gray and white) in the 8/2 cotton doubleweave areas, and a black/olive green marl in the 16/2 cotton for the plain weave areas.  I am quite happy with how these are turning out!

dblwv check #2a

dblwv check #2b

Airstream Upgrades

Back in 1973 when our trailer was built, they put in double-pane windows.  From reading the Airstream Forums and other sources on the internet, we find it is a well-known problem to have the seals on these break down.  There is a UV film between the panes of glass that crackles and shrivels up, basically.  So most of the windows on the sides of the trailer look pretty bad – the ones in front and back are still mostly OK.

window over the galley

window over the galley

galley and bedroom windows from outside

galley and bedroom windows from outside

There is debate (on the internet, can you imagine?) about how to best deal with this problem.  Some people advocate removing the entire window, carefully taking them apart, cleaning it up, re-sealing and putting them back in.  Well, for one thing they are riveted in.  Even if you manage to get the window out, I then found via a YouTube video that “taking them apart” is a process fraught with peril of breakage, and using lots of solvents etc.  And then the folks at Airstream of Spokane said there is a good chance they will just have the same problem again (breakdown of seals) because double-pane windows were just not a good idea for a trailer that will be jiggling and bouncing down the road.

Replacement windows cost a fortune (to buy and to have installed) and are probably Plexiglass these days.  So, they convinced us that we should just break out the inner pane of glass (using a punch to get started), clean up the film and outer glass pane, and go with single-pane windows from here on out.

Rick made a start yesterday with the windows beside the door.  First thing he ran into is that these particular windows have Plexiglass on the inside, we assume for safety reasons given their location.  He did manage to get them out though, using a special cutter/saw thing he has to get started.  They cleaned up beautifully, with some razor blade scraping etc.  The upper window is one of the “Vista Views” (kind of a skylight with a shade that pulls over it when you don’t want that much light) and these are the curved ones – it was actual glass on the inside and he broke it out with the punch.

3 cleaned windows next to the door

3 cleaned windows next to the door

cleaned windows from outside, looking towards the next victim

cleaned windows from outside, looking towards the next victim

We still need to refine our cleaning technique and find some gasket material to fill in the channels on the inside.  But overall, this is encouraging and we feel we can do this ourselves.  Since the screens are removed to do this,  I will also clean those up and replace the “fuzzy bug seal” where the arms to open the windows go through the screen frames.


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