Three Years, and Counting

Flying CloudIt has been said that time is our most precious commodity. We’ve long subscribed to the idea that the best way to spend our time is by traveling. And so, three years ago this week, we took possession of our first Airstream, a 22-foot Sport, and spent our first night camping out. We kept that rig only 10 months before trading it in for our 25-foot Flying Cloud, a.k.a. “Cloud 9.” During the past 36 months, we spent at least one weekend every month camping, often two and sometimes three.

We traversed this great country, from California to North Carolina and from Mexico to Wyoming. We visited Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Yosemite, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Big Bend and Great Smoky Mountains national parks. We spent many weekends at state and local parks in nearly half of our 50 states, and somehow managed to keep our day jobs. To say the least, it has been quite an adventure!

Sportsmen ClassicFour years ago, we purchased a 14-foot “box trailer,” a Sportsmen Classic. Our primary goal was to determine whether we would enjoy taking occasional excursions to nearby parks. We had our sights set on a Casita, a smaller fiberglass model reminiscent of the Airstream. As we prepared to purchase, however, we were advised to visit an RV store and get our vehicle set up for towing. While there, we toured the Sportsmen and decided we liked its roomy interior and retro styling better than the Casita. So we purchased it on the spot, and our camping adventure began. That initial experience in our “starter” tiny home convinced us we needed to invest in our dream machine, so we bought our first Airstream.

SportOur 22-foot Sport, a single-axle model known as a “Bambi,” had a compact kitchen (a real downer for Chef Cliff) with a regrettable sink (clearly, real campers don’t design these things), a convection/microwave oven (don’t even think about it) and a spacious rear bath (we liked the roominess but hated the toilet configuration and so-called shower curtain). The unit was a “narrow-body,” with a U-shaped dinette that seemed better suited for a couple of Munchkins than the Garinns, but we made the best of it. For 10 months. Then, Airstream announced it was introducing quieter, “ducted air” on its 2015 models. We couldn’t resist.

By trading up to the double-axle Flying Cloud, we not only gained three additional feet in length but also an additional foot in width. The so-called “wide body” was ideal for two aging campers with ever-widening bodies.

Since then, we became adept at all sorts of things we never knew were possible. Jon can park the rig perfectly in even the tightest spaces. Cliff can troubleshoot nearly any problem related to the fridge, propane tanks, water and sewer lines. We’ve observed Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and numerous Date Nights. We’ve braced ourselves against the blustery cold, held our breath as storms raged ’round, and spent many warm nights enjoying gentle breezes and nature’s sounds through open windows.

We’ll never forget the search for Calico Ghost Town that took us off the road and into the safe embrace of a nearby KOA, or the unexpected late-spring snowstorm at Yellowstone, when a woefully unprepared Cliff had to scrape ice off the window with a spatula while wearing an Ove’ Glove, a windbreaker and flip-flops. We’ll always remember the welcome smell of fresh cotton sheets, the sound of crackling fires, the dazzling sight of starlit skies and full moons, desert sunrises and lakeside sunsets, the touch of each other’s hands as we cruise the byways and highways of America, and the taste of fresh coffee in the morning, bloody Mary’s on weekends, and all things smoked or grilled on our Big Green Egg MiniMax.

Did we mention that we met some amazing folks along the way? Especially our many friends in the Heart of Texas Camping Unit (HOTC) of the Wally Byam Caravan Club International (WBCCI).

It’s been an amazing ride these three years. And we can’t wait for three more, and then even more beyond that. We’re living our Airstream dream one weekend at a time, and we’ve got no regrets.