There have been a handful of times over the last few years when I’ve said, outloud and to other people, ‘there needs to be a summer camp for adults’. So when our friend Nation told us about Wild Yonder’s Friendship Feast and Camp Out, I was more than intrigued. One quick email to Camp Director Heather to get approval to bring the Airstream and we were going! Activities included pie making class from the folks at Scratch,
beer from Ponysaurus Brewing,
Arts and Crafts (!!!) and a whole hog BBQ from none other than my favorite rock cellist Joe Kwon, who studied BBQ with North Carolina’s own Sam Jones whose grandfather started the famous Skylight BBQ. Here’s the smoker along with chef Matthew Kelly of Durham’s Vin Rouge and Mateo restaurants. Go eat there. Also notice the Bojangles boxes of biscuits smoking along side the pig.
We met some great people over the weekend as well. In addition to Meredith, Heather and Kaitlyn of Wild Yonder (check out their bios here), we met Phil Cook, and Nick Neptune, DJ and Camp Activities Coordinator (Capture the Flag anyone?). And, as luck would have it, we traveled 45 minutes to meet a couple, Tripp and Jane, who live right down the road and who also love dogs, beer and bbq.
Our weekend field guide.
The event was held on a beautiful 70 acre property in Mebane, NC — about 45 minutes from us, and less than an hour from Raleigh. The property had to have been a farm at one time — there are remnants of a barn, and a fenced in field and possible pasture.
There are several cabins on the property,
a main house with a huge kitchen where we all ate dinner and breakfast, and a pavilion for bands to play.
Oh, and a tree swing.
And many, many fire pits.
You can see the Airstream and the dinner bell on the balcony.
Overall, the weekend was fantastic. It’s the first time we’ve really met a big group of new folks that had a lot of the same interests as us and we just loved being out in the Airstream again. Wild Yonder is just what the doctor ordered.
Oh, and did I mention the swag? I told you fanny packs were in style!
Well, we’ve been here a year and although we’ve camped a little bit, we’ve not taken advantage of short weekend trips to some great campgrounds really close to Raleigh. As fall approaches, we decided to hit Jordan Lake in Apex. Exactly 21 miles from our house, Jordan Lake has several campgrounds. We chose Crosswinds Campground because it’s on the east side of the lake (closer to us) and it looked very tree-filled, which is what we wanted.
This specific campground within the larger park is smaller, has water and power and beach access but no boat launch like two of the other campground locations. The spots closest to the beach have fewer trees, but all spots are easily walkable to the water.
Beach area — with kayaks to use!
Most spots are very level — ours was a bit unusual because it sloped downwards, but leveled out at the bottom with just enough space. I wouldn’t recommend a motorhome for this spot! However, it was a great spot with a lot of trees and privacy. We could only see one other camper on one side, but a good distance away.
All spots have a fire pit, and obviously a lot of space.
We’re kicking ourselves for not visiting this campground sooner, and we’re looking forward to checking out the other locations within Jordan Lake Rec Area!
After reading Rich’s new book – Airstream Life’s (Nearly) Complete Guide to Airstream Maintenance, our guess is that a lot of folks will say, “I wish this had come out sooner.” The good thing is, it’s out now, and newbies as well as long-time Airstream travelers will find useful tips and hints on how to keep your Airstream in good condition. Also, props to fellow Chicagoan Brad Cornelius for the illustrations!
Deke ‘inspecting” our first Airstream. A used 22’ CCD International.
When we bought our first Airstream in 2009, we had no idea what we were doing (but to be fair, we still don’t know what we’re doing). We bought used and while we tried to do all our homework before purchasing, we missed some things — nothing too big, but back then it would’ve helped to have a more extensive list of things to look for, and catching problems at the time definitely would’ve saved us some money in the long run. Right off the bat, we think that Rich’s chapter on Learning to Inspect can help both current owners and future buyers to do better inspections of their own Airstreams, and any used models they might be checking out.
Making our way through the book, we found chapters on Plumbing (thankfully we haven’t had any problems there), Aluminum Body Repair (oh, that crash in ’09), Electrical, Propane Systems (what’s that smell?) and all the appliances — just to name a few. The chapters are then broken down into subcategories — with some topics addressing vintage models as well.
Cleaning A/C vents and solar panels.
The information is clearly organized with simple basics — for example, getting on the roof (which can go badly if you do it wrong), how to replace rivets, and how to winterize. The broad categories are then broken down to specifics like how to remove and replace sealant (along with a list of tools needed to do so), how to determine the exact age of your tires, and detailed instructions on how to check for propane leaks.
Overall we found 216 pages of useful info — even if all of it isn’t useful to you right now, it will be at some point, like when you need to figure out how to get to your spare (pg. 124) or replace your lights with LEDs (pg. 171).
RV repair house call. I needed hot water, pronto.
We think this book could also help you save money on repairs. We had a problem a few years ago that required a mobile repair service tech to come to the park, which cost a fortune. The problem was a very quick fix, and one we could’ve done ourselves if we had known what to look for. Our water heater ignition wire was cracked — it’s one of the things Rich suggests looking for in the chapter Water heater, subchapter Inspecting the gas orifice, ignitor, and gas valve. That’s $100 back in our pocket.
For me, this book also provided great suggestions for preventative maintenance which I never thought of, and frankly, never do. For example, I have never lubricated the awning arms, I have never checked my smoke detector to see if it’s expired and I have never cleaned and lubricated my Fan-Tastic fan screens (in 5 years!). But I will now, and it will probably save us some heartache down the road.
Much needed, but didn’t have.
Back in 2009, we also relied on the kindness of strangers when it came to having the right tools. We’d meet people on the road, ask them questions and take photos of things they recommended we have. This wasn’t the most comprehensive way of doing it, and we always were missing something, or didn’t have the right tool for our model. Rich put in a Tool Kit list which is great for those of you wondering if you have everything you need. I was also excited to see instructions on how to recalibrate the tank monitor. You know yours doesn’t read correctly!
As we all know in the Airstream community, everyone has their own idea of what works and what doesn’t (one look on Airforums will undoubtedly provide 10 different answers to the same question). Rich’s book isn’t a fix-it guide, it’s a maintenance guide. He’s not telling you how to repair, he’s guiding you along so hopefully you won’t have the breakdown in the first place. Because do you want to be here:
Middle of nowhere Nevada in the summer.
Middle of somewhere PNW.
with no internet and realize you don’t have a clue how to get to your spare and replace your flat tire? (Note: this is my biggest fear after running out of gas.)
Maybe some of you who’ve remodeled numerous Airstreams yourselves might be familiar with a lot of the info already, but for people like us, even after having lived in ours for a few years, we found some useful tips that will hopefully keep our Airstream running well for the long haul.
Last year while living on Whidbey Island, our friends – and husband and wife team – Janae and Kelly Cameron at Turnco Wood Goods offered to make us a cutting board for the Airstream sink to replace the round, white plastic one that was stained and warped. I was familiar with all the other awesome wood products they made, so obviously this was a no-brainer.
Our little maple, walnut and cherry Airstream Sink Cutting Board.
Soon, our friends Laura and Kevin at Riveted asked about getting an Airstream Sink Cutting Board made in walnut for their Airstream. Easy enough — they have the same model so we knew the sink would be the same size, Kelly just needed to swap out the cuts of wood to customize.
The walnut Riveted board.
Then people who saw the Airstream, or our post about it, emailed asking if they could order one too, and from there, we started taking orders through our website for Kelly and Janae. Each board is made to order from local wood, and can be customized according to what you’d like.
Then our friend Grisel asked if Turnco could make a cutout for her Airstream Sink Cutting Board and this was born —
During the year, they started to find their way into Airstreams of all sized and shapes.
Carolyn’s cutting board– often seen at Highland Haven.
Dennis and Sandy’s 2015 International.
Jeffrey’s board in his 2007 28′ International.
And our first non-Airstream board! Chris’s Winnebago View!
The boards can now be seen in Airstreams from Seattle to Chicago to Kingston, New Hampshire and many places in between (CA, WI, SC, FL, TX, UT, VA, TN, NY, DE, IN and PA so far). If you’re interested in ordering one, you can find out more information here.
Earlier this year, Deke and I decided that we were going to see as many concerts as possible this summer (because last year I think we saw one) so when we learned about FloydFest we knew we had to check it out. It seemed smaller, almost all locally sponsored and more laid back than a lot of festivals out there, plus it was 3 hours away! (For a good, really short summary of the festival, I suggest reading This Must Be The Place from the Smokey Mountain News.) The bonus was we could make another trip to Virginia Highland Haven to stay! We love the place, and the town of Floyd, and music, so it was a no-brainer.
That’s us on the left. I think.
Again, we had great weather, met some new folks, reconnected with some we’ve known only online and got to explore the area again, which didn’t disappoint. We wrote a review the last time we were here and mentioned the drive — I forgot to take a video, but here’s what our map looked like driving away from Floyd.
Many, many sharp turns.
I think I’d like to live here……
View from the end of the park.
FloydFest was really fun, and we’re glad we did it, although staying up to see bands going on at midnight didn’t really work for us too much. It’s a really well organized event (free mountain spring water, 24 hour fantastic coffee station and beer is only sold in a cup you buy at the venue with tickets you also buy, so its an easy process, parking is in lots with a shuttle and the food options were numerous). If you go prepared, you’ll be ok (prepared=sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen). Also note: FloydFest really isn’t in Floyd proper, it’s several miles outside of town on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and about 25min drive from Highland Haven – without traffic.
There are big stages….
The Main Stage.
And really small ones…
You can stand way up front…
Trampled By Turtles.
Or sit in the back and just listen (and people watch, which was often better than the bands).
It doesn’t look like Deke has enough sunscreen on.
There were also some great, local vendors there as well — we each picked up a pair of shoes from Astral, a shoe company out of Asheville that makes really stylish shoes for kayaking! They gave you 20% off any pair of shoes if you swapped them out for a pair of your own. So far, I’m loving them. Also, they make incredibly cool lifevests as well — for humans and dogs!
Yes, those are the socks I’m wearing today.
We cut short concert going one day and hit Floyd and the surrounding area. We needed some food, so the Farmer’s Market was a success.
Veggies, kombucha stand, fruit, crepes and coffee.
We had breakfast at the Blue Ridge Restaurant, had a Japanese style pour-over coffee at the Black Water Loft and walked to the biggest fabric store I’ve ever seen: Schoolhouse Fabrics.
Old school = mega fabric store.
Riverstone Farm Store.
The kicker was finding Riverstone Farm Store. On the Floyd Highway into town we saw this handwritten yellow sign stuck in the ground that said “Farm Store” with an arrow. We followed it for MILES on a very narrow dirt road then almost missed it. The Riverstone Farm is a certified organic farm (however their meat is not certified organic) with a self-serve store carrying chickens, lamb, mutton, veggies from the farm, and cheese, sauerkraut and some other things from local places. Definitely worth the stop. They also have a building across the road with bulk meats, so if you want a whole lamb, its butchered and you can just take it out of the cooler and leave the money. They also do tours on Saturdays at 2pm!
We hated to leave —
Blue Ridge Parkway.