As many of you who follow our blog know, we relocated from Dallas, TX to Seattle, WA last November. It was NOT your typical move (to say the least). (more…)
By now, we’re at our destination in Seattle, and I’ve completely bit the dust on any real-time posts….
Our 13th day on the road started with a sunny California blue sky and ocean views, and ended in San Francisco, but first, we had to make it along the Pacific Coast Highway.
We left Morro Bay and headed north towards San Simeon to see where the local elephant seals sun bathe. We hit a good sunny day and there must have been over 100 on the beach. The main seal lion viewing area has a huge parking lot with plenty of room for any size RV.
Then it was time to hit the Pacific Coast Highway. I’ve had anxiety over this drive since the beginning. I know people have done it, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of driving the Airstream along those roads. Looking back, I wish I would’ve taken more photos of the drive so those of you who haven’t done it, could get an idea of what it was like, however I wasn’t really breathing, or my eyes were probably closed, most of the time. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like to drive or even ride in cars, which makes this whole situation of ours very humorous, but I did take one or two photos while we were pulled over (NOTE: Going south to north, there are very few places to pull over that are big enough for the Airstream. There were many more larger turn-off areas going north to south.)
There are two places on the road where it’s actually not even two lanes, but one, and you have to alternate who travels on that part of the road (the northbound folks or the southbound folks). To remedy this, the brave and fearless construction workers were building a viaduct-type bridge that was suspended over and out above the ocean. It completely freaked me out and I found myself alternately saying “Deke look at that! Oh wait, don’t look, you’re driving! But look its so crazy!”.
Special PCH notes:
We drove the entire length of the Pacific Coast Highway, from south to north with a 27 ft Airstream and a Ford F250. We had no problems with towing, but there are definitely some tight spots and at times we did need to veer into the southbound lane to avoid rocks that were jutting out from our side. I, personally, wouldn’t recommend doing this drive with something much bigger, although we did see one or two 5th wheels and one motorhome.
Fill up on gas before you start. I can only remember one gas station in Big Sur, and if you have a smaller trailer, like 22 ft or smaller, you can probably pull into Deke’s favorite place, Nepenthe for some lunch and an amazing view. Deke will probably have some follow up on the subject since he’s the one that did the driving. Lucy has nothing to say on it, she slept through the whole thing.
Texas is hot, that’s for sure, but shouldn’t that be reason to conserve, not waste water? In Dallas, we’re constantly appalled at the number of lawn sprinklers running throughout the hottest part of the day, or car washes around every corner, steadily spraying water down the drain. Not to put all the blame on Texas – according to EPA.gov, in the US, a typical household uses approximately 260 gallons of water every day. That just seems outrageous to us. Thankfully, conserving – or at least not wasting – water is a fantastic benefit of the fulltime RV lifestyle we’ve chosen.
Learning to Conserve Water
Living in an RV comes with a percentage of water conservation built in. We don’t have lawns to water (although the few RV parks we’ve lived in so far definitely overwater the few patches of landscaping they have). We have smaller appliances that use less water, and we have fewer linear feet of pipes to fill. As an example, the average household toilet uses 3.5 gallons per flush – ours uses less than .5.
One of our goals for the future is to require less time hooked up to water and power sources. So in addition to our general concern for using resources wisely, we’re trying to learn as much as we can about conserving now so we’ll have to make less of a transition later. Even if we didn’t live in drought-stricken Texas, we’d still conserve water, but living in an Airstream has brought this to a near competitive level with us. Regular checks of the tanks and high-fives (well, at least ‘good-job’ nods of the head) are telling us that we’re doing better at not only making water last, but using less of it in the first place. We’re now going into our 12th straight day of triple digits with no rain, or end, in sight.
Conserving Water Inside the RV
My favorite water saver inside the Airstream is the Oxygenics 130-XLF25 BodySpa SkinCare Handheld Shower. It uses almost half the amount of water as a regular shower head and it maintains fantastic pressure. It lowered our shower water consumption from ~2.5 gallons per minute to 1.5 or less! You should look into getting one of these.
We’re definitely still learning about how to best conserve water inside the Airstream. Our next project is to reduce the flow of water from our bathroom and kitchen faucets. We’ll start by experimenting with low flow aerating faucet heads, but ultimately we want to replace both faucets entirely. The standard faucets from Airstream aren’t really made for upgrading or adding low flow adapters. After that, we want to look at better ways to heat the water (tankless?), pump water into the RV, and use the fresh water tank more effectively.
Conserving Water Outside the RV
My newest favorite thing is collecting water from my air conditioner run off. It might sound a bit odd and extreme, but in the Weasel, the condensation runs from the AC unit through a tube that ends under the driver’s side wheel well. I started placing a bucket there about two weeks ago and was shocked at how much water drips out on a daily basis. It provides more than enough water for the plants, and really the neighbors plants as well, because it fills up to the top every day. I can’t imagine how much water is wasted from drippy RV air conditioner units!
We’re in city mandated water conservation mode here, and I didn’t want my plants to suffer, so I highly recommend doing it if you have an extra bucket lying around. Your plants will thank you for it!
Other informative links on conserving water:
- US EPA’s Conserving Water page
- 100 ways to conserve water
- LiveWorkDream’s boondocking tip to conserve water
- Technomadia’s tips for conserving water while living off the grid in an RV
- Frugal RV Travel’s tips for conserving water
That’s about all we’ve found so far, but we’re constantly looking for more ways to conserve water. We’d love to hear any tips and tricks you’ve found conserving water (or any other resource) in your RV.
Open House Day!!
For us, the Open House was one of the most anticipated programs on the schedule at Alumapalooza and really one of the most inspirational events for me personally. More than half the group opened up their trailers to show off their remodels and modifications both inside and out, and there were more than a few truly awesome Airstreams.
Seeing the full range of models and years was great –but we were most curious to see what people with 27ft Internationals had done and got to see a few great ones including Josh and Jessa’s fabric reupholstery and bunk bed modification. Jessa made new sofa cushions with the same Sunbrella fabric that the awning is made from! Genius — most likely I’m going to steal this idea. But their biggest modification was putting upper bunks in the back above two twins. I encourage all of you to look at their site and see the remarkable transformation! There were also the small things we saw — popping out rivets to put up an ipad, installing motion sensitive night lights in the bathroom and repurposing and recycling items from other Airstreams. It was just the kick in the pants we needed to create something really unique in the Weaz.
One of our favorites was a remodeled 1960s unit — I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember the name of the woman who owned this one, but I was truly in awe of the inside and basically couldn’t think straight. I thought I took a few photos, but apparently I was just wiping the drool off my chin. If you happen to be reading this, Talented Owner, please get in touch!!
Master Rivet contest
On this faithful day we also lost any opportunity we had for working in the Airstream factory. High noon-ish began the Rivet Masters Contest in the Service Center where 20 couples were judged on the quality, not quantity, of the rivets they bucked into a predrilled sheet of Airstream aluminum. After a quick tutorial from Dave and Dan (who didn’t do a very good job at hiding their laughter at us), we had one minute to make the best installed rivets we could. This is not easy — in fact, it’s rather difficult as we found out.
After everyone was finished, the experts judged the rivets and at Happy Hour Deke and I discovered we had the worst record — 13 rivets, zero acceptable. At least we were consistent. I’d like to thank everyone for trekking over to the service department to watch, and congrats to Kerri and Russ who did a respectable 60+% successful rivets!
The Golden Airstream
Earlier in the week during our Airstream factory tour, we were told Wally and Stella’s gold Airstream was on the lot (YAY!), but we wouldn’t be seeing it. (boo!) On a bike ride around the grounds we spotted it and took a little detour to check it out. We were sad to find it in a gravel lot behind the factory rusted and in disrepair, but did hear that one of the service guys was adopting it and going to see what he could do. It was still great to see this very cool part of Airstream history!
DAY 6 — The End
We were so sorry to see Alumapalooza end. It was one of the best trips we’ve had in the Big Weaz and we can’t wait to do it again next year. If you judge your experience by the amount of things you give away, we did pretty good. I only have 3 coffee cup sleeves left! Or wine glass sleeves, if you’re Kate.
We’re so grateful to Rich and his crew for working so hard in the heat to make it comfortable and super fun for everyone who traveled from all over the country to attend. We also met so many people who immediately became friends (Kyle, I feel like we’ve known you forever!) and through our travels know that we’ll see again. I can’t wait to eat at Kate and Al’s Airstream food stand, Mabel on the Move (look for an upcoming post on Mabel), see what David Winick creates next and maybe, just MAYBE see a few people at Burning Man in 2012.
More Photos from Day 5 and 6
In our Things They Don’t Tell You series, we talk about things we learned AFTER moving into our RV fulltime. Read on for tips on how to handle some of the little surprises that come with living a life on wheels.
Call us naive, but we severely underestimated the power and spite of H2O before we moved into the Airstream fulltime.
So far, we’ve battled a leaking shower, condensation, and mildew under our mattress – just this past week! Since we moved in, our water pump was broken and we have an ongoing battle with water pressure that we can’t win.
And then there are the thunderstorms. Sure, the rain comes with its own aggravation – mud, flooding, and ruining perfectly good shoes, but it’s the accompanying noise that can really get to you after a while – imagine a tin roof wrapped all the way around you. Then, 100 hammers beat on it from the outside while a thunder-phobic dog pushes you out of bed at 3am. Talk about a restful night o’ sleep!
So far, we’ve found very few helpful precautionary measures when it comes to water issues. Trouble just sort of happens, and you have to figure out what it is and react. By all means, continue the routine under cabinet, hose, and pipe checks – but don’t be surprised when you find some weird water problem where and when you least expect it. If you spend enough time in an RV, you’re bound to experience it in some form or another.
Instead of trying to predict them, we’re trying to get smarter about finding and fixing our problems with water. Here are a few tips we’ve found to avoid or get past the most egregious problems with the wet stuff:
- ALWAYS investigate strange water. If you see a drop or two, look for a source. If you can’t find a source, look again.
- The same goes for water sounds.
- Standing water is destructive – keep water from gathering on anything, especially around faucets, toilets, in window frames and near door jambs
- Keep standing water off metals and woods.
- Check under your bed regularly. Better yet, cover your mattress with a waterproof cover and aerate the wooden plank under it.
- Running water is also destructive – learn the paths water takes down the side of your RV’s exterior. Keep these areas clean to avoid corrosion and stains.
- Avoid condensation – keep airflow moving with fans and vents, and avoid sudden or drastic temperature changes between outside and inside the trailer.
- Run the exhaust fan during your shower (and for about 10 minutes after) and squeegee afterwards.
- Keep plenty of towels and rags handy.
- If you have water pressure issues, check with the Park Host – it may be a problem for others as well.
That about covers the big things we’ve found so far. How about you? Do you have any unique water problem stories, or interesting tips for fixing them? If so, we’d love to hear from you!