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Old 05-17-2013, 06:28 PM   #1
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From Pup Tent to Airstream

On our last camping trip, I was gazing at Aggie, our 25 Safari, recalling how my husband and I got started camping, years ago at age 21. We would load our little orange pup tent, two sleeping bags, a cooler, Coleman camp stove (which we still have!), and a few utensils in the back of our little Corolla and set out from the 'burbs of Chicago on Friday night, looking for adventure! How far we've come since then: from pup tent to leaky canvas cabin tent to nicer Stargazer cabin tent to vintage Shasta to 17 foot Zoom and finally our Airstream. But even more interesting to me, thinking back on those stages of our camping lives, is reflecting on how much we've changed and grown and experienced and seen in those years. It's been quite a journey so far!

It would be fun to hear how other Airstreamers caught the bug.
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Old 05-17-2013, 07:05 PM   #2
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I grew up camping, got married young. We had five children, but never camped with them. My husband just was not really into it. I started vending at Irish Festivals as an add on to my Irish Shop. In the 22 years of festivals I have worked my way from a one person tent to my bucket list new to me Airstream. It took a while, and it is a bit more high maintainence, but so far, not a bad ride...looking forward to a few good years. I get about 145 nights out a year.
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Old 05-17-2013, 08:05 PM   #3
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I grew up in a tent. We went everywhere in one. Beach, mountains, everywhere. Poor follks have poor ways my dad always said. We would go to the beach in a borrowed, humongus canvas cabin tent. We would set it up, stay a week, the next family would come, stay another week, then the third family would come, stay another week, then bring the tent home. We were never lucky enough to be the 2nd weekers.

So, that's where I got the bug. Some 50+ years ago.

Back in the 80's, we bought a used pop up. 2 young boys, sleeping off the ground, high cotton. Always wanted an Airstream, but since po folks have po ways, it was out of reach.

Finally, 5 trailers, 25 years and a hundred thousand miles later, we could realize our dream of owning our own dream machine. Found our dream 1200 miles away, out in Iowa.

Now, we are living the dream.

Our only snag: work keeps getting in the way. By the time we can retire we will be dead.

Oh well, we'll keep rollin' where we can, when we can, for as long as we can.

Keep moving my friends.

John
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Old 05-18-2013, 06:53 PM   #4
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John,


I loved your story about the "timeshare tent"! And I can truly identify with work getting in the way. Like you, we travel where and when we can, but are looking forward to some longer adventures as soon as we can afford to retire, if ever. We may not be po' folks like we were at 21, be we ain't rich either
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Old 05-18-2013, 07:19 PM   #5
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Thanks Carol, my folks may have invented the timeshare thing way back when!!

We are leaving in 3 weeks for hopefully a 4 week trip, our longest yet. Trying to juggle time & money to make it happen. Since I will never be able to retire (self employed), I see it as a little piece of retirement.

John
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Old 05-18-2013, 07:21 PM   #6
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BTW, were you at Springstream a year or so back??
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Old 05-18-2013, 07:51 PM   #7
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I have camped since I was a kid in the 70's. From about '78 to '97 I used the little orange pup tent through several vehicles- from the orange Ford Maverick to the yellow Volkswagen Rabbit to the red Mazda B2000 to the green Nissan King Cab to the silver Nissan King cab. During a 2 week camping trip through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky I had a Zipper failure on the orange $20 JCPenney catalog tent, so I went to K-Mart and bought a $79 Coleman 9'x10' dome tent which I used from the silver Nissan King Cab to the black Nissan Pathfinder. I got married and we still used this combination for a little while. We replaced our standard thickness Coleman air bed with a double thickness Coleman air bed which greatly reduced room in the tent. We got caught in a storm one night and went to Walmart and purchased a $97 Coleman 10'x12' dome tent that we used up until the silver Toyota Tundra. We still have both tents. We had been looking for years for a V6 towable trailer, but we didn't want a pop-up. Now that we have a big ole V8 truck we can get any trailer, so we started shopping. I really wanted an Airstream, but really couldn't afford one or find one at a reasonable price. Our first trailer was a 2009 Forest River Wildwood 28RLSS for $18,000. It was a beautiful first trailer, but plagued with leaks and breakdowns. After 2 years and 4 months of ownership I gave up in frustration and desperation and traded for our beautiful 2013 Airstream Classic 30'. Sometimes it is better to go in debt to have something nice than to deal with the constant headache of having something paid for. I ain't advocating borrowing money, but I did to buy our Stream. Yes, i am making monthly payments on our shiny silver baby.
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Old 05-18-2013, 08:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandlapper View Post
Since I will never be able to retire (self employed), I see it as a little piece of retirement.

John
Reminds me of John D MacDonalds character Travis McGee, one of my favorites...You are in good company John. Enjoy that trip!
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Old 05-18-2013, 08:40 PM   #9
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My dad bought an old 1962 35 foot Post Office bus and converted it to a camp on a river that we would use on the weekends. He bartered for a very early Airstream back, then and then swapped it out for something else, but I remember spending a few nights in the yard in that thing and it was cool. Too small for the family, but it left a huge impression.
From there it was the Boy Scouts with a "pup tent", in then when i decided to join the Army it was the old "shelter halve" that you snapped together and shared with the other guy you did guard duty with.

I then joined a very talented group and after training went over to a little village in Bad Toelz West Germany (back then) and had the tough job of skiing and living in the mountains with the various European Armies for a living while learning how to prepare for combat against the Russians. Pretty tough duty at times which included touring the Bavarian Alps in hautes and touring (skiing) while living in snow caves (15-30 days) which BTW were very comfortable when the temp is 30 degrees below outside and 30 degrees above inside with a candle. OK, it really was the best time of my life and man could we ski and climb.
We came back from Germany in 1987 with a Saab and a Moss Goretex tent. We did the tenting for a few years until 1995 when we were asked by a family member if we wanted to buy the Airstream as they were wanting to upgrade to SOB.

So almost 20 years later, five tow vehicles, twice across America, 10's of thousands in almost getting the Airstream right, we got 60 nights of use out it last year and plan on getting about 70 nights of use out of it this year.

We still have the tent and the 30 below bags, the candles which have melted in the Texas heat and my reliable MSR stove. So not only the memories remain, but the items as a reminder that it wasn't always like this.

Enjoy the adventure!

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Old 05-18-2013, 09:07 PM   #10
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Hey thanks Bruce, we are gonna do our best to have a good time. It has been 8 years since our last extended road trip.

I have been collecting a variety of good single malt Scotch to enjoy along the way.

John
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Old 05-18-2013, 09:26 PM   #11
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We used my brothers pickup and slide in camper for our honeymoon (how sick was that) 49 years ago. Then with the kids we used a assortment of tents. Went from there to a horse trailer with bare bones living quarters in front and then to our present pickup with slide in pop up camper.
Yes, we are starting to get serious about a Airstream, something in the 25' 3-5 year old range. We are standing on the door step to retirement and it's time jump in.
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Old 05-18-2013, 09:29 PM   #12
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My first RV.
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Old 05-18-2013, 11:30 PM   #13
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I like many others, started camping when I was a boy with my family. We went all over the western states and to most of the National parks. After growing up, I continued this on my own, rock climbing, cross country skiing and snow camping. The tradition has been passed on by camping with my own children, trying to give them the same experience and joy of nature that I had. They are camping with their own families now, and my wife and I moved up to an Airstream. We have made it as comfortable as possible so that in our retirement years we can still enjoy all the wonderful parks and national forests that we can, and yet keep my 65 year old body off the ground. All the comforts and eminities that our Airstream has allows us the freedom to continue "camping" while enjoying the creature comforts that our AS affords us.
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Old 05-19-2013, 06:34 AM   #14
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Great stories. All of which show why you really need to put quotes around "camping" in an Airstream. I always say it's not camping when you take 5,000 lbs with you. But it sure is fun.

1971, Barrow, AK, camping on the shore of the Arctic:
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