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Old 11-19-2011, 09:10 AM   #15
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Fort Worth , Texas
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My folks bought their upmarket aluminum cousin, a 28' Silver Streak in the mid-70's when they were not quite 50. Kept it until in they were 75 or so. Our family vacations were 3-4 weeks back then with three kids from high school age down to elementary. Yours truly slept comfortably on an air mattress near the doorway. So, a trailer big enough for family (pulled by a luxury car), yet small enough for a retired couple.

My folks also used the trailer for a siblings sport events out of state, graduations, Thanksgivings at Bastrop State Park for many years, etc.

While theirs was a year old at purchase -- and never needed more than a replacement A/C and awning the next quarter century beyond normal small repairs and maintenance -- and yours is a "project" (thus possibly being the first of several), don't discount the amount of space to cool, heat, clean and maintain. Time spent outdoors is the key to easy living, but with enough interior space that all are comfortable in bad weather. I disbelieve that people today need more ("want" being an irrelevancy; one needs to learn to pack/store/inventory with a little more effort).

The on-road performance is key to much of this. With a VPP hitch, trailer disc brakes and well-adjusted rigging it is a stable, economical tow rig behind a Dodge. I have, and recommend, a bed topper to go with that. With 170 c/f storage, much that a family may want or need to learn to use can be shuffled out of sight. As experience grows, one is not limited to a pickup truck to pull an A/S, especially an older, lighter one (thus the TV can be quite economical in all use). On your CTD I also recommend a Class 5 Titan hitch receiver. The Dodge piece is adequate, not ideal, for proper WD.

There is probably no such thing as a used trailer that "needs nothing" as you know. I'd start with LED running/signal lamps, new safety chains, breakaway switch, new axles with disc brakes, 16" tires, etc. Get the VPP hitch and use scale certified weights to dial it in. In other words, all the travel precautions covered when the budget is fresh. Whatever else is left can be done at ones leisure.

The overhead can be lower, the trips a bit less expensive, the drive itself less work, and the TT is easier to manage (operate, etc) than many so-called lumbering, deteriorating rivals.

And there's no place to store enough beer.

As to trip planning, well, look that up around here. 300-miles or 3 o'clock is sage advice. That phrase is ancient. PM me if wanted, I've posted on trip planning to some extent.


1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 12-cpm solo, 19-cpm towing (fuel)
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Old 11-20-2011, 12:48 PM   #16
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Wow, thanks for the very helpful posts! I read a few to my wife as we sat on the couch last night. She particulary enjoyed Sempi2's comment...

Originally Posted by sempi2 View Post
Forgot to say - it is a little love nest.
We were both surprised at the number of women who replied. My wife still isn't convinced, but perhaps she is 1-2% more onboard than she was before reading this.

Originally Posted by GetOutDoors View Post
...That means the drive of man - the thing that makes us aggressive, must be left at home (Airstreaming is about relaxing and minimizing stress)...

...I have found that managing the stress has changed our relationship and the teamwork learned flows over to other areas of our lives.
Excellent advice, and probably my favorite response so far. That's exactly what I am striving for. My wife liked that post as well. As we work our way through our mid-forties, things are smoother than they were 20 years ago. Still, there's always some room for growth in everyone.

Originally Posted by REDNAX View Post
...And there's no place to store enough beer.
Well, (sadly) I don't drink beer anymore. However, I do find an ice-cold Diet Coke always brightens my day. Might have to put a portable fridge in the back of the TV.

Originally Posted by REDNAX View Post
...300-miles or 3 o'clock is sage advice.
I've been hearing that a lot on the various RV forums. Time management is key to making any project smooth, whether it be pulling a TT thorugh the mountains or replacing the exhaust on your TV. I've noticed that the more I try to pack into one day, the more frustrating it becomes. My best days working on a project in the garage are ones I plan to only fill about 4 hours. More than that, and Murphy comes along and messes it up. The next thing you know, it's 11:30 pm on a work night and the entire exhaust from my truck is still laying on the floor of the garage. (Good thing I still had the H3 back then, so I could use it to drive to work the next day.)

I suppose this, like many of my traits, comes from watching the way my dad used to plan the family vacation each year. He would come home at about 5pm Friday night and hurredly pack the truck. By 9pm, we were all in bed. At 3:30am we all wandered blurry eyed to the truck, and the adventure began. 9 hours later, we were checking into the resort cabin on the lake in Hackensack, Minnesota. Dad was all about getting the travel out of the way as quickly as possible, in order to arrive at the cabin before they closed up the office at 5. I wonder what fun we could have had if we had stretched the trip into two days?... What wonderful things might we have been able to stop and enjoy on our way?...

Every 2-3 years in the Army, we do a little thing called Permanent Change of Station. Basically, the Army says "Move!" and we pack it up and go. Usually, this process is very stressful, and the travel time can be the worst part. I think I'll plan my next PCS to limit the amount of distance we cover each day. Maybe if we stop and smell the roses on the way, the PCS won't be as stressful to everyone.

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Old 11-20-2011, 11:12 PM   #17
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I love Diet Coke. In fact, I'm addicted to Diet Coke. I'm trying to wean myself off of it. I think I'm going to get a Mr. Fizz old fashioned siphon bottle - preferably in stainless steel, to match my future Bambi, and make fizzy drinks that way, as it will be less to store in the trailer. A doctor friend of mine tells me that Diet Coke actually changes your brain chemistry. *sigh*

"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." - Catherine Aird

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Old 11-21-2011, 12:47 AM   #18
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Take the Plunge Gingerly

Oh, where to start? I too had great times camping and touring in my youth. My dad was the original DIY constructor of a VW bus to camper conversion in the early 60s while we were stationed in Europe: many of his solutions are now standard features in Class B models. It was this ingenuity for a family of six and fantastic castles, fjords, etc. as backdrops to our evening fires that I wanted to share with my wife of 30+ years.

Sadly, she considered Marriott's as roughing it! I knew my interest in seeing America from the drivers seat ahead of a silver tube were probably fantasy. I started as you, wandering RV shows and various lots to no avail. She finally spoke positively about the notion after a few super-outfitted Class A's at many times the budget I had in mind. I told her a used Airstream would have the same amenities, durability, and comfort without the parking hassles once we got to a destination and wanted to see the sights.

Then we stumbled on a place where we could rent an Airstream from an acquaintance for the weekend. It offered us the chance to be lakeside and for her to experience a small, well-equipped "cabin" as though we had rented a cottage! The big bonus was not having to tow or park it. She was amazed at how all the conveniences really worked like home plus the luxury of her own bed and bath facilities. This truly fun-filled adventure from our retirement doldrums of country club golf, dinner outings, and same-o social circle events got me permission to jump in (modestly) with the caveat of selling it within a year if she changed her mind anywhere along the line.

Well it has been 16 months now and we have stayed in our trailer, "Instead," over 50 nights, traveled over 7,000 miles, and she is the one dreaming up new destinations. "Instead," her name because we do this instead of what was her old definition of travel via plane, rental car, and hotels, became so much more that what she thought at first was a crazy idea. She even named my Ram HD
"Seemore" in honor of her new found passion.

I should add we travel with our two boys, three year old Great Dane Harlequins at 150 & 165 lbs. We have done the beach, lakes, prairies, and mountains as our destinations; done theme tours of architecture, fairs, and music festivals, as well as national parks like Yellowstone, Tetons, Arches, Yosemite, Smokies, Big Bend, and the Ozarks. The Florida Keyes are next in January and then a tour through upstate New York in the Spring.

A special appreciation for laid-back daily living is one major key: 300 miles max (usually) and setup by 4pm rules our travel days. Unless there is a driving need to make miles, we travel every other day but do occasionally find a two day to/from with three days between sprints works nicely for moderately distant destinations. I no longer "make the schedule," just the lists of gear and spares, and have to cool my jets constantly. Funny, its a new approach for me and probably added years to my life besides making my time with the missus even more fun than the early years together!

P.S. You will not need the cooler in the TV. You have a full kitchen for beverage and meal breaks mere feet behind your TV whenever you want it
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Old 11-30-2011, 09:24 PM   #19
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Purchased my new 1988 Excella wife on board

If it helps you any, just this month my wife and I purchased our new AS. We moved from a pop up to a 1988 32' Excella. Priced right in your price range of $11K.

My wife is an accountant so I approached this matter from a financial view. I know that next year, or in five years I can sell my AS (not that I plan on it) for every dollar we have in it. I truly believe that I could sell it for a small profit if I took my time and wanted to flip it soon. Having said that, my wife knows that I have been looking at moving up from our pop up to an AS for almost two years. We have yet to camp in it and it will be spring before we do.

We have a young 7 year old and could have spent the $50K to $70K for a much newer AS. We like the finer things in life, but we wanted to have other things in our life than just an AS. I was concerned that having an older AS would put my wife off for sure, and possibly me. I have spent 9 hours so far just detailing the Excella and have many more hours to go. I must say that neither my wife or myself regret buying this older AS. I know I have more to learn about the AS and all of the systems but one thing I know for sure is buying an older AS was absolutely the right decision.

My wife really does not like to camp she would rather be at the JW Marriott. I think the idea of not having a bathroom in the popup and pop up's tend to be cold/or hot since the only thing between you and the outside is a tent covering.

What sold my wife on an AS was my passion for the brand, she got a bathroom and insulation. The price knowing we could easily sell it if we did not like it. Surprisingly what we have found in the last month by being on these forums is my wife is finding all kids of cool people that have a similar interest and now she wants to camp with other AS and she sees this now as an opportunity to make new friends.

Other people have said it already but I can tell you that the quality time you will gain with your family will be immeasurable. With my son I don't know how he's already seven I can only imagine it's the same for you and your children. Life's short, try it for a couple of years. If you take your time buy the right AS your total expense over the two years will be less than one trip to Disney. If you happen to get lucky as I think I did, you might actually make a buck or two.

Thanks for your service to our Country.

Best of Luck.

AIR #56525 WBCCI #4628
1988 32' Excella 1000
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Old 12-01-2011, 08:01 AM   #20
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Rent a trailer and take her to a forums rally!

Just remember-"Those convince against their will, are of the same opinion still"

Don't try to convince her, take her to the rally and let her enjoy all the good things that can happen. And plan better so you don't get up tight. So you don't make 300 miles a day-BFD-HAVE FUN!!!
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Old 12-01-2011, 08:19 AM   #21
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Do not left your wife anywhere near these forums before you buy an Airstream. No one in their right mind would buy one after reading the hardships of Airstream ownership. Welcome to the asylum.

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Old 12-01-2011, 08:27 AM   #22
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I was lucky in that it was Mrs Toad who drove the Airstream project; she's the main earner in the house so she's allowed to. It's not that I didn't want to get an Airstream but it was a step away from the hotel room/holiday cottage that I'd become accustomed to. But Mrs T is not one to let the grass grow under her feet and had me down at the local TT dealers' place before I could say J W Marriott and of course, once faced with a real live Airstream, I was smitten.

We were fortunate enough to be able to buy new, which is just as well as my DIY skills are, erm, limited, and we've had a fantastic first season. North America is a big place so we're now planning out our next thirty years traveling, albeit that retirement is a while away so we're a little restricted in the short term.

So, Army Nurse, there's no substitute for getting Mrs Army Nurse down to the dealers and getting her converted. Mrs T's specialty is the bathroom so perhaps you could show Mrs Army Nurse that facility first.
Steve; also known as Mr UK Toad

"You can't tow that with that!"
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Old 12-01-2011, 09:34 AM   #23

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Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
Do not left your wife anywhere near these forums before you buy an Airstream. No one in their right mind would buy one after reading the hardships of Airstream ownership. Welcome to the asylum.


I respectfully disargue with you.
Someone has to help hold the reins.
DW.. boss of the inside.
Bob... everything else.

“We were young and knew we're old and everyone else knows everything.”

"It is more wiser to ponder all things with diligent suspicion, than follow with blind assumption."

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Old 12-01-2011, 10:08 AM   #24
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It is unfortunate that your Wife had these bad experiences. Most families would say that camping is the best things they do together. As far as convicing her that an Airsteam is the way to go I will tell you what happened with us.
We were on the final day of a great trip in a class C motorhome and were stopping for the evening. As it turns out, there was an Airstream rally happening at this RV park. We met some great people and were VERY envious of these beautiful travel trailers. From that moment on it was a done deal that our next rig would be an Airstream.
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Old 12-01-2011, 04:10 PM   #25
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When I was still in the Army and stationed in the Pentagon, I bought a small MH. My son and I loved it. My wife, not so much. "I don't want to cook when I'm on vacation." I kept it 5 years and sold it. That was many years ago. I've been retired now for longer than I served, my wife passed away some years ago, and I have a son, daughter-in-law and two young grandkids who live 100 miles away. I just bought a brand new 28' International CCD. I've had two short overnights, including a short hop so my grandkids could see it. I plan to use the AS to take them on trips in the summer. NO PCS paranoia with the 0500 departure! I named the AS "Silver Leaf" -- as it plays on the aluminum and what I'm getting paid for by DFAS each month. Your family will be young only once, then you can use the AS with your grandkids. Maybe I'll see you at one of the Army Family Camps! There's no such thing as a retired AS, BTW....!
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Old 12-03-2011, 11:15 AM   #26
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Another woman here.

I Airstream solo, but there are many families like yours at the campgrounds/RV parks.

On my last trip, I noticed many husbands/fathers were away with the kids a good part of the day swimming, hiking, ATV'g etc. The wives/mothers had the whole day to themselves to do what they want. It's even better with an Airstream because it is like a luxury suite in a hotel. Sleep, read, have a shower, watch TV or a DVD, listen to music....relax.

Now, what mother with children wouldn't love that????
easily distracted by shiny objects
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Old 12-03-2011, 11:19 AM   #27
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"My wife, not so much. "I don't want to cook when I'm on vacation."

Get the kids involved with the "cooking" - especially with a campfire. Roasted weenies and beans, s'mores....they'll love it.
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Old 12-03-2011, 04:00 PM   #28
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i am a solo mom to 2 girls age 6 and 9. i upgraded from a 16 foot vintage kin to a 22 foot 1957 flying cloud that is undergoing restoration. i absolutely love to camp and can't wait to take my kids on the national park tour and exploring our gorgeous state of oregon. my kids also love to camp and i feel that is a gift i can give them- the outdoors and my time.our as will be done in april or may and i have my list growing of where we are going.

i love the idea that families and couples can grow closer with as adventures. hopefully she will find some kindred spirits. and a few times out with a different experience she may become a convert. good luck.

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