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Old 10-04-2007, 06:15 PM   #1
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12-week Western states trip report

My husband and I recently returned from a 12-week trip in our 25-foot 2003 Airstream Classic (with a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD/Duramax as our tow vehicle).

We traveled the western US for a total of 9,500 miles (towing and non-towing – with an average of 16.5 mpg diesel). Starting from our home town of Las Cruces, NM, we were in 9 states, and went as far north as Anacortes, WA (about 90 miles south of the Canadian border).

By way of a "trip report," we recently completed a personal website – click on "Airstream Trip through the West – Summer 2007" on the home page. The website address is geoandpat.com (or click here: Home)

Would we do it again? In a "New York minute"! And, in fact, we are already thinking about a 16-week trip for next summer….

What did we learn? First, the 25-foot size is good for the two of us (no pets, no kids, and only 1 plant – mint for mojitos!). Here is a list of "what worked" – in other words, what were those things that made living in 200 sq. ft. workable for three months:
  • Sewer Solution – this is definitely at the TOP of the list; no more "stinky slinky"! The system really seems to clean out the tank better. The process does take longer than the 3-inch hose, but is well worth the additional 10 or 15 minutes. The system can be purchased at Camping World, and is described here: Sewer Solution
  • Rear view camera (mounted on back bumper of Airstream) with a DVD player for a monitor – a DIY project using a camera from Harbor Freight and the player from Costco. This allows us to see traffic in back of us. Great for passing and allowing others to pass on 2-lane roads.
  • Cell phone amplifier to boost the signal (at least 1-2 bars); Wi-Ex Car Extender (model # YX200-CEL/PCS). This is wireless (DC power plugged in only when we need it, and we keep the amplifier under the back seat); it does NOT tether to your cell phone. It's possible for more than one cell phone at a time to use it – or stand right next to your truck and get a better signal. Basically, it broadcasts an amplified signal in the truck.
  • Added shelving to the overhead lockers in the bedroom, over the sofa, and above the sink (ideas from "Pahaska" – see his posts for details – thanks, John!)
  • Ottoman / liquor cabinet / serving table – we originally wanted a light-weight ottoman, but this $40 purchase from Wal-Mart included a serving table on the underside of the lid (ie, flip it over, and instant coffee table!). George added partitions out of foam board so that it can safely hold 9 bottles of whatever, and it stores under the dining table while underway. It's described in a thread with pictures he posted on 6/16/07: Airstream Forums - View Single Post - Inexpensive ottoman, liquor cabinet and coffee table
  • Clothes in the hanging closets should be kept in plastic bags like those from a dry cleaner – we use 13-gallon kitchen garbage bags, with a hole cut for hangers (usually 2-4 hangers per bag). This kept the hangers from falling off the rods while underway and kept the clothes on the hangers.
  • No (or lousy) wireless access in the RV park? No problem. We use Verizon and purchased the "mobile office kit" for about $40 – it includes software for the laptop and a tether to the cell phone (our model is an LG VX8300). The cable uses a USB connection on the laptop and the charger port on the cell phone. We opted NOT to purchase an "aircard" since that entailed a two-year commitment at $60 a month for unlimited internet access (which is separate from the voice minutes). By using the mobile office kit (and having a voice plan already with Verizon), we simply call Verizon and ask to be connected to the broadband service at a daily pro-rated rate. It's the same plan as the aircard (the $60/month fee is prorated to $2/day of actual use). Again, it's with unlimited access that does not count against the minutes of our voice plan. After a few days, when we no longer need the access (for example, we've moved on to a new RV park with excellent wi-fi), we call Verizon to disconnect the broadband service. We're only billed $2/day for those few days we connected. We did this several times during the 12-week trip. The LG VX8300 is not an expensive/flashy phone (it was free when we renewed our plan), but it does have EVDO capability for the broadband service, which is MUCH faster than dial-up.
  • We have a small (15-inch) Vizio flat screen HD television we purchased from Costco a few years ago. It fits in the streetside arm of the sofa while underway – no need for unsightly mounting on the wall. On our website, there's a page of photos of the interior, including the TV: Airstream Classic 25
  • A fire-safe security chest provided security for small valuables and documents, and a small measure of fire resistance. It's stored in the curbside arm of the sofa and cabled with a lock to the sofa frame. Here's the item at Lowes: Fire-Safeฎ Security Chest
  • Pressure Pro tire monitor for the trailer tires – this truly provides peace of mind through real-time monitoring. We know that the alarm will sound when there's a 25% drop in pressure in any of the 4 trailer tires. Overall it functioned well, but there were a few false alarms. The company is very helpful if problems develop.
  • The Weber Baby-Q (model 100) is an outstanding barbecue grill – easy to use/clean, fast to light, and easy to store. A simple modification allows it to use the LPG tanks.
  • Bedlocker is a retractable hard cover for the pickup bed. Combined with an electronic lock on the tailgate, it provides good security for items stored in the pickup bed. We did have some problems with it (would not automatically stop when closing), but it is being replaced by the company that installed it. Here's a picture on the website of a dealer: AZ Truck Accessories | Pace Edwards*BedLocker Electric Roll Top Cover*
  • George built some plywood boxes for storage of certain items in the pickup truck bed (e.g., satellite TV antenna tripod, hydraulic jack, BBQ). These worked well to keep items organized. We also used a number of plastic boxes we found at the Home Depot.
Feel free to email or PM if you have questions.

Pat and George
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Old 10-04-2007, 06:29 PM   #2
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Nice trip! I have been looking up a of the things you mentioned. The sewer solution: does it flush the tank of just suck the contents out?
I would love a backup camera. I have display already in the truck dash with an aux video input.

I have a verzion airdata card (using right now) and a cell phone booster in the truck. They work well. I have a tethered amp I like the idea of keeping the higher power in the wires until it is outside the truck.

Nice write up.
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Old 10-04-2007, 06:44 PM   #3
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RV park in Vegas

Pat and George,

Looks like you had a great trip. I also dislike Vegas but will find myself having to stay there next summer. The RV park you stayed in looks nice, much better than the usual concrete and asphalt. Can you let us know the name and appoximate location of the park?

Thanks in advance

John
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Old 10-04-2007, 07:24 PM   #4
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Las Vegas, NV - RV park

Quote:
Originally Posted by altamont
Pat and George,

Looks like you had a great trip. I also dislike Vegas but will find myself having to stay there next summer. The RV park you stayed in looks nice, much better than the usual concrete and asphalt. Can you let us know the name and appoximate location of the park?

Thanks in advance

John
Hi, John. We stayed at the Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort (Welcome to Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort) which we found on RVparkreviews.com :: Home. We used this site to find our RV parks for this trip, and found the majority of reviews to be fairly accurate and reliable. We also posted reviews of each of the parks we stayed in.

For example, in Las Vegas, we gave the park a rating of 8 out of 10, and we posted the following review on their site (except, we inadvertently indicated we stayed in a MH, not TT - oops ): "Check-in was efficient, and the park was relatively easy to find. However, the newly configured exit 33 makes it difficult to return to southbound I-15. Pads were concrete with grassy sites, and some trees. Very well maintained and very clean, although we did not use the restrooms, showers, laundry, or pool areas. The pool did look very nice, however. Although close to the freeway and airport, it was very quiet. A drive out to Red Rock Canyon (west of town) is a nice break from the casinos. We camped 2 nights with no pets."

Also, Oasis was the second highest per night park fee on our trip ($51 with tax).

Pat
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Old 10-04-2007, 08:01 PM   #5
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Yes, the Sewer Solution does have a backflush valve. They caution it might not work on all RVs, but it seems to work great on our Classic. It is amazing how much "stuff" comes out after the first backflush.

George
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Old 10-04-2007, 08:47 PM   #6
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Very nice trip report and lots of good tips - thank you and KARMA your way. Got Pictures?
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Old 10-04-2007, 11:22 PM   #7
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Pictures? We got pictures!

Quote:
Originally Posted by clancy_boy
Very nice trip report and lots of good tips - thank you and KARMA your way. Got Pictures?
Hi, Michael and Tina! Thanks for the thanks... and the karma.

Yes, there are lots of pictures on our website (geoandpat.com). However, you can go directly to the Northwest road trip pictures on our website by clicking right here: RVtrip

Enjoy!

Pat
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Old 10-05-2007, 10:01 AM   #8
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Man, now that was a whole bunch of practical information for someone planning an extended trip, I can’t wait to get a few minutes to swing by the website you made. Thanks for all the good solid information. I really like the ottoman thing, I remember reading about it before, but I had forgotten it.
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Old 10-05-2007, 10:45 AM   #9
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Great Trip. It makes us 'workin class' folks a little jellous
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Old 10-05-2007, 01:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Great Trip. It makes us 'workin class' folks a little jellous
We're also "workin' class folks," but now retired - and loving it!

Pat
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Old 10-05-2007, 03:46 PM   #11
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Thank you for the great practical ideas as well as sharing a wonderful trip with everyone.
Where to next summer?

Mac and Linda
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Old 11-02-2007, 05:26 AM   #12
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You just showed all what the FORUMS are for!!! I know it took some time to write up your report and we all THANK you for taking that time. For a newbie like myself, there is so much useable information! I checked all your links as I read your trip report - what else can one do at 4:00 a.m.?? I purchased the larger Lowe's Security Box for our "Grab and Go" material in our home. It looks like they were made by the same manufacturer.

What a great trip! NM is at the highest point of our must visit trips once we get our first AS. Been looking and looking and looking. We meet with an AS salesman today to discuss one he has on his lot - maybe today is the day we get to stop looking.

I can't wait to read your report on your next trip. Keep up the GREAT work and enjoy 'streamin. Thanks again!!!!!!!
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:48 AM   #13
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Pat & George:

Thank you so much for the wonderful FACTUAL post containing many new, up-to-date ideas for making Airstreaming more enjoyable. The links to photos showing what your ideas look like implemented, along with detailed data (brand & model number) of the components and hardware you used, make yours a stellar post. Thank you for hard core idea-sharing devoid of idle chatter, and for disseminating solutions that have been field-tested and work. Posts such as yours are the reason I hang out at the Forums. Superb job, you've done Joe Friday proud! Karma coming your way.
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Old 11-02-2007, 10:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altamont
Pat and George,
....The RV park you stayed in looks nice, much better than the usual concrete and asphalt. Can you let us know the name and appoximate location of the park?

Thanks in advance

John
I looked it up. It does look beautiful. Here is the website: Crown Villa RV Resort - Bend Oregon
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