Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bringing a Boat Along This Time

On the trip last year to the Southwest, we were surprised at how many times we were next to bodies of water: the Gulf of Mexico, Falcon Reservoir, Choke Canyon Reservoir just to name a few. It made us wish that we had our kayaks along. I have been thinking about the drag of two kayaks plus the Airstream and asked my brother Barry, a seasoned Airstreamer, what he and Mica did for a boat since I knew that they had paddled in Florida and along the Gulf Coast in their travels.

He told me that they often carry a small canoe -- that they would worry too much about the expensive kayaks during a trip -- but then said, "Why don't you take our folding kayak - it'll just be sitting down cellar this winter?" I thought about it, did some research on Folbots, and took him up on the offer.

So yesterday, he drove over and dropped off the big bags of equipment and gave me a tutorial in our living room. (I had pulled an operations/assembly manual off the internet and done some reading, knowing my struggles in the past in putting together tents.)

He walked me through the process and I took some photos of specific steps but we will see. Everything is marked and it seems straight-forward but I am going to assemble it one more time by myself downstairs before we load up. Even then, I suspect my language will attract a crowd at the campground down south when I first lay out the parts and hope to end up with a boat. It also will be the first time that Mary and I have paddled a kayak together. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Getting The Airstream Home

After a Thanksgiving trip to Maryland sans Airstream, we returned for a week in Massachusetts to do some child care and retrieve the trailer.

Not surprisingly, mice had taken up residence in the 'Stream, leaving little piles of insulation and droppings here and there. I had set traps but they weren't tripped - in fact one had the peanut butter licked off and mouse "calling cards" all around. The dog was very interested in a wall where undoubtedly the culprit(s) resided.

With sub-freezing temperatures, staying in the trailer was more of a challenge but the new propane heater did a nice job. The dog and I stayed comfortable, especially at the end with the heating unit, but we were going through propane pretty fast.

I did a little birding (see my new vtbirder blog) and celebrated Mary's 70th birthday with Jen and family. Watching the weather, we left for home a day early since snow was forecast for our original travel day.

It was cold and windy hooking up and of course, the trailer had not moved in several months. I noted that the right turn signal on the trailer was not working but decided to press on -- it was daytime and the weather was clear.

Monday mid-day is a good time to travel. It seems like the trucks are still loading and there is mainly local traffic. We made good time up through New Hampshire in spite of pretty stiff winds. The Airstream handles wind quite well.

I noted a warning signal on the trailer brake controller - "H05" - but had no idea what it meant. (The manual was back home.) It would flit back to .C. for connected and then back but everything was handling ok so we pressed on. It was too bitterly cold to troubleshoot along the highway.

As we descended the final hill into Montpelier, the brakes started acting a little strange - grabbing a bit. I cautiously wove my way the last eight miles, wondering what condition our driveway would be in. Our road was rutted (from early thaws) and the driveway had several inches of snow, but there's no way to pause -- you make the sharp turn and start climbing. Saying "hang on" to Mary and the dog, I gunned it up in 4 wheel drive and while it was a little exciting, we made it up and around the large rock and were home.

With snow on the way, I got the Airstream blocked and unhitched and settled in place until we leave in mid-January for Southwest.

I believe that I have some shorting issues again in the pigtail connector. It's way to cold (0 degrees this AM) to work on it right now but I need to pick a day where the temperatures moderate a bit and check it out. We don't need failures like we had last year.