Friday, May 11, 2012


We welcomed in 2011, heads bursting with information but no truck and no Airstream.  Weather had caused delays for both. The Airstream arrived first in mid January.  (Figures.)  We arranged to have Solar panels and gel batteries installed before pick up.  That bought us a week.  The Truck arrived at the end of January.  We were finally ready to pick up and hook up!

So on a rainy Saturday morning at the end of January we headed down to Los Banos for the "ultimate hook up." The folks at Toscano showed us all the features and instructed us how everything works.  They installed the Reese Hitch and back up camera.    

Our first night spent in our Airstream was in the parking lot of Toscano RV.  It was still raining.  After sunset, we opened the rear awning, and set up our two snazzy Zip-Dee-Airstream lawn chairs.  We shot a champagne cork over the cyclone fence into the adjacent vacant lot, filled two crystal flutes and toasted to our new life. 

We all have those moments in our lives where everything is right in the world.  Well, sitting behind OUR beautiful new Airstream Classic, sipping Champagne, listening to the rain on the awning and watching the lights of the cars on Highway 152 beyond the vacant lot through a cyclone fence was one of those moments.  Who’d a thunk?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


on the 101 freeway heading out of Los Angeles. 

We were returning from a glorious week on Catalina Island where we celebrated Chris’ 60th birthday.  Up until this moment, we were relaxed and refreshed after seven perfect days spent exploring the island, photographing buffalos in the interior, eating out, listening to music and just chilling in the beautiful ocean front condo.

Now, here we sat on the 101.  Inching forward toward our lives back in Sacramento.  Why?

That evening, after we eventually made it to Pismo Beach, we talked over dinner.  The traffic jam still fresh in our minds was more than a mere inconvenience.  It was a metaphor for our lives.  Trapped by commitments to our employers and held hostage by our posessions.  The thought of inching towards retirement in another five or six or maybe more years was no longer an option. We needed a plan!

Earlier during the heady Dot Com days, we dreamed of cashing in stock options and taking off around the world in a catamaran.  But we all know how that turned out.  So now what?

We started a methodical list of questions.  The first two had easy answers. What do we like to do? Travel.  How do we most like to travel? Road trips. Then it got tougher. How can we afford to do this?  Do we have enough savings? How do we feel about RV’s and our perceptions of that lifestyle?  Is a “land yacht” as sexy and romantic as the sleek catamaran of our dreams?  One word kept bouncing into my mind, “Airstream.”

Over the next few weeks, major decisions were made and everything started to take shape.   We would liquidate everything we didn’t need.  This included the house and all of the furnishings.  We would retire early and see all the parts of North America that we have ignored. (Pretty much everything away from the coasts.)  It felt right and I had to continually suppress my urge to shout “ROAD TRIP” and high five Chris.

We went to a couple of RV shows, and looked at the Diesel Pushers, Travel Trailers and Fifth Wheels. Nothing really did it for us.  We called our kids and received a less that positive reaction, Oh well they’ll come around.  We visited our aunt and uncle up in Redding who had traveled extensively in their 40ft Diesel pusher.  Asked a lot of questions and received enough information to spin our brains.  Finally we drove down to Toscano RV in Los Banos and looked at the Airstreams.  YES! This is what we want!

And so the research began.  We discovered the Airstream Forums and combed through the posts trying to wrap our heads around all the information needed to make this a reality. Chris started researching tow vehicles.  In his methodical and oh so Chris way, he narrowed down the choice and decided on a GMC, ¾ ton diesel with 4WD fully loaded.  Concurrently, I reviewed models and floor plans of the new airstreams.  Being avid DIYers, normally we would be more inclined to purchase a vintage model and do a complete update, but time and logistics were not in our favor for this type of project.  The 27ft FB model looked like it would meet our needs; large enough to carry us and our necessary stuff yet small enough to keep us from getting back on the consumer treadmill and acquiring too much stuff.  Although we preferred the interior finish of the lower priced Safari and the International, the Classic won out due to heavier suspension and larger water capacity. We also discovered Indoor Valet RV Storage close to our home. We could get the truck and trailer first.  Take some time to learn how to use them and keep working on our plan.  (Always knowing that we could change our minds, back out and call this an expensive experiment.)

In early October we ordered the Truck, It was scheduled to arrive before the end of the year.  The day we placed this order we visited an Airstream Rally up in Jackson, CA. The Nor Cal Airstream group was welcoming, informative and entertaining. That was it… we now had Aluminitis.  We didn’t know how serious this infliction was until we woke the following morning.  The usual Sunday morning question popped up, “What do you want to do today?” The answer was obvious.

“Go look at Airstreams again.”

“Just look again?”

 “Right, just look!”

We headed back down to Los Banos, and by 3:00 PM we were placing the order for our shiny new home.  It would arrive around the beginning of the year. Perfect!

Now that the Tow Vehicle and Trailer were taken care of, we could concentrate on the rest of our exit strategy… Let the research begin!