Airstreamin',  Alan's Musings

The Challenges of Full-Time Travel: The First Month

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Full-time Airstream travel is not always fun. In fact, it can be downright frustrating at times. In our last post, we spoke about the good things that we had experienced after week one. In this post, we speak about things that have gone wrong in the past month. Anyone that travels at all for any length of time can tell their own stories. Here is ours.

We left South Carolina and spent about a week at Highland Haven Airstream Park outside Floyd, Virginia. Beautiful scenery, great people, perfect place to stay. We left there and headed to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We ended up staying at Pine Grove Furnace State Park about 15 miles from the Gettysburg battlefield. The drive was ok. The Shenandoah Valley is nice to see. We made it to Maryland before the bottom fell out and I was reminded of Noah’s Flood. (Airstreams are called land yachts, right? Would it float?) One thing I detest is trying to find a campsite and set up during a downpour. But, that’s what we did.

Let me set the stage for what happens next. I had never been to Pennsylvania before. Didn’t know a thing about the countryside, the lay of the land, where to expect potholes, how to find a campsite in a huge state park. There wasn’t much daylight left when we finally made it to the park (I say finally because I’m still convinced that someone I won’t mention navigated us many, many miles out of the way). We entered the park, and the road became noticeably more narrow, the trees seemed to be growing thicker by the second, and the melon-size raindrops continued to splatter against our windshield. I was becoming disturbed.

Then we found what appeared to be a campground entrance but looked more like a keyhole. I told Alex, “There is no way we are going to fit through this.” But, I have to admit, I enjoy a good challenge. We turned as wide as possible, made it ever so slightly through the entrance, and began to look for our reserved site. We hadn’t been through the keyhole 50 yards before we saw it, our site. Picture this, the trees are huge, like, gargantuan. And they’re growing in all the places where people didn’t lay asphalt. The reservation people online said this site would accommodate trailers up to 40 feet long. Accommodate can have several meanings I guess. We had to make a quick right turn, then before we could get the whole rig faced in one direction, our site was beside us with skyscraper trees bottling us in. I told Alex, “We’ve got to go somewhere else. It’s too tight. It can’t be done.” She got out the truck, in the pouring rain, and assumed the position necessary to help guide me back.

I eased the Airstream on back, ever so gently. The truck started to get stuck in the mud, because we were backing up, turning sharp, and going uphill to the site, all at the same time. And it was sooooo wet. I sweated bullets for about 5 minutes, but, it worked. Not sure how, but it worked. I’m just good I guess.

Our campsite at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, outside Gettysburg, PA

The rest of our Gettysburg visit passed rather comfortably.

The same cannot be said for our visit to Williamsburg, Virginia, the next stop on our journey. First of all, we ended up making the huge mistake of traveling way too close to Washington DC  on our way back to Virginia. I probably made some unsuspecting politician angry. I felt as out of place as a prostitute in church. When we pulled into our campsite, finally, just outside Williamsburg, I noticed a sound coming from the trailer wheel area. We set up camp, I felt each wheel, and noticed that one was burning hot. I thought, oh God, the bearing is gone. We enjoyed the rest of our visit in Williamsburg and decided to get the wheels looked at when we left the campground.

Alan “posing” for the camera in Jamestown

After talking on the phone with several mechanics who didn’t want to bother with the task, I found a truck and trailer shop that graciously agreed to check out the trailer on such short notice. They jacked her up, removed the wheels, and when they removed the hubs, rusty brake parts dropped to the ground. That’s where the noise was coming from. I asked them to replace all brakes on all wheels. They had us at out of there and rolling by the end of the day.

The Fifth Wheel beside us at the shop was brand new…. 🙁

Now for the kicker. We made it all the way back home to South Carolina before the right rear wheel came clean out from underneath our Airstream. As I turned the corner to pull into my parents’ drive, the wheel fell to the ground beside the mailbox. I THANK GOD that wheel didn’t come loose at 70 MPH on the interstate. That could have been real damage. The bearing went out. That’s why the wheel was hot in the first place.

Now, we are visiting the mountains of North Georgia and I’ve discovered a leak in our AC unit. There’s always something. We are headed to Alabama in two weeks, then Tennessee and Kentucky. Summer in the South, in an Airstream, with even the slightest problem with the AC… not good. We’ll get that fixed A.S.A.P.

So what’s the main point? Well, anytime you travel a considerable length of time, something is going to go wrong. You’ve just got to develop the right attitude about it. I’m learning to simply go with the flow, to take each day as it comes. We want to see and do so much before the year is out, so we try to stay focused on that. When I say we, I mean Alex. She is far better at seeing the positive side of things than I’ve been lately. I couldn’t do this without her. She’s right. The positives still outweigh the negatives by a long-shot.

What else have we been up to?

-Alan launched his brand new website, The Southern Distinctive!

The Southern Distinctive is a site designed to help raise questions about the South and to explore what the region might continue to mean in our generation. Moreover, the purpose is to foster a celebratory attitude about things that are useful in the matter of Southern identity. Our attention is focused on people who are seriously interested in exploring and celebrating Southern history, music, places, land, faith, and culture either for personal fulfillment or public discourse.

-Alexandrea launched a brand new part of her business, Virtual Assistant Business Coaching.

As a self-made entrepreneur, I get dozens of request each day (a lot of them from people who want to travel full-time) on how to make money on the road. Becoming a Virtual Assistant is a terrific way to do that! 

See our Airstream Remodel Reveal here!


    • Alexandrea

      Not intrusive at all- we are very open about that! We are actually planning to do a post about this soon, because it’s such a popular question.

      -Alexandrea has her own business as a Virtual Assistant (and offers VA Business Coaching)
      -Alan is a professor online.

      You may benefit from joining our group, which is a support group on how to make money on the road!

      Or my VA support group here–>

      Hope this answers your question!

  • Terri Hale

    I love hearing about your travels even the challenges. I look forward to your posts. I, too, have backed up a trailer in a downpour at Virginia Highland Haven; but as you know the folks there were very helpful, friendly and kind.

    When going to new campgrounds, I try to see if anyone has posted on You Tube a virtual tour of the sites. That has helped somewhat in choosing a reservation. If I am going to tow for 7 or more hours to get to a new location, I may choose a pull through site for the first night. That way when I arrive and am exhausted, I simply do nothing for setup until the next day.

    Bill and I will be traveling to Acadia in early October. We will stay in touch and let you know how it goes.

    Best of travels. Enjoy.

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