Friday, October 24, 2014

Fall Tour 2014: Musings and Mumblings

 We are sometimes asked (and often wonder) WHY all our Airstreaming has been East of the Mississippi. Comfort? surely. Distance to Grands? probably.  Lack of adventure?   I hope not.

Here we find ourselves at the end of a Fall tour (20 days -- 1200 miles towing ---115 gallons) This year's tour was nearly identical to the last couple of years with the exception of the government "shutstorm" which forced a little scrambling last year (Try to remember that episode when you go to the polls next month)

Alumalina Fall 2014:
We began at the South Carolina Airstream Rally called Alumalina (Links Fall 2013  Sping 2014) where old friendships were strengthened and new ones formed. Yes, there was EATING, some very helpful maintenance, and side-splitting stories from Wendy and David. We very nearly filled Lake Waterlee State Park with Aluminum and the afternoon Open House gave us a chance to compare features, decorating and storage tips.  Did I mention non-stop dutch oven cooking?  

The walk around Open House at Alumalina gave us a couple of insights. One, We Got Nothin. We have an an 18 year old trailer in good working order, nearly stock, but distressingly free of those personal decorator touches. Our dinnerware is plastic, our silverware castoffs and don't even ask about candelabra. Style we haven't. (We did however provide generous servings of sister Joan's "Crack Caramel Corn", which earned us a few return visits.) Secondly, We found (by popular acclaim) Patty is evidently a wizard at organizing. 

Some Arcane Airstream stuff:

So, with greatest humility, we present our ingenious and Cheap solutions to packing our kitchen.  (This is also in answer to a couple of comments we heard about the two bikes + an Airstream blog.)
"We read about the bikes, what about the Airstream?"

It was a dark and stormy afternoon in Middle Maine in our first Airstream year.  We took tape measure  and a list of storage compartment dimensions to the local big box store -- we were a long way from anything resembling a Container Store. Problem #1.  the upper storage compartments on Airstreams are curved in back to follow the graceful curves of the aluminum, but too high for a single stack of dinnerware; a tower of dinnerware would be reduced  to rubble as we traveled.  We needed lateral stability and better use of the vertical space.  

Solution:  the chrome "shelf" fits nicely in the wide bottom of the cabinet and is adjustable laterally. On the narrower upper shelf, two standard plastic boxes hold a variety of plastic storage containers nested. Most of the ones we carry are recycled food containers --soups, dips, cream cheese -- that we accumulate along the road and discard when necessary. The square plastic dinner plates we bought at Walmart the night we acquired an Airstream have served us faithfully and stack vertically. Supplemental paper plates fit in the space nearby and paper bowls with the plastic storage. The matching plastic bowls are on the bottom shelf flanked by a collection of ceramic mugs for drinks and soups. These ride well in sleeves cut from worn out socks. A stack of disposable cups finds a home here as well.  A couple of ceramic ramekins nest in the bowls or with the coffee  mugs.  The other galley compartment is similarly arranged, the tall space filled with a french coffee press.  Plenty of room for root vegetables in trays, cookies in plastic containers (It's cooler here than the storage over the fridge.)

One  galley cabinet in our 25' Safari

Problem #2 was the large space over the fridge. It's big, it's also curved in back and it gets warm.  Our Solution was to utilize those lightweight clear plastic containers used to package snacks from the wholesale clubs.  (If you can't accumulate them fast enough, they are available at dollar stores.) The label adhesive comes off easily with Goo Gone; you can relabel if you like. Our basic load includes: Flour, sugar, cereal, pasta, raisins, dried fruit, nuts, rice, tea bags...

 Above, we loose fit a shelf of plastic louver we had left over.  The largest containers support it. Sometimes a little game of Rubik's Cube is required to find the desired container, but it remains stable in the process.  The small shelf above contains hot mitts, paper towels in transit, open bags of crunchies and the all important cafeteria trays for Pot luck dinners.  

International Storytelling Festival

It is no surprise to any of you that we are big fans of this event held in Jonesborough Tennessee the first weekend in October. This is our fourth year and the fourth year we have been telling everyone we meet to add this to their bucket list.
(For details,see this link. To see our experiences, look back at October of past years. ) 

We were excited to see a bunch of friends have joined the audience.  Welcome! Sorry we only saw some of you passing in the crowd.  Despite Patty's new smart phone, we weren't smart enough to keep up with everyone. 

We continued our interaction with law enforcement. As repeat offenders, we barely escaped incarceration.  Our friend Gerald sprung us and also sprung for lunch. 

Gerald Dowling, Author and Airstreamer

 Gerald has three books in the publisher's pipeline and we spent a fast paced afternoon listening to bits from each. We would start off trading neat places we had visited and then "Hootie" --the main character in all three books -- would intervene and the adventure would get hysterical, convoluted  and just a little bizarre.  (Gerald's editor compares his writing style to a paint ball fight.) Finally, we asked him to raise his right hand when facts were being presented. He was pretty well trained by sundown.

"I met this Artist down near Warm Springs. She has her studio in an old jail with a big glass window. You can still see a hangman's noose and a trap door between the first and second floors.  They used to do hangings inside..." 

That was the factual part; it got interesting when Hootie appeared.  When that first book is published, we'll post a link.

In the days before the storytelling began in earnest, we found the newly opened Tweetsie Railroad bike trail. 

Nice trail and new friends.

Patty's own modest contribution to literature:

Besides the 20 best professional storytellers they can find, the Festival has a number of venues for newcomers. At "Storyslam" the Emcee was killing time between tellers by reminding us of Hemingway's six word story..."For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn."
Yeah, I know. Downer. But this set Patty off. Every half hour through the weekend she had a story to whisper in my ear. My favorite came one morning as she returned from the campground shower house.

 Saving shower for my friend: NOT!



Barely Relevant News from Science: or Why Resistance is Futile in the face of a determined enemy (posted from a Tennessee Campground near you...)

Last fall we found ourselves plagued by small malodorous trapezoidal creatures creeping in through window openings, vents, and doorways. They reappeared sporadically through the winter on warm days and daily in spring when the sun warmed the windows. They are STINK BUGS. They are a recent addition to the growing list of Asian pests wrecking havoc in our environs. They have no natural enemies except septuagenarians who pursue them with small cups of soapy water.  That's what I am watching today; all around the campground as the little buzzers land on the sides of trailers and creep unerringly toward crevices, little grey  haired people (at least one closely related to me) circle the vehicle with soapy water vessels in outstretched arms (when alarmed, stink bugs drop, hopefully to drown in soapy water.)
 Stink bugs entered the country in a shipment of Asian greenery to Allentown Pennsylvania and have swept across the country far faster than earlier foreign invaders. Our campfire entomological conclave concluded that RVs are the primary vector.  Our Texan friends report a serious infestation at their wintering grounds in Arizona. 

"We thought we got them there, but watching this, I now think we brought them with us ." 

 ( This followed a series of anecdotes too graphic for the uninitiated.) I see a doctoral thesis here with little micro-chipped Stink Bugs being tracked cross country as they luxuriate in Winnebagos.

One genius researcher on the internets assures us that last year's winter killed 94% and this season we will see few...  That clown has seriously underestimated Asian fecundity!  And these little buzzers have seriously underestimated the zeal of one geriatric assassin currently peeking into every Airstream crevice, headlight on, LED torch and little paper cup full of soapy water in hand.