The Family

The Family
Airstream Weekend Warriors

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Insatiable Wanderlust

Troutstream Abroad Headquarters
Centerville, Ohio

Peace and love
Photo by Ethan Trout
 
     Anthony Bourdain is on the television tonight. This new episode is about his visit to Punjab, India. I can't help but think back to a time when Melizza and I travelled to places like India. Before we had children, our passports were full of stamps from exotic locations. One thing we have always had in common is a desire to explore. That desire has not waned after the children and all of our years together. Whether it is a trip to Bali for the Millennium or a Airstream trip to Michigan, we are both energized by the possibilities. My family just returned from a trip to Paris and Italy. After returning to old favorites like Italy and Hawaii, our passion to see the world with our family has been reinvigorated. While this blog is dedicated to Airstream travels, I would be remiss if I did not discuss our philosophy.

      Like many Airstream owners, Melizza and I have always savored our travel experiences. The Airstream was just one way to get out and see the world from a different perspective. It has opened doors to places that we would have otherwise missed. I have learned about so many places that have enriched myself and my family with the Airstream. I have also met people who I would not have otherwise known. I am happy on a train, a plane or even a simple roadtrip. Melizza and I share an insatiable desire to see something new. That is a good thing in my mind. The word insatiable also means that one is never satisfied. I mean that only in the sense that I always want to see more.

     Our latest trip to Europe is a case in point. Paris and Italy have ignited a desire to travel to exotic destinations. Even though we have been back for less than two weeks, we are already prioritizing and planning future trips to Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, South America and Mexico. Our only limitation is time and the outrageous airfares that now seem to be the norm. Since Jack will be in college in a mere five years, we had better get our act together.

     Spring has come to the Midwest and I am anxious to pick up my Airstream from Jackson Center so we can begin a new season of exploration in this astonishingly diverse country. Our first trip will probably be a seasonal shakedown trip to Yellow Springs, Ohio. If our son Jack makes it to the Destination Imagination Global Finals, we will likely take our Airstream down to Knoxville, Tennessee. Hopefully we can stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The camping options in Knoxville are less than ideal but I prefer the Troutstream to any chain motel. I may attempt a late registration to Alumapalooza since it is about an hour away. If my Airstream is not serviced soon, it will already be there. It is on standby for service in Jackson Center.

     The first trip of any consequence will be a return to the Florida Panhandle. We will also visit Cedar Point Amusement Park sometime in the summer. Our big summer vacation will be an exploration of North and South Dakota in late July. I am really looking forward to that. One of my favorite camping experiences with my dad was Custer State Park in South Dakota. I want to share that experience with my kids. I am very excited to visit North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. That will be my 49th state. Alaska will have to wait.

      The benefits of travel go beyond the joys of a change of scenery. Travel can change your entire perspective on how to live. Italy always does that for me. Italy is an incredibly diverse country both geographically and culturally. The Italians are passionate in everything they do. From their food, cars, religion, architecture, and design, there is no compromise. Even their language is passionate. It would be impossible to over enunciate in Italian. I find inspiration every time a visit. This trip has made me realize how much I love to explore.

      While this blog is dedicated to Airsteam travels, I will share a few photos or forty from our recent trip to Paris and Italy. Perhaps I will have to start a new blog on international travel to complement our domestic adventures. I hope so.



Notre Dame at night
Love Locks in Paris 







The famous stained glass windows at St. Chappelle 



Gondola Ride in Venice
The Magnificent Doge's Palace in Venice
The Medici Family Chapels in Florence, Italy



The Brunelleschi Dome in Florence. The predecessor to St. Peters and the U.S. Capital Dome 
Our Tuscan Villa 
Gelato time in San Gimignano 
Pisa
Biking in Lucca 
Lucca, Italy
Sienna

Sienna

Limoncello from our villa
Flavian Amphitheater aka the Colosseum

Swiss Guards at the Vatican
St. Peters Square

Roman Holiday

Melizza on my back to see the Pope

Trevi Fountain
Pompeii

My adventurous family

The Amalfi Coast 
Ravello, Italy

Pizza at Da Michelle in Naples
Paris Finale



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shower Issues

Airstream Service Center
Jackson Center, Ohio


      It has been a long drawn out winter in Ohio this year. Slowly but surely the frequency of snow and cold weather is waning. The time has come to address an issue I am having with my shower. Luckily, I have not had too many maintenance issues with my Airstream. This one could potentially be expensive. 

     During our trip to Florida last December and January, we noticed a slight leak coming from underneath the shower when I was in it. After inspecting the interior of the shower, there were no problems above ground. I pulled the panel off and noticed there was a slight drip coming from the corner of the unit. The issue will require removal of the pan. This is highly annoying as I rarely use the Airstream shower. Melizza and Lucy luxuriate in the Airstream while the boys head off to the stalls. In order to conserve water, I use the campground showers unless we have full hookups. Without full hookups, I take a navy shower where I get wet and turn off the water. After lathering up, the water goes back on for a quick rinse. Showering outside the Airstream was not much of a problem in Florida as all the bathrooms were nice. However, we had full hookups at Disney World, Key Largo, Key West and Myakka. Despite that luxury, we did not use our showers. Until this problem is fixed, our full bath is a half bath. This is particularly upsetting since our shower functions as a storage unit most of the time.

     Since we returned to the frozen tundra back home, I could not address this issue until the temperatures climb above freezing. Winterizing is a must where I live. Now that Spring is almost upon us, I picked up my Airstream from our storage facility and plugged it in for an overnight battery charge at home. I towed the Troutstream to Jackson Center early in the morning before work to drop it off.

     I typically drop it off early in the morning and head off to work. Drop off days are always early mornings for me but I enjoy the hour and a half drive and the peace that is found in farm country. It is like another world up there. On this particular morning the temperatures were around twenty degrees but the wind was howling. Since I was going to be leaving my Airstream up in Jackson Center until I returned from an international trip, they let me back it into the Terraport for a plug in.

     I backed my Airstream into the appropriate spot on Excella Way and went to unhitch when my electric jack blew a fuse. If you have followed this blog, you may remember that I had an issue with this on my last visit to Jackson Center and later in Savannah, Georgia. It appears I have a short that only occurs when it is frigid outside. After blowing two fuses I had to admit defeat. There is a short in the wire that happens only when the jack is fully retracted. If I stop a bit short, it works fine. So once again, we had to manually jack up the Airstream to get it off the hitch. This time it will be fixed properly at least.

     I just added that job to the list of mostly minor issues and the potentially major shower leak. As I go over the possibilities in my head, none are great. If it is a minor issue with a leaking pipe that needs replaced, I will still have some labor costs. The leak only occurs when the shower is on so I do not expect to see water damage anywhere. As I have always noted, the folks at Jackson Center do great work but the labor is expensive. I am paying for the peace of mind and a functioning shower for the next season. Currently, my Airstream is waiting for the opportunity to be serviced. I am always amazed that the Airstream Service Center has all the business they can handle. Even in March, they are fully booked for appointments. I am hoping for some good news. I just finished remodeling two bathrooms at home and I will settle for a functional shower devoid of leaks in my home away from home. In the meantime, I am going to Paris and Italy to forget about all of this shower nonsense. I will report on the verdict once I know what the problem is. 

     On a completely different note, I have deleted my Facebook account because I found it to be a distraction. However, I am dipping my toes into the Instagram world. You can follow my adventures @troutstreamdoug. Eventually I will open another account that is limited to Airstream subjects. For now, you will also have to deal with awkward family photos. Fair warning.

     I am looking forward to another great season in the Troutstream. We will be heading to some old favorites like Grayton Beach and Ludington, Michigan as well as some new destinations in Tennessee, Western North Carolina, North and South Dakota and West Virginia. We are also shooting for the Albuquerque Balloon Festival and perhaps the Outer Banks in the Fall but need to work out child logistics so they don't miss school. I cannot wait to get on the road again.

The Troustream waiting for its turn at the Service Center

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Airstream Blogger Approved Products

Troutstream Headquarters

Centerville, Ohio



     The temperature in my hometown made it into the twenties today. The snow piles remain and will not melt anytime soon. Today was my chance to check on my Airstream and fire up the generator. When I arrived at the storage facility, I took one look at the deep snow and turned the dial on my truck to four wheel drive. I would not have made it to the Airstream otherwise. 

    I arrived to see my wheels half buried in the snow. After a bit of chipping away at the ice, the propane tank hatch and the Airstream door both opened for me. Everything looked to be in proper working order. I fired up the heater so that I could charge up the batteries and play with some of my new toys.

    One of the great benefits of the online Airstream community is the collective sharing of knowledge. God knows I would have learned some hard lessons if it weren't for the volume of information available on Airforums and the blogging community. 

     The online community has also proven to be an excellent resource for product recommendations. Many Airstream bloggers have recommended products that have withstood the rigors of travel. Airstream owners tend to be appreciative of design and willing to spend a little more to get it. Why else would they pay the premium to buy an Airstream? Since this is still a hobby for me, albeit an expensive one, I have relied heavily on recommendations from the online community. For instance, we chose our Yamaha generator after watching Sean and Kristy Michael's informative and often amusing videos at longlonghoneymoon.com. Since then I have been inspired by them and many others.

     Here are a few of my new toys that I acquired after learning about them from fellow travelers.

1. Bialetti Moka Express Coffee Pot

This one is a no brainer. It is Italian. It is a bellissimo and made of aluminum for crying out loud. This product has been around since the 1930's. The Moka Express is simple and brilliant in its design. There a literally three pieces to it. After heating, the water in the lower chamber boils and is forced through the coffee grounds into the upper chamber producing a dark rich espresso. For all you coffee nerds out there, I am new to the game. I started drinking coffee last year at the age of 39. Melizza coaxed me into trying Kona coffee on our last trip to Hawaii and a coffee snob was born. I don't know much other than I like my coffee black and rich. A french press would probably work but for now I am sticking with the Bialetti. It is way better than instant and is as stylish as a Vespa scooter.

     I have seasoned my Moka Express at home for a while and I had my first cup in the Airstream today. It was piping hot and perfect. Unfortunately, I had to take it home for rinsing as the Airstream is currently winterized so there is no water. A big thanks goes out to Sean from Long Long Honeymoon on this one. I would have found it eventually but I did not want one until he posted a great video about this little gem.


 2. Jawbone Jambox

     I have always wanted one of these but just recently pulled the trigger. I have a decent stereo system in my Airstream. It was definitely state of the art in 2006. I can plug my iPhone into the jack and play it through the Sony sound system. For those of you younger readers, Sony was that invincible Japanese company that dominated the TV and portable music categories before Samsung and Apple. At any rate, the Jambox is a great product and connects to my phone via Bluetooth or a cord. The nice thing about this product is the fact that it is portable. I can take it outside and play music wherever I am hanging out. The sound quality is very nice on the Jambox. I chose the larger model and also use it around the house. Laura Domela from the blog Riveted recommended this one. She has all the cool toys.



 3. Dyson Digital Slim Cordless Vacuum

      I honestly don't know how on earth we dealt with the constant clean up before we bought this. For those of you that camp a lot, you know how quickly dirt gets tracked into a small space. That is especially true with three kids and a dog. This vacuum is a beautiful marriage of design and function. It is cordless and has great suction. Perhaps I should rephrase that. At any rate, it takes up very little space and empties quickly and easily. The Dyson is a perfect fit for Airstream travel. I want to thank Monica Bennett of Just 5 More Minutes and Anna Sullivan of Glamper for the recommendation. I was aware of Dyson before but they highly recommended the product as fellow explorers with dogs.

     This is what we used for the first four years of Airstream ownership. The asian broom is an efffective and time tested product but pales in comparison to the Dyson. The broom is much cheaper but it also made our dog Maggie mental every time we swept up.

Before
After

4. Fuji X100S

     I coveted this camera the very first time I laid eyes on it. It reminded me of those gorgeous Leica cameras but without the incredibly hefty price tag. I have never taken the time to really learn the craft of photography and it shows. I cringe when I look back at some of my posts. My photos on the blog come mostly from my iPhone. Many are blurry and I am unhappy with the lighting most of the time. I almost never edit my photos before posting. However, this camera makes me want to be a better photographer. I have no business carrying this beauty around until I learn how to properly use it. In the next year, I will endeavor to improve the quality of the images on this blog. I have no excuse for bad pictures now.

    Laura Domela is a fan of this product as is Sean Michael. I need to learn how to use this before I go to Italy in the Spring. Right now my photos look a little blurry. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.


     Sitting in the Airstream makes me want to hit the road. I see post after post from Arizona and the Pacific Northwest. They all make me want to hit the road and head west. I definitely ready now because I got the gear.

Waiting for the next adventure!
My last blurry iPhone picture