1966 Airstream

Restoring aluminum on an iron chassis

Labor Day

When you begin searching to reserve Labor Day trailer sites in mid-August, there is not much available (Restorable Iron tip: reserve sites early on popular camping weekends). I wished we owned lovely rural property. I wished for friends that owned lovely rural property. I got something just as good: friends that plan ahead and book sites at Lake Chelan National Park. Tent sites! We have not camped in a tent in 3 years. In fact, my daughter had never camped in a tent. Preparing for camping without the Airstream felt like I was going to be leaving a member of the family at home.  As I pillaged it for things we might need, I leaned close and assured it that I still loved it.  And face it, packing up the car for camping is a bit more work than preparing the Airstream for the weekend. But we got reacquainted with our Jet Boil and Thermarests. We got dressed/undressed without standing up.  It was great.  Some Highlights: Hiking Little Bear Trail, friends and lots of kids to play with, looking at all of the fantastic tent sites on the beach (really, some of the most awesome car camping sites I have ever seen) , swimming in Lake Chelan, visiting Chelan Estates winery, and visiting the cute and delicious Local Myth Pizzeria selected by a friend with great taste in restaurants.  In fact, she proposed a great camping idea for meal planning, pack breakfasts and lunches but go out for dinner. Lake Chelan State Park is a 10-15 minute drive from the town of Chelan, WA and this was an excellent plan that cut down on some of the prep work around camping.  Especially the work required when camping without the 22 foot long, silver member of your family.

 

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Family Camping: A Top Ten List

Most of our airstreaming is done as “Weekend Warriors.” I love taking a longer trip during the summer, but during the school year we are pretty much limited to weekends. For a weekend trip, I find it ideal to leave Friday night, thus giving us the entire day of Saturday to play, explore, and if we are lucky, relax. Sunday morning there is time for breakfast and a walk, and then we head home. This schedule, however, comes at a cost: the late-night Friday arrival with two amped-up children, ages 7 and 2.  I am convinced that we might have a reputation. The vintage Airstream towed by a maroon Toyota 4 Runner, rolling into the campground after dark with two screaming children, disturbing everyone who managed to somehow, leave home earlier than us. When we arrived much in this manner on a Friday night in August, I had only one thought: We shall overcome. My husband and I surely have the children skills and camping skills to make our late-night arrivals peaceful ones. So, in the spirit of helpfulness,  I wrote the following “top eleven” list for Peaceful, Late-night Campground Arrivals With Children, in the dark, at 10:00 PM:

1. Dress them in their jammies for the car trip. One less thing to do when you arrive.

2. Serve a soothing dinner full of tryptophan. We usually do a car picnic for the ride to the campsite. (Sandwiches, fruit, chips, or a run to Subway if I just can’t get it done.) De-emphasize sugar and emphasize protein and whole grain carbs. In fact, a full Thanksgiving turkey dinner normally makes everyone want to sleep. Do this.

3. Bring a change of jammies because they are bound to get messy during the Thanksgiving car picnic. Nix the cranberry sauce next time.

4.Have the beds in the camper ready as possible to slide into. There is usually a bike strapped to one of our beds. Just put a helmet on your kid, put them to bed, and sort it out in the morning.

5. Have jobs for everyone to do upon arrival. Screaming and hanging out the window are not good jobs. My seven year old son is as good/better at directing the Canadian to back up the trailer in the dark as I am. But we don’t want him to get run over so he screams and hangs out the window.

6. Forget the jobs. Pay extra for a pull-through site.

7. Pack favorite beer and wine. For the parents. This is glamping after all. Pack more than you think you will need.

8. Glance at the map of the campground before your trip when you feel serene. Note your site and the location of the restrooms. I am pretty sure that I wandered through people’s yards at a very urban RV park in Benton City, WA.

9. After arriving, parking, and settling in, The longer you leave the lights on the wilder and more amped everyone gets. Turn them off!

10. Wear your own Jammie’s on the car trip, because it is pretty much guaranteed you will just collapse into bed at some point! Ouch! Was that a handlebar.

11. Sweet dreams. They’ll be up at Sunrise. Make sure your favorite coffee and tea are stocked.

anotherfreeferry

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End of the Road: Sicamous to Chiliwack

The last day of our trip involved a big breakfast of eggs, pancakes, and one last Sicamous garden cucumber followed by a busy morning of packing up.  I think we left by noon. Near Sicamous we passed through a city called Salmon Arm, and after leaving Salmon Arm we traveled several hours through mountains until the town of Hope, British Columbia.  We were fortunate to have a great friend allow us to leave our Airstream in his driveway in Chilliwack while we took a side trip to visit family on Vancouver Island. After all, an Airstream enhances the neighborhood. 

tripmap

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Our Last Day

At the Shuswap Guest Ranch near Sicamous, BC we spent the last day of our four-day stay just hanging around our 1966 Airstream and exploring the very local sites.

last day

After a breakfast of campfire potatoes, baked in last night’s campfire coals and sauteed with garlic and whatever was left in the rv rv fridge, we “suited up” (lifejackets, sunscreen, swimsuits, and hats) for a paddle boat ride on the Eagle River. The goal was to simply get across the river so we could spend some time on a sandy beach located on the other side. It sounds simple, but the current was quite swift. So we paddled the boat upriver first. The Canadian and I paddled hard and furious, like we were in some sort of recumbent spin class. This provided just enough speed to keep the boat in place. No progress was being made. My seven year-old son found a floating stick and used it as an oar. With a combination of paddling, propelling ourselves with sticks, and grabbing onto any strong looking vegetation on the bank for some forward momentum, we slowly made it a half a kilometer up the river. It was time to aim for the other side. With some frantic paddling and a successful grab for some riverside vegetation, and we crossed the river, our only task now to do some gentle steering as we were pushed along by the current to our beachy destination. We arrived at the beach area and got out of the boat. The Canadian’s first discovery was some bear footprints on the beach that made our last night in our Airstream all the more exciting, the noises outside just that much more thrilling.

morebeartrax

A fallen tree that had floated downriver provided a perfect buffer between the beach and the swift moving current, and doubled as a diving board for anyone brave enough to jump in the cold water. My son was this brave. I was not. After our beach fun, my son hopped in the river and towed our boat slightly upstream so that we could aim for the dock on the other side of the river. We had lunch and tried to get our kids to nap in the coolness and shade of the willow trees. Nobody napped, so we abandoned this plan and headed to the D Dutchman Dairy for some ice cream. We visited the farm animals and indulged in coffee ripple, and cotton candy flavor ice cream. We returned home, and cooked our final “glamping” dinner: veggies from Carrie’s garden (potatoes, cabbage, beet greens, a few cherry tomatoes, yellow squash) , sauteed with eggs, and rolled up in a tortilla burrito-style. I believe the formal name is eggeritos. We served it with beer from the Mt. Begbie Brewery in Revelstoke. As with any camping meal, it was the best we ever had. Food always tastes good when you are camping.

food

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July 29 Part Deux: The Enchanted Forest

 

Seventeen years ago, my husband and I sped past the Enchanted Forest. He wasn’t my husband then, but I do believe he asked me if I wanted to go. By the time I answered, he had left it in the dust (PS, I kind of wanted to go, but I remember it being dark and it must have been closing time. ). Now we have a 7 year old with just enough reading skills to determine that this is a place he must visit. So we did. I was expecting a Roadside Attraction. With the exception of the Big Texan in Amarillo, I haven’t been to many Roadside Attractions so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. In a forest that looks like it belongs on the West side of the Mountains (ferns, big trees, etc), concrete figurines of fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters are displayed. Allegedly, the figures were made without molds, which seems like a very challenging thing to do with concrete. It is not clay. Some of them looked a bit scary in the way clowns are scary, but we had a good time.

kittens

Poor little kittens.

Most impressive, as my husband pointed out, were the fairy tale houses: Little houses constructed out of real wood, stone, brick, and wood shinglest hat were just the right size for my two year old daughter. As the Canadian said, if these were at Disneyland, they would be made of styrofoam or plastic, and probably wired for internet. But in British Columbia, it is the real thing. I expected Frodo Baggins or at least one of the seven dwarfs to step out and say hello.

fairy houseshoe

A hobbit house and The Old Woman who lived in the Shoe.

After a one hour walk through the enchantment, we headed back to the Nature Trail to take a swamp boat ride. The swamp was impressive: no bugs and it was not smelly (Ahh..this is the swamp for Disneyland). It was about 2 feet deep, and you could see to the bottom so the water was quite clear. We put on some ancient life jackets and paddled around for a bit.  We walked back via the nature trail and were delighted to see another vintage Airstream in the parking lot. A “Bambi” sized one.

 

 

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July 29 Mt. Revelstoke

After a day at Glacier National Park, I was eager to drive the “Meadows in the Sky” Parkway. This is the name of the road up Mt. Revelstoke in Revelstoke National Park (Revelstoke is a very fun word to stay. It makes me want to revel! And give me a fire so I can stoke it! ) . In some stroke (stoke) of good fortune, our National Park admission from the previous day was good until 4:00 PM the following day. We entered , started the 20 something kilometer drive, and pulled over to check out this view of Revelstoke and the Columbia River:

view

You are required to park your car 1 kilometer from the top (When in Canada, I try to embrace the Metric System. It is hard. Very hard.), and there is a shuttle to take you to the top. On top, there are a network of short trails and some longer hikes. We wandered around the shorter trails, looking at wildflowers and according to my husband, admiring the National Bird of Canada (The Mosquito). The Ranger who drove the shuttle (the same cheerful guy who warned us about the Mama Grizzly), positively explained that the mosquitos pollinate the wildflowers. I was thankful I had brought the mosquito repellent. Simply on the premise that I would be highly irritated if we needed some and it was back in the Airstream. And need it we did. We had many sightings of the National Bird of Canada, and I got to share with others (even the cheerful Rnager asked for a squirt). The highlight of Mt. Revelstoke was the wildflowers in bloom.

flowers

We were surrounded by Mountains. There were mountains in any direction that you looked. In Canada, there are so many mountains, that a group of them visible from the Fire Lookout was designated “The Unnamed Peaks.” Might I propose the following names: Anonymous, Jane Doe, John Doe, TBD, and Unknown.

Glacier and Mt. Revelstoke are smaller National Parks that must live in the shadows of Banff and Lake Louise. I found these parks to be under-appreciated jewels. This was good luck for us. Neither was crowded. We saw about 8 people on our hike at Glacier National Park.  Mt. Revelstoke was busier and more easily accessible. Our shuttle van to the top was full, but I wouldn’t describe it as crowded. I also appreciated the fact that there were no gift shops or things for sale. This is much different than that National Parks I have visited in the USA, where there are gift shops everywhere.  Though I really wanted a sticker for our Airstream.

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Side Trip: Revelstoke

On the way home from the Glacier hike, we drove through downtown Revelstoke. Our first drive through had been before the hike, when we realized we needed some gas to get up to Roger’s Pass. I noticed a Visitor’s Center near the gas station, and walked over to collect a stamp (two more until I get the prize!). I chatted briefly with the staff, and got a map of Revelstoke. I don’t know how this happened, but our family started watching a Discovery Channel show “Gold Rush”. Because of this, my daughter plays with toy excavators. Anyway, Revelstoke was featured in an episode when Todd goes to collect a trommel, which tumbles and separates rocks and dirt from gold. Or it does when it works. So I asked. The young woman at the Visitor’s Center remembered the filming, and knew the location of the trommel-maker (there must be a better name for this profession, but I do not know it. Mining Supplier?) On our way home, I had the Canadian drive by the industrial park where the trommel was made. He was a little underwhelmed by this suggestion but he did it anyway. Something else was being made in the garage. And the trommel-makers (friends of the elves and the Shoemaker, no doubt) were still at work at 5:30 PM. I snapped this photo:

trommel

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July 28 Glacier National Park

“The Columbia Mountains are steep and the valleys narrow, allowing for only a few easy hikes and a good number of challenging ones” read the trail guide picked up from the Roger’s Pass Visitor’s Centre. With an energetic, solar-powered seven year-old boy and a backpack to carry our two year-old daughter, my husband and I decided that we were up for the Glacier National Park challenge. We headed to the Illecillewaet Campground, and selected the Mt. Sir McDonald trail. We were encouraged by a cheerful Ranger who insisted that the Mama Grizzly and her two cubs spotted in the area would not be much of a danger as long as we stayed in a tight group and made noise. “Sing!” he suggested. I caught his both his optimism and his warning, and proceeded to sing almost every song I know. Our hike began on a wide, flat trail that followed along the ruins of the Glacier House Hotel. Here my concert began, a camp song describing how “The Other Day I Met a Bear.” The trail was formerly a mountaineering route laid by Swiss guides for guests of the hotel. We crossed a bridge at the confluence of the Asulkan and Illecillewaet Rivers. My singing continued “Flea, Fly, Mosquito.” The forested trial continued uphill along the river, not too steep but enough to get my heart pumping. My son scurried, his movement steadily ringing the bear bell on his backpack. We arrived at a sign stating that we were entering an avalanche path, prime grizzly bear country. We proceeded, following the cairns that led us through the boulder field. Hiking, singing, and breathing in high altitude requires a lot of oxygen. I just have a feeling that perhaps, that day was the first time the words to “Oklahoma” rang out in that valley. We declared a stream in the boulders our turn-around spot. The descent was quick, we never met the bears, and the kids happily posed for a picture at the end of the trail. Hiking: if the kids are happy, “Everything is awesome.”

Roger’s Pass Visitor’s Center: I was very happy to find out that Canada has a “Little Explores” program akin the the Junior Ranger Program in the USA National Parks. One of the activities was on “scat”: identifying which animal made the poop on a display in the visitor’s centre (yes, I spelled it the Canadian way. The rangers who greeted me with “Hello. Bon Jour just put me in that sprit) . You will be happy to know that the scat was made out of rubber. I was going through the activity with Shay, and one scat (moose, I believe) was described as looking like a cow pattie. Shay looked at me and said, “What is a cow pattie?” Yes, through the Little Explorers Program I made the horrifying discovery that my son did not know what a cow pattie was nor what it looked like.  I had failed him as a mother some how. I had failed as an Oklahoman raised by Texans.  I had failed as a person who likes clean-ish shoe bottoms.  I knew what a cow pattie was and how to avoid stepping in one by the age of 7 (Thanks Dad, it was probably you who taught me this).   The ranch neighboring the Ranch we were staying at Sicamous houses cows in the winter, so the Canadian was able to point out an old, stepped-on, cow pattie but not a fine specimen. I am on the hunt! No photo on the internet will do. This is field learning, my friends.

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July 27 Sounds of Sicamous

After so much road-tripping, we spent the day on the ranch and in nearby Sicamous. The ranch had an ambitious vegetable garden planted by Cousin Kerri: carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, beets, lettuce, corn, basil, tomatoes. She was kind enough to invite us to harvest a few things during our stay. Shay demonstrated his ability to “live off the land” and picked a few carrots for him and his sister to munch on.

sicamousranch

We ate breakfast and headed to the town of Sicamous. Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center (new stamp!) We went to Moose Mulligan’s for lunch, which is located on the Shuswap Lake. There are actually boat slips for parking (and a traditional parking lot). We watched the boaters park.  After lunch we headed to the public beach on lake Shuswap. The beach was nice and sandy, the day sunny, and when I stepped in the cold water I noticed that the sand sparkled. Because I watch “Gold Rush”, and am an expert, I decided that the sand contained the mineral pyrite (fool’s gold). I felt like Edward Cullen sparkling in the sun (if I rubbed myself with sand). We splashed, dug, and played. At one point, my daughter was face down in the sand and told me she was a starfish. After attempting to wash off as much sand as possible, we packed back into the car and headed to the local grocery store to stock up for the week. Canadian finds that slipped into the cart: Cheezies (better than cheetos with a much shorter ingredient list and no msg), True Lemon (lemonade powder made with stevia and lemon oil) Que Pasa tortilla chips (made in Richmond, British Columbia but just roll with it), Things that were all wrong that slipped into our cart: Cadbury Dairy Milk in lieu of Hershey’s. The “family size” bar was part of the s’more display. Yes, it was chocolate and yes, it tasted just fine, but still, all wrong somehow. My editorial comment: Canadians pay a lot for food. Things cost around double the Trader Joe’s price.

The town of Sicamous and a ranch lie on a major rail line. If I were observant, I would tell you it was the “Transcanada Rail” or ” Canadian Pacific Rail” but, alas, I can not tell you.  The sounds of Sicamous come from the frequent passing trains. A trestle (is that what you call a bridge for trains?) even passed over the lake and public beach. Any train tracks that I can think of in the major metropolitan area where I live are fenced in or are otherwise unreachable. I guess Canada is so large, and the track so long, and perhaps Canadians so smart as to stay away, that they don’t even bother. I marveled on the public accessibility of the rail tracks.

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July 25 Border Crossing

We started the morning with a quick trip to downtown Coeur D’Alene. The kids and I got dropped off in a park while Dad packed up the camper. We played on the beach and saw part of the moose trail, that recreates a children’s book about a moose and a mouse.

We drove to Post Falls, Idaho to cross the border into Canada. Interestingly, they have appeared to cut a straight, thin, clearing through the forest and across the mountains that must indicate where the actual border is. I had to deposit our uneaten because-they-froze-in-the-camper-fridge apricots into a chest freezer because they were not allowed across the border. Thankfully the rest of us were. The drive to Kaslo, BC included the longest free ferry ride in North America across Kooteney Lake:

We stayed at the Mirror Lake Campground near Kaslo. The Mirror Lake Campground contained a lakeside vintage playground and a floating dock that you could swim out to and jump off of. I took my first teeter-totter ride with my son and daughter. Reminder: He who weighs the most works the hardest on the see-saw.  I pushed them on a metal merry-go-round (and hopped on) It was always big responsibility, being the pusher who had to hop on. We got what I consider the best site in the campground, right by the lake and by the playground. It was an electrical-only site, and that must be why we got it, since every other trailer/motorhome seemed to be loving their sewer connection (the stinky slinky). It pays to simplify. Our bathroom system still doesn’t work.

mirrorlakecampsite

 

Site 185

 

vintagemerry

 

Ride the Vintage Merry Go Round.

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