1966 Airstream

Restoring aluminum on an iron chassis

Heading Home

On our long drive back from Prosser, we stopped at the Market.


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Bill’s Berry Farm and Goldendale Observatory

Bill’s Berry Farm is located in Grandview, WA. July 5, 2014 was the Blueberry Festival, and you can’t beat a good Blueberry Festival (Though they do try. The previous weekend they held a Cherry Festival, and I also believe that there is an Apple Festival and perhaps even a Pumpkin Festival in the fall. ) The drive from Wine Country RV Park to Bill’s was very scenic, through orchards and vineyards, though I would be amiss if I did not mention that Bill’s is located next to all the olfactory wonder that is a dairy farm. You don’t notice the smell anymore after a while. The scent of homemade blueberry doughnuts just takes over and transports you to..well, a blueberry farm wonderland. There was a five dollar parking charge at the farm, but no charge to enter, per say. The farm was very family friendly. They had a playground with the most awesome swings overlooking a vineyard. Here is my attempt to take a picture of the beautiful view as I swung at the highest point:


The playground also had a fantastic caterpillar made out of old tractor tires. We spent a good bit of time swinging, playing, climbing on an old tractor and then put the kids on the barrel train that pulled them through the blueberry (fields? Orchard? What do you call the place where blueberries grow?) . We were the only parents that jogged down another row of blueberries to catch up with the train. My daughter then gleefully took her first pony ride. She was placed on a petite pony. My son was placed on the biggest horse. After the rides, we did some u-picking. We picked about 4 pounds of blueberries and five pounds of cherries. Which turned out to be the perfect amount for eating and bringing home without having to do any baking. If the sun is hot, go pick cherries. The trees make excellent shade.

We went back for a hot nap in the airstream. It was time to store up some energy for the hour and a half drive to and late night at the Goldendale Observatory in Goldendale, WA. We left around 7:30 and drove through the mint fields of Toppenish, WA. (Previously, I took a trip to one of the best places on earth:The Ritter Sport Factory in Germany. They had a world map. You could push a button and the place on a map where they sourced a certain ingredient showed up…There mint came from Washington. I have smelled it. I believe). We drove up a windy road and reached the observatory. It is easy to imagine a childhood hero running through the forest that surrounds the observatory to send a message to E.T or another friendly alien (though I don’t think that is actually a service they offer). The observatory is a state park open to the public. It has an excellent view, one of those round domes with a sliding window, and a very large telescope. I felt very scientific and kind of important as I climbed a ladder up about 5 feet to look into the viewfinder at the moon. My son actually was kind of important, because he was chosen to operate the lap top computer that moved the telescope and aimed it at Saturn. A few years have passed since I looked at anything astronomical through any telescope, and technology seems to have made finding the celestial objects a bit easier. It was unmistakably Saturn (he found it!), with glorious rings. The helpful park rangers also had smaller telescopes outside. We saw craters on the moon, and Mars. We saw a binary system and a double double. As it got darker, they aimed telescopes deeper and deeper into space, and Shay and I saw a stellar nursery where new stars are born. At 11 PM, my family was tired. I plan to return to the observatory in the winter, when it is dark at 6:00 PM.

View from the Goldendale Observatory at Sunset:



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Wine Country RV Park


Fourth of July Weekend was time for another Eastern Washington adventure. I was excited to find a spot at Wine Country RV Park, because I neglected to plan ahead and was looking around for a space at the last minute. I had seen this park (from the highway) and was excited to give it a try. It was actually rather peaceful for a place visible from the highway. The neighboring property, under construction (my husband thinks that it is a tasting room in progress), was continuously watering their large pile of top soil with the kind of sprinkler that inspired the dance move, so the sprinkler sound kind of drowned out (pun intended) the highway noise. Add the running sprinkler to the evening chirping of crickets, and the hum of the portable fan that we could plug in due to electrical hookups, and these are the sounds of summer for this Oklahoma girl.

To celebrate the Fourth, we joined to the Prosser, WA kiddie parade. Ella was pulled along on her scooter by me, the patriotic hunchback, because it involved some hunching to keep her two year old body upright, and Shay rode his bike. Some candy was thrown and all was right in the world. After the parade, we played Bingo in the city park. It was Shay’s first experience with Bingo. It was actually great game. I am not sure he would have had the number recognition skills a year ago, but away he went covering the correct numbers. First grade was good to him. Luck was good to me, I won twice, and walked away with $7.75 in my pocket (minus $5.00 total at 50 cents per card. Net winnings/wine fund=$2.25)

Three family members napped in the airstream. July naps in the desert in the Airstream are rather warm. Wine Country RV Park is within walking distance of several tasting rooms, so I may have visited a few. Sit down tastings are all the rage now, instead of standing up at the bar, you sit at a table and they bring you the wine. (I visited 3 wineries, two were offering “sit down tastings” 2 out of a non-random sample size=all the RAGE to this statistician). Anyway, I needed a friend! I didn’t know what to do with all the quiet and alone time. So I drank the wine. I regret not trying the chicken salad with peaches and jalepeno on a cucumber slice at Milbrandt Vineyards. I also visited Gamache Vintners and Bunnel Vineyards. I spent my wine fund, and returned to join the family for a swim in the RV park pool. It is rare to find water warm enough for my tastes in Pacific Northwest Summers, but this one was just right.

Somehow, the family managed to stay awake for the fireworks in Prosser, Washington. I did start to wonder about fireworks shows. There are a lot of small towns. There just can’t be enough “professional” fireworks people to go around on the Fourth of July. It seems there is some skill involved with selecting fireworks, lighting them, and safety. I guess every town needs a pyromanic, and that person should probably join the Rotary Club since they put on the fireworks presentation. My civic recommendation of the day.

Here we are at Wine Country RV Park. The very moist dirt pile is visible in the lower right.


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2013 Roslyn Vintage Trailer Rally

For Mother’s Day, my husband took me camping. For Father’s Day, it was only fair to return the favor. Besides, my destiny was calling: the 2013 Roslyn Vintage Trailer Rally. If you happen to know my age and my last name, you will understand why this was my destiny. A family reunion of sorts. Not knowing exactly what to expect, we packed for a weekend of hanging out in a park and walks through a small town. There was a competition in numerous-categories for the best-outfitted trailers. I had several ideas for trailer themes but in the end, I kind of gave up on it. I decided my theme was family fun with my 2 kids also known as “survival”. I packed a pair of overalls that I wore as a toddler (size 24 months) for my daughter to keep with the vintage theme. They were denim and she was constantly mistook for a boy. I threw in my son’s lemonade stand supplies (two failed attempts last summer,,,but I keep the supplies at the ready). I packed some mid-century silver wear that my in-laws gave us imagining that I could set the table for a little ambiance, but it never left the rubbermaid crate of supplies. All packed up, We were on our way Friday after work

Roslyn, Washington is a lovely small town on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. Not too far east, tt has more trees than most of Eastern Washington and a bit of altitude. The city allowed the trailers to converge in their city park. We arrived around 8:30 PM, and there were trailers everywhere, somewhat haphazardly scattered all over the park. A nice guy walking a dog told us we could park wherever we wanted, and mentioned something about a lot of beer. We drove straight in and parked in the middle of the park, next to a 1968 Airstream. After wandering around, we determined that per vintage trailer rally etiquette we probably parked too close to this family but they were very nice about it. Our trailer did create some shade that thankfully they took full advantage of. My son also took full advantage of the two brothers in that trailer as new playmates. We took a bit of a walk (to the bathrooms), and then it was time to put my daughter to bed. I fell asleep, too. Which was good because she was up before 6 AM. We still managed to diddle the morning away:making oatmeal, changing diapers, reading. Most folks were up early anyway, since the sun rises at 4 AM. So, we packed things away in our trailer like never before. We did the dishes. We UNCOVERED the upholstery. And then we opened up the door, and people come in, and vice verse, we got to peek in other trailers. Here is what I learned: 1. Airstreams are like fingerprints, no two are exactly alike. 2. There are many cute vintage trailers that I can’t name but the Shastas were particularly adorable. 3. People bring all manner of vintage items to sell “swap meet” style..I resisted but I like old lanterns and there was the cutest set of metal play dishes that I passed up. 4. Some people go all out with their trailers. I saw a working pot-belly stove in one, an Oklahoma themed one, lots of pink, yellow, lavender, and turquoise, and lots of polished aluminum. I got our key stuck in the doorknob, and Derek had to pull out the whole cylinder. This lead to a conversation with a guy  who was practically a co-worker that lead to my husband the finding a new Airstream doorknob at a lock shop a few blocks from our house for 200 dollars less than it goes for on the internet. Whew!

Let the family fun begin: Afternoon arrived, and my son set up his lemonade stand and had a record breaking day of sales! We were in close proximity to a playground. It had some old-school monkey bars that I will spend more time writing about soon.  We spent a lot of time on that playground. My daughter likes to sit in camping chairs! Anyway, the day ended with a potluck. There were lots of yummy salads which upped my normal camping veggie intake. I fell asleep early and again missed an opportunity to see the moon and the stars.

People started packing up on Sunday, in fact, we were one of the last trailers to leave. We took a walk to Ronald, WA on the Coal Trail…a path that was a former coal railway line. We went to the Sunday farmer’s market and back for some more ice cream. Incidentally, I got the best photo of our camper to date as it was uncovered and uncluttered and bright due to the appearance of the sun…probably why I can’t stop gushing.All dressed up...the interiorRoslyn 2013 Vintage Trailer Rally

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Spring Thaw

We kicked off the camping season a bit early in March 2013. By a bit early, I mean that we did not fill the water tank with water for fear it might freeze.  We added to the list of places that I have visited in Washington State that I can’t pronounce: Dosewallips State Park. When we left the park on Sunday aftenoon, it was forty-something degrees. We have temporarily replaced the 1966 propane fridge with a small dorm-sized electric fridge bolted to the ground. By temporarily, I mean that we may get this fridge unbolted and replaced just in time for my 6 year old son to take it to college. With an electrical hookup, it works pretty well, especially compared to the propane fridge that didn’t work at all. A few weekends later, we visited Ike Kinswa State Park (#2 on the list of places in WA state I can’t pronounce), which was on a lake and considerably warmer. We even saw the sun! It was heret hat we broke the lock on the door. Something that should have been a square mechanism had gone round…This proved to be a difficult problem to solve. Parts are not longer available, but you can replace it with something that is expensive and doesn’t actually fit. This culminated in my husband spending a lot of time in the basement with a dremmel tool. ( Lists to start: Tools I can’t spell), and wa-la! The lock works. I was involved in a critical decision: what color to paint the doorknob. I should have said silver, but if you see an old Airstream with a robin’s egg blue doorknob cruising down the road, know that it is mine.

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Prosser Balloon Rally

  Somehow, I just feel happy in the Yakima Valley. I love the fields of mint (I wanted to go roll in one once but a mean looking dog quickly squelched that fantasy). I love the hop yards (made that word up but I think it is a good one), I love the wineries, the sunshine, and the orchards. I love the fact that the whole area was once flooded by a giant ice age dam break releasing water all the way from Montana. While passing through this summer en route to Glacier, we learned that Prosser has a hot air balloon rally the last weekend of September. In fact, their 23rd annual hot air balloon rally, which means we already missed 22 of them. And I Think I love hot air balloons, too.
     We hadn't used our airstream since a trip to Glacier National Park at the end of July. It turns out we hadn't really unpacked it either. Which was good because I couldn't bring myself to do meal planning, shopping, and packing during the work week leading up to the trip. So we lived off what we had adding to the adventure. I threw in the following items: some juice boxes, a can of evaporation milk (for coffee), marshmallows, baby food, jar of pasta sauce, pasta. And we hardly used any of it, going out to restaurants instead...a brewpub of my husbands choice and a Mexican restaurant of mine. And what turned out to be my son's favorite breakfast stop ever: a restaurant adjacent to a roller skating rink. The rink wasn't open for skating, but he took a few joyful laps around it in his shoes just because he could.           We left our home at 6:00 pm Friday night. At 7:30 pm I crawled on the back seat to feed my daughter some baby food. My son was already bored in the darkness, and kept shouting "I command that you turn the light on." My daughter cried in between every bite of food. And did I mention it is HARD to feed a 9 month old baby in the dark. I momentarily wished I were home on the couch instead.
     We arrived at the Beach RV park at Benton City, WA well after 10 pm. Ironic to arrive at the Beach after heading away from the salt water for 4 and a half hours. My son needed to go to the bathroom (our trailer bathroom being a Reno project for the future), so we walked off to find one. And could not. The RV park is adjacent to many homes and trailer houses, and it's a good thing they don't shoot to kill in Benton City because I wandered through the yards of many of them, trying doors on outbuildings hoping they would be, well, outhouses. It was dark, and The Beach was not particularly well-marked. A kind soul told us the way to the bathrooms, on the opposite end of the RV park from where we entered.
     The Balloon Rally is good family fun that starts at 5:45 AM. The balloons lift off at 6:45. It is a hobby for the dedicated because it requires not only getting up early but the support of a crew that doesn't get to ride. I am guessing they take turns riding. But you can watch the balloons get filled and stand as close as you want.   I ran into one of the organizers of the event at ahem, Willow Crest Winery who told me it costs 700 dollars to be a sponsor and that you get a free balloon ride. He also encouraged me to take the family to Nightglow that evening.
     We went to Nightglow, where balloons don't lift off but are lovely to look at illuminated like nightlights. They flickered on and off to the tunes of the same music played at sporting events. In fact, the Announcer MUST have been playing from the compilation Jock Jams. The whole thing had a small town, yet oddly professional feel to it. It was held in the football field of Prosser High School (Go Mustangs!), but not just anyone is allowed on that field next to that much propane. It is the only event in the history of my family that we arrived to one and a half hours early so we caught the steel drum band pre show. It was akin to waiting for darkness to fall for a fireworks show. Kids were so tired they sat quietly in our laps for the balloon spectacular, and I am certain that I will be able to count on one hand the number of times that happens. So we sat back and enjoyed it.  Whooomp (There it is).
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Aluminum Tent Report

In late August, 2011, we took four mini-trips to inaugurate the Sandman. The first trip was to a driveway 20 miles from our home. We enjoyed an evening with good friends and the opportunity to “test it out”. We spent the fall taking a few weekend trips to campgrounds in our area. We did not particularly need hookups, but we camped at Millersylvania State Park where hookups were plentiful. It was here that I learned the dirty little secret of RVing. If you want full hookups, they squish you close together in an area that is reminiscent of “early parking lot.” Everyone has a campfire which makes the area very smokey and everyone has a dog which made the area very barky. I quickly learned that I prefer campgrounds with more privacy and more space between sites, which means more “boondocking”. I thought this sounded like a unheard of form of dance that only the judges on “So You Think You can Dance” are aware of (really, had you every heard of “krumping” before this show ) but come to find out it is camping without hookups of the electric, sewer, and hydro sort. My husband was overjoyed, because he would like nothing more than to install solar panels. It is quite possible that we will spend more on the Sandman than on our house. On which my husband commented wistfully, “I hope our son or daughter wants the Sandman one day…”

It just dawned on me that boondocking must have origins in the ancient Latin phrase “in the boondocks..”

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Things Need Names

If you are looking for a blog that will tell you how to restore an airstream, I am sorry. That really was my intent. To write about the journey of restoring a 1966 airstream and hopefully share some useful and hard-earned tips to save our fellow airstreamers some time. But I had to get real, I sometimes have a hard time using an unfamiliar can opener. I can spend hours in Home Depot trying to find an item that my husband has asked for because I am too ashamed to ask an employee for help because a) I may have only a vague notion of what the item looks like or what it does b)I do not know a noun to describe this item and c) I can’t even properly categorize the item to even know where to start looking ie “used for “plumbing” vs “made of wood” vs “sticky substance that will dissolve my hands.” Sadly, categorization and description are both skills linked to intellect, and in this area I definitely have to fight my way up the bell curve.

Now, I have my strengths, but if you want someone who can help you survive the apocalypse by constructing you a cabin out of found materials and then building some sort of water system to pipe in fresh water from a stream, you should make friends with my husband. The Pioneer Woman has her Marlboro Man, the woman who writes a blog read by my Mother has “Left Brain”, and I have the honor of being married to someone so talented it is hard to come up with one word that describes the person who would assure that me and my children survive any disaster/apocalypse/home improvement project/ construction job/ or repair that the world may throw our way…I think I shall just call him the Canadian, and leave it at that. He will already think that I have revealed too much information about him as it is.

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Robin’s Egg Blue

The agreed-upon Robin's egg blue upholstery fabrics in action!

The agreed-upon Robin's egg blue upholstery fabrics in action!

Like so many bloggers, I have ignored Restorable Iron for over a year. And in that year a lot has happened. I am sad to report that the “Silver Sandman” was not ready for a summer 2011 trip. We went to Crater Lake and the Redwoods in Neo, the Trusty Toyota Matrix, and had a fine time. And I should win wife of the year for sleeping in a tent for a week while four months pregnant. And not complaining about it. I won’t even mention the frequent midnight bathroom runs in the darkness in what must have been Sasquatch country. A few more weekends of work after that trip, and Wa-la! We were at what my husband refers to as the “Aluminum tent” stage. Where none of the major systems are working, but you can sleep in the airstream. I am sure that he did not coin the term himself, but instead must have gotten it from his new friends, the VAP boys (Vintage Airstream Podcast). These guys have become an integral part of his life. In fact, he often listens to them in the morning when getting ready for work. This is very tricky, because he occasionally participates in a morning conference call for work as well, so I am trained to not interrupt/talk to him/make eye contact during this time, because, technically, even though he is in his jammies eating a bowl of cereal, he is WORKING So one morning I thought of something semi-important to tell him, and then thought, well I guess it will have to wait. And then it dawned on me for the past year, he hasn’t been on work conference calls, just listening to the VAP. And I thought, these people aren’t even real! I am more important! I can interrupt! I can discuss semi-important matters with my husband in the precious time that we have before we all leave for work and day care.

Making it to the aluminum tent stage means: we agreed on fabrics for interior curtains and cushions. Funny, any time we have to have a meeting of the minds on color we wind up with things in the “robins egg blue” family. Our bedroom walls are painted a similar color. And my maid of honor wore that color in our wedding. I will post a picture as soon as we are brave enough to remove the sheets covering every cushioned surface…Perhaps when we retire we will sit on the cushions in earnest.

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What Would Work for Woodwork

The February sun was shining this weekend, reminding us that if we want to take a maiden voyage in the Airstream this summer, there is work to be done. Like, lots of it. This weekend,  D did something with the windows. It involved spraying some paint removal spray while my car was parked about 24 inches away. Rest assured, he covered the car with an old plastic shower curtain he wouldn’t let me throw out. My Mom asked what/why he was doing this, and I really can’t answer, but the window seals have hardened and are disintegrating, and he has ordered replacement seals. The glass portions of the windows are now in the garage and the window “holes” left in the airstream are rather classically covered with black garbage bag and duct tape. The areas around the windows have been polished with a dremmel tool, but please don’t ask me to spell dremmel.

Oh, we have made progress on choosing a fabric. It seems the price of marital harmony is $79 per yard. But the fabric does transport you back to the Seattle World’s Fair of 1962, which is totally the look we want for our 1966 Airstream. Recovering cushions at this price would cost more than all of the furniture in my living room plus bedrooms (We shop at IKEA and bought some classic furniture used). Anyway, another fabric came in a close (and better priced) second, and we may just settle on it…I realized we still have some time on the cushions as the other messy interior work is in progress.

I had two jobs this weekend, my Saturday job entailed cleaning out the area under the bench seat including the wheel well. I made this task much easier by spilling a full bucket of water when the handle broke. Presto! Job done. My Sunday job was painting stripper on the cabinet doors that Derek removed, waiting 20 minutes, and then using a special tool to remove the stripper and the old varnish. I learned than when working with hazardous chemicals, you really can not be expected to do anything else, such as removing your 3 year old from the top step of a ladder in the garage or trying to take a photo with the iphone. I tried pressing iphone buttons and using the touch screen with my hazmat coated gloves on: 1. The iphone touch screen does not work with gloves on, so I had to use my nose 2.  I fully expect the iphone to dissolve in any minute.  As for my 3 year old, he triumphantly smiled from the top step of the ladder when he realized I wasn’t about to reach up, grab him, and pull him down with, thus covering him with hazmat and maybe literally scarring him for life.

Before the work got seriously underway, I did snap a photo. The aforementioned, hazardous, i-phone dissolving product masquerades as a friendly orange substance smelling mildly of, you guessed it, oranges!  Paint this on the wood, sit for 30 minutes to 24 hours, and scrape. Removes varnish and water spotting!airstream

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