I've been working on this idea my whole life. Maybe it isn't an idea. Maybe it's reliving. Maybe I am one of those few, fortunate and far between people who know their goal.
My Gramma Birdie grew up with caravaners, her parents were tinkerers traveling and living in a wagon pulled by a donkey, he fixed household goods like pots and pans, sharpened knives, stuff like that, she did everything else.
When I was about 5, friends of my parents came and visited our group. Their family, two parents and three kids lived in a Ford, probably 30 years old at the time, with a living area built on the back, like a perfect camper. I don't remember the kids' name, only that there were three kids, one a little older then I, one a little younger and one a baby. Here is the thing, I don't really remember Suzie or Bear, the parents, or anything else except I remember that Ford. I remember the living space. They built this work room that had a treadle sewing machine from which Suzie would create these amazing dresses and suits from rich wonderful velvet and hand dyed batik. Bear did stunning wood work and from this they made enough money to keep the wolf from the door.
When it was time for them to move on, probably to northern Cali, I tried to leave with them. I hid in their house on wheels. I got found, I don't think I actually hid very well, but from that point forward I had a dream, that someday I would do that, I would build that. I would have a rolling home. I would do this thing. I would build this life.
Right about now your saying, what about the Airstream, where does the Airstream come in maya?
Two years ago I was standing in the west Texas desert in this unincorporated town called Marathon, near the Big Bend National Park. I was standing there working on an old truck, a 1971 Ford, I spent four months working on this truck, rebuilding the engine and electrical system, I should mention here, I am no mechanic. That this place I'm at doesn't have internet or anything, so if I say, put in the alternator wrong, I have to take it out and put in back in until I get it right. This old Ford (I have hence named her Iron Maiden) is parked next to this similar vintage Airstream. When I say vintage it sounds amazing right? I mean, it sounds perfect and clean, with fab! seating and an avocado green stove. THIS WAS NOT THAT. This baby Airstream people had kicked the shit out of, it was dirty and had been lived in by west Texas cowboys. It smelled like old books, hay and Drum tobacco. And I was immediately and unrepentantly in love. It was perfect. PERFECT. I have rarely loved something more, I can only think of a couple of things, not including people or dogs, I have loved more.
This was my dream.
The guy said "It's for sale."
I said "YES."
Let me tell you right now after I pay bills, like most of you, have about $3.45 in my bank account.
He said an amount.
I said GREAT! And we shook on it. The next day a rich man who styled himself an artist came around and tried to buy my Airstream out from under me, he offered the seller twice as much as I had but we had a deal so she was mine. That is the way deals and dreams are made.
I went back to where I was staying and sold everything I could, I had a huge sale, I put stuff on Etsy and Facebook and I did it. I came up with the money.
I started cleaning it out. I packed boxes and boxes of books and yet more boxes of art and books. I cleaned it out. It took days.
I drove to an auto parts store about 100 miles away and bought a tow ball I thought would fit, more on that in a minute, notice I said *thought* it would fit. Haha. I brought my truck to the mechanic (if you are ever anywhere near the Big Bend National Park and need a mechanic or a tow, Sixto is the place. I'm not getting anything from that link, btw.)
My truck was a rust bomb, Sixtos took a torch and a giant hammer and spent a good number of hours, an entire afternoon in fact, getting the old, rusty, tow ball out and the new, turns out wrong sized one in, it took two days total. I happily left the shop and drove back to the Airstream, my baby, my dream solidified, and hooked her up to the truck. I've never towed anything more the probably 15 feet. This Airstream is 33 feet 35 if you include the hitch, plus the pickup truck the entire package is what? 50 feet, something like that. I drove backwards. I DIDN'T HIT ANYTHING! I didn't jack knife her! I made it off the land, backwards and onto a road!
I drove it to the RV mechanic and parked her over night, fine, I parked her there for several days, found out I put the wrong sized tow ball on. Like I haven't said, phones are not reliable there, so I spent a day or three driving around looking for the RV mechanic.
About here in this adventure, people (the RV mechanic, Angel, although far, far too polite to ever say so) starts thinking I am insane.
I looked at the laws about what kind of drivers license I needed, what kind of lights the Airstream needed, how much are new tires for an Airstream, how could I get them shipped here. What kind of tires does she need? All the practical things. I talked to the county registrar about how to get a license plate. I drove back and forth about 180 times from the county seat to Marathon. I talked to the Deputy Sheriff, I talked to the Sheriff, I talked to insurance people, I asked outlaws and artists how they did it (they hand drew fake plates.) I talked and talked and talked. I filled out miles of paperwork. I took photographs. I found out that in order to get plates on a vehicle in Texas the Deputy Sheriff in Midland County needs to inspect the vehicle. If he deems her likely to be stolen she takes her. Yes. He could take her. I finally got a temporary license plate. I had 30 days to do the work and get her home.
In my investigations on the internet I found that wheel bearings need greasing and tires go bad in the dry heat. I needed to get home! It's about 3000 miles from this border town to mine.
The thing is, I didn't know anything about trailers. Several days later, really it seemed like a year, the mechanic said you need wiring and the bearings need grease, and the tires are old, but not bad. The RV mechanic is called Angel, he is one. He saw how clearly I didn't know shit about this thing and took a look. He said, you'll probably make it up north with these tires, they aren't squared off, and I'll grease the bearings for you, and here is how you attached lights to her. That took several more days of work. And driving back and forth to the Auto Parts store. They now know me really well. They love me.
I was starting to feel like this:
I finally got it done. I GOT IT DONE AND ON THE ROAD. I got the plates. I got the lights, did you know they make stick on ones exactly for situations like this? We headed out. I still am stunned this has worked out.