We recently got the latest edition of the Airstream newsletter called Outside Interests. One of the articles is called "CONSERVING WATER WHEN BOONDOCKING." Besides containing great tips for showering and washing dishes on limited water, we were thrilled to see a picture of our Airstream and truck featured in the article. Wow...did it bring back memories. It was our very first boondocking experience. We were virgin boondockers before Rich Luhr of Airstream Life invited us to Anza Borrego, CA for some desert camping a couple of winters ago.
We didn't have a clue what we were doing but we felt confident that with Rich's help and the support of Leigh and Brian from Aluminarium who were camping with us, that we would be ok. There were four of us in our Airstream - me, Troy, and our two children ages 3 and 6. We didn't have solar power or a generator, so conservation of energy was paramount as I needed to work on my computer while we were there. This means that in addition to needing power for lights and heat, we needed enough for a cell phone, a computer, and all the wifi/signal boosters that go along with that. Fortunately, Brian came over and hooked us up to his portable solar panel in the afternoons to give a boost to our battery.
As far as water/tank conservation goes, our bunkhouse Airstream model is not known for its black water tank size. With only 18 gallons, we were very cautious with flushing the toilet, and all paper products went into the trash. We managed to get by on very little water usage; however, I did long for a hot, steamy shower in the midst of all the dust at Anza Borrego. It was everywhere!
Honestly, though, the power and water conservation strategies paled in comparison to Troy's flu and my tooth extraction while we were there. Troy was sick with fever and puking in the trailer for 2 days. When he started feeling better, my tooth ache got worse and I had to find a dentist in the nearby tiny little town. I ended up needing an extraction from a dentist that I'm pretty sure had been practicing dentistry long before the dirt in that desert was made. He pulled and pulled on my tooth until it cracked apart and chipped the tooth next to it. I was stressed and in pain by the time I got back to our boondocking haven. What I would have done to be able to climb in bed and watch a feel-good movie while nursing my sore mouth, but when you are conserving power, that isn't an option. To take my mind off of the situation, we all walked over to the community fire and watched some fellow boondockers amaze us with their sword-swallowing and fire-breathing skills. The impromptu entertainment and the friends we met made a bad situation better.
At the time, we discounted our first boondocking experience as a failure because of the unexpected health struggles we had (flu and pulled tooth), but really, that's the thing about boondocking, life still happens. Being prepared for things to not go as planned is part of the experience. It was a hard lesson, but one that we will not forget.
These appliances could have been saved. They were brand new with many years of use left. However, my client plugged his new RV into the standard plug that comes on every RV and somehow managed to connect it the wrong way. I know this seems impossible because this plug has a twisting safety feature that is supposed to prevent a bad connection, but it happens all the time and it happened with this new RV owner.
"I received an emergency call when this happened because he was camping with his family and was unable to use anything powered by electricity"
The faulty connection caused the neutral and hot wires to cross which proceeded to ruin ALL of his electric appliances. I received an emergency call when this happened because he was camping with his family and was unable to use anything powered by electricity. In short order, it would have affected his battery power too because the converter charger that recharges the battery was damaged, as well. This unhappy owner had to buy a new converter charger, fireplace, flatscreen TV, microwave, and plug inlet/outlet. He had to pay me to come to his location and remove the damaged appliances, install the new appliances, and repair the power connection on both the inlet and power cord. This bad power connection cost my customer hundreds of dollars.
Although I didn't get a picture of his burned plug at the time, below is a collection of similarly burned plugs. You can see that there can be enough heat to char, melt, or even set fire to the plug.
"It can only go in ONE way, and the SmartPlug has a very satisfying "click" when the side tabs connect."
Unfortunately, this standard type of connection hasn't changed much since its design in the 1930's. I can't understand why it is still in use with such a potential for misuse. Even when it is plugged in correctly, the old standard plugs are prone to overheating. That's why I was thrilled when I stumbled upon the SmartPlug. It can only go in ONE way, and the SmartPlug has a very satisfying "click" when the side tabs connect. I installed one on my Airstream and loved it so much that now I sell it in my online store.
It gave me peace of mind that my family would be safer from a potential electrical fire. I never question if it is connected correctly because there is an LED light on the outside to let me know all is good. The cover of the outlet also folds down to create another "click" and an additional security feature for stability of the connection.
"I recommend that all RV owners add a SmartPlug to their list of after-market upgrades."
By investing $149 in a SmartPlug, my client could have avoided the cost and time it required to call a technician in to install new appliances and repair the damage. That's why I recommend that all RV owners add a SmartPlug to their list of after-market upgrades. You probably already have a properly functioning sewer hose and sway bar, but don't forget to order a SmartPlug so you can have the peace of mind that your power connection is safe and secure.
Update...We love this product so much that Repairstream is now a SmartPlug dealer.
One of the highlights of my work is discovering companies that are refining and perfecting products to make our RV travel safer and easier. One of these companies is SmartPlug. It is an innovative, new product that takes an antiquated power delivery system designed in the late 1930's and gives it much needed facelift.
The reason I am so impressed with the SmartPlug is because I run into frequent situations where customers have inadvertently not made good contact between the twist-lock connector and the inlet of their RV. This can lead to a fire hazard since loose connections result in high resistance and produce heat. Even if there is no fire, this heat can melt connections and lead to an inability to access electricity until a repair can be made.
I'm sure if you have been RVing for very long, you also understand how annoying it is attempting to line up the twist-lock connector with the RV inlet in the dark. The SmartPlug can only plug in one direction and you actually hear the click when it locks into place. The added benefit of the blue LED light confirms that you have power from the post.
In my opinion, SmartPlug made significant improvements in shore power, and I guarantee that this will be a welcomed upgrade to your current system. With the innovation of the SmartPlug system you get a safe, simple, and secure connection for many years to come.
Here are some of the highlights of the SmartPlug technology:
Safe & Secure:
1. Rock solid sleeve connection
2. Multi-point locking system
3. 20x more electrical contact area than your standard twist-lock connector
4. Triple weatherproof seals (stays nice and dry)
5. Integrated trip thermostat cuts power before overheating
1. No twisting required, pushes straight in
2. No added drilling or cutting into RV (same footprint as existing RV inlet)
3. Ease of installation
4. LED indicator light on factory made cord sets
5. 7 year warranty
Icing on the cake? The SmartPlug stainless steel inlet cover plate looks like my Airstream came out of the factory this way. Hopefully Airstream is taking notes and will make this standard on all new Airstreams! (hint, hint)
We took the Gray Whale (our 30 foot Airstream) out for one last jaunt before the cold weather hits here in mid-Missouri. On the 300 mile trek back home, we had high winds. We noticed other RV's on the interstate dealing with some sway, but other than an occasional nudge, we felt in control and pleased with the way the Airstream towed. We were not aware of the severity of the storms until we arrived home and saw that the winds and tornados made national news.
Even though the aerodynamic features and the low center of gravity of the Airstream help it to have less resistance on the wind, trips like this still make us seriously consider switching to the Pro Pride hitch for another layer of control.
If you are interested in the experience of a friend of ours from Airstream Life Magazine who was towing his Airstream on a windy day, here is his YouTube video.
Working as an RV technician, I have had to dump a lot of customer waste tanks. Let's be honest...it's disgusting, it's dirty, and no fun whatsoever. Nobody likes to evacuate the tanks, but we have to.
We've settled for inferior products in this industry for too long, and I'm here to say I'm sick and tired of pinhole leaks, embedded wires poking through, cheap materials, dripping openings, and sewer hoses that stink. For those of us who like to travel, why do we settle when it comes to disposing of black and grey waste?
I don't have to settle anymore. The Polychute was developed to create a better, cleaner, safer waste removal experience for RV owners. Yes, it is more expensive than the "disposable" hoses, but I'm willing to spend more for a product that carries a lifetime warranty and makes this unpleasant job a little more pleasant. I use the Polychute for our family travel and thought you might want to, as well.
For a more thorough review of the Polychute, enjoy the video below from the RV Doctor.
After prying Rich's fingers off the steering wheel from reaching the summit of our driveway (read their blog post here), we had the high privilege of offering courtesy parking to our friends from Airstream Life Magazine (Rich, Eleanor, and Emma) as they were crossing the country back to Arizona. .
They tried to hit us last June on their way back from Alumapalooza, but it didn't work out. We tried to meet up with them in February at Alumafiesta, but the truck broke down 30 minutes into our 3 week planned adventure. So, it finally worked out, and we were excited to glean insight from their experiences...What was life on the road like for 3 years as full-timers? How is homeschooling on the road? What trailer modifications have they made since we have the same make and model? But deep inside, what I really wanted to ask him was, "Can I be on the next cover of Airstream Life?"
Even though they were here for two days, the time seemed too short. Yes, they received free camping, but we are the ones who benefitted most from their stay.
I should be a martial arts master after washing, wiping, and waxing my Airstream. At the very least, my fitness oriented wife is pleased that by helping wax the Grey Whale (our Airstream) her arms got a toning workout.
It's not hard work, just time, attention to detail, and the right products are required.
If you are an Airstream owner, you can go from spots to a shiny reflection if you wash and wax once or twice a year. It is painstakingly slow, but worth the work. (You can also call me and I will do it for you. It's a great way to stay warm in the winter.)
Walbernize RV Super Seal polishes, cleans, and makes the surface waterproof. You can purchase it directly from the Walbernize website.
There are some jobs in the RV business that are more of a challenge than others. Replacing air conditioners is one of those challenges. They are big, bulky, heavy, and awkward to maneuver. Not only is it dangerous to attempt alone (unless you like throwing your back out), but one mistake and the air conditioner can be destroyed with a crash.
My friend Roger uses a crank pulley system and manually cranks air conditioners up and down a ladder. I thought this was a great idea, but decided to go a step further and get a motorized winch. It works very well attached to this old roof shingle pulley system. I can secure the air conditioner and with the push of a button, raise it up to the RV roof. It makes the job much safer and easier for a one-man team.
We saw major rain and storms here in Mid-MO last month. Our creeks, rivers, and even some of our towns are flooded. Here is a brief video of the campground in the Hermann, MO City Park that became a lake overnight. One 5th wheel stood alone. Hope they had insurance.
I was stopped at a gas station recently when a guy pulled up with this beauty. Of course I was intrigued. The first thing I noticed was a second door on the opposite side of the Airstream. After a brief conversation with the driver, I found out it was for beer tasting. People come in one door, get their beer and go out the door on the other side. It got even better when he allowed me to peek inside....
Tongue and groove wood covered the interior. With a comfy couch and bar, it created a warm atmosphere.
Has anyone else seen this beer tasting Airstream at events around the country?
Send me your stories and/or pictures of unique Airstreams and I will post them in my blog. Travel On....Troy