RV Camping
& Travel Tips

Touring the 45th parallel and beyond with the  2007 Design Within Reach Airstream
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airstream tool kit

I printed out the Newbie’s Tool Kit—published in Issue 15 of Outside Interests (the free online newsmag for Airstreamers), took it to the local bigbox hardware store, and obediently purchased every single item.

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Those taking a more northwesterly route home on I-94 from Alumapalooza won’t visit Hastings, but they might Airstream through “The Buffalo City”—Jamestown, North Dakota.

One could fall asleep at the wheel slogging the width of North Dakota. It’s 340 miles with no attractions (unless you count the peculiar Enchanted Highway and world’s largest plastic cow). Jamestown appears like a magical oasis halfway between Bismarck and Fargo when dad needs to crack his back, the kids need a corn dog, and mom needs a pee break.

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Are you returning home from Alumapalooza westbound on I-80? After 13 hours on the road you’ll need a break. Take the half hour detour to Hastings, Nebraska, home of Kool-Aid.

Deep within the bowels of the Hastings Museum, past the antique cars and taxidermied coyotes, remains every possible relic from the Kool-Aid years, circa 1927 to the present. You’ll learn about nerdy young Edwin Perkins, who began his snack drink empire in his mother’s Nebraska kitchen.

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happy traveler rv, palm springs

I polled everyone with the question, “where should I camp in Palm Springs?” Okay, I asked three people. But all three, without hesitation, immediately said “Happy Traveler”.

All then followed that recommendation with “you’ll need reservations, and it’s probably full.” Ralph, responsible for the destinations and tactics of our southwest road trip, called Happy Traveler RV Park well in advance…and conscientiously booked a reservation for the wrong nights.

We discovered the error on our way there when Ralph called to confirm our arrival, days later than he reserved. “Don’t worry, we’ll figure something out,” said Mike, the manager.

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The Manzanar War Relocation Center, where we briefly stopped during our southwest road trip. At the base of a starkly beautiful range of hills stand two of the grim barracks, out of the former hundreds, reconstructed for historical reflection.

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the ethnic markets of reno

I’ve been to Reno many times and I’m always surprised to see how it morphs. Suddenly there’s a mega mall where an empty lot just was (and vice versa), and long-standing businesses fade away. One particular megacasino has changed hands six times since 1974. And always opening and closing are an assortment of ethnic markets.

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Why would one visit an area infested with so many mosquitos that the town holds an annual Mosquito Festival?

Because heading south, Paisley—a modest oasis of civilization in the Oregon Outback—is on the way to California liquor stores in Alturas, and beyond that, Reno. And beyond that, during that magical time of year, Burning Man.

It’s basically an agreeable bend in Highway 31; a nice quiet place with wide streets to pull your Airstream over and use the public restroom.

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grand canyon (nee dinosaur) caverns

I listed 27 dinosaur and fossil attractions in the “Dig This!” article featured in the Winter 14 issue of Airstream Life, but I’m sad to say that Dinosaur Caverns—renamed “Grand Canyon” Caverns in 1962—didn’t make the cut.

While I loved every minute of my visit there, the dinosaurs were just too…plastic.

The veneer of fifties kitsch still clings to the historic site on Route 66, where gigantic, green, cheesy cartoon dinos greet visitors.

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tow it alone: airstream tips for women

According to the RV professionals present at an Oregon Unit Airstream rally, 300,000 accidents occur annually due to backing up. It was subtly implied that a woman was likely behind the wheel each time.

Simmer down, trailer chicks: stereotypes don’t grow in a vacuum, and that’s why a Women’s Towing Session is on the program again at Alumafandango. I have the honor of presenting as well; at “Tow It Alone”, we’ll share concerns, adventures, and tips for women who seek to set aside their fears and experience the thrills and benefits of learning to Airstream solo.

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foldable favorite: collapsible tea kettle

This rubbery silicone kettle has a stainless steel bottom and stands 5 3/4 inches high—until you squash it to a nice flat 2 1/2 inches.

For use in your galley (not on the campfire), it has a detachable handle and a little silicone lid. The packaging states one obvious instruction— “do not press down on the lid when the kettle is filled” (thanks, Captain Obvious)—and another, more ominous one.

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