Roughing It

Week 14 Hot Springs 002_crop

[Editor’s Note: Yes, our blog is late again—see below for this week’s excuse.]

When we talk to friends, relatives and even strangers about our planned 9-month plus travels in our Airstream, their reactions generally fall into one of three categories:

  • Those who would like to do what we are doing (a small group)
  • Those who would camp but never in a trailer or RV (a few traditional tent-campers)
  • Those who would never do what we are doing (most people)

As we mentioned in one of our early blogs (, our Airstream has almost all the comforts of home, just in a much smaller space.  So we are a little surprised at how many people would never consider doing what we are doing.  However, there are a few negative aspects of trailer living that need to be overcome and one or more of these may turn off potential campers.  Here are some of them.

  • Space is limitedPatty just got a new exercise from her physical therapist that requires her to lay on the floor with both arms straight out from her sides—can’t do it in our trailer.  Probably more important than the limited space for doing things is the limited distance available to get away from the other occupant of the trailer.  Many couples, especially those married for a long time, know they wouldn’t survive in this small space.  (Our Airstream theoretically sleeps five and earlier this year, we had our two daughters and son-in-law in our Airstream for two nights—at least one night too many.)
  • Doing laundry is a painWe have nothing against Laundromats (great for people-watching) but if you are using them at our age, you may question whether your life has been a success.  To avoid this, we often impose on the people we visit and do our laundry in their homes—still demeaning but at least it’s among friends and relatives.
  • TV, internet, and telephone access is limitedWhen we go to a new campground, we are never quite sure how good our access to the rest of the world will be.  We don’t miss this too much—we have our Kindles and enjoy reading—but it is difficult to live without access for several weeks.  Even when we do get a few broadcast TV stations, the variety is limited–last week we watched Bachelor Father with John Forsythe, last seen on TV in 1962, so you can tell we were getting a little desperate.   Lack of internet access also makes blogging a challenge—we have posted blogs from three different public libraries, Dunkin’ Donuts, Panera, Starbucks and Tropical Smoothie. (Posting this week’s blog required a special trip to the library.)
  • Conditions for personal hygiene are less than idealWe have a shower stall in our Airstream but it is very small and, if we use it, we have to minimize water usage or our waste storage tank fills up too fast.  For these reasons, we normally use the campground showers that vary greatly in quality.  Unless you enjoy, or at least can tolerate, showering in public places, camping may not be for you.  (Shower/bathroom conditions are the number one criteria Patty uses to rate campgrounds.)

So what do we do to overcome the negative aspects of trailer life?  Four words—Scrabble and White Russians (technically, they are diet White Russians because we use skim milk instead of cream).  In the evening when our fellow campers sit around their campfires, we often play Scrabble and drink White Russians.  We have always played Scrabble when we camp—we don’t play at home—and it is something we look forward to.  Of course we have never camped for nine months so the novelty may be wearing off—Patty is already complaining about the excessive number words that Ed makes that she doesn’t know.

The one thing that we never disagree about is the perfection of White Russians—Kahlua, vodka, and cream/milk.  However, constantly drinking White Russians for nine months (even diet ones) obviously would not be too good for our health.  As a result, we have had to limit their consumption to weekends (and other special occasions).

This was a slow week for blog news with Patty having multiple appointments with a doctor, physical therapist, and masseuse to help solve her back and neck pain problems (she is feeling better).  Also, we had several days of rain which put a damper on our efforts to explore Richmond where we were staying all week.  We did have the opportunity to do a little sight-seeing and to visit friends and relatives in the Richmond and DC area.


Patty and George Washington in the Virginia State Capitol Rotunda.  The free guided tour of the Capitol was very interesting, particularly the stories of the making of the Spielberg movie Lincoln that was filmed in and around the Capitol.  It’s a little ironic because the Capitol also housed the Confederate Congress during the Civil War.

Week 16 Susan 004_crop

Patty and her last roommate before Ed—Susan Clubb.  We had a great home-cooked dinner with Susan and her husband Bruce in Alexandria, Virginia.  We often have discussions with people concerning what it takes to get into our blogs, that is, how do they become blogworthy? There are no guarantees but a home-cooked meal is a good start.

We also had a nice visit with our friends, Glenn and Chris Rehberger.  Glenn and Ed worked together during his years in the Reston and Herndon, Virginia offices of CH2M HILL.

Despite the government shutdown, the Federal campground we were scheduled to stay at for the next two weeks was still open last week so we kept calling to check on its status.  As the guy in the campground office said, they were “…hoping the idiots in Washington will get their act together…”   Alas, they did not and, as a result, we will be staying at three state parks, one in Virginia and two in North Carolina. We’re looking forward to seeing those fall colors soon.

4 thoughts on “Roughing It

  1. OK! I’m just glad you didn’t get TOO graphic about the limitations of “living” in the Airstream!
    Rick and I would probably kill each other after a month!

  2. Here’s to white russians! They would be the only thing that would prevent me from killing John during a 9 month stint in an Airstream. As a child & young adult (white russians weren’t offered) our family camped a lot but never in a fancy Airstream–I’m talking tents here. I agree 100% with Pattie, campground facilities, i.e., showers & restrooms, are the MOST important feature of campgrounds. Sounds like y’all are having lots of adventures; I’m jealous. Keep the blogs coming; they are an excellent source of information about campgrounds around the east, not to mention immensely entertaining.

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