Airstream Alley, part one

Based on Tucson Terry and Greg’s report on snow in Julian, we decided that it would be prudent to once again engage our vertical thrusters and fly over the Cuyamaca Mountains.  The flux capacitor apparently needs some tweaking because our craft still tends to drift higher in interstellar space than we intend,

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but our brake actuator worked and we safely landed…

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and set up base camp in the light of the waxing Wolf Moon.

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The surrounding terrain looked picturesque in the daylight.

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Other silver craft had also safely landed at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

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An unplanned, rolling party of eight Airstreams settled in to greet the new year. Captains Rich and David are seen below, standing in front of David and Ari’s 28′ Safari LS Slide-out pulled by a silver F-350.

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As Rich walked down Airstream Alley, he pointed to other Airstreams that had also landed. Co-pilot and cook Larry set up the array of holiday lights on our trailer (which is seen fully set-up, along with the campsite).

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As darkness descended and the temperature dropped, our three Airstreams lit up the night with holiday lights in addition to the running lights that are put on by connecting the two top pins of the 7-pin connector with a 10 watt blade fuse as Larry illustrated here.

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The rolling party has just begun… cooking, feasting, entertaining, ukulele playing (we spared Dr. C’s eyes by not wearing Hawaiian shirts this time), hiking and wildlife will be featured in subsequent posts.

Red Flag warning

I apprehensively watched the news last Tuesday morning as fires raged in Los Angeles and San Diego County on the morning of our fall camping trip to our favorite campground (William Heise County Park) in the Cuyamaca Mountains near Julian, CA. I checked on road information with Caltrans Highway Information Network (CHIN) and found that our planned route, Interstate 8, was closed to trucks and high-profile vehicles at Alpine due to a High Wind Advisory. So with no fires near Julian and an open route through Ramona, we made our way towards Julian, where fires last year caused the evacuation of the town.

Every fall, Santa Ana winds sweep dry air across Southern California, raising the fire danger and triggering Red Flag warnings. A Red Flag Warning was in effect on the day we arrived, so we were not surprised to see the “No Open Flames” signs everywhere, including one in each fire ring.

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We learned from the San Diego County ranger on duty that the “No Open Flames” here means the obvious no camp fires, charcoal fires, and candles. He said though that gas stoves were o.k., which worked for us as we had already planned on deep frying potatoes, fish and crab cakes…

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And the candles were kept inside the trailer…

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While our Safari bathed in the light of the full Hunter’s Moon

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(Highlights of night images taken here with the Nikon D40 set at the new feature, Auto (Flash off) mode will appear in my next article.)

We thoroughly enjoyed camping here Tuesday through Friday before the weekend crowd arrived. The days were spent waking to the sounds of crows and woodpeckers, taking quiet walks with the dogs (on the park roads, not trails), hiking (without the dogs), and catching up on reading, such as Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Mark Twain, Airstream Life, and Spooky Campfire Tales.

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Celebrating the fall harvest season at this campsite will continue in my next article…

Sun safety

Living the Airstream life means being outside more and enjoying our great outdoors. It also means increased exposure to the natural elements, including sunlight. Having fun in the sun brings immediate happiness, but it can also take a cumulative toll on our skin and bring discoloration, pain, premature aging, wrinkles, lesions, cancer, and sometimes death.

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Last year I noticed a few skin lesions on the left side of my face, so I had them checked by my dermatologist. I had limited improvement with hydrocortisone, but they did not go completely away. Last week my biopsy results indicated that the largest lesion is actinic (solar) keratosis (AK), a skin growth caused by exposure to sunlight. This can be the first step in the development of skin cancer and needs to be treated. As I write this, I am on day 2 of a two week course of applying a 2% solution of Fluorouracil (an antimetabolite) directly on the lesion. During this period the lesion will become inflamed leading to a crusty scab that will slough away and be replaced with new, and hopefully, healthy skin.

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(The largest lesion is the reddened vertical area about an inch from my mustache; the red spot is the shave biopsy site)

I’ve read that during the treatment phase, I can expect some discomfort and an unattractive face. I’ll spare you the day-by-day pictures, but for those who would like to see the process and one man’s interesting story with photos, click here. (Keep in mind he was using a 5% cream.) I also found this article on actinic keratosis helpful, along with this one.

Our skin plays a wonderful role in protecting our body, and, as you can imagine, I’m quickly learning the importance of protecting my skin. I highly recommend that you take a moment to click on and watch this excellent, You Tube video clip, Sun Safety Tips, which tells how to protect yourself (seek shade, cover up and use sunscreen).  This one, Safe Skin, shows how to recognize skin changes that you should see your doctor about.

I am learning that studies show that sun damage to skin accumulates over time and that 80% is thought to occur before the age of 18. (When I was growing up, we used suntan lotions and oils for that even tanned (well-cooked) look.) I am also learning that ultra violet rays can pass through clouds, and bounce off sand, snow and other surfaces and strike us, even if we are in shade. Thinning of the ozone layer may be allowing more of these rays to reach us. And I am at greater risk because of my fair skin and blue eyes.

So, I will try to avoid a sunburn by applying a good broad-spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, during our next scheduled outing at South Carlsbad State Beach, CA, after Labor Day. While living the Airstream life, it’s easy to forget to apply sunscreen, as seen in Rich Luhr’s Tour of America post, “Airstream life on the Sea of Cortez” (but you’ll see in one of the post’s photos, that Rich keeps his hat nearby).

Observing sun safety is one way to continue enjoying living the Airstream life longer. And while I’m wearing this hat, I’d like to introduce a delightful tune, “The Sun Has Got His Hat On”, by the Cafe Society” and another version (Ambrose & his Orchestra, 1932).

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Gettin’ hitched

Getting hitched is not to be taken lightly. It’s serious business, and a time to reflect on what’s really important, and then to act in a correct, determined and focussed manner to assure a successful and happy outcome.

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Not doing it correctly could lead to problems.  I’ll ‘fess up. Shortly after hitching up, I slowly pulled the trailer forward a few inches and felt and heard the thud of the hitch jack as it moved off of the thin wood pad onto the concrete driveway. I had forgotten to raise the electric jack. Fortunately, no harm was done, but it scared me into thinking about how to prevent what could be a costly omission in the future.

Early on, I developed a number of trailer protocols and checklists (including hitching and unhitching). But as time went on, I tended to do, what were becoming to be, “routine tasks” by rote. But all it takes is one brief distraction and a critical step could be omitted. So this season, I have built into my routine a way of reminding me to do certain critical tasks. For example, when I’m about to hitch up, I remove all of the specific tools and items required from the hitch box at the outset. When each task is done, the related tool goes back into the hitch box. The trailer is not moved until all tools and items are back in the box, and we both do a walk-around inspection, and check lights and signals.

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Four of my essential tools seen in the above photo remind me to do certain things. The stabilizer crank reminds me to raise the stabilizers (done first when hitching up). Next to that is the tool that helps me to place the Equal-i-zer sway bars onto the brackets on the A-frame. The rubber mallet reminds me to knock off the jack foot when the electric hitch is raised. And the wheel chock wrench reminds me to remove the chocks.

Other useful items seen in this picture include the Husky Universal Coupler Lock #39594, rubber cover for the greasy hitch ball, tube of white lithium grease, and Gojo Natural Orange Pumice Hand Cleaner (which comes in handy with all that grease around).

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Those Equal-i-zer sway bars also get greasy, so Larry made lightweight tubes for them when they are not in use.

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Also seen in the above picture is the flag pole stand under the jack post. We often use this stand under campsite tables as well.

So that’s how we get hitched… oh, there is one more view

In the meantime, during these dog days of summer, we’ll stay home and enjoy the house air conditioning. (Our local state beach campgrounds are mostly booked until after Labor Day, when we plan to return to our favorite beach campground.)

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We will use the time to catch up on various projects, including playing and listening to the ukulele.

Filiform corrosion

Returning home from the shore, means it’s time to hose off the salt deposits from the trailer. It’s also the time for the trailer’s annual, big wash and wax job. This time, though, we knew it would entail more, and we’ve been preparing.

Ever since Randy (a fellow 23’2007 Safari SE trailer owner) asked the question, “Does anyone know what this is?”, on the Airstream Knowledge Sharing Forums, over a year ago, we’ve been watching for its appearance. We’ve been following the Airforums’ eye-opening thread, “Corrosion problems with new Airstreams“, for a year now. We’ve been quietly holding our own vigil, carefully inspecting our trailer for the inevitable worm-like filiform to grow from the unprotected edges, rivet holes and scratches in the aluminum skin and burrow under the clear coat where humid conditions help it to thrive.

Our filiform were slow to emerge, probably due to using a good wax last year, Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze, Professional Polymer Sealant, #20, as part of our wash and wax regimen. But emerge they did, white worm-like, thread-like filaments sprouting here and there along the belt-line area.

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And from various rivet holes…

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And on taillight housing bezels…

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And wheel rims…

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Using Google search, I found interesting background information on filiform corrosion and watched how it grows. I am learning that corrosion is a threat to all trailers and filiform corrosion is a threat to all aluminum trailers with a clear coat finish. As of this writing, there are 29 fascinating pages regarding this filiform issue on the Airforum’s thread, “Corrosion problems with new Airstreams“, along with strategies to control this condition.

This information helped us to select our interventions for the counterattack which coincided with our wash and wax job on our return from the beach. First, I washed the trailer with a good car wash and chose, Meguiar’s Deep Crystal Car Wash.

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We chose and applied CorrosionX Aviation to the entire belt-line area, taillight bezels and wheel rims. I also applied CorrosionX to the stabilizing jacks, which were showing some corrosion. The following day, I wiped off the oily excess and sprayed on Boeshield T-9 (“Rust & Corrosion Protection, Waterproof Lubrication”, as stated on the label). I liked how T-9 dried, leaving a waxy residue. Meguiar’s Professional Sealant #20 was then applied and buffed.

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Read Randy’s experience with filiform corrosion and his remedy: he took his trailer to Jackson Center where the Airstream factory applied the Classic Beltline Trim.

We’re hopeful that our interventions will be successful in protecting our Airstream trailer, while keeping it looking good.