December – Streamin’ holiday cheer

December in the Northern Hemisphere, is a time of dropping temperatures and lengthening nights, leading up to winter solstice that has had cultural significance dating back to Neolithic times for people who have responded with observances often associated with the reversal of the Sun’s ebbing and the beginning of longer days, resulting in cheerful celebrations often around themes of birth or rebirth, renewal, hopefulness, and new beginnings, and characterized by people gathering, celebrating, feasting and drinking (Wikipedia).  December’s full moon is known as the both the Full Cold Moon* and the Long Nights Moon.

Recently, we received photos and cheerful news that the new owners of our Airstream Safari trailer successfully completed a round trip from San Diego to Northern California to visit their family while camping along the way.

20171025_122115 Hitched for maiden cruise

20171029_180037 Maiden cruise camping

We have cheerful memories of camping and celebrating the holidays and seasons from fall to spring over the years.  Ten years ago this month, Larry and I and our late corgi Mac and pug Pau Hoa celebrated our first December camping in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park where we met up with friends and celebrated the season.

HPIM1905 Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

I brought along my lighthouse keeper’s garb, which doubled as a conductor’s uniform, for The Polar Express* spoof performance I gave to entertain and cheer our friends.

HPIM1907 The conductor & uke player

I also brought my plague doctor’s robe and top hat to present The Nutcracker‘s Drosselmeyer giving a nutcracker to Clara* (Emma here).  (Also see “Nutcracker in the desert” and Tour of America’s “Characters.”)

HPIM1949 Drosselmeyer presents gift

HPIM1951 Emma receives Nutcracker

We then held an ukulele fest that could drive the cold winter away* (along with Dr. C)!

HPIM1954 Uke fest in the desert

Cheerfulness abounded both outside and inside our Airstream Safari.

HPIM1970 Airstream decorated for Christmas

So this December 2017, we are cherishing our home and wishing everyone Good Health and Happy Holidays!

IMG_1002 Larry's Holiday Panettone

And be of good cheer as you watch James Corden’s Most Intense Christmas Celebration Ever* and ‘All I Want for Christmas’ Carpool Karaoke!*

IMG_1020 Our holiday mantel 2017

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Our 2007 23′ Airstream Safari 10th year Anniversary and Review

We brought our new 2006 F-250 Super Duty truck to Southwest Coaches and picked up our custom-ordered 2007 23′ Airstream Safari Special Edition trailer in January 2007. (See video of similar model)*

2006 F-250 & 2007 23' Airstream Safari

We were in our 60s, recently retired and lived in San Diego, where our favorite desert, mountain and beach getaways were all within a two-hour drive.  Camping in the comfort and style of an Airstream trailer made sense to us and we bought the largest one that could fit comfortably in our driveway!

23' Airstream Safari fits in driveway!

This Airstream trailer was a custom order placed through Southwest Coaches, Irvine, California. It included two factory-installed solar panels, two FanTastic Fans, and the full awning package (awnings on all three sides).

DSC_0146 Full awning pkg & 2 solar panels

The selling point for us is that this trailer has an L-lounge that extends into a large bed and, along with the rear bed, we and our two dogs sleep very comfortably!  Next to a huge, 2-door wardrobe is a 5 cu. ft. refrigerator under a built-in microwave.  And the many windows brighten the day inside!

190.40 View up aisle from bed to lounge

DSC_0294 Dog bed under ext

The trailer comes with a dinette table that stows away in the nearby credenza.

DSC_0180 Credenza with stowaway rolling dinette table DSC_0177 Rolling dinette table (stowed)

207.40 Rolling dinette out and opened

The galley features a large lobster sink with underneath storage and a pull out pantry.

DSC_0292 Galley & pull-out pantry

 

DSC_0003 Under sink storage

Storage is also provided above and below the Vanity Sink.

DSC_0084 Vanity Sink  HPIM0952 LED Portable Lt at Vanity Sink

 

 

 

 

 

This article is the first in a series of postings that show details of the features of our trailer and truck and why they work so well for two people with two dogs.  And why this trailer and truck combo is right at home at the beach or in the mountains and desert.

HPIM2450 Safari at Vallecito County Park

Gee, ain’t it funny how time just slips away.* (Willie Nelson)

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

 

Airstream torquing tendonitis

Before every trip, I follow a checklist of procedures that need to be done and items to include, which are spread over a 4-day period.  Critical items that must be done are checking and adjusting tire pressures, and checking the torque of the trailer wheel lug nuts to lessen the chance of a tire or wheel failure (See Outside Interests‘ “Tire Tips – Part 2″).  I lug around a rather heavy air compressor to each tire that needs more air and then I apply a torque wrench to each lug nut in a star pattern* to the specified tightness of 110-120 ft-lbs two days before departure (See “Carry a Torque Wrench for RV Maintenance“).*  See and hear Colonial Airstream’s Patrick Botticelli’s video, “Airstream Tire Safety,”* which includes information about tire inspection, tire pressures, lug nut torque, DOT (Department of Transportation) Code for manufacture date, and when to replace tires.

dsc_0022-torquing-airstream-lug-nuts

Last month, two days before our first trip of our fall-winter-spring camping season, I checked the tire pressures, placed PressurePro tire monitoring sensors on our ST tires* and checked lug nut torque.  I am right handed, so I lugged the air compressor and checked the lug nuts mostly with my right arm.  Our aged air compressor seemed to struggle at times with the job, so at the end of the day, I went to Home Depot and got a new compressor and then went to Costco and picked up a half-gallon of ice cream and a large apple pie, mostly with my right arm.  That evening, I felt my arm ache, which interrupted my sleep. The day before departure, I continued with my checklist and the ache became pain and burning that persisted throughout the night. I awoke on departure day realizing that hitching up would result in further injury, so we reluctantly canceled our November trip to the desert.

Ten years ago, we first bought this Airstream Safari just before Thanksgiving when I was 69 years old [actually, I was 59, as caught and corrected by my dear Dr. C., whose sharp eye, insight and wit are evidenced in his comments below]. By the way, November is a great time to shop and haggle for a new Airstream.  Next month will be the 10th year of our camping with this Airstream travel trailer, and I will be 70 in March.  As Willie Nelson sings, “Gee, ain’t it funny how time just slips away.“*

It seems this Airstream is holding up better than my body parts, as my Kaiser Urgent Care diagnosis of right arm tendonitis* confirmed.  Fortunately, after a 2-week course of Ibuprofen (Motrin) 800 mg q8 hrs and most importantly, mindful rest,* I feel up to preparing for our return to the desert this month.

Whether this incident is a fluke, or a sign of things to come remains to be seen.  We have reservations for camping sites through next April…

Meanwhile, we are attending the fun events such as the Harbor Walk at Oceanside, CA, put on by  San Diego Corgi Meetup.

hpim2972-larry-mac-tasha-at-oceanside-ca

Happy Holidays to all, no matter who you are, where you live, or what you believe!*

Wait, wait, there’s more:  A Dr. C. inspired encore video selection: James Cluer’s Wine Route – Bordeaux Part 8: Cháteau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Wash, Wax and Corgi Day at the Beach!

While some are winterizing, we are washing and waxing our Safari Airstream travel trailer for the beginning of our fall-winter-spring camping season in the wonderful mountains and deserts of Southern California, popular with snow birds as far away as Bigfork, Montana.  A full report on how I wash and wax the trailer, along with a list of my tools, strategy, procedure, and the benefits, is seen in last year’s post, “Wash, wax and treat II.”

dsc_0052-annual-trailer-wash-2016

Once again, I wore my “Ridin’ with Biden” hat, especially because I am on-board with his efforts to accelerate progress in preventing, detecting, and treating cancer with the goal of ending cancer as we know it.  As a retired RN, I appreciate Joe Biden’s passionate tribute to the nurses and all who fight cancer, as seen in the video, “Vice President Biden Delivers Remarks at the Cancer Moonshot Summit.”*

dsc_0054_2-still-ridin-with-biden

Seven years ago, I had Mohs surgery to remove a skin cancer lesion from my face, so as the sun broke through the marine layer, I put on my trusty wide brim hat for better sun protection.

dsc_0056-meguiars-polymer-sealant-20

Our annual washing and waxing the trailer was completed ahead of schedule, so we took a day off and rewarded ourselves and our corgis Mac and Tasha with a day at the beach!

hpim2955-larry-tasha-mac-at-the-beach

But it was not just any day, it was the 2016 Fall So Cal Corgi Nation Beach Day at Huntington Beach, California!

dsc_0005-corgi-nation-beach-day-towel

One thousand people with their corgis flocked to the beach for a day of excitement and sensory overload!

hpim2954-fall-2016-corgi-day-at-the-beach

It is billed as the “THE BIGGEST CORGI PAWTY ON THE PLANET !!!

Corgis played in the surf and on the beach.

hpim2958-larry-corgis-on-beach

hpim2964-corgi-play

Ryen, a popular vlogger, drove down from the San Francisco Bay Area with his famous corgi Gatsby* dressed as Batman for this event!

hpim2951-ryen-and-corgi-gatsby

And fans lined up to meet them.  See Ryen’s vlog, “How Corgi Dog Changed My Life.”*

hpim2953-ryen-gatsby-bill-tasha

See Ryen’s video of the 2016 Fall Corgi Beach Day at Huntington Beach: 1,000 Corgis In Costume – World’s Largest Corgi Party!, Life After College: Ep. 516.*

By the end of the day, we were all dead… tired… but with wonderful corgi memories to dream about!*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Quick, easy and safe RV refrigerator defrosting

Dometic User Manual Caution: “Do not use: A knife or an ice pick, or other sharp tools to remove frost from the freezer shelves. It can create a leak in the ammonia system.  A hot air blower. Permanent damage could result from warping the metal or plastic parts.”  We use neither sharp tools nor a hot air blower and yet easily and routinely defrost our Dometic RM2551 RV refrigerator (5 cu. ft.) in less than 30 minutes.

Frost and ice buildup on the cooling fins reduces the cooling efficiency of the refrigerator.  As seen below, our refrigerator is overdue for defrosting!

DSC_0004 Time to defrost RV refrig

I usually defrost our refrigerator about every two months depending on outside temperature and humidity conditions.  I like to start a trip with the cooling fins clear of most of the frost to make sure the refrigerator maintains safe temperatures for food (40° F or less).  We use our RV refrigerator full time (it acts as a supplemental refrigerator when at home) and it always has food in it, so it is important to be able to do the defrosting quickly, to prevent food spoilage and to shorten the recovery time to get adequately cold again.

DSC_0002 Gathering defrosting tools Once I determine that the refrigerator needs defrosting, I choose a warm day and gather five tools: a cooler, electric fan, large Tupperware lid, extra long chopstick, and a washcloth.

One of the benefits of our 23′ Airstream Safari trailer is that the large lobster sink/counter is directly across from the refrigerator, which provides a handy location for the fan to direct warm air directly into the freezer/refrigerator compartments.

I then turn off the refrigerator, fully open the door and place most food items in the nearby cooler. (I leave most condiments and other food items in the door in place.)

DSC_0006 Removing food

DSC_0004 Wireless sensor & thermistor

As you may have noticed,  our refrigerator’s white thermistor probe wire is not in its OEM plastic holder on the far right fin where it normally is moved up and down to regulate the temperature (See How to make your RV fridge colder*).  Refrigerator thermistors are NTC (Negative Temperature Coefficient) thermistors* and resistance decreases as the temperature increases.  The higher the position on the fin, the warmer the thermistor will be and the refrigerator will run longer and become colder.  But our probe wire is short and does not allow it to be moved high enough on the fin to obtain the proper refrigerator coldness.  So I found that by removing it from its holder and moving it away and down from the fins, I can adjust and maintain the proper refrigerator coldness (which for us is usually 36-37 ° F and monitored by our AcuRite Wireless Digital Thermometer).

I use a condiment bottle to prop open the freezer door (Thai sweet chili sauce* works well) and place the frozen items in the cooler.

DSC_0013 Freezer door propped open

A closer look at the tools is seen above: an inverted Tupperware lid to collect melting ice chunks, an extra long chopstick* (17.7″ bamboo chopstick for hot pot and wok cooking) to gently loosen ice chunks, and a white washcloth to wipe clean and dry the refrigerator.  (Note: we have greatly reduced our use of paper towels by purchasing a 24-pack of white reusable washcloths from Costco and also available at Amazon.com.)

DSC_0008 Ice cube trays in freezerTip: This set of 4 flexible silicone ice cube trays from Target works wonderfully for us.  It makes ice cubes quickly and takes up less space than traditional ice cube trays.  It helps keep other food items cool in the cooler when defrosting and it helps decrease the refrigerator’s recovery time after defrosting.

Packages of fish balls, jiao zi (dumplings),* and pesto are seen on the left.)

The fan is then turned on and defrosting will take about 20 minutes!

DSC_0016 Defrosting begins

DSC_0018 Water exits via new drain tubeAs ice begins to melt, water drips down and is collected in the condensation drain pan and flows through its bottom hole into the Dometic white drain pipe with cup, which connects with the drainage tubing on the backside of the refrigerator.

Our OEM drainage tubing had become brittle and we replaced it with Shields Rubber Series 162 Polyester Reinforced Clear PVC Tubing, 1/2″ ID (inside diameter).  I chose this tubing over the clear vinyl tubing because it is reinforced, can tolerate hot water (or being in a hot space such as near the boiler tube), is more flexible and is slightly less expensive than their clear vinyl tubing.

The chopstick is then used to gently nudge the melting ice sections forward and off the fins and collected in the Tupperware lid and deposited by nearby plants.

DSC_0023 Chop stick coaxes ice free

DSC_0026 Ice placed in tray:lid

Each section slides slowly and smoothly towards me and reminds me of Dave using a simple tool/key to selectively disengage electronic circuit modules in HAL’s Logic Memory Center.*

The washcloth is then used to remove excess water and wipe down the refrigerator’s insides and door seals, which completes the defrosting process in 30 minutes or less!

 

DSC_0029 Defrosting completed

Additional information: Airstream’s How to Operate Your Refrigerator* and Airstream Life’s (Nearly) Complete Guide To Airstream Maintenance.

*This is a link to a YouTube video.