Airstream Basecamp Relaunched!

First introduced 10 years ago, the Airstream Basecamp trailer was a collaborative effort by Airstream’s product development team and Nissan Design America (NDA) designers Bryan Thompson and Steve Moneypenny in San Diego, who “envisioned a travel trailer that was a springboard for outdoors adventures rather than a living room on wheels.”  Bryan says, “The relationship with Airstream has been the exchange of ideas. Essentially, two very different companies coming together with two very distinct identities to come up with a new aesthetic.” (See the Nissan & Airstream YouTube video)*  Bryan explains that Airstream wanted to create a trailer that would appeal to the younger market that was not buying their larger trailers, “So we came up with this idea, let’s infuse the [Nissan] Xterra DNA into some of the classic heritage icons of Airstream.”  (See Bryan Thompson on Airstream Basecamp Project)*

According to “The Shape of Things Past: Airstream’s New BaseCamp Enters The Market,” article in the Fall 2005 issue of Airstream Life, page 16, “Airstream called on Nissan Design America to translate a dusty old photo of a 1930s Torpedo into something 20- and 30-something buyers would love.” The article shows a photo of Dr. Norman Holman, Sr., standing next to his 1935 Airstream Torpedo that he built from a set of Wally Byam’s $5.00 plans.  His son, Norman Holman, Jr., MD, inherited this trailer and gave an interview and tour seen in the video, “Oldest Airstream Trailer in the World.”*


Airstream commemorated the retro style, along with its 75th anniversary by releasing 75 Commemorative Edition Travel Trailers designed by David Winick and the first Airstream Basecamp (model year 2007).  See Colonial Airstream‘s Patrick Botticelli give a detailed walk-through of his 2007 Basecamp,* the ninth one made.  The original Basecamp had large clamshell rear doors that provided access for loading in a motorcycle, quad, or bike. See Patrick come into his Basecamp out of a cold, snowy New Jersey night and load his mountain bike,* light a Mr. Heater Buddy and proceed to cook a meal.  Unfortunately, the end of 2007 also marked the beginning of the Great Recession in the United States and Airstream had difficulty attracting buyers for the next two years, selling only about 220 Basecamp units, says Patrick, and Basecamp production stopped with the 2009 model.

Bolstered by the improving U.S. economy and increasing consumer confidence, Airstream is now growing and coming out with new models such as the Nest Caravan in Summer 2017 and the greatly improved 2017 Airstream Basecamp, being relaunched now.  See Airstream’s exciting video, “Introducing the new Basecamp,”* and a “Walk-Through 2017 Airstream Basecamp“* by Patrick Botticelli.  Patrick says, “Airstream found out that only a small percentage of their [original Basecamp] owners were actually using the back cargo for motorcycles or quads… you had to open up the rear door and drop the steps every time you wanted to come inside [and pull up the steps every time you wanted to close the door].”  For the new Basecamp, Airstream added a side entrance door for easy entering and exiting the trailer, while keeping a rear utility hatch for loading gear such as backpacks, mountain bikes, and kayaks.

Patrick says this all-new Basecamp is more robust with its buck-riveted aluminum structure on an A-frame, like regular Airstream trailers (original Basecamp had aluminum plating on a fiberglass shell on a center beam), and the many new features such as the Truma Combi heater for water and room heating, SeeLevel II Battery and Tank Monitoring System, optional Zamp Solar System (with two 80-watt solar panels, AGM battery and a Zamp Solar Disconnect Port by the streetside front A-frame for connecting additional portable solar panels), optional Coleman-Mach air conditioner (9200 BTU) and a Fan-Tastic Vent Fan (or 2 Fan-Tastic Vent Fans without the optional air conditioner), bathroom with shower and a China toilet bowl, interior and exterior LED lights, 3 cu. ft. 2-way Dometic refrigerator, folding galley water faucet over a stainless steel sink with folding lid (provides additional counter space), 2-burner recessed cooktop, optional Contoure microwave, pop-up electrical sockets with USB port on galley counter, and  2 movable pedestal tables in a lounge and eating area that converts into a large 76″ by 76″ bed!

The 2017 Airstream Basecamp is a multi-purpose hybrid tent-trailer that comes with two optional PahaQue Wilderness tents and visor (arch wing awning) that attach to Basecamp’s roof/gutter track rail, seen in PahaQue’s September  8 announcement on Facebook and Twitter.  The large side tent could be used as a screened patio for an additional lounging and sleeping area, and the smaller rear tent could provide cover for gear items such as mountain bikes (See Patrick’s walk-through tent tour).*

The Unit Base Weight (UBW) without options is 2585 lbs.,* Hitch Weight is 410 lbs. (dry, no options), and the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is 3500 lbs., which means this trailer is easily towed by mid-size SUVs.  The new Basecamp comes with a 22-gallon fresh water tank, a 29-gallon black/gray water tank, two 20-lb. propane tanks, and a Propane Quick Disconnect port just under the curbside front A-frame for connecting a hose to a low pressure portable gas BBQ grill.   See Airstream’s Basecamp webpage for their Overview, Design, Features, Floorplan and Brochure.  See Airstream’s 2017 Basecamp Owner’s Manual (PDF) for additional information.

This Airstream Basecamp “is built for the extreme camper in mind… it’s made for the guys that go up in the mountains backpacking, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking… it’s made to go off the grid,” says Brent Rudd, Airstream Regional Director of Sales, Central Region, during his walk-through at the 2016 Southwest RV Supershow in Dallas, Texas.*

Basecamp has a MSRP of $34,900 and is being shipped to Airstream dealers beginning in October, says Outside Interests‘ article, “Basecamp,” in their September 26, 2016, newsletter.

Whether you’re a fan of mountain biking (such as Patrick),* kayaking,* or just living riveted,* you can be one of the Fans of the Airstream Basecamp and see more information, news, updates and videos of the Airstream Basecamp.

*This is a link to a YouTube video.


Crows, murder, and the Julian Cemetery

A damp and chilly fog had drifted in though the mountains and around our Airstream trailer as I took our dogs on an early morning walk and spotted what appeared to be the strange image of an approaching dementor,* which I had first encountered here two years ago.

DSC_0070 Dementor?

It turned out to be one of the many ghosts of trees burned in the 2003 Cedar Fire.  As the morning sun burned off the fog, we enjoyed working on projects and viewing the wildlife around our campsite.  Suddenly, our attention was captured by a murder of crows angrily cawing and swarming* from one tree canopy to another and then we saw it.  A beautiful gray fox walked by, just fifteen feet away.  The crows followed the fox to the Cedar Trail and I followed with camera in hand. As I turned a bend, the fox saw me and dropped a snake that it had just caught.  The crows attention now focused on their next meal, the snake!

DSC_0310 A murder of crows  DSC_0329 Crow with snake

I left the crows to enjoy their brunch, while I returned to camp to enjoy my coffee and read more about Julian’s pioneers as recorded in David Lewis‘s Last Known Address: The History of the Julian Cemetery, complete with maps and photographs.  The nearby town of Julian was once an area where Kumeyaay Native Americas lived as seasonal hunters and gatherers.  During the winter of 1869-70, Fred Coleman, a Black rancher living in the area with his Kumeyaay wife, Maria Jesusa Nejo, discovered gold, and former Confederate veteran, Drue Bailey, homesteaded 160 acres of the land and named it after his cousin, Mike Julian.1  After the gold rush, people found the soil productive and many families chose to stay in the area.2 (View Julian’s colorful history in the KPBS video, “The Town of Julian.”)

DSC_0230 "Last Known Address"

David Lewis’s grandfather, Floyd Erving Lewis, is also included in his book, along with the curious story of Leandro Woods, and both are buried in Julian’s Haven of Rest, Pioneer Cemetery.

DSC_0238 Julian Haven of Rest Cemetery

Robert Y. Allen is also buried here and, the day after Howdy Doody paid his respects, I returned to the Julian Cemetery to find the gravesite of Leandro Woods, with the help of David Lewis’s book.  The cemetery is on a hill overlooking the town and David’s map shows that Leandro Woods is on the NE edge of the new section first used in the 1950s.

DSC_0227 Pioneer Cemetery overlooks Julian  DSC_0387 Newest section, Pioneer CemeterySo I carefully and slowly walked up and down this hill several times without finding Woods’ grave marker.  I did find the grave marker of Susie Coleman Williams, the daughter of Fred Coleman, next to the grave marker of her daughter, Clara Angel.

DSC_0348 S Williams & daughter Clara

I finally did find Leandro Woods’ grave marker, hidden between the large cedar tree and the barbed wire fence on the edge of the cemetery.

DSC_0369 Leandro Woods & barbed wire

David Lewis wrote that Leandro Woods was a Native American ranch hand at the Banner Queen Ranch and taught his uncle, Mike Mushet, how “to be a cowboy”, along with “the ways of the local Indians.”  In 1885, Leandro discovered gold, mined it, and after accumulating several thousand dollars, would throw parties at the Hotel del Coronado.*In 1954, his body was found on the highway embankment, just west of Julian.  In his book, David wrote, “Those who knew Leandro well, knew in their hearts that he was murdered. Leandro was missing two things when they found his body: the money in his wallet and the one thing a cowboy like Leandro would never be without, his favorite cowboy hat.” (page 72)1

DSC_0374 Leandro Woods grave marker


DSC_0243 This cowboy's hat Howdy and I say, “Don’t take this cowboy’s hat!*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

1.  David Lewis, Last Known Address: The History of the Julian Cemetery, Headstone Publishing, Julian, CA, 2008

2. Kathryn A. Jordan, Life Beyond Gold: A New Look at the History of Julian, California, The Journal of San Diego History, Spring 2008, Vol. 54, Number 2

3. Charles R. LeMenager, Julian City and Cuyamaca Country: A History and Guide to The Past and Present, Eagle Peak Publishing Company, Ramona, CA, 1992, page 88.


Happiness in the cool mountains

California desert temperatures are now routinely in the nineties and above, so we and our Airstream Safari chilled out in the oak, pine, and cedar forests in William Heise County Park, 4200 feet above sea level, in the Laguna Mountains that intercept clouds and rain that would otherwise reach the desert areas.

DSC_0009 Wm. Heise Co

Daytime mountain temperatures were in the seventies and we made a point of closing the windows well before sundown to keep the trailer cozy during the evenings, but each morning, we woke to trailer temperatures in the fifties.  Since we were doing non-hookup camping here, we routinely turned on our Mr. Heater Portable Buddy at 5:45am and ran it for two hours, which brought the temperature up to 68-70 degrees.  By then, sun was streaming into the trailer as I savored hot coffee, NPR’s Morning Edition,* and summer reading.

DSC_0028 Coffee and summer reading

By the afternoon, sun was illuminating our homegrown Alstroemeria flowers on the other side of the trailer and had restored our Lifeline AGM batteries back to 100% via our two factory installed solar panels by mid-morning.

DSC_0057 Vista view & Alstroemeria

Mule deer and wild turkeys reside here, along with a plethora of wildlife, which quickly accepted us as part of the local milieu to the extent that at times we felt like we were in a Bambi movie.*

DSC_0153 "Luna Gobblegood" turkey

DSC_0054 Spotted towhee

DSC_0147-2 Acorn woodpecker

Spotted towhee (left),  Acorn woodpecker (right),  Merriam’s chipmunk (lower left) and Steller’s Jay (lower right)

DSC_0253 Merriam's chipmunkDSC_0043 Steller's jay

The goldspotted oak borer* continues to kill trees, which are cut down and its chips provide a natural mulch.

DSC_0075 Larry, Mac & Tasha on chips

As long as dogs are on 6′ leashes, they are permitted on trails here and our corgis love hiking on the Cedar Trail with its lovely oak and cedar trees and benches.

DSC_0081 Bench on Cedar Trail

During our 5-day stay, we had time to work on projects. Larry is seen below making one of four mid-19th century shirts (based on Saundra Ros Altman’s: Past Patterns, #10) for my work at a historic house museum.

DSC_0194 Larry making period shirt

DSC_0197 Larry's sewing (close-up)

DSC_0172 Larry's outfit for Howdy Doody


DSC_0404 Wm dressed for Whaley House

Three years ago, Larry made a new outfit for my Howdy Doody doll that I had as a child.  (The Howdy Doody show started the year I was born, 1947.)

Just before our trip here, I learned that Robert Y. Allen was the creator of the famed Howdy Doody face, was known as “Grandpa Bob” in the nearby town of Julian, died at the age of 99, and is buried in Julian’s Pioneer Cemetery.  So I brought Howdy Doody to pay his respects to Robert Allen on May 19, the anniversary of his death.  His grave marker is just a few steps away from Marshal South’s grave.

DSC_0208 Howdy visits Robert Allen's gravesite

With happiness in our hearts, we returned to camp with one of Julian’s famous apple pies* and celebrated life in the cool mountains and time with Howdy Doody.*

DSC_0246 Bill, Howdy & Julian apple pie

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Airstream into San Diego and beyond

San Diego region has year-round camping opportunities, excellent weather, and wonderful places to visit and, when coming here to do both, it’s good and more enjoyable to have a plan, a two-part plan.  Over the past eight years, we’ve enjoyed taking our Airstream Safari to our favorite San Diego beach, mountain, and desert camping spots, and while there, we frequently meet people new to the area who are interested in learning more about places to visit in the San Diego metropolitan area and where to stay while visiting friends and places there.

DSC_0268 Sail into San Diego

The first part of this suggested plan is to see the many attractions in the metropolitan San Diego area first, while staying at a nearby, local campground.  The second part is to move to your ideal camping location away from the city, where you can enjoy hiking, swimming or relaxing at a beachside, mountain, or desert campground, depending on the season.  To get your best camping locations and sites, it’s best to make your reservations as early as possible.  San Diego County’s Sweetwater Summit Regional Park is a good starting point because it is only 10 miles southeast of downtown San Diego and has 112 campsites and its Summit Campground has 63 new sites with full hookups.*  San Diego County Parks have a new look and feel.* The main advantage of this campground is that it’s just 20-25 minutes away from many local attractions such as the beaches, Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Sea Port Village, and Old Town.

While in the metropolitan area, you could bring your own lunch and have a happy time in Old Town.*


(Above photo credit: Charlie Chul Jung)

Or visit San Diego’s beautiful and historic Balboa Park* and its many museums, such as theNAT and see its permanent exhibition, “Coast to Cactus”, featuring an Airstream trailer!* (Parking is available in the park or nearby areas, including the San Diego Zoo parking lot.)

DSC_0420 Desert night show in back

Checkout the flamingos and what’s new at the San Diego Zoo, such as the Asian Leopards Habitat with Catwalks.*

DSC_0055 San Diego Zoo

Visit Cabrillo National Monument* with its Old Point Loma Lighthouse, hiking trails and tide pools.

HPIM2313 Old Pt Loma Lighthouse

Or take a 45-minute drive north to explore San Diego Zoo Safari Park* (formerly named San Diego Wild Animal Park).

DSC_0266 San Deigo Zoo Safari Park

After visiting the local San Diego attractions, you can then move to your preferred beach, mountain, or desert campground that you reserved ahead of time.  During the summer, the coolest place to enjoy camping is one of our California State beach campgrounds, such as South Carlsbad State Beach.  It is very popular and reservations for beachside camping often need to be made months in advance.  Our favorite time to go is in May before the summer crowds.

DSC_0013 South Carlsbad State Beach

Our favorite fall and spring campground is William Heise County Park in the mountains near Julian, California.  We prefer the wooded, non-hookup sites in Area 2.  Dogs on a leash are permitted on the scenic trails.

DSC_0089 Wm Heise County Park

The desert is a great place to camp during the late fall, winter and early spring months.  Anza-Borrego Desert State Park* is popular because of the resources of the nearby town of Borrego Springs.

DSC_0278 Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Our favorite desert campground is Agua Caliente County Park because there is less traffic and it is not so crowded, especially during the weekdays.  It has a therapeutic spa and pools, but dogs are not allowed on trails.

DSC_0084 Our new campsite

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Mobile-friendly mountain happiness

History Safari Express is now seven years old, got a facelift, and is now mobile-friendly, which should make users of mobile devices happy when they visit this website that brings history alive as Larry and I continue our Airstream adventures in San Diego’s beautiful mountains, deserts, and along the coast.  The push to go mobile-friendly came from Google’s changing its search algorithms on April 21, 2015, which will favor websites that are mobile-friendly.  Mobile-friendly means that users of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets can read and navigate website content, which is important since millions of Internet users access and search the Internet with mobile devices.  According to the CBS News story, “Google search shake-up favors mobile-friendly sites,” 29% of all U.S. search requests in the last three months of last year were made on mobile devices.

History Safari Express is now happier and happy to report that we and our Airstream Safari, now eight years old, were happy to return to the cool, refreshing Cuyamaca Mountains now that our local desert is heating up.  We returned to our favorite non-hookup campsite at William Heise County Park near Julian, California, where we were surrounded by fragrant Palmer Lilac bushes, pine and oak trees, and plentiful wildlife.

DSC_0005 Palmer Lilac around Safari

Temperatures at night were in the 30s and 40s so we were happy that our Mr. Heater, using 16.4 oz. propane canisters, warmed the trailer without needing to use the energy inefficient and loud trailer furnace.  Per the manual, this heater requires a vent area of 9 square inches, which was easily supplied by our 5″ diameter bathroom vent that has an area of 19.6 square inches.  As seen in the photo below, the bathroom door could be kept closed because it has a bottom opening, 1.75″ by 26″, and an area of 45.5 square inches.  One canister lasted us 5 hours, set on “LO” setting.

DSC_0013(2) Mr Heater

We and our solar panels were happy when the sun came up.  A portable radio helped to conserve electrical power.  At night we enjoyed votive candles.

DSC_0018 Grundig YB 305 receiver

Of course, our corgis, Mac and Tasha, were thrilled to go on walks.  We paused to admire a flowering Western redbud.

DSC_0039 Larry & corgis by Western redbud

DSC_0030 Western redbud

We are happy that this San Diego County Park allows dogs on trails, and our corgis couldn’t wait to get on the Cedar Trail.  (Dogs need to be kept on a six foot leash.)

DSC_0089 Larry & corgis on Cedar Trail

Mule deer* were nearby.

DSC_0002 Mule deer

And Rio Grande Turkeys feasted during a 40 minute photo shoot while I imagined Senator Robert Byrd playing, “Turkey in the Straw.”* (See more close-up views of this tom turkey and his two hens and how this opportunity arose in my post, “A Rio Grande turkey interlude,” History Safari Expresso blog.)

DSC_0316 Rio Grande Turkey feasting


DSC_0343 Rio Grande Tom Turkey

We are currently enjoying our garden near the coast, while preparing for our return to the bluffs over the Pacific Ocean next month.  In the meantime, see more photos of deer, turkeys, Acorn woodpeckers, Stellar jays, and read and hear meditations, and find out what is so special about four pebbles in my post, “Mountain gleanings,” and see my updated post, “Spring flowers, leaves and end of life options,” all in my new History Safari Expresso blog, which just went mobile-friendly, and now I’m really feelin’ groovy!*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.