Once an Airstreamer, Always an Airstreamer

San Diego is home to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot where over 21,000 enlisted recruits a year receive their initial training in the United States Marine Corps, whose motto is Semper Fidelis* (Always Faithful).  The official motto of the Marine Corps League is “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.” For many of us who have or had an Airstream, that special esprit de corps rings true to us Airstreamers and is the theme in Rich Luhr’s post, One community, indivisible …, “I’ll keep touting the message that no matter which Airstream you own, you’re a part of Airstream Life.  Special interest groups within the Airstream community are cool, but in the end we’re all people united by a common love of travel, adventure, learning, socializing and —well, to be honest—eating.”

Airstream… it all started with a dream, words, and actions of Wally Byam as seen in Airstream’s new video, Airstream Anthem: The Creed.*  Our Airstream adventure began nearly eleven years ago with a trip to Southwest Coaches where we placed a custom order for an Airstream Safari trailer.  We entered a world of enjoying nature, stars, rainbows, sunrises, sunsets, birds, turkeys, bighorn sheep, sights and trails and meeting people and sharing ideas and food while appreciating the iconic beauty, form and function of Airstream.

Ten years ago this month, we began our annual fall-winter-spring camping season with a trip to William Heise County Park in San Diego’s Cuyamaca Mountains.  This trip is documented in my “SilverGate’s Safari is Home at Last!” thread, starting with post #295, which includes turkeys, the Plague Doctor, Día de los Muertos decorations, Flamingo Hat, cooking and a visit to the nearby town of Julian and the gravesite of Marshal South.  All of this came 3 months before I “welcomed aboard” readers to my first History Safari Express blog post in January, 2008!

HPIM1464 Desert view from mts

HPIM1473 Rig at Wm Heise Park

HPIM1507 Bacon in Brinkman Small Fry

HPIM1555 Halloween spirits

After 10 years of camping in San Diego’s beautiful beach, mountain, and desert sites, we listened to our minds and bodies and decided to lessen our workload and stress by selling our Airstream to a younger family who will use and love this Airstream as we have (See The Selling of our Airstream trailer).  We are currently researching the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid* as an alternative compact crossover sport utility vehicle to continue to enjoy our day trips (RAV4 stands for “Recreational Activity Vehicle: 4-wheel drive”) . Although we don’t intend to tow, it’s nice to know that the 2018 RAV4 Hybrid can tow 1,750 pounds (enough for a Wolf Pack*) and the 2018 RAV4 Adventure all-wheel drive can tow up to 3,500 pounds (enough for a Basecamp or Nest, expected early 2018)!

So this “always an Airstreamer” will continue to go places and celebrate the esprit de corps of the Airstream community, indivisible, and Airstream Life by covering Airstream-related items on this blog, including highlights of past trips and tips, news and views, seasonal celebrations, interesting videos, and new, exciting products such as the all new 2018 Airstream Atlas B+, Airstream’s most luxurious Touring Coach to date. See the videos: Airstream Spotlight: 2018 Atlas Touring Coach* and Colonial Airstream’s Patrick Botticelli’s Walk Through 2018 Airstream Atlas B+ Touring Coach Mercedes Sprinter RV.*

*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.”


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.”*


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.


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!


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


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



Corgis played in the surf and on the beach.



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


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


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.

Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego

The Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego is a jewel in the heart of Balboa Park, but could easily be overlooked by tourists Airstreaming into San Diego because much of it sprawls through a lower canyon below the nearby Organ Pavilion.  This 12-acre garden opened to the public in 1991 and a third phase of development was completed last year, bringing in a 200 cherry tree grove, a large azalea and camellia garden, water feature and the beautiful Inamori Pavilion, built with Alaskan Yellow Cedar.


Per the Japanese Friendship Garden website, “The Japanese Friendship Garden (“the Garden”) is an expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city, Yokohama. It illustrates two cultures and creates an immersive experience into Japanese culture. The Garden’s design is based on centuries-old Japanese techniques adapted to San Diego’s climate and florae and seeks to foster a relationship between humans and nature, providing a respite attuned to Japanese simplicity, serenity, and aestheticism.”

Next to the large Event Plaza seen above, is the Activity Room and Office with adjacent Light of Friendship and Bonsai Exhibit.



Larry points to sculptured areas of the this bonsai tree that help it appear much older than it actually is.

After viewing the koi pond and upper garden, we passed through the Charles C. Dail Memorial Gate to the lower gardens.  We wound down a path to the dry waterfall and Dragon Bridge, which represents luck, fortune and longevity, per the Friendship Garden’s Audio Strolling Tour of the Lower Canyon.


Japanese garden features and elements often include ishidoros (stone lanterns), curved bridges, and water features.



The waterfalls above with its Japanese black pine trees is seen from the deck of the Inamori Pavilion (seen below)

Our brochure states that “the curved pathways discourage evil spirits from entering the Garden and the roji, or stepping stone pathways help focus your attention on the present.”


Further down the path, we got a bird’s eye view of the 1400-square foot Inamori Pavilion, built through a gift from Dr. Kazuo Inamori, a Zen Buddhist priest and founder of the Kyocera Corporation.  The pavilion is built in the traditional sukiya style of Japanese architecture.*


We passed by an ishidoro (lantern) and tsukubai (water basin) on the way out and look forward to returning to see the seasonal changes and especially the blossoming of the Japanese Cherry Trees in late winter and early spring.


See a more detailed tour of the Japanese Friendship Garden,* including a view of the karesansui (rock garden) from the Exhibit House, koi pond, and Chinese Flame Trees displaying rose-pink fruit, along with a visit to the Yokohama Friendship Bell on my post, “Japanese Friendship Garden: Oasis of serenity,” on my sister blog, History Safari Expresso, a richer blend.

For a suggested plan for RVers is to see the many attractions in the metropolitan San Diego area, while staying at a nearby, local campground, see my post, “Airstream into San Diego and beyond.”

*This is 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.

Airstream at theNAT

(Updated June 10, 2015)

Earlier this year, the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) opened its new $9 million dollar, 8 thousand square-foot permanent exhibition, “Coast to Cactus in Southern California,” just in time for Balboa Park’s centennial celebration of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.*  This exhibit features the biodiversity of Southern California and includes an Airstream Bambi trailer made possible by the Hunte family.

DSC_0401 Coast to Cactus Opening

TheNAT is located in San Diego’s historic Balboa Park* and on the north entrance side is a huge Moreton Bay fig tree,* Ficus macrophylla, with sensitive roots that are protected by a chain-link fence, which underscores part of theNat’s mission, “to inspire in all a respect for nature and the environment.”  TheNAT traces is roots to a group of amateur naturalists, who formed the San Diego Society of Natural History in 1874, making this the oldest scientific institution in southern California.

TheNAT’s exhibits* help to further its mission “to promote understanding of the evolution and diversity of southern California and the peninsula of Baja California.”  The southern California region is one of 35 global hot spots having high concentrations of different species.  The unique biodiversity of southern California is explained by theNAT’s president and CEO, Dr. Michael Hager, who said in this KPBS interview* that our topographical features of a cool ocean current, a mountain range that limits desert rainfall (rain shadow effect), and streams that dissect our mesa tops (giving each canyon a unique habitat) play a big role in our biodiversity.

The “Coast to Cactus” exhibit* takes visitors on a journey through the diverse representative habitats of the region ranging from the coastal beaches, urban canyons, riversides, chaparral, valleys, and mountains to the desert, all within a single museum visit. As visitors approach the desert section, they see the Airstream trailer.

DSC_0418 Airstream in Coast to Cactus

A 16-foot Airstream Bambi was positioned next to a large desert-in-bloom mural, and then a desert diorama and “Desert at Night” viewing area were built around it (see theNAT’s time-lapse video*).

DSC_0407 Airstream Bambi

This Airstream trailer has an appearance of a naturalist’s field station with a lantern, canteen, maps and labeled specimens on display, such as “Red Diamond Rattles” from a Red Diamond Rattlesnake, Crotalus ruber.*

DSC_0414 Airstream as field station

DSC_0409 Table & shelves for naturalist

On the other side of the Airstream trailer, visitors can experience what it’s like to camp under the stars when the sun goes down and the desert comes alive during the multimedia mini theater presentation of “Desert at Night.”*  During the presentation, two children in a virtual tent hear and see creatures of the night and share their thoughts and feelings as they converse in both English and Spanish, or as some would say, Spanglish* (a regional way of speaking where two bilingual people move fluidly back and forth between English and Spanish), underscoring theNAT’s appreciation of diversity theme.  (All exhibits are in English and Spanish.)

Elizabeth Salaam, in her San Diego Reader article, “Press 1 for Spanglish,” reports that theNAT’s Exhibition Developer, Erica Kelly said, “We’ve kind of strived to create experiences more than lecturing.”  TheNAT’s attempt to engage English and Spanish speakers at the same time illustrates theNAT’s vision to “provide programs that are timely, user-friendly, and relevant to the real-life needs of the diverse populations of the San Diego-Baja California region today and tomorrow.”

DSC_0420 Desert night show in back

It’s only natural for an Airstream trailer to be included in the desert section of the San Diego Natural History Museum’s “Coast to Cactus” exhibit, because as CEO Michael Hager says, “Camping in the desert [and] Airstream kinda go together.”   It is especially appropriate that an Airstream trailer has a home in this permanent exhibition in San Diego because its iconic, aerodynamic design using monocoque aircraft technology was pioneered by Hawley Bowlus,* who supervised the construction of the  Spirit of St. Louis in San Diego in 1927 and developed the first riveted aluminum trailer, the Road Chief, in 1934.

Michael Hager also says that he likes to think of theNAT as “the visitors center for the region,” which encourages people to go out in nature and explore, have more questions, and then come back to learn more.

And when they are out there, I’m sure Airstream hopes they will have a riveting experience!*

DSC_0016 Camping in the desert & Airstream go together

*This is a link to a YouTube video.