Computing and Airstreaming

Computing and Airstreaming have always gone hand in hand for us after contracting “aluminumitis” just over two years ago. The computer allowed us to see the wealth of Airstream-related information (Airstream Knowledge Sharing Forums, for example) that is available on the Internet. This information enabled us to make good choices regarding our first tow vehicle (2006 F-250 PSD), Airstream trailer (2007 23′ Safari SE), and accessories.

The computer continued to play a supportive and enhancing role with our Airstreaming lifestyle as we began sharing our Airstream experiences and photos on-line. It also fostered a sense of community by providing access to such places as the Airstream Knowledge Sharing Forums, where ideas and solutions are freely exchanged, thus increasing our joy of Airstream trailer ownership.

Up until just recently, we had been using our vintage, 1998 Gateway desktop computer. Shortly after setting up our computer ten years ago, our initial joy was quickly replaced by the brain-searing sensation of encountering system conflicts, failures, and long, late-night tech sessions. After the Windows operating system was re-installed, the computer finally settled in, but not without the typical, ongoing PC hassles of encountering viruses and spending too much time on computer maintenance.

So after the first year of setting up and enjoying our trailer, we recruited our computer to help us research its own replacement. It didn’t go unnoticed that it seemed to take much longer loading in the Apple web page, just as it didn’t go unnoticed that two well-known Airstream bloggers, Rich Luhr and Rich Charpentier, were using Mac laptop computers. Apple’s recent release of the beautiful, aluminum MacBook Pro laptop and the iMac desktop, along with the new Leopard operating system, OS X 10.5.2, made the decision irresistible. We now have one of each and are rediscovering the joys of computing.

Here’s what Rich Luhr, publisher and editor of Airstream Life, says about his Mac, “My laptop is an older Powerbook G4, the predecessor to the current MacBook Pro. I chose it because I wanted to get away from the painful Windows experience and the Powerbook was a highly capable laptop that had everything. I run my entire business on it.”

Rich Charpentier, author of The Digital RV and Gadget’s Airstream Chronicles, has the MacBook Pro and likes its stable and powerful operating system, OS X, based on the Unix system. Rich says, “That’s why I’m a big proponent. The Macs just worked. I spend more time getting work done, less time trouble shooting.” See his article, Setting Up Your Mobile Office, page 77 of the current, Spring 2008, issue of Airstream Life magazine.


So next week we will take our MacBook Pro for its first post from the field as we rendezvous with Rich C. and Sadira at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and celebrate the beginning of the spring wild flower blooming season.

Ukulele Strumming and Airstreaming

What is in a name? That which we call a ukulele by any other name, would still sound as sweet. Aloha!

How sweet they are, our Airstreams. A growing number of us are also finding sweetness in a musical instrument that is easy, fun to play and nicely compliments our Airstream lifestyle: the ukulele. It is small, light, and easily stored and transported. When brought out of its case, it immediately works its magic as it brings happiness, a sense of wellbeing, and smiles to everyone nearby.

WARNING: Reading the following may cause “ukulitis” akin, or worse than, “aluminumitis”.

Last December, I witnessed this magical event when Airstream Life publisher and editor, Rich Luhr, and his daughter, Emma, played their ukuleles at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California. Although Rich is a beginner, he sounded great, with only two weeks of practice and a weekend of instruction from fellow Airstreamer and ukulele player, Tommy Green. Rich’s case of “ukulitis” illustrates that ukulele strumming and Airstreaming go hand-in-hand. He expounded on this in his Tour of America post of January 27, 2008.

So in a journalistic effort to explore this topic, I visited the special exhibit, “The Ukulele & You – America’s Enduring Love of the Jumping Flea”, at the Museum of Making Music, in Carlsbad, CA. Visual histories of the ukulele, as well as many varied shapes and sizes of ukuleles, were on display throughout this delightful museum, complimented by helpful and knowledgeable docents.

I learned that the ukulele is a descendant of the four-stringed musical instrument known as the machete, brought to Honolulu, Hawaii, from the Portuguese Madeira Islands onboard the bark, Ravenscrag, by several men, including wine barrel maker, Augusto Dias, in 1879. Dias, along with shipmates, Manuel Nunes and Jose do Espirito Santo, made the first machete/ukuleles.

Some say that the ukulele got its name from the nickname given to Edward Purvis due to his fast strumming and animated style as he played before the court of King David Kalakaua. Ukulele means “jumping flea” in Hawaiian. The ukulele quickly became the favorite musical instrument of King David Kalakaua and the Hawaiian people, and became symbolic of Hawaii and Hawaiian culture.

The significant beginning of the popularity of the ukulele on the mainland began with the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The Hawaiian Territory built a pavilion that exposed thousands of exposition attendees to Hawaiian culture, including the ukulele.


As I toured the “Ukulele & You” exhibit, the variety of shapes, styles, sizes, and materials of the ukuleles amazed me.

I came across a particularly historic and interesting ukulele. It was Richard Konter’s Martin uke, used to entertain his shipmates on Admiral Byrd’s 1926 Arctic expedition. This ukulele was eventually signed by his fellow crew members, as well as several senators and President Calvin Coolidge.

Some significant ukulele players include Sam Kamaka, Bill Tapia, Herb Ohta, Arthur Godfrey, Lyle Ritz, Michelle Kiba, Janet Klein (featured in Rich Luhr’s Tour of America, Ukulele Song of the Day post of February 4, 2008), and my favorite, Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole, whose CDs are deeply moving and very beautiful.

Now back to my original thesis: the connection of ukulele strumming and Airstreaming. For enlightenment, I asked two notable Airstreamers about their ukuleles and how well they work with their Airstream lifestyle.

Rich Luhr says that he has a Kala brand, curly mango wood, tenor uke and likes it because of its sound and larger fret board (He gave his smaller soprano uke to his daughter, Emma).  “I chose uke as an instrument to learn because it is portable, light, fun, and a solo instrument that people can sing along with. Nobody wants to hear a trumpet around a campfire”, Rich says.

Tommy Green says that he owns and plays about fifteen ukes, from 1920’s Martins to ukulele banjos, to Favilla baritones. Tommy is an original member of the Moonlight Beach Ukulele Strummers and started his own Strumming Streamers (Airstream ukulele group). He says, “It is so much fun. It works awesome in the Airstream lifestyle. It is small, easy to transport, and sounds terrific. Practice can be anywhere.”

So now I have succumbed to ukulitis and bought my first ukulele, a mango wood, Kala concert ukulele.

How sweet it is.

Ukuleles and Airstreaming

Could ukulele strumming and Airstreaming have a connection? I’ll explore that in my next post. Rich Luhr explored it in the January 27th post in his Tour of America blog.

The bottom line is that they both make us happy and excited. I was so excited upon getting my first ukulele today that I just had to share a photo and a preview of my next post. I’ll warn you though, this happiness is contagious!

The photo shows me strumming a ukulele for the first time and it’s a brand new Kala Mango Concert Ukulele. Strumming next to me is Roy Good, Manager of Giacoletti Music, in Carlsbad, California. Good vibrations and wonderful instruments abound and thrive here.


Thriving… that’s the connection.  See more, do more, live more through happy, ukulele strumming and Airstreaming!