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.


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.


(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).


San Diego staycation

We did not need to get hitched to enjoy San Diego… we live here. So especially now that the temperatures are rising in our nearby mountains and deserts, and the price of just about everything (especially diesel fuel) is already too high and/or rising, it’s a good time to enjoy our moderate coastal temperatures along with the many amenities that multi-cultural and colorful San Diego has to offer.


Activities such as visiting local zoos, parks, museums, and attending festivals and backyard barbecues are becoming increasingly popular in the face of hard economic times. These activities are summed up in the relatively new term, staycation. A good local example, the San Diego Zoo is one of largest and most popular (and recommended) zoos in the world. Waiting to great you just inside the front gate are our American Flamingo friends.


Pink plastic flamingos (not to be confused with Pink Flamingos, the movie) are retro pop icons being increasingly adopted by Airstreamers and much discussed and analyzed on the Airstream Knowledge Sharing Forums, especially in the threads, “All Things Flamingo” and “Why the flamingo?“.

One of the best places in San Diego to take in the wonderful, panoramic view of the San Diego city skyline, harbor, ocean, mountains, Coronado Islands, and Mexico to the south is Cabrillo National Monument, location of the historic Old Pt. Loma Lighthouse, where docents meet and greet visitors from all over the world.



Living in San Diego is like being on vacation year round and there are always fairs and festivals occurring now or just around the corner. For example, Tiki lovers from around the world will descend upon an oasis (the Crowne Plaza), August 14 – 17, and take a “Voodoo Vacation on Zombie Island“, complete with an uke jam Sunday afternoon. Last week Larry and I attended the Na Mea Hana Lima Hawaiian Cultural Fair, where we picked up Michael Preston’s book and CD, “Let’s Kanikapila! Ten Steps To Learn ‘Ukulele The Hawaiian Way“, by Mutual Publishing, and enjoyed the entertainment.



A staycation is also an opportunity to have backyard barbecues and visit local Airstreamers, such as jd (also known as 5cats on He is seen here barbecuing shrimp marinated in a pesto sauce (very delicious). His shiny, 2007 20’Safari SE is nearby under a tarp canopy that slides on a rail system that he made himself.


Staycation could also mean simply enjoying one’s own backyard tiki oasis, and playing the ukulele as the hibachi coals heat up… and contemplating the wonderful world… and dreaming about rainbows.