Drift and the land yacht

Seagulls and pelicans sailed by on the continuous updraft of air over the bluff at South Carlsbad State Beach where our Safari land yacht was carefully positioned last week for a direct view of the ocean.  Relaxing sounds of the surf could be heard even at night with the windows closed.  Our land yacht, with its two factory installed solar panels that generate amperes from the sun’s energy even through the early morning marine layer, is a self-contained vessel that thrives at this non-hook-up location.

“Calling travel trailers ‘land yachts’ was an old industry tradition dating back to the 1930s,” wrote Fred Coldwell in his article, “Wally Byam’s Last Caravan,” which tells about the sea yacht Caravan built for a retiring Wally Byam by Scheepswerf Westhaven of Zaandam, Holland.  (See the article in the Summer 2012 issue of Airstream Life.)

Most days were sunny and we hoisted our main sail (the awning that was recently attacked by a dust devil and repaired) and hung festive banners (papel picado, Mexican paper cutout banners) and a sun screen curtain.

Larry had sewn a striped butterfly fish appliqué (that he had made) to an old sheet, which was clipped to the top edge of the awning valance.  Homegrown bamboo poles were inserted in each side casing.  This in progress project provided a pleasant, shaded reading area.  He also made removable noren curtains with the Chinese Double Happiness symbol and a removable dog gate, both held in place by adjustable tension curtain rods. These provided sun screening, privacy, easy access, and ventilation while keeping the main door and screen door open.

We easily went in and out of the Safari by stepping over the dog gate and holding onto the side handle and door frame.

The curtains could also be used inside to separate the galley and bedroom areas.

Sounds of crashing waves below became appropriate ambiance for my afternoon riveting readings of Rachel Maddow’s Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, Crown Publishers, New York, 2012.  The dust jacket proclaims, “Written with bracing wit and intelligence, Rachel Maddow’s Drift argues that we’ve drifted away from America’s original ideals and become a nation weirdly at peace with perpetual war, with all the financial and human costs that entails.”  Rachel talks about her book in this YouTube video: “Rachel Maddow’s ‘Drift’ … Premier Book Launch in NYC.”

Besides seagulls and pelicans, military helicopters also flew by occasionally, just as in the desert while we were camping.

Thoughts also drifted by, especially at sunset as I looked up the coast at the smokestack of the old Encina Power Plant.  A plan to build a new power plant nearby is opposed by the City of Carlsbad.  I had thoughts about the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant just 30 miles up the coast, which was shut down last January due to a tube leaking radioactive water and since then hundreds of other tubes were found to be wearing out more quickly than expected.

As the days grow longer and hotter, we will suspend our camping trips until the fall, and yet still enjoy day trips… and follow the sun, but not bake in it.


  1. says

    Hi Bill. I am so glad that you found my blog because I was then able to find yours. I’m not sure how I didn’t know about this site after owning our Bambi for nearly a year. Looks like I have some good summer reading ahead of me now. We get airstream life magazine but I had no idea that it was a community!

    Like you and Larry, my husband and I were first time rv’rs when we bought our AS last year. We’ve learned a lot and have had more fun than we ever imagined! You have a few years of experience under your belt and I’m looking forward to following your travels for some inspiration!

    Take care
    (also a Rachel Maddow fan!)

  2. Bill D. says

    Hi Kim… thanks for your note… and thanks for your posting on AirForums about your fun and beautiful blog, “The Small Small Trailer“, with such exquisite photography!

    (Last summer Kim, an elementary school teacher, and Todd, a software engineer from Portland, Oregon, bought a 2012 16′ Bambi International with wrap around windows on both ends.)

    Kim writes, “This blog is my attempt to record the places and mini adventures we’re experiencing in our new tiny trailer! Our goal…to take the Bambi out at least once a month…so far, we’ve made it, and in doing so we’ve discovered the joys of off season camping! Our little Airstream has been a catalyst to get us out of the house and explore the beauty of the Pacific Northwest!”

    Glad you found the Airstream Life Online Community, which currently consists of five authors.

    More information about our trailer and camping adventures from point of purchase to present time can be found on my AirForums thread, “SilverGate’s Safari is Home at Last!

    Have a great summer!

  3. Bill D. says

    Thanks for your comment Kim. It’s too hot to return to our favorite places in the desert yet. For now we are doing trailer maintenance, along we getting a new set of tires before resuming camping in October.

    For now I’ll rely on your beautiful pictures of mountain scenery, flowers, wildlife and cooling snow to keep me cool this summer as seen in your blog posting, “Mt. Rainier at Paradise and Grove of The Patriarchs“.