StoryCorps Airstream in San Diego

As we relaxed in the shade under oak and pine trees in front of our Airstream trailer while camping in the Cuyamacas, we listened to the KPBS-FM Midday Edition story, “StoryCorps In San Diego To Record Veteran’s Stories“, and we were thrilled to learn that StoryCorps would be using a modified Airstream trailer as a mobile recording studio in San Diego over a three-week period in June!  So with just three days left before they were due to leave, Larry and I visited the StoryCorps MobileBooth parked in front of the USS-Midway (CV-41)* and interviewed its Site Supervisor, Whitney Henry-Lester, who welcomed me aboard to do a photo shoot.

DSC_0014 StoryCorps' Airstream by USS Midway

Whitney told me that StoryCorps’ mobile tours began in 2005 with this modified 25′ Airstream trailer, built in 2005 in Ohio and towed by a one-ton pickup.  StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization, now has a fleet of three Airstream trailers to carry out its mission “to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.”  When I asked why StoryCorps chose Airstream for its MobileBooths, Whitney said, “Because it has an Americana feel… it is an American icon.”  StoryCorps founder, Dave Isay,* says that they have recorded close to 50,000 stories in all 50 states, “… stories important enough to be part of American history.”

These two American icons, the Airstream trailer* and the USS Midway Museum, provided the perfect setting for StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative “to record, preserve, and share the stories of veterans, service members, and military families.”  Each 40-minute conversation is recorded on a free CD to share and one CD is sent to the American Folklife Center* at the Library of Congress.  See and listen to two retired Navy aviators as they share their stories with StoryCorps in San Diego.*

DSC_0003 Airstream wheelchair access

Modifications to this StoryCorps custom-built Airstream include a wheelchair ramp, front office, many storage compartments, and a soundproof recording booth behind two doors. (I did not see the recording booth because a recording session was taking place, but images of this room are seen in the slideshow, “A Tour of the StoryCorps Airstream“.)

DSC_0020 MobileBooth front office

DSC_0024 Door to Recording Booth

Near the front door is a portrait of Studs Terkel, who cut the ribbon on StoryCorps’ first recording booth in Grand Central Terminal in 2003.  Studs Terkel was a great oral historian who highly valued the human voice and active listening.  In 2005, the StoryCorps Airstream MobileBooth came to his driveway and recorded his stories, including “The Human Voice“.*

DSC_0018 Studs Terkel portrait

StoryCorps says, “Every voice matters”… and Listening Is an Act of Love.*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Celebrating life on Cedar Trail

After updating our trip notes in my See More, Do More, Live More – The Airstream Travel Journal notebook, we hiked the Cedar Trail and noticed that there are new signs, including one that alerted us that we were “Entering Mountain Lion Country”.  Cedar Trail is a one-mile loop trail that mostly stays under a canopy of oak, pine, and cedar trees representative of William Heise County Park, in San Diego, California.

DSC_0065 New signs for Cedar Trail

“Better to have campers take their dogs on the trails with a leash, than leave them alone at the campsite,” said the ranger.   We were thrilled with this new and progressive policy and took our Corgis, Mac and Tasha, on their first hike on a county trail.

DSC_0165 Larry & Corgis on Cedar Trail

Keeping an eye out for mountain lions, we rested on a bench near Cedar Creek and marveled at the magnificent trees and chorus of bird sounds.

DSC_0144 Resting along Cedar Creek

Continuing on the trail, we saw dead oak trees killed by the goldspotted oak borer beetle, which has killed 80,000 oak trees in San Diego County over the past ten years.*  The 2003 Cedar Fire has also taken a toll here, but we celebrated the re-growth of trees, such as the California incense cedar, Calocedrus decurrens, coming up through holes in the oak canopy.

DSC_0055 Dead oak & live Cedar

We also spotted wild turkeys in this park and noticed that they did not seem as plentiful compared to when we first camped here six years ago.  Wild turkeys are considered a good “indicator species” and may reflect the health of an entire ecosystem.

DSC_0122 Heise Park wild turkeys

One of the trails from the Cedar Trail back to the campground passes by the cabin area.  These new William Heise Park cabins* are aesthetically pleasing, blend in well with the environment, and do not block views or replace RV campsites.

DSC_0105 Heise County Park Cabin

We returned to our favorite Airstream Safari campsite in this park and, even though we were tired, we smiled while we rested and cherished the memories of celebrating life* on Cedar Trail.

DSC_0058 A tired and happy Corgi!

*This is a YouTube video.

Summertime illuminations in the Cuyamacas

After cooling off at the beach, and rinsing off the salt deposits, our Airstream Safari was ready to get high again in the Cuyamaca Mountain Range that we visited just two months ago.  Last April, after a three year absence, we were curious to see how William Heise County Park fared after trees were damaged by wind and wet snow, and oak trees were killed by the Goldspotted Oak Borer.  We were pleased to see that there were plenty of oak trees still surviving and many improvements have been made, including new picnic tables, beautiful cabins, and the surprise that dogs are now allowed on park trails.  So on the eve of summer before temperatures peak, we returned for five days of camping in this beautiful forest setting surrounded by pine, oak, and cedar trees.

DSC_0041 Cedar fire damage to Cuyamacas

Ten years ago the devastating 2003 Cedar Fire* burned approximately 70% of William Heise Park, which is now a showcase of a forest in various stages of re-growth.  Chaparral is rapidly recovering, even though bleached white skeletons of black oaks and manzanitas are still seen on surrounding hillsides.  With rainfall just 65% of normal, San Diego County firefighters are preparing for yet another potentially dangerous wildfire season.

DSC_0032 Our Wm

We positioned our Safari in our favorite non-hookup campsite for optimal sunbathing, which enabled our two factory installed solar panels to recharge our two Lifeline AGM batteries to 100% by mid-morning each day.  We had full sun all five days and the solar panels delivered a total of 193 amp-hours by the fifth day.

Each day began by walking our Corgis, Mac and Tasha.  The ranger explained that the recent decision to allow dogs on trails in this park is based on the premise that it is better to have people enjoying hiking on trails with their dogs on a leash, than having dogs left alone at campsites.

DSC_0135 Larry walks Mac & Tasha

While our trailer soaked in the rays, we enjoyed relaxing in the shade of the nearby Coulter Pine and Canyon Live Oak trees as cool breezes flowed up the forest hillside.  This was an excellent location for reading, bird watching and listening to relaxing bird sounds.*  Our peace was only interrupted by biting flies that Tasha snapped at before retreating under the truck. (Larry killed 18 flies in one afternoon.)

DSC_0025 Relaxing in shade

DSC_0018 Bird watching at Heise

Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana

My summer reading included Illumination in the Flatwoods – A Season Living Among the Wild Turkey, by Joe Hutto. (Appropriate reading in a park known for its turkeys!)

DSC_0011 My summer reading

Our summer eve feasting included hamburgers, corn on the cob, and Mexican Zucchini steamed in a cast iron Japanese nabe.  It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy!*

DSC_0036 Summertime feasting

*This is a link to a YouTube video.