A Serious Case of Two Foot-itis, or Blame It On The Grandkids

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We’d never really thought about it but when we thought about it we did miss camping. We hadn’t been since we had the old hard top tent trailer that housed our three daughters. The camping experience was basic to say the least. Electricity was a rarity in campsites then and my husband strung a wire from the car battery to a lightbulb hanging inside the tent zipper. We could play Crazy Eights! Eventually, our daughters began to signal that camping with Dad and Mom was not their favourite activity. Dad got tired of driving them to the comfort station to plug in curling irons and sold the tent trailer. There was no gnashing of teeth or rending of garments upon its leaving.

As with many of you, when children are gone from home, it’s leisure time for us! With nothing much in mind, we went to an RV show certain we could pick up a used tent trailer. There must have been a 1000 trailers for sale as we toured the lot with a hopeful salesperson. “Nope, we’re only interested in tent trailers,” my husband pronounced not even looking at the shiny new toys gleaming in the sunlight. The salesperson continued his tour until a shiny new toy called out to me. “Stop, right here,” said I.

There, beckoning was a 16-foot beauty promising many fun days. We looked inside; touring the unit might have been decidedly an overstatement. Under the bed was the coziest spot for our pooch and there was a two burner stove and a bathroom. Who knew camping could be so good! It was our Airstream Bambi and we found ourselves in the sellers’ tent. With an open cheque book, it was ours.
That Bambi embodied love. Our eldest granddaughter joined us on our first run to a local park. We parked the Bambi on top of a hill. As the sun set and the moon came up, the Bambi and our granddaughter settled for the night. We were playing Crazy Eights with the lights shining into the darkness when we heard stealthy voices shushing each other and feet snapping twigs. Our granddaughter looked out to see several boys surrounding the trailer. Their heads popped up and we heard them say, “It’s like a space ship, do you think they’re aliens?” The look on my granddaughter’s face was priceless. The two of us settled into the bed, laughing at the boys; the dog snuffling in his bat cave below us.

We loved our Bambi until the first time I incautiously had one more shower than I should have. Upon opening the door to the bathroom, I realized what trouble I caused. On close consideration, a double tank may be the answer. The Bambi was adopted by a terrific Airstreamer and she got a makeover morphing into a super chic model providing comfort and much joy. She was an entry model upgraded to luxury living in the right hands. We see her at rallies and take a moment to give an affectionate pat. We do the same with her owner who wisely saw her good bones.

Next came the 19-foot Flying Cloud. A terrific little number that took us to Kentucky, protecting us during our first tornado. The sky turned a bruised shade of green in the dead of night. The Flying Cloud stood fast despite howling winds and hailstones. Others around us were not so lucky. I loved the interior of that Flying Cloud, “cashew ultraleather with golden night cabinets.” The fridge was encased by a handy pantry with cupboards above it. The extra burner on the stove was great for the white pasta and butter demanded by our four-year old granddaughter, who began to travel with us. And it had two tanks!

We welcomed a third grandchild and when she was a toddler our daughter warned, “you got away with not taking her this year, but you won’t next.” The 19-foot’s bathroom was not big enough for this increase in traffic but in talking with a fellow Airstreamer at Andy’s, she pointed out the 23- foot FB’s lovely asset - its large bathroom. The training potty would fit, we were sold. Oh, and the buttery ultraleather of the wrap-around seating felt so lovely. A pull - out pantry for the macaroni. What luxury!

The next year, we were about to take our biggest step into the Airstream unknown. We went to our Airstream dealer in our town looking for a new mat. The salesperson informed us, “we do have one or two new models to show you.” Like a biblical woman about to be stoned, I followed him to the back lot. There shining, no really - pulsing, in front of me was a 25 - foot International Serenity. I have been a faithful wife but lust came over me like a teenager at an Elvis concert. Oyster “leather,” my husband squealed a warning – “think of the grandkids!” Didn’t matter, I was in a trance, a cult-like experience overtaking me. It may have been the Gingko leaves on the bathroom door. I had to have it. The salesman reassured me that it was OK to move to a bigger trailer, “One has no idea if trailering is going to stick with a person and you have to tread carefully.” I agreed with him entirely. Cheque-book, please!

We went south that winter in the 25-foot. It was great to tow to reach our warm destination. Lots of space for winter garb under the mattress. My clothes fit so nicely in the cupboard beside the bed and a hidden space for our passports - I won’t say where. Later that summer, I hosted a turkey dinner in that beautiful trailer for my extended family as we overlooked the Bon Echo rock. Dave had taped up a portable turkey cooker to the back of the trailer and as the smells wafted through the campground, we met so many neighbours who were trying to identify the wonderful smell. After dinner, the gals gathered round the sink to chatter. The flip-up counter extension provided space for all those dishes. We even had an automatic awning; we were livin’ the dream! Dave loved the outdoor storage space. We had two little darlings with us that summer in Nova Scotia and both of them wanted to sleep with grandma. The dog, not having his 16- foot cubby, crawled in crowding the bed.

The 25-foot was great, the oyster ultraleather withstanding the child challenges but these granddaughters were growing. A campsite on the ocean in PEI became our favourite place. The outside shower was in demand as it had been in all the Airstreams. Washing red sand from PEI off the little darlings’ feet was easy. Great for dog baths too. However, more room was required if we were going to make good use of the lounge as we watched movies at bedtime. Then a thunderbolt hit us. Our eldest granddaughter in Ontario announced that she wanted to come to PEI with us. We turned to Andy again. A salsa- red ultraleather 27- foot Serenity became ours. Really Andy – the red? “It’s very popular,” he assured. The longer lounge proved a hit with the two sleepers from Nova Scotia as their feet and heads found a happy balance freeing up the bedroom for us (and the dog). Dave no longer did the famous 25 - foot shuffle as he made his way to his side of the bed. Why would we ever change our salsa - red beauty?

Then, eldest grandchild had a growth spurt, she was now almost as tall me. I wasn’t convinced that she would be comfortable in the 27- foot and surely not sleeping with her cousins. I imagined the foot fights, “she’s got her feet in my face” sort of thing. In addition, we wanted to spend more time in the south during the winter. No more polar whatever for us! The benefits of the 30 - foot spoke and lucky for us, at the end of this summer, Andy had a Serenity with an espresso interior. I got my flip-up counter space
back. The clothes cupboards beside the bed would help us be more organized on the road. We would miss our salsa red sweetie but otherwise it was just what we were looking for. Our story gets repetitive.

My eldest granddaughter has a saying about her grandparents. She says, “they buy it, I sleep in it, they sell it.” My financial advisor laughs when I tell him to liquidate more savings. Luckily, his mother suffers from the same two foot-itis disease. The good man recognizes the symptoms and unquestionably expedites a cure. We are now the proud owners of a couch in the 30 - foot. I dream of a grandbaby sleeping next summer on the dinette while others sleep on the couch/double bed. The dog once again has a bat cave under the dinette. He is a happy camper.

I’ve been asked to describe our unique experience of being …serial … Airstream owners. We realized with our Bambi and Flying Cloud the degree of engineering and craft that goes into each of these trailers. We love the lifestyle and our fellow Region 2 Airstreamers. What has overcome me sometimes is the care that has gone into making them. The brilliant architecture in all the models is similar. Airstream took a great design and applied it to the available space. I have been amazed that the design I admired in the 16- foot and the 19- foot has been reproduced for a larger space with the same precision. Consistent design and top - drawer features are such a delight. It’s not for nothing that a 16- foot Bambi rests in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

No one says anymore that our trailer looks like an alien space ship. That bit of fun has been replaced by, “you pull that with that! (a Volkswagen).” Again, the aerodynamic design makes this possible with some tweaks by Andy, depending on the length of trailer. It’s been the same car for all six trailers! I continue to swivel my head looking for condiments now housed in a different cupboard on the opposite side from the last trailer, resembling a Linda Blair from that horror movie. And yes, I am the queen of shelf paper, installing it in each of the “silver six.“ But most of all, I enter a new trailer knowing that the fellows and gals at Airstream provided me with all the lovely touches and David, his systems, that make our Airstream experience so right.
Now, this 30 - foot is fine but I really do miss that big cupboard in the 27… Where did I put the gin?

Jane and Dave Simpson and their intrepid dog, Duff, are members of the Ontario Unit of the Airstream Club International. The “Andy” mentioned in Jane’s article is of course Andrew Thomson, owner of Can Am RV in London Ontario.