As we wrap up the first long Airstream trip to the desert southwest next week, I went back to our OpenRoads blog and pulled this piece from August 13, 2005 when we were midway into our Alaska trip. Next week I'll compare the Airstream vs the Motorhome. Both are great!
--------------- from August 2005 ---------------
So what's it like to live in a RV for 6 weeks?
It's been pretty darn comfortable! The class A diesel pusher that we're in makes a huge difference over doing it in our old class C motorhome. I'm pretty sure we would have had many more conflicts in the smaller unit, and we would never have been able to have visitors. Even with 6 people in here, it has been no big deal.
To end a day, we normally drive up to a campground, checkin, drive to our site, auto level, extend the slides, hook up electric, cable TV, sewer, unhook the car, maybe setup the chairs, get the grill out, and get connected to wifi if available (usually is). That probably takes 15-30 minutes or so.
To start a day, it normally takes a bit longer, around 30+ minutes depending if we have to do it all or not and if it's raining. Dump the sewer, put the hose away, unhook cable and electric, lift the jacks, pull in the rooms (and all the inside stuff), check the air pressure of both the coach and Jeep, hook up the Jeep, start the RV and wait until it is warm enough to go (which can be 10 minutes by itself).
I've only had to hook up once in the rain so far ... not bad and if it's raining when we get in, then we just wait until it stops.
Haven't had to use the A/C since Wyoming. The best duration for stop overs for us is 3 days. We don't leave early, we sleep late and checkout at the last possible minute (usually 11 am).
With visitors, we yank out the 2 aero beds (one queen and one single). I haven't slept on them, but they say they are comfortable. Makes for one big slumber party with Brian and our overnight guest(s). Lonna and I are tucked away quietly in the back.
We've dry camped for 4 days without dumping or refilling our fresh water tank. Dry camping is an exercise in resource management and while in Seward we resorted to refilling 1 gallon jugs with fresh water rather than close it all up and drive over to the potable water faucet. It worked out fine ... at least for me ;).
Any problems on the way? Yes, but all minor. Once we settled into the trip, it doesn't stress us out much anymore and things have settled down. Problems have included overheating (3 times, but I've got this figured out now), the satellite system was pointing in the wrong place for the higher latitudes (still need to test this when we get back to the lower 48), rolling electrical brownouts in WY (not our fault), thought the coolant was low in MT (added more and overflowed), some things want an occasional reset to get sorted out again (must be some Microsoft software running around somewhere), the entry step light always stays on even though it is retracted, some guy in Seward hit our Jeep in the RV campground (minor damage), a slow leak in one of the Jeep tires (just keep filling every week), couldn't refill propane in MT (operator error at the campground) and a few other minor things so far. Once Brian led me into the wrong parking slot, we set everything up and then had to move again. This was all in a very densely populated campground which added to the fun.
Do we miss Austin? Not really. Of course we miss all our friends and look forward to seeing them all again soon. But we haven't regretted the trip for a moment. It's nice to have Stefan staying at our house and keeping an eye on it. Seems as if the downstairs A/C has gone out, but I think that is fixed now. We miss several Austin restaurants including Chuys, Rudys, Fuddruckers, and Taco Shack. Look forward to eating there when we return. The current plan shows us returning to Austin on September 3rd, which will be Brian's 14th birthday and our 22nd anniversary.
What about laundry? We do laundry when we need to, usually once a week. Almost all the campgrounds have washers and dryers and some are nicer than others. The place we're at in Anchorage is very nice, so we're staying here an extra day to freshen up and regroup.
What about groceries? We eat at home more on the road than we do when we really are home. Fred Meyers rules in Alaska and the Yukon. It has the lowest gas prices in town (by 20 cents per gallon), and well stocked. In Montana, I was so excited to go into a Target store ... and for me to say that is a big deal ;).
How is school going? The great home schooling experiment is going remarkably well. Brian finishes a couple of lessons and we mail them in. Lonna will call Texas Tech periodically to make sure the grades on previous assignments are fine since we are not receiving any snail mail at all. Brian's about 25% through with the lessons so far and should be 50% done by the time we get back in September. Should have no problem finishing the semester by the end of the year.
What about the mail? We pay all the bills online and pretty much ignore the rest. Originally we were going to have the mail forwarded periodically but we just got lazy and couldn't decide where we would be and when. Most people have mail forwarded on trips like this and it is really easy. Pick a small, small town like Chicken, AK or Denali, AK and have it sent for general delivery. It will be there when you get there or just stay an extra day or two. I've heard it's really fun to get that mail delivery. I don't think it will that much fun to go through 9 weeks of mail when we get home. My passport better be there!
How is the cat? Traveling with Bandit is great. He occupies the front dashboard or Lonna's lap when in motion and religiously sleeps on Lonna at night. I think he is getting a little wider around the belly, but he occasionally gets harnessed up for some outdoor exercise.
What about Brian's sports? We play baseball almost everyday. Brought the bucket of balls, the hitting screen, and find baseball fields to hit on during the trip. There was a great one in Seward and an ok one here in Anchorage. He'll bring out the soccer ball and kick it around too. A couple of times of week he'll run a mile or so. I thought he might be getting out of shape until I saw him climb the Harding Icefield.
This entry is too long already, so I'll stop now. I highly recommend that you buy a RV and join us on the road. It is great fun and always a new adventure around the corner.