Our second year as full-time Airstream dwellers/digital nomads/travelers has come and gone. We added a few new states to our travel map (North Dakota, Nebraska, and Idaho), crossed the northern border for the first time (it won’t be the last time), and traveled 7,607 miles (just 61 miles less than last year). Our longest drive day was 377 miles and our shortest was 6.5 miles. We averaged $46.63/night in lodging costs, thanks to spending 45 days in a condo/hotels at various times throughout the year while our converter was fixed, solar panels were installed, and modifications were done to the interior.
We continued to learn more about ourselves, our Airstream, our country, and the nomadic lifestyle. Here’s a look back at our second year on the road:
We visited 13 National Park Service sites, with 8 of them being new to us:
We also revisited Death Valley, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, and Mount Rushmore.
With our return visit to South Dakota, we were able to conquer the remaining 3 sites of South Dakota’s Great 8, the other 5 of which we saw last summer:
The other 5 are Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park and the Missouri River.
We hiked, and hiked, and hiked…
and paddled, and paddled, and paddled…
and soaked, and soaked, and soaked.
We chased waterfalls…
but we also stuck to the rivers…
and the lakes that we’re (not) used to.
We drank beer…
We rode a gondola in Palm Springs…
and one in Banff.
(Have I mentioned I don’t like gondolas?)
We saw where Forrest Gump ended his run…
and where Thelma and Louise drove off a cliff.
We saw lots of wildlife…
and visited the geographic center of the country.
We added four new tires,
two new batteries,
four new solar panels,
and a couch and a desk.
We had visitors in Las Vegas; Hurricane, UT; Custer, SD; and Glacier National Park:
Our second year on the road was fantastically fun and memorable, even with the issues we encountered. (I’m looking at you flat tire and junk converter.) All of the inconveniences we deal with are by far worth the amazing places we get to experience. Thanks for following along and we hope you stick around for 2020, our third year on the road — although we’re not really sure what’s in store yet!
This was our second stay at Pechanga RV Resort, located at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, CA. The main reason for this particular post is that I can only add a location to our map of where we’ve been if I have a blog post to go along with it — so, this is that post. Please click this link if you’d like to read about our last stay at Pechanga. Nothing new to report about the resort — it’s still well maintained with large sites and a great discount with Passport America and the casino is still really, really nice!
We spent one week in beautiful Paso Robles at Wine Country RV Resort. The city of Paso Robles is located in central California, about 25 miles from the coast. The area is known for its wine, olive oil, and almonds. It’s an area we would definitely like to return to and explore more; though, probably during a cooler time of the year — practically the whole state was under a red flag (fire danger) warning while we there due to the hot and windy conditions. We had a pretty peaceful week that involved wine tasting, delicious dinners, lounging by the pool, and strolling through the cute downtown.
Harvey’s Corner (Outdoor Beer/Wine Bar Open on Thu, Fri and Sat)
We stayed in two different sites during our stay due to adding an additional night when we arrived. We spent the first five nights in the first site and the sixth night in the second site. Our first site was Site 10, which was a back in site with deck and patio table. A large oak tree provided nice shade, but also provided plenty of acorns for the resident squirrels, one of which decided to take his snack up into the engine area of our truck. (We got him out eventually.)
Our second site was Site 79. It was another back in, but backed up to a hill and had a grassy front yard. While we had less shade from the sun here, we preferred this site for its grass and location.
The RV resort is owned by Sun RV Resorts, who also owns the other popular RV resort in town, Cava Robles RV Resort. Sun resorts can be pricy, but they also are typically a part of the Passport America program. At Wine Country, Passport America can be used for four nights max Monday through Thursday. That’s exactly what we did, so we ended up paying an average of $75/night over our six nights as opposed to approximately $95/night. If we hadn’t added on an extra night when we got there, Friday, which has a higher rate than weeknights, our average would have been $66/night. That price is still high, but expected at such a nice resort in California, and this is a REALLY nice resort.
We visited three of the more than 200 wineries in the area: Tobin James Cellars; J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines; and Glunz Winery. All three had delicious offerings and we made sure to purchase ‘souvenirs’ at each.
If beer is more your thing, Firestone Walker Brewing is also located in Paso Robles. This property is HUGE! They offer tastings and brewery tours at their Visitor Center, delicious eats at their Taproom Restaurant, and any Firestone Walker products/paraphernalia your heart desires in their Brewery Emporium. Not knowing there was so much to explore, we only stopped in for a beer on the patio with Max in tow.
Between working, the heat, and hanging out around Paso Robles, we didn’t get a chance to explore other sites in the area. Hearst Castle is 40 miles away in San Simeon and the beaches of Morro Bay are just 30 miles. There are also great restaurants, museums, and shops throughout Paso Robles, so it’s definitely easy for a week or more to fly by in this great city!
Our stop in Lodi, California was another two-night stay as we made our way south through California. We stayed at Flag City RV Resort, a Passport America member, which made the usual rate of $67/night only $33.50. Flag City is easily accessible from I-5 and there’s a Blue Beacon, Love’s and Flying J nearby.
With longer drive days than usual and only staying two nights at each stop, our driving schedule allowed us to cover a lot of miles but didn’t give us much time to explore the places we stayed. However, seeing as we were in Lodi over a weekend, we were able to get out and make a visit to Michael David Winery, one of more than 80 wineries in the region. Michael David is only a 5-minute drive from Flag City and probably the most popular winery in the area. Lodi is the self-proclaimed ‘Zinfandel Capital of the World’ as 40% of California’s Zinfandel comes from this area. We made sure to leave with two different varietals from Michael David’s popular Freakshow line — the Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Michael David also has an onsite restaurant at which we ate a nice lunch.
This RV park — as well as the hotel, casino, truck stop, golf course, and gas station that are part of the property — is easily accessible from I-5. We made a reservation a few days in advance, but probably didn’t need to. Check in is quite easy. After you pay the $35/night fee, you drive through and find an open site. All sites are long, gravel pull-thrus with full hookups and a few bushes for privacy. It appears as though they recently expanded the size of the park by adding two more rows of sites, and it looks as though they’re ready to expand again as the area beyond the two newest rows was cleared and graded. The RV park itself is pretty low frill, with the restrooms, showers, and laundry being located in the Traveler’s Center, which are also use by the truckers. The onsite casino is nothing special and quite smokey, with a couple of restaurants, none of which we tried.
There was nothing special about this RV park, but it was clean, quiet(ish), cheap, and easily accessible. It’s a good place to stop for a night or two while driving along I-5. It’s one of those places that is fairly empty early to midday, fills up by late evening, and then empties out again in the morning.
We spent four nights at Marashah Arabians, an Arabian horse farm in Medford with six full hookup sites. The horses are friendly and happy to say hi to both humans and canines. There’s an apple orchard next door, an organic farm with shop across the street, and a couple of cannabis farms (whose scent hangs in the air) up the road. Even though you’re in a country-like setting, it’s only a 6-8 minute drive to anything you might need.
The sites are back in and close together, but everyone was quiet and respectful.
We know Medford has a lot to offer, but besides a Target run and a trip to In-N-Out, we didn’t go anywhere. We worked a lot. We were tired. And honestly, we just did a bad job of checking things out. Life on the road isn’t always an amazing adventure. I guess it can be, if you force it to be, but sometimes we just want to relax and watch TV and do nothing. And that’s okay. We’ll do better next time, Medford!
Oregon has great state parks! We’ve stayed at a few in the past, and additionally have explored a few more, and this has been our favorite one to date in regards to the campground. There are three loops: A, B and C. There’s a mixture of full-hookup sites and electric-only sites, as well as Yurts (some are dog friendly), a very popular hiker/biker camp, and a horse camp. We were in site B55, a full-hookup, back-in site that was a little difficult to get into thanks to the narrow interior campground streets, but plenty spacious once we got backed in. We walked through B loop and C loop and found that the sites in B loop are a little closer together, but have more privacy due to the trees and shrubbery between each site. The sites in C loop are a bit more spread out and better for big rigs, but they’re a lot more open with trees that provide shade, but not privacy. The showers are separate from the restrooms, with both facilities being fairly basic with concrete block walls and cement floors, but very clean. There are at least four camp hosts on site and firewood is available for purchase from one of them from 4pm-8pm nightly.
The beach is accessed by a 1.25-mile paved trail. Dogs are allowed on the beach but must be leashed and there’s a restroom with flush toilets. The lighthouse is a bit further up the road – 3 miles one way from the campground – and is open seasonally. There are pit toilets by the lighthouse. The beach itself is not the most scenic beach we’ve seen in Oregon, but it’s clean and isolated and it’s the beach, so it’s great!
Bandon has the perfect balance of the charm one would expect from a coastal Oregon town and amenities a visitor might need – good restaurants, two grocery stores, a post office, and many services including a carwash that accommodates RVs. We stayed in Bandon October 8th-12th, so we missed the summer crowds; however, when the summer crowds are gone, so are the summer hours at many of the shops. On the one day we went into town to do some exploring, it was a few minutes before 5pm, so everything was closing up.
We ate at two different restaurants while in Bandon and they were both delicious. If you’re looking for a casual seafood experience, Tony’s Crab Shack is your place. We ate dinner here twice; one night we both got the crab sandwich and another night we both got the fish tacos. Both meals were great! We also ate at Alloro Wine Bar, which was a nice departure from all of the seafood options in the area. Travis had the duck breast and I had the Mediterranean arugula salad and dungeness crab bisque. Everything was good, though the bisque was more of a soup and needed to be thicker. We had the chocolate espresso brownie for dessert and it was delicious. Being a wine bar, they have a huge wine selection and offer tasting flights.
For the best views of the beach/ocean in Bandon, head to Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint. The beach here is huge, but we visited on an extremely windy day, so we didn’t stick around long enough to walk the beach. If standing at the right angle, it definitely appears as though a rocky face is protruding from the water. There is parking and beach access at the viewpoint.
There’s an organization in Bandon called Washed Ashore that makes amazing sculptures completely out of trash that washes up on the beaches. The sculptures travel around the country to bring awareness to the ocean trash problem. If you find yourself in Bandon, be sure to stop in. And if you find trash on the beach, be sure to pick it up!
We really enjoyed our time in Bandon and will definitely be back!
As we made our way from the Portland area to the Coast, we stopped for a night at a Harvest Host at Emerson Vineyards. According to the reviews, this is a popular stop that features live entertainment on Friday nights, though we were the sole RV on the Monday night that we stayed. We didn’t do any wine tasting, but did purchase a bottle of their award-winning Brother Red, which is a 5-grape blend. Minus the sporadic distant gunshots, this was a peaceful, private stay where we were able to test our newly installed solar and lithium batteries.
We had Ultimate Airstreams do some much-needed modifications to our 2017 27′ International Signature Airstream. We lived in it for a year and a half and decided to make some changes in order to make it more full-time friendly. We contacted Ultimate Airstreams back in April to discuss the changes we’d like make and to schedule an appointment. We worked with Ian to design a new layout that would work better for us and we dropped the Airstream off on September 3rd for a five-week renovation.
The factory-installed Airstream ‘couches’ are notoriously uncomfortable. Airstreams are not designed for full-time living, and the seating is a good indicator of that. The most important aspect in our new layout was having a comfortable couch. Like, a real couch. And that’s what Ultimate Airstreams did. Our couch actually started as a couch from IKEA that was manipulated and altered to fit into the Airstream. The cushions were reupholstered with a durable vinyl material that looks very much like leather in the Vintage Pretzel color. To replace the storage that was lost under each bench seat, two large drawers were installed under the couch. While the couch no longer converts to a bed, it is large enough for one person to sleep on, if needed. There are cup holders in the arms of the couch and two pop-up outlets behind it — one inverter and one regular. We absolutely love our couch and are finally able to watch TV in comfort!
The long bench seat was never really utilized in our Airstream — hardly anybody ever sat on it and nobody every slept on it. We replaced it with a desk, which has really changed our daily life. After about 21 months of setting up and breaking down the 27″ iMac every day, or leaving it sitting on the dinette table where it always seemed to be in the way, we finally have a functioning ‘office’. We are full timers that still work full time. There’s no end in sight for living the full-time lifestyle, so we needed to make our space work better for us. Thanks to the modifications, we have a dedicated work space by day and a comfortable lounging space by night that allows us both to see the TV without having to put the computer away every evening. We chose a butcher block top for the desk, which looks great alongside the cabinets and couch. When designing the desk, a must for me was to have a pull-out garbage can. The Airstream came with one tiny, under-sink garbage — again, not really meant for full-time living. We had a full-size garbage that would sit in front of the pantry, but we had to move it any time we wanted to open the pantry. Super annoying. We now have an out-of-sight, out-of-mind garbage as well as a drawer for storage above it.
(And because I always get at least one message asking about how we store the iMac while traveling whenever I post about it, read this blog post about the case we use and where we store while under tow.)
We purchased the desk chair from the Laura Davidson website. It’s a knockoff of the ridiculously priced Herman Miller Eames Soft Pad chair. It comes with rolling casters on it, but the website also sells these stationary glides. In order to keep the chair secure while towing, Kenny at Ultimate Airstreams installed hooks to which we attach a bungee cord that is wrapped around the base of the chair.
They found a new home for the fire extinguisher that always seemed to be in the way (Max’s collar got caught on it a couple of times.) They also fixed a few things that had been on our to-do list — replaced missing rivets, replaced the broken bathroom doorknob, made our door easier to open and close (it previously took a lot of muscle), and fixed our awning LED lights that have never worked.
We are beyond thrilled with the finished product! Ian and Kenny were fantastic to work with and they actually finished the project almost a week ahead of schedule, so we were able to pick it up early. Ultimate Airstreams is located in Clackamas, Oregon and is owned by Airstream Adventures Northwest, the five Airstream dealerships located in Idaho, Washington, Oregon and NorCal. If you dream it up, they can make it happen! We’ve been living in our newly remodeled trailer for a week and a half now and have commented almost daily about how nice it is and how we wish we would have done it sooner. However, waiting so long let us figure out exactly what we wanted/needed.
While Ultimate Airstreams was working on our home, we rented a condo in Portland for five weeks. It was located in the South Waterfront neighborhood, which is a clean, quiet neighborhood along the Willamette River. There’s a really nice, dog-friendly green space along the river, a farmer’s market every Thursday night in the neighborhood park, a few shops, an Orange Theory Fitness (which we both joined for a month), and a handful of food options within a few blocks of where we stayed, which was the The John Ross building.
We didn’t venture out as much as we would have liked for a few reasons: We were busy with work; I (Missy) took a trip to Wisconsin to visit family; and the parking situation wasn’t ideal. The building has underground parking, but it’s not really built for a large truck. We technically fit without scraping the ceiling, but the assigned parking spots are very snug. If other cars were parked around us, it took both of us to get in and out of the spot — Travis driving and me directing him through a 27-point turn so we didn’t hit anybody. Not really ideal for exploring the city. However, we did make it to the following sites:
Washington Park: Home to the Hoyt Arboretum, International Rose Test Garden, Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, World Forestry Center, and the Portland Japanese Garden, the latter of which we spent a decent amount of time at. The Japanese Garden is laid out so beautifully and is very serene. We grabbed a bite for lunch at their Umami Cafe. I would definitely put this on the list as a must-see when visiting Portland!
The Pearl District: It’s only about a 10-minute drive from South Waterfront to this neighborhood where you’ll find Powell’s Books, Deschutes Brewery, trendy boutiques, big-name stores, restaurants, bars, breweries, coffee shops, and galleries. There’s also a Whole Foods with an Amazon Locker where we had a package sent. If we were to recommend an area for someone to stay who is going to visit Portland, this is it.
Cannon Beach: It’s a little over an hour and half drive to Cannon Beach from Portland. It was a much needed and enjoyed trip by all three of us.
Studio One Theaters: A luxury movie theater with a more personal vibe. Our particular theater was set up and decorated like a New York penthouse.
We know there is so much more to explore in Portland and hope to get back some day to do so. After picking up the Airstream from Ultimate Airstreams, we stayed at Pheasant Ridge RV Park, about 20 minutes south of Portland. We spent a few days there while moving back into the Airstream and getting everything organized. We’d highly recommend Pheasant Ridge as a basecamp while the visiting the Portland area. Read our review here.
Pheasant Ridge RV Park is located 20 minutes south of downtown Portland and was a great place to stay for a couple of nights as we got moved back into our Airstream and reorganized after picking it up from Ultimate Airstreams. Even though it’s easily accessible from the I-5 and across the street from a shopping center (Target, Starbucks, Costco, PetSmart, etc.), it’s a very quiet and peaceful place to stay. They have one of the best features I’ve seen at an RV park — a separate laundry room specifically for pet stuff! The property has beautiful trees throughout that offer great shade, which I’m sure is very welcome during the hotter months. The sites are concrete with grassy yards. We didn’t use the pool or restrooms, but both seemed very nice and clean.
Pheasant Ridge is the perfect place to stay if you want to explore Portland. During our long weekend there, we saw a musical at Portland Center Stage at The Armory, which is located in the Pearl District. It’s only a 20-minute drive to this neighborhood where you’ll find Powell’s Books, Deschutes Brewery, trendy boutiques, big-name stores, restaurants, bars, breweries, coffee shops, and galleries.
For more about our Ultimate Airstream modifications and what we did while in the Portland area, check out this blog post.