Airstream Modifications with Ultimate Airstreams (and a Stay in Portland, OR)

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.

Ultimate Airstreams

16520 SE Evelyn Street

Clackamas, OR 97015

www.ultimateairstream.com

Our Stay in Portland

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.

Definitely a different kind of lifestyle than we’re used to!
The South Waterfront Greenway was a great place to walk Max every morning and was only a block from our condo.
The weekly farmer’s market where we’d stock up on goodies.
There’s a Blue Star Donuts in the neighborhood, which was both wonderful and terrible. When in Portland, skip Voodoo Donuts and head to Blue Star instead.
There’s also a vet in the neighborhood, whom Max had to visit after getting an eye infection at Cannon Beach. We saw two different doctors on two different occasions and they were both fantastic.

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.

How We Work on the Road

The number one thing that most people want to know when we tell them we live in our Airstream and travel full time is what do we do for work.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, we own an ERP consulting business that we started six years ago. We’ve worked from home for the last six years, so there wasn’t a dramatic work-related lifestyle change when we decided to begin traveling. We did, however, search out the best products, devices, and services that would allow us to continue working remotely without interruption.

Cell Phones

We have three AT&T cell phones (two personal, one business) with unlimited data. We also have one Verizon cell phone (which is a spare) with unlimited data. We are able to use these as hotspots when needed. It’s nice to have options, as the cell signals can differ significantly between the two companies. A bonus with the AT&T phones is that we can stream HBO on DirecTV Now and it doesn’t count against our data usage. With the Verizon phone, we get NFL Mobile, so we never have to miss a Packer game! All of the phones are supposed to slow down after using 22GB, but we’ve maxed out on one of the phones this month and have not noticed a slow down where we’re currently staying.

Verizon Jetpack 6620L MiFi

The MiFi is a wireless router that acts as a mobile wifi hotspot. We also have unlimited data with this, but once we hit 15GB, it’s supposed to be throttled to 600kbps. You can find more information about the MiFi here, although our particular version is no longer available.

WeBoost RV Cellular Signal Booster

We bought the weBoost Drive 4G-X RV signal booster to help boost our cell and data signals in areas where they may be lacking. From their website: “The Drive 4G-X RV is our powerful in-vehicle cell phone signal booster kit certified for use anywhere in the US. The Drive 4G-X RV boosts voice and data with max FCC-allowed 50 dB system gain, enhancing 4G LTE, as well as 3G network signals, up to 32x. RVers get fewer lost connections and dead zones, better call quality as well as faster data uploads and downloads whether parked or in motion in their RV.  Works in all classes of RV; Class A, Class C and all towables.” An antenna needs to be installed on the top of the trailer and is connected to an indoor desktop antenna. We’ve noticed that you need to be within a few feet of the indoor antenna in order for the signal to be boosted, which generally works fine as the antenna is in the storage compartment above the kitchen table. When we’re in the bedroom in the back of the trailer, we generally have a weaker signal. You can find our particular model here.

The weBoost antenna on the top of our trailer

Computers

Travis uses a 27″ iMac 3.4GHz Intel Core i7 with 32GB of RAM and a 3TB Fusion Drive. When we are towing, the iMac gets secured in a Gator Cases Tote Bag, available from Amazon here. The bag fits perfectly in the space at the end of his bed so we don’t need to worry about it sliding around at all. I use a 13″ MacBook Pro 2.3GHz Intel Core i5 with 16GB of RAM and a 500GB SSD Drive.

Gator Cases Creative Pro Series Nylon Carry Tote Bag for Apple 27″ iMac Desktop Computer
Fits perfectly at the end of the twin bed in our International 27FB

Printer

We found the perfect printer for our needs! We purchased the HP OfficeJet 250 All-in-One Portable Printer with Wireless & Mobile Printing. It wirelessly scans, copies and prints (in color, if needed). It has a battery so it only needs to be plugged in occasionally to charge. The best part?! It easily fits in the drawer beneath the bench along with packs of paper. You can find it on Amazon here.

Fits in the bench drawer with room to spare!