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 Receive Mail on the Road

A common question we get when people find out we are full-time travelers is how we get our mail. It’s easier (most of the time) than you may think.

Everyone has a domicile, with domicile meaning a legal relationship between a person and a place. Everyone with a driver’s license, vehicle registration, insurance of any type, and that pays taxes, needs to have a legal domicile. For most, it’s where they live. But when you don’t ‘live’ anywhere, when you don’t have a fixed place of residence, you need to establish an address to use as your legal domicile address. Some people use a family member’s or a friend’s address, and that is definitely an option, especially if they live in the same state you’ve most recently lived in. Two caveats in this scenario are that that person will have to deal with your mail, and, if they ever move, you’ll have to change your address as well. This is why many full-timers choose to set up a domicile address with a mail service. The three states that most full-time travelers use as domiciles are Texas, Florida and South Dakota and we chose South Dakota. To learn more about establishing a domicile, read our post about it here.

All of our regular USPS mail is sent to our address in South Dakota. We can also have any packages sent there shipped via any other carriers, but we try to avoid doing that so we don’t have to pay to have them shipped to our current location. We get an email any time a new piece of mail arrives and I’m able to look online to see what it is (they scan the front of each piece of mail). When we want our mail, I schedule a shipment and our mail is sent to us. But where is it sent?, you ask.

  • Our Current Location – Many campgrounds will accept mail on your behalf; just check with them how it should be addressed in order for it to get to you. Also, make sure they accept mail from all carriers — USPS, UPS, FedEx, Amazon. Not all carriers can make general deliveries to all locations.
  • USPS General Delivery – The local post office will accept general deliveries on your behalf and hold on to them for up to 30 days. Always call the post office to see if they accept general deliveries before having something sent there (the USPS website can be inaccurate). Also, they only accept things shipped via the USPS, so don’t expect them to accept your Amazon packages. This has worked great for us when we’ve stayed at State Parks/National Parks. The address for general deliveries is: Your Name, General Delivery, City, State, Zip Code. Make sure the package is addressed to whoever is picking it up as you may need to present your ID.
  • UPS Store – Just as the USPS accepts USPS-shipped packages on your behalf, UPS Stores will accept UPS-shipped packages on your behalf; however, they may charge a fee. Again, call the store to make sure they offer this service.
  • Amazon Locker – Amazon Lockers are secure, self-service kiosks where customers can pick up Amazon.com packages at a time and place that is convenient for them. When you check out on Amazon, there’s a ‘Find an Amazon Locker’ option when choosing your delivery address. This service is most likely only available in cities of a certain size, but is also a great option for anyone who doesn’t want their packages stolen off their front porch.

So, that’s it! It’s fairly simple, but be forewarned, things move slowly this way. We often receive our mail about three weeks later than if we were in a bricks and sticks home. Make sure to sign up for paperless for everything you can. Our mail service will open and scan something if we request it, so we’re able to read the important stuff in a timely manner.