Well Shiver Me Rivets

We don’t need another reason to head to warmer climates. Nevertheless, we have one. Shiny DOES NOT like the cold.

The main door on Shiny has always been a bit hard to close. When it gets down to 40 degrees or lower it just won’t shut. All the slamming in the world does nothing but loosen rivets. The only way to get it shut is to gently close the door, put both palms on the door just over the latch, then very firmly press in. But….. then you can’t open it. Something is going to break.

In addition, both the grey water and the black water valves will not open or shut when it’s cold. I had left both valves open after winterization and water must have frozen (despite the anti freeze) blocking the gate valves from closing. The thought of driving down Interstate 81 leaving a trail of unmentionables is not appealing.

While standing next to the shivering barge of rivets, I swear I could hear a voice saying “for all that’s green on God’s great earth, can we please head south!“. I wish we could but we have appointments until the 1st week in January so our tentative departure date is January 7th. I’m pretty sure that our daughter, Brooke and her husband, Dan, who have moved in and will be house sitting while we full time in Shiny, would like to see us head out early as well.

Getting back to the door. I was perusing Airstream Addicts on Facebook and came across a thread about a woman getting ready to take off on a trip and her door wouldn’t shut. Lots of folks posted trying to help this damsel in distress. One post got my attention. It talked about adjusting the door striker. I grabbed a 3/4 inch boxed end wrench and after prying open the door, backed off on the striker one turn. Voila, the door shut perfectly and Shiny breathed a sigh of relief.

I ended up removing the striker and adding a thin washer behind the one already there. Most importantly the Bride approved the fix.


On a warm day I got both gate valves closed and closed they will remain! I’m confident that the Bride will approve this fix too.

Shiny patiently awaits us.





Must Have Gadget #1 Zamp

Zamp 160 Watt Portable Solar Kit

There is no end to the sometimes expensive but must have gadgets that I think we need to survive if we are to full time in Shiny.

As a fiddler I love to go to Old Time music festivals. We can spend a week or more boondocking in the middle of a field. Sue and I are pretty conservative when it comes to amp hour usage. We use flashlights at night instead of the lights in Shiny for instance. One thing we don’t skimp on is the electric water pump as the use of public porta johns can be rather REPULSIVE! In any case the two 12 volt deep cycle batteries in Shiny will last about 3 days before the need of recharging. We try not to discharge the batteries more then 50% as damage to them will occur if they are drained more than that.

A generator is not feasible at Old Time music events because of the close proximity to  other festival attendees, most of whom reside in tents.


Also, come January we plan on doing a whole lot of boondocking so some sort of solar array was imperative. Well, at least as far as I’m concerned. 🙂

This leads me to our first must have gadget accusation. A Zamp 160 Watt portable solar panel kit. We paid around $650 for it. Truth be told we already had a Renolgy 100 Watt suitcase which we paid about $160 for. It was adequate for the job but one day on the way to Mt Airy in May of this year it stopped charging. So we bought the new Zamp at more then four times the price of the old Renolgy. The only difference between the two (besides quality, wattage and weight) is that I had to use alligator clamps right on the batteries while the Zamp has a handy dandy connector that connects directly to Shiny.

My friend Cliff Riggs told me that I was taken in by the warning sticker on the front of Shiny which states “Only use Zamp …”.



The idea that I was a fool was reinforced when I discovered that the only thing wrong with the Renolgy was a blown inline fuse. Can you say DUMB!

BTW, I e-mailed the Airstream dealer and they wanted $2350 to install a 160 watt solar array on Shiny’s roof. Ouch! They said;

160W solar panel pkg install is $2350.00, that does not include the upgrade of AGM batteries. You do not have to upgrade your batteries to the glass mat batteries unless you intend on doing alot of boon-docking. The AGM will take a faster charge and have a longer draw life. The AGM’s are $250.0 each.”

We decided to hold off on the AGMs until we need to replace the Deep Cycle batteries that came with Shiny.

I was able to sell the Renolgy setup at Mt Airy for $100 so I recouped some of my money. If I knew then what I know now I’d have most likely spent the buck on a new fuse and still be dealing with the alligator clamps.

That being said, I do love the Zamp. It’s far better constructed and more rugged then the Renolgy. We were 12 days boondocking at Mt Airy with sun on the Zamp only from 2:00 pm on and it kept the batteries well charged. It stores nicely in Shiny’s closet with a shower curtain rod holding it in place.

If you have a late model Airstream, looking for a portable solar system, and starting from scratch, then go for the Zamp if you can afford it.

Zamp 160W Solar Kit   $650.00
Renolgy Solar Kit     -100.00 

Total Gadget Expenses $550.00




Those aren’t chia seeds

We had a little surprise when we got Shiny, our beloved Airstream, back from the repair shop where some warranty work was ably performed. I opened the silverware draw and there were chewed up packets of parmesan cheese and little deposits from some furry friends. After my initial dismay and revulsion, I had to laugh. The image of cheese in an aluminum packet, in a drawer, in an aluminum encased trailer, in an aluminum sided building came to mind. Such a fortress was no match to a pair or two of mice.

Given my Irish heritage, I am bound to see a sermon in this little story. It goes like this – Life is going to happen. It is going to get up close and personal. It doesn’t care how many layers of shiny reflective, protective gear you put up. And, it’s messy and stuff happens.

The waiting time for a big getaway is hard (in a first world sort of way). We entertain ourselves with internet searches of cool places. We have been having fun reading about Shunpikers and the fascinating blog Streaming Thru America.

Getting ready to hit the road!

Larry and I sure never thought we’d be able to be planning an adventure like this one.  A little over two years ago we were both working away at jobs that were wearing us down. Now we are planning a nine month road trip. We are two of the luckiest people on the planet. This is a leap of faith for me for sure. What will we do? Will we get sick of each other? Will our kids and my parents be ok? There is a sense of adventure stirring in me after years of hard work and raising a family. Now it’s time to play. I hope that this blog is fun for you and that our adventures, stories and photos add joy and laughter to your day. Till next time!