The Maiden Voyage

Setting up our Airstream on the first night.

There are certain things that must be given a deadline. If they are not given a deadline, they will never be perfect enough to call finished. Studies have shown that if too much time for a task is allowed then we have a habit of making a "mountain out of a molehill" and taking a long time to finish tasks that are not important.  People who set deadlines are more productive people. Great. 

What these studies don't tell you about is the frenzy of the day of the deadline and especially the last few hours. Our moving day was much like this. We weren't on a firm deadline, but the beds were already disassembled so we decided it would be best to leave St. Louis at night and slept at my moms. If we were making a 2 hour drive - it was not worth coming back to finish things up the next day. Those last few hours consisted of tossing everything that we could see in several unlabeled tubs and throwing them on various storage shelves.

It would be best if to leave St. Louis at night...
— Michelle Mette

The first trip with the Airstream had a fairly firm deadline as well. My mom agreed to watch the kids so Michael and I could work out some kinks on the first trip. We decided to take the Airstream to a retreat center. I would hang out and do some unpacking while he played music for a retreat all weekend. Our goal was to depart at 4 PM on Friday.

Was the Airstream finished in time?...NO. Did we try our best...Yes. 

Was the Airstream finished in time... NO!
— Michelle Mette

At the beginning of the week we knew that "finished" was an unrealistic goal. We concentrated on major systems and our bed in the front. The zippers that I had ordered for our cushions were due to arrive Friday. Michael spent most of the week doing lots and lots of minor reassembly jobs such as hanging the bathroom doors, adjusting the oven door, fixing a plumbing leak, etc. He painted the platforms for our bed, and I spent the week preparing the cushions for the day the zippers arrive - which was actually Thursday. I got to work right away and barely finished our bed at 3 PM on Friday,

At that time, Michael and his dad were still putting the final touches on the bathroom. As they worked, I started carrying in tubs from our old house. I'm not sure really what was in the tubs or what we needed. I packed a little suitcase with clothes. Our meals were provided for the weekend, so I figured we would get by or go to the store when we got there. As the bathroom was being caulked, we began hitching up the trailer. We pulled out of town a bit before 5 PM.  Our holding tanks were full from all that testing of the hot water heater. We wanted to dump them before leaving town, but decided to not waste any time. That was a good choice, since the coordinator called to say that they were running ahead of schedule and would be arriving over an hour early.


We arrived at the retreat center and asked for an RV lot. They said that we could park anywhere. This retreat center had over 250 spots that they used for mostly summer festivals and they did not rent them out to the public, so we had our pick of all of them and chose the one closest to our meeting room. We quickly plugged in the electric, hooked up the water, and watched the sewer hose fall to pieces in our hands.  Gross.  Michael then decided he needed to set up music and I decided I would make the first trip to Wal-Mart for a new sewer hose. The rain was kind enough to hold off until we were parked before it came down. I tried to check the fridge, but it made a weird popping sound like the fridge was not lighting from the gas. I though that was weird since it should have been on electric, but I just turned it off and headed to Wal-Mart.

Michael advised me to go ahead and buy anything that I thought would be helpful. The RV section was fairly small, so I stuck with some hand soap and the sewer hose. I returned to drain the holding tanks, only to figure out that the fitting on the new hose was just a bit smaller than our tank. I tried to force it to fit a while, but I decided that I had had enough time in the rain. Knowing that it was only the gray water tank that needed to be drained, I held the new fitting under my old fitting and let gravity do the rest.  At least then I had enough room in the tanks to go in and wash my hands...only I couldn't...there was no water. 

There was a reason that the fridge had automatically switched from electric and was trying to light the gas burner - and that was because our site was DEAD. No electric. No water. Well then! Now, it is 10 PM at night. It is dark. It is raining. Michael is scheduled to work until midnight. Our van is unhitched and all the sites are back-in instead of pull-through. I decided that we had heat and lights on our own, so I would just consult the front desk and move locations in the morning.

The front desk was surprised, and a bit clueless. After a lot of "hmmm!" exclamations and a few, "I've never seen those sites not turned on by April 1," the third person contacted was able to tell us that a maintenance issue happened over the winter and all sites on our side of the building were off. Then they stated a couple of times, "I hate to have you move." I told them that I was not moving tonight, we would just be without water and that we could wait until morning when Michael was able to help. 

I walked by the desk a bit later and they handed me a piece of paper with number of the site closest to me that had working water and electric. It turns out that he had started at my trailer and tested each site until he found water. His intention was to run a hose to me, but we were over 200 yards from a working site! Just then, Michael walked by. He had an hour break and agreed to move the trailer right then. We hooked up, the fridge kicked on, we checked the water, and all was good. (except that it was still raining).

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. I cut into the brand new sewer hose and stretched it over my old fitting. Michael showed me the pilot light cut-off switch on the stove. We had only a minor leak from the rain. The shower was more like old-faithful than a shower, because it had water spurting from all the wrong places. We decided that we need some curtains ASAP because those LED lights REALLY allow everyone to see inside of the trailer after dark. Buying more water-friendly shoes was also bumped up on the list.

Most importantly - I got a nap. I even watched a TV show on Hulu and spent some time surfing the internet. Michael was not quite so lucky as he was busy leading music on the retreat, but he did comment that the retreat was less exhausting than usual. He thought it could be that he got to come "home" at the end of the night and chat with me instead of sharing a bunk house with the other volunteers.

We had a few more days to work out some of the glitches that we found, and then we would be on the road with the kids!