Honolulu in February!

We were suffering through the winter blahs, as the Pacific NW winter dragged on, grey skies, soggy days, me complaining about work, Dave complaining about the theater. One day I said ‘I think you haven’t said a thing today that wasn’t related to theater work!’, and he agreed. And then he did something about it. A couple weeks later we went to have dinner with our friends, and he surprised me with a trip to Hawaii! Leaving the next day!

I love spontaneous trips! We always have so much fun! He had even gone behind my back and asked a coworker to warn my boss I’d be taking off for a week! He had plotted with our friends to figure out where to go! So all I had to do was wrap my head around packing summer clothes:

Me: So I should take a sweater?
Dave: No, it’s going to be 80 degrees!
Me: But it will be cold at night right?
Dave: Do you remember what 80 degrees feels like?

Narrator: She did not remember what 80 degrees felt like. Everything she packed was too warm.

So we headed to the airport, and we are sitting in the waiting area, and I can hear the neighboring gate calling out ‘First boarding special needs, families with children, veterans, first class…’ and I said to Dave ‘First class, I’d like to know what that’s like someday!’ Just then our gate called for First Class and Dave stood up and grabbed our bags and said ‘let’s go’, and I’m like ‘Whaaaa?’ He said ‘I got us first class for the flight over’!!!

Check out all that legroom! Big comfy chairs with tons of room to stretch out!

And fancy breakfast!!

What a great start!

When we got there we got a shuttle bus to take us to Waikiki, to check in at the rental which was right on the beach! Looking right down the beach you can see Diamond Head. And of course it was warm and beautiful, just like you expect Hawaii to be!

And the view from our condo 9 floors up – perfect!

Making ourselves at home

That evening there were fireworks over the beach, easily viewed while chilling on the balcony

The next morning we took a city bus to Pearl Harbor. This was one of the more confusing places I’ve visited, because you need to have tickets for all the different areas, and catch a bus to get to the other half of the displays which are on the military base. We were very confused about how to get to the Arizona, because there were reserved times, we had a ticket for the afternoon, and we were trying to determine if we could go see the Air Museum first, but when we asked a park ranger they advised us to get in line then, because the previous day high winds had cancelled all the afternoon visits to the Memorial. So we did that, and ended up going over there early.

It was a beautiful memorial, and very humbling to be standing directly over the sunken ship. It was also VERY WINDY and when we left, they got everyone on board and left the memorial empty, and I heard from someone later that they had had a power outage that afternoon, so we were lucky to get to see it when we did.

Then we caught the bus over to the Mighty Mo, and wandered around there admiring all the big guns above decks, the place where they signed the paperwork to end the war, and wandered around below decks until my claustrophobia said enough was enough of that.

Then we headed over to the Air Museum. I did not take a lot of pictures, but I did take one of the restored airfield tower, and cleaned it up for a nice peiece of art:

After a hot bus ride home we discovered Shave Ice – Dave may never be the same.

And of course every night we ate like kings. Calories don’t count on vacation!

Every night while looking for food we wandered through this really fancy shopping area with places like Rolex and Tiffany and a Tesla store. There was this cool shopping center built around a HUGE tree with walkways for the upper floor winding between the trunks.

Dave found a shirt he really liked there on one of our evening wanders but the store was closed because it was so late.

We went to the Aquarium the next morning, which was a nice walk along the beach, counting ABC Stores every block, and watching the surfers on the beach. The Aquarium was small but they had a really cool display of Sea Dragons. Apparently this is a Common Sea Dragon! Pretty spectacular for a ‘common’!

The Zoo was pretty nice (though I’m biased because I think the Oregon Zoo has spoiled me, and is the best!) and it had a big central courtyard with a GIANT TREE in the middle of it. Me for scale.

After wandering the zoo we stopped for lunch and were harassed by peacocks.

Designer chickens!

One last bus ride, where we got to chatting with a nice older lady from Florida who said the zoo was fun, but she got lost in the winding paths. We thought it wasn’t that complicated, but then she mentioned she stopped at the convinience store and pre-gamed her visit with a little liquor! Lady, it’s barely even noon! Boy did we all have a laugh at that! I guess that’s what retirement is like!

Then we picked up our transportation for the second half of the trip. Time to explore the island!

I would have preferred a Mustang, but it was this or BWM. Oh well, convertible is convertible!

First stop was a Buddhist temple in the hills above Honolulu.

I loved this place, I thought it was beautiful, and really peaceful.

We stopped at McDonalds for a Teri-Mac burger, possibly the messiest burger ever created. I did my best not to leave any evidence in the Merc.

The balcony had a view of the beach, a museum with an attack helicopter on the roof, and pickleball courts, which were pickleballing at all hours. It was so much fun to watch the ships coming and going.

If we were awake, we were on the balcony. They could have just rented us a balcony. What a view!

The next morning, a breakfast whale-watching cruise! I was not sure about this whole concept, because I have never been on a boat bouncing around on the sea, and certainly not with a belly-full of breakfast, and neither has Dave.

The captains of all the whale watching boats worked together to spot the whales and direct each other to them. We got to see quite a few whales, including a mother and calf! Hard to get pictures of them though! I was even more surprised by the flying fish! I thought that was super cool!

And we had breakfast and nobody got seasick, even though it was like riding a roller coaster sometimes. Pretty exciting! Oh, and Dave lost his hat. So long, hat!

When we went back to our car we realized we had forgotten to pay for parking in our excitement to get to the boat, so we got to figure out how to pay a parking ticket! After that exciting morning we headed up to see the Macadamia farm, and the beaches on the north side of the island. I cannot get over how pretty it is here, every curve led us to more beautiful places!

After lunch we finally found a nearly empty beach to stretch out and enjoy the waves for a bit and have a nap.

Dave picked up a new hat to replace the one lost at sea, only to have the new one blow off out of the convertible! His third hat of the day had a chinstrap!

Man, look at this scenery!

We ended up at this beautful beach at the end of the day. Blue skies, puffy clouds, blue water. Paradise!

The next day was a short hike at Diamond Head

The Pineapple Farm, Where we stood in line for longer than a Disney ride to take a little train ride around the farm. My feet hurt so bad from walking everywhere all week I was just in incredible pain standing there, then when I finally got on the train I just dozed off for the whole ride.

and driving out to the far end of the island to see what was there (lots of homeless people living on the beaches).

Saw a Jollibee and had to try it. I feel like their mid-afternoon offerings may not have been at the peak of quality.

Also – Hawaii traffic! Well, isn’t that fun?

Feet are so very tired…

We finally spotted a break in the people on the beach below our hotel and grabbed our towels and ran down to play in the water. He did wade out into the ocean, but it was too cold for me, I stayed on the beach.

For our last day Dave went back and got that expensive shirt he liked from the shopping center with the tree in it.

We drove around and had a view of Honolulu

Back at the airport, dropped off the Mercedes, and ready to fly home

Not in first class anymore

This was a classic Dave Vacation, non stop go go go, we can sleep when we’re dead! We had a great time, and really enjoyed the break from PNW winter. It made the next 4 months of winter go by a little more tolerably.

October in Ashland

Yeah, I’m really behind on my blogging. Must be because I’ve been distracted with SO MUCH COOL STUFF! No, It’s because winter has been really boring and I’ve spent so much time playing video games. It’s like spring will never come! But that’s a perfect time to look back at our last trip of last season, to Ashland Oregon, where we had tickets to see a few plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

We used to go to Ashland every year, sometimes in the spring and again in the fall, so we could see all the plays. Plus, it was a great vacation, we can drive there in a day without rushing, we camp at a nice county park, and it’s just an easy drive into town to see the plays, and then drive back out to our quiet park on the lake and our cozy trailer. Before we had the trailer we would go down and stay in a hotel, and it was so expensive to stay in a hotel and eat out the whole time, staying in the trailer is a big cost savings! Still, we went through some tight times after the 2008 recession and weren’t able to go for a while. Then they had focused more on musicals, which weren’t our thing, then we had the pandemic. We decided this was the year to get back down there.

The trailer had it’s new tires, and since I wanted to tighten the lug nuts a couple times during this first trip, I just ditched the hub caps entirely. Looking good! The Flex tows it like it’s not even there. Here we were stopping at Roth’s for some doughnuts for the road. Gotta have road trip snacks!

We got our trailer all settled into its spot at Emmigrant Lake, and headed down to the hardware store in town to find a few parts I needed. Because we switched to a composting toilet, I was happy to leave the black tank supplies like gloves out of the trailer, and I had fixed the trailer side connection for the grey water drain, but forgot to put a matching connector on the slinky – and this was the first time we had had a hookup this summer and needed to use it! So we headed down to the hardware store, following Google Maps, and it took us on a strange roundabout path into a part of town we were not familiar with, then around behind an apartment complex, then just stopped, leaving us looking across a field and railroad tracks at the back of the hardware store.

Google: Nailed it! You’re welcome!

So we drove around the block and found our way to the actual parking lot of the hardware store. Luckily we found what we needed so we could go back and finish hooking up the slinky.

The water in the lake was low – really LOW, here is a side by side comparison from almost the same camp spots, the left side is the mid-2000’s – definitly before 2013. The right side is now. You can see that’s the same mountain in the distance. Wow, that lake water was way way down there. We used to like to sit in our lawn chairs and watch the antics as the boaters put their boats in at the ramp. None of that now. There no water at the ramps!

That first night we went and saw a Shakespeare play that was very good, as always, they always put on quite a show there. We decided to spend the next day on a little road trip out to the Lave Beds National Monument in Northern California. We used to spend time there when we were in college at Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, OR. So we thought it would be fun to cruise by the campus and see what had changed, and then go poke our head in a few caves.

On the drive from Ashland to Klamath Falls we took a backroad to enjoy a bit of scenery, and we not only got to see some roadside history, but we saw a flock of wild turkeys, and COWS! Yes, it’s open rangeland out there, so the cows have right of way, and you need to keep your eyes out for them.

We got to the campus and boy had it changed a lot. It was barely recognizable. We went down and took a picture at the fountain, definitly remembered that.

Walked by the dorms, they looked the same, but they had added more. Wandered through the student union until we were about to have cafeteria flashbacks. Decided we didn’t need that kind of trauma. Stopped in the bookstore for a souvineer for the trailer’s sticker wall.

Hustlin’ Owls!

We headed over to Abbys Pizza which was the hangout in college, it looked just the same, had some pizza and nostalgia before doing a quick tour of downtown and heading for the caves.

The drive out to the lava bades was down a dry and lonely road. It’s pretty amazing out there, it’s very very quiet. There isn’t much going on anywhere near there. It’s just wind and birds and the sound of tourists cars.

We went to the visitors center and checked out a couple flashlights, picked up a map, and went for a wander in a few of the easier caves. The caves here are from an ancient lava flow, which left tubes of lava as it flowed away. So many of them are big enough to stand up in, some are big enough to fit a house in, some you would need to crawl through.

One of the big ones

BIG entrance to this cave! See me in there?!

We should definitely come back and camp here and take our time poking around. We only had so much time before we had to get the flashlights back and head back to see the evening play in Ashland. The drive back was long and uneventful, except Google took us over a different highway that had a bit of snow at the top. No issues, but it was worrying us for a bit.

Ashland was pretty in its fall colors.

We saw three plays, they were all excellent. We spent a little time exploring. Had some nice dinners, and had some easy meals in the trailer. All in all, a good time was had. It was nice to get back to our old stomping grounds. Maybe we will get back to doing this more often again.

New shoes for the Airstream

I replace the tires on the Airstream every 5-7 years, because it doesn’t get used enough to worry about wearing down the tread. My only concern is sun damage and just plain deterioration from age. I’m pretty serious about this, because with a dual axel trailer, you can have a tire go flat and still limp to someplace where you can get it fixed, but a flat on a single axel trailer will be a much bigger deal, and a blowout on an Airstream has the potential for a lot of damage. I’ve seen people sustain serious damage to the aluminum sides and the underside of their Airstreams from a blowout. And as Dave likes to say, as long as the Airstream is rolling along behind us, we can make a good trip out of anything else that goes wrong, so we’ve got to keep it rolling!

It was time to get new shoes this year, but my usual tire guys were not much help. I wanted to replace my old steel wheels and go to something powdercoated, with trim rings and hubcaps, but they said they couldn’t get the right wheels. I tried the biggest tire place around, and after spending an hour waiting to talk to someone and explaining everything I wanted to do, in person, they never called me back, even after I tried to contact them again several times. So I finally turned to mail order, and found exactly what I needed on https://www.vintagetrailersupply.com/

15 x 6 black powder coated wheels with new tires mounted and balanced, and dome hubcaps.

They arrived all aired up and ready to roll!

The dome hubcaps are nice and shiny, but very thin.

My friend Scott came over and helped me install them. We moved it to the driveway so we’d have a solid place to jack it up. You have to be really careful when jacking up these old Airstreams and only jack from the approved spot which is on the frame behind the wheels, or the axel mounting plate. I always go for the mounting plate, because the old frame doesn’t need any extra stress put on it if I can help it!

And, tah-dah, the new wheels and tires look great, and I love the hubcap. The only downside is that hubcap is so fragile it got dented just from popping it on by hand. Anyway, it looks better than the old set, so I’m happy for now. And now I can swap one of the old wheels onto the spare carrier on the front, because the current spare is from 2004 and I really wouldn’t want to rely on it in a pinch!

Airstreaming at the beach

For my next trip of the season, I headed out all by myself for the first time ever! Dave was doing a play, and I already had this club rally scheduled, and I wanted to go. I feel like it’s not fair to make Dave feel bad because I have to just sit home when he’s in a play, and it’s not fair for me to have to skip doing things I want to do while he does his stuff. So he gave me some lessons on backing up the little beast, and I packed up and headed out on my own.

First stop was in Newport, Oregon for lunch where it was so foggy I couldn’t even see the sea!

I had planned my trip to take this little break, stretch my legs and have lunch at our favorite spot at Nye Beach. I was a little nervous leaving the trailer parked over by the performing arts center, but it looked like the easiest place to park a trailer. Luckily it was still there when I got back.

I got to the park in Florence, OR, and the hosts had warned us all the night before that a scheduling mix up had changed us from each having our own spot, to sharing a big parking lot. This actually worked really well. All the tow vehicles were parked over in a corner, and we got to camp in a semi-wagon-wheel formation. It was great! The host helped me back into my spot, and we were all set!

I was the oldest trailer there by far that weekend. The whole point was to be a boondocking rally, which was more nerve wracking for some of the campers with new trailers who were used to having hookups. I was used to boondocking anyway, and have very simple needs, so it was no biggie for me. It got a little warm one day, but I popped open the windows and put on the awnings, and it was cool and comfy inside.

I went South on the first day and explored the dunes a little bit. I huffed and puffed my way to the top of a dune for a view up and down the coast, and even saw whales spouting not too far out to sea!

Then I headed down to the marina for lunch at a chowder shack on the marina, which was delicious, and walked around on the docks looking at the cool boats.

Also watched this bird successfully catching it’s lunch.

I have this plan in the back of my head that someday I am going to do a photography project where I go photograph all the arch bridges in Oregon, particularly up and down the coast.

I finished up my day at an overlook near my campground, and you can just see the dunes stretching off into the distance. What a unique part of the beach! This is very different from the Northern Oregon beaches that I am used to!

The next morning I headed out early to visit Heceta Head Lighthouse. I wanted to beat the weekend crowds, and it worked, there were very few people at the beach. I wasn’t expecting this, but there were tidepools to visit, and a couple volunteer rangers hanging out to answer questions.

A few years ago we heard a lot about the starfish suffering from a wasting disease that was destroying the populations off the Oregon coast, so it was nice to see these big healthy specimens. These were quite large, bigger than my hand! The rangers said they are recovering nicely.

I think they are really cool looking!

I hiked up the short path to the lighthouse. First you come to the old keepers house, which is run as a B & B now. It was a really cute house.

And then finally to the lighthouse, which wasn’t open yet because I was too early! I saw the ranger going up the hill as I was going back down!

I headed up to Yachats to visit a popular bakery (the line was out to the street!), had lunch in a historic pub, and then drove back towards camp, stopping at every wayside along the way. The clouds parted and it was beautiful! Also, the crowds weren’t nearly as bad here as they are on the Northern beaches. I think it’s worth the extra drive to have a little more solitude! This was on a beautiful summer Saturday!

Almost back to camp, I parked on this overlook and just relaxed in the car watching for whales. It was really peaceful.

That was the whole adventure. Every evening we had Happy Hour back at camp, played some cornhole, and sat around the fire after dinner chatting. The next morning folks started heading out and I headed out fairly early too, just so I wouldn’t feel like I had to rush. I stopped at a rest stop along the way, and another random Airstreamer pulled in after me and just waved to check and make sure I was ok with my little vintage trailer! Very kind! Later I stopped at another rest stop to cook some lunch in the trailer, and one of my fellow campers stopped right after me and said hello.

Finally I made it home and backed the trailer into the driveway all by myself, and it only took 3 tries! My first solo trip was over. It’s always more fun if Dave comes along, but it’s nice to know I can go out on my own if I have to also!

North Cascades VAC Rally

About a week after returning from Camano Island, I had fixed up the problems I found with my remodel (all minor), and we headed back up North to Rockport, WA for a Vintage Airstream Club rally. It was at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, a beautiful county park right on the Skagit River. We had two loops mostly full of Airstreams, with a big field and picnic shelter in the middle.

I was hoping to get some fishing in, I brought my fly rod and gear, but the water was so high from the spring rains, there were no banks to fish from!

The hills around the campground were beautiful, with their heads in the clouds.

This is at a nearby campground we explored while wandering. Beautiful moss covered trees!

We stopped at the Oso Landslide Memorial. I remember watching this on the news. It’s so sad. Such a beautiful area, my heart goes out to those people killed, and the survivors, of the sudden, enexpected landslide that wiped away their neighborhood. That hill in the distance is where the land slid off the face of the hill, and came all the way out to the highway behind us, wiping out everything in its path.

I don’t know what this mountain was called, I was thinking it was White Horse or something. There are amazing mountains everywhere around here. We headed South and did a loop drive around through Granite Falls to Arlington on Hwy 530. At one point we stopped for a quick nap and I took Navi for a quick walk, and there was a deer right by the road watching us! We stopped for lunch at a little thai place in some town and Navi was able to join us on the patio.

Her first time eating out!

I think this was Dave after we got back from an afternoon of wandering, doing tech support for his Dad.

The next morning Dave woke me up at 5:30am to tell me there was a siren going off! Indeed, it sounded like an air raid siren, Id never heard anything quite like it!

It went off for a couple minutes then stopped, and silence! What does that mean? Was the river next to the park about to wipe us out? Did we need to evacuate? I looked outside and expected to see people standing around discussing it, but nobody was up.

So I dressed and took Navi out, and saw lights on in a neighbor’s trailer and knocked, and asked if she knew what it was, and she said she didn’t, but figured we would hear more if it was important. I tend to think a siren is always important!

So Navi and I wandered down to the next loop where my friend/coworker Janet was camped, and knocked to see if she was up, and she was, but she didn’t know anything either. Meanwhile Dave was looking online for emergency alerts and couldn’t find any. I ended up chatting with Janet about work and stuff for a bit.

Later that day my neighbor had gone into town and bought something at the hardware store, and the clerk told her a log truck had crashed, and the siren was how they call the volunteer fire dept out! Mystery solved!

We decided to head East on Hwy 20 and explore more of the North Cascades National Park. Last time we were here we went as far as Diablo Lake, and turned back. Well, it turns out the best roadside views are juuuuust past it: Like, literally around the next bend.

Oh my goodness, so pretty! The turquoise water is caused by glacial runoff. The mountains are so high and craggy! And this is only half the view!


Looking at the tourist brochure, I saw something called the Liberty Bell, and I wanted to see that too, so we kept driving. The good stuff is always just a little bit farther! And when would we ever be out here again? We kept driving until we were on the dry side of the state.

Totally worth it!

We stopped at a roadside viewpoint, and Navi did great walking around all the people, even with the narrow pathways at the stop.

We went all the way to Winthrop for lunch. It’s a little old-timey looking tourist trap. Old buildings and wooden sidewalks. It was packed even though it was a Friday. We got a lunch and went and sat in a shady public area with picnic tables to eat. We could watch people playing mini-golf down below the deck. And of course, on the East side, it was HOT, so I tried to keep Navi comfortable.

On the way back we stopped to play in the snow. I couldn’t believe there was still snow!

Dave being a goofball

We got back too late to join our fellow campers for potluck, but boy did we have a full day!

Navi did super on this trip, but by the end she was getting pretty tired of the whole thing. Tired of strangers coming into HER trailer to check out the remodel, tired of people trying to pet her, and tired of going for rides in the car! She really did good though. It is asking a lot of her.

Concrete is just down the road from Rockport, and they are, obviously, very proud of their concrete.

On the way home we stopped at a McMennamins and thought we would just grab lunch to eat in the trailer, but then saw they had a patio, and dogs were welcome! So Navi got to eat out for a second time, and she had a nice safe little corner next to our table. the hostess brought her a little cup of water, and even came back with a piece of bacon for her later!

So other than getting through all the usual Seattle traffic (which runs roughly from Everett to Centralia it seems) we had a nice safe drive home, and another adventure was in the books!

Camano Island

Our first planned trip with the newly remodeled trailer had to be scrapped because the Flex broke down and was in the shop having it’s rear end worked over. But finally we were able to make it out and try somewhere new – Camano Island, WA.

Because it was close to July 4th, Scott & Sherry were out camping, so Navi got to go camping with us. She doesn’t get car sick anymore, but she really doesn’t enjoy it, so we try to leave her home as much as possible, but this time she was trapped with us.

We got an amazing spot at Camano Island State Park. No hookup, and it could only fit a smallish trailer, but it was perfect for us, and look at that view! The park was pretty full, and this mid-week opening was the only one I could find all summer.

This spot was tight! I would not have wanted to try and squeeze a big trailer in there, the spot was curved and uphill. It was tricky even with the tiny trailer. The tow vehicle ended up side by side with the neighbor’s picnic table, but our spot, being behind the trailer, actually felt very private. The only thing we would have enjoyed more was if there weren’t so many mosquitos!

The new layout was a hit. It was really nice to have a bed always available for lounging, and the table for meals.

What a view from the door!

It’s hard to see but if you look out on the horizon you can see Mt Ranier.

We really enjoyed watching the boats go by on the straight. We spent a day cruising around the island from end to end, found a nice park to picnic in with a view one day. Another day we picked up lunch at a nice resteraunt at the golf course and took it to a nearby beach to sit on the logs and eat, but it was a bit awkward. I guess we are grown-ups now, we’d prefer a picnic table, at least! Still, we had fun exploring.

Seattle, on the way home. I always get a kick out of seeing the Space Needle!

Adorable dog planter

It’s rare that advertising works on me, but I saw an ad for this planter online and within ten minutes I had hunted down a seller (the ad was from a shady source) and bought it off of Etsy. After all, a Samoyed is essentially just a big Eskimo. I had to have one!

I didn’t realize PDFs have a mode of printing that allows you to print a large document, like these plans, and stitch multiple sheets together. I did it for this set of plans and it worked perfectly. Since I will be making more than one of these, I also decided to try tracing the patterns onto some extra lexan I had laying around and cut them out of that using the scroll saw.

The end result was reusable lexan patterns for each piece.

I traced the patterns onto a 3/4 piece of pine I bought for the project. One piece of 48″ x 10″ pine did the trick. I carefully cut them out with my jigsaw. It was too thick for the scroll saw, and a band saw probably would have been faster, but I don’t have one of those yet.

Oh man, it’s already cute!

Paint paint paint and start gluing stuff together.

And finish it off by painting the details

And with a jaunty little head tilt, it is just as adorable as I’d hoped! First one goes to my friend Sherry, and I’ll make one for our patio as well soon.

This pattern is adorable and could easily make a variety of dogs. Paint on a different coat, or swap out the fluffy tail for a skinnier one. I will definitly make more of these cuties.

Airstream Remodel Complete

And here it is! Just for a quick reference, here’s how it looked before – Dinette in the front, couch/pull out bed on the side:

And now…

So there we go! It took me all winter, but I think the result is a layout that looks like it could have come from the Airstream factory and will be more practical, and more comfortable to use. Hopefully the composting toilet will prove it’s worth as well! Next winter I will do the kitchen countertop to match the new table, but this time I did all I could with the time I had available, because now it’s time to go camping!

Airstream Remodel (Part 12) – Finishing up the details

Just a few things left to go – first off, venting the composting toilet.

The plan is to vent it out this hole in the floor, which is where we used to feed the electric cord out of the utility area. The rim on this hole stands up about 1/4 inch, which is a little bit of a problem.

So I measured it and cut a 1/4 inch riser for the fan – just enough to lift it up and clear that lip.

I took that out and it fit perfectly over the hole.

Ignore that gaping hole in the floor, it is stable. That is the original floor, everything forward of that was replaced in 2004.

I attached a couple more wires to the fan so it would reach over to the junction block. I wrapped them in a plastic wiring loom to protect them and tucked it into the channel below the door opening, and fastened them down to the floor.

Over at the junction I added them to the last open spot on the fused block, and attached the ground to the ground block. I also finished hooking up the 12v plug over the bed and got it plugged in and fastened down as well. I don’t want anything shaking loose while going down the road.

I know it looks chaotic, but it’s all pretty stable. The stupidest thing there is that towel, which I put there to soak up some water from a tiny leak in that water hammer device, but putting the towel under it lifts it up just enough that it makes it stop leaking, so as long as the towel stays there, everything stays dry!

Looking down on my new fan install, I was able to hook up the vent tube, which goes to a section of hard PVC back to the battery compartment:

The flexible tube then goes through the wall into the closet:

And goes out through a hole I cut in the fiberglass bathroom shell to the toilet. And I’ll just add that hole was hard to cut, in fact the hole saw gripped that fiberglass and STOPPED and the drill body turned so hard I thought I’d sprained my wrist, but it seems to be ok. Scared me though! I turned the clutch way down on the drill to stop it from doing that to me again as I finished the cut, and went at it very gently.

And then the vent attaches to the composting toilet. The fan at the other end will pull air from the toilet, to help keep the composting container at the right level of moisture. It’s also supposed to help keep bugs from finding it. There are screens on both the intake on the other side of the toilet, and inline in the ventilation hoses close to the fan. So that completes installation of the composting toilet.

While I was hooking up the fan, I looked over and decided that the new electrical outlet needed to be sealed around the edge to help keep water from leaking in and getting inside the walls. So I carefully put a bead of Par-Bond around it, which is an aluminum colored sealant.

The cushions arrived last week, so now that everything is finished, I can do a quick clean up, get the water refilled and check for leaks, and put everything back together.

Airstream Remodel (Part 11) – Composting Toilet

Let’s talk about toilets! Our Airstream’s original owners manual from 1968 explains how to find a campsite by pulling up to a farmer’s house and asking them if you can have a spot in their field for the night. And it also tells you how to dig a ‘gopher hole’ and put your trailer over it so the black tank can empty directly into it! And because this is how they camped in 1968, they must have thought they wouldn’t need a very big black tank – 8 gallons ought to do it.

Well, in this modern world where you can only dump at dump stations, 8 gallons is not going to last you very long when camping without hookups, which is how we usually camp since we frequent State Parks and other semi-wild places. Even when camping for a long weekend at Trout Lake, the toilet would be full by the end of the trip. It was definitly limiting how long we could stay without needing to hook up and go find a dump station.

Over the years I have heard more and more people talking about Composting Toilets. Most people sing their praises, and say they would never go back. Years ago when I first started looking into it I discovered Gone With The Wynn’s videos about their composting toilet on their RV which they used fulltime.

I was pretty convinced that this seemed like the thing we needed to free us from Black Tank Anxiety on our trips. From what I was hearing, although you still have to empty the urine tank regularly on trips, the poo tank can go all summer for people who are only occasional weekenders, as we are.

So last year I ordered an AirHead Composting Toilet. There was a long wait to get it delivered, but that gave me time to ponder how to install it. The bathroom in the Caravel is small, and the black tank is above the floor, and the bathroom has a fiberglass shell that goes above it, and the toilet sits on top of that. So the toilet is up high, and the composting toilet is even taller. I was going to need to not only mount the toilet somehow, but I would need a footrest as well.

The other consideration was that I did not want to permanently change the original toilet mount. Because I might end up hating the whole composting toilet thing! Or I might sell the trailer someday and the next owner might not want a composting toilet. So I wanted to mount this in as non-destructive a way as possible.

I removed the toilet and plugged the hole with a device that is made for pressure testing pipes, but it worked just as well to plug that hole, and it tightens down, so it was sealed.

I started plotting how the toilet was going to fit in this space. I used cardboard to mock up a platform, and tried it on to see how it felt to sit on it. I wanted to push the toilet back farther, but you need a little room to move around, so really it had to come forward a bit. Also you need room to turn the crank on the side.

I was concerned about building a platform out of wood because it is bound to get wet from time to time. There is a place over in Portland called TAP Plastics, which is where I got the thick Lexan for my front window guard. I went over there with my template and talked to them and ended up buying a 3/4 inch thick industrial cutting board plastic. This stuff is very stiff, it doesn’t flex at all, and it can be cut and drilled like wood, and of course will be easy to clean and sanitize. It is waterproof, so if we wanted to take a shower in the wetbath (we never do, it’s too small), it would not get damaged.

I cut it to shape, and built a support to lift it up above the existing toilet flange. Then I added a couple supports for the footrest where it will be touching the existing fiberglass tub.

I mounted it using the same 4 screws on the flange that the original toilet mounted with. I made inset holes enough for the nyloc nuts to be recessed so the toilet can sit on a flat surface. Then I mounted the toilet/urine bucket brackets, and screwed the whole thing down. It is nice and solid.

Next I have to figure out how to mount the venting tube so it can vent out through what used to be the electric cord hole up in the utility area. Looks simple enough!