Do you ever fantasize about running away? So did we. Even after Gordon and I completed a beautiful renovation on our first home, we still found ourselves longing to escape the every day. We felt stuck, like we were going through the motions to maintain what we already had. As much as we loved our space, life seemed too comfortable and we were constantly craving adventure. You may say we're dreamers, but we were simply looking for a way to break the cycle.
Last summer we took a trip out west with friends, where we met a couple who had traveled from Seattle in their Airstream with two dogs. Gordon glanced over with his wine eyes and asked "would you do that with me and Bruce?" I replied "sure" and four weeks later a 1962 Overlander was parked in our driveway. We had already decided we wanted to sell our house and simplify things, but now we had a *practical* plan of action. Feeling overly confident from our home improvements, we were going to completely build out this vintage trailer to meet our modern needs. We both have remote and flexible jobs, so why not travel around the country while we can?
The demo began in September, which was an ongoing process to remove all the original contents from inside the ole tin can. We're talking retro appliances, particle board cabinets, nasty plumbing, old gas lines, itchy insulation, shoddy wiring, rotted subfloor, animal skeletons - everything. Every single rivet was removed from the interior aluminum skins, which were then stowed away until ready to be patched back together. Each week we tackled a new, unfamiliar task or scheduled appointments for major trailer repairs like new axels, tires and brakes.
Remember that solid week of rain after we removed all of the windows and prayed a tarp would keep the new subfloor dry? Or that time we towed her all the way up to Gainesville and back for unfinished electrical work? Hindsight truly is 20/20. Were we in way over our heads? Absolutely. But we were committed to the project and tried to learn everything we could along the way. The experience provided a newfound appreciation for travel bloggers who uncover the messy truth about outfitting an old trailer, which was so valuable in our amateur efforts.
At one point we even contemplated removing the shell from the frame to ensure it was in good order. Fortunately, we had a lot of support from some extremely talented friends who helped us get through many unforeseen roadblocks. There were plenty of moments where we questioned our abilities / overall sanity, and often wondered whether we should push forward or cut our losses.
The past six months have been a total whirlwind, to say the least. During this time we also managed to list, sell and move out of our house while completing our tiny home on wheels. Embracing the change and re-evaluating our purpose has been the most rewarding aspect of this transformation. We were able to detach from so many material items, including the house we loved to call home and most of the stuff inside. It felt like we were living in an episode of "Tidying Up" by donating anything that didn't serve us and curating a small storage unit of the things that spark joy. Now we're giving ourselves the remainder of the year to travel cross-country and see what places inspire us the same way our trip to Oregon influenced the pursuit of this Airstream dream.
From Start to Finish - The Evolution of Sterling Stream:
1. Purchase Airstream in Tampa, FL
2. Tow back to Delray Beach, FL
3. Demo inside - remove all contents
4. Completely take out rotted subfloor
5. Remove original belly pan & scraps
6. Replace rusted cross beams on trailer
7. Paint entire frame with rust proofing
8. Install new subfloor & c-channel
9. Remove interior rivets, skins & caps
10. Take out old insulation & wiring
11. Clean & spray inside of exterior skins
12. Seam seal interior & exterior skins
13. Layout floor plan design
14. Electrical & plumping schematic
15. Research & source appliances
16. Re-weld all window frames
17. Order replacement window hardware
18. Replace all windows with tinted acrylic
19. Get custom window screens cut (9)
20. Install torsion axels & electronic brakes
21. Upgrade with 4 new 8-ply tires
22. Jose saves the day:
- Run 12 volt &110 wiring for AC
- LED lights, switches & breaker panel
23. Insert mineral wool insulation
24. Have a mental breakdown
25. Get back to work
26. Order water & gray water tanks
27. Rivet interior skins back together
28. Metal bondo & patch holes
29. Paint & prime interior skins white
30. Install vinyl flooring
31. Ben begin's interior build out:
- Walls for closet/bathrooms
- Walnut ply for bathroom door & closets
- Kitchen cabinets & walnut countertops
- Bed frame with storage space & shelving
32. Take to Bob for:
- Awning installation
- Water tanks & plumbing
- Test all of the systems
33. Waterproof bathroom walls
34. Install shower pan & composting toilet
35. Tile bathroom & kitchen backsplashes
36. Order custom mattress from EJ Schrader
37. Fabricate & rivet new belly pan
38. New aluminum vent covers on outside
39. Finishing touches, decor & provisions
40. Set sail >>>
Our first stay in the Airstream set the bar pretty high. We posted up for two nights at North Beach Camp Resort in St. Augustine - a real gem of a spot and a place we'll definitely be returning.