Sunday, March 23, 2008


Four Thousand Gone

The media is reporting tonight that 4,000 American servicemen and women have died in Iraq.


Plus tens of thousands physically maimed and no doubt hundreds of thousands emotionally maimed.

Plus thousands of dead American contractors.

And the Iraqis . . . . how many tens of thousands of them are dead?

4,000 plus so much more.

So much went so wrong in this effort to "liberate a people." So much.

Four thousand gone, and so much more.

Chef Paul

Paul Hansen of Verde Valley School hosted a party last night in Sedona. Paul's been a great friend for almost five years. This was my second visit to see Paul and his family since I became a full time Airstreamer just under a year ago. Verde Valley School and the Hansen's were my first stop after leaving Phoenix last April.

Jake in Sedona

The sweetest dog in the world. Jake and I enjoyed our brief visit to the redrock country of Sedona.

Nate and Son

I last saw Nate in January of 2007--there was no pregnancy yet. Here's the difference a year makes. He joined us with his family last night in Sedona. Nate's another one of my favorites, a comrade in travels, and a former colleague. I met Nate about two weeks after meeting Paul. They're both Hansens but are unrelated.

Airstream Visitor Luke Lamont

My psuedo-nephew (technically he's my first cousin once removed) brought his family to see the Airstream tonight. Thanks to Lisa, Chris, and Lyndsey for coming along! Luke rode with Jake and me in the Dodge on the 15 mile trip from his house to the Airstream (the rest of the family followed in another car). He asked over and over: "Where's the Airstream?"

The answer: "It's down the road Luke, down the road."

The Airstream won over another new fan tonight.

New Airstream Life Reader

Airstream Life brilliantly celebrates the Airstreaming lifestyle. Here's new reader and aspiring Airstream owner Nate Hansen enjoying his first issue.

Nate is an outstanding writer. He is also blessed and cursed with a fertile mind. Check out for an outward manifestation of his inner space.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Sonoran

Other than the two plus weeks of my swing through southern California, I've been here in the Sonoran Desert since late December. It's a great place to winter and Jake and I have enjoyed it thoroughly with many desert hikes and stunning sunsets. Tonight was another. Here are Saguaro Cacti. An easily recognizable symbol of Arizona, they are only found in the Sonoran Desert. With spring here I'll be Airstreaming out of this gorgeous desert next week. As nice as it is in the winter, I don't recommend the summers.

Cholla Cacti

The Cholla is another signature cactus of the Sonoran Desert. In the top of this photo you can see the edge of the RV park. Over the past 50 years, and at an increasing rate in the past 15, the Sonoran Desert has been taken over by pavement and development. While it's hard to forget you're in a desert in Phoenix, it's easy to forget you're in the Sonoran Desert. One of the worlds most beautiful and unique deserts, it is succumbing to a sprawling urban area built using the suburban model of post-WWII America. Sonoran plants have been replaced by exotic species, including lots of palm trees and heavily watered grass.

Park Homes in my "RV Park"

These park homes, clearly not recreational vehicles (RVs), dominate Pioneer RV Park. Of the 600 or so spaces here well over half have this type of mobile home. Even so, and despite my initial entry, this place is quite different from the trashier looking trailer parks that built my biased attitude about trailer park living. People have winter homes here. Less than 15% of the spaces are occupied year-round. The place is well kept, safe, clean, and nice.


Giant motor homes with pop-out slides are the rage in the RV world. Here is shot of my home tonight. My modest Airstream and truck look puny next to these monsters of the road. In the foreground is rig a that's housing two couples this weekend (and two new Utahredrock customers!). In the background two grandparents are hosting their grandchildren for an evening and celebrating Easter with their whole family. This is my tightest quarters since Quartzsite in January.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Embracing My Inner Trailer Trash

When people ask me where I'm from I often begin to answer by proudly declaring that I am trailer trash--Airstreaming around the continent. Where am I from? Phoenix and Sedona are where I maintain a legal residence and get my mail. But I am from wherever I am.

Saying I'm trailer trash, while true, is generally offered as a tongue in cheek declaration.

Today I left Tucson and returned to Phoenix. The place I chose to set up the Airstream for five days, Pioneer RV Park, is trailer trash central.

There's a line that separates RV parks from trailer parks. Some places are both, but if they're both then in my book they're firmly on the trailer park side of the line. This place is a trailer park. There's a combination of RVs and "park homes" which are mobile homes of the type that aren't mobile.

Pioneer RV Park is nice enough, but it's big and crowded. It's exactly the kind of place I've avoided since becoming an Airstreamer. Yet as I truly embrace my inner trailer trash I find myself accepting this type of place more readily. The full hookups and the ability to be in my "own" space are appealing.

I arrived today and set up. This is a process that involves unhitching, plugging in to electric, hooking up water and sewer, unloading extra items, stashing them below the Airstream, and straightening up on the inside.

This "RV park" has almost 600 spaces. It's just huge. When I took Jake on his evening walk we walked around the outside perimeter of the property. It took us a full 45 minutes to complete the circle. Inside the circle: trailer park hell. Outside: the Sonoran Desert in all of its finest glory. The sun was setting, the moon approaching full, the desert shockingly green and fresh.

I am continuing my focus on "office work" including taxes, my schedule, marketing, phone calls, and so forth. With the Internet and my cell phone at hand I can do this work just about anywhere. I now use Verizon Broadband--which accesses the Internet via the cell phone system.

And I am back in Phoenix, Arizona and the Valley of the Sun where this whole adventure was launched last year.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sundown at Davis-Monthan

The end of the day at the Air Force Base. Here's a tiny section of the boneyard, also known as the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. This is where the U.S. military retires its aircraft. It gives you an easy visual reference as to the size and scope of our military--and it gives you an inkling as to how much money we spend for military aircraft. The boneyard is an impressive sight that goes on for miles and miles. There's even a retired Air Force One here. It's from the Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon years. This was my view from my Airstream while I was "stationed" here.

Airstreaming Places

I am approaching my one year anniversary as a full-time Airstreamer. Here is a review of some of the places I've taken the Airstream in the past year:

1. Malibu
2. Bluff, Utah--one of my few Colorado Plateau stops. That region, especially the southern Utah portion remains my favorite place on earth.
3. Fox Hollow--our family farm in Ohio. There's still no place like home.
4. Red Barn Stables, Aiken, South Carolina--Nothing can match a southern hostess. Gina was one of the greats of the past year in welcoming me and showing me a good time.
5. Missoula, Montana--A true gem of the Rockies. I loved this town.
6. Windrock Farm, Dutchess County, New York--the place my sister Cari has called home for over a decade. It was nice to be somewhere so familiar and so gorgeous.
7. GSM Vehicles, Plattsburgh, New York--A focal point in the movement to restore and celebrate Airstreams as icons of stylish living and fun.
8. Perry, Georgia--Host town of the International Airsteam Rally of 2007 and the site of my baptism in to the cult.
9. Whiskey Creek West, Kuna, Idaho--The western location of my sister Elise's farm. Home to one of my self-produced and self-promoted shows.
10. KOA in Salinas, Kansas--The third RV park I visited after becoming an Airstreamer and a nice stop along the road as I headed east last year.
11. 200 East, Salt Lake City--Pippa and Kirk's urban residence.
12. Detroit--Sven and Kristen's urban residence.
13. Sandstone Farm, Mansfield, Ohio--Where I spent a cozy fall evening with my friend Francis on her amazing Ohio property.
14. Nez Perce County Fairgrounds, Lewiston, Idaho--This was the furthest in to the Northwest that the Airstream made it (I continued throughout Oregon and Washington without it). Lewiston is right on the state line separating Idaho and Washington. Nez Perce's was just one of the many fairgrounds I stayed in be they county, state, or private.
15. Quartzsite! The small Arizona town I fell in love with and spent 50 days in, by far a record. There is, after all, something to be said about being in one place.

It's a little crazy because there are over 20 other places I've parked my traveling home in the past year. That's a lot of places. Many traveling businessmen and women (or performers) could easily match this number of places they've stayed. But unless they have an RV, they had to endure them without the comforts of home. And especially if they don't have an Airstream, well, just imagine the hardship . . . .

; )

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Life on Base

One of the great joys of Airstreaming is experiencing the world from many perspectives. Tonight is my sixth night living on a base of the United States Air Force. Over the past year I've found myself in all sorts of places. In addition to the list above, this includes: federal land in remote areas, two casino parking lots, and a Wal-mart parking lot. Being on an active military base, especially during a time of war, is a whole new thing.

As referenced below the notion that I was entering a new realm became abundantly clear the moment I arrived. I had to provide proof of registration (for my truck and Airstream) and insurance prior to being admitted. These are basic things. They are also things that nobody else has checked anywhere I've been. This was just the first step.

In order to come on base I had to be vouched for by a full-on member of the tribe. Not only that, the individuals (in my case a married couple) vouching for me, are responsible for my actions. If I break the rules, and there are more rules in here than outside the gates, they are personally accountable. Once inside the bubble, you have less "liberty" than outside, but you're also safer. The people here are people who either directly put their lives on the line carrying out the missions of the U.S. military, or support those who do. Each time I come and go my ID is checked and I must also show my visitor pass. Those documents must be with me at all times I am out and about while inside the base--though there is nothing I can do away from my Airstream, unless I am with my hosts.

It must not be forgotten, and can not be when you are here, that this is a place at war. From Wikipedia: "Davis-Monthan's primary operational mission is to train A-10 pilots to provide close air support and forward air control to ground forces worldwide." The A in A-10 stands for attack. These are attack aircraft used to directly support ground forces in battle. This is serious business that is happening right now. When I enter the gates here, places like Iraq all of the sudden become much closer.

I get to enjoy the luxury of my own home, as I do everywhere I bring my Airstream. The RV park here is very nice, and very affordable--only $20 a night and I have electric, water, and sewer for my traveling home. I also get the company of close friends, who just happen to be living here now.

Big military bases like this one are cities unto themselves. Davis-Monthan has a post office, gas station, movie theater, bowling alley, Burger King, fitness center, a military version of Walmart (called the BX--Base Exchange), department of motor vehicles, and on and on. Those who live here do not have to leave for much of anything.

The impression I get is that our military folks are well cared for. They don't have to pay sales tax, they get nice housing as part of their pay package, health care, good retirement, etc. They also give a lot. They have to move frequently. Many put their lives on the line for us, and some of the jobs are especially hazardous--an understatement if there ever was one.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Progress in the Old Pueblo

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

Slowly and steadily, I am making progress on dozens of neglected things. At the top of that list is my show schedule (paying sales taxes is second). I screwed up and failed to book an important show on time in Cincinnati. It looks like I'll get in after all, however, I'll be in an area off the main show floor.

Running your own business poses many challenges, especially when it's mainly a one man (and one dog) show like mine is. There are a lot of hats to wear. Some are easier and more natural to put on. Some you just plain forget to put on. All are important. Keeping the revenue coming in is critical, but planning the direction of your business and handling important details (like taxes) are just as important--and much easier to neglect.

I am enjoying my time in Tucson. I've spent time with my friends here at the Air Force base as well as many hours in the Airstream just working. I've also seen Rich, Eleanor, and Emma Luhr--the family behind the wonderful magazine Airsream Life. Rich gave me 15 copies of the magazine tonight which I'll be passing out to other Airstreamers I meet on the road.

Also tonight I completed my third session of Bikram Yoga. I am getting addicted. I already started searching the web to see if it's available on future stops along the road. I look pretty safe for at least the next few weeks. Maintaining a consistent routine can be tough, especially when you're constantly in a different place. It's possible though, and critical. For me doing something physical daily, or almost daily, is a key ingredient to sanity--or as close to sanity as I ever get!

My itinerary is shaping up a bit more each day. I'll head to Phoenix next Wednesday. Sometime in late March (date unknown) I'll head back to Salt Lake City. Around April 8th it's on to Albuquerque. After that I'll point the Dodge and Airstream east. I am in the middle of booking shows right now. Just like last year, Ohio will become my basecamp in late April or early May and will remain so well in to June. I am optimistic that April and May will be booked every weekend or almost every weekend. In fact there are possibilities through Sunday June 8th, at which point I'll need another break for some catch-up. Last year July and August were tougher to book so we'll see what I come up with this go around.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Historic Architect Taylor Louden

Historic architect Taylor Louden was tasked with the seismic retrofitting and restoration of the Will Rogers residence in the Pacific Pallisades section of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains. The residence and property are now a state park--deeded to the state by Will Rogers' widow. Louden toured me through the home and around the property ten days ago. It was a highlight of my time in California. Taylor is also the man who recommended I park the Airstream in Malibu.

Will Rogers was an actor, cowboy, and beloved social commentator of the early 20th century. He died in a plane crash in 1935, an event that left the nation reeling. Rogers was something of a Mark Twain of his day. His home is beautifully preserved for posterity. It was an honor and thrill to tour the property with Taylor who spent years painstakingly restoring it. Today the Rogers' home is presented as it was in 1935 at the time of his death. It's filled with beautiful sporting art collected by one of the greatest horsemen of all time.

Will Rogers' Barn

As a horseman and someone who has spent a considerable amount of my life in and around barns, they have a special interest for me. I've seen fancier barns, but Will Rogers' stables will forever stand out as one of my favorites. There are two wings of stalls connected by a rotunda that serves as a round pen for training the horses. It's an impressive building. A mountain rises up from the rear of the building. Below you can see the view from the front.

The View From Will Rogers' Barn

The property Will Rogers chose to live on was a premier piece of land in the 1920s and remains so today. Tom Hanks, Diane Keaton, and Steven Spielberg are all neighbors. The best view on the land was saved for the horses and those who cared for and rode them. Here is the view from the barn overlooking the Santa Monica Bay. This is the only place on the property with this breathtaking view.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tucson, Arizona

Jake, our Airstream, and I arrived in Tucson today. We're set up at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in their RV park. Some of my friends currently live on the base. I'm here to see them and get caught up with planning and paperwork.

Tonight I did my first session of Bikram yoga and loved it. This is the yoga you do in a very hot room. You sweat like a pig and work pretty hard as you attempt many different yoga poses. It was my first yoga of any type in many years, and just what the doctor ordered after all the recent travel.

It's so great to be reunited with Jake. He was well cared for in Phoenix, though he put on a lot of weight in a short period of time. His Phoenix caretaker equates food with love and loved Jake a lot with a crazy diet of expensive beef, and whatever else he would eat. Jake packed on at least ten extra pounds.

It's also nice to have a safe place to settle in to for a bit. I arrived here feeling unorganized. The feeling was immediately validated when I realized my truck's registration had expired at the end of February. You can't get on base without current registration and proof of insurance. It was in the back of my mind as something I needed to do, however, I wasn't aware that the tags had already expired! Good thing I had to check before some highway patrolman noticed--though the Airstream (with current registration) obscures the views of the plates. It's good to be legal all the same.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Moonset at Del Mar

Tonight I stood at the most southwestern point of my journeys since leaving Phoenix last April. The spot was my turnaround point while walking along the beach where the Pacific Ocean meets California at Del Mar--just north of San Diego. The surf was mesmerizing as the sun set.

The new moon was setting as well.

Earlier in the evening I completed my second California show this month.

Tomorrow I head back to Arizona to reunite with Jake.

Monday, March 03, 2008

My Place in Malibu

For two weeks this is my California home. The Pacific Ocean is directly in front of me here. This is undoubtedly the nicest place I've parked my Airstream--and it is surprisingly affordable too.

My Paparazi Photo

Not much more than a few hundred feet from where I'm parked sits the trailer belonging to one of the world's most famous Airstreamers. To protect the privacy of this individual I am not putting his name here. He lived in this RV park for an extended period. He's not here now, but his Airstream remains. According to one of the celebrity rags he is in another part of the country working on a project. He's purchased a regular house again--and is no longer full-timing with his Airstream.

A View from Malibu Beach RV Park

A late model Airstream, some other brands of RVs, and the Pacific coast at Malibu. With people coming and going frequently the numbers change often but there have been a minimum of six and as many as twelve Airstreams ever since I arrived. At 35 years old, mine is the oldest. That's the most Airstreams I've ever seen at an RV park. Apparently Airstreamers are attracted to amazing places like this one.

At Home in Malibu

Photo by my sister Cari Swanson. It was Cari's visit to Los Angeles that prompted this southern California swing for me. Even though Cari is one of the most photogenic people I know, I didn't take many photos during her visit and have no decent ones of her. We had a great time together, seeing each other five days in a row. She even spent one night with me in the Airstream and we watched the Oscars together.

Meanwhile, Back in the North Country . . .

Mother and daughter . . . don't they look glamorous? My sister-in-law Jennifer and my niece Eva enjoying the Minnesota winter.