A tent is a purposeful choice to enjoy a commune with nature, despite the slight discomfort of actually sleeping in it. I love to gently unzip the tent at dawn just enough to see if I can catch a glimpse of something spectacular like a chupacabra or the White Buffalo. Usually, it is a bird or a cow, but the possibility of seeing something is the best part.
We live in Telluride, Colorado, with some of the most spectacular views in the country, and are within a half day’s drive of incredible places like Moab, Mesa Verde, The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Monument Valley, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce and a sprinkling of secret spots within a few miles of our home. Living in and near such a wide spectrum of beauty draws us to camp, to see, smell and hear the outdoors. It seems almost obligatory to camp when you live in Colorado. We want to be comfy and a tent is not so comfy for those of us over 22.
Oh my back, and oh my bladder, both are calling for an upgrade from sleeping on the ground, and I crave to escape that midnight question. Should I hold it until the morning or freeze while I squat outdoors in the deep darkness where the chupacabra will get me? We were finally able to justify an upgrade from a tent after my son’s birth. We learned that camping with a busy toddler in a tent is a challenge, okay a nightmare. Being peed on, trying to keep our baby warm and asleep are enough to go for the upgrade. So, we chose to rent a pop-up-trailer with 2 nice comfy beds, and a heater!
It still didn’t solve the indoor bathroom issue for all of us even though the squatty potty was nice for the 2 year old, but I was willing to accept that compromise in order for all of us to sleep a little better, and I could still peek out of the zipper anytime. I was happy…for a minute.
No, I didn’t see Big Foot gazing back at me from the woods when I peeked out, although that would have been cool. I am referring to my handsome husband. He is six feet, six inches tall with long arms, long legs and when he lays down, he gets even longer with those big feet that must go somewhere.
He also has thick incredible hair, and intelligent blue eyes and when he looks at me, I, oh wait, I digress. Since most pop up campers are 84″ wide, that doesn’t leave much room for him stretch out so he is forced to sleep diagonally across the bed which leaves me, at 5’8″, having to sleep in the fetal position all night (not comfy).
Then, something new. Nature calls Mr. Lanky Long Legs at 2:00 am and now he must descend those two itty-bitty outdoor steps, which are smaller than his feet and in doing so, the entire camper rocks, squeaks and groans while he whispers expletives finding his way in the dark and wakes us all up. In fact, the entire forest may be waking up. If the trailer is a’rocking, don’t bother knocking? No, if the trailer is a’rocking at 2:00 am, someone big has to pee. Still, we continue to rent pop up trailers from time to time because it is still way better than our tent. And it easy to hook up, set up, tow and park, and if you own one, easy to store. Being married to the giant and seeking comfort, I continue to look for other options.
We know we want to tow, because we prefer the ride of our tow vehicle to the ride of a motor home and we know we want something small enough to go into the National Parks and remote locations. (Many National Parks limit lengths to 30′ and some state parks just 24′). The top two consumer rated travel trailers on the market are Airstream and Forest River, in that order. Airstream specifications show the interior height to be 78″, which is the exact height of my yeti and not quite tall enough for him to walk through, so Forest River it is! After a year spent looking online, reading reviews and scouring dealer inventories in search of the perfect Forest River, I find myself pulling into an Airstream dealership in Arizona. I am so completely smitten with the Airstream, I temporarily forget my husband’s comfort. So, I force him to take a look at it a few weeks later. Turns out, the interior height of an Airstream, surprisingly, accommodates my sky scraping beau who can easily walk through it with only minor head tilts and adjustments and he loves it too (yay). In all fairness to Forest River, I never saw one of their units, but I know they are also amazing.
So, we buy a 2014 Flying Cloud 25FB from Jerry at Lazy Days in Tucson. Talk about comfy! We have our bed, heat and the bathroom. It doesn’t squeak or rock or groan, and while I can’t peek out of the tent zipper, I can peek from the window (safe from the chupacabra). It is probably the most desired new Airstream on the market because of its design, function, beauty and price. It is a beautiful camper, with all the features we want for our family. We discover that they are actually hard to find when we sell it 2 years later in favor of a different model and are happy it retains its value.
As we start our adventures, we immediately find ourselves in the Airstream-Cult-Enthusiast-Party where all Airstream owners ultimately end up. In fact, we spend 82 nights camping in the first 2 years of ownership, which is quite an accomplishment considering we only camp June to September and work full time jobs and are parents.
We love love love it, except (you guessed it) that dang bed. It is a short queen that sits “east-west” meaning it is oriented across the width of the trailer. With creative adjustments, I made the bed a bit longer, by inching the mattress away from the side, stuffing small pillows down into the gap and putting our bed pillows on top – ta da – we have a longer bed. My lengthy lover’s long legs and feet still fill up the entire width of the Airstream, but we are all comfortable. We decide he will sleep on the side of the bed closest to the window. We quickly discover that Daddy Long Legs can’t stand up under the cabinets without hitting his head. He hits his head several times on his 2:00 am pee adventures before we agree to swap sides. And, to my surprise, I like this better.
I find I am quite comfy in my love nest at the end of the trailer with my own window. However, my escape option is now to climb over the jolly green giant when I have to go on the pee adventure. My climbing, accompanied by laughter, and some welcome inappropriate comments, is fun and worth the effort. But, his beauty sleep is interrupted.
So, we look for a unit with a bed turned 90 degrees to “north-south” meaning the head of the bed is at the end of the trailer as opposed to being oriented across the trailer. We head to Desert Autoplex in Mesa, Arizona and in minutes we are walking into our future 2016 Airstream Pendleton Unit #16. I like the symmetry of #16 in 2016.
Now our camping adventures include everything we want. We sleep comfortably through the night, we are warm, we have very own potty and Big Foot can stretch out and get up anytime he wants to pee, without waking the chupacabras. And when I start to miss that laughter we shared during my summits of Mt. Charlie, I just climb over him again, for old time’s sake. He never minded anyway.
I am a Mom, Wife, Professional Photographer (www.brendacolwellphoto.com) Airstream Enthusiast and budding blogger. Charlie is Dad, Husband, Home Entertainment Expert (www.artisticsystems.net), and the household comedian. We live with our son, cat, dog and horse in Telluride, Colorado, our primary “Happy Place”.