Reflections on Airstreaming Moab, Utah

Emily & Silent Partner


Evening, Peeps.

My heart is heavy as we are now back in Phoenix….and therefore, not Moab. As I work my way back into my professional life, it occurs to me there are a few additional thoughts to share about Moab from previous trips, so enjoy some random musings.

What’s In a Name

I find it totally fitting that even the name Moab is somewhat mysterious. For me the Paiute origin story, referring to the word moapa, meaning “mosquito”, has the most resonance. Still if Moab was instead named Vina or Uvadalia I suspect it would have exactly the same energy and feel.

Arches National Park

Yes, Arches National Park is pretty amazing.

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But keep in mind – all of Moab and surrounding area is amazing. Do you really need to pay for it, when everything is amazing? For example, drive up Utah 128 from Moab to Interstate 70 along the Colorado River, it’ll blow your mind. Or, Utah 313 to Dead Horse Point. I happen to find the drive through Canyonlands more rewarding, and the view at the point equal to the task (though yes you do have to pay for that too). Or for free you can ride the Zephyr trail (mentioned later) that crosses into the north end of the park.

Still, we stayed in Arches one time (see the featured image) because, well, everyone said it was the thing to do. The park has essentially one road that you can drive for an out-and-back, at the low low fee of $25, or, you can pay the low-low fee of $25, drag your trailer all the way to the end of the 28mi (45km) road and maybe get a camping spot.

A year ago we made a point to get to the park early and found the front gate can’t (or won’t) tell you whether the campground is full, so we paid the stupid fee and drove the 28mi (45km) and we discovered that almost no sites fit the Airstream, and ones that did were occupied. You can’t mountain bike the park, you can’t take your dogs out anywhere except on the streets & campground and cell coverage is terrible.

Despite these setbacks the campground host took pity on us and offered us a one-night stay in the host’s spot because they were staying in the ranger’s cabin. For this we are profoundly grateful, but my take on Arches National Park is that the park is pretty cool but the fee is outrageous for what you get.

Mountain Biking Pipe Dream

Pipe Dream is a blue/black trail that runs directly along the western edge of town. I found this trail more black than blue so I never got any zen here owing to the habitual dabbing and dismounts. I can still see it being a handy go-to trail if you lived in Moab as an excellent “work on your skills” destination.

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Mountain Biking Zephyr

Zephyr is considered more of a connector than a destination trail, but nevertheless we rode it once to see what’s there.

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The oddity about this trail is is crosses briefly into Arches National Park for free, and it offers some truly heart-stopping landscapes such as these. Though this looks like an undulating landscape of routine slickrock, look closer and you’ll notice the beginnings of a verdant canyon filled with water, green trees and birds. Though the trail itself was, for me, entirely forgettable the “Planet of the Apes” like scenery absolutely made it worthwhile.

La Sal Mountain Range

The La Sal mountains just blow my mind. I just can’t get over the juxtaposition of looking up at the mountains and seeing snow when it’s 100° F (38° C) in the canyons.

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Also I don’t know why this amazes me, by the La Sals are considered part of the Rocky Mountains and a source of Uranium.

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Fred and I rode The Whole Enchilada a couple years ago, which starts high up in a snowy aspen grove and bottoms out on the Colorado river. We caught a shuttle from the previously mentioned Poison Spider Bicycles, but honestly, the shuttle should go two hours earlier – it was hot as hell and I wound up with early signs of heat stroke at the end of the ride.

Overall we both found the ride a little too extreme for our sensibilities, and agreed that the Porcupine Rim portion of the ride was the most enjoyable and least deathy. The final segment down to the river, though, was way more than either of us would do again.

Still, it is pretty amazing to start a ride in snow and wind up over 100°!

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Eats

I forgot to mention Milt’s Stop N’ Eat in our previous blogs. Milt’s is a kitschy actual 50’s era diner located on Moab’s former main drag. They serve exactly the right food for after mountain biking including delicious burgers and yummy salty fries. We highly recommend the experience, though sadly they’re closed Mondays.

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Conclusion

But Emily, you didn’t mention the most Moab of all Moab mountain bike trails, Slickrock!

I’d have some pictures for you if my crappy Buffalo NAS hadn’t taken them to the briny deep, but I’ll commit heresy here: We didn’t like Slickrock.

Stone ● Cold ● Silence

Here’s why – the trail is blue/black. Fred and I tried Slickrock a few years ago really before we should have. Specifically, Slickrock is steep – like 100% grade steep. That requires massive fitness, and we found we just didn’t have it at the time. And fitness is important when you’re pumping your way up this massive incline with your eyeballs exploding out your face and there’s just no place to bail. If you stop your’re sliding to god knows where.

Someday we’ll do it again, especially now that we have the fitness and the skills. But I still remember it, and I suspect I’ll like Klondike Bluffs better (gasp). We’ll see!

And that, my friends, is what Moab is all about. There’s always more to come back for and great stories to tell (someday ask me about Magnificent 7 and almost dying in a Uranium tornado).

Cheers!

Airstreaming Moab, Utah – Day 6

Emily & Silent Partner


Morning, Peeps.

Yesterday was an early start with but one objective – mountain bike Klondike Bluffs. Even though temperatures this time of year hover in the 50’s (10C) in the morning and low 80’s (27C) in the afternoon something about slickrock reflects a lot of sunlight making it seem much hotter than it is. We wanted to eliminate any chance of dehydration and/or heat stroke since I’ve gotten myself into trouble here in the past.

Mountain Biking Klondike Bluffs

Reaching Klondike Bluffs in the AM we set off.

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Klodike Bluffs is so named because of these.

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The trail system is a brilliant arrangement of easy to hard trails where you can make your own adventure across amazing terrain. Crudely speaking the bluffs is a large rectangle with the long sides running north to south. The rectangle is bisected by multiple east/west downhill runs rated in the blue/black category.

My favorite make-your-own-adventure is:

Dino Flow

Dino Flow is a nice green/blue trail where you can get get warmed up.

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The trail flirts with portions of slickrock but also follows plenty of hardpack and has a half-dozen features that make you work your skills so you can never quite get complacent.

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Dino Flow is also undulated which gets your heart rate at just about the right level before diving into Mega Steps.

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Mega Steps

Mega Steps is one of several blue/black trails that run east to west forming dramatic downhills (or climbs), depending on your direction of travel.

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We’re find the Mega Steps climb to be lung-busting but the least lung-busting of all the options out there.

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In Moab parlance a “step” is a natural slickrock feature resembling human steps. Mega Steps, as shown in the featured image, look like steps more suited to Godzilla. Personally I feel like climbing Mega Steps is what the bottom of an empty swimming pool would be like like to an ant.

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At the top of the steps we took a breather.

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Klondike Bluff Outer Loop

Mega Steps joins into the Klondike Bluff Outer loop before splitting onto Little Salty.

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This is a blue connector that at times shares a 4×4 trail. Yes this is a jeep trail.

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Little Salty

Time got away from me on the tie-in to little salty so I didn’t catch more pictures, but the Little Salty is a blue/black decent of about 50% hardpack then 50% fairly intense downhill slickrock like so.

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For one reason or another this kind of slickrock descent puts me in a deep zen mode, picking lines and following the dots. By far Klondike Bluffs is my favorite ride out here. At least, until I ride more of the dozens of trails out here that I have yet to explore.

Conclusion

Sadly yesterday was our last day of riding, and tomorrow we prepare to go back home …and back to work. I’ve mentioned “it” as a recurring theme in this blog – and Moab has a thousand different kinds of “it”. Should you decide to visit, keep in mind everybody else knows Moab has “it” too – plan your lodging well, be prepare for crowds, but also be prepared for vistas and experiences so gorgeous they’ll break your hear.

Airstreaming Moab, Utah – Day 5

Emily & Silent Partner


Evening, Peeps.

Welcome to day 5 of our Moab musings! See what I did there? A little alliteration – pretty fancy right? Today was another mountain bike ride and lazing about and gazing wistfully into the Colorado while eating Doritos, drinking beer and reading my book.

And wondering why cell coverage is so bad…

But anyway, because of all that belly button gazing today’s blog is shorter but that’s ok, enjoy the pictures.

Mountain Biking the North 40

The North 40 is a short and fairly laid back blue/black trail north of town in what is referred to the as the “Bar M” trail system.

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Adventure Machines

Before I tell you more about this trail, I should mention I love geeking out over how people build their “adventure machines”, some of which were in the parking lot.

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I wonder how much difference that roof rack really makes in the scheme of things?

The Ride

The North 40 is kind of like when your own dog bites you. You’re thinking- but – you love me. You know me. Why would you bite me? North 40 seems so tame as it climbs some easy going slickrock and hardpack.

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But then it starts throwing this kind of stuff at you.

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Now that’s ok. I mean, I don’t want my dog biting me – but a trail like this keeps you honest. It makes you a better rider, and the risk is generally well constrained. I dismounted a half-dozen times, but I think laying down your Moab neural network would make internalizing those lines a snap if you were lucky enough to ride here all the time.

More Flowers

I’m not sure why, but flowers in the desert amaze me. I think it’s because of the contrast – in a terribly hostile place like the Utah desert where almost nothing lives you find this!

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A Little Geology

Evidently Mighty Manganese is responsible for the black coloration on the rocks in Moab. We read that on a sign in canyon lands. Well – ok they didn’t say “mighty”, I added that part, probably from too much Sesame Street in the 70’s, but my statement is still accurate.

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The distinctive green color in many of the hills around here is, according to the fine folks at the Utah Geological Survey, caused by chlorite or clay consisting of iron silicate.

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To Be Continued…

Tomorrow we’re riding the Klondike Bluffs. Peace out my friends, one more day of riding to come.

 

Airstreaming Moab, Utah – Day 3 & 4

Emily & Silent Partner


Morning, Peeps.

Welcome to day 3 and 4 of our not-quite-as-live-as-I’d-like blog from Moab. Today we’re coming to you from the Eklecticafe where exceptional eats and coffees are found aplenty.

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I’m blogging from here because cell coverage on the Colorado stinks, even with the booster. So we took a nice lazy morning to imbibe some flavored caffeine, eat some delicious strudel and share the past couple days in photos and prose.

Leaving Slickrock Campground

We left Slickrock campground but not before a furry-friend sendoff.

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I have some ambiguity about this campground. The prices were high, but possibly not out of line when you consider being in the heart of town. The facilities were used – hard – but the staff was friendly, and they sold beer at the front desk. The electrical connections at the site bordered on a fire hazard, but the pads were clean, shade covered and otherwise well maintained.

I suppose my conclusion is I would come back, but probably again just as a mid-point while trying to land a better location on the Colorado.

Camping the Colorado

On day 3 of our adventure we moved to Goose Island Campground.

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Goose Island is a remarkable BLM facility located not much more than a mile east of Moab on Utah 126.

We like this campground because it’s close to town yet limited to a couple dozen sites nestled up against a dramatic bend in the Colorado River. For $15/night you get unbelievable views of the river and epic sandstone cliffs worked meticulously by water and wind.

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The campground offers trash collection and immaculately kept vault toilets but no water. Generator hours are a little odd at 8AM to 8PM, though we understand everyone wants to enjoy the outdoors in quiet.

Being so close to town this campground is busy. All sites are walk-ups so prospective campers (including ourselves) troll the area at all hours trying to score a spot. It’s also not entirely unusual for outside campers to stop by and drop trash in the receptacles, though there not supposed to. Given the amount of activity around here it’s understandable.

As I mentioned earlier, cell coverage here stinks. With the booster I can get internet but it’s too flaky to upload pictures for the blog. Still it’s entirely sufficient for texts and email.

Lastly as seen above foliage is light making satellite reception a snap.

Dead Horse Point State Park Take 2

In an effort to economize on our three-day pass to Dead Horse Point State Park, we rode there again on Day 4. You can read up on the trail details in our previous post here. Below are a few more non-mountain biking highlights.

More Flowers

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The Point of the Point

The point of the point is this.

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I’ve been to the Grand Canyon numerous times but I find this view infinitely more rewarding. It’s still grand, but somehow more intimate.

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A Little Moab Walkabout

On Day 3 we spent some time in Moab grabbing food  and groceries. We highly recommend the Moab Brewery. Patio seating is the best.

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Eddie McStiff’s has awesome Pizza, though oddly not until after 3.

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The Moab Information Center right next door has a gorgeous garden.

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To be continued….

We’re lazing around today, I might ride North 40 if I can get out of vacation mode – you’ll find out tomorrow. Peace!

Airstreaming Moab, Utah – Day 2

Emily & Silent Partner


Evening, Peeps.

Welcome to day two of our live blog from Moab! So to begin, how else do you start a day in Moab but with WAFFLES!!!

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All The Stuffs!

I mentioned yesterday that Moab is an outdoor Disney Land. Witness the temple to capitalism that is Moab’s main drag!

Poison Spider Bicycles

A quick shout out to Poison Spider Bicycles.

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These guys are polite and professional, and have repaired massive damage on my rig fast. They also run a fleet a shuttles all over Moab and rent out a shower for dirty riders. Prices are fair and the service is impeccable.

Stop by for some swag if you have time.

Camping The Colorado

Moab abuts the Colorado river and this swollen aquatic byway underpins a huge portion of “things to do” here. Of interest to us, BLM built multiple campgrounds along the river with limited services but great prices. We’re moving to one of those campgrounds tomorrow.

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There’s a sick paved bike path that leads from Moab all the way to Gemini Bridges; crossing the Colorado on a bridge-made-art.

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Canyonlands National Park

Though we did not ride Canyonlands today Utah 313 takes you to to Dead Horse Point State Park and though unbelievable scenery on its way to Canyonlands.

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Mountain Biking Dead Horse Point State Park

Today we rode Dead Horse Point State Park. Sadly yes, some horses did die here long ago, but not anymore. The park is $15 for a single vehicle, and the pass is good for three days. There is no water here though there is a small manned kiosk willing to relieve you of your money along with a beautiful visitors center.

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Suiting up in the parking lot we noticed there’s a theme but not sure what it is….

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We rode the entire perimeter of the Intrepid Trail System. The park is at 5,900′ (1,800 m) and sadly I noticed the altitude immediately today.

Great Pyramid

We like to ride the trail system counter clockwise and the first leg, Great Pyramid, offers spectacular eastern views.

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The La Sals

As always the La Sal mountains look on, snow capped and beautiful.

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Big Chief

The entire Intrepid System ranges from green to advanced blue. The Big Chief trail is a glorious blue.

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Desert Flowers

Flowers are few and far between but they can be found this time of year.

Slickrock O’ Plenty

The Whiptail and Twisted Tree trails offer miles of advanced blue slickrock.

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Slickrock is a sandstone rock that defines the entire Moab region. It’s called slickrock because early setters had trouble with steel horseshoes slipping of the “slick” rock.

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To be continued….

Tomorrow we’re leaving Slickrock Campground for a site on the river. The ride wiped us out today so we’re not going tomorrow but expect lots of pictures of the Colorado. Peace!

Airstreaming Moab, Utah – Day 1

Emily & Silent Partner


Evening, Peeps.

There’s an outdoor Disney Land in Utah. Here you will find Mountain Biking, Sky Diving, Zip Lining, Hiking, Camping, RVing, Kayaking, White Water Rafting, Boating, 4x4ing, Road Cycling, Rock Climbing and a host of other ‘ings’ I have already forgotten because there is presently more than one beer in me (how many is my secret to keep).

This place is called Moab. And we’re going to share it with you right now.

It is one of the best placed on Earth.

Oh yes it is.

Why Moab?

We come to Moab every year. Yes – of course – for the mountain biking. But Moab is one of those places we have been telling you about. It’s special. You sense it the instant you come here. And there’s a lot of here to explore. Enjoy the next six days and vacation with us in this amazing place.

To Moab!

Today we left Phoenix and made our way through Flagstaff.

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Still a Little Snow on the San Francisco Peaks

Usually we’re the only Airstream around but we saw a dozen of them on the road today. Weird.

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Airstream Convention in Tuba City?

Then through Blanding & Monticello.

 

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Towering wind turbines generate controversy

And finally the gorgeous La Sal Mountains beckon.

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La Sal Mountain Range

We’re staying a couple days at the Slickrock Campground in Moab and then moving on to a spot on the Colorado Riven when all the weekenders go home.

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To be continued….

Tomorrow we’re going to bike on a mountain using mountain bikes, I will bring you plenty of pictures and more information about Moab. Peace!

Airstreaming Prescott Arizona

Emily & Silent Partner


Evening, Peeps.

It’s that time of the year again. You know the time. The trailer’s been in hibernation – the days are getting a little longer and that tiny light behind your eye begins to blink drawing you northward. Along with all the other RVers we felt the clarion call as well, so today I bring you a live blog from Prescott, AZ.

Booking

For our stay in the high country we are blogging to you from White Spar Campground just south of Prescott, AZ (locals pronounce it “press”-“kit”). This is a fairly large campground and availability can be searched and booked on the federal portal.

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Sites are spacious and deeply forested as the campground lies just inside the Prescott National Forest boundary on U.S Route 89. Traffic is moderate to high and all pads are located on high-quality tarmac. Water is available at strategic locations as are vault toilets and dumpsters. There is no sewer or power, cellular service was middling (even with the booster) and noise highly variable (though no surprise, things calm down during the week).

Amenities & Activities

City of Prescott

The city of Prescott is a rather astonishing 40,000 souls but much of that habitation is in the northern reaches. We prefer to wander around the southern courthouse plaza area where delicious ice cream, pizza and shopping is found aplenty. Conveniently laundry can be done at The Cleaning Machine just a couple blocks east on Gurley St.

Not as convenient, though free, a dump station is located at Affinity RV Service, Sales & Rentals north of town. Propane can be filled at Prescott True Value and we shop at Safeway located at the corner of 89 and Copper Basin Rd.

Goldwater Lake

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Goldwater lake is located south of Prescott. This lake offers picnicking, kayaking, mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking. Via the Goldwater Lakes Trail #396 the lake can be reached on mountain bike in less than an hour.

Mountain Biking

Ah yes, mountain biking – my favorite topic. We’re only here a few days and sadly I was sick two of those days. Still, we managed to squeeze in a couple rides on several of the local trails.

I prefer to begin at White Spar Campground heading south on Goldwater Lakes Trail #396.

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This trail is rated blue and I agree with that assessment due to fitness, as some of the climbs here routinely reach 13%. The views close to camp are worth the pain.

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Further on the trail snakes its way through scenic creeks and small canyons.

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Spring hasn’t quite sprung here but it made for great photography.

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Though steep the trail is not technical.

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The lower Goldwater Dam peeks through the denuded forest.

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Past upper Goldwater Lake I cut into Feldmeier Trail #330.

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330 is tame and enjoyable on the downhill.

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At the bottom I take a very brief right on Banning Creek Trail #81, cut into Apple Blossom Trail #373 then finally Twist & Shout Trail #372 completing the loop.

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What Could Go Wrong

The Airstream behaved pretty well on this trip. As of late one of the decorative finishing strips has been separating so I’m going to have to install a replacement finish. I think the torment of the Arizona desert heat did its worst.

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I have also been blowing through a suspicious number of converter controllers in the Airstream. The fine folks at Airstream of Scottsdale agreed to install a 3rd party controller from Best Converter that is gentler on the batteries owing to its four-stage charging strategy.

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In particular I settled on the BD1260HW.

 

The service technician also recommended against using 6 volt batteries in the Airstream as well as discouraged running the Airstream’s 1000W inverter while hooked up to shore power. Hopefully these recommendations will stop the long run of converter controller failures.

Recommendation

We’ve been to this campground several times and we highly recommend it primarily due to its access to unbelievable mountain biking, proximity to town and fair price. This campground definitely has “it”!