Review: 1969 Airstream International Overlander 27

Airstream, Our Explorations

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Earlier this evening we drove about thirty minutes outside Oklahoma City to check out an 1969 Airstream Overlander Land Yacht. As I mentioned in my last post, one of Kirk’s patients is selling it, and we wanted to get a feel for the vintage route.

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When we pulled up, we could immediately tell it hadn’t been used in years. Rusted tire wells and unpolished aluminum graced the exterior, but you could tell it was still a beautiful, sturdy trailer beneath the old exterior.

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Pros: The interior felt roomy and much larger than the newer ones, despite being 27 feet. I think this was the first year of the slightly wider body frame, and we could feel the difference. Besides the size, the layout was smart: living/kitchen in the front, bedroom and lots of storage in the center, and a spacious bath with bathtub in the back. We could see why people love these older ladies.

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Everything was original except for the floor, which had been replaced with hardwood. Everything was built so well; I can’t imagine a newer box trailer lasting nearly that long. In the center, the gaucho bed had been permanently altered to fit a queen mattress.

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Cons: Well, it was old and in really bad shape. There was a leak in the kitchen ceiling, which looked like it originated from a fan above. The air conditioner needed to be replaced, the oven and fridge questionable. Well, actually let’s just say everything probably needed to be replaced, including tires and axles.

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Kirk even found a scorpion and a wolf spider in one of the drawers. Whoever owns this trailer next will have to contend with the native residents.

So, our tour of this old Airstream was a pretty neat experience, but reminded us why we’re selling our old house. We don’t mind preventative maintenance, but we do mind needing to overhaul the entire thing to make it even livable. We’re kind of kicking ourselves for passing up that Airstream Safari Bunkhouse we looked at last summer, but we just weren’t ready to buy yet. Who knows, maybe another one will cross our path.

Mother’s Day and the Airstream Flying Cloud

Airstream, Our Explorations, Values Based Living

IMAG3946Last Sunday was my 5th Mother’s Day. I’m not as experienced as I imagine I will be someday, but I’m also getting in a groove with this thing. My youngest is finally getting to a more independent age, and the two are playing together. So as much as we celebrated the day of motherhood, I also celebrated that my daughters are learning to lean on one another and needing less of my constant (and exhausting) vigilance. Three cheers for leaving the little baby stage!

So Kirk and I took the girls out to celebrate this Sunday in the only way that seemed appropriate: a visit to the local RV dealership to explore a few travel trailers. It’s funny actually; we had no idea that the sales department would be closed on a Sunday. A crabby employee informed us that all of the trailers would be locked, but we could look at the exteriors if we really wanted to. As I started to walk away totally disappointed, Kirk came bouncing around the corner, exclaiming that, actually, all of the trailers are unlocked. Based on the employee’s irritated response, you would have thought he had stuck out his tongue and said “so there!”

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Undaunted, we more or less skipped out the door and were completely overwhelmed by the number of options. We ran down the major aisle, stopping to peak in trailers. Our quest was to find a trailer that would not only be light enough to pull with the 4Runner, but something we would actually want to stay in for longer periods of time. Something we weren’t expecting, however, was the strong chemical smell in the trailers. None of us could stand to stay in one for longer than a few minutes, and I started to get a headache after touring a few. It was discouraging–who would want to camp for a month in something that is unbearable for more than 5 minutes? I couldn’t imagine allowing the girls to sleep, breathe, and eat in one of those things.

We were fairly disappointed. But we soldiered on and contended that perhaps a used travel trailer would be more our speed. The chemical smell would surely be aired out enough to be liveable after a few years, right? Apparently RV dealers hide all of the used ones in the back. There were some menacing looking rain clouds off to the east, but we decided to take our chances, running with the girls to the back of the lot. We found a few interesting used ones as well as a lovely explanation to the chemical smell:

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I try really hard to use natural products and to avoid chemicals in our food and home; now wouldn’t be the time to change my view on that! At that point we decided we should probably just leave. Would we ever find a trailer that would work? Kirk ran off a different aisle while the girls and I puttered along aimlessly. Suddenly, something shiny and silver caught my eye. Like a beacon in the distance, I saw a sleek silver bullet trailer sitting wedged between two oversized fifth wheels. The dark clouds quickly parted, the sun began shining, and a rainbow ended on top of a brand-new Airstream Flying Cloud WWB 30.

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We examined her shiny exterior, then opened the door excitedly. Let me just tell you, there is a reason why Airstream can get away with charging so much: the quality is above and beyond anything else we saw at that dealer. Every little detail is considered and remembered, down to the thin sliding pantry cabinet with floor to ceiling storage, the roomy closet, and even a drawer with silverware dividers. And the best part? No chemical smell.

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With an hour until the dealer closed and no sales people to harass us (note: visit dealers on Sundays), we made ourselves at home in that beauty. It began to rain lightly, and it was relaxing to listen to the rain softly tapping on the aluminum roof while we lounged around the dinette. After awhile we reluctantly removed ourselves from the Airstream and headed to Whole Foods for some ice cream.

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And here’s the takeaway from all this: we absolutely love Airstreams! We are trying so hard to want a regular travel trailer because they’re sometimes lighter and sometimes cheaper. But there is a reason. And dammit, Airstream love is a serious problem. So friends, we’re back on it again and wanting an Airstream.

Which brings me to something serendipitous that happened this week. Kirk took on a patient who happens to be selling a much loved and babied 1969 Airstream International Land Yacht 29′. Although we are really keen on the newer ones, this would be something we could take to Woodland Travel Center in Michigan to have customized. And it’s selling for super crazy cheap. I’ll keep you in the loop as to what happens; we’re hoping to visit it very soon.

Happy (late) Mother’s Day!