Category: Blog

Scott and Ariane December 8, 2017 2

Hiking in the Snow

Nothing like hiking in the snow and soaking up the beauty of winter. It’s one of our favorite times to go backpacking and spend time outdoors. Last year, we went up into the GSMNP in January with 12 inches of snow up by Newton Bald. We couldn’t even find the fire ring. With no leaves on the tree’s, We were able to watch a beautiful sunset and sunrise.

A good pair of hiking boots is essential. Feet can get wet pretty quick and ruin a what would have been beautiful hike in the woods. Not only are boots important, but being a little prepared helps also. For example: Hiking in the snow (especially over 5 inches) can slow down your hike immensely. So give yourself time during a day hike to allow for slower hiking.

People don’t think Winter is a time that you would get dehydrated, but not true. Staying hydrated is just as important in the Winter. Your body is working just as hard, maybe even harder since it’s trying to stay warm. You’re burning just as many calories. Makes sure you bring water!

Know the layering system. It’s important that you know how important it is to regulate your body temperature. When you hike in colder weather, you put on more clothes. But you are still creating a lot of body heat. When you are creating body heat, you sweat. Sweat = getting wet. Getting wet and then stopping all of a sudden without the proper gear, can leave you cold and possible exposure to hypothermia.

Be aware of where your hiking. Snow can often mislead you off the trail. When the snow softens towards midday, a snowfield can present an additional hazard. Very often the edges of the snowfield, and even the center, can be undercut by melting, particularly if water is flowing underneath. It’s easy to break through the thin remaining bridge of snow and drop abruptly a foot or more to the rocky ground underneath, endangering your knees and ankles. Tread lightly, particularly near the edge of the snowfield and in low-lying areas where you suspect a stream may be flowing underneath.

Experts say one the best times to hike in winter snow is late winter, around March. Specifically in the Northern regions. National Parks such as Yellowstone, and Glacier Park offer great winter snowshoeing. By March, the snow is more compact, and has more layers.

No matter where you venture out to, always be aware of your surroundings and LET PEOPLE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE.  Make sure you have packed the 10 essentials, and a small emergency kit just in case you loose your pack. Always Plan and Prepare. Know your limitations, but have fun nonetheless.

Boots we recommend.  After years of hiking in winter, these are quality boots that will keep your feet dry.

Merrell Moab Polar Waterproof Winter Boot – 400g M-Select warm lightweight, low bulk insulation keeps you warm

Salomon X Ultra Winter Climashield Waterproof Boots – Mud guards and integrated rubber toe caps provide durable protection from winter conditions and rough terrain

We would love to hear from you and your experiences hiking in the snow.

Trust the Trail Podcast
Scott and Ariane December 7, 2017 0

Episode 36: Lightening the Load

On this episode we discuss getting rid of the stuff, and trusting the trail. No matter what “the trail” means to you. Less is more! We openly share what our lives have been like since we have purged all of our junk. How does that relate to our lifestyle of backpacking trails and exploring.

A few things we talk about in this episode:

  • As outdoor guides we talk about the value of Less is More
  • The parallel to real life and the trail
  • We DO NOT miss the stuff that were acting as anchors in our lives
  • Living in a 180 square feet and living minimalistic
  • Wants VS Needs
  • Defining what lightweight is and how it changes over the years

Thanks for listening! We absolutely love connecting with our community and appreciate all the e-mails and messages.

Huge thank you! It’s because of people like you that inspire us to keep podcasting our passion. If you’ve been enjoying the show and want to help others find it, We’d love a review from you in iTunes. Each and every review helps more people find the show (each one counts and we are super grateful).

To leave a review, click here and then go to “ratings and reviews”. It takes one minute and we read every one ? Thanks!

Trust the Trail Podcast
Scott and Ariane December 2, 2017 0

Episode 35: Prepping for the Appalachian Trail

On this episode we share our experience with how we inspire and motivate potential Thru-Hikers  prepping for the Appalachian Trail. We partnered with Mountain Crossings Outfitters and are offering 4 AT Prep Classes taught right on the Appalachian Trail.

A few things we talk about in this episode:

  • Expectations of the Trail – Fantasy VS Reality:  Are your expectations real? How much does Social Media play into the fantasy of the trail? It’s not what your seeing on YouTube, it’s what your NOT seeing.
  • Solo VS Social – We read a letter from one of our listeners from Sydney Australia that expresses concerns with the crowds and culture of the AT
  • Overcoming rough days on the AT – It’s real out there folks
  • Gear Talk- When to stop looking for the best gear, and get the right gear.

For more info on our AT Prep Class you are just one CLICK AWAY.

Thanks for Listening!

Huge thank you! It’s because of people like you that inspire us to keep podcasting our passion. If you’ve been enjoying the show and want to help others find it, We’d love a review from you in iTunes. Each and every review helps more people find the show (each one counts and we are super grateful).

To leave a review, click here and then go to “ratings and reviews”. It takes one minute and we read every one ? Thanks!

TheBackPacker December 2, 2017 0

12 Gifts For The Outdoor Lover That Are A Must

What would be the Holiday’s without a desire to get out on the road and spend time with family and friends. Of course, it’s also a time to get outdoors and hike off the Turkey Dinner that is still haunting you on the scale. As travelers, we are always looking for the biggest bang for our buck and is lightweight and compatible.  After all, you can’t “wide flat screen tv” in 190 square feet easy.   Plus, if you are doing a road trip to the fam, it has to be pack-able right?

The Esbit Stainless Steel Coffee Maker – 8 fl.oz.

We love coffee in the morning. What better way to start your Christmas morning than a quick easy way to make some java.

Ideal for backcountry travel
Brews coffee and tea
Stainless steel construction
Stand fits into cup for compact, easy transport
Holds one cup (8 fl.oz.)

Last Spring we did a 2000 mile road trip to Munising, MI and this little coffee maker saved the day, or the mornings for sure. Camping while we travel, this is great piece of equipment on living on the road.

Buy it here, then give it some love by sharing.

$29.99 Save 40% Compare at $49.99

 

Marquette Alloy Mountain Bike

 

There is nothing like the feeling of a little quite time and freedom when out visiting for the Holidays. Hit the Mountain Bike trails and really get the blood pumping. We absolutely have our Bikes with us and love to ride when we have some free time.

Frame: Framed Marquette 6061 Aluminum Alloy 148×12, replaceable derailleur hanger, 2 water bottle cage mounts, tapered headtube
Fork: Suntour Raidon 120mm 110×15, air spring, rebound adjust, manual lock out, hydraulic rebound, tapered steerer. This is a super lightweight bike that can easily be mounted on the back or top of your car or RV.  It hardly feels like a bike it’s so lightweight.

buy it HERE then spread the word to #optoutside
Was $1,600 On Sale $999.95  38% off

 

Hyperlite Southwest 3400

This is my (Ariane speaking here) favorite backpack to hit the trail with. Whether it’s a day hike, or 300 miles of the Appalachian Trail (which I did last Spring) Love it!

Three external, solid Dyneema® Hardline pockets. Removable, contoured aluminum stays Dyneema® Hardline shoulder straps with 3/8” closed cell foam and spacer mesh
1/4” foam back panel pad

The best part…it weighs only 1.94 lbs for a medium pack.

Buy it HERE  and give that special hiker a great Holiday present.  Was $340.00 $289.00

Sea to Summit X-Set 31 Cookset

If you know someone who travels a lot, especially in a Camper or RV like we do, then the Sea To Summit X Cookset is a must.  You can’t be the compactibility of cookware that you can fold, and then cook in. Cookset includes a 2.8-liter X-Pot, two 22 fl. oz. X-Bowls and two 16.2 fl. oz. X-Mugs
X-Pot has a lightweight and durable 6063-T6, hard-anodized aluminum base that allows a fast boil time.
Buy HERE and get in time to put under your tree.

Save at REI and get it for $109.95

 

Cedar Electronics WASPcam 9905 Digital Video Camera – WiFi HD

If you are going to spend any time outdoors, then why not make some epic vids. The Cedar WASPcam works much like the GoPro (which we have also) but a lot less impact on the Holiday budget.

Requires a Micro SD card to record videos (card not included)
Accepts up to a 32MB Micro SD card
Records 1080p/30fps high-definition video
5, 8 and 12MP photo quality

We like this because it has built-in WiFi connects camera to smartphone for live viewing, remote control and instant sharing online

Buy it HERE and really make an instant impact on your YouTube Videos.  $99.99 Save 31% Compare at $145.00

 

Advanced Elements Island Voyage Ii Kayak

Now is the time to get the best deals on summer toys. We use our Inflatable Kayak for those spontaneous moments when we find ourselves camped next to a beautiful lake that we want to explore.

The bungee deck lacing and grab handles makes getting the kayak in the water simple. It includes high back seating with pockets and bottle holders. Buy it HERE and share the love. Was $429.99 Save $30.99 Sale $399.00

ENO RestNest Hammock

We love lounging around our campsite and chilling. The Eno RestNest absolutely is on our Holiday list. Compactable, Lightweight, and easy to set up.

Durable, rip-resistant nylon with triple interlock stitching
Marine-grade rope with steel S-hook attaches to trees, posts, RVs, boats, and more
Stuffs into built-in stuff sack

Buy it HERE and send it to your favorite outdoor enthusiast.

$29.99 Save 36% Compare at $47.00

 

Jetboil Genesis 2-Burner Stove

This by far is one of our favorite travel and camp stoves. It’s quick, easy and light.  If you are into car camping or just love cooking outdoors, this is the perfect way to do it. Put a griddle over both burners and make pancakes.

It uses a regular Coleman propane tank found at any Walmart.

Compact folding 2-burner stove
Jetboil engineered valve for advanced simmer control
Easy-to-clean drip trays
Lever igniter

Buy it HERE  and then share a recipe with us.
Was: $239.95  Now: $203.96  You save 15%

 

 

YETI Hopper Two 20 Soft Cooler

 

Traveling lightweight is always the main focus in our lives, so we look for gear that meets both the compact and lightweight test. The Yeti Hopper meets that test.

Updated leakproof zipper access makes it easier to load and retrieve contents
DryHide Shell with RF-welded seams and nearly indestructible straps will stand up to an abundance of abuse in the field and provide superior leakproof durability

Buy it HERE at REI
$300.00 Save 30% on Members Day

 

America the Beautiful National Parks Pass – 2018 

America’s National Park Pass easily pays for itself if you are a traveler or a Backpacker. We love exploring different National Parks and even Guide people on our Full Moon Adventure Trips. This is one of the best Holiday Gifts to give.

It has really saved us money at RV parks and entrance fee’s.

Buy it HERE at REI  $79.99

 

Goal Zero Venture 70 Recharger

 

Often times we are not in a place where we can “plug in”. Either out in the backcountry or at an event. So we use the Goal Zero Recharger. Especially when you want to use your smart phone for a camera and don’t want to miss a shot.

It’s small enough and weighs only 1 pound. Easy to put in a backpack for a long day hike or a several overnight camping trips. It’s definitely one of our “go to” pieces of gear when we go on the road.

66.9-Wh / 17,700mAh capacity keeps phones, cameras, tablets and small USB devices powered up wherever you roam
Smart charging technology optimizes output to match what’s plugged in and prevent overcharging
2 USB outputs let you charge more than one device at the same time

You can buy it HERE for $149.95

 

 

 

Helinox Chair Zero

While we travel, camp, and explore, often we just want some chill time by the campfire and have a good craft brew. This is the chair we use to do just that. Lightweight, fast to set up and it compacts nicely.

These chairs fit snug in our camping box so we always have these no matter where we go. We even bring them while visiting other RV’ers at a RV Park.

Seat is 11 in. off the ground
Thanks to anodized DAC aluminum poles, Chair Zero is strong enough to support up to 265 lbs.
Single shock-corded pole structure makes for easy setup
Compact size makes it easy to pack and carry
Stuff sack included

Buy it HERE at REI for $119.95

 

 

These items WE USE. We never post gear that we don’t know and trust. While making this list we thought of you. What did we miss? Have something on the list you would use instead? Let us know.

Happy Holidays!!!!!

Scott and Ariane November 21, 2017 0

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

We consider ourselves pretty spontaneous, but when we were sitting on the couch this last Fall (2017) having a few craft brews and discussing how much we would love to go see the Peak Fall colors somewhere amazing, little did we know a week later we would be taking a 2000 mile road trip to the U.P of Michigan. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Sandstone cliffs, beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, lakes, forest, and shoreline beckon you to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Hiking, camping, sightseeing, and four season outdoor opportunities abound

We quickly went to recreation.gov and got permits to backpack the 42 mile Lakeshore Trail that is also a part of the North Country Trail. You have to reserve and have permits to camp on the Lakeshore Trail.

The Lakeshore Trail is an amazing trail that starts on the high sand dunes in Grand Marais and ends at Munising Falls, (right outside of Munising, MI).  On our trek of the 42 miles we went from sand, to thick dense forest, to hiking along the cliffs of the Pictured Rocks. There is never a dull moment. 

There are 14 backcountry campsites along the way. Most of the time you will get your water right from the lake. Most of the campsites give you access right to beachfront and some amazing sunsets. Most of the trail is straight with little climbs. There is some gravel road hiking for a mile or two, but those are access points to the bigger campgrounds.

The best time to hike the trail is late summer or at Peak Fall.  You get some amazing sunsets, since the trail faces the southwest side of Lake Superior. There are lots of waterfalls in this area to see and explore.

You can pick up a shuttle service that will take you to the Grand Marais Visitors Center where the Lakeshore Trail starts (if your hiking from East to West). The parking lot at Munising Falls is big, and more than safe to leave your car. From leaving the Grand Marais Visitor Center the trail is awesome and pretty easy.

TIP: If you are looking for great place to camp with your camper or RV, you can boondock at Bay Furnace (right on the lake btw) and spend some time in Munising (which we totally recommend) and have a cup of coffee at our favorite place Falling Rock Cafe and Books 

After your hike, take the Sunset Tour of the Pictured Rocks and see the cliffs from a different perspective. It really is beautiful.

Munising Michigan and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers a ton of unique hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, and camping. This is by far one of our favorite places to hang out on a long week trip.

Scott and Ariane November 14, 2017 0

What is the most important piece of gear you carry?

Us backpackers can spend a lot of time looking at the latest and greatest new piece of gear out there. In fact, according to IBES World, market research say’s it’s a 4 billion dollar a year industry. That’s a lot of gear.

Over the next five years, as total recreation expenditure expands, demand at hiking and outdoor equipment is anticipated to grow

We are always looking for that piece of “WOW” gear that is the lightest and sometimes the trendiest. However, we have a piece of gear that doesn’t cost anything and we think is essential. It’s lightweight, it will stand the test of time, and it will get you through more uphills, downhills, and weather than you will believe.

The most important piece of gear a backpacker will ever need is a POSITIVE ATTITUDE.  No piece of gear will ever help you embrace the trail and Mother Nature than a positive mental attitude will.

Let’s face it, sometimes there is a suck value to hiking in a cold rain storm that seems to last forever. But the one thing that you have going for yourself is your ability to be grateful for that suck value. I mean really, you are out there! You are doing what you wanted to do! Of course it’s going to have suck value. All things worth while do. But it’s going to be your positive mental attitude that will make or break how you experience your hike.

After 20 years of backpacking I can tell you that a positive mental attitude is everything.

For new people just getting into backpacking, getting started is the hardest part. However, with Social Media and the ease of just watching someone else’s adventure on a YouTube video, it’s easy to get caught up with the romantic idea of the adventure, instead of the journey. Moreover, just how hard it is to actually carry a backpack for 6 months and live in the woods.

When I thru-hiked the AT  in 2003 I probably quit a thousand times a month. It was one of the most aggravating thoughts I had. My thoughts in my head constantly nagging at me,”do you really need to do this?”  The answer was always the same…”NO”. I don’t HAVE to do this, I WANT to do this.  There is a time in everyone’s life when you have to look in the mirror and do that one thing that is the hardest, and that is…change.

Change is the one single moment in your life when you know for sure that the outcome won’t happen unless you change the way you think about what you want the most. I had to change my attitude about what I was reacting to.  Stop whining about the weather, my aches, pains, other hikers, the terrain, the food, just about everything.

It’s that quintessential reaction that I love to use when life or the trail start beating me up mentally. That one feeling that makes me stop in my tracks and breathe. That one beautiful thought that is free and weighs nothing. I carry with it with me whenever or where ever I hit the trail…that one price of gear is: Gratefulness.

 

Getting lost in the Wilderness
Scott and Ariane October 30, 2017 0

Outdoor Common Sense Safety Tips

So you want to get outdoors and have fun. So many places to go and visit. Planning that amazing vacation or trekking out into the Wilderness for some long over due quiet time. But sometimes in planning the fun stuff, we forget to have a PLAN for real stuff. What do we mean by “real stuff”? The stuff that you don’t think of until that moment of “what do I do now” happens.

Real Stuff like being prepared for some circumstances that happens ALL the time. We call it a “safety plan” Let’s take a look at some of the common issues people have while enjoying the outdoors.

FALLS – Falls while hiking in mountainous terrain typically account for more fatalities than any other direct cause. A fall can result in a few scrapes minutes from the trailhead or life-threatening injuries miles – and hours – from help. This is why it’s especially important to never hike alone.

HEAT: Overexertion on hot summer days can lead to heat-related injuries.

COLD & HYPOTHERMIA: The lowering of your body’s core temperature below normal can lead to poor judgement and confusion, loss of consciousness and death – even in summer! We have seen this first hand when temps are in the 90’s and people get wet from a cold rain. Wind starts howling, clouds block the sun, and the next thing you know, you start shivering.

No matter if you are day hiking, backpacking, kayaking, having the right safety plan is the best thing you can do for you and your family.

According to the Journal of Travel Medicine, From 2003 to 2006, there were 12,337 SAR operations involving 15,537 visitors. The total operational costs were US$16,552,053. The operations ended with 522 fatalities, 4,860 ill or injured visitors, and 2,855 saves. Almost half (40%) of the operations occurred on Saturday and Sunday, and visitors aged 20 to 29 years were involved in 23% of the incidents. Males accounted for 66.3% of the visitors requiring SAR assistance. Day hiking, motorized boating, swimming, overnight hiking, and nonmotorized boating were the participant activities resulting in the most SAR operations. But here is the most important point:

An error in judgment, fatigue and physical conditions, and insufficient equipment, clothing, and experience were the most common contributing factors.

So what do you do?  ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN. What’s a PLAN?

  1. Do your research on where you are going? What do the Rangers recomend if you are going to a National Park. Every NPS site has a “Know before you go”. This is where most people don’t look.
  2. Plan and Prepare is the first principal in Leave NO Trace. It’s number one for a reason. Plan and prepare means knowing the terrain, weather conditions, environment. What’s the norm and not the norm of where you are going. Is it a Flash Flood Area? Has there been recent Forest Fires?
  3. Let another Friend, or Family member know exactly where you are going to be. Your route, how many days and nights you will gone. Have a Phone Number to the NPS or Recreational Area that they can call if you are not back when you designated.  The movie 127 hours is a perfect example of what happens when people don’t know where you are.
  4. Have a “Escape Plan”. What if you are in a situation where you need to get out as fast as you can. Look around, make sure you understand and get to know your surroundings. Weather happens fast.
  5. Always have a personalized First Aid Kit ready to go. When we say “personalized” we mean things that YOU may have to have. Like allergy medicine for example.

Finally. Understand the acronym STOP-A This is the biggest asset to you if your plan has to do with being lost. The number one question we get when taking new people out backpacking is “what if I get lost”.

STOP

If there is no immediate threat, like a wildfire or a bear breathing down your neck, then stop and sit down. The goal is to prevent any irrational thinking due to fear or an adrenaline dump.

THINK

let’s break out the best survival tool we have, our brain.

Countless books and stories attest to the fact that a positive mental attitude can pull people through even the most dire of circumstances.

Understand the difference between real threats and fears.

OBSERVE

Take a look at your surroundings and identify threats. Are there widow makers? How much time until it gets dark? Do you hear vehicles in the distance? Can you smell a campfire?

PLAN

After thinking about your priorities and observing your surroundings and gear, it is time to make some choices. Like prioritizing, planning is dependent on your situation. Generally, staying put and waiting for rescue is a good plan, but what if you didn’t tell anyone you were headed out and no one will know you are missing for days?

ACT

The best plan in the world will not do you any good until it is put in to action. Once you have a plan, start using your skills and execute the plan.

For those who want to leave trusted friends or family your itinerary. Go to hikeralert.com  this is an excellent web based platform that alerts through text message when you do not return

In operation since 2012, HikerAlert is a Web-based service that will automatically send an alert text message and email to your emergency contacts (your friends and family) if you don’t check in from an outdoor trip or other event by your scheduled return time.

Remember, your outdoor experience is  your responsibility. Make sure you’re stay safe out there. Mother Nature doesn’t care about your weekend plans.

Scott Janz October 30, 2017 1

Granite Gear VC 60 Backpack Review

Compression, compression, compression. That is what I think about when looking at new lightweight backpacks. How do can they compress, and is the way they compress going to benefit my overall gear system. When I tried on the Granite Gear Crown VC 60 ultralight backpack, I have to say I was impressed. It’s overall design and durability puts this pack high on my favorite pack list. At 2.2 lbs this is a pack you have to consider on a long distance hike.

Capacity:

With it’s 60 liters of capacity I would find it hard pressed to fill the bag all the way. This pack can carry a full load of gear that is for sure. With it’s roll top feature, you will be able to use this pack in Winter and still keep it as a lightweight system since your layer 4 winter jacket would nicely fit on the top. Since it compresses down, I can utilize unusable space. Again, compression! 

The compression of this pack is what I truly like however. The two crisscross of of Linloc compression straps on the side of the pack provides and excellent compression system. The pack design of the Linloc straps can be utilized to attach a rolled up sleeping pad, a tent, or tent poles. Also, there two compression straps that run over the top of the main compartment and provide additional carrying capacity.

Make it even lighter! The frame itself is removable so the pack can be used for ultralight loads without the frame. This takes the pack weight itself to almost a 13 oz pack.

What’s the VC stand for? Vapor Current. At first glance, you’ll notice the ventilation channels molded into the cushy back pad. These channels allow air to circulate from bottom to top, taking advantage of convection to aid in evaporative cooling. This facilitates circulation without shifting the pack’s center of gravity away from your back. Beneath the molded foam, the VC frame has a full length (all the way up to the load lifters), HDPE die-cut sheet that supports loads up to 35 lbs.

Will this pack handle a Long Distance Trek?

I say YES! As more and more ultra lightweight packs hit the market, it will be the durability and stitching that will ultimately stand the test of time. I like the VC Crown because of it’s CORDURA® fabric. If you are like me, you are hard on your packs. Ultimately, a strong fabric will make the difference.

TIP: Ultra lightweight packs means you should have lightweight gear. The maximum weight for this pack is 35lbs. I would subtract 5 lbs to that. Light weight packs maximize their performance when you pack your gear correctly AND carry other light weight gear.

Backpacking the Appalachian Trail
Scott and Ariane October 30, 2017 0

Avoid Getting the Flu on the Appalachian Trail

You would be surprised at how many people get sick on the Appalachian Trail due to the spreading of germs. In fact, Appalachian Trail hikers had a 45 percent diarrhea rate, implying that poor hygiene is a major contributing factor. How to prevent getting sick is to make sure your First Aid Kit has the some basic medications and ALCOHOL WIPES to keep your hands clean.

Ariane has gotten the Flu while backpacking and she explains how hard it is to hike out when you get sick. Some basic medications, like benadryl, tylenol, Mucinex, and Diarrhea tablets can help you when you feel like you maybe getting sick on the Trail.

In a article written by Blissful Hiking:

The chief complaint on the Appalachian Trail is the Norovirus, which seems to strike every hiking season. Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people and on infected surfaces that have been touched by ill people. Outbreaks occur more often where there are more people in a small area like hostels, shelters and privies contaminated by sick hikers.

The best way to prevent getting sick is to make sure your hands are always clean. Bear cables are filled with germs, wipe your hands off after using them. Prevention is the key.  Make sure you keep clear of sharing food or area’s where you see other hikers being sick. Again, using alcohol type hand sanitizer and trying not to share food, it going to go a long way.

If you do get sick on the trail, you are going to have to REST.  Drink plenty of fluids and replenish your electrolytes. Chicken Soup and Lemon Tea is a great way to start your rebound. But rest and a day off is probably going to get you back on the trail.

Scott Janz October 30, 2017 0

New Subfloor

We have big news! Our new subfloor went in this weekend and it’s pretty damn exciting. It wasn’t as hard as we expected, but it was still kind of hard. If that makes any sense.

We started the weekend on Friday with priming all of our plywood with Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer™. We had already measured (re measured) and cut the pieces we needed. We initially used cardboard to make a template of the front cornered piece. The cardboard was a good idea because we could measure and trace around the C-Channel and get a good measurement for the curves. We made sure to put a heavy coat of Epoxy Sealer on the cut edges. It’ s edges that are most vulnerable of course.

We first placed the cardboard template (front corner) where it needed to be. Of course, installing a piece of cardboard is much easier than a piece of plywood. The cardboard looked like it was where it was suppose to go and we were happy with our measurements. Maybe a “good nervous anxiety” is a better expression.

TIP: Double check, and re-check, that all of the tiny wood screws that get drilled in at the top of the C-Channel are OUT. This will save you from pulling your hair out and having a break down in front of loved ones.

Saturday was spent on the front Belly Pan. We wanted to make sure that before putting in the Subfloor, we could see the new rivets going in to secure the Belly Pan. With my new Central Pneumatic 3/16 in. Air Hydraulic Riveter we were ready to tackle our Belly Pan. We drilled out all old rivets that the belly pan had dropped through. Surprising, our Belly Pan is in pretty good shape. We did drill new holes in the bottom frame using a 3/16 drill bit and popped in 3/16? Large Flange Rivets.  Some places in the Belly Pan the holes were just too big. So we used large Fender Washers with the Large Flange rivets to secure and cover the holes. We also cleaned and prepped the frame once again, along with touching up any spots we may have missed with POR 15.  By late Saturday we were exhausted. Sleeping in a 1998 Ford Expedition with 2 dogs on a Air Matress can be cozy, but we were so tired on Saturday Night, both dogs and humans were fast asleep by 9:30 PM.

Sunday: (The big day). Woke up early to a blue sky and the Rooster crowing. After mayhem with the dogs and few cups of coffee and a brief visit with Tulip the Goat, we were ready to get that floor in. We opted (after long debate and discussion) NOT to have any insulation between the Belly Pan and the Subfloor. But we did opt to using a Self Adhesive Waterproof Rubberized Asphalt Roll Flashing. This protects the Frame and the Plywood from moisture that could get in between. The Flashing also protects the Outriggers that are most vulnerable to the elements. After taping the top of the frame, we were ready.

The funny thing about putting in the first piece of your new subfloor was; “Are we really here”? We were almost in denial looking for other things to do before we actually put this in. With some trepidation, we brought in the front corner piece. We had cut some 2×4’s that we placed on the frame so we could beat the 2×4’s instead of the plywood. We brought in laying it down on the frame but on a slant. The “idea” here, was to push the out one side of the C-Channel and then to beat the front piece using the 2×4’s. Once we got both ends in the C-Channel it was then a matter of just beating it forward all the way in the “front C-Channel”. To our amazement, it worked. However, the rubber mallet was quickly replaced with a sledge hammer. (*Side Note: When something goes right on our Airstream restoration, we ask ourselves, “is this real or a dream”?)

TIP: Be prepared to beat one side of your Airstream to move the “cut” from right to left. Use a 2×4 for this also. Remember, you are pushing out one side of your C-Channel to get both ends in the C-Channel.If your cut is correct, the one side that you pushed out, will come back in.

The next section was only 2 feet wide to sit on the frame correctly and get bolted into the Outriggers correctly. That piece went in fairly smoothly.

The 3rd piece, (the biggest piece) was 4 feet wide went in by lifting the “cut” up over our heads, tucking the far end (opposite of the door) into the C-Channel, then bringing it down and tucking in the other end. This also involved major beating on the side of the Airstream.

So, the first 3 pieces are in. 4 more to go…

All curse words were omitted in the description of putting in our new subfloor and the writing of this blog. All relationships are sill in tact, and all the farm dogs still think the Airstream is a giant dog house.
Scott Janz October 30, 2017 0

She’s an amazing RV stripper

I must admit, never did I think the words; “she’s an amazing stripper” would ever utter out of my mouth when describing my significant other. Yet that is simply the truth! Oh sure, I can strip with the best of them. But let’s face it: I rush it. I tend to go fast and just want it off far too quickly. She, on the other hand, focuses on the details.

I’m speaking of stripping the paint off of our Argosy, of course. What did you think I was talking about? In our recent blog post about Stripping, we explained HOW we were doing it, but the devil is in the details right? Surviving it, might be a different post altogether. Airstream Renovation

Stripping the paint off outside in 97 degree heat in the Georgia sun, well, isn’t fun. In fact, I would describe it as…not at all in any way enjoyable! Our Lucy is pointed North South, so the sides of her are East, West. Which means if we want the shade, we are either working on the East side at 6:00 AM or working on the West side after 6:00 PM.

Stripping Lucy this week taught me a few things that I must share. One, I suck at stripping. Two, my partner, my intended, the one I love, is an amazing stripper! She’s virtually a machine. She actually said at one time; “Not interested in taking a break right now, I’m in a zone”. Though I actually said at one time: “Let me die so the Vultures can take me”. It was a blistering 98 degrees out on the Farm. While every living animal on the farm was seeking shade (and for our spoiled dogs, air conditioning), there was Ariane, stripping 40 years of paint off our Lucy. At one point she looked like Leonardo Da Vinci with her pallet of paint artistically looking for every nook and cranny of to highlight. In reality it was just a gunk full of scrapped paint on cardboard. But when you are hallucinating because of heat exhaustion, I would like to think of her that way.

In the end, we have Lucy almost all stripped and bare. Our hands tired, blistered, and swollen. Ariane’s hands took most of the blow, looking aged and peeling from the abrasive material. For me however it was just my ego that took most of the blow as I watched in admiration.

TIP: If you have to work in the blistering sun of hell. Listen to Disco Music. Believe me, listening to KC and the Sunshine Band and “Shake, shake, shake”, offers a mild relief from heatstroke. And at the end of the day when you tell your girlfriend. “You are an amazing stripper”, it becomes worth it.

Scott Janz October 30, 2017 0

How to remove a Airstream Subfloor

In any Airstream you are going to rehab, you quickly learn that the Sub-flloor isn’t just laying on the frame itself. The camper body is bolted to the frame, and in between the camper body and the frame is the edge of your sub-floor. Simply put, you are going to have to remove the sub-floor by removing the camper bolts first.

(camper bolts are the bolts that are in your C-Chanel and that are bolted through your Outriggers on your frame)Airstream rehab Info

In our case, we were somewhat lucky. Our sub-floor was so rotted that we were able to break away the sub-floor without removing the camper bolts. In some cases it did take a while to pull the sub-floor out around the bolts. There was some cutting involved. We actually used a wood chisel for some of the harder parts.

TIP: Consider the Full Monty (pulling the entire camper off the frame) This is something that we wish we would have done. We just didn’t have the resources do it. It’s not has hard as you think it might be, But in the end will make things much easier.

TIP: If you can’t do the Full Monty, take the banana wrap off first before you start taking out the sub-floor. You will have direct access to the camper bolts and the outriggers. (see photo).

Most of the sub-floor in a vintage airstream is going to be rotted. We have a center bath which means the bathroom was on top of the wheel wells. We were surprised to find that this was the section that the sub-floor was in good shape. Most sub-floors that the bath sits on are rotted, since most bathrooms are in the back. AND the double whammy is that the back of most airstreams leak.

The sub-floor is attached with large head screws that sink into the sub-floor. Most likey they are NOT coming out easily. The best way to remove the sub-floor is to cut around the screw bolts first. We used a Saw Zaw, but some use a cirrcular saw. Once we cut around the bolts the floor was just preyed up. You will have to chisel around the screw bolts to get the rest of the floor out. We then took a “Lock Wrench” and unscrewed the floor screws.

In any case, always check the condition of your sub-floor. When we bought ours, the previous owners said they had “repaired” the floor. All they did was put another level of sub-floor on. So we had the privilege of removing 2 sub-floors.

Ariane Petrucci October 30, 2017 0

Lucy has secrets

Lucy has secrets! When we purchased her we knew there had been another inhabits. She’s 40 years of for gods sake. How naive would it be for us to think, she’s been waiting for us?  But Whoaaaa! She had some major secrets.

Secret #1 You have had other animals living with you

Secret #2 Others have taken out your rivets

Secret #3 Who stripped all your Phillips screw heads?

Secret #4 You leak

Secret #5 You are a dirty girl…seriously, how did all that dirt get in the bell pan?

After the sub-floor camp up we really started seeing some major issues with the frame. In some areas, no rust, in other parts, lots’ of rust. The back end of Lucy was completely rotted, along with the front end. Her 30 gallon fresh water tank was cracked. The wiring had been jumpered for some reason to another system. (still trying to figure that out). A previous owner desperately tried to rehab Lucy but probably found out very early, they were way over their heads so they stopped.

HINT: When you have a water leak, and  your sub-floor is getting wet. Putting another sub-floor on top does NOT FIX the problem. We took up 2 sub-floors and 3 sets of sticky tile.

At this point we have started to remove inner panels and insulation. The panels are inter-connected. Our Aistream seemed to have been built by putting on the center ceiling first. Everything then was underneath and connected. Not just a simple take the panel off you choose. Probably more like, take the side panel off, but first you have take the top panel off. The panels are at least 22 feet long. Better that 2 people do the job.

The middle ceiling panel is the hardest to take off. You had better choose to keep it, or discard it. If you choose to keep it, it’s gonna be hard to take off without bending it or ripping it.

We learned that rivets are behind other panels that we needed to take off. We also learned…this is going to take a while.

Scott Janz October 30, 2017 0

And so it begins

It seemed easy enough. Just take out the old stuff, and put in new stuff. How hard could that be…? Pretty hard actually. We quickly learned that the old stuff (including walls, sinks, and closets) really are all part of the way Lucy is built. Everything is interconnected with each other.

The rehab project is really a lesson in Airstream Engineering. We felt like we were old school detectives looking at each piece of panel, or plumbing, or wiring. Thinking, “ok what were they thinking”? But not only did we put on our Airstream detective hats, but Lucy had secrets. Oh did the secrets come out with each piece of sub-floor.

We have to say however, that the first few days, we felt like we had made great progress.  We littered the front area of where we parked her quite diligently with debris, insulation, and the bleeping closet that made us utter curse words we didn’t even know existed.  We may have even said “this is easy”.  We are sure at that point, Lucy laughed.

It has taken two weeks to get the sub-floor out. Most of it as rotted as it can be. We decided early (due to cost, and resources) we were not going to be able to lift her off the frame. So it was important to for us to be really diligent in removing the floor. We found out that the sub-floor is actually built first in the Airstream world, and the camper itself is bolted through the camper down into the sub-floor. So just “taking up” the sub-floor without lifting the camper off the frame is by any stretch of the imagination…NOT EASY.  It almost felt as if we were reliving a “Christmas Story” where the Dad was just making up curse words that made no sense. Yep, we are pretty sure one of us said “BADDAFINGA”.

Scott Janz October 29, 2017 0

5 things to know before buying a vintage Airstream

When we were considering buying a tiny home we contemplated how that would mesh into our lifestyle. Very early on we knew we wanted a travel trailer. Though not just any travel trailer. We wanted to reflect our personalities, thus a vintage Airstream Argosy. Why? It was the perfect for us. It was as though the universe made it all happen, and we were the last one’s to know it. We love every minute of our project, our Lucy.

5 things to know before buying a vintage Airstream

  1. You don’t know what you don’t know. And there’s no way to know until you peel her secrets away and she will have secrets, rivet by rivet. “Trailer in good condition” could be code for a major rehab project.Airstream renovations
  2. The frame is everything! There are a lot of Airstream parts available out there – so don’t fret, the parts will be the least of your worries. The frame however is crucial. Ever had an interest in welding? Well…now would be a good time to consider. Go ahead and buy a gallon of POR 15. Trust us.
  3. Be willing to walk away! Seriously though, you should be prepared to if necessary. Don’t allow the romanticism of rehabbing a vintage Airstream lock you into a bad judgement call. If your heart wins the deal, your pocket book may loose.
  4. When you make the purchase, bring extra cash for the unexpected. She, (the Airstream), may not come home with you as willingly as you had anticipated. Ohhhh, did you honestly think you’d just plug in the seven pin, hitch it up, and drive off into the sunset!?!! No, no, no…now that’s wishful thinking! None of our lights worked on Lucy and her four tires were dry rotted beyond repair. Also, google the term “hitch stabilizer”. You’re safety is of the up-most importance!
  5. Have the right tools for the right job. Don’t cut corners and DO YOUR RESEARCH. Be prepared for a lengthy, challenging and tedious rehab. Sharpen your investigation skills ’cause they will become necessary to figure out just exactly how she was put together. Airstream Forums will be you’re best friend. Never hesitate to ask for help, we have an incredible community of Astream Addicts.

Bonus. Be prepared for the Full Monty. Aka, The Lift. Definition: lifting the camper entirely off the trailer. Separation at its fullest. There is a reason why Airstream campers stand the test of time, they are built well and will take an incredible amount of fortitude love and patience to bring her back to her glory. Though well worth the journey. Welcome to Vintage Airstream Rehab!

Scott and Ariane October 29, 2017 0

We bought an Airstream

We both knew we could no longer live without owning an Airstream Argosy 28? twin bed center bath model. We had unexpectedly seen one, fell deeply in love and blindly allowed it to change our life’s course permanently. For a solid month, every moment was occupied with learning about and searching for our new home. In April 2016 we found her proudly displayed and rusting away in central Kentucky.

She was stubborn from the beginning. Her break lights had corroded, her hitch connections powerless thus dragging, and her tires firmly planted into the concrete dry rotting to the extreme. She wasn’t even considering budging. So we called her bluff.

We kept her patchwork of duct tape exterior in tact, threw some magnetized auxiliary towing lights to her rear, hitched her up and tested her out.  well, at least that’s the shortened version of what occurred over the course of a seven hour negotiation in purchasing her!

It was an intense twelve hour ride home, bonding us forever. We joked about drivers steering clear from our path when approaching us and seeing our ‘rust bucket from hell’. We were beyond proud to be pulling her, though cautious and nervous. We hadn’t known what to expect and she wasn’t shy about throwing a fit. Turns out a stabilizer attachment on our hitch would have been a wise investment, if we had even known that was a thing!  We were clearly newbies and everything we experienced came with an enormous learning curve.

Our Argosy eventually became agreeable in us partnering with her and lead us safely home to Georgia. Proudly, introductions were made to the family and celebration was underway! My Mom had her pegged from the start:

“I thought of the name Lucille (as in Lucille Ball), she’s a redhead! And a fitting match to the many exploits you and Scott are sure to find!”

So thus the name Lucille, Lucy for short, was born. Her fiery red hue of rust underbelly was her hint to us, she was gonna be a challenge! Though she was our beauty – unique and instantly full of hi-jinx from the day we bought her.

My mom was spot on…this wasn’t the end of our mishaps together!

Scott and Ariane October 12, 2017 0

Exploring the Badlands

Exploring the Badlands National Park is like visiting another planet. It’s vast, remote, and wild. But what makes it really amazing is the pinnacle like mounds that do NOT look like anything you will ever see.  The Badlands National Park is over 200,000 acres and has a ton of wildlife.  Bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets all roam the prairie.

When we first got there, it was really windy. In fact winds were gusting to about 60 mph, so they had closed the campground. YIKES! After talking to one of the Rangers, he agreed to give us a discount on one of the little cabins in the campground so we could wait out the winds. The cabins were cozy and super comfortable. We were really grateful for the hospitality the Ranger showed us. 

The next day we were out to explore the Badlands. We had downloaded a GPS route and were eager to see if we could keep up with the route.

The Route started at the Conata Picnic Area. There is a sign at the very end of the picnic area. The Trail starts out like a normal trail for about 200 yards and then disappears. You are on your own after that. You follow Southwest for about 2 miles then turn Northwest towards a large open grassy field. Deer Haven is way in the background. We headed right towards Deer Haven. You can’t miss it. We ducked under a Cattle Fence and I was off to climb up and over Deer Haven. If you want to really see the park, climb up to to Deer Haven and camp under the Full Moon. It’s amazing.

Climbing Deer Haven is pretty simple. Follow Deer Trails. They almost look like a regular trail, and they won’t let you down. They will take you right up to the top exactly where you need to start your decent. From there, it’s all creek bed. Followed some amazing Buffalo hoof prints and saw some spectacular scenery.

The park’s main visitor center, the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, is open daily all year, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. During the summer months, ranger-led programs are offered throughout the day. Check at the visitor center for more information on these programs.

This is a spectacular place if you want to Boondock with your RV also. In fact, probably one of the more peaceful and beautiful places we’ve seen for an ultimate place to park your RV and just gaze out into the Badlands. It’s  located about 5 miles south of Wall, just before the entrance to Badlands National Park.

The Ben Reifel Visitor Center is located at Cedar Pass on the Badlands Loop Road (Hwy 240), 9 miles South of I-90, exit 131 Phone (605) 455-2878

Scott and Ariane October 12, 2017 0

Meet & Greet Peoria Backpackers

When the Peoria Backpackers Meetup Group asked us to do a Backpacking Basics along with a Q & A we jumped at the chance. After all Scott lived there for almost 8 years. In fact, Scott started that backpacking club when he was looking for others to go hiking with. Now 9 years later, the club is going strong.  Not only did we get a chance to see some old friends (and meet new one’s) we were able to go on a 3 mile hike afterwards on a gorgeous day.

Peoria, Il isn’t just another town in central Illinois. Peoria offers some very cool places to explore and spend a lot of time outdoors. For example, the Forest Park Nature Center, (where we all met for the event) has over a 3 mile hiking trail that can get anyone’s blood pumping for some good exercise while in a beautiful forest setting.

If you are looking for even more adventure, than take a hour drive Northeast to Starved Rock State Park and explore waterfalls, caves, and small canyons.

A huge thank you to Becky (one of the Organizers) who let us crash at her house and who cooks amazing breakfast potato’s.