Al Denty’s First Adventure

After a nearly six-month wait, delivery day finally arrived and we went down to Airstream of Utah to pick up our shiny new 2021 Airstream Basecamp 16x. On some other day we’ll write a blog post about why we bought a trailer and why we chose this model, but today we’re focusing on our first adventure.

For those of you who prefer images to words, you can stop here and just watch the 5-minute video we made about our first trip:

For the rest of you, let’s start a few days before our departure from home. Or should I say a few months. Because our preparation for this first trip started almost immediately after we placed our order on September 25, 2020. Once the order and deposit were sent in to the dealer, we both started preparing for our journeys, each in our own way. For David, this meant spending hours online poring over the Basecamp owner’s manual, bookmarking and reading innumerable web sites and forums, and adding countless items to an Amazon wish list he titled, “Basecamp Needs” (note that he specifically used the word, “needs,” rather than, “wants.”). Meanwhile, Donna was busy checking National Park destinations, preparing her National Park passport, and coming up with the all-important Al Denty moniker.

We had hoped to have the trailer earlier in March, but a sink shortage at the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio, delayed its release. Once it was on its way, we tried to restrain our enthusiasm while we waited for the call from the dealer scheduling our walkthrough and pick-up. Once we knew that date, we started making lists and reservations so that we could go straight from the dealer to a weekend shakedown cruise. 

Unfortunately, Mother Nature messed up those plans so instead of going to Moab and enjoying Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, we decided to head up to Southern Idaho to stay at a couple of Harvest Hosts wineries, do some sightseeing, and to finally enjoy some outdoor road cycling after a long winter of indoor training. 

Finally, on March 12, we packed up the car and cooler, put the bikes on the roof rack, and headed down to Salt Lake City to meet Al. But first, we finally got to meet Madison, our salesperson and member of the family that owns the dealership, face-to-face. Er, partially, since we all still have to wear face masks.

IMG 3601Once the purchase paperwork was out of the way, Madison gave us a really thorough walk-through, inside and out, of all of the trailer’s features and systems. She was incredibly patient with us as we asked lots of questions, and she allowed us to video the entire thing. Once the walkthrough was done, and the fresh water tank filled with water, we hitched up the Basecamp to our Jeep Grand Cherokee and hit the road toward Buhl, Idaho, our destination for the first night in our new trailer.

Since the Airstream is brand new, the factory recommends a stop at 20, 50, and 100 miles to make sure that the lug nuts on the wheels are still properly torqued. It’s a good thing we took that video of Madison’s walkthrough because David thought the torque setting was 120 lb-ft and Donna thought it was 110. As we sat outside a fast food place somewhere in Farmington, we watched the video and, as usual, Donna was right. David tightened up the lug nuts and we were on our way. We continued up the road, stopping when necessary for lug nut tightening and/or bladder emptying, but realized later that we had neglected to eat lunch. That turned out to be a fateful decision considering our next stop…

Late in the afternoon, we arrived at Holesinsky Winery, a member of Harvest Hosts, a service that connects campers with wineries, breweries, golf courses, and museums, each of whom allow people to stay on their sites for free. We checked in and were invited to park right along the vines, as there was another Harvest Host guest staying farther down in the vineyard. We got set-up, tasted and bought some wine (um, remember when we said that we neglected to have lunch?), and then settled in for some charcuterie in the trailer before calling it a night. 

After a peaceful and toasty night (thanks to the on-board Truma furnace) among the vines (we now call this “winedocking”), we awoke the next morning and were greeted by Bill, the winery’s canine concierge, who invited us to rub him behind the ears. We gladly complied, although we did not take his advice that we share our bacon and eggs breakfast. We then said our goodbyes to Bill and headed up the road toward Glenn’s Ferry for our next stop, the Y-Knot Winery.

The Minidoka Watchtower

Since we had the opportunity at Holesinsky to try all of the Basecamp’s systems while disconnected, this time we opted to spend two nights at Y-Knot’s RV park, rather than as a Harvest Host guest, so that we could test all of the systems while connected. After a short drive, we arrived, set-up, and then made sure to have lunch before heading out to discover the Minidoka National Historic Site which commemorates the more than 9,000 Japanese Americans who were imprisoned at the Minidoka War Relocation Center during WWII. We walked the 1.6 mile trail, read all of the interpretive signs, and listened to the voices of those who had been imprisoned here. Although just a few of the original buildings remain, there is a feeling at Minidoka that is difficult to describe other than to say that the place has a way of speaking to those who visit and are willing to listen.

Her First Stamp!Despite the sadness of Minidoka and despite the fact that its facilities and visitor center are currently closed (thanks again, COVID), there was one silver lining: the after-hours box outside the visitor center held the stamp Donna needed to put the first imprint in her brand new National Park Passport. Afterward, we drove back to Glenn’s Ferry for a “home cooked” meal in the Basecamp, and another restful night in our new tiny home. Since we were hooked up to 30-amp electrical service, I decided to try to the furnace on electricity rather than propane. Bad idea. Now we know that the electric heat should be used as a last resort only. 

We slept-in way later the next morning than we expected. People online had complained about the sound of nearby trains as they crossed through Glenn’s Ferry, but rather than being disturbed we found it quite charming. Once up, we walked down to the Snake River through Three Island State Park, where we took some drone footage for our video and tried to stay out of the way of all the RVs heading home at check-out time. A quick lunch at the trailer was had, and we headed out for a one-hour bike ride on a road that parallels the river. Despite the bucolic setting and the general lack of motor vehicle traffic, we likely will not recommend that road to any other cyclists in the future since the roadside thorn bushes created not one, not two, not three, but four (count ‘em: four!) flat tires. Then it was back to the Basecamp and then to WalMart for curbside grocery pickup.

In between the shower and dinner we had what we hope is our first and only unsettling experience while camping. The 6 or 8 other RVs in the park had all departed earlier in the morning, leaving us the sole residents of the RV park. At one point very late in the afternoon, and while Donna was showering and I was starting to work on dinner in the galley, a beat-up pickup truck drove into and through the park very slowly and I watched as the driver paid very close attention to our trailer. He then drove out onto the main road and parked (the wrong way) along the shoulder. A short while later he got out of his truck, with a large beer in his hand, and ambled (stumbled?) slowly through the park all the while staring at our trailer. Most of the window shades were drawn for privacy so at some point I lost him. Concerned and knowing that he must still be somewhere since his truck was still parked, I eventually went outside with the pretense of disposing of some trash. Just as I re-entered the Basecamp, he emerged from down a hill on the adjacent golf course (beer, likely now empty, still in hand). While still eyeing our RV, he amb/stumbled back to his truck and drove away. Despite our unease, we later decided that this must be his usual after work beer drinking spot, and he was eyeing the Airstream because of its unique and somewhat unusual appearance.

With the Red Alert canceled, we ate and enjoyed our home made burritos (and, of course, margaritas), played a rousing game of Scrabble that was decided by just a single point, then went to bed, this time with gas powering the furnace.

We actually set an alarm for Monday morning so that we wouldn’t sleep-in, and almost immediately set ourselves to cleaning up the trailer (after a pancake breakfast, mind you) and preparing for departure. We disconnected, hitched-up, utilized the park’s RV dump, and headed back toward Utah (and yes, we pre-made lunch for the trip home) where we successfully dropped off Al at his home-when-not-on-the-road (aka the RV storage place), and then headed up Parley’s Canyon and back to Park City.

All-in-all, it was a successful first trip and it bolstered our enthusiasm not only for camping, but for our choice of trailer. The Airstream Basecamp is going to be the perfect jumping-off point for all of our adventures to come including road cycling, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, National Park exploring, Geocaching, photography (drone and otherwise), and just plain relaxing. As I explained to someone who asked me about the Basecamp while we were getting gas, the Basecamp is our “aluminum luxury tent” that we can take almost anywhere with ease and in style. We can’t wait for our next trip, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the ….


Tips and Things We Learned from Trip #1

  • Prepare and eat lunch before hitting the road;
  • Gas heat works way better than electric heat;
  • Know the location of your heater outlets before placing easily melted items near them;
  • Always pull the shower curtain in front of the bathroom door when showering, even when the door is closed (that is unless you like hearing your partner ask you why there is water on the floor outside the bathroom); and
  • Don’t leave the water tank empty when leaving your final camp site (kinda makes it hard to flush when you need to use the facilities en route).

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