Our brand new (to us) 2011 Airstream, Buttercup, was still a shiny silver question mark in my mind. It was definitely love at first sight for me, but would I really be able to feel good and comfortable in her for more than a night on the driveway? She’s 25 feet of lovely, but it’s still just 25 feet! That’s tiny living! Would everything work? Do we (and when I say we, I mean Bryan) know how to hook her up? What about the toilet hoses and things? Do we even have full hookups at this campsite? Will the one air conditioner on top be enough? What if nothing works? What if we hate it? What if the site is super un-level? So many questions! They would surely be answered on our maiden voyage. So, here we go then.
We decided to set reservations at Lake Georgetown, Jim Hogg park, which is about 40 minutes from Austin. It’s lucky for us that we even got reservations there, it seems. We had tried several parks and checked state parks and LCRA parks all around Austin, to no avail. That’s the first lesson. State parks fill up in Texas months in advance. It’s best to schedule out ahead. Sigh. I love spontaneity.
We loaded our mountain bikes, packed the truck and left the house in the late afternoon to go to our storage facility. We hooked up beautiful Buttercup and hit the road for the 30 minute drive to the park. My husband is Irish. He still has to think twice about which side of the road to drive on. I grew up on a Texas ranch and had plenty of practice with trailers. He prefers that I drive when there’s traffic, or backing up to do. Fair enough. He’s a better navigator than I anyway. I get distracted by things, to put it mildly; birds, trees, cars, pretty clouds, songs in my head, amusing thoughts just take me to another place and it’s just easier if he tells me where to go. His directions and cute accent pull me back to reality.
It usually goes like this, “Sarah, turn left at the light.” Pause…. Pause… “Did you hear me?”
“Yes,” I reply belatedly. “Your left or my left?” He knows what I mean. I think he has to do the mental look at his hand thing to decide which is right or left. “Left. A real left,” he answers after a slight pause. “Now, follow that lorry.”
“Did you just say lorry? You mean that Shiner Bock truck, right?” I ask.
“Yes, that too,” he retorts with that grin. (My heart flutters.)
We arrive at the gate and there’s a white haired little lady at the window. I’m creeping up slowly because damn, this is a big truck and that little drive through lane is skinny. I don’t want to scratch sweet Buttercup. I gave her our name, then had to climb down out of the cab because I’m so far away from the window. She smiles. No doubt, she’s thinking “newbs!” She seemed tired and bored. Aside: Did you know that most parks have camp hosts who get to stay free in a really great site if they work a certain number of hours for the park? We had to punch a code in at the lift arm to get into the camping area. Dang, another careful squeeze through a gate. And suddenly, we were rolling down the park road watching kids on bikes, dads putting up tents, and people sitting around campfires. I was trying to decide if there were too many people, and nervously watching kids and dogs running wildly… everywhere. I mean like wild things! Unabashed, screaming, barking and doing what kids who’ve suddenly been unplugged from technology should be doing. It’s heart warming and nerve wracking all at once. We found our site and there were mostly tent campers around us. A few sites down there was a big Class A. I’m not gonna lie. I have a twinge of Class A envy, just a little. If I’m honest though, it’s just a wee twinge. This Airstream is gorgeous, there’s nothing much not to like. And then, the thoughts start rolling. Please let everything work. Oh, there’s no sewer hook up. Is the tank going to be stinky? Please let us like each other in really close quarters. What have we forgotten? I know we’ve forgotten something.
The Set up
I back her in like a boss. Just saying. And we get to work unhitching, blocking the wheels, removing the sway bars and carrying stuff inside. I was giddy! I opened the curtains and saw the couple with a tent beside us. I got so filled up with joy. I love tent sleeping, we’ve done it a lot. I do! But, at that moment, I turned around and looked at our clean queen sized bed, and the bathroom steps away, listened to the hum of that air conditioner and wanted to run around and hug every part of Buttercup… and Bryan. I was just so happy to have her. We got everything put away. Then, Bryan walked in the door to say he’d forgotten the bike helmets and locks. Uh…. damn. There you go. I knew it. “Well, that’s okay, I’m starving. Let’s drive to Georgetown, get a nice dinner and we’ll swing back to the house and pick them up.” We put my bike, Nelly, in the back seat of the truck and Bryan’s bike, old no name, in Buttercup. Locked her up and away we went. So much for cooking, and hanging outside and having a fire. So much for learning a guitar chord or two. I wasn’t even sad. We put the audio book back on and enjoyed the dinner and drive. We got back to the camper after dark, and Bryan announced, “we forgot the locks.” Really? Who does that? We had two things (both bike related) and we still got back with one. Wow. The bikes got
locked in the truck and all was well.
The night passed uneventfully, and I was happy for the fan on the A/C unit that we could just have run. It kept a steady white noise and I didn’t hear a thing, not even the kids running around early in the morning! Was it the best sleep ever? No. It wasn’t the worst though either. We did get a bit cold, because even though we were just running the fan, the temperature dropped and we had just a fairly thin comforter. Morning came. Bryan slept late and didn’t end up riding his bike until noonish. Instead of knocking around and making noise, I went back into Georgetown in search of a Target because I realized that we didn’t have any glass mugs, or glass dishes. There were plastic ones that came with Buttercup, but I hate plastic. Target was open and I bought a bunch of goodies. When I got back, Bryan took off on a mountain bike ride around the lake. He promised to check in frequently, and I couldn’t wait to sit at the table and write.
For me, the solitude, the feeling of safety and privacy was exactly what I needed. I could see the lake out of the big back windows and some trees, and I was cozy and warm.
Buttercup became my happy place. Bryan texted me his progress and I just wrote. I wrote a song! I fell deeply in love with our Buttercup. I am smitten. Time stood still and when Bryan came home hours and hours later, it felt like no time had passed.
We took another trip back to the house for blankets and few odds and ends. Spent another night with better sleep and decided she was a definite keeper. As if we had a choice. She was ours. We packed up, the next morning to go to our son’s soccer game. He’d been house and dog sitting.
Heading Home: The Art of the Dump
The line for the dump station was long, but it was amusing watching. One guy who had seemingly helped the folks in front of them, opened a valve and poo water spewed all over him. No good deed, goes unpunished as they say.
I jumped and squealed a bit. I might have giggled. Poor guy, you know we’re all watching! I had Bryan Googling how to empty our Airstream tanks, just to be sure. Coated in poo water, he’d be riding in the bed with Nelly. No, actually Nelly would have gotten to ride inside. He did a great job, and we drove Buttercup back to her storage place. I was sad as we drove away. She really is my happy place now. I’m looking forward to our next two scheduled trips.
Our temporary tiny living experiment was a HUGE success!
Our video from the first night: