Today we hit 5000 YouTube subscribers! That's a huge milestone for us. We just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for being so supportive and amazing. We've had friends help us with resumes, job searches, trailer shopping, sponsirships, you name it. We are truly humbled by all of you great people who keep us going.
We've only had the Airstream on the road once, and we're already modifying it. Sounds a little drastic doesn't it?
Well, that one time we took the Airstream out, it scraped on the ground EVERY time we were in town. Gas stations, driveways, and parking lots caused it to scrape. We're not even 100% sure where it was scraping. Sometimes it was the blue ox equalizer bars, other times it was the rear skids. Something had to be done...
Before someone lifts their trailer, they need to evaluate the pros and cons, because there are definitely some downsides to raising your trailer.
We've got friends who have dented, or worse, ripped their steps entirely off when boondocking. While we don't plan on tackling any jeep trails with the Airstream, part of our long-term plan definitely involves boondocking and dirt roads. Some of our favorite camping spots are at the end of bumpy, pothole-filled roads, and we want to be prepared. Plus, with a 30 foot trailer, it doesn't take much to bottom it out on the ground.
Lifting the Airstream
If you've seen our van, you know we're not afraid of doing our own work, or of lifted vehicles. Dexter sells a 3" lift block for about $235 shipped. It came with all the hardware and instructions to install it. Click the video below to watch the install process.
So.. how do we like it?
Right after we installed it, we took it for a 50 mile spin to the CAT scales to get it weighed. Interestingly enough, the trailer only weighed 6600 lbs empty, which is less than we had expected. The trailer towed just fine. It was slightly more prone to wind, or it could have just been a gusty day.
To be honest, we haven't towed enough to have enough of a baseline to know how it compares. It still tows like a big, long, expensive trailer behind you, but there were no white-knucle moments. There were, however, plenty of times I didn't have to flinch when entering a gas station, that would have been problems before the lift. We're really happy with the outcome, and we will keep you posted on how we like it over time.
Here's a little blast from the past that we FINALLY finished editing. This was back in April of 2015.
We had heard people talk about the Zion traverse route, but we didn't know much about it. We had given Zion NP a try once or twice, but we didn't really get into the backcountry. It was all short day hikes from the shuttle bus, which left us overwhelmed. We felt like Zion was an overrated park, and an overall letdown. If only we had known how mistaken we were...
Zion is an interesting park. It's got a little bit of everything: wide open plains, jagged mountains and cliffs, narrow precipices, canyoneering, rock climbing, hiking, red rock, white rock, and slot canyons with rivers flowing through the middle of them. Zion NP has become so popular that certain sections of the park are closed to vehicles, and you have to park and take a shuttle to get in to the park. The first time we visited, this was a big turnoff for us, along with the insane crowds. When you think about it, most of Zion is comprised of high mountain plateaus, but you enter in on the valley floor. The valley is so narrow that there aren't many places for people to go, so they're all concentrated into one little spot. To truly enjoy Zion (at least the way we enjoy the outdoors), you have to get far away from the pavement. On this trip, we set out to do just that.
The last time we went to Zion, we hiked from Kolob Canyon to Hop Valley. It was pretty, and quite atypical of what I had come to expect from Zion, but it still left me wanting more. On that trip we came across some trail runners who were running the entire 48 miles from West to East in Zion NP. They were troopers, and they encouraged us to give it a try someday.
April 2015, that day had come. We got there at 6 am, an hour before they opened, with the hopes of securing one of the non-reservable camp spots. We lucked out and snagged the last camp spot on the west rim. It wasn't exactly where we wanted, and would require us to hike an extra 5 miles that day (for a total of 22 miles), but we'd take whatever we could get at this point. We were determined to do the route.
There's not much more to say other than what has been said in the video. It was an absolutely fantastic trip, one of our top 5 for sure. We'll definitely be back to repeat it (only with different camp sites next time). We were proud of ourselves for hiking 50 miles in 2 and a half days. We can't think of a better way to see the park.
All that being said, we still need to hike keyhole, the narrows (we've only done 10% of that hike), and the subway from top to bottom. Zion is a great park, and it definitely paid off to get away from the crowds into the backcountry.
This weekend some friends invited us to Victor, Idaho to play outside in the snow. What a fun weekend! One of the days we headed to Grand Targhee Resort (on the back side of the Tetons). We rented some fat bikes for the day and had a blast.
Steve had been fat biking in the snow before, but the trails weren't nearly as fun as this time. If you're ever in snow country with fat bike rentals and great trails, we highly recommend it for a fun day's activity.
Our time hiking with Eric and Tina was amazing, but far too short. Weather reports were indicating a huge storm with heavy winds and snow headed right for our path back Utah. That meant cutting our hike short and hitting the road as soon as we could. With about an hour of towing experience under our belt, it was time to head home. We left Picacho Peak State Park at 11 AM.
Around noon we were back in Phoenix. What a beautiful city, but there was a bunch of lingering smog in the valley. It was a beautiful drive up towards vegas, with the saguaro cacti everywhere. We love the southwest.
The next few hours were uneventful. FrED the Van towed the Airstream like a champ. As we came within an hour of Vegas, the winds starting picking up BAD. We pulled over to re-assess our options. We considered staying outside of Vegas for the night, but we were worried that we wouldn't be able to make it back to Utah through the storm.
Driving through a storm is one thing, but driving a 7000lb trailer through a storm is an entirely different story, especially when you're braking downhill.
We dumped our tanks, and tried to winterize the Airstream, but nobody in Nevada sold antifreeze for RVs or boats, since it never gets below freezing there. We waited for the wind to calm down, then we pressed on.
Passing the Hoover Dam was uneventful, but on a short stretch of road between the Dam and St. George was some road construction. There were concrete barriers on both sides of the one-lane highway, with zero shoulder or wiggle-room on either side. Add the fact that it was a windy road, and it was the most nervous driving experience Steve had ever had.
It was now 11:30 PM and we had been driving 12 hours. Driving 12 hours is exhausting. Add a big expensive trailer behind you, and it doubles the exhaustion. And we were only in St. George. On a good day with good weather, it would take us 4 hours to get home. It took us another 10 hours. We limped along at 30 mph all the way through the storm, to get home safely. What an exhausting day. We were sad to leave sunny Arizona and happy Eric and Tina behind, but we knew we were one step closer to our goal: full-time freedom.
Steve and Tess love to explore nature, whether it be backpacking, packrafting, mountain biking, hiking, or just wandering. The more we explore, the more we realize just how little we've seen.