Serenity's maiden voyage

We’d been seriously looking at trailers and RV’s for about 3 years. We’d gone to RV shows, and realized there were a ton of trailers, all more or less the same. Then, there were Airstreams. A lot of things, like appliances and fixtures are identical, there was something just a bit more special about them. But, part of them being special was them being twice the cost. So, we just kept looking, didn’t expect we’d get anything soon.

Then, one day in April, we were driving “into town” (we live in a pretty rural area). There sat a 2001 19′ Airstream Bambi for sale. We were going on a vacation in 3 weeks out of the country, were prepping for that, and so we didn’t stop. But, it was there the next weekend, so we stopped, got the number and info. I then did a bunch of research. Yes, our FJ Cruiser could tow it, if we installed a brake controller and 7 pin connector. Yes, the price was in line with other trailers of this type and vintage. So, we called. A wonderful couple owned it, had used it as a mobile office, but the toilet and shower had never been used, and inside, it looked nearly new. We fell in love, and bought it on the spot! They towed it to our house, since I had to get the FJ upgraded to do that on my own, and proceeded to buy power adapters, containers that fit in the cabinet, new sewer lines, a new mattress and foam and material for the dinette. All that fun “make it our own” stuff.

Then we went out of town for a month. When we got back, got the brake controller and wiring installed in the FJ so we could actually tow the Bambi ourselves!

So, that’s how Serenity (named after the ship in Firefly) joined our wheeled family…

Planned our first trip, to brother-and-sister-in-law’s camp in southwest Washington, for their annual fishing camp for friends and family. 

Day Zero – trip prep

To be fair, this started as soon as we got Serenity, but for the trip we got advanced camping reservations (at KOA) for the trip up and back. Saturday was the final shopping, packing of everything, turning on the fridge, making checklists. 

Day one – Mendocino, CA to Grants Pass, OR  ~300 Miles ~11 MPG – 9 Hours trip total, 8 hours driving

Since everything happens at once, one of our Boston Terriers had spinal surgery 2 weeks before we left. We weren’t sure we’d be able to take her on the trip, our vet gave us the restrictions, and my endlessly patient wife, Sydnee, rode in the back seat of the FJ between the two dogs, making sure Pepper (in purple) stayed in her dog seat, the entire trip, with Dexter on her other side.

Eureka! A quick stop in the town of Eureka for a burger and a dog potty break.

Then, at the Grants Pass KOA, me doing what I’d be doing a lot of the next few days, nursing my foot. I’d badly twisted my ankle the previous weekend, and with work and trip prep, it hadn’t gotten any better. I’d be spending much of my vacation with my foot up, which worked out just fine for me…This time, with a Moscow Mule, and Dexter, to ease the pain…

Day two – Grants Pass, OR to Long Beach, WA ~ 290 Miles ~ 14 MPG – 8 Hours trip total, 7-1/2 hours driving

Day Three – OOPS!

While Sydnee was making coffee, we heard a rumble, and then BOOM as the trailer bounced. Wet coffee grounds flew (good thing we’re replacing the seat cushions!). The soil here was way more moist than at home, and I had the trailer on leveling blocks on one side. Well, this was our first outing, and I didn’t have everything chocked and stabilized like it needed to be for the soil, so Serenity slipped off her tongue jack stand, and the metal tube dug right into the soft soil. There was no raising it with the tongue jack, just went deeper in the soil.

Found a shovel (note to self, put a folding shovel in Serenity), dug out below the tongue jack, put in a board, raised it as high as I could, inserted a bottle jack, raised it more, put in more boards and raised it higher with the tongue jack, until 30 minutes later, I had it back on the trailer hitch. Filled in the holes, moved it back 3 feet, and securely stabilized it. Whew! Well, this was meant to be a learning trip, learned several things with this bit of excitement!

More days… Vacation

Sydnee went out salmon fishing (I don’t do well on boats). We feasted on dungeness crab and salmon every night.

A great shot of full crab pots at dawn by my niece Kirsten…

Day 8 Long Beach, WA – Grants Pass, WA ~330 Miles ~13 MPG – 10 Hours total, 7-1/2 hours driving

Cool 50°F morning, a visit to my sister’s place near Battle Ground, WA, then 98°F at 7pm in Grants Pass. A plus…we got to test out our air conditioning at temp. Doesn’t take long to cool down a 19′ trailer… 90°F inside to 70°F in 20 minutes! Also, we scored the best spot at the KOA! If it wasn’t so hot, we’d have opted to stay longer.
Day 9 – Grants Pass, OR – Mendocino, CA – ~302 Miles ~12.5 MPG  – 8 hours 45 minutes total travel, 8 hours driving
Home! 1402 Miles total ~12.6MPG overall.