No Longer Are Our Screws Loose

The beauty of Idaho has been a surprising bonus, but we came here in order to get service at the “five-rivet” service center of the Airstream dealership in Boise. (Highly rated dealerships are truly called “five-rivet.” Airstream does love its word play).

I felt big-time anxiety leaving my home with a bunch of stranger mechanics for the day, but after a tense (and boring) eight hours of us driving around the outskirts of Caldwell, Idaho, running errands and eating handmade arepas (another surprise), we returned to our baby, and she was unchanged—except they’d fixed the door just as we’d asked.

That door has been problematic from the start; we’d already had it adjusted at the Airstream factory in Ohio, and still it hasn’t fit right. The panel it fits in is curved (of course), and the door is, too, so the hinges have to be adjusted just right. Actually, they’ve been designed with a little give, but I’ve heard some people push that tolerance too much. Us? No! Maybe in the beginning we would lower the stabilizer jacks too stoutly so they’d make the trailer frame (and door frame) rigid. I’ve also heard that people park unlevel, which puts stress on one hinge over the other.

I think ours was off from the start from the factory, and over this past summer as we’ve bumped along gravel and rutted roads in Montana, we’ve wiggled it loose at the hinges. Actually, we wiggled an entire screw out of one hinge, like, lost, like, of the four screws holding the door on, we had only three for a while. Every travel day (and sometimes in the middle of a long one), Tracy would tighten those screws and cross his fingers.

But now we have all four screws, and the mechanic drilled through the inside layer of aluminum to put on the nut and adhesive to seal all the screws tight. We could have opted for no hole (they are blasphemous to Airstream owners), but the service center would have had to keep her overnight to remove the dinette so they could take off the interior panel entirely, and we didn’t want to have to stay in a hotel, so we opted for the hole. It’s hidden by the door trim, and now, if we have this problem again, we can access the screws ourselves. So, yay!

Here are a couple of odd Airstream models we ogled in the lot of the dealership. The Basecamp is a new, lightweight one designed to be towed by a small SUV if necessary, and it’s got a high clearance and off-road tires. This one, though, Whoa Momma, it’s the X version, and seems to be twice the size of the normal Basecamps we’ve seen. It’s a beast. The next one is the discontinued (Nest), and I have no idea what Airstream was thinking with that one.

Brief Luxury

Turns out we could have stayed at the dealership; they have a tiny campground right beside one of the parking lots, just like in Ohio. But we didn’t even think to ask! So we booked three nights in an “RV Resort” close by. That term is used loosely by campgrounds, but this one was actually quite nice: large, pull-through sites, friendly people (some living full time in the campground, some just passing through, and, gasp, a pool and hot tub I didn’t have time to take advantage of.

We did wash the trailer, for the first time since Iowa, and in fact Tracy washed it a second time, it was that dirty. No time to wax, but at least it’s clean (for now).

I took this shot early this morning, but in the afternoons the sun shines off that thing so anyone coming from this direction is blinded. I’m sure they loved us there.

We did buy propane from them, and I did laundry in the laundry building, and we ran errands with abandon. Picked up our mail using general delivery at a local post office; dropped off stuff we no longer use at Goodwill; bought groceries and beer and a filter for the truck engine; picked up stuff from an Amazon locker (a new indoor/outdoor thermostat and a Kindle for me—Banjo inadvertently tossed my old one in the Snake River at Idaho Falls).

We even slipped in an evening outside at the town’s final “summer music in the square” event, which we were so desperate for that we managed to enjoy the terrible rock cover band and my error in ordering a mixed drink in a can.

Idaho is an unexpected place. You can now buy beer in grocery stores (I don’t think you could when I lived out west). We saw lots of gun shops of course, and Trump flags in the RV park. But also a D&D-themed book and game store as well as the non-standard shops I’ve mentioned from Idaho Falls.

But there’s also what I’d imagined. As we’ve driven through Idaho, we’ve seen elk and pronghorn, plus snow on the peaks of the ever-present mountain ranges on either side of the highway.

And a cattle drive down the middle of the road, with guys guiding the herd on ATVs instead of horses.

I should get used to this: we’re on to Nevada today, then Utah next week. Warm days, chilly nights, vast views, and the sound of coyotes in the evening. I’m ready.

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