New Beginnings: How Do You Define Adventure?

Two years ago, if you had asked me how I would spend the 2018 Memorial Day weekend, I would have probably answered vaguely about grilling and catching up on sleep. Instead, I am sleeping inside a polished aluminum vessel, embarked on the first of many adventures to come. This vessel - more appropriately termed ‘travel trailer’ - is an Airstream Basecamp. It’s a two-wheeled adventure mobile, and it’s the start of something new.

In December 2016, my husband, Mike, and I embarked on a trip that changed our lives. We took a month off from our jobs and set off on a road trip in a rental camper van that took us across over 3,000 miles of the United States. The experience forever changed us. We felt liberated..free to explore the vast countryside and find ourselves along the way. 

 Our rental van from December 2016... the van that started it all!

Our rental van from December 2016... the van that started it all!

During the course of the experience, we kept thinking about ways in which we could do more trips like this in the future. While renting a van had worked well for that particular trip, rentals naturally come with limitations that owning does not. We considered modifying a small SUV or van into a camper like the one we had rented, but that required skill and sacrifices that neither of us wanted to make. One specific limitation was the bathroom; our month-long trip in the bitter cold of winter taught us first-hand how valuable having your own bathroom would be. We sprinted across blustery cold mornings to pee at shoddy campground restrooms, and were dead set that our future travels would offer a different experience. Similarly, the kitchen in our rental van, while functional, was outside the van as part of the trunk. The result was that cooking required being fully dressed, and even getting a simple glass of water was an arduous task. 

One afternoon we were huddled in our van relaxing at Watchman Campground in Zion National Park when a polished silver Airstream pulled into the campsite next to us. On the back window was a decal with a website address. Curious, I typed the URL into my phone. What we saw next changed us. Our neighbors were full-timers — meaning they lived in their Airstream 24/7/365, and they travelled the country while working enough from the road to cover their expenses. I read page after page of their blog, totally entranced by the idea of traveling full time. 

Later that night, we had a chance to meet these neighbors. We spent a few hours chatting with them, and they were kind enough to invite us into their Airstream for a tour. I was immediately blown away by the quality of their trailer. In conversation with them, they casually mentioned that they recently had a chance to spend a weekend in a loaner unit of a new model that Airstream was releasing. The unit, called the Basecamp, was perfect for a couple who wanted to explore, but didn’t want the overhead of a larger trailer. 

That night, back in our rental van, we googled the Airstream Basecamp. The results changed us.

 Relaxing outside our Airstream Basecamp

Relaxing outside our Airstream Basecamp

The Basecamp was introduced in 2017 — it was actually a re-introduction of a model that Airstream had discontinued some years earlier. The idea is simple: a small travel trailer that skips the bells and whistles and opts for function and utility above all. The trailer was clearly marketed to people like us…adventure seekers who just want a place to sleep, use the bathroom, and cook a warm meal. No televisions or elaborate finishes. Airstream designed this trailer for minimalists who want to upgrade from a tent, without loosing the experience of being outdoors. 

While we would have loved to purchase one right then and there, the reality of the matter was that it wasn’t possible. We were living overseas, and even when we came home, we would be living in downtown Washington, DC with no place to park a trailer. So we waited. The dream and the thirst for the Basecamp never wavered… we knew the second we had the chance, we’d be out on the road beginning our explorations anew. 

At last, that chance arrived in May 2018. 

(To be continued…)