Well… there’s really no way to sugar coat it; this was a bad one.
It started out well. The first part was fun and exciting. We traveled from Denver all the way up to Missoula, Montana for the wedding of some friends. The Airstream was completely gutted, just a shell, and only the rear was insulated. We had a power strip, a window air conditioner sticking out of the old hot water heater portal, a portable toilet and some carpet, mats, and sleeping bags on the floor. We were looking at it as a “camping experience” where we could pull the entire site and not worry about rain.
On the way up we stopped and slept wherever we wanted to. It was great. The sky was amazing and the dog and kiddo loved exploring wherever we felt like parking the rig.
In Missoula we parked in a shady spot on the street outside our friends’ neighbors’ house and ran an extension cord. The dog enjoyed the A/C in the Airstream during the day, and we didn’t have to take up space in anyone’s house. It was fantastic.
The adventure continued on the way home as we visited another friend in Boseman, and then spent that night just outside of Columbus, MT, right ON the Yellowstone River (our kiddo could lob a stone from the front door into the river) at Itch-Kep-Pe Park near the border of Wyoming. There had been a family picnicking in a prime spot on the river, and when they left at dusk, we whipped into the spot. We built a fire, watched the moon rise over the river, listened to the water, and breathed in the cool night air. It was amazing.
The whole time we kept thinking about the slide out, fiberglass box RV that was over-nighting at the gas station where we had fueled up earlier (maybe eight minutes from where we were now parked). The lesson there? Wherever you land, drive around a bit before conceding to sleep in a parking lot!
The next morning we stopped at a super cool drive-in restaurant just outside of Columbus to get coffee (we ended up getting ice cream and french fries) and geared up for the rest of our adventure. That’s when things turned south (literally and figuratively).
We decided to take a more scenic route down highway 310. Big mistake. Though it may look like you’d be seeing beautiful mountains driving along a river down 310, the terrain is not unlike the surface of the moon. And we just happened to take that route on the hottest day Wyoming had EVER experienced, and winds were gusting over 100 mph with a constant 55 mph (burning hot) wind. Awesome. On the upside, the Hensley Hitch was fantastic with the wind. I could barely feel the gusts, even at those speeds. However, the hills and the heat were just too much for little Pepa (our Jeep CRD). Frustrated and impatient to leave that terrain, dust-filled wind, and heat behind us, I pushed her WAY too hard.
Going up a long hill, we broke a rocker and started billowing thick black smoke. Thus began the downward spiral into hell.
Even though the Airstream was “water tight” (resistant?) and safe from the rain and road splash, I didn’t show enough concern regarding how open it was (via cracks and small openings) to other elements since the belly wraps were not installed; thus, all the Diesel Exhaust pouring out of the Jeep was filling up the Airstream. By the end of the trip, everything was covered in a layer of black soot. And since the Jeep broke a rocker and we had to drive 30 miles to “civilization” (I use the term loosely) trailing thick black smoke, things got really covered with soot.
Things did not go well from here, but I don’t feel like reliving the experience, so I’ll just leave it at that.