Leaving Michigan

Our last 2½-weeks in Michigan are a little blurry. In between family stuff, I spent almost all of my free time working on a handful of projects. Many of them were the usual corrective and preventative maintenance items that come hand-in-hand with fulltiming in an Airstream, but one was significantly more ambitious and complex than usual.

Anyone that follows our social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram) knows that I ripped out the rear bunk and rebuilt Owen’s bedroom into something more usable for us. For those unfamiliar with the Airstream Flying Cloud 30 Bunk model, the rear of the trailer has a lower full bed and a small upper bunk. Owen has been sleeping in the bunk and using the lower full bed as his “bedroom” for playing, hanging out, losing Legos, and storing whatever sticks and rocks he finds fascinating. Because of the way that we use our trailer, the lower bed has always been a pain in the ass. It’s hard to make and quickly fills with 7-year-old boy and Schnoodle detritus. While the bed maximizes the sleeping capacity of our trailer, it wasn’t the best fit for our family.

airstream 30 bunk sleepover

This is what the lower bed looked like most of the time prior to the remodel.

[Ed. While the 30 Bunk makes a lot of sense for larger families (i.e., more than three people), for us it wasn’t ideal. We were drawn to the completely separate sleeping areas, not the maximum sleeping capacity of the trailer. For the life of me, I don’t understand this need for RV manufacturers to maximize sleeping capacity!]

For several months we’ve been discussing replacing the lower double bed with a single bed/settee, along with incorporating some type of desk arrangement. This would let Owen move to the lower bunk for sleeping, give him a place to work on roadschool and LEGO projects, as well as providing floor space for him to use his bedroom. An added benefit would be additional, out of the way storage now available in his old bunk. Win-Win!

For our upcoming four-month stay in Portland we are planning on having Ultimate Airstreams reupholster our trailer. Now I’m pretty handy and enjoy woodworking, but I’m inherently lazy (especially when confronted with the prospect of trying to work on projects with someone else’s tools—I miss my tools and my old workshop area). So, I thought that as long as Ultimate Airstreams would have our trailer for the upholstery project, maybe they could remodel the rear bunk beds? Based on their estimate and my ability to finally source the matching laminate for our 2013 Flying Cloud, I decided to do the project myself.

[Ed. In case you’re wondering, the laminate used on our 2013 Flying Cloud is WilsonArt’s Gold Alchemy. Once I finally figured out the style name (which really wasn’t that difficult to find and I’m embarrassed I didn’t figure it out sooner), sourcing it was fairly simple to do].
airstream 30 bunk rear bed

The rear lower fullsized bed – Before remodel

Starting on October 18th, I spent the next 10-days knee deep in the rear bunk renovation project. I removed the lower bed and gave away the mattress to a fellow Airstream Addict. The project didn’t really take 10 straight days of work to finish, but because of all the laminating involved; it required a lot of periods of overnight drying before I continue on the next step. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way the lower bed/settee and combination nightstand, desk, storage area, and steps to the upper bunk turned out.

Airstream 30 bunk remodel 1

Step one of the renovation was removing the rear full bed.

Airstream 30 Bunk Remodel - Bed Removed

A clean slate. The black PVC pipes are the drains for the toilet and the shower.

Airstream 30 Bunk Remodel - Mocking up the work area

We originally thought that the remodel would enable an adult to sit on the bed and use the desk. Mocking up the proposed renovation proved the futility of that idea…

Airstream 30Bunk Remodel in progress

Remodel pretty much complete.

Airstream 30 Bunk remodel Desk

I originally planned to install a fold down desk on the wall, but gave up because I was concerned about the sturdiness of that set-up. I ended up opting for a slide-out desk incorporated into the nightstand/steps/storage area.

Airstream 30 Bunk rear bath

As soon as I had the rear full bed removed, I realized an added bonus to the remodel–the bathroom door would now open ALL THE WAY! It’s the little things in this lifestyle!

We planned to leave Michigan on November 1st so Owen could spend Halloween with his cousins. I spent Halloween day frantically preparing to leave. I needed load up the truck, get the propane tanks topped off, dump the trailer’s tanks, and adjust the weight distribution hitch (new, bigger truck tires and the modifications to the back of the trailer changed the weight distribution geometry and necessitated the adjustments). I also wanted to get the trailer weighed to see how we were doing after my mods. I had everything wrapped up by 4pm and we were ready to go Trick or Treating.

GMC BF Goodrich

One of the projects was new truck tires. I upgraded to something slightly beefier than the stock Goodyears.

Halloween

We wanted to stay in Michigan so Owen could Trick or Treat with his cousins. His cousin Drew is Colonel Sanders. I don’t know what Owen is?!?!

GMC and Airstream

All hooked up and ready to roll.

Our original plan was to drive straight to Chicago and spend three or four days exploring the city. However, we were all so fried after the previous few weeks, we decided to take our time getting there. So, we left on November 1st and broke the three-hour drive up into three days, spending the first night at the kitschy RV Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana and second night at Indiana Dunes State Park. This route kept our drives easy, gave us time to rest from our hectic late-October schedule, provided an opportunity to visit the RV Hall of Fame (on our bucket list for about a year), and staged us only an hour away from our citified Chicago campsite. On Friday, November 3rd, we headed into the windy city for a few days of urban boondocking.

The RV Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana.

The RV Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana.

The RV Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana.

The RV Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana.

Wally Byam

The RV Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana.

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