The Airstream is a gas

A recent editorial blog entry described in vivid detail the return home, after months on the road, to discover cute, fuzzy members of the animal kingdom taking residence in a Tucson house and backyard.  No doubt attempting to qualify for the first-time home buyer tax credit, or the all-you-can-eat D-Con buffet.  

Our situation became the mirror opposite.  The old trailer had sat in repose, behind a corn crib and shaded by a silver maple, stoically awaiting our return from four months of summer cabin life.  

The initial entry into the Excella was a buzz; literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of yellow jackets welcomed me back, with gusto.  Enduring three stings, above the left eye, now swollen shut, the next trip is not to the ER, not to the pharmacy for a fresh Epi-Pen, but to the local hardware store.


Josh, the owner’s son, extends a polite welcome, “yo, one eye, you looking for plumbers putty to stop those tears ?”.

“No, you little…(rhymes with twit), direct me to the Auschwitz for Airstream aisle.”

“Pronto, Tonto”, he replied.

An hour later, in beekeeper garb, I re-enter to set off two bombs of….drum roll….The Fumigator.


In 24 hours the crisis is over.  I’ve got that macho Schwarzenegger swagger, somewhere between the governator and the terminator, as the toxic slime has rendered the foreign invaders deep-sixed or staggering like drunken sailors.  

Now here’s a tip, a Phred Sez, or hint from Heloise; close your roof exhaust vent completely before departing on an extended leave. The yellow jackets had created a paper pulp nest, the size of a Little League catcher’s mitt, between the roof opening and the screen.  It took less than an hour to hand vacuum and fill a bag with the deceased critters.  Death to the invaders.

One week later it is time to winterize the unit and prepare the barn for winter trailer storage. 

dscn3636.JPGSince 1881, home to creatures great and small

All too familiar with raccoons, possums, and groundhogs as frequent guests, I discover we have new friends, the homeliest and unloved of mammals, frequent fliers, especially at night, yes, bats.  Guano evidence everywhere. 



They are really not too bad, as they devour their weight in mosquitoes and gnats.  However, this results in many bat bowel movements, which are a mixture of both urine and excrement, and when dried, resemble dark brown wild rice. The bottom line is this, we must learn to live and die with nature.  

And let’s dispense with the jive whining about a couple of mice and and a few furry prairie dogs.  Get over it.

Tonight for dinner, Lynn announces, pork stir-fry on a bed of (eek !) rice pilaf.      

Close the summer cabin, Mr. Antiseptic

Cool 42F, a windy overcast afternoon, rollers roaring in, prelude to the changing season, and I can find no reason for further delay.  


Heading south across the Mackinac bridge, ‘new’ Avion in tow, Jack nods off to the steady diesel drone.  Lynn left nearly two weeks ago, so the solo drive, taken many times before, allows the mindless drift of the rumble from the road.  

I have no tapes or CDs, no Sirius satellite radio, and the FM stations are dreadful country music, as if you are in the Tractor Service store with the incessant twang dripping from the ceiling.  Or worse, Christian radio, the curious blend of elevator noise mixed with the sappy melodic revelation, that, yes, Jesus loves you.  There was a guy who really got around.

I finally come upon the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corp, much like NPR) aired from nearby Sudbury, Ontario, playing an old show called Rewind. They are replaying a 1959 interview with Leo Marrappino, inventor of Stripe toothpaste; the  novel system that delivered a soft peppermint stick look, designed to dazzle and encourage toothbrushing.  It interested me because I still have six tubes, in the original boxes, pre-priced at 57 cents.  A label feature is the antiseptic ingredient, hexachlorophene, which, coincidentally, was also the active component of PhisoHex, the standard of care for bathing newborns.


Jack, guarding the tube

The latter was removed from the market by the FDA in 1973 because is was suspected of being teratogenic (cancer producing). Never mind that after the recall, hospital nurseries were overwhelmed by an outbreak Staph infections.  The suspicions were never substantiated.

Billboards are a steady source of diversion and amusement.  I pass one that says, Need a Car?, Want a Loan?  

Go to Poopycredit.Com.


This might be a come-on, like the ads that ask good credit, bad credit, no credit, divorced, unemployed, filing for bankruptcy, in re-hab, in prison, on parole ?  No problem, we can arrange financing, even if you are a serial killer.  Perhaps a get-out-of-jail free card too.

It also made me reflect on the word, nincompoop. You don’t hear it much anymore and most people under 30 may have never heard it. Not really vile enough to match the more contemporary vulgarities.  

In another irony, my wife forces me to carry a cell phone, an electronic tether, a clever scheme to undermine solitude and independence, and the number ( you can’t fabricate this ), 630-986-POOP.

Having started the 400-mile trip late in the day, I opt to boondock for the night.  We reached Cadillac, MI, found a spacious off-the-grid paved parking area deep behind a so-so Mexican restaurant, had a taco salad, and politely requested, en espanol, permission to stay the night.  

Si, si, senor.  

Bordered by a wide field with large trees, it is a perfect spot to decompress and for Jack, exercise and the relief of bodily functions.  I relax with a couple of Coronas. As with any trip in your trailer, there is always the danger you’ve forgotten a necessity.  

I have the Avion and Silverado filled with a summers’ load of detritus, yet, in the morning with the water running hot in preparation to take a shower, I neglected to pack the following:

a bar of soap,

a washcloth,

and a towel.  

No problem.  I first searched for detergents and find two, Dawn dishwashing liquid and an aerosol can of Scrubbing Bubbles.  

I choose the latter.  A double thick terry cloth hotpad from the galley will suffice as a washcloth. After the wash and rinse cycle, I decide to use a roll of Bounty, the quicker-picker-upper, to substitute for a towel.  The improvisation went well, somewhat like sleeping on a water bed with a lufa sponge for a mattress, several unneeded dermal layers excoriated, until I began to dry those hard-to-reach areas necessary for complete personal hygiene.   My thinning hair mildly reeks of lysol and I find myself thinking, WWTHD * ?

Refreshed, in four short hours we reach home, the new trailer gets the first introduction to the old barn; it’s new indoor home for the winter.  


1881 meets 1985

Lynn runs out to meet us like I’m a returning hero from a year in exile (never mind that it has only been 12 days), gives me a warm hug, then recoils slightly.  

‘What’s wrong,’ I ask.  

‘Oh, nothing, I’m so happy you’re home’.

Then a second embrace, a less subtle hesitation.

‘What now’, I demand.

‘You have an…….aroma, somewhat unusual’, she says softly.

‘If it isn’t my male pheremones stimulating you, are you suggesting I stink ?’

She looks me in the eye, smiles like only someone truly in love, and says, ‘you smell rather…….sanitary’.

For those of you who might have retreated for the dictionary, don’t bother, it won’t be necessary for you to look up the definition of nincompoop.

* what would Tin Hut do ?