Airstream Part Two: The Finale

From about six months ago I was supposed write an update or part two to the Airstream post. Well that didn’t happen and the following post is the summation of what happened with that project.

It is funny how hyped up you can get when you have an idea that seems to solve all of your problems. That is definitely how we felt when we started the Airstream project. I believe we thought it would provide us a place to live that we weren’t indebted to and that would give us some kind of other financial freedom. Plus, I think that we were a little bit influenced by some of what we saw on television as well as YouTube. Tiny living seems so easy. We landed up terminating the Airstream project in March. It happened like this; I was away in Mobile, Alabama and she was just returning from a trip out to Texas. She arrived back home before I did and we had an interesting phone call as she informed me that she just couldn’t do it anymore. Now from where I was listening when someone says they can’t do it anymore and they are your significant other I threw up the panic flag for a brief second. Fortunately, she just couldn’t do living in the Airstream anymore, it wasn’t that she wanted split up.

I think there were some factors at play that brought this decision about. We decided to move into the camper at the end of January which means constant rain living in the tidewater region. There was a mud pit right outside the camper that I attempted to fill with gravel but it sucks rolling out with your headlamp and crocs on and stepping in water when I would take the dogs out at night. We had decided to take out the regular plumbing for the toilet and install the composting toilet, just gets a little crazy walking the “piss” jug out to the sewer connection and dumping it without getting it everywhere. You don’t realize how much you pee until you have to empty your own jug. Truckers probably understand this all too well. The dog situation. Well there was no furnace in the camper so when we were at home we would run the space heater. I think that we were really worried about what would happen in the summer if the air conditioner went out and our dogs were there all day.

So within a month we were moved back into an apartment situation and considering our options. We still had to take care of the camper because it was still sitting at the camp ground and we had to get it to Bristol before the end of the month. When the morning came to take the camper away Murphy decided to strike as he always does. When we were living in the camper the cinder block that the jack was resting on decided to explode one night. I in my infinite wisdom stacked three paving bricks under the jack thinking that it was much more solid. So we are lined up to drop the tongue on the hitch and it is too high, I kept on cranking the handle on the jack until…..the handle pops off. When the handle popped off the pin that keeps the jack in place was sheared allowing the jack leg to free float. Crisis. Luckily with my leg strength I was able to kick out the bricks to finally have the tongue lined up. I was too lazy to remove some tie down rope from the back of the truck, it came in handy. My knot tying skills learned in the navy definitely paid off with hitches and half hitches galore. I had to keep that leg from dropping out and dragging.

With the jack broken off we were attached to the camper until we could have professionals remove it. There was no one local who could have helped us so we made a command decision. We made the drive to Bristol and the next morning at a RV store they were able to move it off using a forklift….lifesaver. As with anything in life a job can be so easy if you have the correct tools.

Let me preface this whole incident before the move with the fact that we had been talking to some weirdo out of North Carolina that was going to meet us the day we pulled up to Bristol. I will just say that guy was a talker and not much of a doer. He was all about talking about getting the camper and slow to take any action. We finally gave up on this dude because he was a total flake.

We ultimately landed up selling it to a couple in California who were chomping at the bit to get the camper. It was a done deal, easy day.

There are a lot people out there that think we are crazy but that really doesn’t bother us. We took a project from idea to execution in less than a year. This whole adventure had started as an idea sitting on the couch one night. The road of life is littered with people that have ideas and never land up completing them. My wife and I would rather go all in and if we fail we fail. So we tried and we didn’t fail. We just landed up realizing that tiny living no matter what reason you subscribe to, is that tiny living really sinks in once you move into a 22ft camper. Really quick. I think that YouTube and Instagram really romanticize a lot of this now and a lot I don’t have cable TV, I am wondering if that whole obsession with tiny living has hit a plateau?

Maybe or maybe not? I guess with watching the news and hearing about student debt I am surprised that there aren’t complete villages of mud huts or shanty towns popping up all of America. I guess that really isn’t funny. Student debt is a serious issue. According to this election cycles candidates and the evening news.

Do I think tiny living is cool? Of course I think that using just the right amount of resources and minimizing my impact on the environment is a good idea. I think that biting off more than you can chew is why there is tiny living. Most of the reasons I heard during my research period was to minimize debt. It all revolved around money and the fact of the matter is that we are trying to stay well within our limits. There is no need for a McMansion just because the bank will float you the money for it. I am sure I could fill a post with all the other reasons to move into a tiny house but that was my interpretation of people’s reasons.

On a positive note, we paid for the project in cash and we didn’t acquire any debt while we were working on this. Well, yes we did. Now we are the owners of a monstrosity of a truck a V8 Tundra, more like an armored personnel carrier. The RZA line comes to mind whenever I am driving it, “I got four ton whips sitting on Antares”. It does work though for both camping and moving our canoe around. But, it guzzles gas like Bukowski downed beer.

This leads me to the second part of this post. As I explained in the first Airstream post, one of the reasons we were looking at renovating the camper was a little matter of my ex-wife foreclosing on a house in Colorado. That was a big part of the reason, thinking that we were forever going to be paying out rent for the rest of our lives and getting nowhere. This all changed in June.

I was messing around on the computer and a pop up screen insisted that I check my VA home loan eligibility. I obliged, thinking what is the worst that will happen? They will say I am ineligible. Surprise, Surprise that was not the case. Landed up qualifying for the other half of the previous defaulted mortgage. I was shocked. I really had just been caught up with everything going on in our lives that I didn’t even realize that the seasoning period of two years had already gone by.

Cause and effect. Every event in life has a purpose driving me to exactly where I need to be. Finding a house would have never been possible without all that adventures and steps that went on over the last fifteen years. Did we go crazy? Well I definitely couldn’t go crazy in Virginia Beach with the budget that we had. If we would have stayed there it would have been a condominium or a townhouse. We were over that.

With a little bit of determination and luck were able to find an awesome house in an awesome neighborhood. I was gone on travel most of the month and my wife was working with a realtor who seemed to be functioning at half speed and I really can’t blame her because the commission she would have got from our budget wasn’t as much as a McMansion I am sure she pushed sometime that month. I was looking at Zillow while I was gone and I had a neighborhood in mind. I am not going to say which one because I am sure there is someone out there with nothing better to do than stalk me. Get a life!!!

I had found the neighborhood that looked promising and had a list of five houses down there. My mother-in-law was in town and we left on our little adventure to get eyeballs on these homes. The housing market in Hampton Roads moves at the speed of light. Well, as soon as we hit this neighborhood I knew that this is where we needed to live. So we got a visual on the five houses I had on my little list. I called the realtor and found out that we wouldn’t qualify for four out of the five based on some kind of flood zone thing. I was a little frustrated and discouraged. Then we pulled up on a house that wasn’t even on the list.

We got out to take a look and it met all the parameters. It had a fenced in yard for our little dogs, it was ranch style, hard wood floors throughout, long drive way, and a detached garage. What was even more is it had an awesome screened in back porch with the overkill of having two ceiling fans. So I wasn’t about to call our agent back and there were flyers for this house on the front lawn. I took one and gave them a call….straight to voicemail.

We were on our way to check out some other houses that didn’t quite fit the bill, then I got the call. The listing agents for the house called back and asked if we could meet them in thirty minutes. I was like hell yeah.

I was already into this house but it was love at first sight. My wife was at work and I asked them if they would be back after she got off to show the house. Thankfully, she loved the house as much as I did. As soon as we got done we put in an offer immediately. It was a good thing we acted quickly because the listing agent said he was supposed to show the house the next day to three different parties. The house had only been on the market for less than 24 hours. I guess that is good to know in the event we ever move out.

For the last month we have been adjusting and getting used to our new house. Funny to think back that all of the events of the past year lead up to this exact place in the cosmos. The grand mathematics of the universe, that every event has to happen exactly as it did to bring me to the point where I am at today.

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A Quick Weekend in Raleigh.

One of the things I like best about living in the Hampton Roads area is that we live about three hours from family in Raleigh, North Carolina. Driving three hours is an easy road trip and this weekend was an all of a sudden type trip. Saturday morning my wife asked if I was into going out there to watch a movie and hang out for the night. Of course I was down. Plus, I had a little bit of an ulterior motive. Our cousin Greg is into fishing like I am so I knew that we would find some way to cast some lines no matter how little time we might have.

The drive to Raleigh is easy once we got past the traffic through Suffolk and then it was the speed limit to Emporia, the birth place of our Chihuahua Chola. After that it’s all about the speed down I-95. It’s a whole lot better than trying to fight tunnel traffic going to northern Virginia.

When rolling out on family outings unless it is implicitly stated, fishing is not the main activity. But, as any angler knows you make it work and “get in where you fit in”. I was more than ready I had received the TenkaraBum 36 a few weeks earlier and although I had success at the local pond, I really wanted to put it through its paces and do some river/stream fishing. How the rod was meant to be used. I didn’t really have any idea of where we were fishing because in Raleigh there have been so many different fishing trips from hitting up the local golf course to cruising for lake bass. So I was up for anything and all I knew was we were going to a river.

No sooner did we pull up and catch up we were getting our gear together to get out there. We were already a little behind the power curve because it was already one o’clock. So we were already feeling the pressure to get out on the water. Little did I realize the spot that we were going to was a five minute drive from the house. Cool. The place we landed up at was the tail waters of Falls Lake which is part of the Neuse River.

We quickly donned our waders and I was stoked because I had purchased a pair of the cheapest Redington wading boots and they fit perfectly. My other wading boots before this were from BassPro and had Velcro and felt bottoms and really never fit right. This part of the river is by no means a trout stream; I knew we were going to get into some nice warm water varieties with no problem. I rigged up with a size 12 pink beaded squirmy worm and a Palsa stick on float about 24 inches above on 6x tippet. I was ready to go.

My cousin about to get very serious. (Above)

This part of the Neuse River is a 27.5 mile greenway trail and very nice. We looked for the first place to put in and realized it was super shallow with constant riffles and nowhere that our quarry would find relaxing to hang out and possibly take our offerings. We decided to walk about a quarter mile down the greenway and then we found a little piece of stream that would suit us perfectly. Swift moving water and pools behind awesome outcroppings of Gneiss. Gneiss is a reddish rock that runs through this part of Raleigh. What is awesome is you can stand and cast from flat rocks into the seams and pools and not have to worry about footing.

My first casts were unsuccessful drifting through some seams and then into some pools, we kept on walking and found a rock formation that split the stream in two. The north part of the stream was quick moving with a lot of little pools and seams behind smaller rocks and the southern side was a slow moving pool with a fallen tree across it. Warm water varieties love their structure so this was the obvious place to get down to business. First cast, success. Little redear sunfish. Then another and then another. Greg and I were both on the fish. The pool that we were casting into I couldn’t quite get past the 12 foot mark with the tenkara but he was nailing fish with his fly rod from across the pool. Once, I figured that I had spooked my share of fish in the pool I moved to the other side of the stream to that swifter water.

At some point the phone call came into Greg that we were going to see the movie at five so once again the pressure was on to fish as much as possible in whatever time we had left. Like I said fishing wasn’t the primary objective of this trip.

I used the knowledge that I had picked up during my crash course learning how to fly fish in Pueblo, Colorado and aimed above every rock and let my fly drift through the seams and pools below them. I was rewarded with everything from sunfish, suckers, and fingerling bass. There were too many to count. Not that any of these fish were trophies but hanging out with family and fishing is always a blast. We both traumatized the fish population of the Neuse River that afternoon.

With our time running out we walked back up the river and tried our luck in a few other spots but I think the fish knew we were on the prowl and decided that they would lay low.

We were on to our next mission to get home and go see this movie. The theatre we all decided to go to is one of the cinema bistro type deals which is awesome if fishing was on your mind and somehow you find yourself forgetting that you have a stomach. This place is the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and is done up in with all the retro VHS décor and actual video tapes for rent. Much like fishing even if the movie sucks it is always better when you are enjoying it with friends and family. I thought that Bad Times at the El Royale was going to be a lot better than it was. I will always check out a Jeff Bridge’s movie because he will forever be the “dude”. But, the movie was definitely not what I thought it was going to be.

Good movie or bad, it is always nice to get out of town and see family. Especially when they live so close to us. Oh yeah and land a few fish no matter what the size.

Tenkara, the first time……..

Call me lame or lazy. But, I have walked away from the conventional and the overly complex nuisances of conventional bait fishing and fly fishing for the simplicity of tenkara fishing. It really started when my wife and I were starting our Airstream experiment. I realized that I needed to par down all my fishing equipment to only the essentials that I needed to catch fish. Really, it came down to a lack of storage space.

Like any nerd with excess time on my hands I started doing my research on which rod I was going to start with. Now there are an infinite amount of choices out there from cheap Chinese rods on Amazon to expensive starter kits from what I would consider “hipster” brands found at almost any mom and pop outdoor equipment store. I realized that I didn’t want an American version of a Japanese rod and that I wanted one that was produced domestically in Japan. Call me a stickler for that kind of thing. I eventually discovered I was sold. He was a guy that is so into this style of fishing he has imported almost every imaginable rod that I could want, all from Japan. The massive variety of the equipment carried on this website is awesome, especially there is some much information from not only Chris but people have used each of these rods. Plus, the photos with each of the rods gave me a good idea of what size of fish it is possible to catch with a particular rod.

I decided on a TenkaraBum 36 and some 3.0 level line. The TenkaraBum series rods are made by a company in Japan and my rod is legit. It casts like a dream. When it arrived I was so excited. I had everything that I needed to make a quick trip to a nearby pond at the Linkhorn Bay Apartments, it didn’t matter that every time that I have fished this pond I have had mediocre luck at best. I was determined and with an ample supply of flies, I was ready to go.

The one thing that sucks about this pond is that it is ringed with trees and brush all around the bank, except for a little fishing dock. You really have to keep it low when casting or else you will just add another decoration to the tree branches above it. It looks like a messed up Christmas tree with a massive assortment of bobbers. It was October and the water was definitely starting to cool off and like always the wind in Virginia Beach is blowing one way or the other. So I could only cast in one direction.

I was rigged up with twelve feet of 3.0 level line and six feet of 4x tippet. The terminal tackle was a size 12 bead head black wooly bugger and a stick on strike indicator. First cast dead easy and accurate, I slow count to ten as I let the bugger sink. I do this about 20 times. Suddenly, I see the strike indicator slip under the water and I feel a strong tug on the line, I lift and set the hook. I really didn’t expect to catch anything on this first outing, I hadn’t thought about the logistics of getting unto the bank. So I did what came naturally and let this guy swim from side to side while putting a little pressure on him by lifting up my rod. The whole time I was worried that he was going to break off my tippet.

As I played him I finally got him close enough to see that I had hooked into a decent little bass, something I had failed to do so many other times with other methods. I got him close to the dock and realized that I needed to walk him around so I could get clear of the four foot rail that runs around this dock. I finally got him on the bank and right then I was sold on tenkara.

I think there is a psychological reason that I got back into flinging bugs, rooted in the peer pressure that I was feeling when all of my friends and family fly fish. I could hear them thinking the question as they would look at the pictures I would send them, “Did you catch that on the fly?”. Maybe that isn’t what they were thinking at all, who knows? I guess subconsciously I would think that somehow bait chucking was somehow taking the easy road.

For the last year I was caught up in the pursuit of catching carp using the UK style, which can basically be described as “bait and wait”. Did I catch enormous fish? Yes. Was I bored to death? Yes. So as the winter rains in Tidewater gave way to spring I got back out there for another session. After an hour I got my first carp of the season. After this session, I realized that my heart wasn’t into this method of fishing anymore it was time to move on.

So as my season starts up, I am only going to fish tenkara and see where it takes me. Above all I just don’t want to be bored while I am fishing. I like the simplicity of rod, line and fly. It doesn’t get any easier than that.


I have to tell you that after 43 years, I have never had a vision like I did tonight while I was sleeping. I think that it might be the result of coming to a cross roads in my life and deciding what direction I need to go in. So here it is for you to read and decide. Or maybe I am just crazy.

I would have thought it was a dream at first but dreams have never been this real for me before. After I had this at about 2343 I couldn’t go back to sleep because I was so happy and baffled at the same time. Before I get into the meaning I have assigned to it let me explain it the best I can before it slips into the mist of my memory.

The dream started off in what I could only imagine as either Pueblo or ABQ. I was walking along in a dilapidated part of town however I noticed there was an old huge water slide/entertainment/skate park. Now it was very old built solid with those kinds of big smooth bricks that you find in old schools and the windows the same with those big aluminum framed windows with dusty screens. Anyway I found out there was a competition there and I decided to partake. This competition was stupid I walked from the bottom of the water slide up to the top of this hill and it was a very long hike. I would land up going up and down this huge water slide about three times. So somehow I had clothes on when I got to the bottom. I would change back out at the top.

When I got done competing it was strange, there was a building surrounding the upper level of the water slide. It is all the same style architecture, old 1970’s school big brick. Like the middle school that I attended. I am walking around and there are a few people there and I see that it is messy and crawl across a few tables to clean up old magazines and such. I guess this catches the notice of a guy that for some reason reminds me a lot of Samuel L Jackson in Django. Except, he is wearing one of those 1970’s plaid suits. He tells me come with him he has something to show me.

We are in this same dilapidated neighborhood. But there is a hill with this huge imposing series of brick buildings. I mean these buildings are clean on the outside. They look like they could be some kind of old apartment buildings. Two of the huge buildings are bristling with balconies and what not. You could tell that they hadn’t been inhabited for a long time. But, they weren’t ruins either. After we pass by them there are two smaller buildings behind them. By small I mean the front buildings were maybe ten stories and the others where about half that.

We go into the bottom of one of the smaller buildings toward the back corner of this huge complex. It is full of life on the bottom floor. It seems that he is going to take me on a walk of what I could only describe as some kind of clinic with a lot of sick people laying down and sitting in the waiting room. He tells me, “It’s my mission to take care of these people.” So I respond, “Okay”. I don’t know why he is showing me all this. As we were walking up to these buildings I start to have this feeling that all of these buildings can be restored to their former glory. I mean these buildings although run down I could tell that they had potential. When I say I felt this I mean I felt this in my mind, body and soul. As if this was a fact that could not be disputed. I have never had a feeling like that before in a dream. I mean that feeling was concrete. It was like I was watching a panoramic drone shot of how huge these buildings were and I didn’t see them as run down but I could see and feel how they were going to look.

For some reason we walk to second floor of the building that we are in. I am by myself on the second floor and I get to the last room of the floor and I look up and there is one of those firefighter poles going up three more floors. And on the next floor this same guy I am talking to and peaking over the edge, asks me if I like this place. I am respond in the affirmative. He is like that is good because I own all of it. My heart almost stops. I am like how does this dude own all this. He tells me if I want I can live here. I respond, “Hell yeah!”

We leave this building and we are walking in front of the other three buildings and it is clean but urban and the bottom floors are filled with those two story glass window all the way across from beginning to end. We walk in and out of them and look at a few of the units. There are people living here and there interspersed in them. The plumbing is running and there is light but these are run down but somehow solidly beautiful under that brick work. It as if my view keeps switching between aerial and where I am standing.

At this point I am jabber at this man that I can make this place beautiful again. When I am saying this he is telling me, “You can do it and you will do it. I believe you will.” He basically tells me to get it done. Not with a mean tone but as if he has complete faith in me and my vision of not what this place is but what this place could be. Not that kind of weak condescending type of agreement when he says what he has to it is as if he believes me the same as I believe in what I am seeing and saying. I am so touched by him telling me this I am balling my eyes out; these are tears of overwhelming joy. It was as if years of pain and self-doubt were lifting from me. That the horizon was clear and that there was nothing but infinite beginnings and ends. The only thing that I could feel is joy and love. As if I could feel how everything fits together perfectly.

I woke up from this dream at 2343 and would you believe it if I told you that I was actually crying. My eyes and pillow was soaked with tears. However, as crazy as this may seem I know that tonight that the universe had something to tell me. That as much at some points in my life I have failed to believe in myself and my vision, the universe has never lost faith in me. I couldn’t go back to sleep after this and had to take a shower and seriously think about what had just happened and write it all down. I have lived my life everyday sometimes to my benefit and sometimes to my detriment by my own internal script. I have seriously doubted myself and seriously had fits of over confidence as well. I knew after this dream that I had just been touched on the shoulder and reminded that I can never stop believing in my vision. No matter where it leads me.

The Airstream Part One…….

Before I get into the whole story about how my wife and I decided to move into a twenty two foot trailer, I need to foreshadow the events and thinking that was going on in my life. Before I met my wife, my plan was to purchase either an Econoline van or a Honda Element and convert it into a “stealthy” mobile living unit. I planned on doing nothing except travel around, fish and live off my military retirement monies. After I met MG, things changed and I dismissed my little escapist dream and carried on with the business of life.

I really need to frame that correctly. We just got busy with life in general and living out of van was one of those fantasies that I stubbornly held onto and would dredge up from time to time. Some people have a sandy beach in Belize, I imagined myself as a modern day hobo. I knew that between the both of us that there was eventually going to be some sort of left turn that would lead us to adventure. Both of are families are nomadic by nature. MG’s grandfather lived off his sailboat and travelled around the Caribbean. I knew that we would figure out something that was our own adventure and our own path we were going to create.

In May of 2018 while watching something I can’t even remember she turns to me and said, “Can’t we just say fuck it and move into a camper?” I had never heard more beautiful words spoken. It would be cliché and say that I saw golden lights drenching our couch while a host of heavenly angels sang in the background. But, that isn’t what happened. Still those were words I never expected to hear and that I was not the only one with a fantasy of dropping everything and moving into a camper.

So the day had come. So we finally pulled the trigger. So everything happens for a reason. We tried to get financing from the bank for 60K for our dream rig. An Airstream Bambi. Well needless to say with our credit such as it was we were denied by the bank. Got it understood. It wasn’t too heartbreaking.

I kind of expected to be denied by the bank. But, before you pass judgement on me and call me a dead beat with no interest in paying his bills….I will elaborate. This back story ties the whole story together.   I am going to reach back all the way to January 2009, I was going through a divorce and I was stationed overseas at the time. I really didn’t have any family in Colorado at the time. My sister was busy with her life and my parents were still living in Germany. I went by word of mouth to hire my lawyer and let’s just say that he wasn’t too gifted in the art of negotiation. Which you would think is a prerequisite for the job.

When the divorce decree was finally issued by the judge in Colorado, it basically stated that the house that my ex-wife and I owned would remain in my name for four years until she could either sell it or refinance under her name. I know you are probably saying…..hmmmm….You are probably thinking well it sounds reasonable and any reasonable person would be happy to have four years to get it together. Reasonable people pay for where they live right? Can you see it? Feel it?? The storm of financial disaster was brewing just over the horizon.

The first four years went by rather uneventfully. Then when it came time for her to take over the house, she just stopped paying the mortgage. Oh yeah. The judge also ordered me to quit claim deed the house to her, so I had no legal standing with the “ownership” of the house. Unfortunately, being a sailor I was protected by the Service member’s Relief Act. This meant that the bank wouldn’t evict her from the house for another four years. Those years went by rent and payment free for her. I was not going to come up with the money to save the house….I am not crazy. I called the bank so many times to beg them to foreclose on the house and they just couldn’t do it.

Eventually they did foreclose in guess? 2018. Crazy right? So what does this have to do with the adventures in this story? Well this left me wondering will we ever be able to make the move to get out of our current place.  Will we ever be able to have our own place? Am I going to be haunted by this bullshit the rest of my life? I just felt horrible as if I had failed at some part of my life. I have made my own mistakes in life and I will take credit for that long list, I hate being financial reminded of mistakes that I really didn’t have a hand in.

So the question was “what next”? We were asking ourselves how is it all these broke assholes somehow have money for houses they can’t pay for and a slew ridiculous toys. All we wanted to do was to buy an Airstream and that was the end of the story. You know actually be fiscally responsible. Shit that people don’t do anymore. Both of us were pissed because we really didn’t want to spend the rest of our lives in the same condo giving our money away and every month that we lived there we felt as if we were just burning our money.

At first the prospects looked grim. We began by looking at 25 foot travel trailers at the local RV store. But, the prospects of getting an ugly behemoth of a trailer were not exactly what we were looking for. We looked but our efforts were halfhearted at best. We were turned off after talking to the salesman and were told that in order to pull a trailer of that size we were going to need to purchase some kind of supersized rig that you need a CDL just to drive.

Part of the reason that we wanted an Airstream, is that both my wife and I love mid-century modern. We loved the clean almost perfect airplane look of the Airstream. We wanted an Airstream and not some camper that looked like a cheap box on wheels. Not a snow bird sarcophagus.

We were really only interested in two brands of campers; Airstream and Casita. We had convinced ourselves that a Casita was probably going to be in our price range. After the sharp sting of credit rejection had worn off, we decided that we were going to save for whatever camper we were going to get and pay cash. We are both super stubborn. The only catch with these two types of trailers is that even the older models cost a pretty penny, because they are so iconic.

We had been saving for a few months and we were getting to the stage where we had enough money to start looking at campers that would probably need some TLC with the amount that we had. After about two weeks of scanning Craigslist and RV Trader looking for a Casita that could fit our budget, Mary Glen happened to find one in Knoxville. She made the call to see if the camper was still available. However, the owner said that she wasn’t going to show it for about another week and that there were two people before us that were going to look at it.

So we decided to take a quick bike ride to the beach and when we got home MG had stumbled across a 1972 Airstream Argosy for sale in Alabama. Right way we were both in ADHD mode. Feverishly sending texts, nervous and the recent pain of the last Airstream rejection as if this was a mirage and it was too good to be true. We learned that this camper was a one owner and garage kept. Like that mythic Ford Escort that grandma has been keeping in her garage since 1993 and it has 12K original miles…. Yeah to us it was like that. The owner had restored it which basically means he freshened her up.

I think we made contact with this guy on a Wednesday and he told us that he had put the ad about a week prior and that there were supposed to be people travelling next Tuesday to look at it. When you have the fever and know that this is the one…you have to act and we acted quickly. MG got off the phone and we quickly put together our strategy which wasn’t much. We were going to offer to wire this guy the money to hold it and not show it so we could get down there first. You have to understand these campers are extremely popular and if you are slow you aren’t going to get it.

We got him the money and that would be the start of our adventure…….




We left for Bristol, Tennessee, right after I got home from work on Thursday.  I had taken a few days of leave, to ensure that I did not have to report for duty on Memorial Day.  The trip from Virginia Beach is about six hours.  The nice part of making this trip in the summer is that you get a few extra hours of daylight.  There is no light once you start to move to the western part of Virginia, the only way to see where you are going is to follow the tail lights ahead of you.  The worst part of the trip leaving the beach is through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT) all the way up through Williamsburg.  Talk about traffic slowing to a crawl.

I had an idea of the two spots that I possibly wanted to fish when I got to Bristol.  The first being the Lake Holston behind the dam and the second was the lake at Steel Creek.  I landed up choosing the lake at Steel Creek because I had a little more recon on it than the other.  My intelligence source was a few random pictures of some decent looking carp that I had trolled through on Fishbrain.  Looking for good information on carp in any body of water is always a challenge because hardly anyone accounts for them when they do catch them.  Oh well such is life.

My preparations for this fishing trip had accidentally started two weeks prior to our departure.  I was setting up for a fishing trip for the prior Saturday and I had recently purchased a decent bite alarm for one of my rigs.  I was stoked that I was going to be able to finally go out and hit the water in complete European style; this feeling was to end very quickly.  I don’t store my batteries inside my bite alarms when not in use so I popped in a nine volt battery and immediately began to smell burning electronics and little whiffs of white smoke.  The agony of defeat.

Not one to quit because of some technical difficulties I quickly started making some bait for my method feeders and bait casting rigs.  The upside was that prior to leaving for Bristol I didn’t have to make up any bait packs.  The night before my bite alarm failed I was busy stuffing three inch PVA mesh bags with my favorite combination of World Classic Baits Tutti Frutti Panko and strawberry booster, rolled oats and my Kokanee Korn Killer cured corn.  I was a bait packing machine I got 23 of those mesh bags packed that night ready for action.  They were sitting in my refrigerator until we left for our little out of town excursion.

Using PVA mesh bags are my favorite way to go after fish.  I don’t use anything fancy like pellets or ground baits, I stick with the classics.  So it might seem like a waste of PVA to pair with basic baits but, I like the confidence that the PVA bag affords me.  I like knowing that my bait is going to be perfectly presented every time.  I enjoy being able to chuck my bait out further than I can with my method feeders.  My rigs are all set up super light and small nothing over an ounce and half inline lead set to a hair rig with enough hair to place both a buoyant and sinking plastic corn.  I can’t use boilies fishing in the summer in Virginia because the turtles will destroy my bait before the carp even have a chance to check everything out.

I use a size six curved hook for just about everything now.  It affords me the chance to go after fish large and small.  I am only out on the water one day of the week so attention to detail is the key to putting fish in the net.

Nothing goes as planned.  I had to leave behind my rods and equipment because there is only so much available space in a VW Sportswagen and we were also transporting a 50 inch television in the back seat,  plus our two small dogs and their oversized crate for the weekend.  Lack of equipment did not deter me from my ultimate goal of catching some carp at Steel Creek Lake.  I would have my day.

Late Saturday evening I had made up my mind that I was going to fish regardless of my lack of fancy equipment.  I proceeded to the local Walmart to outfit myself for my fishing endeavor.  I had purchased my Tennessee day license, two cheap Shakespeare Tiger rods, rod holders, a pack of half ounce egg sinkers, a six pack of size 6 snelled hooks, cans of corn, panko, oatmeal and the crucial strawberry Jell-O.

The weather had been on and off for the last two days, rainy and muggy.  But, at 0900 on Sunday morning there was no rain and it was partly cloudy with gray rain clouds looming on the horizon.

When I arrived at Steel Creek Lake, I saw no other anglers lining up on the banks.  This could also be because it was Memorial Day weekend and there are a lot of people travelling.  I proceeded to scan the water for signs of carp activity.  A welcome sign, I immediately saw feeding trails and the water was thick with bubbles.  I was more than ready to start fishing.  I had already rigged my lines up the night before.  My rigs always sport the double surgeon’s loops except on my terminal tackle.

The only difference in my rigging was that I was setting up pay lake style and I lacked both the hair rig and the method feeder.  Fishing pay lake style has its drawbacks as I would soon learn.  I was using two kernels of corn on the hook bend on size six bait holder hooks, for the duration of the session I did not lose any of my kernels to falling off.  The problem was without the method feeder it was a pain in the ass to keep the dough ball on the rig.  I made about 30 casts that session and probably had about 10 where the dough ball landed up being flung off into the drink.  I finally sorted the problem out by packing the ball then smooshing the lead into the center and then packing more dough on top and I had to keep compressing the ball to make sure it stayed solid.

(Picture below was from another outing to Steel Creek, only to give scale to the carp that are in there. They are all about this size!)

The magic started about five minutes after my first line was soaking.  I had set up my rods vertically in some of those rod holders that look like a pig’s tail, since these reels didn’t have freeline capabilities I had the drag on next to nothing.  That first one of the day hit the line and I could hear the familiar whiz of line paying off the reel and that nice little bow in my rod tip.  Once, I had my rod in hand I knew that I wasn’t playing a very large fish, I let him make the first run then tightened up my drag.  I pulled him a little and relaxed the drag.  He didn’t have any more fight left in him.  What was awesome was that the water was super clear and I could see the fish getting played all the way to the bank.  Once on the bank I estimate he was probably three to four pounds.  I will take it.

For the next two and a half hours, I took about fifteen fish in various sizes none of them topping more than eight pounds.  It is always nice to catch fish.

What I did realize about myself and fishing is that I was disappointed at the fish that I did catch.  I know that most people would say catching some fish is better than catching no fish.  Well, catching fish of that size was like catching none.  Like all things in fishing there is always a next time and as I was reeling in fish after fish, I could clearly see the bigger fish that I was after just out of my casting range.  But, this is why I keep coming back.  I am not satisfied unless I am going after the biggest possible carp that I can find.  I would rather be skunked than to see those fish just outside my reach than to fill my net with mediocre size fish.

Steel Creek Lake…..yes I will be back again…..