Category Archives: The June Bug Diaries

The June Bug Heads to Yosemite

Back in July, I talked about the makeover of our 1966 Airstream Caravel (aka “the June Bug”).  I also shared a bit about our brief camping trip to Deception Pass State Park.

Airstream Caravel with chili pepper lights

That trip was trial run to work out any glitches before our September road trip to Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite has been on my bucket list for a long time, and since we just returned I thought I would share a bit about that gorgeous place.

But first, a couple of recent improvements to the June Bug.

The June Bug:  A Work in Progress

With a vintage trailer, there is always something that needs fixing, doing, or improving.  So before our Yosemite trip, we ticked a couple of little things off of our “to do” list.

New Curtains

I’ve always disliked heavy, light-blocking window coverings.  For years I’d been meaning to do something about the curtains in the June Bug.

curtains over banquette

Good quality, but a little too drab and heavy for my liking.  In such a small space, we need to bring light in, not block it .

And I wanted something whimsical.  We only use the trailer a few weeks a year, so why not have some fun with it?

Of course there is no finding ready-made curtains for a 1966 Airstream.  But sewing them was easy. We chose an inexpensive calico print with ladybugs and daisies.

Curtains

Because the interior walls curve, we have a cable system to secure the curtains at the top and the bottom.  It’s similar to the system that we used for our burlap greenhouse shades.

I think the curtains also look sweet from the outside.

Trailer exterior with curtains

A New Kitchen Faucet

The trailer came with a very small kitchen sink and faucet.  We recently replaced the sink with a larger one, but that silly little faucet remained.  It was almost impossible to rinse pots and pans.

Sink with old faucet

So right before our road trip, we replaced it with a larger bar faucet.

Upgraded faucet

So much better.

Now were were ready to hit the road!  Hopefully.  With a vintage trailer, you never really know.

On the Way – Sort of

We headed south from Washington State but veered west to spend the first evening at Nehalem Bay State Park on the always-breathtaking Oregon coast.

Oregon coast sunset

Chris immediately set up one of the vintage lanterns that he has been collecting.

Coleman lantern in vintage airstream

Big Trees

Our next big stop was at Calaveras State Park in California, home to giant sequoias.  They are some of the oldest living things on Earth.

Giant sequoia

Yosemite!

The June Bug is only 17 feet long, so we sacrifice living space but gain convenience.  I think it’s a great trade off because we can camp in sites that are often inaccessible to larger RVs.

Chris had researched the various campgrounds at Yosemite and White Wolf was high on his list.

Initially, I was not thrilled to learn that White Wolf had no “facilities,” as far as water and electrical hookups, at the camp sites.  But we had a generator and propane, so it didn’t really matter.

And any reservations I had dissolved once saw the campground. Located at 8,000 feet, the camp sites were nestled among granite boulders.  The air smelled wonderful.  There was just something magical about this place.

White Wolf campground

And it was a great hub for enjoying high-country day hikes.

Of course it got cold at night, so a crackling campfire was always a plus and sometimes brought us visitors from other camp sites.

trailer at white wolf

These high-country campgrounds are open only a few months of the year.  By the time this post is published, all the tents and RVs will be gone, leaving nature to reclaim White Wolf until next summer.

The Little Things Matter

At Yosemite, everything seemed big to me.  The mountains were right there, and they were huge.  We learned that the towering El Capitan is the largest solid granite rock in the world.

But we also learned this fun little factoid:

Chipmunk, right?

golden mantled ground squirrel

Wrong.  He’s a golden-mantled ground squirrel.

This sporty little guy is a chipmunk.

Chipmunk

And he looks slightly insulted by our mistake.

I’ve decided that I’m not going to post any iconic big picture photos of Yosemite here because you’ve already seen the best of them by the likes of Ansel Adams and other great photographers.

Instead I thought it would be fun to zoom in on some of the small things that often get overlooked.

Like this little trace of past human presence, perhaps from an old farm or ranch, on a valley floor hike.

Yosemite valley hike

Or a rusty directional sign on a high-country hiking trail.

Yosemite hikers sign

Farther down the trail, the waters of Lukens Lake were still.

Lukens Lake Yosemite

And on our hike to Mt. Hoffmann, I was surprised to find the dreamy May Lake High Sierra Camp – a remote hike-in camp for backpackers.

May Lake High Sierra Camp

This camp was already closed for the season, and a small crew was winding things down.

tent at May Lake

During breaks, they create art on an old chopping block behind the kitchen.

bottlecaps

If you’re ever in Yosemite, I highly recommend a drive to Olmsted Point for sweeping views of the Sierra Nevadas.

And a walk among these otherworldly subalpine trees.

They are probably much older than they look.

Subalpine tree yosemite

Subalpine tree Olmsted Point Yosemite

One day we took a tour bus to the top of Glacier Point.  But we chose to hike back down.  There are two trails to choose from, and we chose the “Four-Mile Trail” which is actually almost five miles.

The switchbacks have old rock retaining walls which were likely installed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.

glacier point hike Yosemite

A Ghost Town

We had planned to stop at other parks on our way back to Washington State, but there was so much to see at Yosemite and we stayed there too long.

We did manage to make a few quick stops on the way home, and the most interesting one was outside Yosemite’s east entrance:  The ghost town of Bodie.

It is a true ghost town – in the middle of nowhere.  The road to Bodie stretches on for miles.

Road to Bodie

Bodie is now a historical park and is kept in a state of “managed decay.”

Inside the abandoned homes, dust is undisturbed.

Bodie lounger

Bodie crib

Water damage is not repaired.

Bodie living room

Weathered exteriors are not repainted.

Bodie doorways

Bodie - walthy residence

Life in Bodie’s heyday was probably so much simpler yet harsher than life today.  There were several funeral directors and undertakers in town, which tells you something about life – and death – in Bodie.

Time To Head Home

Whenever we take a road trip with the June Bug, it takes me a few days to adjust to living in such small quarters.  But after that, I wish we could just stay on the road forever.

rearview mirror

About These Photos

I’m considering framing some of my favorite photos from this road trip – especially since my goal is to start rotating my wall art from time to time.

And I’m kicking off Story Time, my new shop over at Søciety6 with a few of the photos posted here. So if you enjoyed any of these photos and would like your own art print, or if you just want to browse, pop over and have a look.


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A Makeover for a Vintage Airstream

As a kid, I spent a lot of time outdoors with my family enjoying the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  We just didn’t sleep there. Our days of exploring usually ended in the comfort of a cabin or a lodge.

But Chris’s childhood excursions were all about camping.  His parents owned many travel trailers over the years, and they took their kids camping almost every weekend in the summer.  In contrast, my first and last camping experience involved an old saggy cot slowly unraveling beneath me while I listened to cows stomping and snorting just outside of the tent all night.  Good times!

So I was a little apprehensive when, several years ago, Chris wanted to buy a travel trailer.  He was interested in a 1966 Airstream Caravel.  Oh boy.

Meet The June Bug

Vintage Airstream 1966 Caravel

The trailer, dubbed the June Bug by her former owner (yes, the trailer is a “she”), lived in Texas.  Chris took a leap of faith and purchased her based only on photos and information from the owner.  The owner graciously offered to tow her to Salt Lake City and leave her in a storage yard for us.

I was worried about what such an old trailer would smell like.  Mold? Mildew?  It was probably pretty gross.

Chris unlocked the trailer for the first time and stepped inside while I hovered safely outside.

My first question was, “How does it smell?”

“Smells pretty good,” he said.  And he was right.  The trailer really didn’t smell like anything.  And it seemed nice and clean.

I was sure that hooking the trailer up would be a huge project.  I settled in for a long wait.

But Chris had the trailer ready to go in 15 minutes.

And we were off on a trip to the Four Corners area.  It was one of the most carefree vacations we ever had.  Having the trailer seemed to give us so much freedom and so many options.

So now I love our little June Bug.  And this year is a big one for her:    She turned 50.  And like most 50-year-olds, she had a few character lines.

Vintage Airstream - damage

So we treated her to a little makeover.  We had the damaged aluminum panels replaced, and we had the exterior professionally polished.

Polished vintage Airstream

Camping in the June Bug had been a fair weather activity as the windows always leaked a little in the rain.  So we also had aluminum rain guards installed over the windows.

polished airstream window cover

Rain guards like these were standard issue on many Airstreams older than the June Bug, but by 1966 the design had changed.  So I love how these rain guards add to the vintage charm by making her look like an even older model.

polished airstream

Why Choose a Small Trailer?

Our Airstream is only 17 feet long, so we are able to camp in campgrounds and sites that prohibit longer trailers.  It’s easy to maneuver and easy to hook up to the truck and tow – no extra sway bars needed.

But having a tiny trailer also means having to be very organized.  I still have a lot to learn, but I will share with you what I have learned so far about tiny vintage trailers.

Her New Look

Recently we took the June Bug on her first excursion since her makeover.  We camped at the beautiful Deception Pass State Park.

There were a few bugs to work out at first.  Remarks like “Look at those tall trees!” quickly turned into “Do you smell propane?” and “Why is that leaking?”  Apparently a few things had rattled loose during the makeover.

Tiny Trailer Tip:  Always bring your toolbox.

But soon we were able to get to the really important task:  Dressing up the the June Bug.

1966 Airstream Caravel

I was worried that the trailer might look too flashy and obvious after being polished.  But in fact the opposite has happened:  The polished aluminum is so reflective that she almost disappears into her surroundings.

Vintage Airstream

Vintage 1966 Airstream Caravel

Vintage Airstream
Polished body with original Airstream emblem

Come Inside

Want to see the inside?  Come on in.

1966 Airstream Caravel

But first please take your shoes off.

Airstream entrance

Tiny Trailer Tip:  Tiny trailers can get dirty fast.  For the campground, bring shoes that are easy to slip on and off, and leave your shoes outside the entrance on a large indoor-outdoor mat.  But also bring a broom for the inevitable sand, dirt, or pine needles.

The Floor Plan

Except for a few minor tweaks, the June Bug’s floor plan is pretty original.  A pullout table went missing somewhere along the way, but there is still a small dinette table.

There is plenty of storage space in this little trailer – more than we actually use.

Floor Plan
Floor Plan – 1966 Airstream Caravel

Tiny Trailer Tip:  Clean the trailer thoroughly before storing it at the end of each camping season.

Still worried about hidden molds, I once scrubbed every inch of the trailer interior.  And I give the interior a thorough cleaning at the end of each season so it’s ready to go for the next season.

The Kitchen

We haven’t made any huge improvements to the interior.   The previous owner revamped the tiny kitchen to resemble a rustic cabin kitchen.  It’s cute but I’m torn.  We need to either take the look further or revert to a classic vintage trailer vibe.

Airstream kitchen

We want to refinish the wood underneath the upper cabinets and on the wall – and elevate the microwave to gain more counter space.  And speaking of counter space . . .

Tiny Trailer Tip:  Do as much food prep as possible at home in advance, and store the food in stackable containers to save fridge space.

I plan ahead and chop, dice, even cook whole meals at home in advance.  The tiny trailer kitchen is really best for storing food and heating it up, not for creating meals from scratch.  Plus once I’m there, I’d rather be hiking than cooking.

The kitchen had a tiny bar sink, making it difficult to wash dishes, so we installed a larger sink.

Trailer sink

But we still want to replace the faucet with a larger one that has a sprayer.

Tiny Trailer Tip:  Bring easy-to-clean cookware. “Roughing it” doesn’t need to include scrubbing baked-on food over a tiny sink.

The “Bedroom”

One of our improvements was this couch, which pulls out to an almost-queen-sized bed.

Vintage Airstream interior

Tiny Trailer Tip:  Skip the high-thread-count sheets, but bring good pillows.

Glamping is all the rage, and I’m always tempted to bring nice sheets for the bed.  But with this bed/couch setup, I would be spending way too much time fussing with sheets.  Here again, I’d rather be hiking. So I bring sleeping bags instead – and really comfy pillows.

The “Dining Room”

We like to eat outside and rarely use the little dinette area. But occasionally it comes in handy.  At some point I will make new curtains  – ones that look more cheerful and let in more light.

Vintage airstream interior

You can see here some of the overhead storage and also the under-bench storage.

The Bathroom

It’s a real bathroom, but it’s pretty tiny. There is nothing glamorous to show you here. It’s nice to have a bathroom in such a tiny trailer, but for showering I often prefer to use the roomier campground showers.

Tiny Trailer Tip:  Keep a small caddy stocked with everything you need for your shower so you can just grab it and head to the campground shower.  Another small caddy can hold toiletries you may want to use outdoors or in the trailer:  Sunscreen, bug spray, moisturizer, etc.

Our Rolling Cabin

With Chris’s background in trailer camping, he knows what to do and is very organized and prepared.  This makes our camping experiences so carefree and pleasant – for me anyway.  Things would not go nearly as well if we were both rookies at this.

To me, the Airstream feels like a tiny vacation cabin – with the best location any cabin can have:  Anywhere we feel like going.


Disclosure:  Affiliate Links are used in this post.

Sources:

Because things can shift while the trailer is moving, shatterproof, easy-care plates and glasses are the way to go.  But to me, food never tastes as good on disposable plates.  So for camping we use Corelle dishes.  I love that they are good quality and made in the U.S.A.  Having the right accessories can really make trailer camping fun.

Camping Goods

Clockwise from top:  Corelle Dinnerware Set, South Beach | Coleman Retro Family Lantern | 14-Foot Chili Pepper String Lights | Govino Wine Glasses, Shatterproof, Recyclable


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