Wendy and I recently bought a 31 foot, 1969, International, Sovereign, Land Yacht, Airstream. In it’s day it was the king of kings as far as mobile living is concerned. In 1969 it sold for nearly 10,000 dollars. Today, the equivalent Airstream sells for $70,000 dollars. It took us about two weeks of craiglist searching, and driving all over tarnation looking to finally arrive at the one we purchased. We set 17 one hundred dollar bills down on a desk, received the title, and hooked up to the behemoth and towed it 140 miles to our home.
The only incident was that one of the rather large windows, approximately 3 feet long by 2 feet wide, flew off of the airstream and hit the side of a fedex trailer. We had no idea until the fedex driver pulled up next to us and blew his horn, passed us, cut us off, and began slowing down while signaling to follow him onto the off ramp. He informed me that the window had hit is trailer, but not to worry because he didn’t think Fedex would notice the minor damage. He then told us that he owned an RV dealership two exits down. He was quite certain that they might have a replacement window. Thanks but no thanks Captain Coincidence. I got back on the interstate and continued yankin’ that airliner fuselage down the road with my buddies Ford F-350, 7.3 liter, superduty, diesel truck. Apparently this is the largest diesel engine one can buy without acquiring a CDL. From the front of the truck, (which is taller than me and I’m 6'3") to the back of the trailer we were well over 50 feet long. Ironically this set up was completely legal.
This isn’t exactly a true story you would expect to read on a dedicated peak oiler/permaculturalist’s blog is it? Well, it’s not fiction, it’s true. First off let me say that I am not a hypocrite, and this in no way makes me one. However I do understand how contradictory and paradoxical this all may seem. Let me explain.
The need for this arrangement was a long time in the making. The largest irony here is that this land yacht weights about 3000 pounds, completely gutted, as it stands now. How many energy slaves does it take to move a 31' trailer up the side of a mountain? I live 115 miles down the mountain in the hills. In order to get to Asheville I have to climb the famed Saluda grade (7% grade). Not to mention the Green River Gorge. To get a 31' trailer from the upstate of SC to Ashville NC it takes a lot of fucking raw fossil fuel power. As my wife said the other day while sitting in the cab behind that 7.3 liter diesel engine, “I think I just grew a dick.” It’s amazing what that kind of power will do to the psyche.
So why would I do something like this? Our global civilization is chillin’ somewhere in the ghetto of the bumpy plateau that might as well be the gate to the downward side of Hubbert’s peak. All I can say is that it makes sense to me. The greatest paradox is that my wife and I are embracing our gypsy natures all while cultivating a homestead. Homesteads require daily work to be done and don’t stand up well to the homesteaders leaving for months at a time. Yet they can go fallow, and we have begun designing our homestead to withstand months of our absence. The bottom line is that people don’t take kindly to permaculture, druid, gypsy, ninjas round these parts. I think Zombie Whispering may be a bust as a career path. It’s a great skill to have, but only for short term interatctions with zombies. You can’t live amongst them and not be them in the long term. Hence the need for our behemoth airline fuselage.
This is what it looks like to us. We bought a home for 17 one hundred dollar bills. The undercarriage, towing hardware, and skin of this vessel are all in great condition. We bought it road worthy (we’re in the process of replacing all of the windows with plexiglass). We are also in the process of profiting off of all of the vintage vanity that composed the guts. When we are done with it we will have acquired a portable aluminum home at no cost. I’m not trying to justify what we have done. I’m just trying to tease my way through the illusory conundrum.
Here are my plans for the Airstream. I’m going to craft a solar hot water heater onto the top. It will be placed where the airconditioning unit is now (after we sell it for good money due to it being 1969 original and still blowing cold air). I’m designing a system of rain water catchment for the top as well. I plan on connecting one sink to the hot water and placing a 55 gallon drum over the wheel’s for a cistern to collect the water. It will also double as a heat source for the inside of the trailer, which I plan on superinsulating. I also plan on one solar panel that will run one deep freezer and keep us able to plug into the matrix. That will be the only need for electricity. If you have a freezer you don’t need a refrigerator. Gallon glass jugs half full of water and frozen, and then placed in coolers, provide an ample refrigerator. There will also be a pantry built into the trailer that will hold bulk dry food (which is pretty much what we live on now...oats, rice, polenta, beans, eggs, and dairy consists of the majority of our diet).
This is my plan for the kitchen. It will be an indoor/outdoor kitchen. I plan on one propane tank to run the original gas oven and my two burner camping stove. This will be the only thing we will need fuel for when stationary. Yet we will not need this fuel to meet our needs. Propane will simply be for convenience. The oven also doubles as a heat source in the winter. The majority of our cooking will be down with a solar oven and a rocket stove. However we are also installing a small two burner, antique coal burning stove (the stove is from the early 20th century, and I will use small twigs for heat as the firebox is pretty small).
The bathroom will be a composting toilet on the inside as well as a camping style shower. To shower one will simply take the lid off of the 55 gallon cistern, fill the bag, and then hang the bag in what will be a very small showering area on the inside of the airstream. The water will just drain overboard and be collected in another container for reuse elsewhere.
Another aspect I’ve been playing with is a small scale biodiesel set up. The idea will be to remain in place seasonally and only move as the seasons dictate. So we will move no more than three times a year. I figure three to four months is plenty of time to acquire the feedstock and make 30 gallons of fuel or so. My permaculture associate has operated a biodiesel business in the past, so navigating the various ins and outs and what-have-you’s won’t be difficult. The next phase of this plan is to acquire an old diesel truck. However, it’s not necessary due to the fact that I have a 7.3 liter and a 6.3 liter at my disposal.
I’m not delusional about the transient nature of security that this plan provides us. It requires lots of moving parts, but only to move on occasion. Once in place, we will not need the grid for my families survival, and we will have the ability to go wherever sanity needs us. I’m throwing all in on permaculture. It is already providing me with community, but that community is up the mountain. This is the only plan that will enable me to move my family there due to the hand I have been dealt. Staying in Zombieville is not an option long term. However we can’t leave now, so this is the best we can do. The matter of security is one in which I find the majority of us peak oiler’s don’t want to talk about. I’ve said it before, Zombies are first and foremost insatiably hungry beings. Zombie children are ravenous feral little evil fuckers that I want to limit my interaction with. Don’t be mistaken about my intentions. I have a healthy and open line of communication with the reality of the future. The Airstream will have a weapon safe. Essentially this is the vessel that we intend on surviving the long emergency in.
I suppose this is fate. I’ve always been a nomad...it’s just my style. So Druid Permaculture Gypsy Magic is the final form it would seem...for me and my family. We still have a homestead here, in the hills, and we still have an obligation to care for our elder. However that doesn’t mean that we have an obligation to stay in Zombieville. I intend on surviving whatever the future throws my way. As for the plans for the rest of the space in our spacecraft. The first ten feet of trailer, in the front, is going to be nothing but bean bags, oversize pillows, a full size memory foam mattress, and a nice plush circular couch. That’s right...an oversize chill room great for taken her easy as much as possible while surviving the downside of Hubbert's Peak.
As an interesting aside. The Apollo 11 crew was quarantined in a 1969 airstream for 21 days after returning to Earth. I suppose if it was good enough for the American legends that walked on the surface of the moon...it's good enough for my family. The irony in this symbolism is so sweat that it's uniquely beautiful. The airstream truly is an American Icon that represents the height of American engineering applied to recreation. I find this a perfect symbol to make an abode to travel into the long descent with. It's a very real American vessel ripe with space age overtones. I think what we are doing is necessary, logical, and unavoidable. If nothing else, the psychological security blanket that this project is providing my family is worth it. All of us who are aware of the reality of the long descent want to feel that we can do something constructive to combat the helplessness. There is great value for my families psychological health in this vessel. This is a very real spacecraft that we are designing to navigate our way into the long descent.
|Talking to President Nixon while in Quarantine|
|On the side of the USS Hornet|