I was surrounded by a cocoon of aluminum.
I plumped down on the queen bed and sat riveted by the rivets, amazed by the shiny elongations of bent metal. I’ve tested an Airstream travel trailer before, but I’ve never slept so soundly, cooked up so much food on my own, or watched so many mindless talk shows. It was the quintessential “living large” moment for me, a mesmerizingly sedate experience, all 28-feet of sheet metal and synchronized dual-operation heating controls. In this place of solitude and comfort, with 32 channels of cable on two HDTVs, I felt like Fox and Friends wasn’t mind-numbingly stupid as much as it was soothing and even intoxicating.
Seriously. I could watch Spongebob Squarepants for hours from this vantage point. I want to live here like the guy from Zappos who has one parked in downtown Vegas. I’ve been converted.
How did this happen? For starters, camping in Austin is a dream come true for me. I travel south every March to attend SXSW, mostly for the free food. The conference takes place downtown, but I spirited myself out to to Bastrop about 30 miles west in a 2016 Land Rover LR4. (A public relations friend made fun of me for my abject entitlement, and she has a good point.) It beats the expensive hotels, the traffic jams, and the tempestuous smell of roasted pork.
When I arrived at the Airstream, I went through a mental checklist of what worked. If you don’t know, Pendleton is a woolen clothing manufacturer based in Portland. The entire trailer was decked out in their fine products. There was wool covering the pillows on the bed. There were wool blankets. I half-expected wool linoleum. To be honest, I felt a little wooled-out by the end of my stay a few days later, but I also felt completely warm even with the fans turned off. If there are Airstreams in heaven, they will likely be outfitted with similar accoutrements.
An Airstream is otherwordly, of course. They started the trailer camping craze. In this model, you can enjoy many of the standard perks—a microwave, the two televisions, sleeping quarters for six. I was solo and never felt cramped, but I can imagine an entire family leaving here in tranquility. I love the open floorplan. The shower is situated across the hallway from the bathroom, so in the morning (without getting into the finer details), I found I could move around easily and get dressed without bumping into things constantly.
Yet, this model is extra special—they will only make 100 of them. When you buy one, Airstream donates $1,000 to the National Parks Foundation and you get a one-year pass. There is so much brown leather inside, you feel like you could take up a career at the rodeo.
My favorite feature is the rear hatch, which opens like a garage door so you can load your gear or just sip coffee as the air flows through the cab. Just about every morning, I sat at the dining table and typed out articles with the hatch open, the windows ajar, and Coldplay playing on the stereo. All for the sake of reporting on the wonderful attributes available, for sure.
My biggest realization is that Airstream nailed the cocooning effect. For some reason, I have a hard time sleeping in trailers. I don’t think it’s the cramped space or the unfamiliar surroundings, because I sleep fine in a tent. Yet, in the Pendleton, I slept soundly every night. The queen bed is a bit bigger than what you find in most trailers. Also, it is positioned at the opposite end of that rear hatch close to the bathroom and shower, with the foot of the bed pointed away from the front. You can climb in easily. One of the HDTVs is pointed toward you. It’s an elegant, perfectly arranged design that just makes sense—the best trailer I’ve ever tested, hands down.
Are there any minor complaints? Not really. I guess I could tell you that the fans were a tad louder than I would have liked, but then again, that helped me sleep. I never had any trouble finding light switches or the controls for the plumbing system. My only minor gripe is that I’m a bit too tall for the dining room table for typing—I wished it could lower a bit. (You can completely remove the table, though—you know, in case you want to load some kayaks or another bed.) I struggled to find anything else that’s even a small red flag or turn-off.
This model costs $110,600, which is a pretty penny. Also, it’s worth every penny.