Scratches and Dents and Guardian Angels

At the cabin, it might have been around 4 AM Friday morning, there was a sharp thunk.  The dog was up. She probably backed into the open wardrobe door slamming it shut.  Swiftly I receded into a dream state.

Coming out in the morning, I saw the truth.   I sleep the sleep of the dead in my Airstreams, but I was surprised that this one hadn’t snapped me out of bed.  Maybe I should never camp under trees again.

Most every vintage Airstream has some skin damage.  Elvis and the Bambi have their share.  But the poor Tradewind has taken a beating.  It had plenty of scars before it knew me.

My first incident was scraping the entire curbside with an askew telephone pole during the Rt. 11 caravan last year.  I was nauseous.

Wayne Moore was my guardian angel, soothed my distraught soul, straightened my jalousies and hand-worked my crushed drip caps and door eyebrow into functionality so I could brave the rain.  Last month I ran into a blinding hail storm in rush-hour traffic with no way to pull over.  And now this.

Damage prior to my ownership never bothered me much.  But I personally view vintage ownership as a stewardship.  Damage under my care causes me guilt, pain, even physical illness.  While ruminating over this latest event I had an epiphany.

When Wally Byam built Airstreams I’m sure he intended them to be used, not sit protected from blemish like a china doll.  Risk of scratch and dent never stopped any Caravanner in Mexico or Africa.  When something is well-loved, well-used, stuff will happen.  Repair and maintain as best you can and go on.  The point is to love and use it well, and enjoy the pleasure it gives.  We are not meant to live in fear of the “what if” or dwell in misery over life’s imperfections.

Friday evening, about 9:15 PM inside the cabin.  Mary Kim suddenly jumped up running outside yelling, “Something’s wrong”
“There’s a tornado over us! It isn’t on the ground yet! Dacia, V, Get in the bathroom – NOW!”
I ran to the door to see a swirling yellow-gray wind with debris.  It was the start of the derecho, swift and sudden. The power flickered and went off.  There was no time to get Lulu out of the Airstream.  We huddled in the hall bath, praying.  When the sound of objects hitting the house subsided, I ran to the Airstream to get Lulu who surely must have had a K-9 guardian angel holding her.  Trailer’s still intact, but the property is peppered with debris.  On the way back I twist my ankle and fall.  The lightning and high winds resume.  I heard  a sickening crack overhead as I hobbled with Lu to the cabin for cover.

About 1 AM the wind was finally silent.  Mary Kim and I checked to see if I still had a trailer.  Honestly, it is a miracle.  The front end cap lit up cheerily in the flashlight and all appeared to be in one piece.  In daylight we could see how blessed I really was.

The 40 foot tree directly over the Airstream lost its twin tops yet somehow defied the law of physics when falling to the ground.


It should have crushed or punched through the Tradewind.  The only damage I find is one small abrasion.

After recruiting a chain saw and getting the Airstream out, we saw the magnitude of what could have been.  Do Airstreams have their own guardian angels?  I think this one did.

I will embrace the character marks, the evidence of my Airstreams’ histories.  I’m thankful for guardian angels.  And I will camp under the trees again.

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