Can you still be Valentines living in an Airstream? Love is on the line

by Beverly Mills Gyllenhaal

Reading and playing music are daily routines.

Anders and I chased the birds for 15 weeks last summer in a 23-foot Airstream trailer. If you don’t count the bed and bathroom, that’s two adults negotiating roughly 50 square feet of living space for 105 days.

Many of our friends think we’ve lost our minds. “You really have to like each other,” is the typical reaction. And of course they’re right.

How does this actually work, is the first thing my girlfriends want to know. Do they mean where do we put our stuff, or how do we stay married under these conditions? The answers to both can be a bit tricky.

Valentine’s Day is upon us, we’re back in the Airstream for the next 2½ months, and I cannot remember where I put Anders’ Valentine card. Love is on the line but I’m not about to unpack this entire trailer to find it.

Beverly in the tiny kitchen.

Anders at the compact table.


It’s important to note that this is not exactly what my girlfriends envision as camping. The Airstream has a queen-size bed, a real shower, and a way-better view than we have back home. It’s sleek and elegant – an aluminum American icon that we’ve dreamed about for 30 years.

Beverly takes a break from birding near Asheville, N.C.

We used to spend hours flipping through Airstream brochures. You could just taste the open road, waking to birdsong and not having teenagers at home anymore. I called it our Happy Place.

Now here we are. Some days there’s no doubt that this compact lifestyle enhances our marriage. Coffee by the campfire, wine by the campfire, music by the campfire. Give us anything by the campfire and we’re lulled into an exquisite, life-in-the-moment bliss.

Yet there are consequences: Clothes saturated with wood smoke, towels that never quite dry, a constant need to “suck it in” as you pass by each other in the 18-inch hallway.

Today I’ll spend five hours trundling along in a pickup truck and eat a soggy sandwich out of a tinfoil pouch for lunch. Tonight, an unobstructed view of the stars will wash that all away. With every ounce of my being, I’ll love this man who’s given me all of the things I’ve ever really wanted. Including an Airstream.

Who needs a Valentine?

The day comes to a close near New Orleans.


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Rusty Wendt February 15, 2019 - 7:54 am

Great article. We did it while doing the seasonal employment (5 months) gig in the Tetons for 2 years in a 23′. Just moved to a 25′. Amazing the difference in layout. It’s enough and we adjust between a full size house off season and the AS. I look forward to the scale down and simplification in the summer months and yes you do have to like each other (most of the time and especially during wet periods).

Barbara Brennecke February 14, 2019 - 1:32 pm

Awwww!!! So well written. Please keep us posted on your 2.5 month adventure. I’m really interested.

Phyllis Azar February 14, 2019 - 12:16 pm

What a life! Congratulations on living it to the fullest! Love you!

Kathryn February 14, 2019 - 2:00 am

Awww! So well written. . Tugging the heartstrings. All you need is love, right?

Candyk February 13, 2019 - 10:10 pm

Plz tell me more about what birds you are following? Beginner here.

Billy Brawner February 13, 2019 - 12:14 pm

Thanks for transporting us all to the delightful bubble that you’re existing in. I, too, fantasize at this stage in life about how we might spend our golden years together. I can only hope they’re as enjoyable as yours.

lizagyllenhaal February 13, 2019 - 12:02 pm

Lovely post — and a beautiful shot of you new New Orleans. Happy Valentine’s Day, love birds!

Caroline and Dan Mason February 13, 2019 - 11:03 am

So wonderful! Love this piece. Please write every day.

Amy Galloway February 13, 2019 - 10:46 am

Beautiful piece, Beverly. Love your choice to live in an Airstream. What more does anyone need than to be surrounded only by the things (and person) you love most?


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