191010: Creation Story in Dinosaur Valley


Pulling out of my in-law’s house in a fully restored 1973 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht was gloriously nerve racking. The value of our rig from stem to stern was about what we owe on our first house. Not to mention I have no recent experience with bumper pull trailering, especially a 7,100 lbs 31’ beast.

Sorry, not a beast. The formal name for our trailer is “Abigail the Sovereign”, or Abby. Personification of vehicles has been somewhat of a family tradition and distinctly an American cultural oddity, at least from my observations of living overseas the past 11 years. Growing up most all our vehicles had names. There was “Martha” the 1985 Suburban, “Blue” the 1984 Dodge Lancer, “The Missile”, a 1968 Ford F100 long bed truck, my first vehicle, “Puddle Jumper”, a 2003 Toyota single cab Tacoma, and a handful assortment of other vehicle personalities.

Abby was found in the spring of this year hunkered down in open shed in Briscoe County Texas. Her last registration was 1997 and from all observations she hadn’t traveled since. Her hibernation amongst the West Texas rattlesnakes, dust storms, unrelenting heat, and rogue tumbleweeds treated her well. Typical problems with shuttered Airstreams of rotted floors, leaky windows, and stained aluminum shell, among many others, were amazingly missing. Her interior was largely intact with no crazy backyard amateur modifications. About the only sign of mistreatment was a bullet wound in her belly pan.

My sister, Emily, had known we had loose plans to buy an Airstream for a road trip in the fall. She randomly saw the for sale posting on a local buy and sell Facebook group. When she sent us a picture of the posting on March, 27, 2019 asking if we were interested we were living in Shanghai, China and on a family vacation to Siem Reap, Cambodia. We were coming up on the end of our two year tour that summer. However, as typical with my project based tours, I’m a Foreign Service Construction Engineer managing Department of State Construction projects, I had no onward assignment and no real firm dates for our upcoming home leave in the States, mandated by the congress between Foreign Service assignments. More importantly, I also had no clue what it would take to restore a 46 year old Airstream. It really made no rational sense to purchase Abby sight unseen while tramping around ancient Cambodian ruins 7,000 miles away. However, as with many burgeoning relationships and adventures, rationality often takes a back seat to the beauty of the unknown.

After talking it over with Kelly and discussing with Emily’s husband, Paul, a former RV salesman who in no uncertain terms told me I was a fool if I didn’t jump on this opportunity, we pulled the trigger and PayPal’d the money to Emily. Thus started the journey with Abby.

Today is day one on the road with Abby. We choose a quick one night trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas as our soft opening test run. How we got from a field in West Texas to spot #24 over the last seven months is a story worth telling and a worthy launch pad to our Road School journey ahead.

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