If it is not clear by the giddy nature of my reports, the trailer is heaps of fun. The best thing bout the Spartan is the people. I could sit around, talk, drink, eat and listen to music with interesting people 24/7/365. I love it. Talk to me, baby. Let's HANG.
The challenge is that getting the trailer out and about is no small feat. Frankly, she is slow. And then there is that whole backing up thing...
While I don't ever see a time when I would permanently land-dock my trailer, she really needs a home base. Of course, it has to fit my vision. It's one of my favorite things to day-dream about these days. Land criteria is a) less than 2 hours from downtown Houston b) away from urban/ suburban sprawl c) a good place to camp, walk, see the night sky and possibly go swimmin'.
Architecturally, I'd like to build a roofed structure to park under that would allow shade. I want to build screened in porches or pavilions for outdoor sleeping. I want outdoor showers and a good bathhouse. I want a stone fire pit with comfortable seating- and a small "barn" for storing things like outdoor cushions in. I want an outdoor kitchen area, with water to wash up and tables nearby. I want some paths that twist and turn to small gardens or places to meditate.
When I think about my trailer "vision", I find myself leaning more to the modern than the vintage. Spartans are elegant. They have that whole stream-lined, art-deco, sleek sensibility to them. I want to translate that to a modern inside/ outside space for entertaining and relaxing.
I want: clean lines, function over cute or clutter, traditional local materials such as quarried stone and metal roofs, and amazing landscaping with native plants. I want solar panels, and good architectural design.
So, as I focus my blog, expect to see some posts on things I find inspirational architecturally as well as posts admiring my friend's cool vintage trailers and campers... and the usual musings on my trailer-related experiences and inevitable ineptness.
I love the way the architect of this wonderful home in the Houston mid-town area salvaged the remains of an old brick building- probably commercial- and made it into the good bones of a modern style house.
My favorite aspect is the impact of the industrial gate with rusty iron patina. I'm a fan of patina, you may recall. And while this is a little more urban that I suspect my eventual design will be, I admire the use of existing materials, and the use of space. This fascinating little corridor could have been a crappy ally with a/c units in it. All the more remarkable is that it is surrounded by, what are, for the most part, completely uninspired contemporary town homes hastily erected by builders who rushed in to capitalize on this neighborhoods sudden resurgence. In time I think this will retain it's design integrity while many of it's neighbors will be very dated.
Just look at the gate's enormous bolts- symmetry and punch- just enough detail to be interesting. And the grill with peep-through of the clean garden landscape and fountain takes the harsh industrial edge off. I like to think this is a post-modern take on the elegant iron grill gates in New Orleans and that offer a tantalizing peek at the secret gardens within.
I ended my last post by telling yall about the sweet little pink '63 Shasta sittin' next to us at the campground. Now it's time to hear her story.
Her name is Hope, and she is the project of fabulous Caren and her husband, William, who is also my secret-boyfriend. Caren is a 5-year breast cancer survivor who decided to take up a trailer to celebrate health, awareness and pinkness. They are still fixing up the Hope but lemme tell you- she looks really good. This was Hope's first rally, too (like us). And Caren and William were all about having fun with it.
Did I say Hope's first rally? Actually, Hope is a working trailer- she will attend community events and outreach opportunities to promote the importance of breast cancer screening. But when she's just out playin' her alter ego comes out- and she is known as The Wine-O Chateaux
! That's riggght, she's a Bad-Girl trailer with a Respectable Day Job. Do you LOVE it? You know I do.
And I love her owners! Caren baked up a bakery's worth of amazing pumpkin bread, which she handily distributed around the campground. She also made up homemade Chex Mix in industrial quantities. And she's funny and smart...
Which leads me to William and why he is my secret-boyfriend. William is... Manly. Manly as in, military, pilot, hunter, all that. And the Hope/ W.C. is PINK. Outside and inside. PINK. PINK. PINK. With more pink liberally spread around on all available surfaces. PINK.
And William loves
the trailer. And is proud of her. And gets up and makes bacon & eggs and runs to the camp store for ice and is brave in the face of giant big-butt spiders that nest in trees. Because... William loves
Caren, is damn glad she's a survivor of horrible cancer and treatments, and this is her thing- and he is ON board.
Say it with me: Awwwwwwwwwwww. See why I love William? And Caren? And trailers? (But not so much giant big-butt spiders.)
As if that's not enough squishy-love to go around one post, I have to tell you that Hope is NOT the only Breast Cancer Awareness vintage trailer out there. There is another one! Also a Shasta!! The Pink Winged Warrior
(May have been the first Pink Ribbon trailer, but who knows? Maybe there are even more out there!) was also at the rally, and she is a breathtaking restoration, story, and example of a great family and circle of friends working together to make something extraordinary. Her owner, Beverly and family, all three gorgeous generations, are just the kind of people who seem like a book or movie walking around in real life. I will not even attempt to tell her story, but I did link to it so you can spend another 30 minutes goofing off at work and laughing and crying... and scheduling a mammogram.
These women are courageous, creative and passionate about living fully and trying to get a simple message out to the world so all women can do the same. Get screened. Do it. No whining. It's worth it. 'Cuz even if they did end up with kick-a** trailers outta the deal, cancer is no joke. Skip the cancer and go straight to the trailer park. But stop for a mammo on the way, k?
Furthering my adventures with the trailer community...
Tiffany and I arrived at Buesher State Park slightly before dark. We, of course, had reservations, but part of the reason we came early (Thursday) is that we know the campground is 100% occupied all week-end, mostly by our Rally group, but actual spaces are assigned on a first-come first-serve basis. If you arrive after-hours, like us, you pick a spot and settle up in the morning with the park office.
Now, let me just remind/ inform you: I drove from Oregon to Texas without staying in a single place that did not have magical "Pull-thru" camping sites. I have a Long, Long Trailer, 'member?
So, Buesher. Twilight. Campground laid out in a circle. So, we circle. And, as expected, all the spots are back-in. This we knew. The News: they all look about the right size.... for my van. So, we circle again. And settle on the longest looking spot, and begin the machinations that are involved to get the trailer into said spot. I drive and Tiffany directs. And, oh, moves the dumpster outta our way. In 6 inch increments, I back up Baby, all 34 feet of her and 17 feet of van. It's tight, but we're IN.
In the quickly fading light, we go to hook up. Only... no lights. After some cussing and testing, we discover that, miraculously, it seems to be the park hook up in that spot, and not us. So, in true trailer-park style, we scoot over to the neighbors and ask if we can syphon some electricity offa their hook up. So, a 100 feet extension cord now links us to the spot next door, through a small thicket of trees, no less.
We open a cold beverage, set up our outdoor accoutrements, and get to gabbin with our coolio neighbors. Right about the time I feel myself start to relax, 'long comes the park ranger. To tell us we are not actually in a spot.
Sweetly, I suggest that we're good... we figured it out, doesn't bother US. No problemo! To which he points out that he is telling me to move. And that there is no drinking alcoholic beverages in a State Park, btw.
We agree that moving in the full dark, which it is by now, jes' aint gonna happen.
So, with our illegal hook ups, in an unauthorized spot, we are in disgrace. We even get a nasty-gram on our windshield.
Happily, trailer park folk are not too put off by The Authorities. They rally around us and the next morning a real sweetie comes by to tell us the only other big spot in the circle had been vacated that morning (by someone in a teeny pop up!) and offers the use of her spouse's superhero skill: backing up practically blindfolded. Seriously- it would make a helluva parlour trick if you could figure out how to do it in a parlour. He just backed the Beast up like it was no big deal, not even allowing me to fully wake up before my trailer was re-parked and I could consider the whole re- hook up and stabilize jack routine with a sufficient amount of morning beverage under my belt.
And, finally, with the sun up and the pressure of settling in gone, I walked over to properly introduce myself to our former electricity dealing neighbors.... and there sat the most darlin' little pink and white Shasta with a black zig zag. COOL!
So, this has been a long tease of a post, but next time Imma tell you all about the Pink Shasta.
Proof that there are sooo many ways to play the Vintage Trailer Game. This lovely vignette appeared at the rally in Buesher. I quickly dubbed the owner, Kevin, "Patina Guy" because all of his belongings somehow had an evocatively vintage, well-worn and just cool exterior finish. It was...kind of a gas-station-in-small-towns, road trip, ice cold beer or Coca-Cola type-vibe. Too bad I did not get the metal lawn chairs in the shot. The amazing thing was that he made it seem effortless- but it all "matched"? "coordinated"? "co-existed"??? Hell, I don't know but it all meshed perfectly.
The trailer is a 196somthing Mobile Scout. Mobile Scouts were made in Texas, which notches them up in my book for a bonus factor. There was another awesome Mobile Scout parked adjacent to Kevin, that was restored with a different angle; ummm, less patina, let's say. The distinctive thing about Mobile Scouts visually is their wonderful inverted triangle window on the door. Jetsons-esque. Oddly, a third Mobile Scout owner turned up in my life this week... I think we should get them all together, don't you?
As a point of interest, Kevin was given his trailer by a friend-of-friend who thought he was the person who would know what to do with it. Good guess! Kevin did the gentlemanly thing and insisted on a payment of a few hundred bucks, but I prefer The Legend of the Free Trailer:)
So, hat's off to Kevin, who also plays the Ukulele with aplomb and sings beautifully.
Hey, ya know how I always call the trailer people my "nerd board friends"? Ummm, no? No.
Ok, ok... ok!
Now, don't get all huffy, I mean it in the best of possible ways. Really, I do. I admire people who take up vintage trailers when they don't have all the family tradition and baggage that I have with mine. I mean, it's a huge responsibility- big ole hunk of metal, titles, registration, storage, tow vehicles, (possibly fiery) propane tanks, and then all that 'splaining to people Who Don't Get It.
So, I figured, hey, get to know some of these message board people in person, have a trailer love-fest, admire each other's silver albatrosses. Vintage Trailer Rally, yeah, sure, why not?
And so off we went. And we had... SO MUCH DAMN FUN!
Not only are the "nerds" totally cool, they are nice and interesting, to boot. I now proudly consider myself an OFFICIAL Nerd. I have been to a rally, drank the communal Kool-Aid by the campfire- and I liked it.
I went from "Mewh, maybe I'll haul her out every few years to keep her road worthy" to, well, checking to see how far the Florida rally really is. (Too far, alas.)
Seriously, it was a blast. Quite a contrast to the experience in RV parks where most of the RVers are locked up tight inside with their TV's and A/C and look confused and alarmed at the riff raff vintage trailer in the park. The Vintage folks were so excited and friendly. They all had their stories, and vision of why they do this despite all the hassles. They had a joy in being out in their trailers, hanging out, connecting with the outdoors and a few other like-minded nerds.
Another differentiator was being at a State Park so there were tent campers, park rangers and others with an interest in, you know, actual nature. We were at Buesher State Park in central Texas and my God, it was beautiful. The moon was full. The night symphony of frogs and cicadas was absolute tonic to the worried mind.
As I slept in the back bedroom of my trailer, with my amazing daughter bathed in moonlight from the big open window, I felt such deep gratitude to the universe, for all the beauty of being alive and loved and ok. I felt creative and energized.
Wow. Just wow.