Check out this amazing Spartan trailer
with a house built around it on a river in Texas. I have to say; generally, I am not prone to jealousy. Usually, I'm happy with what I have and not frustrated by what others have, even when I deeply admire it.
So, I feel a little sheepish admitting that the green-eyed monster bit me when I saw this. OUCH! Want. Want. Wantwantwantwant. WANT. (Falls over, comatose)
I had a real pity party- sulking that someone else is "living my dream!" (like I own it, ha!). And they QUITE obviously have the means to live it pretty luxe. I'm not fooled by "simple elegance"- I know high-end when I see it, damn it. Ugh. Those kind of petty feelings are SO miserable; it makes you so unhappy. Yuk. How do people endure it for long?
But... I mean, can you blame me? Look again, DRINK it in, in all it's stunning photography:
That is very, very breathtaking. No lie. The mirror image just slays me.
Upon review, I realized that my feelings are closer to sadness and yearning. I have been trying to execute this concept for 5 years now. What I really want is MY beautiful trailer, sheltered with an elegant structure, in the Hill Country in Texas.
And I will get there. It might not be on land quite as spectacular as this. It might not be as shiny. But. Inspiration is FREE, and there are lots of things going on here that are just so very well done. I started appreciating how cool these people are to choose this, when they clearly could have a much less unique place.
I also realized that I don't want to obscure my trailer this much. I want it to be more visible, more focal. Which is to say: This is a Very, Very, Very Beautiful Baby. But it ain't my Baby.
I hope someday I get to see this place in person and tell them how wonderful it is.
And invite them to my place so I can share what my dream looks like when it's done.
(Also, note to self: Take totally kickass photos!)
Could it be any more darlin'?! Just gorgeous! This charming vignette is brought to you courtesy of my friends Teresa and Nicky. They are just SO stylish!
I've said it before and I'll say it again: the are many ways to play the vintage trailer game. What makes this one so special is that it is so pristine. "What?!" you say? You thought I gushed about rustic patinas? I do. But I also gush about the art of detail and sparkle. And this beautiful Shasta, like the owner's other trailer, a sweet Little Gem, is amazingly, dare I say, lovingly restored. You can pretend it's fresh off the showroom floor.
Look again at this picture. See how clean the paint job is, including the hitch and frame? See the wonderful (NO rust!) red vintage cooler and water cooler? The clean wood under the stabilizing jacks? The colored bulbs?
Teresa and Nicky just have an eye for elegance- enough but Not Too Much. (Not that I don't also love Too Much!). They keep the lines clean, the finishes fresh and the whole experience classy. There is no juryrigging, half-ass duct taping, bungee-cord-of-death contraptions
or such. Nicky finds a solution and makes it look good. Teresa adds a theme, but keeps it classy.
I admire this so much. I love my Spartan, warts and all, but my goal is elegant, too. I take my patinas, but my vision is to bring all the details to a well cared for look.
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.
We interrupt this self-centered blog to talk about someone else's cool vintage trailer.
Let me back up: How many vintage trailers do think there are out on the road? 10%? 5%? I had not really thought to ponder this question before I headed out on the road. I was buoyed by the lovely community of trailer lovers on the internet. I guess, had you asked me, I would have thought, say >10%.
Sit down, Love. It's bad news.
Real bad news.
Based on the 1,500+ miles thus far, the answer seems to be .0000000001%.
Really. No! I would not joke about something so sad. SAD.
By the time we pull into Moab we have seen a grand total or 3 aluminum trailers, all Airstreams, btw. And one was not even on the road! The world is chock full of toxic white boxes... it's utterly dismaying. Where, O, Where are my vintage kin?
The picturesque and well-thought out Canyonlands Campground in Moab yielded pretty much the same story. Row after Row of White Squares. (Well, being Moab, it was also peppered with ATV's, 4 x4 Jeeps and dirt bikes.)
Anyhoo, shortly after hook-up Tiff comes back from some campground errand in a happy flap.
"Vintage trailer!" she trills.
"Tell!" Mary and I demand.
"Orange and navy and super-super-tiny!! The name plate says 'Boler'".
"Ooooooooohhhhhhh," we coo.
"And." She pauses. "It's called 'The Ritz'!"
We. Must. Meet. These. People.
Thus on fire, we stalk the absent owners for the next few hours as we set up and sink into camp. It's our first dry night and we are pulling out all our rabbits: chairs, tablecloth, BBQ pod, lots of Orla on display. Finally, finally!, I walk over and see lights in the now-falling darkness.
Well, specifically, I see a headlamp focused on a book and a small dot glowing on the end of a cigar. Like some teen all star-struck I start babbling my trailer admiration. The Dot introduces himself as Moki and out of the trailer pops Annie Lennox.
Ok, not the real Annie Lennox, but if Annie Lennox was a vintage trailer/ jeeping enthusiast dressed in REI chic, it could have been her. Annie's real name is Chris. Cool!
But first, back to The Ritz itself. It's like a pod of candy. A marble-sized doll house. I cannot wait to get inside. After some mumbling about "housekeeping", which absolutely cracks me up because this thing really is the size of a marble so I'm thinking, Yeah, right, go blow the dust out in one poof!, they let me in. The. Inside. Is. JUST. AS. COOL!
Surprisingly, it has lots more going on than the small size would have you guess. Good layout: a table area flanked by benches on one end, a kitchen and closets in the middle and bunk beds in the other end. The table area converts to a full size bed but with the IT department being housed under the table they rarely bother. (They self identify as "small people"!)
And here is the good news ya'll: It quickly becomes clear that even if there is a real dearth of vintage trailers in the world, and I do mean dearth, if the owners are all even half as cool as Chris and Moki, I'm A-OK with that. It's enough. It's dazzling. It's perfect the way it is. A small, well-vetted club with a surplus of cool.
I always have preferred Quality to Quantity.
Lemme tell ya just a smidge about Chris and Moki, and I know you will love them as much as I do. Here is their deal. Chris has a very intense job as a ICU nurse. She is a mobile nurse, meaning she works through agencies that place nurses where they are needed across the US. She picks and chooses her gigs based on where they are. They home base outta Arizona. They are currently 1,600 miles into a 600 mile trip over to California. Yes, I meant to type that. And yes, you read it correctly. They are living the dream, ya'll. They found a way to make it work. She is well-paid and has a damn tough job. But she only has it part of the time. In bursts. Then she gets to reconnect to her passions, her internal battery, and stay sane. Moki, in her words, "Gives me this life I love. He allows me to have it. I am so lucky." He runs the care and feeding of the logistics and makes sure that they play as hard as she has to work. She does the on-the-floor stuff that pays bills.
Now, in case we have any cynics, let me just say this is not some new thing for them. They have been perfecting it for 20 years. (Obviously, they met as infants.) He is Gomez to her 'Tish a la Addams Family.
And they still make googly eyes at each other. They are both absolutely beautiful. And so much style. They love each other! I love them!
Again, it's Quality, people, that makes The Ritz The Ritz.
I promised to tell ya'll all about the sweethearts over at Starlite Classic Campground
over in Canon City, CO. The Starlite
is a fab-u-lous RV park- AND- drummmm rolll.... they have an assortment of restored vintage campers you can book to stay in. To picture this, think wonderful little cabins-- made out of vintage jewelry. Or just go look
already. If you are too lazy to click, check out this
sa-weet picture of "Joise", a 1958 Alio, that I blatantly copied off of their website
. So dreamy. I mean, how amazing is that? No elbow, sewing machine or axel grease involved and you get to live the vintage trailer life with the turn of a key.
Starlight is the great-idea-made-reality of a gal named Sylvia and her beau, Larry. Their darling place
, just opened, like, 2 weeks ago. Ok, ok, I know
I exaggerate all the time, but really, the real
two weeks ago- like April 16th. These people are just wicked cool. When I grow up, I'm going to be
these people. I want to keep making hot links to their place
so that you will go look
. I promise to seek help for this annoying habit right after you go freakin' look
. They have half a dozen or so cuties ready to go, and a dozen or so in the works. How lovely will that be when they are all tricked out in their Sunday best?
In addition to being a trailer enthusiast, and openly cavorting with a known trailer enthusiast, Sylvia is just plain ole NICE
. Hot off of my freakish phone call with the RV resort (unnamed and unlinked; I was raised right, thankyouverymuch) that only welcomes rigs made after 1998, I called up in what can only be described as a panic. Sylvia calmed me right down. Did I tell you how NICE
she is? She tutted with me about Trailerism, made purring noises about my trailer, and gave cheerful support for my quest to get it back to Texas safely, while having as much damn fun on the way as possible. Go! Go! Go!
Go look at the link and make plans to go stay there soon. My spot is secured. But you don't even need yer own trailer- remember? It could not be any easier.
Or, you can bring your own trailer. But, confidentially, I must say I counseled Sylvia and if you drive some new, showy-type white box, made after, say, 1998, she just might turn you down. I mean, a place has gotta have standards
The uses for old aluminum trailers are pretty much limited by the imagination. Take the very inspiring and cool folks over at Side Street Projects. A great article on them ran in the L.A. Times this week, illustrating their genius and the possibilities for Old Aluminum. Side Street Projects are artists who run a non-profit mobile art classroom for hundreds of kids in the LA/ Pasadena, CA area. Their “classrooms” are old school buses. After having to move their headquarters several times, with much annoying disruption and bureaucracy, they decided that mobile was the way to go all around. They have a ‘53 Spartan that serves as their office and a ‘49 for storage/ library. Further making them visionaries, they installed solar panels and are 100% off the grid.
No shit. I mean, how freakin’ cool is that?! There was a time when all school age kids wanted to run away with the circus. I have to say, if a mobile classroom pulled up to my school and told a 10-year old me that their offices were in silver bullet trailers, well, let's just say I know who I would run away with. I also know what I would want to do when I grew up, and no, it would not be a doctor.
Cementing my adoration of these folks, and in case you are too lazy to click on the link, here are the best quotes in the article:
“The vintage Spartan trailers were picked for their coolness factor, according to Lapointe.”
“They were manufactured by a company owned by J. Paul Getty, which earns them an extra nod from those in the arts community, he said.”
Basically, these people are serving up Spartan-style trailer snobbism. Love that! I’m all tight with the Airstream Community, but, come on, ya gotta cheer for the home team. Read the gem of an article, which ran in the L.A. Times on Feb 17th, before I plagiarize the whole thing in my earnest zeal to convince you these people transcend mortal cool status quo.
You can also check out Side Street's web site.
And you could also give them some money.
Jus’ saying. The ARE very cool.
You know how they say, when it really comes down to it, you are all alone? Well BS. In fact no matter how out there you are, no matter how esoteric your hobby is, somewhere there is a group on the internet who will make you feel like an innocent amateur and complete novice. (Ferrets for Dummies, anyone?)
In the process of researching my trailer project, which seemed like a bit of an odd undertaking, if not unheard of, I have discovered that I am really just a small unpolished star, totally naked to the eye, in the galaxy of trailer fanatics.
I mean, seriously. If you are actually reading this and you don’t know me it will NOT be because you are interested in learning more about vintage trailers. It will be because you are trying to sell something to the demographic of people who are fanatics about trailers. I mean, it’s a whole army, ya’ll.
Like any other demographic, they have their ideological splits. Size may not matter, but brand does. There is a certain snobbism and last-big-man-standing posture about the Airstream crowd. You can not join the official Airstream Club, the WBCCI, or go to their parties, harrumph, unless you own the genuine article. No posers, man. On the other hand, they seem a far above decent lot, just well indoctrinated.
I do not have an Airstream. I have, as perhaps you do not need reminding, a Spartan. But, the trailer crowd will apparently pull their wagons around me even if I am burdened by that they call a SOB (Some Other Brand). From the toe I put in the water at airforum.com I learned that in addition to being a SOB, I am also almost an “original aluminum owner” which has some cache it seems. I was assured that people with “aluminum affliction” are friendly to what they call “vintage kin” which is the PC way of saying SOB. I spent 10 years in the software industry, so buzzwords and acronyms are not new to me. But even I am a little blown away by the volume of jargon around trailers. Toto, it ain’t Kansas.
In addition, I was sincerely, and very kindly reassured that Airstreamers are really just Campers at Heart. So we are all the same. Kum-bay-yah. Um… except I am not a camper at heart. I am not even a camper on a superficial level. Shit! I never said I was a camper howdidthishappen? Do I like Nature? Yes. Do I like roadtrips? Yes. But the allure of the trailer for me is that I like HOUSES. A trailer is a wonderful expression of a home that you carry with you. My greedy curiosity to see inside other trailers is the same drive that makes people take walks at twilight when they can see inside peoples homes before they pull their shades. (Don’t lie. You’ve done it.)
Maybe this can all work out. After all, the founder of Airstream, Wally Byam, came up with the travel trailer because his bride was not one to go without the comforts of home. Thank you Mrs. Byam.
So, I may be a lying SOB but at least I am having fun.
So, like all spiritual journeys, I began this one at the Church. For me, that is the Downtown Public Library. I needed Spartan history, how-to RV books, camp site info, landscape design, INSPIRATION. There, between Deceptively Delicious by Seinfeld’s wife and Ferrets for Dummies, I found it. The first documented proof that I am Not Insane. Apparently, I am just joining a well-established cult. The Vintage Trailer Lifestyle Cult. Check out Airstream Living by Bruce Littlefield if you don’t believe me. Unknown to me, the whole country- no, planet- is just a crawl with folks who can’t get enough of the Silver Travel Trailer. There are cabins in the mountains, surf trailers on the beach, hot dog emporiums, and love shacks made out of trailers.
There are also web sites galore: Vintagetrailer.com, tincantourists.com, spartantrailer.com. There are hip companies running green offices out of trailers and photographers who make a name for themselves being trailer connoisseurs. There is even a vintage-trailer-jewelry designer, who studios in a-- you-got-it: Vintage Trailer.
Rock stars do trailers, as do media corps. Film stars go for cache with vintage trailers. Considering that I read something about only an estimated 150,000 being made in the Great Travel Trailer Era, it seems everyone already has one. Better get one while you can, they are a HOT commodity.
In case you miss out on the Vintage ones, the Granddaddy King of Trailer Companies, Airstream, still churns out new ones. Design within Reach has joined up with Airstream and has a super tricked out model palatable to even the snobbiest of snobs. It’s a super cutie pie of a travel trailer- for $50 grand.
It is a sickness. And I am running a mighty fine fever.