Americana on wheels makes Tahoe stop
August 15, 2004
It’s your father’s camper with a whole new sense of style.
Illustrating the word “campy” in its true flamboyant fashion, April Sorensen painted her toes a sky blue this weekend to match her 1966 Field & Stream trailer on display at Camp Richardson Resort.
The Highway 89 campground was home to a vintage trailer show that brought out a glare of nostalgic pieces of our American heritage.
“You can be in the sticks and have all the luxuries,” the Novato woman said.
When Sorensen isn’t parking her trailer in the front yard of her Novato home, she and camp mate and co-owner, Dave Estes, take it out on the circuit of these vintage trailer show-and-tell events.
A postcard declaring the 12-foot-long household as “trailer trash” hung on Sorensen’s bulletin board across from a mini salmon-colored stove – seat cushions and curtains. A clock in the shape of a cocktail glass made it obvious how the small seating area is used.
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“It basically runs on an electrical cord,” Estes said.
The Marin County man also did his part to match the decor – wearing a shirt adorned with cocktail glasses.
“I’ve been pulled over and had people offer me 10 times what I paid for it,” said Estes, who bought the camper from a friend for $1.
Sorensen and Estes know how to play, enjoying getting out of the work that goes into some of the vintage trailers.
Many of Airstream trailer owners spend arm-wrenching hours buffing their trailers – and a lot of them are willing to share the tips.
“Everywhere we go everybody has advice. Some people spend $6- to $700 in polishing (tools),” said Sandy Weber, a South Lake Tahoe resident. She and her husband, Dennis, live down the street from Camp Richardson – but make a point of hitting the trailer open houses. They pull their 20-foot Airstream Globetrotter with their wood-paneled car that has a Dewey Weber surfboard sticker attached to a side window.
Having an Airstream trailer has grown in popularity and created extra work around the yard.
Weber said her job is keeping the 1967 trailer clear of snow. The Webers, who have owned the camper for eight years, take pictures of the sight and send them as Christmas cards.
“Noisy” is how she responds to the rain hitting the roof of the camper.
Still, we shouldn’t trade the Globetrotter, which has traveled all across the map.
“I used to tent camp,” she said, further admitting she prefers the comfort and aesthetics of the vintage trailers.
“People are always drawn to the silver bullet look,” Aedan Haworth said, while preparing her Airstream Bambi for the road home to Sebastopol with husband, Michael.
But much of the Airstream’s charm is the inside – a designer’s test in spatial relations.
The Haworth’s 16-foot Bambi, which means baby in Airstream language, comes with a full bathroom. The toilet sits in the shower.
Camping with “everything but the kitchen sink” doesn’t apply, as supplies are limited by space.
“It didn’t get much smaller than this. But we wanted small, and it had everything we wanted. I wasn’t big on camping before this, and I don’t like sleeping on the ground,” Aedan said, pointing to cabinets inside her 1963 camper. “We pack in here. I don’t even bring a suitcase.”
Conservation is the key to the mobile vacation home. The Bambi is equipped with 2-cubic-feet of refrigerator space and 20 gallons of capacity in the water tank.
By most standards, the Airstream Bambi is a mini camper – weighing in at 1,850 pounds.
It’s operated on propane for the basic luxuries like hot water and cooking. But the lighting is split between the electrical system and battery cells.
There are certain inescapable inconveniences. Most trailer owners pulled up to the sewer dumping station Sunday before departing.
– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at email@example.com