May 30, 2017

This Description of Vintage Camper Heaven is No Joke.

A vintage camper is my own private Idaho.

Kenskill, Shasta, Teardrop, Airstream, Scotty, Dandy, Bubble, Avalon—even their names are cute.

And I want them all!

What is it about a vintage camper that gets me all hot and bothered? Do I want to run away? Do I pine to live the life of a vagabond, a nomad, exploring the many secret (and not so secret) pit stops and places that this great, wide, open, and wondrous country has to offer me?

Yes, that must be it.

I imagine myself relaxing inside, (or outside, or on top), reading a book by myself in the middle of Red Rock, Sedona, or Bluegrass, Kentucky, or Big Sky, Montana, while a tea kettle begins to whistle on my little mini stove, and the wind chimes (the ones I bought when I went to see the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico), gently lull my senses.

Is that too much to ask?

I am seduced by these thoughts. These thoughts of vintage campers and wanderlust. They have become a bit of an obsession. Is it possible for you to understand my yearning? And if it isn’t possible, can you at least indulge me for a bit?

Plain and simple, the allure of a camper (for me) is about the “picking up and leaving” part. The journey. The roving romance of enjoying an open road and stopping to do fun things, while slowly and quietly soaking up every bit of the experience.

It’s how I want my life to be, but isn’t.

I love traveling. Let me rephrase that: I love traveling inexpensively. And a camper provides a way to do it! No hotels. No trains or planes. No pull-out couches in the damp family rooms of distant relatives. I could easily don a pair of cut-off shorts, and live this way for three straight summer months every year.

What’s not to love about that?

There is something to be said for all the activity surrounding the “set up” of a camper as well. Unrolling the canopy, putting out the lawn chairs, building a little campfire. I’m the type of cutesy person who would insist on a darling welcome mat for the doorstep. And I would more than likely pin up little solar lights for simple, twinkling, evenings of enchantment. I would heat up some chicken noodle soup to have in a mug with crackers on the side, after my rugged hike and quick dip in a pristine lake on a glorious day—a day without deadlines, or screens, or bills, or worries.

That sounds exactly like what I want.

Also, the thought of campers and wandering sure beats the heck out of scrolling and trolling through my Facebook news feed or texting my friends non-stop.

I guess it’s the sort of retirement I dream about. A benign 55+ “community” (shudder) where a perky activities director tries like hell to get me all worked up about going to bingo once a week? Sorry, but no, thanks. I don’t want to go to “mixers” in my lavender J. Jill linen capri pants and white slip-on Sketchers, where they play music from my generation. Honestly, what would that be like? A bunch of gray-haired people, post knee-replacement, dancing around to Jay-Z, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Pearl Jam? (Cue the second shudder).

I don’t want another house. I want a camper. Seriously. I want my own private Idaho. 

Did you know that the word “Idaho” derives from the Shoshone language and means, “the sun comes from the mountains”? I didn’t either, but I love it.

I want to check things out firsthand, go to flea markets, and eat in greasy spoon diners (sometimes). It would be appealing to visit friends around the country, take in a few Triple A ballgames, or enjoy our nation’s parks, recreation, and landmarks. I want to camp by the ocean and walk to a coffee shop. I want to sleep in a cramped, but comfortable corner inside four sturdy walls with just a light, six-point Hudson’s Bay blanket to keep me warm, a cool breeze gently lifting the sheer curtains through an open window, and my hubby next to me, desperately trying to get comfortable.

At night, I want to stare at the moon and swim naked. In the morning, I want to rise with the sun and listen to Earth wake up. I want to wash my damn clothes in a creek. No joke. 

I want to live frugally and respectfully and meaningfully and adventurously. For at least three months a year.

And any vintage camper will do, because I simply love them all.

How about this bright yellow 1964 Thunderbird?

Love this sleekness of the 1960 Ford Fairlane Sunline:

Or this 1963 Shasta Airflyte?

What about an adorable Teardrop? I could hitch my bedroom right to my car!

Or hunker down in style in this beautiful, red Volkswagen retro-bus camper:

I would be quite happy with this 1959 Corvette Trailer:

But my crème de la crème of vintage campers is the queen mother of them all: The Airstream!

I could live in it, cultivate my succulents, and write novels.

Maybe I could wear bright, busty, apron dresses with retro cherry clusters or birds on them while eating sliced and salted avocados and buffalo mozzarella on a French baguette for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Perhaps I would enjoy a few chilled Moscow Mules right around happy hour, after a riveting round of corn-hole. For three whole months I could run in the canyons, float in the surf, and ride my bike through the Redwood Forest.

And my 1968 Airstream Safari would be tricked-out like a complete bad-ass.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

In my dream, her name is Betty. Betty The Best. 


Author: Kimberly Valzania
Images: dwstucke/FlickrPunkToad/Flickr; Wikimedia Commonsdwstucke/Flickr; Wikimedia Commons; PixabayMark Metzler/FlickrPunkToad/Flickr 
Editor: Catherine Monkman

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