Archive for December, 2009

The Enormously Popular and Unbelievable Mid-Century Rally

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

BannerSince Rich appears to be getting excited about the Palm Springs Modernism Week I figure it’s fair to give Denver’s a plug. This past August, the 4th Denver Modernism show put mid-century art, furniture, technology, cars, and YES, Airstreams on display at the National Western Stock Show Expo Hall. I know, Denver is still considered a backwater cow town by both East and West Coast crowds, but we had lots of fun and if you weren’t there, you didn’t. Boohoo for you!

Happy face
Still modern after all these years!

Vintage Airstream Club members were invited to this event in 2008 and I believe this was the first time Airstreams were included as exhibitors at any modernism show in the country. So, cow town or not, we made a little bit of history.

Randy & Jim
Airstream exhibitors, Randy Leitner, and Jim Lane, relax before the start of the show.

Unlike Palm Springs though, new Airstreams with a retro design are welcome. Airstream trailer collectors, Chris Hildenbrand and Jim Lane (oh, yeah, Airstreams are collectibles now), brought both a 1978 Tradewind and a 2006 Bambi Quicksilver hitched to their 1969 Cadillac (at one time they owned six Airstreams, but are now down to only five). Second generation Airstreamers, Randy & Margie Leitner, brought their 1964 Globe Trotter. Although I was present, my 1965 Globe Trotter wasn’t. It needs me to finish putting it back together. Oh well, there’s next year and I’m looking forward to it.

Airstream exhibit
Vintage Airstreams on exhibit.

One nearby vendor at the show, Silver Stream Productions, rents their 1959 remodeled Overlander out as a mobile office, dressing room, and/or advertising prop.

SilverStream Productions
Young SilverStream Production Trailers entrepreneurs, Hanna and Jason Smith, outside their refurbished Overlander.

It was great fun. We were well received and hundreds of people looked at the trailers and asked questions. Yes, the most common question was, “Do they still make these?” We had fun watching people’s surprise when we told them the Globe Trotter wasn’t new, but that the Bambi was. As in past shows, there were belly dancers, comedians, slide shows, an open bar on the first night, and on Sunday a car show. Fellow Airstreamer, Harry Truitt, entered his bright yellow hot rod in the competition.

Serpent Moon
The Serpent Moon belly dancers are a hoot!

The Modernism Show is a great promotion and just gets better every year. So, give it some thought and make a note on your calendar, August 27th (Friday) through the 29th (Sunday), 2010. I’ll be the Airstream “point person” again. Email me at: forrest@airstreamlife.com

I want to thank the show’s promoter, Dana Cain, for making the show possible. This year she really took care of us. 2008 was a bit of a challenge getting our rigs into and out of the Expo Hall, but it was ‘pull-through’ easy this time. Read about Dana at http://www.danacain.com/ . The show’s website is at: http://www.denvermodernism.com/

Land Yachts and Catamarans

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Every time we trailer to the coast or the Great Lakes, I get to thinking about the similarities between RV’ing and boating. Truly, a boat is a recreational vehicle, and even the lifestyles are quite similar. I just read a blog written by a full-time live aboard couple. They describe their “way of life” on the water and its advantages and disadvantages. The parallels are remarkable. Seamanship is much more demanding though, in my opinion. Taking a wrong turn with your Airstream is no emergency. Getting lost out in the vastness of the ocean is an entirely different matter.

There was a time when I thought I wanted a life at sea, but it only took a couple of summer cruises with the USN as a cadet to convince me that I was a landlubber for life. I never got so seasick that I was at the rail and green at the gills though. Instead of nausea, I had a constant dull headache 24/7.

I still think a life at sea is wonderful, for those who can adapt to it. Patrice and I were in Bar Harbor, Maine about five years ago. We were traveling in our new-to-us 1966 Airstream Overlander. We toured Acadia National Park and enjoyed the area so much that we hope to return someday. Though there was one attraction, we won’t do again.

Bar Harbor Campground
Our 1966 Overlander parked in beautiful Bar Harbor Campground.

Somehow, Patrice got it in her head that we should go on a whale watching tour. She had been on ferries and riverboats and thought that since she handled those all right she would be okay on the Atlantic. Keep in mind that she is born and bred, fourth generation, on the Colorado high desert plains. “Are you sure?” I asked, but she had made up her mind to see the whales up close.

Our first definitive hint that this was a bad decision was when we learned that the ocean swells were “down” to fourteen feet. The previous three days the action was too great for the tour boats to go out. That’s three days of no income for that business and I think they were getting hungry. The boats were going out despite the marginal conditions.

Our second hint came as we watched passengers from the morning tour disembark. No one was smiling. No one was happy. Someone in our crowd called out, “did you see any whales?”

A particularly disgruntled old man answered, “Yes, we saw five whales and five hundred barf bags.”

That should have been our clue to ask for a refund, but no, Patrice wanted to soldier through. “It can’t be that bad,” she said, “look how calm the water is now.”

The Cat
The catamaran in Bar Harbor’s calm water.

I reminded her that the harbor is supposed to be calmer and that the sea will change dramatically once the boat clears the breakwater. About then, the crowd we were hemmed into began to board and it was too late to change our minds.

The seed of nausea had already been planted though, and the catamaran tour boat didn’t help. Unlike a boat with a single deep draft hull, catamarans have two hulls fixed together to provide a shallow draft that will also resist capsizing. As a result, they ride the wave crest, unlike a conventional boat that will plow into a wave. In other words, if the waves are at fourteen feet, the Cat will ride the full distance up the peaks and down into the troughs just like a roller coaster.

But unlike an amusement park ride this one lasted for hours, not minutes. Patrice quickly realized that she would need the plastic lined paper bags. She leaned close and told me, as a matter of pride I suppose, that she only hoped she wouldn’t be the first to let loose.

I tried to encourage her by telling her that if she kept her eyes on the horizon it wouldn’t be that bad. She held out right up until the person across from us lost it. Well, she wasn’t the first, but she wasn’t the last either. A chain reaction of sickening gurgles and moans enveloped the boat. Few among the hundred or so passengers were spared.

I was fine until Patrice asked me to get some paper towels from the galley. This meant going below to an area of the boat where I couldn’t watch the horizon. Imagine also standing up in the first roller coaster car and scrambling over the passengers to the last car, and back. I was lucky; the trip only gave me that same spinning headache I’d experienced so many years earlier.

The captain announced that we would see some whales, if only he could find them, but not to worry, he’d stay out until he did. An hour into this, Patrice complained, “Just where are those damn whales?”

Finally, a passenger cried out, “There’s one. There he is at ten o’clock.”

Thar she blows
A whale at 10 o’clock!

Patrice let out a sigh, “Finally! Enough already, we’ve seen a whale now let’s head in.”

The captain announced over the PA that another boat reported a pod a couple of miles away and that he’d head that direction. Patrice looked at me in desperation, her face an ashen grey, “go give him a thousand dollars to take us home. I’m serious.”

“I know you are. Aren’t you glad you didn’t buy us tickets to see the puffins as well?”

“I don’t think I can take it anymore,” she cried. “Give me another bag… quick!”

“They’re out,” I said, alarmed, “you’ll have to use the old one.” It was self-preservation; I turned away and watched the horizon. An hour later, the boat began the return trip. I fell asleep. I was exhausted from the constant movement.

When we disembarked, someone from the herd of fresh passengers waiting on the dock cried out, “did you see any whales?”
“Yes,” a fellow traveler answered, “we saw five of them and five hundred barf bags.”

As for me, I woke from my nap refreshed, with a clear head, and an empty stomach. I was surprisingly hungry, and to add insult to Patrice’s injury, I took her to the nearest restaurant where I devoured a Maine lobster in front of her. She had tea.

Lobster fest
“Hon, you sure you don’t want some?”

About the Author

Hi, my name is Forrest McClure. I've been writing for the magazine since its inception. My wife and I travel with our 1966 20' Globe Trotter or our 1986 32' Excella. So, my primary interest is vintage travel trailers.