Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move

What began as an idea formed during a session at the National Council on Public History’s annual conference in 2011 is now a reality.

Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move
Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move

A group of University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate students created a unique mobile museum exhibit.

It’s only fitting that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette History Department’s Museum on the Move (MoM) is a vintage Airstream, because the iconic brand has such a rich history of their own.

As Professor John Troutman, the history instructor that brought the museum concept to life told Airstream Life, “What vehicle to support a mobile museum is more historical, and timelessly attractive, than an Airstream?”

The university located the 26-foot 1954 Cruiser on an Airstream forum, and Troutman and a colleague picked it up outside of Birmingham, Alabama in February 2013.

Students from the School of Architecture and Design came up with concepts to remake the trailer into a functional and modifiable mobile museum . They hired a local contractor—and Airstream enthusiast—to gut it, rebuild the frame and floor, and rewire it.

All the retro comforts were replaced with wood flooring and industrial framing to accommodate museum panels.

Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move
Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move

Troutman’s graduate students developed the museum’s initial exhibit, “Crossing the Line: Louisiana Women in a Century of Change” during the fall semester of 2013.

Students and Troutman worked out the lighting, exhibit panel mountings, and exhibit “flow,” as well as acquired the show’s artifacts and images, and wrote the explanatory text.

The exhibit features 10 Louisiana women from the late 19th century to the present who created extraordinary change in the state.

The exhibit is based on research provided by students in a Louisiana Women course taught by history professor Mary Farmer-Kaiser. Troutman’s students pared down the list of 40 women to 10 after focusing on a theme of activism.

Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move
Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move

In the spring and fall of 2014, they toured the exhibit all over southern Louisiana—to historical association meetings, local civic group meetings, farmer’s markets, music festivals, and schools.

“That is one of our greatest successes in terms of developing this program—the Airstream draws people in, long before they read the exhibit description outside the door,” says Troutman. “Everyone wants to talk about the Airstream, tells us their Airstream experiences, and asks where we found it. That gets them in the door, so that they can see the exhibits that our students will design and install each year. Buying an Airstream to serve as the exhibit vehicle is the best decision we could have ever made.”

Troutman’s students love the MoM because it gets them professional, hands-on experience in museum work and gets them out in the community—even out into Troutman’s driveway, which he describes as being “ground zero for installing our exhibits in the trailer.”

The academic work for the museum’s next exhibit, covering the history of oil production in Louisiana’s oil-rich state, is now taking place in student seminars. In the fall, Troutman’s graduate student seminar will convert that scholarship into “Oil in Louisiana,” the next traveling exhibit.

Being a history professor, Dr. Troutman is eminently qualified to speak on the place of the Airstream in the historical record: “Airstreams are remarkable: Their popularity reflected the desire of Americans to learn about other parts of our country, and to expand the venues for their family time and their critical family experiences, beyond their homes, and onto the open road. The design aesthetic of these trailers is unmatched and a thing of wondrous beauty.”

Museum-quality beauty, it seems.

Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move
Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move

Details

Museum on the Move (MoM)

Museum on the Move (MoM) is a project of University of Louisiana at Lafayette History Department.

Public History students outfit a vintage Airstream trailer with an interpretive exhibit that will then hit the road to take history directly out of the classroom and to the public. Exhibits will be created on a rotating basis and require the melding of two courses and a cohort of students.

The first course is a traditional history course where students conduct research projects geared toward the planned exhibit. The next phase of the project is for a Museum Studies course, under the direction of Dr. John Troutman, where students re-craft the research done in the first class to create exhibit components that they will install in the trailer.

Once the exhibit is up and rolling, the trailer will be sent out on short runs to venues around the state where the students’ (and the program’s) work will be on display.

Website: www.museumonthemove.com

Worth Pondering…

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.

—Maya Angelou

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Vintage Trailers Retrofitted As Mobile Storefronts

Mobile retailers are popping up in trailers across the country.

The Airstream trailer store of Door Number Two is ready for business at the recent Love of Junk event. (Courtesy: Re:Fresh)
The Airstream trailer store of Door Number Two is ready for business at the recent Love of Junk event. (Courtesy: Re:Fresh)

This growing group of entrepreneurs who refuse to toe the traditional retail line have turned their retrofitted vintage trailers into mobile storefronts. The businesses are dedicated to selling everything from flowers and clothing to cigars and records. The model offers a chance to introduce a product or build a market without the same upfront investment as a traditional store.

This new trend in shopping has taken Walla Walla, Washington, by storm. The low overhead, flexibility, and overall fun of it have drawn merchants behind the wheels of Walla Walla’s roving retail establishments.

Owners in Walla Walla’s caravan of commerce say it may be possible to make a sustainable living with this business model. But so far all of them keep it extremely part time, which is part of the draw, according to a Walla Walla Union‑Bulletin news report.

This southeastern Washington community has seen pizzas, burgers, and even poutine sold from the windows of food trucks. Now comes candles, coasters, clothing, jewelry, home décor, and much more as the stable of mobile businesses grows.

With social media posts of their whereabouts fueling their following, they travel to events throughout the Walla Walla Valley — Love of Junk, Cottage on the Hill, the Country Store’s yearly parking lot sale, winery events, Wheelin’ Walla Walla Weekend — to set up and sell their wares.

The new kid on the block to Walla Walla’s store-on-wheels sect is Amanda Ewoniuk. She takes her traveling store, Re:Fresh, which she operates in a 1979 Nomad camper, wherever she wants it to go.

The wares for sale at Haulin’ Sass sprawl across the grass at Love of Junk. (Courtesy: Haulin’ Sass)
The wares for sale at Haulin’ Sass sprawl across the grass at Love of Junk. (Courtesy: Haulin’ Sass)

“It was the perfect opportunity for me,” Ewoniuk told the Walla Walla Union‑Bulletin, who transitioned from being a stay-at-home mom for 14 years to re-enter the work force.

“Having the trailer, I can go out and I can meet people and have fun doing it. But it’s not a brick-and-mortar store that I have to put in a certain number of hours a day. It allows me to do something creative and it also allows me to get out.”

A longtime refurbisher of furniture who finds creative pieces, Ewoniuk’s family history in construction and a love of antiques created an inlet to the business. In addition to furniture, she fills it with frilly tutus, a plethora of pink, intricate jewelry and Etsy creations — a reflection of herself as a mother of three girls.

Conversely, fellow seller Jessica Valentine Whiteside found the mobile retail model to be a way to expand her existing brick-and-mortar business. Whiteside, owner of downtown Walla Walla vintage and secondhand store Door Number Two, is able to bring her inventory to the masses, wherever they may travel.

About a half-dozen times a year, she converts her family Airstream into a showroom for her curated collections of dresses, blouses, pants, shoes, accessories, and more at various vendor gatherings.

For Shannon Smith McKeown and Catie McIntyre Walker — partners in a 1967 Fireball that houses Haulin’ Sass — the business fuels their shared passion for retail without requiring more commitment.

“To me, at this point, it’s just fun, and an escape.” said McIntyre Walker, who also owns the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman shop and is in the midst of writing a book.

She refers to the business in a 17 1/2-foot camper as “a food truck without the calories.” It had been a longtime dream of hers and McKeown’s when a mutual friend found the camper.

With some cabinetry work from a cousin of McKeown’s in Dayton, a paint job from another friend and some additional work by McKeown’s husband, the camper was quickly ready for the road.

She figures she makes about half the inventory — scarves, coasters, her signature cookbook “Eat Eat Walla Walla” and more — and purchases the other half — signs, squeaky shoes for children, etc. McIntyre Walker adds her own selections of collectibles and fun wine memorabilia.

Another pair of vendors, Kimberly Miner and Tami Arias, are credited with bringing the urban mobile shopping experience to the Valley in its current form, reports the Walla Walla Union‑Bulletin. The longtime friends purchased their campers just days apart, then paired up in 2012 to set up their businesses in parking lots and at events with the required mobile vending permitting needed to get started.

The businesses are set up just like regular stores. They have bags. They provide receipts. They pay taxes. Still, it’s hard for people to always see them as such.

The mobile retailers have learned there is power in numbers. When the group of vendors — which includes Leanna Yenney Taylor’s Unhitched Boutique — moves in a pack, they draw bigger crowds.

No longer reserved for the ice cream vendor — or food trucks in general, campers and trailers are the new storefront for those who prefer a nontraditional approach.

Worth Pondering…

If you do nothing unexpected, nothing unexpected happens.

—Fay Weldon

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RV Capital of the World

Elkhart County is considered the Recreational Vehicle Capital of the World.

The RV/MH Hall of Fame showcases the growth, history, and accomplishments of the recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries, with displays and restored units dating back to 1913. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The RV/MH Hall of Fame showcases the growth, history, and accomplishments of the recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries, with displays and restored units dating back to 1913. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Over 80 percent of the nation’s recreational vehicles are manufactured in Elkhart County. You’ll find everything RV here from manufacturing, service, repairs, parts, and accessories to dealers, campgrounds, and rallies. Take factory tours and watch recreational vehicles being assembled.

Although the majority of northern Indiana RV manufacturers are located in the surrounding communities of Goshen, Middlebury, Shipshewana, Wakarusa, and Nappanee, the city of Elkhart is considered the hub of the RV industry.

How did it all begin?

Its humble beginnings were in 1936 when Wilbur Schult, a dynamic promoter and retailer, bought Elkhart’s Sportsman Trailer Company from Milo Miller and started producing one trailer each day and sold them to consumers for the amazing price of $198.

1928 Pierce Arrow Fleet Housecar © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
1928 Pierce Arrow Fleet Housecar © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Schult was such a promoter that by 1939, he was the largest manufacturer in the industry and Elkhart was beginning to attract numerous suppliers and more manufacturers. In addition, Elkhart’s major highways and railroad transportation links and central location to large metropolitan markets made it accessible for easy shipment of goods.

By the late 1940s, when things began to boom again after the war, industry magazines began calling Elkhart the “Trailer Capital of the World”.

Today, the RV industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. In fact, nearly one thousand manufacturers of RVs, RV supplies, and parts are located in Elkhart County.

RV/MH Hall of Fame

You won’t want to miss the RV/MH Heritage Hall of Fame in Elkhart.

In 2007 the RV/MH Heritage Foundation moved from its cramped quarters in downtown Elkhart to a new 56,000-square-foot facility easily accessed from either the Indiana Toll Road (take exit 96 off of Interstate 80/90) or from within Elkhart via County Road 17.

There is on-site parking for up to 200 vehicles; the largest recreational vehicles can easily be accommodated.

1974 GMC Motor Home © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
1974 GMC Motor Home © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The RV/MH Hall of Fame showcases the growth, history, and accomplishments of the recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries, with displays and restored units dating back to 1913. America’s most scenic vistas come to life as you wander the varied exhibits showcasing the evolution of recreational vehicles.

The facility also features a conference center that seats 350 and a theatre with 75 permanent seats, a stage, and screen. After hours, the lobby can accommodate table seating for up to 200.

Details

RV/MH Hall of Fame

Shortly after the RV/MH Heritage Foundation was formed in March 1972, the Foundation honored the inaugural class of inductees into the RV/MH Hall of Fame.

Since that time 347 industry pioneers and leaders have joined the elite group.

Today, the Foundation maintains the national RV/MH Hall of Fame, Museum, Library, and Conference Center at its headquarters in Elkhart, Indiana.

The RV Founders Hall displays trailers, photos, and memorabilia reaching back to the 1920s and 1930s and is open to the public.

1958 Airstream Der Kleine Prinz (The Little Prince) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
1958 Airstream Der Kleine Prinz (The Little Prince) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The RV/MH Exhibitor Hall contains interesting displays illustrating the history and products of many of the parts manufacturers and service providers to the RV and manufactured housing industry.

Admission: $10; seniors, $8; youth ages 6-18, $7

Open: Monday-Saturday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; Sunday, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Address: 21565 Executive Parkway, Elkhart IN 46514

Location: From Indiana Toll Road (I-80/I-90) east of Elkhart, take Exit 96 South to County Road 17, turn left (east) on Executive Parkway to RV/MH Hall of Fame

Phone: (574) 293-2344 or (800) 378-8694 (toll free)

Website: rvmhhalloffame.org

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a 7-Part series on Amish Country

Worth Pondering…

Recreational vehicles are wonderful… To travel by RV is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches and rivers, in fact, to see life.
—with apologies to Agatha Christie

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Pink Airstream Brings Manicure Salon to You

If only having your nails manicured was as easy as ordering a chicken wrap from a food truck. That’s precisely the thought that 33-year-old Susan Aflak entertained while working as an investment banker in Los Angeles.

Pink Airstream Brings Manicure Salon to You
Pink Airstream Brings Manicure Salon to You

Aflak was working long, grueling hours leaving little time to address her personal beauty needs when a trip down to a lunch truck gave her the idea. If lunch could be delivered quickly and easily to her downtown office, why not a manicure?

This light bulb moment inspired La Lacquerie, the world’s first on-demand mobile manicure truck catering to time-short professionals in need of a quick fix.

Aflak quit her investment banker job, created a business plan, and bought a pre-owned 26 foot Airstream trailer off Craigslist.

She also went back to beauty school, received her manicurist license, and in January 2014, La Lacquerie was born.

Working out of an adorable pink Airstream, Aflak and her staff of nail technicians deliver quick, high-quality manicures and pedicures to professionals trying to squeeze in a conveniently-timed pamper session.

Pink Airstream Brings Manicure Salon to You
Pink Airstream Brings Manicure Salon to You

Based in Silicon Valley, a company can book the manicure truck to park outside its office. La Lacquerie then pulls up curbside, and opens to employees or passers-by.

The mobile nail shop has been a huge hit, especially among the tech companies including Google, Gap, Facebook, EA, and YouTube.

As people started posting on social media the word traveled quickly and the requests started coming in.

Aflak also started sending her nail techs to conference rooms to perform manicure meetings.

While Aflak is certain her convenient services brings in the customers, she figures her vintage Airstream is what sets them apart. Aflak spent a year renovating the 1960s trailer, painting it pink, installing plush white seating, pink curtains, and a crystal chandelier.

Pink Airstream Brings Manicure Salon to You
Pink Airstream Brings Manicure Salon to You

Manicures in La Lacquerie’s pink plush interior range from $16 (polish removal, file, lotion, polish) to $38 (Signature manicure with gel nail polish) with pedicures costing between $19 (polish removal, file, lotion, polish) and $45 (Signature manicure with gel nail polish). The manicures are full salon quality from top coat to base polish, and the pedicures are given ‘dry’ with a hot towel wrap to soften the skin.

Parties are also available for booking. Bachelorettes, sweet sixteens, bridal showers, or birthday parties are just a few occasions where La Lacquerie could spice up your party.

Host your party in the mobile salon and you can watch the mess drive away without breaking a nail!

Currently Aflak has one truck based in San Francisco, but she hopes to expand to other cities.

Details

La Lacquerie

La Lacquerie was created around a simple concept: let the salon come to you.

They believe that every woman likes to have their nails freshly painted by a professional but their lives are so busy, they often neglect their hands and feet.

Pink Airstream Brings Manicure Salon to You
Pink Airstream Brings Manicure Salon to You

Nice nails are a must, so why not handle one of your beauty errands with a full-service salon that is right at your fingertips.

Let La Lacquerie indulge you with a quick treat during your busy week.

La Lacquerie indulges ladies with a full-service mani and pedi experience at their office, school, or home.

Cleanliness is a top priority at La Lacquerie. Proper sanitation and disinfection are of utmost concern and they utilize the strictest sanitary procedures. Foot bath liners, files, and buffers are new for each client. Their nail implements are washed and disinfected in hospital-grade barbicide and packaged in medical-quality implement pouches.

La Lacquerie currently serve the San Francisco Bay Area so check out their schedule or book an appointment online. Let them come to you to give you the La Lacquerie treatment, your nails will thank you.

Phone: (650) 204-0185

Website: www.lalacquerie.com

Worth Pondering…

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

—George Bernard Shaw

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America’s Cool Airstream Motels

The Shady Dell

The Shady Dell
The Shady Dell

Nine lovely, fully restored vintage aluminum travel trailers await you at the Shady Dell in Bisbee, Arizona.

Whether it is the 33 foot Royal Mansion built in 1951 and restored with leopard carpet, martini glasses, Diner-style breakfast booth, and phonograph with a collection of 78 rpm re

cords, or the 1947 Tiki Bus Polynesian Palace, complete with hand-carved outrigger bar and your own Tiki God, the Shady Dell’s individual trailers will surely send you back to a time when freedom was just another word for jumping in your aluminum house on wheels.

Bisbee is captivating and full of historic buildings, museums, art galleries, antique shops, hidden walkways and plenty of ghosts. Its close proximity to Chiricahua National Park, Cochise Stronghold, and the Ramsey Canyon Nature Conservancy provides numerous opportunities for bird watching, rock hunting, biking, hiking, or just leisurely explorations of the wonders of southeastern Arizona’s high desert area.

Address: 1 Douglas Road, Bisbee, AZ 85603

Phone: (520) 432-3567

Website: www.theshadydell.com

El Cosmico

El Cosmico
El Cosmico

El Cosmico is an 18-acre nomadic hotel and campground in Marfa, Texas. In keeping with the belief that life should be a balance of adventure and do-nothingness they offer shelter, occasional entertainment, opportunity for learning/doing/making, and access to the majesty of the high plains desert.

From its wide open spaces to the vast canopy of stars above, El Cosmico provides temporary liberation from the built world. It is second home to intrepid travelers and wanderers from all corners of the planet.

Accommodations at El Cosmico include renovated vintage trailers, safari and scout tents, Sioux-style tepees, and tent campsites. The property also offers several communal spaces for guests—a hammock grove, an outdoor kitchen and dining area, a community lounge and mercantile, an outdoor stage, a reading room.

El Cosmico rents wood-fired hot tubs as the burn ban allows, and bikes for exploring Marfa.

Physical Address: 802 S. Highland Avenue, Marfa, TX 79843

Mailing Address: PO Box 1368, Marfa, TX 79843

Phone: (432) 729-1950 or (877) 822-1950 (toll free)

Website: www.elcosmico.com

Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Motel

Kate's Lazy Desert Airstream Motel
Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Motel

Kate, of B-52s fame invites visitors to “rocket through the wilderness” in a collection of six vintage Airstreams, the interiors of which riff off the kitsch of the band’s best-known material.

The Lava trailer, with its orange-blob paint job, mimics the gooey movement of the ’60s-style lamp, whereas Planet Air is cast in an otherworldly pink light to recreate the aura of Planet Claire. The windows are covered with colored gel to give the feeling of “pink air” and the interior has special “space controls and LED panels” fun!

In Hairstream, a fantasy version of a B-52′s dressing room, the walls are covered with posters and photos from each and every album, and the exterior is even stenciled with the names of places they’ve been—and some places they’ve never been—on the road.

Tiki features a groovy mid century Tiki bar motif inside and out.

In an earlier post on vogeltalksrving.com, we introduced Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Motel in the story, B-52 Love Shack: An Airstream Motel.

Address: 58380 Botkin Road, Landers, CA 92285

Location: 17 miles north of Yucca Valley, off State Route 247 (Old Woman Springs Road)

Phone: (845) 688-7200

Website: lazymeadow.com

Please Note: This Part 2 of a 2-part series on the Airstream mystique and Airstream motels

Part 1: Airstream Mystique

Worth Pondering…

Love Shack
If you see a faded sign at the side of the road that says
“15 miles to the Love Shack”
Love Shack, yeah, yeah
I’m headin’ down the Atlanta highway
Lookin’ for the love getaway
Headed for the love getaway

—recorded by The B-52’s

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Airstream Mystique

Airstream, manufacturer of the iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer, is the oldest and most recognized recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America.

Shooting Star Drive-In & Airstream Resort
Shooting Star Drive-In & Airstream Resort

In 1936, Wally Byam stated that he is in business “to make people’s dreams come true.”

When Airstream began, there were less than 48 trailer manufacturers that were registered for business. Five years later, nearly 400 companies squared off against each other. Today of those 400 companies, only Airstream remains.

The enthusiasm for Airstreams that has always been with us has surged in recent years with everyone from stylish millionaires to young travelers wanting to own one of these design icons.

In earlier posts on vogeltalksrving.com, we have discussed the Airstream mystique, unique uses, and commercial applications of the “silver bullet” in such diverse stories as Pushing the Airstream Boundaries and Airstream Goes Posh.

The only way you could experience the Airstream lifestyle on the open road was if you went all-out and bought the dream.

It was a commitment to be part of a lifestyle enjoyed by many and envied by many others.

Shooting Star Drive-In & Airstream Resort
Shooting Star Drive-In & Airstream Resort

Until now, there’d been no way to rent an Airstream to live this fantasy.

Enter Airstream hotels and motels as an alternative to owning the dream.

Hotels around the world are making happy campers by capitalizing on the retro-romantic image of Airstream trailers.

In this two-part series we’ll introduce some of America’s coolest Airstream motels, including B-52s singer Kate Pierson’s Kate’s Lazy Desert in Landers, California, which offers six restored units with psychedelic ’60s-inspired décor.

Shooting Star RV Resort 

The Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream and RV Park is the marriage of two iconic symbols of freedom and adventure on American highways.

Nestled between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Utah Scenic Byway 12 is located in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

This All-American Road which winds its way 124 miles from Panguitch to Torrey has dozens of natural attractions from alpine forests and ancient sea beds to pink rock turrets.

The Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream and RV Park features 360-degree views of the Grand Staircase, the Escalante Mountains, and Dixie National Forest.

It’s a one-of-a-kind resort along Utah’s Highway 12 where travelers can stay in one of eight shiny, custom-designed Airstreams restored Airstream travel trailers and sit in vintage convertible cars while they watch a drive-in movie.

Cowboy hopefuls should saddle on up to The Duke, a 31-foot trailer John Wayne used on the set of The Searchers. It’s outfitted with Western décor, leather furniture, and pony fur. There’s also a drive-in movie theater onsite—1960s convertibles included.

There you’ll also find 18 long, pull-through sites with 20/30/50-amp power, water, and picnic tables. Nine sites have a sewer connection and an easily accessible dump station is also available.

Shooting Star Drive-In & Airstream Resort
Shooting Star Drive-In & Airstream Resort

In an earlier post on vogeltalksrving.com, we introduced Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream and RV Park in the story, Two Iconic Symbols Merge: Vintage Airstreams & Drive-In Theater.

Address: 2020 West Highway 12, PO Box 290, Escalante, UT 84726

Phone: (435) 826-4440

Website: www.shootingstardrive-in.com

Please Note: This Part 1 of a 2-part series on the Airstream mystique and Airstream motels

Part 2: America’s Cool Airstream Motels

Worth Pondering…

I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band,
I saw a needle that winked its eye.
But I think I will have seen everything
When I see an Airstream fly.

—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo

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Vintage Airstream Custom Renovations

In an earlier post on vogeltalksrving.com, we introduced vintage Airstream renovations by Hofmann Architecture and its recently opened Airstream hotel consisting of four tricked-out trailers parked at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp.

Basic Renovation: 1975 Airstream International 27 foot
Basic Renovation: 1975 Airstream International 27 foot

Based in Santa Barbara, California, Hofmann Architecture (HofArc) takes vintage Airstream trailers and brings them back to life through custom design and craftsmanship based on the owner’s preference.

Matthew Hofmann is the President and Architect of HofArc. His design skills, teamed up with his father’s 30 years of media experience, created a business that uses design and vintage items to reflect an individual’s own personality.

Currently they have twelve employees working for them, mostly a collaboration of designers and craftsmen.

How much does an Airstream renovation cost?

“How much does an Airstream renovation cost?” is a question Hofmann hears fairly often, but the answer isn’t that simple. It’s like asking, “How much does a house cost?” or “How much does a computer cost?”

1967 Airstream Safari 23 foot
Mid-Level Renovation: 1967 Airstream Safari 23 foot

The actual cost will ultimately depend on the “as-is” condition of the Airstream plus the cost of the time and materials of what is installed.

The scope of the project depends on the customer’s requirements.

HofArc assists in finding a balance that meets one’s budget, requirements, and overall expectations.

Having completed more than 60 Airstream renovations has given Hofmann a good idea of what it takes to do the job right.

Following are three renovation options, and an image of past work that closely matches that option.

Basic Renovation

The basic renovation option has a wide range of price points partly due to the requirement to reuse many of the existing trailer’s systems and infrastructure.

Full Renovation: Airstream Mobile Office
Full Renovation: Airstream Mobile Office

This is a basic renovation that will replace up to half of the systems. Many of the existing components, such as lighting and select cabinetry, may be maintained for styling in a creative way.

Hofmann may be limited on the type of unit that will be appropriate for this type of renovation because we need to reuse many existing components to keep the price down.

Mid-Level Renovation 

The mid-level renovation will replace up to half of the systems. Many of the existing components, such as lighting and select cabinetry, may be maintained for styling in a creative way.

Certain elements of the vintage units, like the stove and range combination, or some of the fixtures may be retained.

Full Renovation 

Full Renovation: 1987 Airstream 325 Series Motorhome 34 foot
Full Renovation: 1987 Airstream 325 Series Motorhome 34 foot

This is a full renovation that will replace most, if not all, of the systems. Some existing components, such as lighting and just a few vintage elements, may be maintained for styling in a creative way.

In this renovation category Hofmann is able to significantly modify the outside shell—such as moving the entry door to the other side, or adding a large gull-wing style door (think back to the future time machine).

Hofmann is able to modify a trailer for international requirements in this price option.

Details

Hofmann Architecture

Hofmann Architecture (HofArc), based in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, is in the dream development business.

Since August of 2011, HofArc has become respected worldwide for custom Airstream renovations.

The firm is built on the foundation of sustainability, mobility, and adaptability.

Address: 519 N. Quarantina Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Phone: (805) 618-2461

Website: www.hofarc.com

Worth Pondering…

If you can dream it, you can do it.

—Walt Disney

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Buffalo Exchange Tours in Vintage Land Yacht Airstream

Buffalo Exchange, a widely known bargain clothing store, embarks on a great American road trip this spring.

Buffalo Exchange tours in vintage Land Yacht Airstream trailer. (Credit: buffaloexchange.com)
Buffalo Exchange tours in vintage Land Yacht Airstream trailer. (Credit: buffaloexchange.com)

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Buffalo Exchange will visit all their retail stores in a vintage Land Yacht Airstream trailer.

The shop that made “buy-sell-trade” a sustainable way to enhance your wardrobe on the cheap is celebrating its 40-year history with an apropos—and casually hip—pop-up tour across the country, reports austin.culturemap.com.

On board the vintage trailer, cost-conscious fashionistas can shop a collection of vintage and Western-inspired apparel and accessories.

A sneak peek inside the trailer, which begins its tour on March 7, reveals a well-curated selection of boots, handbags, jewelry, and clothing embodying a carefree bohemian vibe. (Think vintage cowboy boots, colorful ponchos, bright frocks, and leather satchels.)

Shopping is of course top of mind for those checking out the pop-up tour, but the Airstream is worth exploring, too. Its hippie-chic aesthetic comes from eclectic styling; in true Buffalo Exchange fashion, the trailer is outfitted with items purchased from thrift stores, flea markets, and salvage yards.

Buffalo Exchange tours in vintage Land Yacht Airstream trailer. (Credit: buffaloexchange.com)
Buffalo Exchange tours in vintage Land Yacht Airstream trailer. (Credit: buffaloexchange.com)

“Vintage suitcases were made into shelving, a fitting tribute to both clothing and travel,” said a Buffalo Exchange spokesperson.

“Sprinkled throughout the trailer are old photographs of (founders) Kerstin and Spencer (Brock), and the early days of the stores,” adding a personal touch to the already intimate shopping experience.

The two month tour will depart from its founding city of Tucson, Arizona, meandering its way through Arizona (Tempe, March 10 and Phoenix, March 11), Nevada (Las Vegas, March 13), New Mexico (Albuquerque, March 19), Texas (Dallas, March 22; Austin, March 23; Houston, March 26-27), Louisiana (New Orleans, March 29), Georgia (Atlanta, March 31), North Carolina (Charlotte, April 2), and Washington, DC (April 4-5).

Additional stops are planned for Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, California with the cross-country tour concluding the tour with two stops in Colorado (Denver, May 21 and Boulder, May 22).

The first Buffalo Exchange opened in 1974 in Tucson, Arizona by Kerstin and Spencer Block. To the best of their knowledge, Buffalo Exchange reports that this was the very first store that bought, sold, traded and took clothing items and accessories on consignment.

Buffalo Exchange tours in vintage Land Yacht Airstream trailer. (Credit: buffaloexchange.com)
Buffalo Exchange tours in vintage Land Yacht Airstream trailer. (Credit: buffaloexchange.com)

Kerstin, being Swedish, thought the word ‘Buffalo’ was very American. And since the store was going to be an ‘Exchange,’ the store’s name was born. The store was in a 450 square foot space that had been an old union office on a side street near the University of Arizona.

Kerstin’s love of fashion and thrill in finding a bargain combined to create the company that now has 46 stores and 3 franchises in 17 states, with $81.6 million a year in revenue (as of December 2012).

Buffalo Exchange is an independent and privately held company and the founders manage the day-to-day business.

Kerstin and her daughter Rebecca still own and run Buffalo Exchange out of Tucson.

To follow the cross-county tour click here.

Details

Buffalo Exchange, Ltd.

The purpose of Buffalo Exchange is to lead the resale fashion industry, provide a livelihood for its employees, a fair return to its owners, and achieve sustainable profitability.

Buffalo Exchange tours in vintage Land Yacht Airstream trailer. (Credit: buffaloexchange.com)
Buffalo Exchange tours in vintage Land Yacht Airstream trailer. (Credit: buffaloexchange.com)

Address: P.O. Box 40488, Tucson, AZ 85717

Phone: (520) 622-2711

Website: www.buffaloexchange.com

Worth Pondering…

I hope you dance because…

Time.

Time is a wheel.

Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along.

Tell me, who wants to look back on their years and wonder where their years have gone.

—Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers, I Hope You Dance

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Santa Barbara Auto Camp Rents Refurbished Airstreams

What is it about Airstream design that continues to engender such passion more than 80 years after the trailer first appeared?

The 1959 Airstream Overlander 26’ is a real star in our vintage Airstream series with its generous sleeping accommodations for four. (Source: sbautocamp.com)
The 1959 Airstream Overlander 26 foot is a star in the vintage Airstream series with its generous sleeping accommodations for four. (Source: sbautocamp.com)

Is it the alluring, streamlined aluminum shell, cozy interiors, nostalgia for a simpler era?
“It’s a part of American culture that transcends time,” Matthew Hofmann recently told the Los Angeles Times.

“It symbolizes style and adventure. There is something very fundamental about getting in your car and driving across country. It’s in our blood.”

Hofmann recently opened an Airstream hotel consisting of four tricked-out trailers parked midtown at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp.

Curious pedestrians frequently ask Hofmann and business partner Neil Dipaola if they could take a peek inside the Airstreams. Upon entering, they find renovated interiors with hotel upgrades perfectly suited for “glamping” — mini-bars, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs, air conditioning, and 1,000-thread-count sheets, all for $150 per night.

According to Airstream, about 70 percent of all the trailers ever manufactured by the company are still in use, so it is not surprising that Hofmann, as well as other entrepreneurs, would think to use them as lodging.

Singer Kate Pierson of the B-52’s opened her second vintage Airstream hotel— six trailers near Joshua Tree — in November.

But unlike Pierson’s playful kitschy decor, Hofmann’s Airstreams stand out for their surprising elegance. The modern updates are no different than any home remodel, he told the LA Times. Hoffman views his trailers from the 1950s to 1970s as floor plans for small-space living.

This 1973 Airstream Sovereign has been fully restored by Architect Matthew Hofmann. This thoughtfully designed vintage trailer sits on a grassy park like space at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp in the heart of Santa Barbara.
This 1973 Airstream Sovereign has been fully restored by Architect Matthew Hofmann. This thoughtfully designed vintage trailer sits on a grassy park like space at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp in the heart of Santa Barbara. (Source: sbautocamp.com)

Creating an open and airy feeling in just 150 to 200 square feet, requires cutting the excess, according to Hofmann.

“I tried to lighten them up and simplify them while maintaining their classicism,” he said.
Since the four trailers are used as hotel rooms, not for extended traveling or permanent living, Hofmann reduced the amount of storage, which made the interiors feel tight.

Next he removed plastic accessories that created “visual noise,” such as window coverings, valances, and spice racks. Existing vents on the roof were doubled in size to create skylights, bringing in more sunshine.

“It’s more than just painting the walls white,” Hofmann said of the quest to brighten the interiors. “It’s how the space feels as you move through it.”

To add warmth, Hofmann installed strand bamboo and teak flooring.

“You don’t want to feel like you’re in a tin can. Airstreams can have a Teutonic look.”
Hofmann saved original shelving and all of the windows. In some kitchens he refinished the original cabinets, and in others he added new fronts to the existing frames.

The most surprising space in each Airstream is the bathroom, traditionally a utilitarian space the size of a closet. Hofmann expanded them and created a sense of luxury by installing colorful recycled glass tile and wraparound Corian counter tops. Full-size toilets are a plus. In one trailer, he even added a claw-foot tub.

For Hofmann, who grew up building treehouses in Mammoth, the challenge of designing on such a small scale has been exciting. He has renovated more than 20 Airstreams and now focuses solely on renovating vintage trailers with the hope of opening more Airstream hotels, reports LA Times.

Pop culture humorist Charles Phoenix, author of “Americana the Beautiful: Mid-Century Culture in Kodachrome,” said the continuing fascination with vintage Airstreams makes complete sense when you consider each is “a little cozy cabin on wheels that looks like a bright and shiny Twinkie. How could something so warm and cozy be so shiny and slick at the same time?”

Details

Santa Barbara Auto Camp

The Santa Barbara Auto Camp started as an idea. An Architect and a Developer came together by their mutual interest in functional, beautiful design and their shared love of vintage Airstreams. And the Santa Barbara Auto Camp was born—a place where old meets new.

Well, reborn actually; the Santa Barbara Auto Camp has been operating continuously in the heart of Santa Barbara since 1922. To celebrate more than 90 years of operation at the Auto Camp, a set of beautifully-restored vintage Airstreams for nightly rental was added to the Auto Camp.

This 1959 Airstream Overlander is one of our favorite Airstream hotel suites.
This 1959 Airstream Overlander is one of our favorite Airstream hotel suites. (Source: sbautocamp.com)

Address: 2714 De La Vina Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Phone: (805) 364-2507

Website: sbautocamp.com

Worth Pondering…

I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band,
I saw a needle that winked its eye.
But I think I will have seen everything
When I see an Airstream fly.

—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo

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Pushing the Airstream Boundaries

Airstream continues to aggressively reposition its line of signature aluminum trailers to appeal to affluent, style-conscious adventurers.

The interior of a 1962 Airstream trailer customized in midcentury modern style (Source: timelesstraveltrailers.com)
The interior of a 1962 Airstream trailer customized in midcentury modern style (Source: timelesstraveltrailers.com)

In 2011, Airstream introduced a prototype design for a model called the Sterling, the latest in a series of Airstreams with interiors designed by Sausalito, California, industrial designer and architect Christopher C. Deam.

The Sterling went into production last year with bright aluminum walls on the inside (traditional Airstreams have floor-to-ceiling paneling), stainless-steel appliances, and brightly colored flooring in either “Arctic Dijon” green or “obsidian violet.”

The latest prototype from Airstream, the posh, 28-foot “Land Yacht” trailer, was designed by Mauro Micheli, international renown as a designer of multimillion-dollar superyachts. Airstream has yet to announce future plans for the Land Yacht.

For a few Airstream fans, the company’s efforts at pushing the boundaries simply aren’t enough. For them, there are companies like Timeless Travel Trailers, of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, that create one-of-a-kind custom interiors inside an Airstream’s classic aluminum shell.

Brett Hall, president of Timeless Trailers, says prices for his custom overhauls of Airstream trailers vary. Rehabbing a vintage 25-foot trailer starts at about $125,000, with larger jobs topping $200,000, he says—not including the cost of the trailer itself.

For nearly 30 years, Hall worked in railroad passenger car operations. His expertise was all-encompassing, from structures to mechanical and from systems to interiors.

(Source: timelesstraveltrailers.com)
(Source: timelesstraveltrailers.com)

From 1994 to 1999, he was a founding Vice President of the American Orient Express Railway Company overseeing the rebuilding of over 50 luxury railcars for the company’s fleet of rail-cruise trains.

After the sale of the railroad company, Hall switched careers moving into general contracting. Within a short time, he was back into his true passion—remanufacturing beautiful travel vehicles, only this time it was trailers rather than train cars.

The other partners of Timeless Travel Trailers include David Burner, retired CEO and chairman of the Goodrich Corporation (formerly BF Goodrich) and Sandra Burner, retired Vice Chancellor of Indiana University.

Timeless Travel Trailers operate a 13,000 square-foot manufacturing facility, an acre-large storage area, and employ over 25 craftspeople and technicians in northwest duburban Denver just one mile off of I-70 and only 30 minutes from Denver International Airport.

The lot and the workshop are filled with vintage Airstreams, Silver Streaks, Streamlines, Spartans, Avions, and other trailers.

The Timeless Travel Trailer team love the vintage lifestyle afforded by trailers of yesteryear. Most of their projects leave the plant as essentially new vehicles. Timeless Travel Trailer is the only vehicle manufacturer in North America that certifies their vintage trailers as meeting the 2008 codes and regulations for Recreational Vehicles when they complete them.

They certify that everything they remanufacture is up to current electrical, plumbing, and mechanical, fire protection, and life safety codes and meet the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or the requirements of the country of destination where the coach will be used.

Timeless Travel Trailers employ a third-party engineering firm to evaluate each and every chassis before beginning the remanufacturing process.

(Source: timelesstraveltrailers.com)
(Source: timelesstraveltrailers.com)

They bring the shells of these recreational vehicles back to life and fill them with amenities to suit their individual owners’ tastes and desires.

Every trailer is unique and road-worthy. It’s what they call “One for the Road.”

Details

Timeless Travel Trailers

Phone: (303) 432-7007

Website: timelesstraveltrailers.com

Worth Pondering…

The future belongs to those who believe in the future of their dreams.

—Eleanor Roosevelt

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