On a hot summer day in Lodi, California, a community of vintage mid-century trailer restoration enthusiasts held an Open House during their TrailerFest 2013 Rally. Gathering at the Stockton Delta KOA campground, members of VintageCamperTrailers.com invited the general public to tour their tiny homes that have been kept in mint condition, restored, or renovated to be road-worthy dwellings.
Upon arriving at the campground, I approached two couples near the entrance to the area that was reserved for the Rally and asked them about the expected etiquette and protocol. I was surprised to learn that, during the Open House, I could feel free to step inside the trailers, take pictures, talk to the owners, and purchase antique items that some of them were selling. I was told that many of the restorations have incorporated sustainability features such as solar power and highly efficient plumbing fixtures.
With my camera discreetly carried in such a way that I could explore the dozens of camper trailers and vintage vehicles on display and not distract other tourists, I had a fabulous time immersing myself in this subculture. I have often wondered if I could live in such a tiny space as a teardrop trailer for any length of time and, finally having the chance to see one up close and personal gave me pause. I once lived in a 180 square foot apartment rather comfortably, but I didn’t think that the teardrop trailers would be very livable for me because only the sleeping quarters are sheltered. They are definitely designed more for camping or short-term stays, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of our readers would be more adventurous.
I saw several quite small trailers that had been built out to be very comfortable for one person, but I think that it would require a very special relationship to live in such close quarters with another person. Some of the owners that I talked to agreed and said that, when you are living for an extended period of time in such a small space, it is better to have it parked in a nature setting that you enjoy, because you end up spending a lot of time outdoors. To that end, many trailer owners have designed an extended living area outside the trailer.
Eventually, I decided that the idea of owning one of these restored camper trailers would best remain a “bucket list” fantasy, as it became clear to me that the hobby of restoring and decorating them can become expensive and time consuming. It is clearly a labor of love for these people and I was in awe of the craftsmanship, attention to detail, and the time and effort in collecting and assembling items that are appropriate to the era.
While only a few pictures are featured in this article, I welcome you to view the full set on my Flickr page. If you are interested in learning more about upcoming rallies and gatherings, visit VintageCamperTrailers.com, where you can sign up for Email updates, subscribe to a bi-monthly publication, and like their Facebook page, on which you can regularly view images of restored trailers.