Standing in the doorway of my gently used Airstream (Photo: Lisa McElroy)
Some women collect handbags. Some collect pins, or magnets, or snow globes.
I just happen to collect teeny-weeny trailers.
I know, I know. I already have Virginia, my 1968 Scotty, all dressed up in yellow and pink and floral print for spring. She is awesome, and beautiful, and just right for a mother-daughter or sister-sister (Sisters on the Fly, that is) kind of weekend.
But every girl also deserves a little bling. For some, diamonds are where it’s at. Gold works for others. For me? It’s all about aluminum, shiny aluminum, aluminum that reflects like a mirror but hides my love handles and crow’s-feet.
I’m talking Airstream, baby.
When I saw an ad in a vintage trailer lovers’ group on Facebook for a 1965 Airstream, I knew I couldn’t do the whole silver bullet thing on my own. For one thing, I don’t own a truck (you may recall my 2015 Chevy Tahoe fantasies). My little SUV pulls the Scotty with a determined chugga-chugga-chug, but as much as its confident heart might say, “I think I can, I think I can” … Well, it just can’t. Second, I have a driveway that already has a Prius, an SUV, and a teeny-weeny trailer living in it.
And finally, I was going to meet a stranger, who said he had an Airstream, for a hard-to-believe price … in West Virginia. It’s not that I think bad things happen in West Virginia, necessarily. But I have not often heard of good things happening there, either. Especially with strangers who want you to bring cash. Um. Yikes.
Before we hitched up the Airstream for the drive home (Photo: Lisa McElroy)
I needed someone with a truck, a parking area, a handy nature, and a lot of courage. It was time for some Sisterly intervention.
And so I called my friend Q, who has all those things — plus she’s a trailer restorer and designer extraordinaire. “Up for an adventure?” I asked. “Want to put your boots and jeans on right now and drive to West Virginia?”
West Virginia was not on Q’s bucket list, either. “Why don’t we go to the movies instead?”
“We’re going to get an Airstream, baby,” I told her.
“What if it’s a scam?”she said.
“It’s more likely to be a crime scene,” I answered. “But what’s life without a little risk?”
“I’m in,” she replied.
I could tell you all about how we kept driving, and driving, and driving, and West Virginia kept seeming like a mirage in the desert, right there on the horizon but never actually getting any closer. I could tell you about how we decided we’d eat some lunch in about four hours when we got to West Virginia, but how that turned into a snack, then finally ended up being a 9:00 p.m. dinner for two hangry Sisters who did their very best not to cry when the waitress forgot to bring the biscuits with the sodas. I could tell you about how, when we were more than two hours down the road, we realized that my bank had no branch anywhere near West Virginia, and we had to backtrack 90 miles to get cash for the probable murderer who was waiting for us.
Things got a little goofy on the road! (Photo: Lisa McElroy)
But that’s not the exciting part of the story. You seen one girl road trip, you seen ’em all.
The part you want to hear about is how, after nine hours of driving (it was supposed to take four), we finally pulled into a hotel parking lot to meet the Guy With the Airstream (GWTA). He stepped out of his truck.
“He looks normal,” Q whispered. “He looks like an honest working guy. He has dirt on his jeans.”
“That’s because he was digging our graves in the woods before he met us here,” I answered.
“So, where’s the Airstream?” an unworried Q asked the GWTA.
“It’s about 15 miles away. I’ll lead you there.”
I gave Q a look. We were in West Virginia. We were following a GWTA in a pickup truck out into the country.We had no cell signal. We still weren’t sure this Airstream actually existed. I texted my husband. “Here’s a photo of the license plate on the truck we’re following. If you never see me again, it was a great 20 years.”
We drove for about 20 minutes, passing houses and sheds and cows and goats. No Airstream. We passed trailer parks and check-cashing places and about 19 dollar stores. No Airstream.
We went up over a ridge. And then there was the moment. That moment all little girls dream of. The moment when time stands still, because … she finds her dream. An Airstream. The perfect bling.
I had to give my new Airstream a hug. (Photo: Lisa McElroy)
She was dirty, it’s true. One of her windows was made of Plexiglas, her tires were shot, and her back end had a replacement panel that didn’t quite match. But we loved her anyway. And we named her Earlene Grey. Our own lovely, elegant girl.
After an exchange of cash and keys that resulted in the GWTA’s driving off without our dead bodies in the back of his truck, we were standing in our very own dream.
The ride back to Philadelphia was the giddiest five hours of my life. Now I’ve got two trailers. One is teeny-weeny, and one is just teeny.
Follow our journey in the sweet Earlene Grey, as we fix her up and take her on the road.
Earlene after her first wash. Looking shiny. (Photo: Lisa McElroy)
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