From the Blog

Super Shiny, Red Blooded, Gas Powered Recreation On Wheels

Wow! Dave and I went to the Portland RV Show on Saturday! We were the youngest people there!

Just imagine!

I’d never heard of Louis Lake before. In fact, I still haven’t heard of it. But it got my checkbook fired up and ready for some hot recreational vehicle browsing.

Some of these rigs were so unbelievably huge, I couldn’t fit them into the shot as I was taking the picture. And it just seemed too tacky to take a grand, sweeping panorama of a camper.

We don’t really know anything about motor homes or trailers or toy haulers or fifth wheels or any of that stuff. We do know we don’t like sleeping in a tent in the rain. Also, if we can avoid it, we’re not in love with using pit toilets. I guess that makes us soft, outdoorsy wimplings. But I’d rather be a wimp than a pit toilet lover, which is what you would be if you made fun of us for being wimps. Pit toilet lover!

We aren’t really in the market for one of these things. We just wanted to get a look at them. We may want to get one later in life, like when we are in our sixties or seventies. Which at the rate we are going, with the accordion music and matching jackets, is in one or two years.

If we were to get some kind of camper, we’d want the smallest possible. But even those are huge. And the graphics on all of these things are kind of embarrassing. There’s no such thing as “understated” in recreational vehicle styling. You want to know why? It’s because we’re goddamned recreating over here! Fuckers!

Holy crapping out loud, you can’t camp without a TV on the outside of your 50 foot RV! No sir! We’re taking this thing to Mount Rushmore, not communist Russia.

All the shag carpeting, molded particle wood, and la-z-boy comforts of home.

Dave and I began to suspect we were not the target demographic for motor home designers. Though I hear that burnt umber is going to make quite the splash in 2011.

We were not feeling good about what we were seeing. We reasoned that we could probably live with awful styling. We’re camping and avoiding pit toilets, not hosting dignitaries. But many of the fixtures were so flimsy and cheap, it was like they were designed to break or fall apart. For such “small” vehicles, we saw countless instances of wasted space and thoughtless design. They squeezed in as many modern conveniences and cheap extravagances as they could fit into a giant, tasteless package. Consumerism and one-up-manship on wheels.

I realize these vehicles are meant mostly for retirees who have the time and money to travel around with the least amount of hassle. More power to them. We’re basically trying to Bogart their lifestyle 30 years early. I realize I’m a snooty urbanite who shouldn’t be making fun of their doilies. But come on. It’s hard not to make fun of doilies.

These little mpgs were sort of cute.

These are light weight, they felt roomy, and had wood floors and decent styling. I probably couldn’t haul one of these with my dainty little Saab. But we have been thinking about tear drop trailers, particularly the T@Bs. We didn’t see any T@Bs at this show and were disappointed.

After poking around in all the enormous shiny rigs, it was beginning to feel like a lost cause. We hadn’t seen anything that called out to us. Nothing that beckoned to us with promises of wild adventure, wind in trees, or soothing drops of rain on a sealed, watertight roof.

But then.




Gah! Look at this little thing! OMFG! It’s called “Bambi!” Look at it!

From this point on, we were owned.

It was light and bright inside. The fixtures were so much higher quality. The styling was leagues above everything else. Clean lines, quality materials, wrap around windows. The Airstream campers were so, so much better than anything else. And they were so, so much more expensive.

The bigger ones were dreamboats.

I mean, I could live in this. Like, full time. I could hit the road and not look back. Just imagine!


This complicates things.

Damn you, Airstream. Damn you for showing us the other side. Damn you for appealing to our snooty urban sensibilities. We thought we were being all cool and post materialistic. But no, Airstream, you pressed all our raving, lunatic consumerist buttons.

Now we’re going to have to work until our seventies to afford one of these goddamned things.



  1. michael lewallen says

    My wife Susan and i have looked and loved the Bambi!! Like you, not into tent/rain camping. The clamshell teardrop by T&B (?) is awesome as well.

  2. Ooooooh, shiny!


    Wait, I don’t camp…

  3. Very nice, I bet it was great to finally see what you were looking for! Who knows, maybe in a year or two, that could be home.

  4. Awesome roundup! :D

    You may want to check out Michael Janzen’s Tiny house design blog. He has some great ideas of bringing all of your needs together without the fancy price tag. Although Airstreams are definitely the prom-queen of most shows we’ve heard from many folks that they are mainly designed as 3-season campers. Meaning the insulation is too thin for colder climates. Jay Shafer has a story of living in one during a winter in Iowa and having to wipe the walls down every morning from all the condensation. :P

  5. Maybe you can find a used one? It looks awesome!

  6. @frugalbabe, We are definitely going to look at used Airstreams. They hold up well and retain their resale value. There’s a whole Airstream culture out there. Remodelers and renovators and caravaners. I could totally live that life. Just have to figure out how to eat. :-)

    @Logan, I was intrigued, this Bambi in the photo above, it was “winterized.” As if I needed to love it any harder! But I wonder what that means. If what they say is winterizing, is it really enough for four seasons? Or at least our mild Oregon winters.

    Our other problem is how to haul it around. I don’t like the idea of getting a truck. I like the idea of an SUV even less. The hybrids don’t seem to have enough pulling power. Maybe we need to get some vintage old diesel truck and make it run on cooking oil.

    Again, I find myself wishing I was a mechanic instead of an accountant.

  7. Can you rent one?


  8. Look at the smile on Dave’s face!!!! I love it!!

  9. I can see bright purple or orange pillows flashing against that aluminum looking paneling! Very retro! And I can see Dave eating granola at that table with your home roasted coffee!

  10. michael lewallen says

    The towing capacity of the Saab 9-5 is 3500lbs which is the GVW of the bambi (i believe). Your saab would work for most circumstances. Loaded with cases of beer, rocks from the painted desert and a poached deer would send you over the limit! See site below.


  11. @katy, It would be smart for us to rent one first, wouldn’t it? We will certainly look into that option. But then…how to tow? Will have to rent a truck or something too. Again, totally doable. But what a production. It would have to be a real vacation with a real budget. And it will be like Mickey, Goofy and Donald going camping.

    @michael We have the much maligned “Saabaru,” the short lived 92-X. Basically, a Subaru WRX. Nice for driving, not so great for towing. I can pull 2000 lbs if the trailer has its own breaks. So we could pull a T@B, but not a Bambi.

    @Meredith, you just described Dave’s ultimate fantasy (that doesn’t involve accordions or polka).

  12. Renting an RV is incredibly expensive. I looked into it, because I am 90.

    I had no idea there was an RV show in town — otherwise, I so would have been there! Living the dream!

  13. Aimee Wynhausen says

    The airstream is super cute.

  14. i checked out a T@B at a campsite i was staying at last year. super super cool. you definitely should check those out. they have a version with the cooking stuff inside or outside. the whole point, for me, is cooking inside with no bugs. the T@Bs have an attached outside tent too, solid and/or screened, so you can set up a table oout there and a couple chairs for the really buggy nights. they are much lighter too, than the airstreams. the airstreams are rock stars though. too frakkin cool for words. way spendy, as you saw. you can rent airstreams, but the cost and the deposit are outrageous. the place i checked out wanted a $2500 CASH deposit, and a credit card. yikes! not to mention, like $400 a day. 6 cyl small pickup truck with a tow package will pull 3500lbs.

  15. Jumping in here…we have a 16 ft. Bambi and have used it all winter long! We don’t winterize, just plug a little heater in when it’s freezing out and we’re good. It’s small enough that we can pull it with our mid sized SUV…One of our best camping trips was in the snow this winter and winter camping in Oregon is wonderful! We love having the campgrounds all to ourselves!!

    Love your blog…love your writing style..a new fan here :)

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