VIDEO: Alex, Tin Can Tourist

Posted In: Florida, Interviews, People We Meet, RV Lifestyle, Video, Vintage

While on the road promoting my novel The Lost Spyder, Kristy and I attended a vintage car show in Rosemary Beach, Florida. In fact, we did more than simply attend this car show – we served as judges, giving each vehicle the “white glove and electron microscope” treatment. We gave awards for best paint, best engine, and best interior. Judging a car show is more difficult than it sounds. There were several worthy contenders at this show, and it was tough to make final selections.

Aristocrat Mainliner & a Tin Can Tourist from Sean Michael on Vimeo.

Since this was a vintage show, each car predated the year 1976. There was a nice variety of cars on hand, ranging from an immaculate 1949 MG roadster to a 1960 Corvette to a pair of beautiful 1950s VW Beetles. There were several vintage pickup trucks that looked as if they just rolled off the showroom floor. Amongst all of the shiny mechanical gear, there was one standout vehicle. Yes, we spied a lovely vintage CAMPER resting alongside all of the cars and trucks.

Naturally, my curiosity was piqued. Who brings a camper to a car show? I had to find out. It turns out that Alex, the owner of the 1965 Aristocrat Mainliner, is a kindred spirit in more ways than one. She graciously hosted an open house of sorts, answering questions about her camper. A member of the Tin Can Tourists vintage camping club, she brought the camper to the car show just for fun.

She has owned the camper for about three years, she said. It is in pristine original condition, and for a camper that’s almost FIFTY years old this is no small feat. She bought the camper via eBay from its owners in Salt Lake City; I suspect that dry Utah desert air (along with decades of conscientious ownership) had something to do with preserving the Aristocrat over the years.

If I had to choose one word to describe Alex’s vintage camper, it would be “original.” For the most part, the camper is obviously in its original form. Alex explained that she carefully sought an unmolested example of the brand. In those places where her camper required some restoration and upgrading (for example, the curtains) she made careful period-appropriate selections.

The interior displays a decorator’s touch, with a variety of playful art. One painting celebrates “Hoppy,” the nickname Alex chose for her Aristocrat camper. “That’s the nickname,” Alex explained, “because she just hops along as we travel down the highway.”

Note that Alex’s camper is not a museum piece or a garage queen. She enjoys the Aristocrat in the manner originally intended: CAMPING! She has taken it to Tin Can Tourist rallies. “Hoppy” is a means of exploring the region, meeting people, and getting more out of life.

After speaking with Alex for a bit, we discovered that we share several common interests. In addition to enthusiasm for vintage vehicles and camping, we both are passionate about video. (Making quality video is kind of like making blood sausage, but a few of us sickos actually enjoy the process.) Alex has done a lot of work with television, while Kristy and I have had a few brief interludes with HGTV and the Travel Channel.

“I wasn’t sure about bringing this camper to a vintage car show,” Alex said, “but you never know who you’re going to meet.”

Indeed. That’s the spirit that makes events like vintage car shows and camping rallies tick. It all goes back to that phrase adopted by the Porsche Club: IT’S THE PEOPLE.

Sure, Kristy and I are Airstream enthusiasts. We’re also RV enthusiasts, vintage camping enthusiasts, car enthusiasts, and motorcycle enthusiasts. It’s more about mindset than it is the product or lifestyle in question. We’re enthusiasts of cool people and the fun activities they pursue.

From the guy who lovingly restored his workhorse 1970 Chevy pickup truck (winning the “best paint” award in the process) to Alex and her fantastic 1965 Aristocrat Mainliner – it’s always rewarding to meet kindred spirits.

Special thanks to Alex Alexander for sharing “Hoppy” with the rest of us.

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