VIDEO: Seaside Airstreams

Posted In: Airstream, Destinations, Florida, Video, Vintage

“I don’t get the Airstream thing,” a gentleman recently posted on our YouTube Channel.

Fair enough. Believe it or not, I know what he means. The pragmatist in me (remember, I survived college on a steady diet of Ramen noodles and Taco Bell) understands his point of view, even though I do get the Airstream thing.

Airstreams cost a little (sometimes a lot) more. They are Old School. The very characteristics that are key to their appeal –aluminum skin and curvaceous shape — are also laden with significant drawbacks.

On paper, fiberglass is a far more practical lightweight material for a camper. It’s inexpensive, durable, and does not leak.

On paper, a rectangular box is a far more practical shape for a camper. Straight angles create more livable space than sexy curves. While curves compromise interior cabinetry and storage space, boxes allow more of both.

But we don’t live on paper. In the real world, aesthetics count for something. Some things are more than the sum of their parts. Some shapes and products evoke an emotional reaction. Some creations make us smile. Others simply do not. Bigger is not always better. It’s hard to precisely define “charm,” but we know it when we see it.

Consider, for example, the town of Seaside, Florida. How to describe Seaside? It’s a planned community with the tagline “new urbanism” attached to it. Three decades ago, there was no Seaside. Today it’s a bustling resort town, albeit one with a somewhat transient citizenry.

Click the pic for a panoramic image of the Seaside amphitheater on a typical summer day.

Seaside is a beach vacation destination. By design, Seaside has no high rise buildings or massive swimming pools. Its homes are of modest “cottage” size in this age of the McMansion. Streets are narrow. It’s just a quaint little town wisely positioned a safe distance away from sand dunes and sea oats. The town founders undoubtedly planned every square inch, but they also allowed for organic growth.

In the heart of Seaside lies its Airstream Court (at least that’s what I’m calling it). It all started with a simple vintage Bambi that was converted into an ice cream stand. Then along came a vintage Safari that morphed into a juice bar. As the years went by, more Airstreams joined the party. Now there’s barbecue, hot dogs, and grilled cheese tossed into the mix. All prepped and served in a half dozen vintage trailers. All positioned front and center in a town where the average empty lot now costs a half million.

Yes, Seaside is a carefully planned town. That planning has helped produce some extremely valuable real estate. I can’t imagine that you could plant a blade of grass in Seaside without first consulting a law firm and the architectural review community. Yet somehow the vintage trailers look right at home here. They are not cookie cutter creations. Each is unique. They are completely accepted into the community as organic members. They don’t really “stand out.” Instead, they blend right in.

If I had to pinpoint a characteristic that makes Seaside different from other beach communities (even the planned ones) it would be charm. That’s one reason I believe that Airstreams are right at home here. It has everything to do with the original design. The materials (sheets of aluminum and rivets) are simple and obviously have been assembled by hand. Vintage Airstreams exude charm and character in a manner that modern rigs often lack. They are not dated; they are timeless.

Don’t “get” the Airstream thing? I completely understand your point of view. Airstreaming is not the most practical mode of travel. Airstreams are not the most practical choice of camper. But take a stroll along Scenic Highway 30A in Seaside. Maybe your understanding will be enhanced. Maybe you will get it, after all.

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