Airstream’in Dream’in


The year is 1911.

Picture a young boy: poor, hungry, ignored.


He travels with his sheepherder grandfather, tending the flock.


The young boy is required to take the animals up into the mountains of Oregon, for months on end, alone. Only a make-shift wagon with a canvas top pulled by a mule will be his shelter.


He has some beef jerky, a thermos, a hardwood cookstove, a kerosine lantern, and a few mystery books. A water stained adventure magazine is his favorite.


When he returns the livestock to low ground in the autumn of 1916, he packs a sack and jumps a ride on a train, down the coast to Los Angeles. HoBo style.


He joins the Merchant Marine, and travels, and dreams.


The boy feels the pull of learning, and working several odd jobs and sailoring during the summer months, he, somehow, affords his way through Stanford University.


In 1921, at age 25, he graduates from the College of Law, but will never practice. He has other ideas.


The memory of travel on the High Sea has set his rudder.


In the backyard of a small wood frame house in Los Angeles, the man builds ships. Land ships.


They have all the comforts of home: self contained clean water, cooking, refrigeration, sleeping quarters. Toilets.


They can easily be pulled from a the back of a car. And everyone has a car. They’re the new craze.


A grown man can stand erect within the confines of his own shiny ship. The captain of his own vessel.


People come from far and wide to see the ‘craft’.


He sells them as fast as he can build them- one at a time.


He publishes a small newsletter instructing fellow enthusiasts on how to build their own to accommodate the demand, but his followers would not only prefer he build them- they also want him to guide them in the adventure.


The man forges ahead, finding financing, hiring engineers, developing a manufacturing plant, and setting off on adventures around the world with his land craft. All the while, asking for others to join him.


And they did- to Egypt, Europe, India, as well as, the great American outdoors, which were all backscape for the Wally Byam Caravan Club International group of adventurers, and the making of an iconic American company that would become known as…




And my sister-n-law has one.


And my adventures with her are still unfolding.


Wally would love that.



With my brother-n-law, Ted Batchelor, holder of the Guinness Book, World record for Most People on Fire Simultaneously. I am NOT Kidding. PINIMAGE

With my brother-n-law, Ted Batchelor, holder of the Guinness Book, World record for Most People on Fire Simultaneously. I am NOT Kidding.






  • Cary - My partner really wants one of these.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Don’t we all! They are AWESOME on the inside. Ben and I are thinking about getting one and making the restoration a project- like I need another ‘project’.ReplyCancel

  • Doreen McGettigan - My inlaws had one and it was a beauty. I loved caravanning with them when my kids were small.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - I bet. They really are just beautiful and, if my sister-n-law is any indication, the people who caravan are wonderful! So fun!!!ReplyCancel

  • Lana - This brings back such memories! My grandparents had an Airstream for years and were part of the caravan club – they had many wonderful adventures! Waiting for the story about Ted…ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Ya know? I really SHOULD write a post about Ted. Quite a character! Thanks for the idea!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Lynda@fitnessmomwinecountry - Cheryl, anytime I see one of these, I think of Lucy and Ricky
    {The Long, Long Trailer} movie. I love the planter box outside the window. I have never been inside one, but looks very fun for family travelsReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Oh you should see the inside!!!! So diminutive with not an inch wasted. Absolutely charming. I would go crazy decorating one in 1950’s vintage style. My sister-n-law is so stylish- that window planter box is perfect, and she had an awning sewn for outside from a new fabric that looks vintage. Very clever. Let’s all get one and meet up! hahaaaReplyCancel

  • Carol Cassara - Airstream. Grey’s Anatomy. I’ll say no more.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - What???? You’re going above my pay grade- again!ReplyCancel

  • Susan - ofeverymoment - The photos make me want to visit!
    Also, after reading your bio about Wally, if my life story ever needs to be told – I want you to write it!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Ohhhhhh, I’d LOVE TO!!!! I’m thinking of writing my Obit- now. Hahaaaaa I will be amazing if I have anything to say about it!ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne Bluth Robertson - Yes, yes… I want one. It looks so FUN. I love the garden on the back.


  • William Kendall - I’ve seen these things in campgrounds, but never did get in one.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - AMAZING inside. So compact but efficient. Very Retro and shiny. I like it all!ReplyCancel

  • Vashti Q - Hi Cheryl! This entire post fascinated me from start to finish. Now, I really want one of these and the adventures too! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Terrye Toombs - How awesome is THAT?! ReplyCancel

  • Alana - Yes! Yes! Yes! This has been my dream since I worked in an insurance agency in Arkansas that wrote insurance on Airstreams (and other types of travel trailers and mobile homes). There is something so special about Airstreams.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - They are….. beautiful. Really beautiful. It fast becoming one of my ‘dreams’ as well. Meet you at the Caravan?ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Craggs - Your writing really drew me in, and to be about such a fabulous land craft, even more! Your brother in law sounds like someone who will try anything! I gather it was intentional? xReplyCancel

  • Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain's Wife - Wish we had an Airstream; I’ve always loved them! FYI, I’m under orders from my tugboat man to make sure everyone knows it’s “Merchant Marine”, not “Merchant Marines”, and one is referred to a a “Merchant Mariner”. (Don’t shoot the messenger!!)ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Good to know. I’ll go in and make the change now….ReplyCancel

  • Sue - Airstreams are such a head turner. Loved the story!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - A kind of ‘house’ for you to write about on your wonderful blog?ReplyCancel

  • Gary Sidley - So I can now add ‘marketing executive’ to your burgeoning list of talents! My good lady has recently expressed an interest in caravaning; if she were to read this post I’m sure she’d flip into overdrive and nag me into submission. ReplyCancel

  • Big Top Family - Wow! What a great story, I loved this. And yeah, even though I already did my time in a trailer back in 1979 or so, you did kinda make me want an Airstream. 😉 ReplyCancel

  • Claudia Schmidt - I always thought it would be way cool to travel cross country in one of these babies! Maybe I still will, when the kids are out of college. Love the pictures, cool story, I had no idea about how he came up with them.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Thanks Claudia! I agree- very cool. We should start our own caravan group? Wouldn’t THAT be a R-I-O-T!!!ReplyCancel

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