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‘Airstream Parks’ Pop Up Across Golden State

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July 25, 2014 by   Leave a Comment

Palo Alto, Calif., in his rear-view mirror, Keith Orchard and family┬áheaded down Highway 101 in their SUV, Santa Barbara-bound. As reported by the Sacramento Bee, they were off to vacation with two other families, take in the cool ocean breeze, soak up the city’s chill vibe and catch the city’s annual wacky and weird Solstice Parade, at which a city councilman dons a jester’s hat and the mayor presides atop a “Game of Thrones” float.

And this eyebrow-raiser, too: They would be staying at a trailer park.

Now, you’ve got to visualize the Orchards to appreciate the incongruity here. Keith and Nancy are your average suburbanites in their mid-40s, working in the high-tech sector, with two middle-school-age kids, Amanda and Charlie. After pulling into the Auto Camp, a tightly packed trailer village off a busy downtown Santa Barbara street, Nancy emerged from the car and started hefting luggage toward their camper, saying, “Thank God, we don’t have to hook it up to anything.”

Keith seemed more amused than bemused by this new experience.

“Jokingly, when we told our friends, ‘Hey we’re going to go stay in Santa Barbara in a trailer park,’ and they were like, ‘What?’ ” he said. “So I say, ‘We’re camping at a trailer park.’ And they say, ‘What?’ So then I say, ‘OK, it’s this Airstream park.’ And then they’re like, ‘Oh, that sounds like fun. Send us a picture.’ “

Ah, yes. As soon as you invoke the word Airstream, people get the attraction.

Across California, Airstream parks or traditional RV parks with permanent Airstreams available for nightly rental have popped up with regularity.

Santa Barbara’s Auto Camp, which has five non-ambulatory, custom-designed Airstreams parked in front of a trailer park with permanent residents, has been featured in such travel bibles as Sunset Magazine, Travel + Leisure and National Geographic Traveler. The Auto Camp is so popular, its owners are planning to open similar sites soon in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Ventura.

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