We get our first campground experience with 41 other Airstreams and vintage trailers in Coloma, CA.
The thing I appreciate most about owning my Airstream trailer is that it provides a platform for escape. When I park my rig at a winery, I know that at least during the evening hours I will have the place to myself. Don’t get me wrong–I really enjoy meeting people and talking to old friends–but I relish the opportunity of isolation, unless of course my friend, Ellen, can join me.
Until this weekend, I never understood why folks who own trailers pull them long distances to faraway campgrounds to park bumper to bumper in a lot full of other trailers. It just never made sense to me why people would want to intentionally live in tenement-style conditions, with the ability to look straight into another mobile home. Privacy is limited and there are no secrets in any RV campground.
But after spending the weekend at the Coloma Resort, just 17 miles from Auburn, I get it now. . .sort of. Ellen and I participated in the Coloma Campout 2010, a gathering of more than 40 vintage trailers and a few newer coaches. Most of the rigs were old school Airstreams, including a number of 1950s-era “Bubble” models, tiny trailers that cram in a kitchen, toilet, bed and table in as little as 13 feet of living space. There were other great nameplates such as Cardinal, Jewel and Boles Aero. For someone with a new interest in venerable trailers, it was a tasty feast.
The Coloma Resort isn’t your typical campground. It is situated directly behind a state park at Sutter’s Mill, the 1848 gold discovery site on the American River on Rte. 49 between Auburn and Placerville. Each trailer site backed right up to the river, which was flowing swiftly–thanks to a heavy spring thaw in the Sierra–and carried ample raft and kayak traffic. Everything was green, the weather cool with threats of rain each day of the weekend.
As soon as I pulled up, I met Bob, who guided me backing my trailer into my spot. He gave me a ton of great advice–especially how to level the trailer and maintain the hitch system. Actually, everyone at the event was great. . .we were invited into every trailer to take a look and there was plenty to see. Many of these folks have spent an incredible amount of time and money to refurbish their trailers, and they are happy to share what they know and to show off their rigs.
What became abundantly clear to me was the importance of the social aspects of the meet. Many of the participants have been coming to the event for years, and many in the group had travelled directly from a huge rally of about 250 trailers at Pismo Beach, perhaps the most prestigious of all shows of the genre in California. Just about everyone was acquainted. . .Ellen, Moose and I were newcomers, but welcomed none-the-less.
Unfortunately, other than visiting with just about everyone, we failed to penetrate the highly developed party circuit, and that was our fault. Ellen and I went to Cafe Mahjaic, a fine dining restaurant in Lotus on Friday evening. Saturday evening we had to return to Auburn for a wedding reception, and we slept in both mornings. . .effectively missing all of the planned potluck meals and social functions.
I think we may have screwed up, but no one seemed to miss us. If we’re invited to go back next year, we’ll do it right. . .especially now that we know how it works; this was, after all, our first formal event.
Bottom line is we had a great time, and with more experience, I’m starting to become more comfortable using my Airstream. Now, I need to get a small leak in the plumbing fixed and figure out where my next stop will be on the Vintage Highway.