Summer Fun with a 1958 Airstream Trailer Michael Merriman of Napa, Calif., recently bought and renovated a 1958 Airstream trailer, which he took to Bozeman, Mont., for the 51st International Airstream Rally. He describes a sea of vintage RVs at Montana State University.
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Summer Fun with a 1958 Airstream Trailer

Hear About The Trip

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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As part of our summer adventure series, we've been following some of you around on your vacations.

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Ms. CATHY FELDON(ph) (Caller): This is Cathy Feldon. I live in Cheyenne, Wyoming. My granddaughter and I are going to a fish camp 20 miles north of the Arctic Circle where we'll be hunting for mammoth bones and living with the Inupiat Eskimos.

Mr. BRIAN FRANCO(ph) (Caller): My name is Brian Franco. I am from Logan, Utah. And this summer I am going to walk the length of Idaho. And 900 miles and 50 days later, my dog and I will arrive in Nevada.

Mr. NANCY ATRAMENDI(ph) (Caller): Hi, I am Nancy Atramendi, and I'm from Menlo Park, California. I am spending the month on an icebreaker in Antarctica. And I'm there as we speak.

HANSEN: This week, we are talking to Michael Merriman of Napa, California. He recently bought and renovated a 1958 Airstream trailer which he towed to Bozeman, Montana, for the 51st International Airstream Rally. We've reached him in Bozeman. Hi, Michael. Welcome to the show.

Mr. MICHAEL MERRIMAN (1958 Airstream Trailer Enthusiast): Thank you, Liane.

HANSEN: So what inspired your summer adventure?

Mr. MERRIMAN: Well, I had been working for a year or so on renovating my trailer. And since it was the 50th birthday of the trailer in 1958, and 51st annual rally, I figured this was an ideal spot to bring it to celebrate.

HANSEN: Now, you renovated it. Was this the maiden voyage for the trailer?

Mr. MERRIMAN: It is. It's the maiden voyage out of California, certainly. And everything's been - just gone like clockwork.

HANSEN: Michael, why not do this in a modern trailer? I mean, you know, what is it about a 50-year-old Airstream that attracts both you and everyone else who's at this rally?

Mr. MERRIMAN: Well, there's a large group of vintage trailer enthusiasts. And they start out as projects, and then they become a labor of love. And it becomes a subgroup of the Airstream community at large. And they're just tinkerers that like to do restoration projects. Like classic car people.

HANSEN: Now what is your trailer like?

Mr. MERRIMAN: Mine is 22-feet long, which puts it in the small category. It's certainly not as small as the little ones which they call Bambis. But mine has a bedroom area in the back and a seating area and kitchen at the front. And so it's very livable. Actually, the original owners of this trailer bought it in 1958, and they moved it up to the Alexander Valley where they built a summer home. And they lived in the trailer while they built their summer home.

HANSEN: Wow. What's the rally like? I mean, how many people are there? How many trailers are there?

Mr. MERRIMAN: Well, I am currently in the stadium club at the Montana State University looking out over a sea of aluminum. All the football fields and soccer fields are covered with aluminum trailers parked next to one another. And there's about 845 trailers here as we speak.

HANSEN: Wow! Man, when the sun hits those trailers, you'd better be wearing sunglasses.

Mr. MERRIMAN: Exactly. There's a lot of gleam out there.

HANSEN: Yeah, how long will you be there?

Mr. MERRIMAN: I am going to be here through the 4th of July. The rally always ends at the 4th of July which was - the founder of Airstream, Wally Byam, it was his birthday, so...

HANSEN: How appropriate.

Mr. MERRIMAN: It is his birthday and the 4th of July together.

HANSEN: Nice. So are you planning any other trips with the trailer?

Mr. MERRIMAN: Well, hopefully getting home. I am going to leave here and visit my sister in Seattle and some other friends, and then go down to Portland where I have other friends, and hop down to Lake Shasta, and then home to Napa.

HANSEN: Wow. And then what? You put the trailer up on blocks in your front yard?

Mr. MERRIMAN: I used to kid that my house was the only house in the neighborhood without a car on blocks. But now I have an Airstream trailer. So I fit right in.

HANSEN: Michael Merriman and his trailer are at the 51st International Airstream Rally in Bozeman, Montana. Michael, thanks a lot, and happy trails to you.

Mr. MERRIMAN: Thank you, Liane. You've been a guest to my house for so many years. This has been like talking with an old friend.

HANSEN: Do you have some summer adventurous plans? Tell us about them. If we like your story, we'll arrange to talk with you while you're on vacation, and we'll put your adventures on the air. Go to our Web site,, click on the "Contact Us" link and put "Summer Adventures" in the subject line.

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