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POWDRELL

Gypsy Camps
updated: Apr 06, 2013, 11:00 AM

By David Powdrell

The evolution of gypsy camps and their vehicles

I'm not going to sugar coat this…….I'll never own an RV.

My family and I are partial to backpacking in the Sierras or kayak camping to a wide open secluded beach. There's just a bit more solitude and elbow room in the wild and God knows, I need the exercise.

The irony is that we live next door to the ever-popular Carpinteria State Campground. We catch the sweet aroma of campfire bacon on Sunday mornings while strong men and clever women work feverishly to level their RV's, stack firewood, construct big tents and overhaul generators.

I think I understand the how and why of RV and travel trailer camping. In fact, I applaud them for getting out of town to discover the magic of a tide pool or the power of a sunset stroll on the beach. Kids and bikes and beach chairs and marshmallows travel well to state campgrounds.

Every once in awhile, while lying in bed on Sunday mornings, my wife and I watch as an interesting old travel trailer rolls into the campground. Surrounded by massive luxury RV's, these old relics settle into a numbered campsite for the weekend, which got me to wondering…what's the history of the travel trailer? With the help of Google and Wikipedia, here's what I dug up:

The original travel trailers date back to an ethnic group of people living mostly in Europe, the Romani people, also known as gypsies. These gypsies traveled around in horse drawn wagons with all the comforts of home; a bed, a wood-burning stove and maybe a bench.

The world's first leisure trailer was built in 1880 by the Bristol Carriage Company for Dr. W. Gordon- Stables. The doc called his trailer "Wanderer".

In 1888, Vincent Van Gogh painted a picture titled The Caravan-Gypsy Camp near Arles.

With the advent of the automobile, travel trailers made their first U. S. appearance in the early 1920's. "Tin Can Tourist" was the term applied to those that used travel trailers at that time. Through the 1930's and 1940's, travel trailers became bigger and more livable.

Today, luxury RV's and travel trailers boast washer/dryer units, full offices with Internet Wi-Fi systems, big flat screen TV's, full size refrigerators, security systems and more.

The evolution of gypsy camps and their vehicles is interesting, but I'm still partial to a backpack, good hiking shoes and a bag of sunflower seeds in my pocket.

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