It’s no secret that Kris and I are into all things vintage; although this event is definitely a little out of the ordinary, I believe most people would find it fun. About a year ago Kris was out Milford way and stopped in at Camp Dearborn to check out the gathering of the Tin Can Tourists, when he got home he was so excited I wondered how he squeezed in a breath between sentences. This is one of the largest events of its kind and not the sort of thing you see everyday. It was so awesome he has been looking forward to the 2012 event ever since! Camp Dearborn, owned and operated by the city of Dearborn is actually located about 35 miles away in Milford. Celebrating its 60th anniversary it consists of 626 acres of rolling hills, lakes for fishing and swimming, a miniature golf course and lots of activities for campers, making it an ideal location for the annual Tin Can Tourists summer gathering. What is a Tin Can Tourist you ask? They are an all make and model vintage trailer and motor coach club. Members get together to share their love of these vintage RV’s, they share their knowledge and experience in the restoration and preservation of these amazing homes on wheels.
Kris had told me so much about them I couldn’t wait to get there and see for myself. We arrived just as the open house began, yes, open house as in: the door is open come on in! We walked up the hill from the parking area and there they were, like we had gone back in time or wandered onto a Hollywood movie sound-stage; rows as long as I could see of trailers. From travel trailers to pick up cabs, Airstreams and Avions to Shasta and Winnebago’s, I wanted to see each and every one. Not only are the campers vintage, but many of the tow vehicles are too. Outside, owners have set up their “camp”; awnings extend from trailers outward creating a shaded area. People go all out; white picket fences with flower pots, picnic tables set with old-style dishes and linens, lawn chairs with side tables, even a Tiki Bar complete with grass roof! Miniature lights in fun shapes and colors are strung from awnings; it must be absolutely charming at night. Owners are friendly and welcoming, encouraging folks to have a look around. I have seen pictures of old trailers, and been inside new ones, but I just wasn’t prepared for how darling these little homes away from home would be. It’s like being a little girl playing in a doll house; miniature stoves and fridges, tables that fold down and beds that pop up. Tiny little bathrooms with little-bitty sinks, diminutive rooms, but all the comforts of home. Restored to original with honey colored wood, era correct curtains and upholstery, vintage accessories such as radios, dishes and fans, the interiors are over the top! From the Cuban look of the 40′s to Art Deco, 1950′s turquoise or the orange and avocado of the 60′s and 70′s we liked them all. Some folks gut the place and start from scratch making it uniquely their own, those were cool too! One couple created their own Starlight Lounge, now I know where everyone goes after dark.
I really knew nothing about travel trailers before we came, one thing I learned is that Michigan had to be the RV manufacturing capital of the US, I counted over 75 manufacturers in the state! Here are some you may recognize: Avion, Aladdin, Hiawatha, Travco and Vagabond. As a matter of fact, Ray Frank who is credited with coining the phrase “motor home” built his Frank Motor Homes in Brown City. Built on a bare Dodge truck chassis they were later known as Dodge Frank Motor Homes, eventually Frank sold his company to Travco who continued to build them here. Airstreams are extremely popular; we saw a 1955 Wally Byam Holiday model that was absolutely amazing. Up and down the rows, in and out of Bee Lines, Coachmans and Serro Scotty Sportsmans, each one a reflection of the people who spend their days and nights inside. It was interesting to see the evolution of these tin can wonders. The original Tin Can Tourists Club was organized in 1919, I can only imagine what camping must have been like in those days…..by the 1980′s the club was no longer in existence. Then in 1998 the club was renewed as an all make and model club, you don’t even have to own a trailer to be a member. Their first event was held right here at Camp Dearborn. It is easy to see the appeal of this lifestyle; people getting together in beautiful places to share a common interest, make new friends and have a good time.
More Cool Campers HERE
When we exited the last trailer we were famished so we drove into downtown Milford for some lunch. Luckily we saw a new place called Le Rendez Vous and decided to give it a try. Two steps in the door and I knew I would love this place! There are two sections, the dining room and the bakery; the bakery is filled with delectable items like scones, muffins and cookies. On the counter are loaves of freshly baked bread with samples of each to try. After about 3 chunks of the chocolate bread (yes, deep dark chocolate) I just asked for a loaf to go. We were seated at a table and given menus to look over. The owner is from France, she trained there as a pastry chef so the place is a combination French bakery and Crepe Cafe, what more could you ask for? We placed our order and sipped on fresh squeezed lemonade and listened to French music as we waited for the meal to arrive; one of the bonuses of crepes is they can be made quickly. In no time our plates arrived; a savory crepe filled with egg, ham, cheese and spinach was absolutely delicious. The crepe itself was lightly browned and tender, inside, the cheese was melted and clung to the rest of the fillings. We like to have one savory and one sweet and split them, it makes a wonderful combination! The sweet one was out of this world, the same tender crepe filled with a warm nutella filling, smothered in fresh strawberries, whipped cream and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, YUM!! What a great find.