Babette

Dominique and I have been slowly getting the vintage travel-trailer bug. It started years ago. We love vintage anything, cars, trucks, houses, furniture, clothes. Especially if it has original patina. The two fo us are bona fide patina-junkies. For a time we contemplated living in a small Airstream on our Venice property during the construction of our house. But we finally admitted that was going to be a tough haul. Though living in 800 sq ft Baby-Oak is not much better!

None the less, we did just buy a vintage camper. Mainly because we are plum out of storage space, and this little gem is just big enough to fit Dominique’s extensive collection of outdoor furniture cushions. No kidding. We did not get an Airstream however, even a clapped-out Airstream is out of our budget. We bought a 1955 Aljoa – a classic “canned ham”, as the these campers are affectionately called.

This is Babette.

We named her “Babette”. Not something I normally do – I’ve never named any of my cars or trucks. But it seemed appropriate in this case. She is as cute as a bug, but a little long in tooth. There is patina, and then there’s patina. The previous owner did do a complete tear down of the camper, which involves pulling off the aluminum outer skins, then the birch interior panels down to the wooden frame. It was rewired, rotten wood replaced, interior panels replaced, and then put back together. She tows straight and true even at 65 mph. No leaks either, so she’ll serve us well until we have time to bring her to the next level.

Here is what Babette could look like after a little makeover.

A gorgeous restoration of a 1953 Aljoa just like Babette.

Here are some shots of the interior as the previous owner had it set up. Dominique plans to make some changes.

Beverage fridge and dining table.
Dining table with view out front windows.
Kitchen sink with cozy bed in background.
Reflection of palm tree in back window at Gaviota Beach.

We picked up Babette in North Hollywood and towed her up to Paso Robles. On the way we stopped in a few places completely new to us (even though we’ve done this drive dozens of times). And of course we took some pictures.

Steel train bridge at Gaviota Beach.

Our first stop was at Gaviota State Beach, just West of Santa Barbara. There is a beautiful old steel bridge running right over the beach which carries the train along the coast. We need to take that train some day, it is supposed to be fantastic, and it stops a couple blocks from our home in Paso.

Gaviota Beach State Park in January.

Being a Tuesday in the middle of January, on a rainy kind of day, the park was deserted. We were really the only ones there. As I’ve said before, that is pretty special, having these great places to yourself.

Babette on the Old Coast Highway.

After leaving Gaviota, we drove over the pass heading North, and on the way down I decided on a whim to turn off 101 Hwy onto a side road. This turned out to be quite fortuitous, because this little area was just gorgeous. The road was called the “Old Coast Hwy”, and I’d never heard of it.

Street sign for the Old Coast Highway with farm in the background.

There were some farms and a ranch in along the road. One little grouping of buildings was especially cool, with great old patina, so obviously we had to take some pics of Babette in front of these. There was a sign that said Folded Hills. It is an artisanal farm, vineyard and winery. It was closed, not surprising considering the time of year. We’ll definitely be back later to check it out.

The Folded Hills barn is very cool.
Auxiliary storage barn at Folded Hills.
Folded Hills organic farm.

After this it started to get dark, so no more pictures. Babette is in her new home in Paso, awaiting her next adventure.

Babette at Baby Oak, her home for now.
Babette the camper, not to be confused with Baby Carrots.

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