Traveler’s Rest, Florida

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Just outside Dade City, Florida is a place where Airstreams and their owners thrived and co-mingled. Developed by Jake Busch, a member of the Tampa Bay Unit of the Wally Byam Caravan Club, Traveler’s Rest was initially funded by Airstream enthusiasts who invested $500 a share and raised over $80,000 to help secure a site. Jake Busch scoured Florida for a beautiful location that could fulfill the dream he had of providing an Airstream Park for wintering travelers.

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He found it near Dade City, adjacent to the small towns of St. Joe and San Antonio; the are know as the “Florida Alps.” In 1972, the property was secured, volunteers helped clear brush, install drainage and water, and prepare sites for silver bullets to nestle in together for warmer winters. Wells for drinking water were drilled and a sewage treatment plant was planned and eventually built.

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Unfortunately, a corrupt contractor took advantage of the park builders and nearly bankrupted them right off the bat. Jake Busch stepped in and pulled the plug on him, but not before he and others paid him off. By 1973 part of the park was finished along with Busch Hall, which houses everything from church services, arts and craft fairs and, of course, the traditional Airstreamer’s pot-luck.

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As is the custom of ‘streamers, much of the work done was facilitated by volunteerism, and several things available today, like the front office, pool, snack area, and Busch Hall floor were the result of loans given for the cause. There was much trust and fellowship as they built out the cabanas, maintained the grounds and enhanced the park. By the end of the ‘70’s most all of the Village lots were sold as well as about 100 mobile home lots were occupied. Traveler’s rest was now a wonderful destination spot for ‘streamers and winter “snowbirds” that wanted a community.

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The golden years from the mid-70’s through the 80’s began. Tennis courts were built, Mirror Lake was created and a new golf course added. They were all enormous projects that today form the beauty that makes Traveler’s Rest unique. In 1986 the TR Times was begun by a retired newspaper editor and continues to this day.

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Can you imagine lines of silver trailers gleaming in the Florida sun? If you go to some of the larger Alumaevent rallies around the country, you might get the idea. But Utopia for Airstreams couldn’t last. Unfortunately, Airstream began developing a line of motor coaches that were strictly outlawed at Traveler’s Rest due to a clause prohibiting motor homes of any sort so that sight lines wouldn’t be ruined.

Additionally, Jake Busch was disheartened following a particularly nasty town hall meeting in his own hall. His dream sullied, Jake Busch passed away in 1993.

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Several “founders” stepped down including the park manager. Airstream sales began to decline and fewer trailers came to Traveler’s Rest as the elder ‘streamers declined. Discontent bread defections and many people simply left. Maintenance and park repair fell as money and interest dwindled and Traveler’s Rest was on the verge of collapse until the bylaws were changed admitting RV’s with other brands were allowed to stay. A renaissance of Traveler’s Roost was underway.

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As we walked around the park, we were greeted by a friendly wave from everyone. And I mean everyone. The sense of community was palpable, and while Airstreams still dot the landscape with newer and older models existing side by side sometimes, the other RV’s fit in well with the landscape in the various sections.

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We particularly liked the area of Cabana’s that were placed next to the Airstream offering what is known as a “Florida room” for residents to enjoy. Airstreams were next to mobile homes, or rested under canopies of Spanish moss covered oak trees.

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The gardens are well maintained by friendly Garden Club volunteers we met. The hall was bustling with church services, the golf links were busy and several people were out for walks with their dogs. They even have an off-leash area. Mirror Lake is now a bucolic view from the wood-planked walks and trails; wildlife teems along its shores.

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John and I now know a place to bring “Margaret” that will be close to his mom’s and provide us with a community of ‘streamers and RVer’s alike, but also that promise of a hookup for electricity and sewage for our longer stays. We are looking forward to our first trip across country!

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Roman, Josephine (John’s Mom) and John

Note: Much of the information on the park in the above article was taken from their history PDF available on their website here: http://www.travelersrestresort.com

Two Weeks Down

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The tear down is nearly complete. We are down to the studs and the fireplace was completely removed yesterday. The next step is fixing a good amount of dry rot that was under the stucco.

We were also able to get up on our future roof deck for the first time (with a summer cocktail, of course) and take in the amazing view we have of Lake Washington, the Cascades and the very top of Mt. Rainier. It is truly spectacular.

The Airstream is performing well. For the very first time since we’ve owned Margaret, we’ve turned on the TV with a cable hook-up, and although we don’t have our cable box, we are able to get a few regular stations digitally (CBS, ION and TeleMundo!) but are able to watch Netflix and Hulu Plus and HBOGo with Apple TV, which helps during the days of bad weather. Otherwise, we are out of the Airstream most of the time, greeting curious neighbors and giving tours of the carnage. Now we are in rebuild mode and it feels really good. We are working with some very good people in Broadmore Builders, though they think I’m a bit of a nudge and budget bully (which I am given the expense of the project). It is so good to be working with good people after a disastrous relationship with Batt + Lear who led us down some very bad paths and cost us a fortune for it.

John is getting along great and we had occasion to use the Airstream’s microwave for the first time to reheat his amazing Saucy Shrimp. He’s off to Florida to help his mom and see his kids and grandchild next week. I know he’ll enjoy being away from the chaos for a bit.

We do love being on site and seeing all the changes first-hand, and helping out where we can. I’m particularly enjoying helping out with demo as it reveals the bones of a very well built home, and offers opportunity to find things out about the house. There are many daily decisions to make.

One Week Down

photoWhile I was away at my nephew’s graduation, John created a beautiful sitting area with all our potted plants and furniture so we could sit out and watch the sunset over the lake with neighbors and friends as they pass by to marvel at the work being done on the house. We are one week into the remodeling and enjoying watching the changes. We know we have to be patient, but it’s kind of hard after thinking, planning and dreaming of it for nearly a year.

We are addicted to HGTV and we can watch it in the trailer once we get cable running again, which was unceremoniously ripped down just before the weekend. We do wonder if the budgets on HGTV are realistic in many of the shows.

Full-time ‘Streamers

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Tonight we become full-time ‘streamers in our own backyard as we begin remodeling our home we’ve named Casa Vista del Lago Azul. We will probably be living in it for 3 months as the house is taken down to the studs and completely rebuilt except for some wonderful hardwood floors. It’s been nearly a year to get to this point, but we are finally moving forward. We’ll post our progress, but for this week, it’s all about removing stucco off the house and demoing the main floor now that the 2nd floor is mostly demoed.

Now that the project is out of our hands, I’ll get back to work writing and helping out wherever I can. John has another few weeks of work and then we’ll see what’s what.

We will most likely head out for weekend trips or during the week to get away from the mess and chaos. Looking forward to camping and enjoying the outdoors.

Stay tuned….

Lowell, Arizona

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On the outskirts of Bisbee, Arizona is a little one-street town called Lowell.

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There may be other streets, but this main street sets you right down in the middle of the 20th Century.

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In front of the historic buildings are a number of vintage vehicles.

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Signs and design are straight out of the 1950’s. It is interesting to note that Bisbee and Lowell sit close to the border of Mexico and the US, both towns a throwback to an entirely different era that was primarily thought of as a fairly benign time.

Photographs ©2014 Tom Schabarum

Reading at Alumafiesta, February 4th @ 7pm

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I’ll be reading with Gregory Zeigler at Alumafiesta in Tucson, Arizona on February 4th at 7pm. We’ll be talking about our books, “Travels with Max” and “Airstreaming” respectively and opening up to questions following our talk.

For more information, click the following! http://www.airstreaming.net/miscellany/airstreaming-author-tom-schabarum/

We do hope you can make it!