The Vintage Cruiser

We wanted to get a ”permanent” living space on the Bearwallow Moon as soon as possible. I had considered an Airstream and other travel trailers, but regulations in Buncombe County pose challenges. For starters, you can run water, waste and electric to tiny houses, travel trailers, RVs, Park Model RVs, etc, but you can’t occupy them for more than 180 days at a time. After six months has passed, the vehicles should be disconnected or you should stop living in them. I suppose you could then move the trailer someplace else, but things get a little murky for me at that point. Could you move to another site on the property?

Steve Melin, the soil science guy who drew up my site plan, discouraged against two RV sites. ”Two or more RVs on a [septic] system places the system in Industrial Process Wastewater (IPWW) in NC,” Steve wrote in an email. ”The system will get a lot bigger and more expensive and may require a Professional Engineer to be part of this process. Please note that an RV hookup is 120 gallons per day (equivalent to a 1-bedroom house). This number is likely lower; however our regulations have not caught up.”

Indeed, regulations have not caught up to people like us wanting to live in small, affordable housing. Nonetheless, we settled on a solution. We’d buy a lightweight travel trailer that we could use on the land and for travel. The trick was to find something light enough for us to pull with either the Boldt or my Jeep. In other words, it needed to be in the lightweight travel trailer category. We found the perfect match: a Gulf Stream’s 19-foot Vintage Cruiser.

Just so happened that Camping World Hendersonville had one in stock, and after some negotiation, the price was too good to pass on. I want to say upfront that I am unimpressed with both Gulf Stream and Camping World. Neither provide acceptable service. I rent camper vans, and I know from dealing with Camping World that you need to be prepared to wait a long time for service (weeks, months) or do it yourself. With Gulf Stream, I’ve called and emailed with simple questions and have never received a response, even after a month. I mention this for the benefit of anyone who is considering purchasing an RV or travel trailer. Rely on the vendors to honor the warranties, but be prepared to do much of the work yourself.

All that said, we were happy to see the vintage cruiser parked on the land. It is roomy compared to the camper vans, and so cuddly cute. We began shopping for bedding, rugs, dishes, outside chairs, artwork and more. Our first stop was Mast General Store in Hendersonville and in Asheville. The Original Mast General Store opened in 1883 in the rural Western North Carolina community of Valle Crucis, North Carolina. The store was said to have carried everything you could possibly need, from cradles to caskets.

Powered by local artists and Mast General Store. © Ralph Grizzle

In the photo above, the table settings and the art on the wall comes from Mast General Store. The Blue Ridge Parkway Bear Trail Sign fits the space and setting so well. The throw pillows are from local artist Lori Portka. Her pillows also complement our Adirondack chairs.

We love the look of Lori’s pillows adorning the foldable Adirondack chairs. Hoppy Camper beer (on the arm of the chair at left) is from Sylva’s Innovation brewery. The bear is from Mast General Store. © Ralph Grizzle
Lori Portka’s black bear and moon woodprint found a perfect home above the queen-sized bed. © Ralph Grizzle

The Vintage Cruiser is so cozy. We’re impressed with the features: three-burner propane cooktop with oven, refrigerator and freezer, microwave, television, capable of sleeping two adults and two kids (the dinette converts to a bed), a ton of storage, large bathroom, hot water on demand, heat, air conditioning, awning and more.

The trailer is not hooked into electric yet. Lights, radio, awning and many other features of the trailer are operated by the on-board 12-volt battery. There was a challenge to keep the 12-volt battery charged, due to usage and what is known as parasitic draw. To keep the battery charged, I purchased a Suner Power Waterproof 12V Solar Battery Charger & Maintainer Pro. Hoping that it works. Once we’re plugged into electric, keeping the 12-volt battery charged won’t be an issue.

We’ve already made the vintage on AirBnB. You can find the listing here. Our hope is that it will generate some income and give campers the joy that we feel when we’re hanging out on the property enjoying those gorgeous views.

The Vintage Cruiser with the Boldt in the background. © RALPH GRIZZLE