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Airstream RVs Get Out Of Town, With Or Without You

OPB | July 28, 2014 2:14 p.m. | Updated: July 30, 2014 11:27 a.m. | Portland

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Airstream trailer #8671 has seen more of the world than its most recent owners.

Way back in 1963, Cecil and Mary Tolle of Ellwood, Ind., loaded trailer #8671 on a boat and headed west across the Pacific Ocean to drive the Airstream through Asia, the Middle East, Europe and then the rest of the United States.

Using the trailer’s four-digit number, the Goransons were able to confirm the unit made it all the way to Red Square in Moscow.

Using the trailer’s four-digit number, the Goransons were able to confirm the unit made it all the way to Red Square in Moscow.

Courtesy Goranson family

More than 50 years later, #8671 is still going strong. It now belongs to Scott and Megan Goranson, who are part of a dedicated crew of Airstream fanatics who recently gathered at the KOA Campground in Warrenton, Ore. for the annual regional Airstream rally sponsored by the Oregon Airstream Club, also known as the WBCII Oregon Unit #90. 

Using the trailer’s four-digit number, the Goransons were able to confirm the unit made it all the way to Red Square in Moscow. They tracked it by magnifying a photo of several trailers at the Russian landmark. Airstream trailer numbers are issued by the Wally Byam Caravan Club, and often help owners track where their trailers have been.

On a recent assignment for OPB’s Field Guide, I counted 86 Airstream owners there, including the Goransons.

Many Airstreams have been all over the country, but some have even made it overseas.

Wally Byam of Baker City, who invented the mobile metal campers in the 1930s, started the tradition of taking Airstream caravans to other continents.

Byam didn’t live long enough to join the Around the World Caravan of 1963 to 1964, when dozens of Airstreams lined up for photos in front of the pyramids of Egypt, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and even the Kremlin, at the height of the Cold War.

Today they’re often a lot fancier inside than back in Byam’s day, but the same aerodynamic, aluminum shell remains their recognizable trademark.

The Goransons said they couldn’t pass up the chance to buy a trailer with so much history. While most RVers in the U.S. have stickers of all the national parks they’ve visited, the Goransons’ trailer carries the record of treks around the globe: Faded stencils inside its aluminum doors list destinations including Hong Kong, Singapore, Syria, Yugoslavia and Italy.

These days, the Goransons say they are content to explore the Northwest, though they do hope to visit Yellowstone soon.

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