Posted September 28, 2017
You remember “Lucy” and “Ricky” from “I Love Lucy,” one of the best TV sitcoms ever that’s still being seen on the Hallmark Channel. Once upon a time, in the film comedy “The Long, Long Trailer,” they set out on a road trip with a fully outfitted tow trailer about the length of Tennessee.
It’s still pretty funny stuff. For example, there’s a scene where she’s trying to fix a meal inside the bouncing, jouncing trailer while her husband happily belts out a ballad in the car, completely oblivious to his wife’s predicament in the rig behind him. And other gags.
Here’s the link between an old film comedy, trailers and energy: Every year, millions of Americans hit the roads towing trailers – and every mile is made better with the help of oil and natural gas. The link with Ohio is that Jackson Center in the Buckeye State, about 75 miles northwest of Columbus, is home to Airstream, maker of the classic, aluminum-clad travel trailer.
Indeed, Ohio itself offers a number of trailer trip possibilities. Like history? Eight U.S. presidents called Ohio home. So, whether you’re visiting President Grant’s birthplace in Point Pleasant or offering respects at President Garfield’s memorial at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland – or leaving the state entirely – energy is your road partner.
Some 9 million American households own travel trailers, sometimes known as recreational vehicles or RVs, making them a popular and accessible option for many looking to see the country. But you don’t have to own a trailer to enjoy one as a vacation option. Today, rental programs and websites provide opportunities for short-term use as well. Trailers offer an affordable and movable accommodation option for those looking to visit a favorite campground or maybe a longer trip that ticks off a string of bucket list destinations.
On-road Energy Adventures
Travel trailers come in lots of different sizes and styles, allowing adventurers to choose the right one for their needs and budget. These range from pop-up campers that provide room to stretch out for an economical price to a diesel Winnebago that offers nicer amenities than many homes. Probably none is as recognizable as that shiny-skinned Airstream. In 1929, Wally Byam built the first Airstream as a teardrop-shaped permanent shelter on a Model-T chassis, with the style later morphing into the torpedo shape that still endures today.
Airstreams are easily spotted as they coast down the nation’s highways by the aircraft-grade aluminum that clads their exteriors. Today it’s a slick, retro look, but there’s also the durable utility of aluminum, which is produced with natural gas and liquefied petroleum gases. According to the company, 65 percent of the Airstream trailers manufactured since that first one in 1929 were still on the road in 2006.
Yet, the use of energy in trailers is more than skin deep. There’s vinyl floor covering and fiberglass shower stalls, both made with the help of petroleum and natural gas, which help ensure a trailer can weather rough roads and long-term use. Cooking for yourself is part of the attraction of a trailer, and for that there’s propane. Airstream includes two tanks of propane at the front of their models – for cooking, heating water and generally ensuring the comforts of home, even when on the road.
Powering an American Tradition
With more than 16,000 public and private campgrounds scattered across the country, leaving home for the open road is a true American pastime. It’s an opportunity for a quality bonding experience – leaving aside Lucy and Desi’s movie hijinks – and it also provides a financial benefit. According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, a family of four can save 27 percent to 67 percent of their traveling costs by avoiding lodging expenses and eating onboard.
So, whether loading up the family to see America’s historic sites, such as Garfield’s Mentor, Ohio, home, which was the epicenter of his successful “front-porch campaign” for president, or just cruising along any of the nation’s 222,000 miles of highway, travel trailers offer a great way to camp out in comfort, with a little help from energy.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.