by Douglas Keister
Published by Gibbs Smith
160 pages, 2006
On the Road Again
Reviewed by David Middleton
It wasn't long after our love affair with the car developed that we managed to combine it with another passion: travel. That seems an obvious statement since cars were invented for the very purpose of getting us from one place to another. I'm talking about more than just getting us to and from the store or work or from point A to point B. This is about packing up all your stuff, piling you and the kids into something that resembles a bonsaied and wheeled version of your home and hittin' the road. Going on vacation; seeing the country; camping; being a nomad.
Mobile Mansions is also a loving look at the history of -- I hesitate to say recreational vehicle for fear that it conjures up visions of the behemoth land yacht taking up more than its share of asphalt -- an alternate home on wheels. This book is about more than camper vans and bus conversions -- although both are talked about . What Douglas Keister is really writing here is a love letter to the gypsy in all of us. Broken into separate sections for Camp Cars and House Cars, Campers and Vans, Bus Conversions, Motorhomes and Personal Visions, Keister show us these vehicles as they were originally meant to be seen: as self-contained personal freedom machines. Sure they're big, ungainly and lumber down the road and sure, maybe driving one is sort of like piloting a giant watermelon, but that doesn't mean that the owner of an RV should be any less proud of their vehicle than the owner of a vintage sports car.
David Middleton is the art and culture editor of January Magazine.