California Dreamin' in an Era

Eric Eltinge  |  12.13.2015

I suppose I have always been “off the grid.” Given a new 1971 BMW 2002 by my parents, I went into debt to buy a used 1970 VW pop-top camper.  Never taken camping by my father, I longed to travel and see the world.  Born and bred for law school, I dropped out of USC to live in a Winnebago Minnie Winnie mini-motorhome in 1974.  Initially, I sold my car and rode a Honda 750F, Honda 1000 Gold Wing, and then Kawasaki 1000 exclusively.  Rain or shine.  I was once pulled over by the CHP in the Harbor Freeway in south central L.A. at night during a rain storm.  The cop said I had done nothing wrong, but even he, who was a CHP motorcycle cop, was not allowed to ride his motorcycle under these conditions. Perhaps I shouldn’t either.  It took an old lady in a yellow Oldsmobile Delta 88 to come within 6 inches of me on the San Diego Freeway at night to convince me of this.

When I dropped out of USC, my father said 3 things to me: “Get a haircut, get a job, get out!”.  Not being able to afford a car payment and an apartment payment, I took the $2,500 law school loan that should have gone to the Western States School of Law and used it as a down payment for the 1970 Winnebago Minnie Winnie mini-motorhome.  I lived in it for 3 years.  I stayed every night at Redondo/Hermosa/Manhattan Beaches, unless the cops ran me off.  I was lucky to get a job as a Radio Shack management trainee.  Thereafter, I lived behind my first store in Toluca Lake (Burbank, CA) for 2 years.  The district manager either never figured it out or looked the other way because I was a 24/7 manager.

The amazing thing was that my high school sweetheart, Jennifer, after graduating from UCLA, stayed with me and lived in the motorhome with me.  She made the best rumaki’s and apple turnovers I have had.  That plus Coors’s Light and “Days of our Lives” tided us through until our income grew to afford a studio apartment in Sherman Oaks next to the #405 and #134 freeways.  We then sold the Winnebago.

In the interim, we have owned 2 VW pop-top campers, but it was never the same.  And now, my wife and I are enjoying our new ERA.  It is a dream come true for us.

In America, the allure of the open road, traveled in comfort, can never be thoroughly satisfied.  There’s always something around the next bend.  Only you, in your RV, can find out.


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