Devil’s Brew – Obsessions Cross Paths And Begin Demon’s Dance

| February 10, 2012

Whether it matters or not, there is another side of this infini-tagonal (like the new geometry?) life, and it’s wrapped ever so loosely inside a silver aluminum wrapper. Even before fly fishing came Airstream trailers. Actually way before fly fishing, came Airstream trailers.

Doorway to the future? A Vintage Airstream Safari at 23-feet.

If you spied that bald guy with the little kid in the top right banner photo, well, I’m not the bald guy. He’s my Grandpa, and he just loved, loved Airstreams. We would be traveling out west, and I’m about the age of that little kid in the picture, and my Grandma would get so mad when he would wake me up from a deep car sleep with, “Hey look at that Airstream! You know they’re perfectly balanced. And they don’t rust, and you never have to paint ’em.” Looking back, maybe he was a little obsessive about Airstreams because he did that every time he saw one. Every time.

He could have had one, but somehow he never did. Grandpa was certainly on my mind when, about six years ago, I saw the chance to take a 1970 Airstream Safari ’23 off the hands of a legendary Dallas photographer, and friend of mine – John Tilley. The glint of aluminum in our eyes led to mechanical blindness. John is still considered a friend, wherever that Englishman is, but that’s only where this saga begins.

There’s no need to bore fly fishers with the details of how the Airstream, now named “Tilley” came to be stationary in our driveway for going on six years now, but let’s say it’s like fly fishing in reverse. In fly fishing, we build up gear a piece at a time, like Jenga in reverse. For Tilley, I tore it apart like pealing an onion with no end. There it sat, and sits for a little while longer. I will skip the economic explanations as to why this has become a saga, but let’s just say if someone on the in-law side wants to poke a stick in my eye, it starts with, “So how’s that Airstream going?” Insert blade, and twist.

Airstream Bambi at A&P Vintage Trailer
Just one Bambi sized example of the Airstream Trailers at A&P Vintage Trailer Works, Inc., near Paradise, Texas.

Well, it’s about to be going good, and that’s because we finally found folks with the knowledge to bring it the rest of the way home, and finish the restoration journey. With ultimatum and financial backing firmly in her hand, my wife said it was time … time to get it done or get it gone. And that’s how I found Ann and Paul near a Texas town called Paradise. Does it get any better? Yes, it will, but that’s a great start in – Paradise.


Now the only way I can justify a significant deviation into the Airstream World, from this the fly fishing world, is to explain to my fellow fly fishers my vision of how these two obsessions eventually get together for a Demon’s Tango.

George H.W. Bush coined a term sheerly by accident, but forever, when he mentioned, “…that vision thing,” and maybe what I see is one like his, but what I think I see is a time in the near future when the Airstream functions as nothing less than an escape pod (yes they were used on NASA launch pads), home away from hell home, and get this – as a guide’s outpost somewhere … out there.

The flip side, and there’s always a flip side, is that Leslie’s business, Cimarrona, is at it’s current core, a cold weather business. Guess what? Texas is hardly cold anymore. So along with putting wheels on the guiding, we are going to put wheels on Cimarrona, hitch up to the newly acquired tow vehicle and we’re gone. Who knows what trouble we’ll get ourselves into? Who knows what fish I’ll get myself into?

Stick around, and you’ll know.

NOTE – You can always read more about the Airstream at, and I imagine the path of fly fishing and Tilley will cross a few more times. I hope you will enjoy this adventure as much as you are enjoying the adventures in fly fishing.

Once we get Tilley buttoned up, it’s going to A&P Vintage Trailer Works, Inc., and Ann and Paul have graciously allowed us to do much of the work on the trailer on their premises, under their supervision.

Inside Tilley Getting Ready for the Full Monty
Inside Tilley, and getting ready for the “Full Monty.”

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Category: Culture on the Skids, Destination Fly Fishing, Guides, Life Observed, On The Road

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

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