Wally Byam, the founder of Airstream, was a guy who knew how to have a good time. In 1952, Byam and a group of funloving maniacs towed their trailers down to Central America en masse, initiating an annual tradition of winter Airstream trips to Mexico and other destinations worldwide. It’s been nearly fifty years since the Cape Town to Cairo caravan he led across Africa in 1959.
Ralph’s grandparents actually accompanied Byam on one of his caravans to Mexico in the early 50s. He doesn’t remember much of the story, (“I was bored by the pictures when I was a kid,”) but has his grandmother Toring’s original Blue Beret. (These same grandparents also built a camper shell and drove up the Alaskan Highway with great-uncle Aylard to see Alaska when it became a state in 1959.)
Fabulous photos of Byam’s followers and their Airstreams, motoring around the world to iconic places like the Great Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, and a pygmy village in Uganda can be found in Airstream: The History of the Land Yacht by Bryan Burkhart.
“To place the great wide world at your doorstep for you who yearn to travel with all the comforts of home,” reads the charming oldschool creed of the Wally Byam Caravan Club International, Inc. “To keep alive and make real an enduring promise of high adventure and faraway lands…to lead caravans wherever the four winds blow, over twinkling boulevards, across trackless deserts, to the traveled and untraveled corners of the earth.”