On March 19, Stacy and Mike Schafer drove 19 hours straight through from the west coast of Florida to their home in Havertown, Pa. With coronavirus shutdowns looming, the couple had decided to cut short their visit with Stacy’s sister. During the drive home, Stacy recalled, “I told Mike, I wish we had brought Lucy.”
She was not referring to a friend or relative to assist with driving. Lucy is the Schafers’ Airstream Flying Cloud, a travel trailer with a distinctive silver rounded shape.
With motels along the route closed, the couple could have stopped for the night and slept in Lucy’s queen-sized bed. Even if campgrounds were not accessible, Stacy has a phone App for parking lot locations where recreational vehicles are welcome. Lucy is equipped with two propane tanks that power necessities to “boondock” for up to three days, which means parking without hooking up to electricity and water and sewer lines.
Since returning home, the Schafers have sheltered in place in their stone Colonial revival. Lucy is parked in the backyard near her tow vehicle, a GMC Canyon truck.
The Schafers have done a lot of traveling in their home on wheels. The Airstream is festooned with stickers collected from the Petrified Forest, the Badlands, Mackinac Island, Cardiff by the Sea, Acadia National Park, and the Great Lakes (Unsalted and Shark Free) and other places.
Previous owners gave the Airstream its name. “It is supposedly bad luck to change the name so we kept it,” Stacy said.
Also, she said, “Lucy” reminds the couple of a 1953 comedy with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz called “The Long, Long Trailer.” In the film, the newlyweds travel cross-country through beautiful scenery in a 32-foot travel trailer pulled by a Mercury Monterey convertible. Of course, their many misadventures cause marital discord.
The Schafers also have viewed stunning scenery across the country but have avoided the discord. A message board inside their 23-foot-long Airstream says “Happy Anniversary” and lists 2016, 2017 (their 50th ), 2018 and 2019.
The couple, who are both 74, grew up in Delaware County, met at a dance in Avalon, N.J., and married on Labor Day weekend 1967. Stacy is a retired Lower Merion High School instructional assistant. Mike, who retired in 2012 as a chief financial officer of an electrical cable company, operates Silver Hammer, a home repair business.
They owned a vacation house for 42 years in the Poconos. With their four children grown and married, the Schafers sold it to be free to travel.
The first four years they owned Lucy, they took long road trips around the country and shorter Monday-to-Friday camping trips to avoid weekend crowds.
Last summer the Schafers drove 3,039 miles with Lucy to summer at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park in Oregon. Mike and Stacy volunteered at the park’s welcome center in exchange for a free hookup in the park’s campground. There, they befriended owners of supersized RVs. “One couple had a refrigerator bigger than mine back home,” Stacy said.
Lucy’s compact kitchen features a small fridge, a two-burner stove, oven and microwave, and a double sink. A white table and black upholstered benches fold up to create a double bed for visiting grandchildren (they have seven). The queen-sized bed’s white Pendleton blanket with red, yellow, green and black stripes was designed to resemble blankets that frontiersmen traded for fur in the Pacific Northwest. The Airstream has a full bath with a narrow shower, and heating and air-conditioning.
Floor-to-ceiling buff-toned laminated cabinets and drawers provide storage. The flat-screen TV swivels. A pull-out awning creates a seating area outside. Red-canvas folding chairs and a Weber grill are stored in the truck.
Spending 100 nights in a 200-square-foot space was a challenge, Stacy admitted. Her Pocono home was 2,400 square feet, and the Havertown house is 3,300. Still, she said, it was hard to be homesick when surroundings were so beautiful. “There were 100-foot pine trees.”
The Schafers hope to take Lucy to Vermont this summer and to Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks but just for a month.
They don’t want to become that unhappy movie couple.