Urban Campers

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The Only Downside to This Camper is It Doesn’t Have a Bathtub

(Photos: Jesse Sposato)

(Photos: Jesse Sposato)

Mika Tarkela and Danielle Conant began their journey like so many others before them. When they made the decision to move into a camper together, they agreed to do a trial run first. Tarkela, 40, a musician and graphic designer, told Conant, 27, a design assistant, they’d “do it for a year, and see how it went, just to prove that we could.” When the year was up, neither wanted to stop. This past June marked their two-year anniversary of living in a camper.

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They’re Called The Bushwick Hotel, But They Sleep Inside of ‘RV Keitel’

(Photos: Jesse Sposato)

(Photos: Jesse Sposato)

The Bushwick Hotel has figured out something most bands only dream of: how to tour without having to pay for hotels or even sleep on friends’ couches like nearly all Brooklyn musicians do when on the road. How, you might be wondering? The Bushwick-based band (hence their name) decided to forego the whole tour van thing and went straight to an RV – RV Keitel, that is, sometimes referred to as Camper Van Beethoven. (The RV’s name is ever-evolving—the band jokes that when they go to San Francisco, they’ll call it RV Milk!)
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How Silent Barn Got Its Tiny, Rolling Green Room

(Photo: Jesse Sposato)

(Photo: Jesse Sposato)

If you’re a touring band playing a show in New York City, finding a quiet place to unwind and catch up on some alone time before your performance is not a simple task. Unless, of course, your show is at art space and residence Silent Barn. You see, Silent Barn has the Canned Ham, a 1972 Shasta “canned ham” style travel trailer that functions as part green room, part resident meeting spot and hangout.
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Life of a Late-Night Mobile Vintage Vendor: ‘We Get a Lot of Drunkums, We Love That’

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After being displaced from her SoHo shop in late 2010 by a landlord who wanted more in rent (Stella McCartney is housed there now) Tiffany Nicole McCrary had to think on her feet. “It literally came to me in an instant,” said the 34-year-old. Being from the South (specifically, Atlanta), where RVs are so common they blend into the scenery, the answer seemed obvious.
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This Musician Pays Just $400 a Month For Her (Roach-Free!) Apartment On Wheels

(Photo: Jesse Sposato)

(Photo: Jesse Sposato)

In New York City, there are so many different kinds of apartments you can live in (doorman condos, cramped railroads, tiny studios, illegal lofts) and the same can be said about campers. Enter 33-year-old singer-songwriter and student Kate Devin, who, unlike any of our other Urban Campers, lives in a newish RV . . . that she finances!
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Yup, Even Your Christmas Tree Vendor Is a Chain, But You Gotta Love Em Anyway

If you’re the type that curses every time you pass a Dunkin’ Donuts, we’ve got some bad news: you may have bought your Christmas tree from a chain.

You wouldn’t know it from the name, but SoHo Trees doesn’t just do business at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Spring Street. Each year owner Scott Lechner oversees, give or take, nine locations throughout the city. He claims his stock of 2,500 trees is the largest in the country.
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The Bushwick Trailer Park Lives On! (Sort Of)

(Photo: Jesse Sposato)

No, that crow isn’t alive. (Photo: Jesse Sposato)

Ever wonder what happened to all those trailers from the Bushwick Trailer Park, the arts collective/trailer haven that popped up on a vacant Bushwick lot a few years ago? Shortly after the park’s demise in 2011, collective founder Hayden Cummings told City Room that a third of them were sold on Craigslist; but what about the rest? Well, a few — four Airstreams from the 1950s through the ’70s, to be exact — have made their way to a smallish lot on the border of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. And Morgan O’ Kane, a banjo player and subway busker, lives in one of them.
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He’s Not Just a Man With a Van; He’s a Man With a Managon

(Photo: Jesse Sposato)

(Photo: Jesse Sposato)

Some people get stopped on the street because of the exotic dogs they walk, or the outrageous fashions they sport, but Greenpoint resident Austin Huq frequently gets stopped for his ice-cream-cone-like tan and brown ’82 Volkswagen Vanagon. With the license plate “Managon,” no less. (Get it?)
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This Corporate Lawyer Lives in an RV Down By the River

IMG_0769Liam Moriarty, a 29-year-old corporate lawyer at a large Manhattan firm, doesn’t exactly seem, on paper at least, like the type to give up his Greenpoint apartment and trade it in for an RV. But that’s exactly what he did, this past summer. Then again, Moriarty isn’t your typical lawyer. He’s also worked as an archaeologist, and has had what he describes as “a bunch of odd jobs” before that, including groundskeeper at a monastery and writer for an Irish American magazine.
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Got Student Loans? Sal A. Mander (Actual Name) Has a Plan Involving a Van

A man and his van. (Photo courtesy of Sal Mander)

A man and his van. [Photo: John (Tex) O’Connor]

Sal Mander prefers sleeping in his van in the winter to anywhere he’s ever slept. “It’s cozy! . . . I sleep soundly in there,” he said convincingly. But, still. “The first time it dropped below freezing and I went into my van to sleep, I remember sitting on my memory-foam mattress, and it felt like I was sitting on a stack of, like, refrigerated cardboard boxes. I went, ‘Oh shit, I got into the wrong van.’ . . . And then I realized, ‘No, it’s just frozen!’” But Mander swears “once you pull two or three thick blankets over your head and breathe a few breaths, in five minutes, you’re warm.”
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This Guy’s Front Porch Is a 42-Year-Old Mustard-Yellow RV

(Photo: Jesse Sposato)

(Photo: Jesse Sposato)

When I asked Ron, who’d like to remain last nameless as he looks for a new job, where his interest in collecting vintage RVs came from, he shrugged his shoulders as if the answer were obvious. “It’s a hobby. Everybody needs a hobby.” Ron, a 55-year-old handyman and musician who has called the East Village home on and off since the mid-eighties, joked, “I have a boat, a dog, two RVs, a band [Bluesco Band], all the things you can have if you don’t have a girlfriend!”
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Here’s How The Creeper Got Its Name

They’re the Urban Campers. We’re knocking on their doors and having a look inside.

(Photo: Lauren Carol Smith)

(Photo: Lauren Carol Smith)

Walking down Wythe Avenue in Greenpoint, it’s hard to miss Beth O’Brien’s baby-blue Ford Econoline, haphazardly decorated by orange foot and paw prints. “When I first bought it I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna repaint this because it’s kind of embarrassing,’” O’Brien said. “But, to be honest, I’m a little bit charmed by it.”
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