Today is Friday, August 18, 2017

Pick a ham, then let it fly

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Ashley and Morgan Gliko with sons Jack, 4, and Ben, 1

The term "when pigs fly" is tossed about from time to time. It basically means it "ain't gonna" happen.

Actually, hams do fly thanks to a cool Mt. Juliet couple. Their "hams" don't fly in the sky, but rather down the byways, highways and backcountry roads all across the United States. They turn heads, start conversations and make people think about times before the Internet, Snapchat, Netflix and the ever-attached iPhone.

Ashley and Morgan Gliko have joined the ever-growing lovefest for vintage travel trailers - that happen to have the look of canned ham. You've seen them in movies and even on the highway with their sea foam green and white sides and even sea foam colored wheels, small windows and just downright charm.

Just like seeing rare vintage cars on the road, these throwback time capsules evoke a simpler time for those who want to replicate a lifestyle they grew up loving. Or for millennials, who yearn to get back to simple times when families actually took road trips together to explore not only new places, but also to reconnect, unplug and relax.

Some places to retro glamp

Nashville has many campgrounds to choose from. Two Rivers Campground, Nashville KOA and Jellystone Park campgrounds are within walking distance to the Grand Ole Opry and Opry Mills Mall. These campgrounds are 10 minutes to the center of Nashville.

Two Rivers Campground is a family-owned campground with lots of amenities including a shuttle to downtown and a great location. Free delivery

Jellystone Park campground is walking distance to the Grand Ole Opry and Opry Mills Mall. There is also a shuttle to downtown. Free delivery

There are three Nashville KOA campgrounds (www.koa.com) which are a short distance to all the area's attractions including Titan's football and Vanderbilt University. Free delivery

Nashville Shores is a lakeside resort that combines a waterpark and camping for a family friendly fun time and is only 13 miles from downtown Nashville. Free delivery

Cedar Creek and Cages Bend are two camping areas on Old Hickory Lake. They both have lake front sites. There is only water and electric at these campgrounds. Cedar Creek is 23 miles from Nashville and Cages Bend is 25 miles. Free delivery

Cedars of Lebanon is a tree-filled state park that offers water and electric hookups only and is 32 miles east of Nashville. There is a pool and playground here. Free delivery

Bledsoe Creek State Park is another park that has water and electric hookups. It's also located on Old Hickory Lake, about 30 miles east of downtown Nashville. Free delivery

Montgomery Bell State Park has a campground about 37 miles west of Nashville. There are full hookups (water, electric, and sewer) available plus campsites along the creek bank.

Defeated Creek Park Campground is 65 miles east of Nashville. There are 155 RV and tent sites, many that are lakefront. This campground is on a 12,000 acre lake, and even has its own lake beach

Fall Creek Falls State Park is located in southeastern Middle Tennessee, about 120 miles from Nashville. It is Tennessee's largest and most visited state park. The park has more than 26,000 acres with multiple waterfalls including Fall Creek Falls. At 256 feet, it is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States. There are 222 campsites in the park spread out in five different areas.

"We started The Flying Ham small travel trailer rental company in September 2015," Ashley said. "We rent Airflyte trailers that were made in a limited edition run."

These "canned ham-style" (thus, their business name) retro travel trailers certainly stand out in the crowd. They are classically designed with the added bonus of modern conveniences. As a sign of the renewed popularity, Shasta reissued its 1961 Airflyte, a model well known among trailer aficionados (and just everyday folks who like throwbacks without the rehab work) for its chrome wings and "culinary" shape. Many are modified to reflect the personalities of their owners, and this is what's a huge part of the fun of owning - and now renting - them locally.

Ashley and Morgan have three now, decorated to the exact time period with black and white checked floors and windows, daisy yellow Formica kitchen tables and vintage-style accessories. Each is different and unique and when set up on a campground, renters can hang Edison string lights and bring out their aluminum lawn chairs while enjoying an old fashioned s'more campfire.

"This model was made in a limited edition run," Ashley explained. "To mark its 75th anniversary, Shasta RV only produced 1,941 copies of the company's iconic 1961 Shasta Airflyte travel trailers."

What's so great about going vintage on the road in one of this couple's three trailers for rent is, although they are standouts, charming, retro and just plain cool and look like the original 1961 model, they have modern conveniences like a bathroom, stainless steel appliances, LED lighting and even Bluetooth speakers both inside and out.

So call it throwback glamping that's sure to turn heads not only on the road, but when you pull into the campground of your choice.

How did this all happen?

How in the world did a modern day mom and dad, with two young boys, working 50-plus hours a week open a vintage-look camper rental business? Ashley is a sonographer at Vanderbilt Medical Center and Morgan was working double time. They sadly found little time together during the most precious time of their children lives.

"We love to travel," Ashley said. "We've always said we would buy an RV when we retire."

One day they were flying back to Nashville (not on a pig) from their annual family vacation in Montana.

"We realized we didn't want to come home," she recalled. "We had been working opposite shifts for the past three years and the schedule was wearing us out."

Pregnant with their second son, Morgan and Ashley had an epiphany.

"We decided to take charge of our life and change it for the better," Ashley said.

They went out on a limb. Morgan quite his job and they "started focusing our life on our family and traveling." On a road trip they found their "Perfect Camper."

It was a 2015 Shasta camper, like the old ones, but with all the amenities their young family needed.

Why wait to retire? They said "let's buy it now," and it happened to be their 10th wedding anniversary.

"We loved our little Shasta so much, we decided to buy two more Shasta campers and start our own business."

The Flying Ham was born.

People clamor for a piece of the past

The Fly Ham is sky high in business. Morgan runs the business full time; he the one who delivers the campers and maintains their perfect condition. Ashley works behind the scenes, doing PR and other business duties. She still works full time at Vanderbilt. Son Jack is now 4, and Ben is 1.

They rent their camper to families and friends who want to enjoy a night away from it all, while camping in comfort.

"The Flying Ham is a very unique opportunity for Middle Tennessee," said Ashley. "There are only a few places in the country to rent a camper like ours."

Very true. There are no such rental places in Tennessee. They've had people from different parts of the country who come to Nashville who would rather stay in a Shasta than a hotel.

"After a while, hotels are all the same," Ashley said. "Our campers are fun, different and a neat experience."

Not just the campground

The Glikos also rent these campers as backdrops for birthday parties, weddings and photo shoots.

Plus, now they rent out a red 1968 Camaro that completes the vintage "scene" during weddings and shoots.

"Our campers are also used as a guesthouse in driveways," Ashley revealed. "People love our campers because of the unique experience."

Morgan delivers the campers free within 30 miles of Nashville with no need to tow it, but he will deliver for a small fee to further places. They come with heat, A/C, a bathroom, refrigerator, three-burner gas cooktop, microwave and a lot of the other comforts of home like cookware, bath towels, pillows and linens.

There are three to choose from. There are the smaller, 16-foot hams, which are throwback sea foam green and retro red and white. And a larger 19-foot ham, which is red and white. They are all pet and smoke free.

Exploring life in a canned ham

Of course, this entrepreneurial couple travel in their campers. They love the 16-foot red camper and have driven it to Key West. In August they plan to take it to Montana, the place that originally inspired this new life journey.

"We are just a husband and wife business with two young sons who love to travel," Ashley said. "We believe in doing what you love. We believe in change and loving life."
The couple fell in love with these campers because it was a time in our history that brought families closer. Weekend camping was more common for families back in the 1960s, said Ashley.

"Great memories were made," she said.

It seems a lot more memories will be made during this throwback craze that's exactly the opposite of today's plugged-in society. The major appeal of these campers is their look. Ashley said renters like they are set apart from the rest. Plus there is an emerging quest in our society to go back to simple, she added.

"The response we get from renters and people who just like to look is the same," she said. "They are amazed how beautiful these look and how this unique opportunity is somethey they have always wanted to try. The joy this experience brings warms our hearts, and every good memory we can help create is our true goal. We want to share the joy we have found with these trailers with everyone we can."

For more information about rentals for hot camping places and their rental prices, go to www.theflyingham.com

Writer Laurie Everett can be contacted at laurieeverett1@gmail.com.

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Airflyte, business, campground, camping, Flying Ham Campers, Mt. Juliet, retro, Shasta, state parks, The Flying Ham
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