Wally Byam traveled with two wheels. His Solex bike, with a small motor on the front wheel, carried him on the 1956 European Caravan. You might see him on a Caravan with a collapsible bicycle or a two wheeled miniature motorized scooter. On the African Caravan, he mounted a Vespa motor scooter above the front bumper.
Why this fascination with two wheeled transportation?
At a prearranged time Wally had meetings to discuss the trip with the Caravanners, and he went around the Airstreams with his bull horn calling, hurry, hurry, hurry -- meeting time! He repeated this as many times as needed to call all members to the meeting.
Wally also found that he could navigate and manage city streets when stopped near a city or village. If the Caravan was parked along the road side, he could go up and down during a lunch break or rest stop.
My mother, Helen Byam Schwamborn, told me about the adventure she had in Paris, one very early hour in the morning.
Wally had a favorite city outside the United States, and that was Paris. How many times Wally visited Paris is not known, when things appeared in order at the factories, no pressing meetings and no Caravans to lead; Wally flew to Paris for a few days.
He enjoyed the night clubs and night life that can only be found in Paris. There were favorite bistros where he went for the culinary delights found only in Paris.
He and Helen were light sleepers, and shared erratic sleeping hours.
On the 1956 European Caravan, one morning, Wally knocked on Helen's Airstream in a low voice asked, "Helen are you awake?"
"Yes, Wally," it replied.
"Get dressed -- we are going up the hill to Montmartre for onion soup."
Wally was seated on the Solex bike. Helen came out dressed and ready to go on a new adventure. How early was this? It was quite dark, and only 4:00 am.
The rack in the back is quite small on the Solex. Wally started it up, Helen sat down and wrapped her arms around Wally, and off they went.
Onion soup -- French onion soup -- is a hearty early morning meal. With Wally’s knowledge of café, bistros, and restaurants, this was the place to enjoy a fresh batch of soup. Helen raved about the soup and her early morning venture for soup.
Like Wally’s bandanas and Swiss Army knife his two wheeled conveyances were not only essential but mandatory on a Caravan.