RV dream #1: Chinook
When I was fourteen or so, and driving was on the horizon, I developed an intense desire for a Chinook camper thingy. It was love at first sight.
A tiny RV on a Toyota chassis seemed like the perfect complement to my budding desire to see the country, one national park at a time. I sent off for the brochure (my first vision board!), which I held onto for years, and every time I saw one on the road, I would shout, “Chinook!” I’m sure that amused my parents endlessly.
RV Dream #2: Maude, the Hipster Upgrade
I opted for the hipster upgrade to my dream along the way. It morphed into an intense desire for a VW camper van. I found my dream van and bought it in my late twenties—a 1978 VW camper with a pop-up top, a spare tire on the front and plaid upholstery.
I called her Maude. I loved her. And she broke my heart.
Maude was notorious for getting me to a destination but refusing to take me home.
Hmmmm….in retrospect, maybe she was trying to tell me something. I do remember wanting desperately to run away from that place at that time. That Maude was a genius in pop-up campervan form.
She made friends easily, too. I loved how, whenever I met another VW campervan on the road, the driver would stick a thumbs up out the window to acknowledge the shared experience of driving a sputtering van running on three cylinders at most, getting there at a top "speed" of 50mph.
Sadly, Maude had to be re-homed not so very long after we met. I popped her top for the last time at Blakeley State Park in lower Alabama then bid her “Adieu!” with a tear in my eye. In spite of her flaws, she’d been a keeper and I let her go.
The dream just won't die
But I never let go of the dream of a small motor home. Preferably one that doesn’t require a tow truck every time we go out. I still go to RV shows for entertainment. And send off for brochures. And spend an inordinate amount of time online perusing Craigslist and watching NSFW Winnebago Man.
What’s stopped me from taking the plunge is not being clear on what we need. My husband and I have had trouble making this work for both of us.
I just want a little home on wheels, simple, with curtains and throw pillows. A place I’d want hang out even if it were parked in the driveway.
My husband, Ralph, is way more practical than me. He wants to be able to haul sheetrock and 2x4s.
How will practical Ralph and fanciful Roo make this work?
Ralph wanted a slide-in camper and a truck. But, slide-in camper? Ewwwww, no. I’m pretty sure they all come with camouflaged upholstery and gun racks and I don’t want to drive a truck. So, not just no, but Hell No!
For a while I was obsessed with Scamp trailers. So cute! I’d get a Honda Pilot to tow it and then start an Instagram feed called Pilot & Scamp. But who wants to schlepp a trailer around to stealth campsites at the end of dirt roads in remote wilderness areas?
We camped once in just such a spot on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It was not a place amenable to trailers.
It needs to be nimble.
Also, it needs to be simple...
I’ve looked at actual RVs. Winnebagos with slides and switches and bathrooms and not just one, but several TVs. They’re so complicated. All those knobs and panels and blinking lights just scream, “This shit’s gonna break! A lot!”
And why do they all have white leather upholstery? White doesn’t work for camping! Or dogs!
Factory RVs are never quite right and they’re over the top with features. Seriously, who needs even one TV much less two or three?
Also, the smallest ones cost more than what I paid for my first house. And the second house, too, for that matter. I can't justify that when I suspect it will break often.
Ralph and I have been pondering this dilemma for years and at last, we’ve found the solution! It meets the following criteria:
- It’s nimble.
- It’s simple.
- It can haul building supplies in small quantities.
- It’s dog friendly.
- It's easy to drive.
- It's customizable.
- It's under the radar (stealthy), not over the top.
A Perfect Solution
It’s a perfect solution for stealth camping at trailheads. For acting as base camp to backpacking adventures and a home away from home on road trips to California, New Hampshire, Alaska.
It will go to remote places, like back to that stealth spot on the edge of the Grand Canyon.
Or to the base of the Enchantments.
Or in a campground overrun with moose somewhere close to the Canadian border.
Or in the Walmart parking lot, on the way to somewhere magical.
We’re close to sealing the deal and I expect we’ll have our perfect vehicle by the end of the year.
Tomorrow I’ll share the solution we came up with to meet our different needs and how we’re approaching the next level of decision making and making the dream come true.
Lucky me…I’ll get to exercise my creative impulses to make it truly perfect for Ralph, me, the traveling parrots and a puppy.