Man of Mine (a travel trailer saga)

It’s been one of those days where it’s only Friday but feels like Saturday because it’s Good Friday: no stock market to watch, just writing, wandering by the stream in the soft breeze, watching the young hawks watch me back, and now the time out of time evening with ear buds delivering a mix of vintage Van Morrison, Patti Griffin, Jackson Browne, U-2, Santana, and my old buddy Bob Dylan. There’s a small circle of light in the dark study. It’s illuminating my hands. I love the click of keyboard as words appear. Sometimes the love of words is so overpowering I lose control of conscious thought. That’s when the magic happens. You know it. If you’re reading this, you’ve most likely been there.

I haven’t told you about our travel trailer saga. That Santana song stops me cold, but I’ll try anyway. It’s kind of a mundane tale with an interesting ending. Buck is two rooms away working on his book. I can almost see the black ink filling yellow legal pad pages, and it’s a sensual trail vastly more enticing than bread crumbs.

I think this waiting game with the county and the road and feeling like we’ve always been in control and now we’re not quite, led us to a certain impulsiveness, a feeling  of damn, let’s just haul off and do something, even if it’s off-kilter and outside the circle.  Who knows why? We took a big flying vicarious leap into the recreational vehicle sub-culture. We learned about the gargantuan Class A motorcoach, the Class B dolled-up camper van, Class C campers/mini-motorhomes, daunting 5th wheelers with cherry wood cabinets fitted with washers and dryers, and travel trailers of all sizes, descriptions and personalities.

We made the rounds of local dealers and even ventured to a Camping World across the state line in Robertsdale, Alabama. Ran into a super finance and sales guy there named Jim Richards who gave us a tour of their units. He rode us around in a golf cart. Jim’s a good guy, knows his product, and is smart as a tree full of owls. We both agreed. If we were to ever buy one, it would be from him.

We came close, we sure did. Buck did his research, even drew out a floorplan for his idea of the perfect travel trailer. I lurked on a couple of owner forums, joined the Good Sam RV club, and bought a Woodall’s Campground Directory. We had this idea of trailing our own Residence Inn room all over the country. What made it tempting is that we have a 2004 conversion van, 4-wheel drive with a V-8 engine and a towing package. We bought it back when we thought we needed such a contraption to go back and forth from Pensacola to our place in Western North Carolina. That was a few months before the coyotes attacked and killed our pup and we put the mountain house up for sale and high-tailed it back to the flatlands where there are plenty of coyotes but the ground is level and we can see them coming.

Anyway. We have this great silver gas hog with navy blue leather captain’s chairs that seemed to have been born to drag a portable Residence Inn room around.

We researched ourselves blind. We narrowed the field to three models. We learned all the lingo. We got pretty heated up over the whole deal.

And then, Sunday morning two weeks ago, Buck and I walked down to the gate to get the morning paper. We started talking about campgrounds, how it would probably be really nice, to pull in, unhook, plug in, engage the automatic awning, put out a couple of folding chairs, pour a drink, sit down, relax, and “Hi, folks! I’m Stan! Nice to meet you. Where are you from? I’ll go get Barb. The potluck’s tonight. Newcomers don’t have to bring anything. Come on over. Barb? I’m over here!  Yeah, bring my drink over. You come, too.”

I stopped my running imaginary monologue. Buck stopped in the middle of the path and stared at me. I stared back.

“Huh,” he said.

Then we broke into grins, shook our heads, and moved off toward the gate in a slow jog.

So, we don’t know yet what our next act will be. Whatever it is, we’ll have a good time, I can tell you that. When Buck Westmark gets up to something, a girl can have some fun.

12 thoughts on “Man of Mine (a travel trailer saga)

    1. We haven’t closed the door completely, just slowed it down and will do some auto road tripping first soon as we can. It’s just that, while we aren’t complete hermits, we do lead lives befitting the residents of a hermitage. (It’s pretty good, too!)


  1. TOO. MUCH. THINKING. RVing can be a hoot. Stay in Federal or State campgrounds, with or without hook-ups. They are less social than RV parks. If Stan and Barb want to settle in under your awning, tell them you have to leave early in the morning and go inside. I’ve found people are very respectful and don’t foist themselves on you unless you appear receptive. Another not so subtle social fence: settle down with your yellow legal pads and pens Reconsider the world of RVing. Just think of all the places you can go, the trails you can hike. And in Alaska? All kinds of pull-off-the-road places to park for free. You know, you can always rent something and give it a try. See how it goes.


    1. I have vicariously enjoyed your tales of at least one RV trip that you told about you and your parrot sidekick, Pablo, in Denali. Point well taken, G.


  2. I love the idea of RVing and I’m so hoping you do it so I can live vicariously through you. Please? Because I grew up visiting relatives all along the west coast, there was a lot of riding in cars throughout my childhood and to this day nothing (besides writing) compels me more than the call of the open road. When I’m driving, I never want to get to my destination, I just want to keep driving. So happy trails to you! Can’t wait to find out what you decide to do.


    1. I’m re-reading Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie, and have downloaded Kindle versions of Mark Twain’s The Collective Travels of Mark Twain, Judith Fein’s Life is a Trip: the transformative magic of travel, and an anthology edited by Sloane Crosley, The Best American Travel Writing 2011, so I guess you can tell my armchair has grown confining! I know we’re going to Maine for two weeks in September, and am hopeful for some other jaunts. Nothing is firmed up yet, but we’ve picked up a bunch of AAA books and a new atlas. (I know Gullible will advise us to “Go! Just go!” Good advice, too, but we must have been engineers in a previous life . . .)


      1. You’re right. I used to be like that, has to know every detail. but there is so much adventure and reward on those less traveled roads. Think of it this way, And I don’t recall who wrote this: Did you ever wonder where you’d end up if you took your dog for a walk and never once pulled back on the leash?


  3. Better check that metaphor, Gullible. If you’ve ever been on a steep mountain trail with a 3 year old Labrador retriever that’s an elite athlete physically but still at that slightly goofy immature stage . . .


  4. So, thank you for this. I’m giving it to my husband to read. We have this semi-yearly conversation where he wants to be Lucy and Ricky pulling the trailer up the mountain and I want to be uber-cool old hippie girl camping in the back of a VW van with the 2 dogs. Either presents stylistic quandaries. Guess we’ll just keep trekking from the armchair.


    1. And a very stylish armchair it is, too! 🙂 Have to admit, I still secretly yearn for one of those $100,000 Airstream jobber-dos. You know, with original art work and a chef’s kitchen, maybe an organic herb garden on the roof. Ah, the simple life.


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