The Driftah, sadly, will not be making the journey with us. She was intended to piggyback on a 70s-style Nissan or Toyota pickup. Our gigantic 2001 Ford F250 Diesel is not the right fit. After much research and dreaming and designing and scheming, we discovered we could compensate for the awkward configuration by adding Torklift tie-downs and jacks. Pricey, but we were willing to make the investment because we bought the camper for so cheap and the expense of the finish-out is relatively low. All said, we would still spend much less than if we bought a newer model with more amenities.
But then Rex called.
A week or two ago -- when we first became concerned about the viability of the Driftah for our adventure -- David had called about a couple of campers he found on craigslist. One listing was for a slide-in truck camper like the Driftah. It's a 1980s-era rig -- so we would upgrade by about 10 years, ha. Instead of solid sides it has a pop-up area with half-siding, half-canvas walls. Interested, David called but reached the seller's voicemail; he left a message and somewhat forgot about it. No returned phone call...until yesterday.
Rex described the "Valor" as David listened and made notes, his eyes dancing with excitement. He would look at me, as if to say, "Oh my gosh, this is exactly what we are looking for!" It has everything the Driftah does not: a/c, a working fridge, a FLOOR and WALLS. Ha. It also has a 3-burner stove and furnace -- which the other camper HAD until we removed them to make more room. Rex also offered to throw in a generator if we were to make a reasonable offer. Not really wanting to give up on the Driftah, but very curious about the Valor, we made the trek to Rockport.
And we were not disappointed. It is everything we need and want to be a mobile family and business. He also has a small utility trailer that we can tweak to haul all our business equipment (e.g., printers and laminator, etc.) and additional personal items (bicycles, baby jogger, etc.) The Valor also FITS our truck snugly...and looks a lot better, ha ha ha. A bonus feature is that if we want to travel overseas, we can fit into the "cheap seats" on cargo ships. "Overland" travellers tend to stick with slide-in truck campers with pop-ups for this very reason. The camper, generator and trailer together cost almost exactly the same as the tie-downs and jacks we were planning to order for the Driftah. Divine intervention? Fate? Both, neither, I don't know. We finally have the right configuration for our home-in-motion. Now the preparations REALLY begin!
First, I will start removing everything from inside the Valor. And while we're on the subject of naming our "home"...I think we should give it the Spanish "El Valor". The article seems to emphasize the bravery and exploration context of our expedition. Inside, my beloved papier mache statue of Don Quixote will be displayed. Maybe uplit. Would mini-murals of windmills on the side of El Valor be too much? Back to my checklist, then...so out with the cushions. Clean everything with warm water and lavender-scented castille soap. Windows will be wiped with vinegar. I'll probably hit all the wood with orange oil to ward off ants. Orange oil to mop the vinyl flooring, too. When everything is out, we can decide on any modifications. At first glance, I would like to replace the flooring. With what, I don't know yet.
While I'm cleaning El Valor David will remove existing boards from the trailer and paint the frame black. We have plentiful replacement boards from our backyard decks and planter boxes. (Remember we wanted to reuse these materials to finish out the Driftah? That was not going to work out, anyway, because we couldn't find a cabinet shop or lumber yard with a resaw to cut the boards thin enough.) We already have ideas for redesigning the trailer and will document its rebirth. El Valor's second wind will be documented, too. Everything is coming together for us and this adventure, except...
What do we do with The Driftah? Well, we might be able to reuse some pieces and parts. I think we will strip it down to the frame and insulation, and maybe reinstall the flooring. Then we'll just give it away to someone who wants a weekend project. Uncertain, at this point. One thing we need to do, though, is give it a respectable funeral or adoption ceremony, at least. If it's possible to have feelings for an inanimate object, I love the Driftah. And I want her to go to someone who will take care of her and love her, too.
My hula girl truck -- aka Bluebonnet -- will also be adopted out to a good home. No reason to split the family into two vehicles; then we wouldn't be travelling together. And taking this journey -- exploring the world -- together is the focus of our adventure.