Renee was selling The Drifter -- and her business and most of her belongings -- so she could move on to the East Coast to be near her grandbaby. I think she had found another camper and planned to live and travel in it. Renee, if you are reading this, send me your mailing address. I found the poem!
Then we met Jen. She bought some land on the outskirts of town and decided to build a tiny home on it. And she has...all on her own. She found our listing for the RV stove/oven combo on craigslist and bought it. We ended up talking for a couple of hours about her tiny cabin, homesteading, alternative energy sources -- she shared so much fascinating and inspiring information. Her journey amazes me and I feel grateful we met. Looking forward to getting to know you better, Jen. I will continue to follow your story in awe.
Around the time we met Jen we had an estate sale. The renovation of The Drifter had already begun: the floor and about half the walls and ceiling were removed. We were enthusiastic about our plans and ready to purge some excess baggage. Almost every person was given a penny-tour of our beloved camper. Funny, not one person looked at us like we were crazy. Many of them had already taken a similar adventure, a few took their small children along. These random meetings remind me that because I have accepted my true self and commited to following my authentic path, I am being rewarded with new, like-minded friends.
One couple in particular blew my mind. They sold their acres-upon-acres of land in Montana and most of their possessions, and have been living in a motorhome for about eight years. Combined, they have eight kids (and some grandkids.) Some live on the west coast, some on the east coast, and at least one lives along the Texas Coast. They decided to "go mobile" because it is easier for them to travel to their kids and grandkids, than for them to visit the ranch in Montana. We talked to them for a very long time. They are the reason we are allocating plenty of space on the utility trailer for storing drinking water. Apparently, even with expensive filtration systems, there are potentially harmful sedimentary and oily substances found in too many of our nation's water sources. They advised us to drink only bottled water in clear plastic containers. Duly noted.
Rex came along the morning after David and I had stayed up almost all night crunching numbers. Replacing the floor, walls and ceiling would not cost much, we discovered. Really, the only expense of note would be the system to secure the camper onto the truck and new jacks. The Drifter really was designed to fit on small pickups, and we needed something specialized to retrofit our monster Ford F250 Super Duty to our beloved vintage camper. The camper only cost $375 and we would be reusing lumber from our backyard landscape projects. Plus, finishing the walls and celings would be a nominal expense (maybe $200???), so we were willing to invest the $1300 in the tie-downs and jacks. Of course, we would still need to buy a new fridge and a trailer to haul additional belongings totally necessary to taking our business on the road. Still, all of the add-ons should keep us under budget.
I wrote about Rex in a previous post, so I will only mention that encounter here. In brief, David had called about a slide-in truck camper and never received a reply. Actually, he had called about a few campers. When Rex called, we were not really sure which listing was his, but after a little discussion and a look at his craigslist ad, we were eager to see it in person. This was the one we really wanted! That day we drove over to Rockport to have a look. Rex was asking $1,200 and for an additional $150 he included a 2100 watt generator and 5'x8' utility trailer. Jacks, too. The camper is in excellent condition, especially for a 1984 model. It has a fridge, a/c, furnace, and stove. Plenty of storage and sleeping quarters. Pops up, so when it's cranked down it can fit more places than the high-riding hard-sided Drifter could. And the best part of all, it fits our truck. No special tie-downs! Odd, isn't it, that the total price for Rex's wares is almost identical to what we were prepared to spend on just tie-downs and jacks?
Thrilled with our new home, we were ready to give it a name. It is a Valor model so we decided to call it El Valor, the Spanish article seemingly emphasizing the brave exploration nature of our adventure. There's something very quixotic about the name, as well as our journey. My cherished Don Quixote papier mache statue will be our mascot, and I've even considered painting windmills on the side of the camper. We will see about that...
But what would become of the Drifter?
We listed it on craigslist for $100 because we had not completed refurbishing it. The first guy to call about it was Shane. He knew immediately he wanted it and offered money to hold it until he could get out here to the island. When he arrived, with his fiancee and parents, there was something familiar about him. He looked around and said he would take it; he would be back in a few days with his friend's truck and trailer to pick "her" up. I kept wondering how I knew him, and then it hit me. It was his parents that were familiar to me...they are the couple from Montana we talked to during our estate sale! This young man has apparently inherited the gypsy gene.
Yesterday, Shane and his parents picked up The Drifter. I watched as they towed her away, down the street. Sad. But at least she went to someone who truly appreciates her and knows how to care for her. Shane and his fiancee plan to renovate the old girl and then give her a new home on their truck. They plan to travel with her when the time is right. Anybody could have given us a $100, but Shane and Cheri soothed my soul with their own dreams for the Drifter.
Although we have not yet hit the road with El Valor, our journey has already begun. We have been blessed with many new experiences and acquaintances. When we first began dreaming about our trip, I reconnected with an old acquaintance I had not seen in nearly 20 years. Really, she is my brother's friend from his days touring in bands. I read a comment she posted on facebook and instantly remembered her. A quick glance at her profile page, and I knew I had to contact her. She and her husband and their two young daughters sold or donated EVERYTHING and moved onto a sailboat. They live on it full-time in the Caribbean...We exchanged some private messages. I asked her about raising the girls on the boat -- how do they feel about this new journey? My concern was that I would be imposing my nomadic tendencies onto Sage. And what if this is not her calling? I guess I wanted to be sure I was not being selfish...my old acquaintance Stephanie reassured me that whether Sage chooses to live an "alternative" lifestyle does not matter. She will be able to learn about the world up-close and through her own experiences, not only by way of reading books. Stephanie told me her girls absolutely love living on the boat, that they can not imagine returning to their life in Texas. I finally had the confidence to commit to my authentic path. Thank you, Steph. You have no idea how much you helped me believe in my dream.
Perhaps Renee was right. Perhaps our mobile adventure will begin on land and continue on water. I don't know. But I'm fairly certain that we will meet plentiful people along the way. Old and new friends, always willing to share their knowledge and advice, will appear to offer that little bit of encouragement or helpful information that will enrich our journey.