Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Silver Tweenkie

On April 21st, we purchased a travel trailer. Sound like a sudden move? I guess it requires a bit of a back story...

Three years ago I went camping for 2 nights at Elevenmile Reservior. I took both dogs, Koal and Amber. All three of us stayed in a tent. I quite enjoyed the trip, except for a couple things. It rained. I like some rain, but lots of rain when you just have a tent is not ideal. I thought it would be good to have an RV or trailer (most of the rest of the group had one or the other) with an awning to provide cover from the rain, and to provide shade when the sun was out. There were also some noises at night from other campers that I thought an RV/trailer (non pop up) would mostly filter out. Mostly I enjoyed the trip, but started my thinking toward improving the adverse weather experience with a small trailer. I already have a tow vehicle, so was thinking down the trailer path rather than RV (motor coach) path. Plus, I would like the ability to drive to different nature photo shoots (or grocery stores, etc) without having to repack an RV to be able to drive it. And, some of the photo shoots might be better getting there in a 4WD rather than an RV.

Two years ago I took the dogs again camping, this time at Stillwater campground on Lake Granby. This time it was way too hot (even at 8000 feet). The sun pounded down, and the breezes were more than a little hot. The camp site I had was treeless due to the bark beetles. Having a trailer with some insulation and an awning would have improved that considerably. Also, here, the camping neighbors were considerably louder at night.

One year ago, I spent another three days with the pups in Rocky Mountain National Park (a couple of blog entries from that are here...). Although my latest sleeping solution (two of the plushest air mats held side by side with a custom made air mattress cozy, and 2 sleeping bags zipped together) was by far the most comfortable to date, it still had the issue of sliding down hill into one side of the tent, and took up 90% of the floor space of the tent. This trip again had many rainy hours - several of which were at meal times. Hard to cook out in the rain. Again I thought of a trailer with a kitchen... And a nice banquette to sit at... And an awning.

I think the dogs, for the most part, enjoyed all of the trips. But the RMNP trip presented a couple of dog issues that had crept up on me. When I wanted to go on a hike and/or photo shoot, the dogs really weren't up for it. Amber was blind from the diabetes, and Koal was getting old enough that medium-short walks would tire him out and likely give him joint pain as well. I would have liked to have been able to leave them at the camp site, but was not comfortable with leaving them in a tent. I would have been ok with a trailer with windows and vents open.

So, after last year's camping trip I was seriously looking for a 'vintage' (cheap) small trailer. I was trying to budget $5k for something that was sound and didn't need a lot of work - I already have one house that needs more work than I've been giving it; I don't need another. I looked for a couple months in the fall (hoping to pick up a deal on a trailer that someone wanted to get rid of rather than put back in storage). I found several things in the price range, but didn't like the condition, looks, etc... And I was not entirely comfortable with running out and getting a trailer due to my lack of ever having pulled a real trailer (plenty of experience with a small trailer on the back of a tractor, but nothing behind a car on public roads). In my browsing, I saw a restored 1967 Airstream online. It was updated in just about the right way aesthetically for me. Being an Airstream, it didn't have a stupid swirly multi colored paint scheme. I'm not really sure *why* I don't like the swirl/swoosh/whatever paint schemes that are found on the majority of trailers, but it just reads 'trailer trash' to me - even though the graphics can be found on million dollar RVs as well. The interior of this Airstream Carvel was redone and didn't have the tacky 1970's finishes. It kept the original floor plan and used quality materials, so it looked very good to me. The asking price, I think, was $12.5k. More than double my original budget, but I fell in love with the concept of a vintage Airstream towed behind my retro-modern FJ. So, I gave it a rest over the winter while I tried to save for a bigger budget.

Come spring, I started looking again. There were not a lot of small Airstreams showing up for sale in the area. There were a few though. One for $3k in Boulder that needed new flooring and lots of TLC. We drove up to look at it. It needed way more than TLC. It needed a complete re-do. I was not interested in a project at this time. We continued looking at dozens of Airstreams online, and discovered that the 1970's 'tacky' interior look that we didn't care for extended from the late 60's to the late 90's and early 2000's. We decided to up our budget in order to get something that was made within the last 10 years - also with the hope of reducing the maintenance budget/headache of a vintage trailer. We put in a few EBay bids on out of state trailers, but we always got out bid, or the auction would be terminated because they sold it locally. Then, in April, a 2006 19 foot Bambi Special Edition showed up on Craigslist in Boulder. It was way way way way over my original budget, but was just about exactly what we were looking for, and we didn't have to drive for days to get it, so we went for it.

We got it. With a little buyer's remorse, but we got it. The remorse was largely due to "Gee wiz! That budget could cover a whole lot of lux hotel rooms and a lot of room service! I sure hope we get our money's worth!", and "We bought nearly new, but after the first day and an inspection, there are already half a dozen fixes that it needs!", and "Now that we have a trailer, we need this $1000 item, and that $500 item, and those 20 $100 items..."

We are deep in the hole expense wise, but we'll have to see how things go and how much we use it... Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment