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The Trailer

August 6, 2008

We recently inherited (read: were gifted with) a 1975 travel trailer and we’ve been busily remodeling it so that it feels a little more modern. We’re not quite finished, so it’s maybe a mid-90’s kind of trailer now. Anyhoo, it’s a complete blessing to us for a number of reasons–first and foremost is that the size of our family makes travel fairly prohibitive.

We don’t fit in one hotel room, we need two… or a suite. Expensive. Eating out with six? With one that no longer orders from the kids’ menu and really likes seafood? Expensive. Air travel for six? To anywhere? On any airline? Fuggeddaboutit.

We have NOT been free to move about the country.

Our “vacations” have all been to somewhere that involves a long ride in the minivan, seeing family… and sleeping in someone’s basement. I’m not complaining, really. Family is awesome. Sleeping in someone’s basement is cheap, cool (as in temperature) and 100% worth it to spend some quality time with folks we don’t see very often. Some of our best memories have been made on road trips to South Dakota (anyone a fan of the Corn Palace?), Wyoming and Minnesota (you betcha).

But I remember trips with my family when I was a kid that were true vacations–just for the heck of seeing whatever great things there are to see out there in the world. Great things like Bedrock City, Tombstone, the Devil’s Tower, the Oregon coast, the San Diego Zoo, Miami Beach, the Great Sand Dunes, the Liberty Bell, Cape Cod…

These United States are packed full of amazing things to see and do–not cost prohibitive if you are a family of three. Double that number and the odds of seeing those things any time in the near future–like before one of my children becomes a professional athlete or I win the lottery–are slim to none. So a little piece of my heart has been broken for the past several years because we just couldn’t afford to travel anywhere, especially with the outrageous number of dollars we were pouring into attorney fees.

Enter The Trailer… Happiness and joy (and some seriously hard labor) have been abounding in our household. The Trailer is exactly what we’ve needed. It sleeps six, has a fridge, a stove, an oven, a shower… and my favorite part–a toilet. Just for us. No portable potties required. No yucky campground bathrooms. Our. Very. Own. Pottie. It’s so exciting! As I mentioned previously, it’s a 1975 so it was a little dated when it first joined our family. My folks had it prior and used it many times, but it’s been sitting, waiting for some traveling love, for the better part of four years now.

That means that while it has everything we need, it really needed some TLC from us before it’s maiden voyage. It’s been a family project. A big one. Remember me? The optimist? Yeah, me. The one that thought we could do the whole thing after a single whirlwind shopping trip to Home Depot… in one weekend! Uh… right. It’s taken a little longer than I initially expected. But the results are incredible! We’ve been busy little beavers, let me tell you.

I forgot to take “before” pictures, so I borrowed these from a similar trailer to ours.  You get the idea on the color scheme we had to work with.  You’ll have to wait a little while for the “after” photos. 

We’ve stripped out old carpet, used gallons of Rit dye in the washing machine (without dying anything that wasn’t supposed to be dyed–woo hoo!), cleaned, bug bombed, washed, scrubbed, re-tiled, reinstalled, sanded, painted, contact papered, and re-wired. We’ve been THE remodeling family of the century for the past two months–with the exception of a small side activity that kept us really busy for about a two-week time period.

And? It’s almost ready.

The excitement in our household has been palpable. We’re leaving (not on a jet plane) this Friday for parts previously unknown to us. OK, I went there as a kid, but it’s been a long time and the kids have never been there.

We’re going horseback riding, fishing, and hiking. We’re going to make s’mores around the campfire and ride our bikes. We’re going on a hayride and to an ice cream social. We’re going to get back to nature and still make Salisbury Steak for dinner. We’re going to cram all six of us into that little trailer and bond, dangit. My kind of camping trip!

The kids have had their bags packed for three days now. The countdown on the whiteboard by our fridge started with a depressing “17 days till camping” and now has a ginormous “2” in place of the “17”–a big, blocked 2, drawn in red dry-erase marker, with black stripes running through it and little hash marks out behind it like it’s in motion.

The living room is littered with all things related to camping–quick dissolving toilet paper (did I mention that we’ll have our very own pottie?), Jiffy Pop for the campfire, sleeping bags, tent stakes (for the awning), disposable plates, the cool pop-up trash can I bought, seventy-five kinds of rope and bungee cords (ask My Hubby, I have NO idea), the mini dish drainer made just for RVs and trailers, a bag of marshmallows and three boxes of graham crackers, antibacterial hand soap with adhesive on the bottom so it doesn’t roll around while you’re driving (genius, pure genius), and the new shower curtain we need to install. We’re psyched!

But we’re going to take this adventure thing a little bit slowly. This trip? Only about 2 hours away. We’ll make sure everything works and we’re not too far from home in case something goes wrong. If all goes well, this maiden voyage will be the gateway to things we’ve only dreamed about before. The kids have a list of at least 100 places they’re dying to see. I have at least 100 more. My Hubby just smiles and nods and goes back to the next remodeling task on the list, but I can tell he’s excited, too.

Thank you Mom and Dad for blessing us so very much. Finally we ARE free to move about the country.

Memories are out there, just waiting to be made.

I can’t wait to leave!

18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2008 3:13 pm

    Oh My Gosh!! I am so excited for you and your family!

    Husband and I bought a camper this year as well—-for all the reasons you listed. In previous years, we were lucky if we got a weekend up north, this year we have already had 4 mini-vacations! The boys absolutely love it—and so do we!!

    We did the exact same thing in the beginning—-our first couple trips were about an hour from home. Our last trip was about 5 hours and this one is about 3 hours away.

    I know that you guys will have so much fun—-we have discovered that camping folk are some of the nicest people you find and nothing beats hanging out with the family without the million things to do that always pop up at home.

    Enjoy your pottie (also my favorite part of our camper), campfire and smores! (We’re leaving Friday for a 4 day camping trip, so maybe we will be roasting marshmallows at the same time!)

  2. lyndaspix permalink
    August 6, 2008 4:26 pm

    I’m so happy for you! What a tremendous blessing that you can take your wonderful family and go camping and spend time together. Some of my best memories with my kids were spent at bowshoots camping out in our camper and/or tent. I truly, deeply miss those days. Wish I was going with you, even if I had to sleep in the seat of the mini van!!

  3. Kelly permalink
    August 6, 2008 5:42 pm

    How awesome for all of you! The memories you will make will be talked about long after you and your hubby are gone. My cousins and I still laugh and talk about all our crazy camping times as kids…. fishing, tree swinging into lakes, cooking breakfast over the campfire, all the pranks we would play on each other, kids we would meet and remain pen pals with…..It was such great fun. All of our parents are passed on….but we are so grateful and blessed for the wonderful memories they created with us camping.

    I also think it’s a great learning and bonding experience to have worked on the renovation as a family….and have a hand in the transformation. I’m sure your parents feel equaly blessed to have passed this opportunity on to you. HAVE FUN! And a smore for me!

  4. August 6, 2008 5:48 pm

    I am so excited for you guys. Camping is such a blast. I hope you have a wonderful time!

  5. August 6, 2008 11:21 pm

    Man, I could really, really, really use one of those!!!! We have always lied when reserving a hotel room, saying there are only 4 of us when infact there is 6…. We can’t afford two hotel rooms!

    I could really use one of those here… Big families are not common in Europe, places don’t have the ability to cater to anything of our size.

    Hope you have tons of fun! Lots of pictures!!!!

  6. August 7, 2008 12:20 am

    I totally understand the family of six travel issues!!!!


  7. cassee01 permalink
    August 7, 2008 4:47 am

    That sounds like heaven. Yay for y’all.

  8. August 7, 2008 5:31 am

    That is just great! I hope you all have a wonderful time and no problems with the new camper.

  9. August 7, 2008 6:26 am

    I’m so excited for you. I have the trouble of too many kids to fit in one room too and I know how hard it makes it to travel.

    Hope y’all have a great time!

  10. Tulip Girl permalink
    August 7, 2008 7:57 am

    Hey Steph…look at all of these comments!!!!

  11. August 7, 2008 8:18 am

    Oh, yes, Steph, I do remember the Corn Palace and I remember the 1975 travel trailer because my folks bought one in the late 60’s because they thought that the cost of motels was too expensive!!!

    My dad was an advid fisherman and he wanted to be able to take all of his fishing equipment with him. I have fished from the Prince Albert National Park in Saskatuwan to the Florida keys because of a dad who believed in going to where the fish were.

    This is so great because the best geography lessons in my life were learned by traveling from Canada, the West, Florida and beyond.

    I was mesmerized by the Corn Palace. For those who think that this is a “corny” (excuse the pun) kind of thing, it isn’t. It is a huge number of mozaic pictures made from the many varieties of corn. It is amazing and every year they redo the pictures because the birds eat the corn. It is an old theater and I don’t know if it is still is in use as a theater, but when I saw it, it was.

    This is the most fantastic gift that you can give to your kids. I only wish that I had given my children the joy of seeing this wonderful nation as I was given.

    My dad could never pass up an “attraction” as we drove through an area. He refused to stop for the bathroom, but he would stop for every alligator farm in Florida.

    The travel trailer is a lot of work to load and then to unload, but your family is at the right stage in life to take the kids camping. Pre boyfriend stage and the younger one are able to remember everywhere you take them.

    I was five years old when my folks went out west. We slept in my grandpa’s 1958 station wagon and we awoke one morning with a bear rocking the car because he could smell the bacon that my mom had in the cooler….I remember coming out of the cold mountains into Fresno, CA to over 100 degree heat on the dessert floor. I remember crossing the dessart with a canvas bag of water hanging off of the radiator just in case the car overheated.

    I remember the petrified forrest, the Garden of the Gods, the Black Hills and their stark splendor and I remember the huge Redwoods of northern California…remember, I was just 5 years old, but those memories are seared on my mind all because my dad loved to travel and see the sites…what a wonderful gift he gave me.

    Please keep a journal of your travels with this wonderful home away from home and when the kids finally become grown, write the stories and give to them the concrete from of memories. You will spark their memories and it will lead to living conversation and remenences because everyone remembers things differently. It will adds to the experience.

    Your kids will have plenty to write about when they go back to school and the teacher assigns the task of writing, “What I did this summer.”

    So happy for you…take then to see this marvelous country and let them know why those who fought and died were so willing to pay such a high price for our freedom to move about the country….Good for you and your wonderful hubby….

  12. Lordy permalink
    August 8, 2008 5:50 am

    Have fun. Check the lug nuts and tire pressure often.

  13. August 8, 2008 8:47 am

    Ohmygosh! Sounds so fun! I cannot WAIT to see the “after” shots! but surely, too, your parents have a pic of a younger Stephanie in said camper? No matter.

    You have planned the delightful. Be blessed in your travels! Be safe. Peace to all who enter that traveling container of love on wheels!

    (btw, I love your discreet references to HF, hahhhaha!)

  14. August 10, 2008 7:03 pm

    We inherited an ’86 pop-up that needs a little TLC, wanna help? Maybe the two trailers can meet and go on adventures together! Sorry I didn’t make it over before your trip, so hope it went well.

  15. August 11, 2008 12:19 pm

    Umm, smores… get gooey for me, okay? And don’t forget the Diet Coke!

  16. August 18, 2008 6:52 pm

    Oohh. I think our trailer had the slightly mod avacado interior, but very similar to the lime green you’v shown here. I loved that trailer (until I hated it) and remember many fine memories. One favorite was taking the trailer to Florida from NY. Partway there the awning suddenly opened on the highway as we were going about 60 mph…it was like adding a sail to a rowboat…whoosh…across the highway we went…but my Dad wrestled it in – and we continued on our way after some of those handy dandy bungee cords were added to the rigging.


  17. *Marie* permalink
    September 20, 2008 6:29 am

    I’m so excited for you! For the vacation.

    Although, I must add, what a learning experience this must have been for your whole family. I bet y’all will enjoy this vacation even more knowing how much hard work everyone put into it.

  18. Breezy permalink
    August 29, 2009 11:53 pm


    I’m a newish stepmom of three boys, aka the Aryan Horde, and I’d love to peer inside your blog if you’ll let me? It’s so good to be reminded that other women are chipping away at the same kinds of stuff I am myself.



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