One Step Closer to Camping, Fishing, and Western Boots….OH MY!

So, back to the drawing board for me. Perhaps this was the end of my dream? I continued to look on Craig’s List but each ‘possibility’ I looked at was too far or in pretty basic condition, and then you didn’t really know how bad or good it was by pictures. After all, I knew absolutely nothing about these campers, let alone repairing one to the point of beauty and safety! Big SIGH. I even started looking on Ebay and found many ‘vintage campers’… some really cute and some pretty remote. None close and from what I did know is that you never buy sight unseen. I continued to look nonetheless and learn. There were a couple of Facebook groups that I found and joined to gain information from people that actually DID have a camper and actually DID camp! More about those groups later…but let me just say that it’s a lot better to have real people answering your questions (no matter how stupid they may be) than reading in a book or googling information!

One day, in my boredom, I decided to look on ebay again and dream. Heck, it was just plain fun to see the pictures of these vintage campers and especially the insides! Some were like little doll houses with matching little things to decorate…and some had themes as well. Anyway, as I was looking I came across a 1961 Shasta Re-issue. HUH??? Re-Issue??? I read more about this. Apparently the company (Shasta) was celebrating it’s 75th anniversary by rebuilding one of their classic models in two sizes – a 16′ and a 19’. There would only be 1,941 of them built as that was the year the company began so they would be a limited edition. And the best part is that they would be new (and yet look OLD) so there would be no worries of anything falling apart or getting ripped off or spending a lot of money fixing a camper up. Hmmmm. I had really wanted a vintage one because I just appreciate the older ones that have a hidden story to tell. In fact I appreciate all vintage things (maybe because I am ‘vintage’ too?) and have always liked to shop for antiques that are different and unusual. But, this seemed to be a real possibility for this novice camper who knew little to nothing about the vagabond life style!

I think I waited exactly 10 minutes before I picked up the number and called this dealership located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The man, named Joe, told me all about these and how they were very popular. They would only be taking orders for about another month and then production would begin once all 1,941 were ordered. Some were ordered by dealerships all over the country and others were ordered individually. But the thing was that if a person waited and bought from a dealership later the price would certainly go up. Well, this was something to think about. 16K with a 1k deposit. Vintage campers certainly didn’t cost this much unless they were completely re-vamped from inside out. 16k is a lot of money! But, I wouldn’t have to worry about anything breaking and they did have a warranty. But still, it seemed a lot like cheating. I could not help but feel that there was a poor old soul out there wanting to be loved again. Another big SIGH.

I told my dear friend, Jack (name changed so he won’t flip out that i’m writing about him), about it. I had been talking about this whole vintage trailer thing to him for weeks now….maybe longer, who knows. He knows me pretty well as we have been friends since we were in college and can read each other without even trying to. In short, he confirmed that I was officially crazy but also that he knew I was going to do it anyway no matter what he or anyone would say to me (because when I get something in my head that is the end of it!). So, in essence, he half heartedly gave his blessing on getting the new one because he felt it would be safer for me. I know that he was rolling his eyes and shaking his head over the phone…but I think there is just a point with Jack where he just simply gives up on me because, as he says, I can rationalize anything to get my way! Hmmm…maybe that’s true? He knows, that I am capable of arguing my point until he just gives up. That’s one of the qualities I like about him!

I waited exactly one day (just so I could say I thought about it) and called Joe in Michigan back. I ordered the Red 16′ and paid my 1k deposit. My hands were shaking when I put the phone down. Oh my gosh…i’m going to own a camper!!!! I’m going to CAMP and possibly fish!! I immediately went to the facebook groups and asked what I needed to purchase as far as essentials. And in my mind I was already devising a decorating plan and theme to go with the red. Gosh, this was going to be so much fun!!!

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When I talked to my daughters and told them my good news…. let’s just say that they were a little stunned. “But Mom, you’ve never done anything like this before! Where will you go? What will you do…and how will you do it? You don’t know anything about this kind of stuff!” Well, I did kind of. I had been reading and researching after all. Doesn’t that count? Actually, I felt a little panic because after all I had never even stepped foot inside a REAL camper in my entire life! But, that feeling only lasted a short while because my next plan was to join the fun group of women that would help me through this and also so that I would not be alone in my venture. Sisters On The Fly, get ready for ME!!!

Joining the Sisters is as easy as logging onto their website, paying a fee of $60 to join for one year, and submitting information. Then you wait to be contacted with your official number and are given links to some private sites. Once I got this, I was pleasantly surprised to get a phone call from one of the gals who is in charge of the mid-west region. Since this is a world wide organization with nearly 5k women, the different regions of the USA are broken up and have ‘leaders’ called wranglers. Now each region organizes events within but if you want to travel far away you are welcome to participate anywhere and in any event. Since I joined so late in the season, only a couple of events were coming up…but I was welcomed and encouraged to go even though I had no camper. The beauty of this group is that you do not have to have a camper to go to these events. Some sisters tent camp and some just sleep in their vehicles. And although a really fun event was coming up in October, neither of those two options sounded great to me no matter how much fun was involved. Mind you, I do not even own a sleeping bag, let alone a tent!! Still though, I was encouraged. The sisters would loan me a tent and even an air mattress! Well….let me think about this for like two seconds. Ummmm NO! But thank you, not forgetting my manners.

So, it’s official. I am Sister 5139 and ready to earn badges! I wonder if there is some kind of official handshake or song. My daughter is in a sorority at Ball State University and i’m wondering if it’s going to be like that maybe?? Hmmmm. Well, I shall find out. That is, once I get my camper!

“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be continued….. (there’s a lot more!)

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The Camper that Got Away

At the beginning of last summer I AGAIN checked out Craig’s List….just to look (she says).  I had,  by this point,  read a few articles and looked at a few pictures of some cute glamped up campers (‘Glamper’ is short for glamorous camping).  Interesting…women who fix up these old campers that no one seems to care about turning them into compact doll houses, complete with cute dishes, tablecloths, bed linens, pillows, and even chandeliers!  Did they really CAMP in these???  If so, this could be my style of camping…unlike the manly version of plaid shirts, canvas tents, stinky sleeping bags, guns, and a can of beans.  Yes..I could do THIS!

Anyway, there it was. (it’s the picture featured on this post)  On Craig’s list and born the very same year as myself.  It was old and  it was not exactly beautiful.  Rather plain and ugly to be exact.  The inside certainly didn’t look like the few pictures I had seen.   I called the man in Michigan and he told me all about this ‘beauty’ and how fixing them up was a real mission, total passion, hard work, and not something to be taken lightly.  This didn’t exactly seem like a good way to sell something to me!   He seemed to sense that I had no clue what I was even thinking about, let alone doing.  I told him that this was something that I was interested in, but would maybe (ya think?) hire someone to do some work if I got this camper.  He let out a big sigh and said that he would send me more information by email and quickly hung up the phone.   So…he proceeded to send me more pictures and I set a date to drive to see this ‘beauty’.

In the week before I was to go, I started googling information about transforming and repairing a camper and what I found out was very frightening.  Worse than a million zombies…or one single clown (equal frightening in my mind!).  These things could REALLY be bad and you would have no way of knowing without peeling the ‘skin’ off…..EWWWWW!  And not only that but since the early ones are wooden, they could be full of rot!  And even worse could be that the underpart thingie could be rusted and fall apart while you are driving down the road!  Oh…and if I DID make it home alive, it could cost maybe a million dollars or more to get it fixed so it would be safe!    Ok.  That was enough for me.  I called the man up and told him that I was not coming.  I think that he was actually happy as I believe I heard a slight whisper of a ‘oh thank god’ on his end.    I was just going to have to figure something else out.

In one of the conversations with the man selling the (now) God awful camper, he had asked me if I had heard about this group of women called ‘The Sisters on the Fly’.  Huh??  Were we talking about camping or flying planes?  I told him that I had not.  He explained that he thought I was possibly a member of this group.  Well, I had no idea and had never heard of this so I asked him to explain what this group was.  He told me it was a ‘huge group of crazy women that caravan in these campers they fix up’.  I’m not kidding…that is EXACTLY what he said.   Ok so maybe he wasn’t so thrilled with them somehow, but this intrigued me and you know what happened next:  I promptly googled the group.

Sure enough all kinds of pictures came to view of smiling women with arms around each other wearing cowboy boots, fluffy tutu looking skirts (which they call petticoats), and standing around or in front of their cute painted campers.  I noticed that some of the pictures of campers had all kinds of cutesy crap setting in front on tables, on the ground, and all around.  Hmmm…they must do rummage sales as well.  Well, I like rummage sales so that would be fun!   Other pictures showed women fishing and horseback riding!  OH MY…I have always wanted to learn to fish!  Fishing AND rummage sales!  This looks like fun!   The pictures were only the tip of the iceberg as I learned more about the REAL two sisters that started this club or group.  Heck, they even EARNED badges for things they accomplished!!   This was too good to be true…If I were to join I perhaps had a second chance at joining the Girl Scouts!  I felt my heart skip a beat as I ordered the book on Amazon  that would enlighten me about this fun group of women who claimed to ‘have more fun than anyone’!   I HAVE FOUND MY PEOPLE !!!!

Just as I hit my highest emotional point of excitement, that same car from my previous post hit the brick wall again (well, what was left of it).   Oh Wait.  I am camperless. I am not worthy of this group of women.  Back to the drawing board….  <SIGH>…

Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce. ~Vivian Komori

Chapter Three….bring it!

I’m just now beginning chapter three.  I’m not talking about a book…but my life.  At the nice, young age of 56 I find myself beginning all over, trying to find and reinvent myself.  The last three years have been a journey.  Without going into a lot of detail, I was married for 26 years and most of those years were good.  The last 6 or 7 years were not.  And the very last years (including divorce) were horrible, although many more descriptive words come to mind.   Along with this, as of this very year, my youngest daughter (I have three) is officially out of the house and experiencing her freshman year of college.  Although I am very happy for all of my daughters, for their successes and new found experiences away from home, it has not been so great for me.  These are supposed to be the best years of my life, finally having time with the spouse to do all the things you could never do before, etc, etc, etc.   Yeah.  Well…someone changed the route on my map without telling me and I’ve felt cheated, not to mention LOST.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross studied and wrote about the 5 stages of grief a patient goes through when learning of their terminal illness.  I studied about this when I was in college years ago and never thought I could relate (or wanted to) but I have truly hit each and every one.  They are:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and finally (and I DO mean finally) Acceptance.  My experience has been more like:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Anger, Depression, Anger, Acceptance, occasional Anger.  You get what i’m saying…i’m a little angry.

Anyway, before I get too worked up about the above paragraph, let me switch gears and explain how I am finally finding a light at the end of my tunnel.  I realized I had a lot of time on my hands in a now empty house with three dogs.  And although I am thankful for the company of my furry companions sometimes a gal needs a little more.  I found that through the divorce and the years of being very active with my girls (sometimes living my life vicariously through them…ok, MANY times) my friends had dwindled. Partly my fault as I was not as attentive to my friendships and with any divorce you lose a certain amount of friends that split one way or another.  I am not a religious person and do not attend church services and have little to no organized activities anymore.  My choices therefore were to either ‘find Jesus’ (pardon the expression) or join some sort of a club.  Let’s see, a list of the things I like to do would include:  cooking, sewing rag quilts, bicycling at the pace of a snail, and shopping for household items (such as and most recently food storage containers) that would not interest most people.  Yes, I have certainly become the real joy of the party!  I quickly realized that these activities don’t really have ‘clubs’ to join and certainly not at my pace anyway.   Even my love life stinks as my best friend and partner of 4 years (male):  1) doesn’t live in my state and 2) is not in a position to really ‘be with me’.  (i’ll let you read between the lines however you want…but no matter how you read it, it’s not good.)    Do you know that company that promotes the ‘Life is Good’ stuff?  Well, I just want them to someday come out with a shirt that says ‘Life is NOT ALWAYS Good’!  It’s a little more realistic and yet still gives some hope for future good to come. Oh well.

Chapter one (my childhood, teen, college years) were great!  No responsibility and college in the 70’s (again, you can read between the lines).    Chapter two (married years and kids) were wonderful and rewarding family years and I would not change a thing.  And now, Chapter three.  How does a person like me make sense of this chapter of my life?  Well, my inspiration came one day while looking at Craig’s List over a year ago.  I just happened to look at RV’s and campers for no apparent reason except to look and I saw this thing called a pop-up tent.  Hmmm.  Very compact and cute.  Oh…and it had a little bed and a little stove thingie!  It really wasn’t very much money and I thought how much fun it might be to go camping.  Now, mind you, this woman in all of her 55 years has NEVER camped!  So I could only draw off of pictures in magazines or tv movies, etc.  The scent of a fire and pine trees…the sounds of a running stream and birds and little scampering animals.  Ohhhh…and good things cooking in a big pot on the perfect camp fire!  And maybe a handsome, rugged wood chopping hunk of a man?    I wanted to get this pop-up tent so badly.  And then I told my girls about it and all images and sounds in my mind came to a screeching halt kind of like when a car crashes into a brick wall.   That was the end of that.   But somehow the camping scenario never left my mind.  It just stayed put waiting for the right time to come out.

Ray Charles said, “Dreams, if they’re any good, are always a little bit crazy.”   That statement says a lot about me.  Stay tuned…..