The Camper, the chickens and the eggs

As soon as my new glasses are ready to pick up Jerry and I will set out for Alaska in our new (to us) truck camper.

We found this camper on Craig’s List and made 2 trips to Gig Harbor to finalize the purchase.

The first trip, a distance of about 100 miles, we drove down on I 5, past many RV sales lots which had no customers but row upon row of shining white behemoths bearing names on the side like “Wilderness Explorer” or “Rifle and Rod”.  We had shopped a few of those lots, an experience which I found utterly disconcerting.  It was a world of big plastic, of hard sell, of smiling idle men who I imagined living lives of precarious tedium.  What we wanted, a small lightweight camper, was not to be had.

With the help of our GPS device we located the Craig’s list camper in Gig Harbor.  It belonged to a man, about 40, with 2 pre-teen boys.  He met us at his house which was at the end of a dead end dirt road.  The modest house was surrounded by acres of land that looked recently cleared.  Each of the 2 boys was riding a 4 wheeler, zooming around the empty lot, kicking up dirt and gravel.  There was a big chicken coop near the house.  The man said his name was Greg, and the camper had belonged to his father who had recently died.

It was about as small as a truck back camper can get.

The camper with top down

The camper with top down

The top pops up, and the bed fits over the cab.

Camper with top popped up

Camper with top popped up

It has a table, a stove, a refrigerator and a sink, all mini.  It has no bathroom (not enough space), but Greg showed us the little port-a-potty that his father had installed (it fits under the table and can be pulled out) “for his girl-friend so she could pee in the night without going outside.”

The camper, called Starcraft, had stickers the shapes of each of the 48 States where Greg’s father had traveled.  I thought about this man who had visited all those States with his girlfriend.  I asked Greg his father’s name.  It was Roger, he said, with a catch in his voice.  Roger had died three months ago, and it was still new and painful.  He was a man who never went to the doctor.  He had been ill with a cough, and finally, when his breathing became so labored that he couldn’t walk, they called 911.  He went to the hospital, but it was too late.  He died of pneumonia.  He was 74, 3 years younger than Jerry and me.

Jerry and Greg began to go over the technical aspects of the camper: the wiring, the propane, the waste disposal, the supports.
I wandered over to the chicken coop.  It was muddy and wet, but the chickens were healthy and handsome.  They strutted and clucked and fixed me with a gaze of round eyed alertness.  There were a couple of roosters.

Gregs chickens

Gregs chickens

I told Greg that I plan to get chickens.  He enthusiastically took me on a tour of his chicken coop and described his breeds and his methods.  When we went back for the second time to pick up the camper he insisted that we go home with eggs.  He gave us 8 cartons of 18 eggs each.

I distributed eggs to those of my Mah Jongg friends who don’t themselves keep chickens.  Jerry and I are still using the last dozen and a half.

Jerry has been over every inch of the camper since we brought it home.  He has tested all of its equipment, cleaned the inside, washed the covers of the benches and mattress, cleaned the woodwork and mended some of the interior walls where he thought moisture might be getting in.  He kept an infra red light inside it for many days to make sure it dried out completely.  He built new and better supports to keep it steady in the truck bed.  I know that when we set out he will know how everything works and everything will work.  What a man!

camper interior right side

camper interior right side

He took off all of Rodger’s State stickers.  I asked him why, and he said, “They were peeling, and I didn’t like them anyway.”

camper interior left side

camper interior left side

I am trying to prepare myself for this trip.  I am looking forward to it, and just a little apprehensive about finding places where we can legally park to camper overnight.  I know it will be an adventure.

I’ll think of Roger.

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23 Responses to The Camper, the chickens and the eggs

  1. dale says:

    Wow. Martha and I sometimes look at each other over the clutter and dust and say, “you know, we need a wife.” Reading this, I realize we need a husband, too 🙂

  2. Marja-Leena says:

    Amazing! You really are a pair, going on adventures like this! Puts me to shame for I get claustrophobia in those. We love driving holidays but I want a proper place to sleep in, with a real bathroom including a shower, softie that I am!

  3. Rain says:

    That sounds great. We looked at campers for our silverado and they were as you described. We didn’t see something easy to get around in and yet feasible. We had a small vacation trailer for years where we used a port-a-potty for the kids and us at night which is pretty nice in some locations. After the kids left we camped with an Astro van which I much loved. The ultimate in easy nights and we used it all over the west but there was no avoiding late night pit stops which in grizzly country I really didn’t like. I miss the van but don’t miss how it began breaking down. I would like to have a small camping unit again though someday, one that you can go into the backwoods and just stop wherever the mood strikes.

  4. Kay Dennison says:

    Nice!!!!!! I’m not much of a camper — my ex used to say that my idea of roughing it was a Motel6 room with a black and white TV — but it sounds like you are going to have a really great adventure!

  5. Duchess says:

    Not the smallest camper… The one I went to Alaska in decades ago was smaller. But I was a young woman then. Before we went I recovered the upholstery on the dinette. Looks like you should too.

    I think you will, as usual, have an adventure!

  6. Mage B says:

    I do so like your camper. Perfection. I’d like one myself. I’ll poke G about it.

    Last time we went up to LA, I noticed acres of those RV lots…..some open and some out of business and empty. A forlorn thing.

  7. Lavenderbay says:

    If I were to move up from puptenting, that’s the kind of unit I would want. Congratulations on a terrific purchase, and a guy who knows how to recondition it.

  8. Cute chickens! Looks like a nice camper, I would much prefer that to a motor home type thing. Those are like buses.

  9. Annie in TO says:

    Looks great. I saw a camper like that on Vancouver Island, it’s a very neat idea to have a pop-top like that.

    There are plenty of provincial campgrounds in BC that are fairly low cost, and also forestry sites that used to be free, I don’t think they are now though. I’ve generally been able to camp overnight at rest areas without hassle, lots of campers do that, especially if you are travelling in May or early June. Will you be travelling the Alaska Highway or the Stewart-Cassiar?

  10. Tessa says:

    I always wondered how people could stand up in those tiny little campers. Now I know! My parents bought what we called a caravan when I was a teenager, and travelled all over Ireland with my two younger sisters and an occasional cousin. I went once, but hated it, so I stayed home thereafter. I still get a touch of cabin fever after a few weeks on our boat, which has a very similar layout down below as a caravan/camper, and long to be home.

    But this is still better than moving around to a different motel or B&B every night, so we have talked about buying a trailer and exploring North America one of these years.

    Have a great trip, Anne!

  11. Darlene says:

    We had a tiny camper (No surprise that I can’t remember the name; it will come to me shortly after I post this or in the middle of the night) that we pulled from Massachusetts to Arizona. It was like sleeping in a closet and I tired of that shortly. I am afraid that I am a softy also and want a comfortable big bed and a bathroom with a shower.

    So our travels in a camper didn’t last long. My husband loved it, however.

  12. wisewebwoman says:

    “living lives of precarious tedium”
    What a line, Anne – loves it!
    I so tried camping, never did get to like it. Really springs out my mild agoraphobia. Still foster this idiotic dream of me and dog exploring all of America, N and S in a tiny little camper.
    Good on you and Jerry, Anne, post from the road when you can.
    You guys are truly inspirational!

  13. Tabor says:

    Congrats on starting a new adventure. Life is too short to sit at home and wait for things to happen to us. I am excited about Alaska. What a great adventure!

  14. Friko says:

    you are a very enthusiastic and enterprising pair. I wish you a wonderful time in Alaska, a safe and happy trip.
    That camper seems a bit on the small side, make sure you only ever row outside, throwing pans at each other inside could be problematic, even painful!

  15. What an adventure you’ll have! How exciting. My entire family has been to Alaska except for me. Hopefully I’ll make it myself sometime in the near future.

  16. m.e. says:

    what dale said….

    jerry sounds like a keeper!!

    great chickens, nice camper

  17. Mage B says:

    RYN: Why thank you. Acidy foods get me in trouble too, but I don’t write about it. My whole life is focused on not having IBS, and it’s become such a natural thing now that I have nothing more to say. Terrible, arn’t I.

    Love that camper. I asked G if it would work with our truck, and he said you all had a long bed where we have a short bed. Darn it.

  18. Old Woman says:

    Maggie, it’s true that our truck has a long bed, but the camper is actually for a truck with a short bed and our next move is to replace our gas guzzling truck for a smaller more economical one with a short bed. For the present it is convenient to be able to put stuff in front of the camper in the extra space.

  19. Natalie says:

    What gorgeous chickens! Oh you must get some! Until we got ours, I never knew how really wonderful chickens are, and it’s great having fresh eggs every day.

  20. Roberta says:

    I just found your blog and enjoy reading your posts.
    The idea of traveling the country in a camper is so appealing. My mind always does a very quick little What If or If Only when I see one on the road. The idea of chickens is also appealing. I’ll have to start there. My husband, Michael, is building our coop this week. We’ll work on it today. Good luck on your travels.

  21. Laura Carr says:

    I love this post. I love the wry humor, and most of all, I love the tenderness. I love the last line.

    And I hope you keep us posted on your journey(s) with this fine camper and your fine man.

    Why does this post remind me of Emily Carr?

  22. maria says:

    Oh wow… even getting the camper sounds like such a great adventure! I hope you’ll keep us posted along the way.

  23. Hattie says:

    I kind of envy you, taking off on this adventure! Yes, I saw all those depressing RV and MoHO parks along I-5. Most of the time one simply edits out all the visual noise around here, but it really is so bad. Clark County Washington along I-5 is an especial horror.
    We are in Portland now, where it is overcast and drizzling. We are staying at our cousin’s place in Northeast Portland, and I’m enjoying a lovely view of new growth and trees in bloom and nice old houses.

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