Check this out: my little camper is 64 years old. Sixty-four! That’s the same age as Hulk Hogan, Cyndi Lauper, Pierce Brosnan, and Pat Benatar – just to name a few. And, like most of the aforementioned celebrities, she’s had her good days and her not-so-good days. But now she’s gone through rehab, had the ultimate facelift, joined Scientology, and is ready to take on the world again! Therefore, I’ll lovingly refer to her first voyage with me as her Revival Tour. The band is back together and ready to rock!
Alright, enough with the horrible pop culture references; I have been excited all week to write about the insane adventure we went on! There were a lot of wonderful memories, a few really bad moments, and a whole lot of, “What the $%@&?!” But every single day there was laughter and at least one good view to rest my eyes on, and for that I’m extremely grateful.
To explain the craziness that was Saturday, the day I picked up Stevie, I first have to explain the absolute bedlam (pun intended) that was Friday night. We left Phoenix a little late, around 6pm, after packing in a fury and playing some serious Tetris with the Jeep. Five hours later, we arrived in Hemet, CA to check into our Airbnb for the night. I’ve never booked just a room in someone else’s place, but it was slim pickings in Hemet, and cheaper than a hotel, so whatever.
Let’s just say…this place was weird. We walked in (almost midnight, remember) and the only stirring soul is a little girl about seven years old, watching weird YouTube videos at extremely loud volumes. There was a lady in the living room passed out on the couch who never moved. I probably should have checked for breathing. Anyway, we figure we’ll just sleep for a few hours and be on our way.
I won’t get too far into the details (I saved that for my host’s review),
but I’ll just leave you with a few buzzwords: stained sheets, crusty things in bed, loud noises. I’m a relatively anxious person, so I’m already just trying not to panic as I lay there listening to what’s going on (it’s way past midnight at this point). With the amount of activity and the things being said, I’m pretty sure at this point that there’s a meth lab in the garage and we still can’t figure out who the host is. Then, we hear the little girl we first met on the way in say, “I can’t believe they’re sleeping in that room. I would never sleep in there, it’s so scary.”
Call me superstitious, but all aboard the Nope Train, I am out of there. We grab our stuff and run out as fast as we can, halfway laughing about how ridiculous this trip already is. Around 1am we finally find a seedy motel with availability (in a smoking room no less, yuck) shower the Airbnb off and sleep for four hours. I woke up thinking, “Birthday. Stevie. Birthday. Stevie. Coffee. Birthday. Stevie!” Yes, I got to pick up Stevie on my actual birthday – best birthday ever.
After a quick breakfast and terrible coffee, it’s off to American Travelers Restorations! I was excited to finally see my trailer in person, and honestly at this point just excited to see some normal human beings, ha!
I will definitely write an entire post about her restoration, because, with as much humility as I can muster – this thing is adorable and wonderful and we all know it. But for now, I’ll just say that picking up Stevie was everything I ever dreamed and more. Brooke & Brian and the rest of the team at ATR did an incredible job restoring the old girl. There was even a beautiful custom chalkboard on the inside of the door, decorated just for Stevie!
I was absolutely beside myself, but didn’t have much time to process, because it was time to get started! We did a complete walk-through and walk-around of the camper, showing me the ins and outs. Naturally, I forgot most of this information almost immediately. Thankfully, Brooke was patient with my 400 texts to come the following week! (“Wait, which light does what again?!”)
I made the curtains myself (and by myself, I mean I drove
two hours to my mom’s house and made her teach me how to do them!) so we set to work hanging them up. I ran out of time to do the cushions, so a local seamstress did those, and they came out perfect! Everything fit and when it was all put together, it was an absolute dream.
After a quick rinse and dry, we were ready to hook up to the Jeep and take her somewhere to practice towing and parking. I have never towed anything in my life! Naturally I was a little bit nervous, so when the lights wouldn’t turn on, I was convinced it was an omen (and it actually might have been). What was supposed to be a few hours setting up the trailer and getting on the road turned into an all-day roadtrip searching multiple shops for the right adapter. But during all this, we found a snowcone stand and a parking lot petting zoo, so….silver linings?
Once we found the adapter, #BestBrianEver crawled onto 130 degree pavement (again) to finally plug in these darn lights and get them going. And, drumroll please……………… nothing. Absolutely nothing! At this point, we’re all tired of scratching our heads so we cave and drive to the dealership, hoping they can let me know what’s not connecting.
And they did! Apparently, my car is too new. Who knew?! The computer had to be “updated” in order for the car to sense that it’s towing something. Go figure – apparently my car is way smarter than me. While we wait, I have my first experience with what will henceforth be known as, “I Used To Have One Just Like That!” Syndrome. Brooke warned me this would happen, and sure enough within 10 seconds of pulling into the dealership, a sweet elderly gentleman struck up a conversation about the camper. He’s traveled in campers for decades, so Andrew kept him busy telling stories while I dealt with the computer issue. Apparently, we have to put electric brakes on it, according to Carl*.
*Not actual name. I’m bad with names, so 9/10 times I will make one up for someone, FYI.
> Side note: the one great thing about our lovely dealership visit was that it gave me time to slow down and connect with my family. Aside from picking up Stevie, getting to video chat with my adorable niece was the highlight of my day!
So another two hours, $130 and a weirdly-placed gong later, it’s time to finally get on the road. Now, something you should know about me – I’m a planner. I enjoy being spontaneous when the situation calls for it, but mostly I feel the strong urge to have a plan in place. And today’s itinerary did not call for five hours of delays. To hell with the parking lot practice, to hell with leisurely drives enjoying the scenery, to hell with it all – to San Luis Reservoir we go!
Here’s where it gets really hairy (like it wasn’t already, I know). Folks, if you’re reading this and have never towed a trailer before but are considering it, let me offer you one very important piece of advice: Do not tow for the first time at night on a crappy California freeway. I didn’t have much of a choice, but if you do, make like a grandma and hit those side streets, baby. This was the first of three times that I cried on this trip (which is actually pretty good for me). Another piece of advice: do not cry while attempting to tow a trailer for the first time at night on a crappy California freeway. I’m pretty sure California drivers can smell fear, so just put on your brave face and don’t let them see you cringe when they go flying by you at 90 mph and then cut in front of you with three inches to spare.
Took a small break for my birthday dinner (Panda Express, booyah) and to take some pictures of the trailer before the sun went down,
because I realized we forgot to earlier. And another case of “I Used To Have One Just Like That!” Syndrome appears, this one at a much further stage than the first. He insists on taking pictures of the trailer, him in front of the trailer, me in front of the trailer, he and I both in front of the trailer, the trailer with his car in the background…you get the idea. Gerald* finally goes away, and we’re off again.
Eventually, a few hours later (which feels like days in trailer-towing time), the road leveled out, every bump and sound and car didn’t make me twitch, and I was finally able to release my death grip on the steering wheel. By this point, my hands hurt, my back hurt, and every muscle in my body was completely rigid. I’m tired, want a massage, want a meal, and am consequently wondering if this was the biggest mistake ever. I know, major pity party, right?!
San Luis Reservoir was a perfect halfway point between Hemet and the first destination: Mount Shasta in Northern California. There are three campgrounds, and it’s supposed to be beautiful. Too bad we rolled in at 2am and didn’t see it…. We called ahead to let them know we were so far behind, and they told us to just take any available spot, and check in in the morning. Okay, no problem. Except that the campgrounds aren’t marked well, it’s dark, we’re trying not to wake people, and just lost in general. We finally just pick a campground, back into a spot as quietly as possibly, and proceed to try to set up the trailer for the first time, in the dark. And when I say dark, I mean…we are in the middle of nowhere, zero light pollution, dark dark dark. So our lights are like a giant police helicopter searchlight in the middle of this place, and I’m quite certain everyone hates us. After a small struggle we finally get everything set up, briefly contemplate food before deciding against it and practically collapse into sleep around 3:30 am.
And that’s the story of my first day (and a half) of being a trailer owner. I’m just grateful that it ended peacefully, I got a few hours of good sleep, and woke up to enjoy breakfast and the beautiful surroundings of San Luis Reservoir.
…..is how I wish I could end this post. Unfortunately, the night progressed from there. Oh yeah, I’m serious. As much as we tried to increase air flow by opening every window and turning a fan on, it’s hot here. Too hot to sleep. Not to mention that my face is right next to the wall that has been painted with several coats of wood stain over the past few weeks, and the fumes are really starting to kill off my brain cells. I spent the next two hours hopping in and out of the trailer, alternating between trying to sleep and struggling for fresh air.
Finally, at around 5:30am, I fall asleep with my head on the dinette table and rest there for approximately 45 minutes until the alarm goes off…..greeeeaaaaatttttt. When we walk to the *disgusting* campground bathrooms to do the ol’ teeth-brushing-while-camping routine, we notice that there’s not a single RV or trailer in the campground. At that point we remember that out of the three campgrounds, there was one that was tent-only, and yep, you guessed it – we infiltrated this camp with our trailer. Gasp!
I’m dying laughing at this point, half delirious from
no sleep and half still high on stain fumes, I’m pretty sure. We throw our crap in the trailer as fast as we can and roll out before anyone else wakes up to catch us in the wrong campground. Cut to – a truck-stop Denny’s a few miles away, more bad coffee and laughs, and the start of a brand new day.
At least I did get one decent picture of San Luis Reservoir before we left it and its ridiculous memories behind.
And that is how I ended my first day as a trailer owner.
When things go wrong, don’t go with them.