My First Camper


I was home, trying to get over a cold on a snowy, windy November weekend. So what would possess me to brave the passes by myself with no weight in my truck? Well, a heck of a deal, of course!

After the separation, I had a dilemma: I knew I wanted to go camping a lot with the kids, but I no longer had the family-sized tent and (quite frankly) there’s very few months of the year that you can force the kids to sleep outside without buying “mummy bags” in Eastern Oregon. The solution? A truck camper…

I had been surfing internet forums for months learning terminology, features, considerations, etc. I didn’t really have the budget for one, and thought it was a “maybe someday” goal that I would file alongside the boat.

I was browsing Craigslist and finding that within a 3 hours drive, I had some of the best camper deals in the nation! Then one day, I happened upon an ad for an old “Hunter’s Special” for $300. A “Hunter’s Special” (along with most other campers in the sub-$500 range) meant leaky, broken, and disposable.IMG_6356

I asked for pictures, and was surprised to see a rather well taken care of unit. While I expected to have to fix something up, the owner said the appliances worked, and it didn’t leak! That’s all I needed…

He said he put water in one day, and it ran back out, and hadn’t used it since. Some lights weren’t working, and a Jack needed rebuilt, and it has no bathroom, but to me, it was a dream come true.

I had to spend some time at the local Napa to get the lights working, and on the way home, I learned a few valuable lessons about driving with all that weight, especially in the snow.

I did a quick stop at Walmart in La Grande, as I don’t make it out to the ‘big city’ very often, but was in a hurry to do as little driving in the dark as possible.

IMG_6365When I finally got home, and loaded my arms with groceries, I found that my roof drips directly on the screen door handle which (if the conditions are right) can encase it in ice, preventing the latch button from being pushed in. “No problem, I’ll go to the back door.” I stick my key in the deadbolt, and it doesn’t work. Hmm… great!

I set down my bags on the back porch and dug through my truck for an ice removal device and flashlight. After scraping and chipping, I was eventually able to get the screen door open. When I went to my back door, I found that the deadbolt wasn’t even set, and that my key would have worked fine, if I had ACTUALLY tried using it on the door knob. Heh, and here I thought I might have to break in that camper ahead of schedule!

It was a long, trying day, but I hope to have lots of fun fixing, upgrading, and (of course) using the heck out of it!


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