Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Nomad For Nomads

I spent a couple of months looking none-stop on online classified sites for a camper that we could afford.
 It took us only a few camper inspections to realize that most of the campers in our limited price range were rotted out pieces of junk, and that people would happily look you in the face and lie to you all day long about their campers.
We kept looking.  And looking.
And looking.
Then one day out of the blue, a resident here in town stopped at the house and told us about their 24 foot Road Ranger camper that they had up for sale.
Pleased that they had taken the time to stop, we told them thank you but it was a little above the price range we were willing to pay for a camper.
Within minutes our friendly neighbor had cut the price.
LC and I looked at each other in surprise and we quickly rushed down to their home to take a look at the inside of the behemoth of a camper they had for sale.
The husband had been a professional carpenter before retiring, and although the camper showed its age it was also sturdy as a rock.  No leaks.  No rotten wood.  No bent and warped metal pulling away from a frame that couldn't even realistically be called a frame anymore.
The plumbing was new and so was the electrical.  The air conditioner worked.  It had closets and fridges and stoves (oh my).   A shower and bathtub and toilet.
Neither LC nor I needed all that stuff.
Originally we had envisioned a basic but sturdy camper.  Something that we could haul into campgrounds and beside lakes and onto BLM land and into the mountains.  
Something we could haul with the Tahoe instead of the truck.
That was easy to maneuver and drive.  Easy to turn.  With enough clearance to pull into some of the rugged places we wanted to pull into.  Something without plumbing or toilets.  
Certainly without civilized niceties such as showers and stoves.  
Something that had more than canvas or nylon tent material between us and bears and wolves.
We bought it.
And it sat in our yard for a month as we tried to figure out a way to make this huge monstrosity of a camper work for what we wanted it to do.
After a few weeks we decided to put it online for trade for a smaller camper.  No junkers please.
If nobody wanted it we would keep it for this year at least, and simply take it where we COULD take it.
Worry about getting a smaller one through the winter.
For the next couple of weeks we went to see..........more junk.  Rotted frames and bent metal and liars who smiled as they lied.
We smiled back in that way that people do when everyone involved knows that everyone else is lying to them. 
When everyone's smiling so everyone can pretend that what is............isn't.
Next step was to put it online for sale.  It was worth more than we paid for it and so we asked a little more than we paid, figuring we would have more money to work with when we sold Road Ranger and were again in the market to buy.
A couple of days after I put it back online we got a message from an older couple who live in Moore (half way between Arco and Mackay, and up the Big Lost River Valley).
They had an 18 foot camper, but the husband had been out of work for a while so could not afford to trade the camper and also offer additional money to make up the difference in value.
LC went to see it the next day with a guy we know in Arco.
Good size.  Frame in good shape.  Some minor water damage around the ceiling vent and in the bathroom.  He wasn't sure.  Thought it might be too heavy to go to all the places that we wanted to go with our camper.
With that news I promptly forgot at the camper in Moore.  I didn't want to play this game anymore, and was prepared to wait for the right camper and the right deal.
The next day LC asked me to come see the camper and see what I thought.
A really nice older couple, they needed the extra space that the Road Ranger had, for the three grandchildren that they are raising.
We brought the 18 foot Nomad home that afternoon................
After LC and I had decided that this camper was workable for us, and that the things wrong with it were inexpensive and relatively easy to fix (and after realizing that what WAS wrong with it would not preclude us from camping in it right away), LC went to talk to the guy while I walked Kory and visited in the yard with the rest of the family.
The two men disappeared into a shed and I didn't see them again for 45 minutes.
By the time they were done, the guys came back into the light carrying arms full of............just what WERE they carrying?
The guy may not have had a lot of money, but he had a lot of pride and a lot of things that were useless to him but........I was going to say useful to us, but I'm not sure that I will ever have use for a geiger counter (although, since we live in a town named Atomic City who really knows for sure?).
The barter even included 18 farm fresh eggs.............
And this..............
We arrived in Moore mid-morning just a few days ago, and by early afternoon the trade was complete and we were on the way home with our new camper and a ton of random and interesting things.
This is the fourth camper we have had in the past three years.  It will be the first one we have actually camped in.
Which sounds utterly ridiculous I know, but it is really a symptom of the utterly ridiculous life that we have led for the past few years.
The first camper we bought the first time we were in Wyoming, and we sold it so that we could buy a 16 foot trailer to haul our stuff back to Tennessee.
The second camper we bought the second time we were in Wyoming and we stupidly sold it to help fund our move over to Idaho.
The third was the Road Ranger, and this Nomad is now the fourth.
THIS one we will use.
We are leaving for Salmon, Idaho the morning of June 2, and we will be up there for a week..............

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