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The Trailer & Truck Saga: Part One

by Tara

With winter upon us, we're feeling pressed for time—if we want to thatch the roof on our timber frame cottage this summer, we'll have to collect reeds for it soon. The harvest needs to happen sometime between December and Feburary, and we've made plans to learn about reed collection in Michigan on Saturday, a week from today.

All of our house-sitting and subletting hopes for the harvest season have fallen through. Without a shelter nailed down for this winter, we've officially switched to Plan B: finding a camper we'll be able park right on our land. So far, we haven't found anything that isn't exorbitantly expensive, or horridly dirty and run-down. We don't need much, just something in decent condition to keep us warm and dry.

In other news, Tyler has been scouring the internet for months, looking for a work truck. He wants a 3/4 ton truck with an 8ft box and a manual transmission. As it turns out, this is a pretty rare combination. Last week he finally hit paydirt on eBay: a 1998 Chevy K2500 in South Carolina, in mint condition, for $5,500.

After consulting his motor-savvy brother-in-law, Paul (thanks for all the help Paul!), they decided it was a good buy. Tyler bartered the seller down to $5,200, sent a $1,000 down payment, and booked a cheap red-eye flight to Charleston. This Monday, I'll drive him to the airport at 3:00 AM, and he'll complete the twenty-one hour cross-country drive back to Minnesota solo.

1:05 PM

After finding what looks to be a great travel trailer on craigslist, located about seven hours away in Wisconsin, we decide on the spur of the moment to go check it out. Tyler could go look at it on his way back from South Carolina, but if we get it now and bring it back to Minnesota, I'll have a couple of days to clean it up before we drive it out to Vermont.

However, there are a few kinks in our spontaneous plan. For example, should we decide to buy the camper, we won't have enough cash to pay for it. We have $4,200 that we withdrew a few days ago so Tyler could buy the truck, but we need that to buy the truck. It's Saturday and the bank is already closed—it won't be open again before we drive to the airport at 3:00 AM on Monday morning.

1:30 PM

Feeling rushed and desperate, wishing we had thought of this plan a half an hour ago when the bank was still open, we ask Tyler's mom, Jodi, if she has any cash on hand for emergencies that she'd be willing to loan us. With her help, we're able to scrounge together a decent amount.

Meanwhile, Tyler talks to Todd, the seller, to explain our situation (It sounds awfully sketchy: "See, the banks are closed, and I'm flying to South Carolina first thing Monday morning...") and ask if he'll take a check for the rest. Thankfully, he agrees, on the condition that he keeps the title until the check clears. Phew!

1:45 PM

Now, we need a way to haul the camper back to Minnesota, if we decide to get it. A quick text message to Tyler's dad solves the problem—he'll let us borrow his truck. Another text message to his brother-in-law, Paul, confirms that the truck is just powerful enough to haul a 3+ ton trailer home. It'll be slow going, though.

2:15 PM

The next 'hitch' in our plan comes when we discover that the ball on Tyler's dad's truck is the wrong size, and that the receiver hitch slide is totally rusted in place. Tyler attempts tug it out with a rope to no avail, and a hammer can't knock it free either. We'll have to heat it up with a blowtorch, back at the house.

3:15 PM

We're at Tyler's mom's place. With the help of her friend Mike, we've successfully removed the ball. Now we can stop at the store on our way out of town to pick up the correct size. Meanwhile, Todd, the owner of the trailer, has texted us to let us know that we're welcome to sleep in the trailer overnight, since we'll be due to arrive around 10PM.

3:45 PM

We're at the store, buying a larger hitch ball, and the adapter required to run the trailer brake lights.

4:15 PM

With the final few to-do items checked off our list, we're ready for a seven hour drive to Wisconsin.

Truck Interior at Night

11:30 PM

We arrive, tired and very happy to be done driving for the day. Todd, the friendly seller, comes out to meet us, gives us warm hand shakes, and shows us around the camper. It's bright and warm inside, so inviting and adorable juxtaposed with the cold, dark night. Sure, all the decorations are dated, but oh it's so cute, and we can instantly imagine ourselves happily living in it while we build our house.

After our quick tour, Todd makes sure the heating is cranked up, and leaves us to settle in for the night. We do a little giddy happy dance about the camper, toss our sleeping bag on the tiny mattress, and head to bed.