Sunday, September 23, 2012

People, I don't make this shit up.

At first, when it dawned on me that I had neglected to take a single picture of this day, I was dismayed. As the night unfolded, I came to realize that some things are just better left to the imagination.

Close your eyes, and imagine if you will, a movie that starts like 'Thelma and Louise', morphs into 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure', and finally in a surprise twist, ends like 'The Fast and The Furious' and its all starring a sweet little trailer that my husband unintentionally cognominated 'Posy'. But I am getting ahead of myself.

For you devout followers of my blog, (hello again, Mother) you will acknowledge that for quite some time, there has been a list of my 'someday wishes' entitled I'm looking for which outlines a few of the collections I am trying to build, but also those things which would remain firmly on the back burner until such a time when the universe spoke to me. One of the items on that list is 'An old airstream or similar'. Well, similar came knocking on my door a few weeks ago, and I found a deal that I simply could not pass up. A dearth of finances, other pending projects, the general lack of enthusiasm from the spousal unit, completely inadequate work space, none of the necessary tools for such an undertaking, say nothing of an absolute void of even a smidgen of experience of the workings of a trailer all notwithstanding, the timing was perfect.  When I saw the ebay listing for a 1961 Traveleze trailer that would more than likely require a complete gut-job, but whose price tag was barely a triple digit number, my heart skipped a beat, and a choir of angels sang to me.

I warmed up on my son Cooper. He tells me when things look like crap, but he also is generally enthused about my visions.  "Cool" was the response I got, so I proceeded to eldest son Taylor, who provided the impetus necessary to really forge ahead, because Taylor, like me, sees right through the muck and straight to the potential. Armed with the necessary enthusiasm, I presented my argument (with photos) to my husband who said:

"It's a Piece of SHIT! Why??

(I digress at this point to tell you I am not necessarily a proponent of 'naming' one's trailer...those Rally folks all do it, and it's kinda cute, but not really my style, so I wasn't going to bother...) but, the name "P.O.S.-y" seems appropriate, somehow...and as with things in the Universe that seemed predestined, I didn't really name her , it was there all along, and my husband has unwittingly bonded with my latest pet project. (Insert huge eyeroll from Dean here.)

I managed to wear down convince my husband that this trailer was something worthy of my time and attention, and quite unexpectedly, I had his blessing to forge ahead! Suffice it to say, I am a master of eBay bidding; I won the trailer, and immediately had a moment of "Oh, shit...NOW what do I do?" I contacted the seller, clicked the pay button at the paypal site and prayed to the patron saint of Impetuous Behavior.

The next thing I needed was a friend. Someone to drive with me for 5 hours, to pick up a trailer that had been parked for likely 3 decades or more, hitch it to an unproven truck, with a driver that had pulled a boat once in her life, for only a few miles, and who knew essentially nothing about anything. I called my friend Canaia, because I could tell her we were going to be transporting explosives across the border, and if it gave her a break from her kids and husband, she was happy to act as sidekick.

I was right.

I showed up at 6am saturday morning, with nothing but walking shoes and my toiletry bag and off we went. We laughed when she explained that she too had worn walking shoes, in the event that we broke down and had to hike out of the Trinity National Forest. (At the time we believed that the trailer was located in Lewiston, CA, in the TNF...This was only one of many facts that would soon be revealed as a general falsehood.)

We drove and talked, and talked and drove, and generally had such an uneventful trip, that we were feeling pretty confident by the time we pulled into Redding, and stopped for a bite to eat at the Redding In-n-Out burger. I called the guy from whom I had purchased the trailer; his daughter answered and said he wasn't there, but was in fact in Redding at the moment, running errands and delivering other trailers. She then informed me that the trailer was not located in Lewiston which would have been a 40-minute winding road trek up into the foothills of The Trinity Alps, but was in fact 20 minutes down the road in the small community of Red Bluff.

Either our luck was holding, or my patron saint was feeling particularly benevolent at the moment. Either way, I was feeling downright chirked.

We made arrangements to meet the seller at the home where the trailer was stored, and arrived without consequence. The trailer was just as described: A complete pile of crap. As in, everything was there. It was in dismal shape, but had virtually every part. This was definitely doable. At this point my enthusiasm was bubbling over, and I vaguely recall having made a promise to my husband to not proceed if there were issues of safety, but, being the 'gas' to his 'brakes' I still didn't see anything that was compelling me to say "Thanks, but no thanks."

The guy at whose house the trailer was stored came out, and we began to discuss hitching. Here is where things get really fuzzy for me. I know Jim was talking, but I really wasn't paying very close attention, I suppose because he might have been saying things that I didn't really want to know. He did tell me, however, that I was a really good driver, because I whipped that truck around and got that ball right under that hitch with minimal effort. At this point, I was feeling positively bullet-proof.

Um. Wrong ball size.

After much discussion, Canaia and I headed off to the local Tractor Supply to buy a ball and hitch--or whatever those thingys are called. It is at this point that I realize I have come 345 miles on nothing but a wing and a prayer with no credit or debit cards. Everything my husband ever thought of me is now carved in stone. I am a certified idiot.

Whatever. What he doesn't know won't hurt him. Canaia fronts me the money, and we head back to the trailer.

Jim is impressed that we are back so soon, and he hitches us up. We pay absolutely no attention to what he is doing, because while he is doing it, he is asking us where we are going.
'Eugene' I happily quip.  He straightens up, looks at me and says
'Eugene, Oregon?'

'um, yes.' I endeavor to remain calm.

'You got a fire extinguisher?'

Suddenly, the fact that the trailer has no electrical connection and we have no driving lights seems like a really minor thing. I choose to take this as a positive development.

We had happened to notice a 'Bob's Tire Mart' or some such as we drove into town, and with Jim mentioning grease, and bearings and fire extinguisher in the same sentence, we decided that a quick pit stop there would not be remiss. We thanked Jim for his gracious assistance and pulled out of the yard. Cooper's little Ford ranger was really struggling. I glanced over at Canaia who had one of those frightened open-mouthed smiles going on. "Wow. This little truck is really struggling. What do you think?" She looks at me and says 'I think I'm kinda mad that I didn't pay better attention when I worked at my dad's trailer business." We decided not to make any rash judgements about anything until we got out onto an actual road. (We were at the moment on a pothole-covered dirt road) We pull out onto the road, and suddenly Canaia exclaims: "Did you release the emergency brake?" I reached down and freed the lever. Ranger gave a relieved shudder, and we were off. Canaia had just earned her keep. :)

In terms of bolstering my confidence, let's just say at Bob's they weren't sellin'. They were impressed with the trailer ('a real steal', they called it) and when I answered 'Eugene, Oregon' to the 'How far ya goin'?' question, I noticed a few raised eyebrows and a few casted glances. What is it with small-town men, and their collective abilities with gross understatement? The only thing that was missing was the tobacco-spit on the ground and the knowing 'yuuuup'

"You know that's 347 miles away?"
I glared at him.
"Thanks, Larry. Are you sure your name isn't Dean?"
 Turned out it was his middle name.

Whatever. Forget checking the grease. Check the damn tire pressure and shut your face.

We just decided that 'keeping an eye out for smoke' was as diligent as we needed to be. It should be clarified here that 'we' was me, with knodding-in-the-affirmative from Canaia. We did however, discuss our game plan should the whole mess catch on fire. She would concentrate on the pin, and I would remove the chain, and we would just leave the ball right on that trailer to burn to the ground.

Yes. That was the entire gyst of our emergency-preparedness.

We got out onto the road without taking out a single parked car. We got one mile down the road. No smoke.
We got up to 45 miles per hour. Mile 2 and still no smoke.

It was at least 40 miles before I realized I was still white-knuckling the steering wheel, but I was still pulling a trailer, and it wasn't on fire.

There wasn't a lot of chit-chat in the truck on the ride home. We saved our energy for snarky comments every. single. time some idiot drove by us and shared with us that we didn't have any lights. I did however confide that my most immediate goal was to make it at least 147 miles, because at this point, we could call AAA and they would have to trailer us all the way home for free because I am a PLUS member, and have 200 miles free towing per occurrence. This seemed to really cheer Canaia up. We began to loosen up and enjoy the ride a little more. We got up and then down one grade after another. Lots of long slow climbs and while-knuckle descents. Lots of them. All eating up gas.

Because she had saved me with the whole emergency-brake thing, I hardly blamed her at all when she reminded me way too late that we were almost out of gas. We made it to the grade right before Canyonville, which in an eerie deja-vu was within feet of the place I ran out of gas the last time I was on that road with a gas-guzzling behemoth. It was even the same nice AAA guy who came and gave us some free gas. Bonus! We used the time wisely, checking facebook and checking in with the kids. All-in-all it was a fruitful respite from the stress.

By this time, I had decided that a cathedral, built to honor the patron saint of Impetuous Behavior was in order. We had come within double digits of our destination. We found an open gas station, and I spent my last cash on enough gas to get us all the way home. I was already talking about the trip as if it were a fading memory when flashing lights start following me.

Fack. two hundred and some-odd miles with no cops, and I manage to find the only one not monitoring Duck-game traffic.

"Ma'am, do you realize you have no lights? I almost hit you back there."

"Well, yes, I did realize I didn't have lights. I just bought this trailer, I'm trying to get it home to restore it, and I didn't realize that it didn't have lights. I just want to get home. I don't have any credit cards to stay in a hotel. I told the man I bought this from to tell me if I needed to bring anything special and he didn't tell me the lights didn't work. I don't know what else to do? Why were you following me close enough to hit me? Why do you have a wonky eye, and which one am I supposed to look at while I'm talking to you?"

Now admittedly, only some of this conversation was verbal. Some of it was internal dialog...The long and short of it was that he said I couldn't proceed, but that he knew a place I could park it and come get it the next day. He told me to drive 8 miles up the road to Sutherlin, a dumpy little town about 50 minutes from Eugene. At this point (1:30 am) I am OK with pretty much any suggestion that leads to a shower and my warm bed, so I agree. He follows me, presumably to protect the public from my menacing trailer. He pulls ahead at the off-ramp, and leads me to a totally sketch vacant lot at the edge of town, and proceeds to tell me it's OK to leave it there and get it in the morning. His radio begins to crackle with some Sutherlin night-life. But get this: We have no tools. We have no brains. Canaia is standing out in the cold with her shirt on inside-out for Gawd's sake. He hears that assistance is required elsewhere, and he leaves us alone in this meth-town in a vacant lot at the edge of nowhere.

It takes us precisely 25 seconds to determine that if we just put the pin back in, he went the way we weren't going, and we are unlikely to see him again.

We become fugitives from justice.

Exactly 27 cars passed us between North Sutherlin and Eugene. I was fairly certain every single one of them was this OSP cop coming after us to exact his revenge.

We made it all the way home.

I dropped off Canaia, I managed to traverse neighborhood streets with a trailer following in close proximity, and then I even managed to park said trailer in the spot behind our carport which had previously been reserved as the new home of my Posy.

She's in there a little catty-wampus, but she's there. She all in pieces, but she isn't burnt to a crisp.

I can start on her right after I finish that Cathedral to the patron saint of Impetuous Behavior.


  1. LOL. Sounds a bit like my trailer coming home story, except I didn't meet any cops ;)

  2. This is just great! And so similar to all of us who feel the love for these wonderful Vintage Trailers! Pics Please~~~!!