I like to think of a vintage travel trailer as a mini-home remodel all done in about 16 feet or less. It’s a tremendous amount of fun to redo so much in so little space for such a great impact. As with all first time buyers, I entered the market at the entry level “Fixer-Upper” spot. Now the great part of that is that you can learn everything you need to know with a very low initial investment if you keep your eyes peeled for a bargain. The downside of entering on the ground floor is that the learning curve is steep. Fortunately, I’ve had a good dose of background over the last 5 decades to help me feel like I can do it. The part that gets a bit soft around the dry-rot side of the story is my learning curve all has to be done alfresco. (al·fres·co /alˈfreskō/ adverb. 1. out-of-doors; in the open air.)
If I lived in a sunshine state instead an hour south of Portland, Oregon my trouble would be nominal. As it is, I am pressed up against a 10 day forecast of rain and thundershowers that began unexpectedly one hour before church started yesterday. One hour… One hour to find tarps of varied sizes, one hour to find enough tie-downs, one hour to get the top weighted down, plastic stapled, garbage can liners over things, showered, cleaned-up and in church 10 miles into town. We had 80 degree weather just days ago with beautiful skies, but as the weather changes at any moment, I should have been a bit more prepared. I felt like a scene out of the old Tom Hanks movie ‘MONEY PIT’. Things turned ugly, fast. Taking all of Roxy’s aluminum skin off, and the windows out, to replace framing dry-rot damage coincided with an incredibly busy week in our household. Last week I made no significant improvement on the poor girl. I threw an old tarp over her top just to keep dew off and not have her completely exposed.
Now I had Roxy naked with just her insulation on, and a pelting, windy, drenching fall rainstorm on top of our heads. I was having coffee and getting ready to jump in the shower for church, when my husband who was leaving earlier said: “Hey the tarp has blown off of Roxy.” Well he and my son did their best to help, but they had to get into town so the real work fell to me. I thought I had a quick task of just putting up a couple of tarps and tying it down. It would have been that easy had I been able to find an assortment of tarps and something to keep them from being sails that any ocean going ship would envy. After a summer of outdoor adventurer, camping, and one young explorer of a son making forest forts, I had no idea where our tarps had gotten to, or where the rope was. I checked all the local haunts and didn’t scrounge up much but some miscellaneous sized tarps. Well, as the saying goes: “Any port in a storm.”
Once I got all of the tarps in place and some old plastic stapled over the insulation, I had to tie this stuff down and together. I looked all over the property to find anything I could call rope. My husband is a rope hoarder. He loves the stuff. He loves knots, tying knots, untying knots… anything to do with rope and knots. I can only do a few macrame knots from High School Art in ’78, so I usually leave the tying off stuff to him. I resigned after looking in all the places that seemed logical for rope. Frustrated, I went into the kitchen to get my kitchen string. My string, where I put it where everyone else can find it was missing. I finally located it near the bamboo patch at the side of the house where it seems my young explorer had been crafting bows out of bamboo and string. Creative, but not amusing.
I was ready to kill somebody.
When I got back to Roxy the ’67 travel trailer she has lost 2 of the tarps I’d struggled to put on. I replaced them, weighted them down with old metal bed frames and whatever scrap wood was handy, and started running string through the grommets. I’d been up and down 3 ladders more times than I could count and it was sprinkling hard. My shoulders were wet. Did I mention I am doing all this in my white robe and hot pink Croc’s? Ya, one of the advantages of living outside of town.
So I am trying to thread the tarps together, clamp the corners down, secure it all when it begins to rain with a vengeance. I mean PELTING, sideways windy rain out of the north! The tarps, the string and I are now thouroughly soaked. Not being my husband with a book of knot knowledge stored in his head and plenty of practice to go with it, I simply tied off the string with the same knot you use to tie a package or your shoes and moved on to the next corner.
Looking back at the last corner I’d tied before moving on, I could see the water running down the face of the tarp and directly onto the trailer where there should have been an aluminum skin. I found some more brooms, poles, and wood, and forced a makeshift awning so that the water didn’t run down the sides and into the trailer. At this point of the trailer wrap-up, even I thought it was getting comical. My hair was soaked, stuck to my face and dripping down my back. The make up I’d forgotten to wash off the night before was making black streaks down my face, and my white quilted robe was now various shades of mud. Watching the rivers of rainwater run down the sides of the trailer with my make-shift awnings of brooms and sticks, I knew I had to form a gutter. So I lifted the back corners of the tarp and created a rain gutter. She was at last wrapped up. I thought her snug enough to have averted the worst of what could happen with no protection.
I grabbed my phone snapped this photo to send to my husband for a good laugh. The photo is actually pretty flattering in comparison to how I really looked in the full length version of real life.
Okay, so now I need to find a temporary awning/canopy so I can get Roxy’s repairs done and put her aluminum skin back. Lesson here? Well, the lesson is just put up an awning in the first place.
I made it to church… second service (and boy did I need it by the time I arrived, I had some thoughts to repent from.). But it is all part of the the Spit Shine Vintage Lesson in Travel Trailer Flipping.
I am learning. On the bright side, rainwater makes my hair really, really soft.