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Odd RVs

Transfer Campground
Above Mancos, Colorado

I've seen some odd RVs lately. I was walking around the campground in the evening at the McPhee Reservoir and stumbled on the neatest little pop-up trailer, pulled by an Electraglide. A tiny two wheeled thing, with a chunky plywood top that opens into a tent shelter with a queen size bed.

It's a double lid. The top one folds over to form a large floor. The tent fully deploys as you open it. From road to bed in about 2 minutes. There's a U shaped brace that comes down to hold the free side up, and an additional tented area below that for weatherproof storage of motorcycle helmets, roadkill, short brothers-in-law, etc.

The guy's had it for about 7 years, through 3 motorcycles. It looks like new, and was built by an Indiana company, B&F Engineering.

He paid $400 for it used, 7 years ago. I wrote about it on the newsgroup, and Mike from there found it on the Web: . Apparently the price has gone up a bit, or else the first owner really wanted to get rid of it.

It's just like those little books they make for kids. Open them up, and out pops a castle, a moat, and a drawbridge, accompanied by a squeal of delight. Same with this tent.

There was also a large beer cooler on the tongue. Nice touch.

I wanted to take another look and a picture, but they had already gone before I got up the next morning. That's the thing about motorcycle campers, even when they are this comfortable.

Any time not spent on the motorcycle is considered wasted.

Late yesterday afternoon here at Transfer, while the lasagna was cooking for supper, I got to talking with the camp host. He says that the name Transfer comes from the old logging days. They'd snake the trimmed trees down the mountain by dragging them with mules, and then transfer them to wagons when they hit a road. Like right here.

"There's another campground over by Vallecito Lake called Transfer Park. Same thing. Speaking of mules, we got a couple over at the corrals."

I walked across the road to take a look. There I ran into Mike, from Ruidoso. He was packing a couple of large canvas and leather bags beside a horse trailer. Turns out he and his wife live in that horse trailer. The back half is for the horses, the front half for them.

"Is there a connecting door?"

He laughed. "Nah, we don't love 'em that much."

This trailer is quite a different proposition from the usual RV. It's a 21 foot gooseneck. In horse trailers they measure just the box. That does not include about 6 feet above the hitch, which is where they sleep. The two axles are way at the back, under the animals, with about a 2 foot overhang, which must make for a heavy hitch. Certainly it has a heavy duty leveling jack.

He hauls it with an F250 diesel, and says it's all the truck can handle. They have been trail-riding for the last 6 months, with a week's break at home in the middle of that for business. They are both in their late fifties. Their parents are in good health, the kids are out of the house. They saw a narrow window of freedom to do what they love best, and they took it.

On the road they carry a John, a Molly, and a horse in the back of the trailer. Off the road the animals carry them. Unlike what you see in the movies, they ride the mules and load the horse with packs. They find the mules more sure-footed on the high trails, though much of that may be just a native spirit of caution, the artifact of animal self-interest.

"A horse can be coaxed into doing things they ought not to do," Mike said. "They are foolish enough to trust people. Mules are another matter."

"Do you have trouble finding corrals like this?"

"They aren't everywhere. But we have a bar that swings out from the trailer to tie them to. The biggest problem is finding enough water. These animals consume 15-20 gallons a day. I carry 30 gallons of horse water, and 30 gallons for us."

"Do they travel well in there?"

"Pretty well. They kinda fit in at an angle. Left to their own devices, they prefer riding backward. They like looking out the back."

Mike showed me a radio device he bought at REI. It's a yellow plastic thing about the size of a man's hand, with a fold down antenna and a sealed battery. Turn it on, and the rescue guys are supposed to come a runnin'. I asked Mike if he'd ever tried it out.

"Nope. That might be a tad expensive. If it don't work, and I live, someone's gonna get a visit he didn't count on."

I believe him.

He was busy packing, and I had to get back to the lasagna. Otherwise I would have liked to talk more. As with the motorcycle couple, by the time I got over there in the morning, they had saddled up and headed for the high country.

I took a picture of their trailer. In the morning light, it seemed a small thing to hold as much pleasure as they seemed to get out of it. They'll be back in a few weeks, when things start to get frosty, or the first snow hits the mountains. Or when they run out of food.

That might be a while. Mike told me how much easier it was to sneak up on a herd of elk, walking beside the horse and using it for cover.

"I guess they think it's a six-legged horse. They're not scared of horses. You can't fool 'em forever, but you can get within 50 or 60 yards. Easy shot."

The longer I stay out here, folks, the more things I find under the RV umbrella. And the more interesting people.

You can talk about it, or you can do it. Mike and his wife are doing it. May they never have a use for that radio thing.


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