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Rare Sights, and a New Wrinkle

Navajo National Monument

I've been roaming through the Navajo Nation, enjoying the free campsites, hoping to meet a Hopi, and I've been coming across campers that are seldom seen. These include a very short Burro, perhaps 10 feet long, and a couple of Scamp 5th wheels. One fellow from the Texas panhandle said he bought the Scamp fiver after selling his Itasca motorhome for the crime of being an unrepentant gasaholic. He claimed the Scamp had more storage room than the MH. Plus he gets 16 mph while hauling it with a 4WD Ford Ranger.

Fortunately both he and his wife are under 6 feet tall, and thus able to stand up in the thing.

While at Chinle, I saw a small motorhome called a Tiger, based on an Astro van. The whole top popped up to allow headroom, much like those low-profile truck campers that crank up to expose canvas sides. They slept in the resulting overhead above the driver's seat. This little van was complete with toilet, shower, kitchen, couch, etc. It looked like a regular Class B that had accidentally been put through the hot cycle.

Don't you hate it when that happens?

And here at the Navajo National Monument, there's Jake Jacobson from New Hampshire. Jake's a Harley biker, a former construction worker, and hauls a 25 foot Aerolite standard trailer. But what he pulls it with is an "express van" with an 8X12 box, just like you may have rented from U-haul. I think it's about 6 and a half feet tall inside. Maybe 7.

Jake especially likes the slide out ramp, which allows him to ride the bike right up into the back. Enormous storage, a 350 V-8, 1 ton dually, comfortable seats, 10 mph, and an inside door into the back - makes an impressively versatile package. And he claims he bought it brand new in 1999 for $22,500. I had no idea panel vans could be had so cheap. That's less than many a pickup.

Jake's been traveling 4 years now, long enough to grow his hair out as long as his beard, which makes him resemble a somewhat raggedy dandelion in a mild breeze. If you can imagine a dandelion with a Bahstan accent.

For someone who wants to haul multiple bikes, a short boat, a workshop, etc, this in combination with any trailer is a pretty good alternative to a toy hauler. The whole back opens up with the standard overhead door. The only problem he's had is that the Aerolite is only 7 feet wide, the van is 8 feet, and it's hard to see the rear of the trailer when backing up.

Bump. O, was that your cat? You want it back?

If you don't want the trailer, the van still might be a good start on a small home-made motorhome. His rig is standard, with a 350 auto, but these trucks can be had with a variety of engines and transmissions at extra cost.

And if you paint it dark brown you can park it right in the middle of the street in almost any town from coast to coast!! :o)


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