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Traveling in Place


Georgetown TX
under the elms

I haven't been traveling since December, but I've been thinking about it. So as part of my mental conditioning and spiritual maintenance agreement, this morning I ran over to the Austin RV Show. I'm not in the market yet, but once a year or so it does no harm to look around and see if there's any new ideas to be savored and considered.

Precious few. The old bad ideas are still in fine fettle though. I saw a truck camper, an 11-footer with a slide, that weighed upwards of 3000 pounds. There were a couple of toy haulers with the sleeping arrangements directly above where, presumably, various 4 wheelers, cycles, and such will be leaking oil and gas fumes. No separation at all.

Pleasant dreams.

Further on, I found a 40 foot fiver with 3 or 4 slides (Open Road LS 397-S) that I was assured could "easily" be towed by a diesel 1 ton pickup. Priced to go at $34,997. "This one's a bargain," the fat man said with a twinkle in his eye.

And then there was the Laredo 29L, which had....wait for it.... an actual roaring fireplace. I knew this day would come. Some sort of projection from behind translucent glass. It warmed the cockles of me heart just to look at it. But I'm holding out for the hot tub and waterfall, no doubt coming soon.

The two or three good ideas were in smaller trailers, and not all of them were new. It takes no imagination to add on ever more slides, more weight, more furniture, more improbability, more everything. Small spaces give you something to think about.

The Aliner is an interesting pop-up that has been around a while. It is a hardsider that rises to 7 foot or so in the middle, folding out in seconds like one of those Transformer Robots the kids used to love. Nothing but a 12 gallon fresh tank, but no doubt there's room for a portapotti in there somewhere. It is relatively expensive for what you get. The one I looked at was $13000 "on sale for the event". I have absolutely no use for one of these now, but there was a time when a hard sided trailer that weighed a thousand pounds would have been just the thing.

I looked at a Nash 22M that had eliminated that useless wall or half wall they often erect between the bed and the living room. Really opened up the place.

The bedroom has always been both the most used and problematically useless space in campers. Why can't someone invent a really comfortable jack-knife sofa, with easy storage for instant bedding behind it? The ones available are all so awkward to make up, not to mention short and squishy. It would revolutionize the use of space in small motorhomes.

The Electromagic bed that lowered from the ceiling in the Safari Trek was the last really interesting idea along this line, and fully lowered it was still about four feet high - a hassle to crawl up into and out of. It hasn't generally caught on.

There was a 22 foot Airstream with a Eurotrashed designer interior. I think it was called CCD. All plastic, laminate, and exposed metal. It looked like you could wash it out with a high pressure hose without doing noticeable harm. And even if you did, would you care? Not at all a warm or inviting interior, despite the bright red seat covers. The one thing I liked about it was the built in desk facing to the rear. You don't see provision for a traveling office very often. Priced at $40K. Sure. Right.

Then I walked over to the 16 foot Airstream Bambi CCD. Only 30 grand. Now who, I wondered, would pay $30K for a 16 foot trailer? My question was answered by the twenty-something couple inside. She wore her hair spiky and streaked with purple. She may have been pretty once, but scarlet lipstick limned in black did nothing to further the illusion.

He, on the other hand, had no hair at all, which made him a handsome devil indeed from my point of view, but then he spoiled the effect with a scant little Chinese goatee, a bow tie and a woven fringed vest. He squinted up at me over tiny gold-rimmed glasses, assessing rather critically my right to fill the doorway. I just know he owns a beret. Perhaps he left it in the Lexus.

They seemed quite at home.

Reminded me of a couple I knew some years back who had a composting toilet installed in their brand new house. They were flush with excitement. Saving water, you see, in country that got 25 or 30 inches of rain a year, and regularly flooded. Periodically they had to open a little door into the basement, rake out the result, and carry it away.

"Why," I asked disingenuously, "are you spending so much money to live poor?" The answer was a arid airless glance that stated plainly... well... if I had to ask, I'd never be able to understand.

Go ask Buddha, Bubba.

I find myself receiving such questions lately, when people find out I'm living in my own driveway. It is risible, I suppose. I haven't got that withering look down yet, though. I generally settle for something like a Mona Lisa smile.

One thing I do understand. I'm going to keep the trailer I've got for a while. There isn't another I like better.


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