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Camper (mis)Adventures – Part I

2010 July 17
by shana

I was excited when I discovered a little used Scamp camper for sale nearby. Since this trip project is self-funded and I am not independently wealthy, I wanted a place that I could work everyday no matter where I was at. A mobile office of sorts. It would also provide a place to sleep every night, and I would be able to cook my own food. The benefits, as far as I could see, were many.

I purchased this camper from a retired couple in a small town approximately an hour and a half out of Missoula. Before I hit the highway to head home, I stopped to double check everything. Good thing because the tow chain was barely hanging on… barely dangling there actually. Surely it wouldn’t have taken much jostling to set it free to bounce along the highway as I drove home with my happy new camper.

This was the first of several fateful events. Just a way down the highway past a small town called Paradise, I had traveled through a winding section of road and had created a convoy of cars behind me. Since it was my first time hauling this trailer, I was driving cautiously until I had a better feel for it and the way it handled. There was a wide turnout ahead, and I decided that would be a good opportunity to pull off the highway and double check everything again and let the congested traffic pass.

As I came off the new pavement from the highway onto the turnout, the edge of the pavement created just enough of a bump to pop the camper up… and right off of the tongue. I heard a crash, came to a stop and got out to assess the situation. The coupler that fits over the ball was still right where it was supposed to be on my vehicle, but it had completely come off of the tongue of the camper which was nose down in the asphalt.

There were two other separate vehicles stopped at the turnout and they both drove up to check to see what had happened and if I needed any help. The guy pulling the 5th Wheel camper with his pick up truck was brusque and manly. “Are you out here all by yourself?” (you little lady trying to pull this camper by yourself instead of letting a man do it for you) “Yep.” Ok – so I maybe reading into that a little, but that is what it sounded like. And really, do you think he would have asked that of another man pulling a camper by himself? “It’s a good thing you had your tow chain attached.” (Yep, it’s a good thing…)

By the time they had pulled up, I had already formulated a plan in my mind about how I was going to handle this. I would get my car jack out and jack it up to get the crank wheel back under the tongue. I would then have to leave it to drive back to the town where I picked it up to go to the NAPA auto parts store to get new bolts and nuts to re-attach the receiver to the tongue. OK.

The 5th Wheel man and the son of the woman who had stopped in the other vehicle were able to lift it up while I got the wheel crank back under it. Now all I had to do was get the receiver re-attached. The woman offered me a ride back to the parts store so that I could leave my vehicle with the camper. The reasoning behind this being that it would not appear that the camper was abandoned – but rather that the occupants could be having lunch or taking a nap inside the camper. Granted, no one could have driven away with my camper in the condition it was in, but the 5th Wheel man assured me that if I left the camper alone it was at high risk of having the battery and propane tanks stolen at minimum.

As I gathered my things and locked everything up, the 5th Wheel man got back in his pickup and drove away. I am not sure that I got a proper thank you to him before his departure, so “Thank you 5th Wheel man.”

Although I am not going to just hop into a vehicle with just anyone, I accepted a ride back into the parts store with the woman and her ten children. It almost didn’t seem possible that ten children could all fit in there, but they did. If I remember correctly, she said that they were aged 4 to 17. We got back to the parts store shortly before they closed (phew!) and I got new bolts, nuts, and a wrench.

Once back at the camper, we set to getting hitched back up. The son who had helped earlier held the bolt in place while I tightened down the nuts. Several of the other children played with my dog, while others gathered around to watch the progress. I managed to get everything fixed up and got hitched back up. I thanked the woman for her kindness and thanked her son for his assistance.

As I drove back to Missoula, I reflected on the situation. Just the day before I had been told that whenever I needed help while on the road, it would be there in some form or another. Not only was that true in this instance, but I realized how grateful I was that it happened when it did and not going at highway speeds or halfway to Alaska. A blessing in disguise, because as it is, a friend was able to re-enforce the receiver so that it is no longer in immanent danger of popping off at any unforeseen or unavoidable bump in the road. Also, I managed to make it through the whole ordeal with a minimal amount of distress and frustration. At this point in my life, I know that only contributes to the problem instead of the solution. However, I am still human and succumb to circumstances at times. This time however, I focused on the excitement of getting closer to setting out on a new adventure and managed to take it all in stride for the most part.

Thanks again to the good people of the road!

(More (mis)Adventures of the camper coming soon)

Camper (mis)Adventures –  Part II

Camper (mis)Adventures –  Part III (Soggy Dreams)

Camper (mis)Adventures –  Part IV: Frozen or Flame Broiled?

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. Megan Cameron permalink
    July 17, 2010

    Glad everything worked out so well that day for you. Seems like you can find real kindness in the unexpected events in life.

  2. Beth Power permalink
    July 17, 2010

    God Bless you and keep you. Hope you have what you need to continue to be a blessing to others.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Camper (mis)Adventures – Part II | The Road Taken Project
  2. Camper (mis)Adventures – Part IV: Frozen or Flame Broiled? | The Road Taken Project
  3. Camper (mis)Adventures – Part III (Soggy Dreams) | The Road Taken Project

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