Tim WhytePauline HartePatti RasmussenRichard RiouxLeon Worden

Black N Whyte

Hey, don't knock my trailer

Tim Whyte · July 13, 1997

The kids had built the perfect tree fort: a compilation of spare carpet parts, plywood, blood, sweat, tears and elbow grease. It was the place where they would go to escape from the rigors of daily life.

We published a story about them and their laments that they were being kicked out of the tree fort because they didn't own the tree, and the property owner was concerned about issues like safety and liability.

I understood the property owner's concern, and if I were in his shoes, I probably would have done the same thing.

By I could relate more to the kids.

They had this Magic Place, this private gateway, where they would go an get a little dusty and talk about . . . whatever it is kids talk about in tree forts. I like to think that, once in a while, the subject would get around to the meaning of life or the search for the perfect sunset. Maybe that's not what they talk about, but hey, humor me.

So I bought a trailer.

That's something of an exaggeration. The kids' loss of their tree fort did not have a causal relationship with my purchase of a trailer. But I -- actually, my wife and I -- bought that trailer for much the same reason those kids built that tree fort.

It's our own little mobile getaway.

It's a tent trailer, one of those pop-up things. It's a 1982 Coleman Sequoia, and I bought it from a local guy who advertised it in The Signal's classifieds (call 259-1234 to place your ad today).

We embarked on our search for a used tent trailer after a recent tent camping trip. We were on the way home from Buellton when, during one of those road trip lulls in which I like to crank the stereo, sing along and not actively participate in conversation, Erin said, "I hope you realize I won't do tent camping if we have a second child. It's tough enough with one."

"Wastin' away again in Margaritaville . . . Huh?"

"Tent camping. If we have another baby, no more tent camping."

I wasn't about to give up camping, so my options were clear. We're not having another baby in the immediate future, but we had a pretty busy slate of camping weekends planned for the summer, so before we even made it home from Buellton we had picked up various RV resale publications.

Our search took about a week, and ironically, after casting our net over the entire Los Angeles basin, we ended up buying ours from a guy who lives perhaps a half-mile away from my dad's house in Saugus, where we planned to store our new purchase. That made getting it home easy: The seller hauled it to Dad's place, since we didn't yet have a trailer hitch on the Jeep.

The trailer isn't quite as snazzy as the newer models, but it's clean, comfortable and surprisingly spacious. It's got water and electric hookups, three beds, a three-burner propane stove and this heavy brown military-style canvas that, I swear, would endure nuclear attack. We love it.

I have endured all the jokes in the office, too.

"You bought a trailer? Heh! When you movin' to Palmdale?"

"A trailer? Buddy, isn't that a violation of your CC&Rs?"

"You bought a trailer? Need a lift to the tattoo parlor?"


But our trailer has become a project of love. In preparation for our first trip into the wilderness, we visited the trailer several times, pulled it from the side of Dad's house and into the driveway, then popped it up so we could work on it. We ordered pizza. Dad's neighbors must think we're nuts, camping in the driveway like that.

I had a little plumbing work to do to get the drain to work properly, and we gave it a top-to-bottom cleaning. I installed brackets for our newly acquired flags -- on Stars 'n' Stripes and one cutesy flag with Mickey and Pluto flipping burgers on a barbecue. And I installed a set of hooks to hold our newly purchased Mickey Mouse lights.

Yep. This thing is a sight for sore eyes in the campground, let me tell you.

With all due respect to Dad's driveway, though, our first escape from the area was much better. On the Fourth of July weekend, we camped just outside Columbia, in the historic Mother Lode country up north, along with Dad, Judy and our good friends Tony and Delores. (There you are again in one of my columns, Tony.)

It was beautiful. Trees everywhere. Hills. Nature. Hotels are nice, but only when you camp -- in a tent or even in a snazzy trailer like my 1982 Coleman -- do you truly feel as if you have escaped. Sure, it's dusty, but it's part of the charm.

The cellular phones don't work too well when you're out and away like that, and I left the laptop at home. I brought the mountain bike instead.

We had a makeshift Citronella "campfire," told bad jokes, hiked, shopped in quaint old western towns, sat, sipped, played with Luc, watched the trees blow in the breeze, stared at the stars, read, napped and even pondered the meaning of life.

I love my trailer. It's my tree fort.

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