Journal documents (travel) trailer life

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 16, 2013

Almost hidden between two paperbacks is a journal with frayed corners and a loose-fitting cloth cover jammed in my office bookshelf. I purchased it back in the 1980s. “Our Travels” written by my hand stands out in the center of the third page. The first entry is two pages forward, dated Feb. 16, 1984.

It is the journal of RV trips my husband and I made with our used, well-worn 1964 Airstream travel trailer. We bought it from a couple who were the first owners. They traveled all over the United States with it. The bright metallic surface had dulled somewhat from age and travel conditions after 20 years, but it still looked spiffy.

When we moved to Lillian in 1981, we found ourselves among numerous folks who owned travel trailers and motor homes. It wasn‘t long before we, too, caught the RV fever. We began dreaming about rolling down the highway with our own travel trailer. We kept that dream on the back burner for budget reasons until my husband met the Airstream couple who asked an affordable price for their aging RV. We struck a deal and suddenly we owned a travel trailer!

Following the first entry in the journal, I logged our mileage and expenses. Then I filled one page with a list of unusual or funny names of places we saw on road signs. Next, I launched into the details of our first trip, “our maiden voyage.” We left our driveway at 11:30 a.m. during a rain shower, pointing toward Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores.

As novice RV’ers, we learned a few things the hard way during that first excursion, like taking extra water hoses and electrical lines along. We spent some time locating those items before we settled in for a few hours’ enjoyment. Our view was spectacular. We walked alongside the water, explored trails and startled a rabbit that sat and stared at us, then disappeared into the woods. We watched the sunset and marveled at the bright full moon above us that night.

A month later, we returned to Gulf State Park. During that trip, our dachshund Lillian leaped out of my arms to chase a camp cat. After we spent anxious minutes wondering if she was forever lost, she emerged yelping from a thicket. Stickers clung all over her long body. Lillian was not a happy camper.

On our third trip, a May camping vacation, we visited points in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. I concluded the account of that trip saying there was no way we could visit three states in two weeks’ time and see everything we wanted. We never tried that again.

After five years, we traded the Airstream. I closed out the final pages of the battered journal with: “We had both difficulties and wonderful times with our Airstream. Now we look forward to adventures with our new trailer. We can hardly believe it’s happening and are very thankful.” It was time to open a new journal.