Out with Camping, In With … Uh…..?

One day in September, 2004 I was driving along a busy road outside of town and spotted a camp trailer sitting near an intersection with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it. I pulled over and peeked in the windows, wrote down the phone number and then hammered David through that evening and the next day, Honey, we just have to buy that trailer! It was no ordinary trailer. It was an extraordinary retro 1974 Bell 16’camp trailer, small enough that surely David could pull it with his 4-Runner. Sure, we could afford something bigger and newer, but I had spotted the trailer I wanted.

By the end of the next day, for 1500 bucks, it was ours! Of course, it needed some work. Like, rewiring, new plumbing, it didn’t even have a rack to hold the propane tanks. (What propane tanks?) Uh, did I mention the upholstery on the fold out bed was in complete tatters? Okay, no worries, I just dropped it off at the Local RV repair shop, Eagle Rock RV, and they kept it for a week or so and fixed it all up! ‘Ka-ching!’ (doubled the investment). I had the fold out bed reupholstered as well. Ready to go! Except it was too late in the year now to go camping. So we rented a storage space for $300.00/year.

Camper in storage, isn’t it a beauty?

When we pulled it out the next summer, we discovered that maybe it had some leaks too. My hubby wasn’t too thrilled with that news, but my sister Lisa’s husband Tom climbed up and sealed every window, sealed every seam on the whole thing, so David wouldn’t be so mad at me and my insistence on having this camper in the first place.

To be honest, getting ready to go camping for the weekend is a big project. First you pull the thing out of storage into your driveway. Then you check that everything works, the battery, the pump, stove, furnace, the tail lights and blinkers, check the tires, check for plumbing leaks… fill the propane tanks, fill the water tank with your hose, stock the camper with food and bedding, extra table, folding chairs, grill, firewood, clothes, flashlights and bug spray – don’t forget the flashlights and bug spray! Oh, and boy scout fluid to light the campfire…

We’re ready to go!

Ready to hit the road!

Our favorite camping spot was Garden Creek Campground on the Big Lost River off of Trail Creek Road, about 20 miles beyond Mackey off Highway 93. We must have camped there 4-5 times, over the past 12 years. We’d always go with my brother Eric because he knows about every possible camping, hiking or fishing spot within a 200-mile radius of Idaho Falls. We’re on highway 93 now going north toward Mackay – with Eric’s rig behind us

Eric in our rear view mirror

We’d set up camp, unhitch the trailer and take off in the truck looking for a trail head to some obscure lake Eric had in mind.

Once we got a flat along the way:

David/Eric manly-man-team

But we enjoyed so many fantastic views just getting to the trail heads in the wilds

Corruption Mountain

Some Lakes you will only get to if you are already camping in the wilds..

Eric at Merriam Lake

Pulling out of Garden Creek campground now:

The Lost River Range is sprawled out in front of us as we head back to 93 on Trail Creek Road

Lost River Range

Megan went camping with us once. Uh, maybe twice. She doesn’t like bugs. She camped with us behind Pond’s lodge up in Island Park in September 2009. We parked our camper next to Eric’s. The view out our doorway was quite unique…

What’s with that cabin? Did a tornado blow through here?

We were camping only about 30 paces from the front door to the restaurant in the Lodge where we ate all our meals. Now that’s camping in style!

Plus we had cell phone coverage outside the camper:

Megan camping

We drove to the top of Mount Sawtelle where it was very windy. I thought the wind might blow Rudy right off:

Rudy on top of Sawtelle in Island Park

My sister Lisa and her husband Tom love to camp and fish. We met them a couple of times up near Island Park. Except they found even more remote campgrounds than we did and had to tie their food up high in the trees to keep from attracting bears. They have endless wild camping stories. We hiked up to Blair Lake with them –

Blair Lake

Megan and Rudy led the way back:

Hiking back from Blair Lake, September 2009

Of course, there’s always a huge mess to clean up after a weekend camping trip.

Who’s cleaning it up?

And to be honest, in the past 12 1/2 years we probably only went camping 10-12 times. About one weekend a summer. So out of the last 12 1/2 years we were camping maybe 25 days… the camper sat in storage 4500 days. We didn’t take it out at all last summer.

So when the $300.00 storage bill came due the first of April, David said, hey, I want to sell the camper. Awwwwww. Okay. It’s time…

We hauled it out of storage and checked everything out. It all works! What a great camper. You see, the fridge just uses block ice, and the bathroom… a porta potty. The furnace doesn’t have a blower, so there isn’t much in that camper that can break down.

I took photos of its exquisite interior. Everything is original except the curtains and the bench I had reupholstered. Love the double sinks and all that kitchen counter space!

Well, I posted it for sale on Craig’s list $2000 firm, and got a call that very day. A young lady, Elisa, with a couple of small children came by to see the camper. First thing she did was to check the outside windows and seams to make sure the camper was sealed. Tom had done a great job on that.

I’ll take it! She said, and wrote us a check for the full price.

I’ve been looking for a camper like this since last January! she said. I bought another vintage camper for 900 bucks from a relative. Bought linoleum for it. Was going to fix it all up, but found out it was all rotted out because of water leaks. I’m a glamper! You know what that is, don’t you? You know what glamping is?

I acted like I sorta did know.

I’ve even bought the chandelier! she said. I have flags!

Chandelier?

I Googled it – and found a couple of links of glamping and glampers on Pinterest.

I took a couple of (crappy) photos from Pinterest with my i-phone (couldn’t figure out how to download them) just to give you a teaser…(come on males, I know you’re interested now):

And here’s one more link with more spectacular glamper/glamping ideas!

It was great to sell the camper to Elisa who loved it at least as much as I did. Gushed over the color, the original lamp shades, the whole early 70’s vintage thing. Even loved the bathroom space with porta potty.

Here’s looking at you, kid

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a small chandelier above that porta potty. Puffy ruffly print curtains. Some flags for sure. There’s probably room for several shelves with flower arrangements and such, too.

Who would have thought all along we could have done such glamorous camping? Glamping in our vintage trailer! That works, actually, if you park your glamper behind a restaurant and lodge.

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6 Responses to “Out with Camping, In With … Uh…..?”

  1. Tom Jones Says:

    Great success story and pics! Good times to rememberšŸ˜Š

  2. Jody Caraher Says:

    For sure. I’m a bit sad to have parted with our camper but have so many great memories to cherish. What a blessing it was that you sealed that camper, Tom. That was the very first thing the buyer looked at. Sealing the camper from leaks is what preserves them. Vintage campers in good shape are priceless!

  3. Eric Says:

    Loved your blog Jody

    • Jody Caraher Says:

      So many precious memories of camping with you, Eric. You took us on some great hikes and adventures. Will never forget the sweet sweet times we had! Will cherish them to my deathbed!

  4. Alisa Durtschi Says:

    So I googled Bell 16″ vintage camp trailer, to get ideas for restoring my new camper I just bought…I found this site and as I was reading I thought, “this sounds just like the camper I bought.” Then I saw the pictures and said, “it is the camper I just bought!” It even had the story about me buying it! Ha ha Jody, I think we are kindred spirits:)

    • Jody Caraher Says:

      That is hilarious! Must not be too many blogs out there about Bell 16′ vintage campers! That must have been a moment when you discovered the blog was about YOU! I thought of sending you the link after I wrote it, actually, but it turns out I didn’t have to. I guess the Universe takes care of the important things. Ha! First sending you my way to adopt and restore that precious camper… and then gifting you with it’s history with my family. I honestly am as happy for the camper finding you as I am for you finding the camper. I LOVE what you are doing with it. I should write another blog about your transformation. We truly are kindred spirits. Whenever I’m blue I can think of all the joy I feel with you having that camper and the very precious experience of selling it to you! Godspeed!

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