Tales from the trail(er): The Departure


“Everything’s frozen.”

Those were the words I heard when Dave and I hopped into our camper for our first night’s rest in the lil’ vintage camper. We were parked outside our friend’s house in Minnesota, fresh off the holiday parade of families, ready to embark on our cross-country road trip. And now our fresh veggies were rock hard and Moose was pawing at a sheet of plastic that was supposed to be a blanket.

This was how our vacation started, despite my attempts to will a beautiful, warm, cathartic farewell as we set off into the sunset. If I have learned anything in the first four days of this trip it is that, just like our car and camper, our characters require good shock absorbers that can take whatever comes. We had a series of events that forced us to recalculate and reroute, but as a friend once told me, “adventure starts when you stop planning.” That ‘go with the flow’ mentality has proven useful, and very necessary, while remodeling a vintage camper, but it has been beyond worth it.

Now back to the frozen tundra….

We cranked the propane heater, newly installed that day in Minnesota, and piled six blankets on top of us as the temperature dropped to almost ten below zero outside. Just as we had drifted off…

‘Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!’ The carbon monoxide detector was going off incessantly, telling us to get to fresh air immediately. “Dave! Get up! Carbon monoxide!” He rolled over, sniffed the air, (‘beep! beep! beep!’) and said, “Ah, we’re fine. Go back to sleep.” I tried cracking a window, but of course they were all frozen shut. My breath literally hung in the air, crystalizing right before my eyes. After convincing Dave he would die if he stayed, we went back to sleep on the floor inside, defeated by the elements.

The next day we planned our route through Wisconsin and Indiana, down to North Carolina, calling friends along the way we were seeing. Despite Father Death waiting in the camper in the form of poisoned air, everything seemed to be going well. We checked the weather one more time. 12 inches of snow? Ice storms? Tornadoes?! We were headed straight into the path of winter storm, Goliath. Goliath was raging on across our entire route, laughing a blizzard the whole way. Where was David when we needed him?! Reroute. We decided to wait a day and try again. But Mother Nature struck again, this time in the form of food poisoning. I was out for the count, struck down for 48 hours as a war raged on in my intestines. I blame Goliath. Recalculate. By this time, there was no way we could head into the blizzard east of us, so we decided to head south. And fast.

We looked for falling anvils the morning we left, but we were given sunny skies and clear roads as we headed into South Dakota and on down to Iowa and Missouri, camping in the parking lot of a community center and then a rest stop off the interstate. These were times we were sure glad to be towing our tiny home behind us, ready to swallow us up in the cozy warmth. (And we learned that when it’s not unnaturally cold, like ten below, our carbon monoxide detector doesn’t go off. Success!)


Yesterday we made our first tourist stop at Mammoth Cave National Park, the longest cave system in the world, for an underground tour on New Year’s Eve. Kentucky has been almost idyllic – rolling hills, green pastures, lazy rivers, and little barbecue joints along the road.

We had planned on being in a city, or at least a town with some cool music for New Year’s, but instead we found ourselves in the backwoods Brownsville, Kentucky – a dry town – on New Year’s Eve. We set up camp in the woods and laughed about the irony as we broke out the reserve bottle of Pendleton in the truck, and fell asleep by ten. 2016 is off to a good start.

Keep in touch while we’re on the road! And check out the camper remodel process in the previous blog. Happy trails!


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