Janice (my wife) grew up in a camping family. I didn’t, so raising our children was a compromise: we tent camped but never progressed to actually owning a camper.
It has been 11 years now since Jonathan (our youngest of four) left the nest and those days of camping were a distant memory until a recent Sunday dinner discussion when they all ganged up on me, “Dad, why don’t you get a camper. Remember when Grandpa Irvin used to set up his camper and how much fun we would have visiting him and Grandma? Remember how Grandpa always strung those crayon colored lights from his camper awning? They were magical! Pleeeeease!”
I was not unclear, “I don’t want a camper. I don’t want to work on it or haul it or take care of it. I don’t even have a place to park it.” End of conversation.
We thought the subject was dead until Jonathan told Janice and me about how he was trying to help an elderly couple sell their 1969 Airstream camper. Of course he didn’t suggest that we buy it, but the bait was set and we started talking about that Airstream.
Janice: “Dad” (who had passed away nearly 20 years ago) “had always dreamed of owning his own Airstream.”
Joe: “You know, maybe this could be a family project.”
Janice: “Of course. It would be for the kids.”
Joe: “We could park it at Jaime’s” (our daughter’s) “house.”
Both: “Who knows? We might just enjoy doing a little camping ourselves.”
Talking turned to looking and looking turned to reading, checking E-bay prices and asking some camping friends to look at it with us. The Airstream had some plumbing problems and wiring problems. The air conditioner had been rendered unserviceable by a fallen tree limb. But it was definitely salvageable…the aluminum skin had a few dings but was otherwise in good condition. And the interior was all original and well cared for. We were ready to buy with one stipulation: the kids must be committed to helping us with this family project so we gave them the challenge. “Yes!” “Of course!” “When can we get started?” “What can I do?” With this response, we did the deal.
Now for the challenge of trying to get it home. The Airstream had not been moved for 19 years and we had no idea if the tires would hold air and, if they did, whether we could pull it out of the ruts they had settled into. Jonathan and I, equipped with a myriad of tools, an air compressor a generator and a spirit of adventure, took the challenge. All four tires held air! The leveling jacks were so gummed up we almost couldn’t get the crank to bite but with an air hose and lots of WD40 we succeeding in raising the jacks. Because the trailer was plumbed directly to a septic tank, so we had to cut the drain lines with a reciprocating saw. Fortunately the electric hitch jack still worked and we managed to get the 40 year old trailer attached to Jonathan’s 21 year old pickup. At this point Jonathan took the picture of his tired dad standing proudly next to his treasure.
“Dad,” Jonathan asked, “do you think my truck will be able to move it?”
“Jonathan,” I eyed the Airstream sitting in a hole, the truck perched above it. “This is going to test your truck’s torque, but yes, I believe it will.”
The Airstream groaned, lurched slightly, then climbed out of the depressions and onto level ground. Success!
We stopped twice to check the tire pressure on the five mile trek back to town. No problems! As I followed behind with my emergency flashers on, I thought of Irvin and how proud he would be of his son in law and his grandson. My eyes misted up a bit as I watched the Airstream making its way to its new home.
We arrived safely at Jaime’s house, unhooked the trailer and lowered the leveling jacks. All we could see of the awning, which hadn’t been unrolled in those 19 years, was a mass of algae at the exposed edge. It wouldn’t budge, atrophied by the years of idleness, but Jonathan was more determined than the awning and he unrolled it to expose a vibrant blue and white striped canvas. Our son Josh, his wife Becky and their children showed up as did Janice. The big silver camper with the brilliant awning entranced us, creating an almost reverent silence. Jaime started stringing lights on the awning and the moment was magic as together we reflected on the camping memories of a past generation and anticipated the memories yet to be created for the next generation.
Irvin never got his Airstream, but we believe he is smiling in heaven today. Somehow, he will be a part of those memories yet to come.
Posts I have enjoyed this week:
- Forget Economic Stimulus! 20 Ways To Improve Your Finances Today at Moolanomy.
- Ten Ways to Improve Financial Intimacy in Marriage at Bible Money Matters
- Credit Cards and Doctors Visits at Gather Little by Little
- Overcoming Fear of Failure at Christian PF
- Gone Daddy Gone- AGI Restriction for Roth IRA Conversion at Good Financial Cents
- How To Get a Personal Loan at Digerati Life