This is my new home away from home! A 1965 Shasta Airflyte Trailer I found online at vintagetraveltrailers.com. Jetson is completely renovated (not technically “restored”), and I’m in love with him. The decor theme is right out of the 60’s cartoon “The Jetsons” with a retro space age feel. Think bright blue and lime green accents against a white wood interior. With updated wiring, new memory foam mattress, and plenty of storage, I already feel comfy and settled. Lots of original features make him one of a kind, including an original gas stove and oven, icebox (note – not refrigerator), and the original Shasta logo magazine rack, exterior paint, and brand plates. I picked Jetson up in Boulder, Colorado this week. Already, it’s an adventure into the wild unknown.
My son and I moved in with my mother a year ago. At the time, I separated out things that I could use in an RV – daydreaming of this day. I stored dishes, plastic cups, pots and pans, dish towels, utensils, and such. My son got down the boxes for me in the garage when I decided to drive out and get Jetson. My three boxes were labeled “Melanie’s RV” on top – I smiled. I’d forgotten I’d done this. You can see that I’ve had this in sight for awhile.
It will take several posts to tell about my trip. Let’s start with my list of what NOT to do when traveling:
- Get a late start in the morning. I pulled out on the second day of my drive to get my camper at 12:30. I was tired & my back hurt from a long drive the first day. At home I’m used to doing 2 hours of physical therapy and exercises first thing every morning. I’m going to have to get up much earlier.
- Forget to put more ice in the cooler so that most of your Trader Joe’s food spoils. I can’t eat fast food due to allergies, and eating out in general is difficult. I like to travel with my own food. I’ve been subsisting on sunflower seeds, bananas, lentils, sunflower butter on rice cakes, and fruit. I need veggies!
- Drink electrolyte water nonstop so that you are constantly looking for a bathroom. Sigh.
- Forget that it’s going to take hours longer to get to your destination than what Google maps says – especially if you’re traveling by yourself and with a dog. I also like to chat with fellow travelers – another delay!
- Stop for gas and pull out the nozzle before stopping the gas flow. Get gas all over your jeans. (Can we say distracted?!?)
- Arrive late to Julie’s house (the seller) because you piddled around and hit rush hour traffic in Denver, almost missing the essential help of her friend Sean.
- Park the trailer too close to a large tree and a rock garden. Julie had Jetson parked in her driveway so that it wasn’t blocking her garage. Her friend Sean was there to help me hook it up. He managed to get it stuck (literally between a rock and a hard spot!). A good number of people from the neighborhood, a pick axe to move rocks, a heavy-duty jack to lift it up, and some braun and patience were required before it cleared by mere millimeters. A Shasta has unique “wings” on the back to complete it’s unique style. I wanted those intact! A handy carrier on the back makes it a little longer than you estimate which added to getting into a jam. Only in Colorado would someone have neighbors with a 4 ft. long and 2ft. wide pick axe, a 5ft. tall heavy-duty jack, and several people with advice to complete the job!
- Stop at Walmart for supplies and go around the block 3 times trying to get back on the road because you don’t know how to back it up. Yes, my very first stop was at a Walmart. A bit cliche, as the first thing people who know nothing about recreational vehicles will tell you when you say you’re traveling in an RV is, “You know, I heard you can stay at Walmart!”
- Hit the road with a broken taillight so that you have to roll down the window and flash the arm signal every time you turn left. Every time. Looping around Walmart, all three times with my left arm hanging straight out.
- Don’t move into your new camper BEFORE getting to the campground so that you’re good to go. Bed needed to be made, basics moved in, Happy settled, all at the end of a long day.
- Pull into your campground/campsite after dark in the boonies with no clue as where your site is or how to hook up your trailer. I specifically requested a pull-through site just to be safe. Again, I circled three times in the pitch dark not seeing any signs before a security guard found me and led me to my site in his golf cart. I’ve tent camped before, so I just pretended I was camping in a very nice tent with a flashlight. The bed was very comfortable, and I was so exhausted, that I completely crashed. When I got up in the morning, I discovered I was surrounded by BIG rigs that have no choice but to have a pull-through site. My little trailer was awfully cute next to these monstrosities.
Despite a few rookie mistakes, I’m THRILLED to have accomplished this goal. Things are slowing me down, but I expected that. I didn’t think that solo traveling was going to be easy as a disabled person and #spoonie. I figure I can be tired and in pain at home watching TV or be tired and in pain on a fabulous journey!
I woke up my first morning at the foot of the Rockie Mountains. How cool is that!?! When you’re from Kansas, you drive and drive across the state until all of a sudden you get close to Denver and voila! There are mountains! No more flat prairie with tumbleweed, but beautiful mountain scenery everywhere you look.
I now know I have friends all over the country that I’ve just never met yet. Jerry & Sandy, friends on Twitter, who I got to meet in person as I stopped on my way through their town; Beverly, a fellow solo female traveler that was next to me at the gas station doing the same thing I was, checking her car for hail damage from the major hail storm we just passed through; Pete, a guy who told me my left taillight was out while I was parked at Walmart; Linda, Richard & Lauren, my next door neighbors at the campground; Cale, who helped me set up my trailer and get all systems going, and all the people who helped rescue the trailer when it was stuck. I think I’ll always keep in touch with Julie. She’s wonderful and gave me lots of extra items for the rig. She checked on me the next day saying she woke up in the middle of the night worried about me. She’s going to follow my blog to see where her trailer goes!
I have found people who will offer to help for no reason but kindness. Cale was working on the rig next to me when I started chatting with the family in it. He heard me talking about my challenges because of my disability and that I had purchased my trailer just the night before. When he finished up with the neighbors, he came over to ask what he could do to help me. He gave me a cord so I could access the electricity, stabilized my trailer (too dark to do it the first night and too tired to do it the next day), unhitched my car so I’ll be able to go do some errands and get food and ice without pulling the trailer, and gave me his card saying not to hesitate to call if I need anything at all while I’m here. He said he admired what I was doing and didn’t want any money for his help. I may need him to hook Jetson back up on the morning I leave (very early in the day, mind you!).
I’m so happy. I posted my news on Facebook, and the responses were great! Lots of congratulations and some advice on being safe. A high school friend commented, “Omgosh, it’s beginning!” and tagged another friend. The three of us celebrated our 50th birthdays together last year, and we all had goals we were considering for this milestone. (Note: They achieved big things too this past year!) A college friend I spent last 4th of July with in St. Paul, MN texted me this morning, “Wow! You were not kidding when you said you were going to begin a great adventure. . . You have always flown out of your comfort zone. I admire your tenacity!” Julie sent me a video of Happy and I pulling out of her neighborhood noting “The first drive!”
I’m doing it. I’m really doing it. Now, I just have to get back to Kansas in one piece. . . I think I have heard I can click my heels. . . 👠 Oh, and I’ve got to get that taillight fixed!