The Widow’s Travel Trailer Desire

I credit (or blame, depending on the view) both Lucille Ball and my writer friend Cait London for the fact that I decided to buy a travel trailer.

Have any of you seen the movie The Long Long Trailer, staring Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz? It was a hit of the 1950s. So much so that a version of the travel trailer used in the movie actually became a best seller for a while. Of course I am not old enough to have seen the movie first time around, but I have seen it on TCM reruns. My husband and I greatly enjoyed watching it together. It became one of ’our’ movies that we enjoyed over and over again.

Through the years my husband and I occasionally enjoyed looking at RVs, and we talked of getting a travel trailer or motorhome and traveling, just small dreams, paths never followed because we chose others.

Then about a year ago Cait London began telling me how her sister in her later years had traveled all over the west, by herself in an RV. I began to think of it. If I did travel by RV, I could take my dog. It would be bringing my little home with me.  I began to peruse online RV makers and look over styles and plans. Goodness! The modern RV is an amazing thing. I zeroed in on travel trailers. After all, I already had a full-size SUV with which to pull one. I do have experience hauling, for years had a truck and trailer to haul horses.

I knew it was all dreams of getting away. Being alone now in my house is often so lonely. Everywhere I turn something needs doing in the house and the yard. Then there is the care of my elderly mother. Responsibilities at every turn. Yes, I wanted to get away, and take the dog, and have a couple of uninterrupted days to write, and to see sites, widen my world.

But now I am widowed and alone in a way that I’ve never been alone. I have traveled often by myself, research for writing, but my husband was always at the other end of a phone call. And I certainly am not as strong as Cait’s sister, nor have I any experience whatsoever in RVing, as it is called. I know nothing about operating a camper! I certainly know nothing about grey water and black water tanks and how to operate them. From what I’ve seen, RVs need constant repair and upkeep. Why take on more? Oh, I’d be a disaster waiting to happen. Not to mention a stretched budget, and, the biggest of all: I was too old for such foolishness!

No, I decided in the end. I told my friends I was not going to do it, that I gave up the idea.

Only after a couple of weeks, I began looking at the travel trailer online sites again, just perusing them, as a way to relax, I told myself.

This went on for months, during which time I began to pray about the idea and to look back through the years and see that every time I had had such a longing that would not go away, it had turned out to lead somewhere I was supposed to go. And this was the first interest I’d had since my husband’s death. It seemed as if I was coming alive to a life of my own.

Really, God? I had a sense of peace.

I began to take small steps, to learn about RV options, and joined several Facebook RVing groups.

Christian friends encouraged me—far more than the wisdom of two witnesses scripture advises. Complete strangers encouraged me. I learned that many women are solo RVing, and many of them, amazingly, at 70 and 80 years of age. Many of these women are widows, too, who took to the roads in their campers as a way of dealing with the crushing grief, and as a way to discover and make new lives for themselves.

The Long, Long Trailer came again on TCM, and once more I watched.

Then I discovered ‘retro’ trailers, new travel trailers with all the amenities but styled as those from the 50s and 60s. I got seriously excited! I read specs and learned about tow weights and tongue weights and read reviews. I weighed pros and cons of the different makes and models, perused Craig’s list and watched YouTube videos. And I kept telling myself that it was a phase, it would pass. What I thought was: You have lost your mind.

The day came when I discovered that the object of my desire in retro-style trailers was at a dealer only an hour away. Added to that, my friend, Laurie, said she would go with me to look.

It was the Gulfstream Vintage Cruiser. It was what I wanted. They did not have the particular model I wanted in stock but they could order it, the salesman said, for a few hundred dollar down. “I promise you,” the salesman said, “if you don’t like it when it comes in I will refund your money.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

I handed over my credit card. And wondered what I could possibly be thinking, but I was happy, and amazingly peaceful.

For three weeks I comforted myself that I could change my mind. Only I haven’t. Tomorrow I drive over to pickup up my travel trailer. And I’ll have more to write about!

As Rainey Valentine says in Lost Highways, “I don’t know what I’m looking for, but I’ll know when I find it!”