In 2021, I sold a 38-foot school bus and (with the proceeds) bought a home-built square-drop camper. It wasn’t too cozy at first, but I had a vision…. and completely transformed the interior. I also added bigger tires and a few decals on the exterior, but the trailer never really made it out of Iowa that first year due to the axle coming apart on I-80 about 45 minutes east of Omaha. Thankfully, a friend in Cedar Rapids had the means and skills to get it back on the road….a fortunate save, despite my newfound fear to tow it too far after the repair.
This is how I ended up storing the camper at another friend’s house near Des Moines through the fall and winter. I simply didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I had tried a few nearby camping excursions after the repair, but a hail storm during one that damaged my fan/vent cover didn’t help matters. Already new to camping alone, being enclosed in a small box by myself during bad weather was bound to leave a mark on my psyche. I seriously began to wonder if the thing was cursed.
However, that all changed this past spring when a tornado hit the property where the camper was stored. I heard the news and thought it was a goner…..but then, received an update that it had somehow survived without a scratch as the entire property was leveled of trees and the house sustained irreparable damage. One nearby camping trip later and, well…..I decided to go the long haul with it.
After that, the rest is pretty much history. To date, “Gloria” (as I now call her) has traveled over 8,000 miles…..traversing deserts, mountains, innumerous potholes, and some of the most winding roads I’ve ever encountered through canyons and coastal shoreline. When my friend who repaired the axle said it would be “glorious,” he was right. It was glorious, indeed….after my renewed faith in this little trailer inspired another attempt at reaching the west coast with her….which I did, with nothing but a little uneven wear on the inside of one of the tires upon return.
Today, Gloria is taking a break while I make plans for future maintenance and upgrades. I may bring her along on some shorter trips this fall, but she’s already done enough ( fulfilled more than a few dreams) as I see it. She even became an almost celebrity at one time or another, with people recognizing her from miles down the road and (sometimes) days after an initial siting.
Celebrity or not, however, allow me to express what Gloria really is to me. She’s not just a vehicle for my dreams. She is a dream. She is not just a reflection of the travel spirit. She is spirit. You see…..when we put ourselves into something, that something has the rare ability to come alive…..whether it’s an idea, dream, vision, project, creative endeavor, or little camper like Gloria. Gloria exists because different individuals took the time to build, revamp, and repair her. The spirit of all of these people, in fact, lives in her.
And that, I believe….is the real glory of her, the little camper that could.