28 May 2009

The Little Camper Trailer that Could

Oleander Acres, May 28, 2009, 7:37 a.m.

This is the first storm that came through yesterday afternoon just as I was finishing photographing the plants here. It rolled in from the east over that corn field next to the campground. I am not accustomed to storms rolling in from the east. Clearly, it came in from the Gulf. There has been a lot of rain and very significant wind with these storms. There will be more. The Zip Code here is 78572 should you wish to plug that into your favorite weather site. This would also be the first storm that I have ever ridden out in this camper trailer.

I know that I am prone to overstatement. We all know that I am prone to overstatement. That is just something we take into account with me. Even I take that into account with me. I have had a life long affair with hyperbole. But I am going to do my very best to tell you this story without overstatement.

The camper trailer is equipped with what are called stabilizer jacks. I am going to sound like a real expert here, but believe me, I did not know anything about this stuff 24 hours ago. Stabilizer jacks are not to be confused with leveling jacks. Big Winnebago Recreational Vehicles are equipped with leveling jacks, which are usually sophisticated hydraulic affairs used to level the vehicle after it is parked. And I can tell you that having a level camper vehicle significantly contributes to the quality of life inside it. Perhaps I have told you that before. I level mine by backing it up onto wooden boards that I carry along for that purpose.

Anyway, my little rig does not have leveler jacks. It has stabilizer jacks, which are very simple mechanical affairs—simple if you know how to operate them. There are two, one under each of the back corners of the trailer. They are permanently mounted under the chassis. They fold up for travel and fold down when you are ready to stabilize the camper at a camp site. The idea is that these jacks make the camper sit solidly. Otherwise, it is sitting on its suspension springs, and it bounces around when you step into it or walk around in it or have sex in it. Everyone with me so far?

This is the stabilizer jack at the right rear corner of the camper trailer as seen earlier this morning.

Up until yesterday the best I could do was jiggle these things sufficiently so that they would drop down from their folded up position. I could not figure out how the jack mechanism works. So they would just dangle there uselessly. And so I in turn would just fold them back up under there and forget about them. I got away with this because: (1) I am not very big (a 225 lb. man stepping in and out of the camper would seriously rock the boat); (2) I have not been having sex in this camper trailer.

However, let me tell you something, young people. When that wind started to howl yesterday afternoon for the first time, I got seriously interested in these stabilizer jacks. This camper was really rocking and rolling.

I have the original Owner's Manual for the trailer. That was one of the reasons that I purchased it. Since the previous owner still had the Owner's Manual and was able to produce it when he traded in the trailer, that was some indication to me that he had taken decent care of it. When the wind began to bounce me around in here, I ran out to the truck and retrieved that Owner's Manual in order to study up on stabilizer jacks.

That Owner's Manual is the most worthless piece of literature ever produced by the hand of Man. Coachmen manufactures all kinds of recreational vehicles from the relatively simple trailer, like mine, to the sophisticated RV. This “Owner's Manual” is a one-size-fits-all affair, a copy of which they apparently handed out with all of their products in 2000. So the first thing you have to figure out when you read any entry is whether that entry applies to your particular vehicle at all. You with me?

But it's even worse than that.

The entries are garbled. Underneath a picture that is clearly a picture of one of my stabilizer jacks with the caption “Stabilizer Jacks,” the dumb bastards printed instructions for operating hydraulic leveler jacks. I'm serious. And I was furious. If I had had those people responsible for this “Owner's Manual” assembled before me, I would have dressed them down in a manner fitting an Infantry Company First Sergeant:

“Men, we are probably going to lose this camper trailer in a wind-related multiple rollover because you illiterates and incompetents were jacking off when you should have been assembling a useful Owner's Manual. Form a line over here. You shitheads are going to start running laps around the compound this afternoon with a full rucksack and rifle, and you will continue to run laps around the compound until I tell you to stop, which will be sometime tomorrow morning.”

But I did not have time to daydream too long about that. Needless to say, I finally figured the damned things out with the wind howling around my ears. And I did it without any loss of blood. It took a while though.

That's not quite the end of the story. The real ass-kicker storm rolled through in the middle of the night. That one was the real deal. I so wish I had had the presence of mind to shoot a little video inside this camper for you to show you what it was like, but I was too busy holding on to think of that.

First of all, the rain beating on the outside of this camper is deafening inside. I sat there wondering for a long time when we were going to start taking in water. Second, even with the stabilizer jacks in place, the thing moves around alarmingly in a strong wind. You really do feel like Dorothy. Any minute a tornado might whisk you up, transport you to Galena, and set you down there in your little pop-up camper trailer. I thought about that. Believe me.

Obviously, we are still here this morning, my trailer and I, and very proudly so. Mine is the only pop-up camper trailer in Oleander Acres right now amid all the big, fancy RV's. I told the nice lady when I checked in that I hoped my little pop-up trailer did not reduce the property values in Oleander Acres. She explained that she always puts all the “pop-ups” here in this one little area to prevent that from happening. She was joking along with me. I think.

Anyway, this morning I stepped outside proud as punch and dry as a bone, to employ a couple of beloved clichés. We were still standing, my little trailer and I. I hope some of these people in their Winnebago's and Flair's and Cherokee's were peaking out the window and saw my puffed up chest. I am now in looooooooooove with my little camper trailer. It has proven itself to be a rough, tough customer. . . . . . . . . as long as the stabilizer jacks are in place.


Candy Minx said...

Ha how exciting to try to sleep through a wind and storm. I'm glad you got to know your camper a little better.

Love that flowering plant, is that azalea (she says sounding like she might have a green thumb...I don't)

Señor Steve said...

Candy, I honestly do not know what that plant is. It is not an azalea, I don't think, although it does look a bit like one.

I am going to ask a staff person about these plants so that I can tell you what this is and what some of the others are. We old folks love our plants here and love to talk about them, too.

Sorry to see that you and Stagg got frozen out at the beach the other day.

msmith2671 said...

You need to go through a true hurricane. I made it through a category 3, never again.

msmith2671 said...

I am fairly sure it is an azalea.

Señor Steve said...

You are quite right, Maria. The owner of this establishment, Ed, clearly considered me a weenie as I told him about my midnight right this morning. Hurricanes were the thing he brought up, too. They rode one out in their big Fifth Wheel camper, which is parked up by the gate. He explained to me the elaborate measures they employ to tie it down.

I am not going to attempt to ride out a hurricane in the little camper that could.

Señor Steve said...

Oh, hell, guys. You know what that bush is? It is an AZALEA! Can you believe that?