Growing up, the closest thing to a family camp-out was a July 4th picnic on the banks of the Little Red River near my home in Heber Springs, Arkansas. Why, I wasn’t even a Girl Scout! So when my late husband, James Chandler, sprang the idea of buying a friend’s used fifth-wheel, I was skeptical. With assurance, he said we could recoup the $6,000 investment.
We went to look—and “used” was the understatement of the century! Road weary and trashed were two adjectives that came to mind. Our friend had used the trailer as a cabin for duck hunting in the black muck of our Arkansas delta. My imagination stretched to see any possibilities in the mud-stained gold patterned carpeting and the bold red and green block plaid cushions on the built-in seating. Window treatments in the living area—light green formal drapes with shiny green tassels—clashed with the bedroom’s green and black paisley café curtains. A king-sized mattress in the sleeping area—separated only by a wrought iron railing—curled up on one corner. The stovetop range showed evidence of numerous fried pork chop dinners for a least a dozen hunters. And the harvest gold bathroom—one molded fiberglass unit—bore cracks.
Yet, we took a chance on the 28-foot Jayco—just to see if we’d like RVing. The ugly carpet came up—and a neutral plush went down. New beige tweed upholstery covered the bench cushions. And crisp white cottage curtains hung at all the windows. With a little polish, the dark-stained wooden cabinets took on new life. And the stove top? A little elbow grease cleaned the burners, despite its years of service.
On our first trip out to a lake only 60 miles from home, the hot water heater leaked and the pump failed. But we were not discouraged. The next weekend, we pulled our little get-away cottage to Mountain View, 40 miles north of Heber Springs. We were cozy in our own little rolling nest, steaming mugs of hot chocolate on our dinette. We reveled in the quiet, wooded campsite. We slept with the moon shining across the new bed that replaced the over-sized, warped mattress. An early spring morning dawned—and there we were in the midst of nature with the comforts of home. We were hooked!
The next weekend, we bought our brand new 32-foot Road Ranger—a house on wheels that we could truly make into a second home. And like James had promised, our trade-in value? $6,000!
– Arline Chandler
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Traveling in their motorhome several months each year, Arline and her photographer husband, Lee Smith, make their permanent home in Heber Springs, Arkansas. She currently is a presenter for Workamper Rendezvous, sponsored by Workamper News. Arline has dozens of magazine articles published, as well as five books: “Road Work: The Ultimate RVing Adventure” (now available on Kindle); “Road Work II: The RVer’s Ultimate Income Resource Guide”; “Truly Zula; When Heads & Hearts Collide”; and “The Heart of Branson”, a history of the families who started the entertainment town and those who sustain it today. Visit Arline’s personal blog at ArlineChandler.Blogspot.com