Part one is here.
By the next day, I’d lined up a trip to Mayfield to check out a promising pop-up for sale there and we’d received a flood of tips on other campers for sale in locations ranging from Mt. Vernon to Fulton. Our specifications were simple: Must have a/c. Must be weather-tight. Must be [relatively] easy to crank (we were tired of nursing our hernias). We aren’t, and may never be, prepared to move beyond tent camper as our primary “wilderness” residence. For one, we aren’t able to camp enough for a huge (or, let’s say, even huger) expenditure to make any economic sense at all, and secondly, I do not relish the thought of, as I’m fond of declaring, “Driving down the road with my own poop sloshing around in a tank behind me”. What can I say? I’m a big fan of the public sewer system and leaving that sort of thing behind whenever possible.
As it turned out, the Mayfield camper was bought from under us five minutes before we arrived.
We were not deterred.
In the end, we found Pippii crouching sadly in tall grass in a small yard in Lone Oak. She hadn’t been camped in in a very long time and less discerning buyers may have overlooked her stellar qualities or mistaken her (very) slight ant infestation for a deal breaker. In fact, Pippii boasted a roomy bonus storage compartment in front. Safety features such as additional bracing for the four retractable metal columns that support, once cranked, the roof (we learned that day that, apparently, we were in constant real and imminent danger of being pancaked in Pippa without these, especially in light of the retrofitted a/c unit on her roof, the main cause of our twin cranking hernias). Stabilizing feet similar those of a lunar lander raised and lowered with the effortless turn of a tiny jack–this as opposed to Pippa’s obstinate rusty feet which often had to be kicked, beaten and cursed into place.
Finally, we put Pippii to the ultimate test: we each cranked her. She was awarded a five out of ten hernia points for ease of cranking up (Pippa was a fifteen) and two out of ten hernia points for ease of the down crank (Pippa was a nine). Couple that with her age, a full decade younger than Pippa, and Pippii was, most definitely, THE ONE.
After playing the Kentucky game (a social process that starts with “who’s your mama/who’s your daddy” and ends when each party identifies a mutual acquaintance) with Pippii’s current owner, he agreed to come off the asking price slightly, slapped his knee, and invited us to come on down to the Legion for a beer with him just any old time.
We sealed the deal with hugs all around.
Our new camper secured, we turned our attention to the sad task of retrieving the now completely obsolete Pippa who is at this point, recall, still marginally set up at the lake at the campsite where we’d abandoned her to search for her replacement a few days before. It was a sad and beautiful Spring day when we cranked her mildewed canvas down for the last time. The loons called to each other across the lake. Wild monkeys screamed in the distance. We did not speak of Pippii as we hitched Pippa to the truck for the last time and drove the 40 miles home.
Pippa had been an effective, if difficult, camper while she lasted. And, in fact, she changed hands again. I’m told Pippa is currently serving out her declining years as a makeshift hunting shelter somewhere in the wilds of Ballard County.
Maybe it was my imagination, but Pippii looked a bit perked up when we arrived to take her home. Now cleared of her former owner’s gear, she was lighter, brighter and seemingly eager to move on. She spent some time set up in the driveway while we banished the ants and replaced a portion of the floor that we’d learned–too late to use as a bargaining chip–was spongy. Pippii basked in the glow of our attention. To our delight, we discovered the custom banquette cushions we’d salvaged from Pippa fit perfectly at Pippii’s table. We transferred our gear which more than fit in Pippii’s more roomy interior; we were able to eliminate a large chuck box we’d been lugging around for years. A small decoupage project was completed on Pippii’s removable outdoor shelf, a small homage to Pippa’s larger “Great Gatsby” table project.
Finally, Pippii stood ready for her inaugural camping trip.
Unfortunately, we would not be able to get away for another four months.
(To be continued…)