Yesterday morning we hitched up our much-loved tent trailer for the last time. We drove down to the Fauntleroy Ferry dock, made the short crossing over calm water to Vashon Island, and with mixed feelings delivered the trailer to a new family.
We bought the trailer, a Coleman Sea Pine, back in the spring or early summer of 2001. For quite a few years, when our kids were younger and smaller, we used it intensively from Memorial Day to mid-October for weekend getaways to nearby forest and mountain campgrounds, and for extended vacation journeys all over the Western United States and Canada. We explored large parts of Washington State and Oregon towing our little fold-up home behind us. We went as far north as Jasper National Park in Alberta, and as far west as Tofino on Vancouver Island. We never ventured very far south; Redwood National Forest in northern California was probably the farthest south we ever got. Our easternmost trip, probably the most memorable one of all, took us to Yellowstone and then, since we were in the neighborhood, a quick dash to Mount Rushmore.
Before the trailer, we’d done a few tent & tarp camping trips, but none of us really enjoyed the work of camping. We wanted to explore new places, see new things, but relax in reasonable comfort along the way. We wanted to stay dry.
Still when we bought the trailer I remember thinking is was a huge extravagance. It had a king bed at one end and a double at the other, a fridge, a cooktop and a hot water heater. It had hookups for power, water and cable TV. It wasn’t really camping at all. It was “glamping”. Did we really need this huge thing in our garage? My father, generally quite a frugal man, surprised me with his enthusiastic approval when he first saw the trailer. He said he regretted not doing something similar when my brothers and I were kids.
Once we got out on the road we realized pretty quickly that our little pop-up trailer was quite modest compared to the truck campers, travel trailers, 5th wheels and mobile homes out there. Plus we could be set up, and comfortable, and dry in about a half an hour.
We were very fortunate to team up with another camping family – our kids went to school together – who showed us the ropes and became our camping companions for many years.
As the kids grew up, the once-spacious trailer started feeling cramped. Then we bought some land and eventually built a vacation home and the trailer sat parked and unused in the garage.
Until finally, yesterday, we sold it to another family with a couple of young children of their own, a family my wife knows through her work.
We felt a twinge of sadness as we drove away leaving the trailer behind. Transitions like this evoke fond memories from years gone by, yet they also mark the passage of time, the end of an era. But it was time to let go. We took good care of the trailer and we left in great shape. It has many years of life left and, at the risk of anthropomorphizing, it deserves to be used and loved by another family. Now they will travel and explore and create lasting memories of their own.