Two years ago, when selling the small RoadTrek motorhome we had, I figured my RV days were over — after traveling in 11 different RVs during the previous 55 years.
We had both turned 78, and Mary had become less active with some mobility issues.
I love camping, being in nature, kayaking, walking through the forest, plus spotting and photographing wild animals in their natural habitats.And I want to keep doing some of that.
That’s why I had owned four trailers, two pickup campers and two motorhomes after traveling in three units owned by my parents.
So I outfitted my minivan with a bunk, two camp mattresses and other items necessary for a couple nights camping. That way a friend can join me on a camping trip to a lake or reservoir that’s too far for a day trip.And we could take a stroll through any adjoining woodland.
For a couple years I’ve been hoping to do overnight kayaking trips to Sugar Pine and Jackson Meadows reservoirs, which seldom draw big power boats at mid-week.
Day trips to both revealed water levels so low the long, wide-open, sloping banks are too monotonous — uninviting. But the drive along the old Henness Pass stagecoach road to Jackson Meadows drew attention to Webber Lake — a natural lake without major fluctuation in water level. It’s an outdoor gem with campgrounds operated by Truckee Donner Land Trust.
Unfortunately, it’s not always convenient for others to get away for overnight trips when I’m ready. Mary, a Forest Service retiree, never was a kayaker, and walking in the forest is no longer part of her repertoire.Nor do I want to go alone at my age.
I suffer with an itchy-feet desire to travel. I’ve crisscrossed this nation many times — as a result of camp travel, living in eight states, and driving 18-wheelers for 13 years. But hotel-motel trips, with eating out every meal, are expensive. So Mary and I limited ourselves to one trip of two or three weeks each year — plus maybe one or two short trips of two to four days.
That brings me to the crux of the problem. I told Mary I think we’re just sitting around entirely too much — as if waiting to die. I don’t like that thought.
We keep our minds active. Mary reads about two novels a week, and plays internet checkers as she communicates with far-flung friends in this nation and elsewhere. And I’m always reading articles, books, and doing research for more writing. But those activities don’t get us up and out of the house enough.
I recalled completing the final draft of my book “Camping, Travel & RV Choices” just two years ago. In one paragraph — on the last page of the last chapter — I wrote: “For the two of us, if we were younger, I’d want a 17-foot deluxe Casita, with closet, shower and bathroom behind the tongue, a side dinette and bed at the rear.”
The Casita is an outstanding little trailer. It’s fiberglass and aero-dynamically shaped — a little like an egg — and easy to pull with a V6 engine. With a quality reputation, they hold their value. They’re ideal for an older couple.
I turned to Mary and said, “We might have another five or six years in us — maybe even 10. Why don’t we get a Casita and go?”
She agreed traveling that way would be easier and cheaper than using motels, and we could camp at various California state parks.
I had heard that buying a new Casita meant a wait of six months to a year. I called the factory in Texas to ask if I could drive there with cash and buy a new one off their lot or showroom floor. The answer was “No,” just as I suspected.
A cancellation would have allowed us to get one in December — just in time to put it in winter storage. Otherwise, the company was taking orders for April of 2023.
We speculated we might find another little trailer suitable for us by checking Craigslist. I already knew the better, small trailers are not on the market for long — only a matter of days. And many command higher prices than bigger used trailers and motor homes.
Our search has a happy ending. I spotted a used Casita only a day after it was listed, a little more than an hour from Grass Valley. So we bought a well-cared-for 2017 Casita.
I guess we got younger instead of older during the past two years. But now we have to find a place to store it between trips.
Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He has nine books available through Amazon. His two “Essays” books include nearly 120 columns published by The Union, plus a variety of travel and photo essays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.