For most of 2016, I'd been on the hunt for a vintage camper trailer, specifically a canned ham trailer. Most of these were not in California, and most were well outside of my budget of $1500. I searched Craigslist, Vintage Camper Trailers, Sisters on the Fly, auction sites and anywhere else I could think of to find my little trailer. Lo and behold, in July 2016, I found it.
Picture it, Patterson, July 2016. Patterson is about two hours from Napa, southwest of Modesto. It was going to be a hot one, especially in the valley. I recruited my dad to come with me to check it out, on his birthday no less. He'd helped me look for one, encouraging the purchase of an Airstream, but for me, baby steps. Canned ham trailers are in the thousands, Airstreams are in the tens of thousands. Anyway, I made arrangements with the Craigslist guy to see the trailer in the Walmart parking lot. We made it down there, Enrique (my car) ready to tow if all went well.
We arrived to see the cute little trailer across the parking lot. White top, yellow lightning bolt on the sides & W on the front, teal on the bottom. Perfect canned ham shape, fairly good condition, the right price at $1000. I played the Craigslist game - never show you're too interested. My dad checked out the mechanics - rust level, towability, what needed to be fixed, etc. - while I marveled, trying to keep my cool. For $1000, my dad said we could fix what was needed, the frame, though rusty, was is good shape and not rusted through anywhere.
We paid the kid his grand, he signed over the title and pointed us to a great breakfast spot so I could treat my dad to a birthday breakfast. We made plans for the trailer, talked about what needed to be shored up, what its life would be when it was all ready to go. We headed out with me driving, taking it easy since it was bigger than anything I'd towed before. I5 is a beat up road, especially when you're stuck in the right lane because you have a trailer. We finally hit 580, ready to head back to Napa to bring my new little friend home.
Now it gets good.
580, as usual, was slow going. Traffic was moving but we were only going about 25mph. Cruising along, albeit at a snail's pace, my dad and I continued to talk about the work we had to do, the decorations my mom could help us with and various vintage items we could source from their house of treasures. All of a sudden, the car jolts forward and in the rearview I see my new little canned ham swing to the right then to the left. We'd just gotten rear ended.
To be continued...