My desire to run away from home started when I was a little girl, but I was slowed down considerably by my parents’ one rule, which was that I couldn’t cross the highway by myself. It never occurred to me that if I was running away, I didn’t have to follow their damn rules, so I mostly stayed home.

When V was a wee babe, she and I went camping a few times, and it was awful and also wonderful. Every spring, we talk about doing it again, though my teaching schedule and general laziness have sort of limited our return to the great outdoors. Still, I love being outside, and I want V to love it too. Tent camping really is best left to the young, though.

A couple of years ago, I got terribly wanty of a vintage camper. Like this, or this, or any of these…..I had to stop looking, because the wanting was giving me a belly ache. Besides, I don’t own a car that pull a camper, so all that dreaming was for naught unless I could afford a pick up truck or something.

But then I saw one like this. Go look at it. I’ll wait.

A Toyota Mini-home. Well now, that would solve my need to have a pulling vehicle, wouldn’t it? It’s small enough that it wouldn’t be too burdensome to have to drive it around, and the engine runs Also, they generally get 18-19 mpg. That’s right. Almost 20 mpgs AND a camper all in one.

So, I did what any normal person would do. I joined a Yahoo group. I read fan sites, essentially, full of people who love their Toyota mini-home. I learned all about rear axles and the importance of the 6-bolt vs. the 5-bolt.  I was so excited! I started stalking Craigslist.

One day, driving through Detroit Lakes, as I think we all do sometimes, I noticed a 1978 Toyota Mini-home for sale in a used car lot. The sticker said $2495.  Seriously? A tiny little house I can drive around for $2500? Yes, please! I called the lot owner and he promised to meet me.

I was too afraid to test drive it, because I thought I’d fall in love too much and not be able to negotiate properly. I noticed a small leak, above one of the cupboards, but it didn’t smell musty/weird and despite the orange carpet everywhere, I was sure V and I and Myra could use this lovely machine to have adventures all over the place.

It looked like this on the inside, but orange. Because 1978:


Isn’t it adorable? All compact and convertible and a tiny sink and a tiny stove and oh, be still my wanderlust-filled heart!

But one of my new friends on the Yahoo Toyota Mini-homes group suggested I take a second and think through  my magic plans. Even if I only found one leak, in a 35 year old aluminum sided camper, there were bound to be more. People can (and do) tear the camper down past the studs and rebuild them, but that was a project beyond even my eager handiness.

So I didn’t buy the little camper that could. I stopped looking at campers, because the only kind that would not have extensive water damage would be one with a fiberglass body, and those are harder to come by and much more expensive. For example, this 1984 model, an 18′ Sunrader, is being sold as we speak for $15,000.


Um, yeah. Unless one of my gentle readers has a grandma with one of these tucked back in the garage, and wants to contribute to my overall happiness by letting me buy it for only $2500 or so, I’m going to have to stay put, and pack up the wee Mazda Protege once in awhile to find my own adventures. I could probably figure out a way to sleep in the Mazda, if I used my imagination. I wonder if there’s a Mazda-as-Camper Yahoo group I could join….


About Jennifer

Writer teacher mama sister friend sewist poet trying to stay warm in Minnesota's northwest.
This entry was posted in Camping, Daughter, Play. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Camper

  1. S&S says:

    happiness is camping…. it really, really is….. there is something about the simplicity.

  2. Megs says:

    You know, many of the lovely state parks rent cabins for much less than $2,500 and they don’t require towing specific vehicles. Phil and I also love camping, and have a flexible schedule this summer. Your fam and mine could meet at a state park somewhere between the TC and FM areas and spend a weekend enjoying the great outdoors… Meagan

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