A New Rolling Home: Road life continues!

by / Monday, 05 January 2015 / Published in Small Space Living, The Journey
2015-01-04 12.57.37

18 months ago, I bought Ms Piggy pretty much on a whim after being on the road on my bike and Vespa and wanting to continue, but needing a more permanent home base. She was easy to maneuver, fully self-contained (bathroom, kitchen, bed etc) and had a hitch that could handle the weight of the Vespa. What an awesome year and a half of additional travel it has been. We’ve essentially done a complete figure-8 of the USA, seeing everything from cities to tiny towns, beaches to mountains. (and I may even get back to writing all about that!)

I absolutely love this lifestyle and can’t imagine it being over any time soon. Only two things were standing in the way: my back, which was injured many years ago and had been pretty stable for decades, was starting to yell at me. Ms Piggy doesn’t have full standing height throughout all but 2 feet. In addition, the rear door was usually covered by the Vespa and the carrier, so I had to enter and exit through the driver’s side door 90% of the time. Again, hunching over. I love the rear door of Ms Piggy and wish there was a different solution, but the Vespa was non-negotiable.

Plus, as much as I have divested myself of belongings, I still have “stuff” and was starting to feel boxed in by lack of storage. I had removed the dinette and added cabinets and that helped a ton, but that change made having a fellow traveler aboard a bit more of a hassle.

The decision to get a new-to-me rig became clear in December after my mom stayed with me for a week in San Antonio and then I stayed in an RV park in Austin for 9 days. I need to slow down a bit and not cover as many miles. And I want to do it in something that has a ton of character, space, storage and full standing height.

A mere three days after determining this is what I would do, I had narrowed down my choices to 70s or early 80’s. I love Airstreams, but wanted a drivable unit, so an Argosy was my plan. Then a member of a small RVers group I belong to sent me a link to a unit for sale on Craigslist and I was smitten!

Only catch: I was in Marfa, Texas and the rig was in San Diego. I had to trust my gut and put a lot of faith in the current owner being a good guy. I could sense almost immediately that he was terrific and he gave me detailed responses to my email messages. I’m realistic to know that any older vehicle requires work all the time. I’m not afraid of that, but don’t want a gut-reno project.

These were the questions I asked that were most important to me:

  • Is there a Class 3 or 4 hitch- which is 2″ across in the interior- so I can use my Vespa rack?
  • Is the length under 23 feet?
  • Has the rig been used and driven in the past few years?
  • Are there any leaks that have not been sealed and any interior water damage?

Yes…
Yes, Yes
No…

And that’s how I came to leave Marfa, TX on a 19 degree New Year’s Eve and drive 1000+ miles by Friday!

Meet… our new home!

 

She is a 1973 Dodge Travco Two Twenty with a 413 engine. The interior had been restored by a previous owner 2-3 years ago, resurfacing the cabinets in black walnut and laying down hardwood floors. The twin rear bed layout was changed into a QUEEN bed platform. We slept in her last night for the first time and felt a bit like drowning with all of that space, but we’ll get used to it! I’ll take more interior pictures once we have things sorted and put away, but here is a few from the listing:

 

Front kitchen and loveseat (with storage underneath), mid bathroom and cabinets and rear bedroom. With big windows all around the bed, it feels like you are floating. I’m sitting in here typing this and can see this becoming a very cozy alternate work spot, too.

Bruno the Vespa is still catching a ride on the rear and we no longer need to worry about the carrier being in the way! It also rides over a foot higher, so more clearance. Although the additional length means I won’t have as much maneuverability, it is still a pretty short rig as far as RVs go.

So all told, I’m under 26 feet with the carrier. I’m currently backed into an angled spot at the Oceanside Harbor, north of San Diego and we fit nicely. $28 for all day and night right on the ocean. Not bad! I won’t stay more than the one day, but it is lovely.

Generally, she needs a really good bath. Over time maybe some exterior work, but nothing major. Some fiberglass sealant will do wonders to shine her up. The engine runs strong, there are already added batteries in the house and I can easily connect my solar set-up within the given space and layout.

The name:

I must name my rides, I talk to them!

Being an early 70’s vehicle, I wanted a name that felt mid-century, quirky or fun and had some meaning to me. I was going to conduct a poll and let you all decide between the four names I had come up with:

  1. Sally (for Sally Ride, first female American astronaut)
  2. Chrissy (for the character played by Suzanne Somers on Three’s Company- the epitome of late 70s tv and she was a hoot!)
  3. Amelia (for flight pioneer and avid traveler Amelia Earhart)
  4. Olive (for my Grandma Sessa, who had a tremendous role in my life, and also a reference to the rig’s green stripe)

(I had a lot of time to think over 1000 miles of driving!)

Then… I arrived at the home where the Travco was parked and….

she was sitting in the middle of an olive grove!!

Sorry, all, but the name was a given.

Wish us well with Olive!

Next steps:

Ms Piggy is going to be for sale, but I have the luxury of keeping her for a bit while I get everything sorted. She’ll be in the San Diego area and going for $5000 OBO. 41K miles on a GMC 400 6.1L engine that runs like a champ. She’ll make someone a great starter travel vehicle, a weekend camper or whatever they dream up. She’s done very, very well by us and I will be happy to see her move to another enthusiastic explorer.

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