Planning ahead

I recently had an opportunity to camp at a friend's ranch along the banks of the Wild and Scenic portion of the Rogue River. When I now speak of camping, I mean held tenderly within the bosom of Lucy, a vintage 1966 Airstream, attentively guarded by a pair of original plastic pink flamingos from a mold crafted by Don Featherstone.

Although I had a week's notice of the opportunity, I studiously avoided preparing the 26-foot trailer until the last moment, a habit of procrastination that has been with me my entire life. I could have checked the electrical and water systems, tested the air conditioning, rolled out the awning, properly inflated the tires, topped off the propane, peeked inside the refrigerator, checked all closets and drawers, adjusted the electrical brakes, filled the water tank and even hitched it up beforehand to Ricky, the tow vehicle.

It was not until of the morning of our departure that I began to review the two-page packing list that I had prepared some years back, this to ensure that every detail was done and that all systems were ready for blast-off. A few things popped up, but in short order were either disconnected or duct-taped into submission.

Hitching Lucy and Ricky together normally only takes a few minutes, if one is fluent in the process or extremely lucky. My wife, Annette, stood near the rear of Ricky as I attempted to get the towing ball perfectly positioned in a single attempt. She shrugged and Spooky barked as I got out and viewed a winning first attempt. Within a few minutes the marriage was finalized with the stabilizers and safety chains secure. All I had to do was snap in the electrical and, except for three tires low on air, we were pretty much ready to hit the road.

It came as only a slight shock when I noticed that the turning and stoplights on Lucy were not working. My knowledge of electrical troubleshoots ends with the supposition that the alternator kicks in when the generator is resting. I worried the electrical plug with a screwdriver for a few minutes, then re-united the two vehicles. Aside from a flash and the smell of ozone, everything checked out.

Once the trailer was very carefully packed to the brim, I happened to turn on the water pump to allow me to wash my hands. I was whistling when I heard a strange noise emanate from under the rear bed and looked to see two small rivers of water heading downhill. I quickly turned off the water pump and began to unload Lucy in order to get to the plumbing leak. I will tell you right now that my skill with plumbing matters makes me look like an electrical engineer overseeing repairs on an aircraft carrier.

Crawling to the scene of the crime, I quickly noticed that the copper tubing was just fine, only a rubber connector had worked loose. It took me just two hours to reconnect the line, a tasks that would take someone handy less than five minutes. I should not get too hard on myself, for I was the captain of this land-bound yacht, which, apparently, needed more hands aboard to do routine maintenance. I made a note of this then re-packed the trailer.

The drive to the Rogue River was pleasant and uneventful, except for the couple dozen people who were furiously waving at me as I motored my way towards seclusion and serenity. When we arrived I made another note on the packing list: "Be sure to lock the door to the trailer, otherwise it may open and items ejected at high speed." The inside still looked pretty full, so I went about setting up camp.

Once the awning was deployed, the electricity hooked up, the chairs placed neatly on large straw outdoor mat, I sat down and began to soak in the grandeur of my location along the river.

It was then that Annette stuck her head out of the trailer to ask: "Where are the two baskets with all our clothes?"

Well, at least I had the list, if not every item on it.

Lance was last seen attempting to light the trailer's hot water heater. If you know how to do it using less than 132 matches, please flame him at He always appreciates illumination.

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