Studley, the Little Camper that Could


Nine months ago, I handed five thousand dollars to a man named Vic and bought my first home. On that cold, foggy night in October, I drove my new 1987 Toyota Dolphin the hour and a half to my parents’ house, where I parked him for the next couple months. During that time, I drove him twice or thrice, both short distances. Almost instantly, I started the renovations. I hadn’t taken him to a mechanic. I never tested the propane or the stove or the electricity. I didn’t even know how. There could have been something majorly wrong mechanically, but I still went straight ahead and poured my money, time and sweat into repairing the water damage and remodeling before ever getting anything checked out by a professional. A lot could have gone wrong, but I’m impulsive and trusting of my intuition. I guess I’m also lucky.

I just felt like he was going to be a really good motorhome. If the inch tall stack of service records dating back to 1987 were anything of an indicator, I just knew someone had once loved this RV. It was clear that the original owner had taken great care of it, and preventative maintenance really is the best form of preservation.

From January to March, he was parked at that house where I was staying, and I continued my work on the inside of the camper while he stared west out at the views of Puget Sound. And then one day, he was livable. That was March. I’d say it was not until this Maiden Voyage in May that I really learned who this motorhome was. Until then, I had no idea how he would drive, what issues would arise, how far he could even go in one day. At that point, all of those questions were still unknown, so really, I had no idea about this motorhome’s capabilities.

I finally did take the motorhome to a mechanic, but I waited until three days before my 5000+ mile trip. I was prepared for bad news. There wasn’t really any news though. Besides easily fixing a screeching noise, they couldn’t find anything wrong, even when searching for it. And this is when I started to really get to know the motorhome in a new way. It was my earliest indicator of his condition.

Journeyfoot Stud Toyota Dolphin

I have without a doubt given a personality to my motorhome, and they actually have a name for this: anthropomorphism. I think it’s likely that my perception of my RV’s personality is a larger reflector of me than the actual motorhome, but we all do this, right?

Yes, I have attributed a personality to my home on wheels. I have even given him a gender. He has feelings. I shouldn’t do this, but I do. I always have. [Explains why I still sleep with my best friend, Ozzie, who is a 24 year old (stuffed) orangutan.] In the past nine months, I have developed this whole idea of who the motorhome is. The interesting thing is that it has changed. My perception of him has changed the more I have gotten to know him, just as it would the longer I get to know a fellow human.

Initially I was thinking that he was old, so my perspective of the motorhome’s attitude and personality was old. Twenty-seven in car years is a lot different than 27 people years. Somewhere in Montana I started to see him more in people years. I realized that this wasn’t an old man that was escorting us through the winding forested roads. This was an eager young stallion. A dude, cruising down bumpy dirt roads and sleeping in the woods next to rivers and lakes. And he was younger than us girls! He was born in 1987, which means my home is the same age as my man. This also means both are younger than me. I’m a cougar. Rar.

Looks like a smile to me.
Looks like a smile to me.

So there we were, two girls and a guy traveling across America’s finest mountains to America’s flattest land when I realized he was my buddy, a fellow travel partner excited to see new places. But I still hadn’t named him. Lucky too, because he would have been given the name of an older gentleman. We had tried countless names, sometimes using one for days at a time, but eventually it would start to feel wrong, and a new one would be tested out. Harrison, Roger, Henry, Zippy. Others.  I almost settled on Gus, but it didn’t feel right.

I had started to wonder if I would feel that intense sense of knowing that I always eventually get before making an important choice, and this was an important one. It seems to always arrive, that sense of decision. I wait until there is no doubt in my mind about what I have to do next. But in this case, I seemed to be waiting and waiting for a name that wouldn’t arrive.

P1020099

And just when I began to worry I would never give him a name, it hit me. I was writing about how he passed over the Rocky Mountains like a stud (read it here). And he is a stud. He really is.   IMG_7101IMG_7104   IMG_7107 IMG_7122                        Journeyfoot toyota motorhome jayme welch toyota motorhome journeyfoot

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